Exclusive chapter 1 reveal + signed giveaway: Over the Edge by Meredith Wild - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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Exclusive chapter 1 reveal + signed giveaway: Over the Edge by Meredith Wild

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Meredith Wild, turns up the heat to scorching with the third book in the Bridge series. Sinfully sexy with a ménage romance, everyone will love Liv, Will and Ian’s story. While Over the Edge isn’t out until November 22nd, I’m thrilled to share with you the first chapter, plus your chance to win a signed copy of the book!

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Synopsis

Nov-22Olivia Bridge has always been a good girl—good grades, good friends, and a good job that her wealthy parents handed her. Desperate to carve out a life that is truly hers, Liv walks away from it all and takes on the challenge of helping her brothers open a chain of fitness centers in New York City. Just as she’s beginning to find her footing in a new place, she’s caught between two men who couldn’t be more determined to turn all her goodness inside out.

Will Donovan has the capital to make the Bridge brothers’ entrepreneurial dreams a reality. Taking their uptight sister to bed seems a reasonable perk for the risk. Liv is the smartest, sexiest prude Will’s ever met, and he can’t wait to break her down.

Life is too short for Ian Savo to play by anyone’s rules. Sharing women with his best friend isn’t anything new, so when Will introduces him to Liv, he can’t wait to get a taste. But falling for the same girl, or falling at all, was never in the plans…

Chapter 1

OLIVIA

The blackish walls of the underground tunnel blurred on either side of the train. The pungency of too many bodies crushed into one space mixed with the unnatural scent of the subway—something mechanical and gaseous at once.

On the other end of the car, a group of teenagers in school uniforms chatted loudly. A few middle-aged men in suits held onto the vertical poles and stared at their phones. A woman with long salt-and-pepper hair looked tired and worn, like she’d been on the train all night. We were a potpourri of culture and humanity, stuck in this stifling metal car.

I flinched when a warm hand touched mine. Beside me, a little girl no more than five years old gently traced her fingertip along the platinum charm that adorned my wrist. The Tiffany bracelet had been a gift from my parents.

“That’s so pretty.” She glanced up at me with mesmerizing brown eyes that widened when she smiled.

“Thanks,” I said, returning her sweet smile.

She was striking for being so young. A true beauty. But as I looked closer, she had dirt under her fingernails, and her clothes were browning at the hems. Beside her sat a woman I guessed was her mother. Lines of age and experience spider-webbed her tanned skin. She glanced between her daughter and me before speaking to her in a language I didn’t know, a series of reprimanding sounds and inflections. The girl’s hand fell away quickly, and she cast her gaze to the floor.

No one ever said it, but I oozed privilege. I knew it. My upbringing clung to me everywhere I went. The truth of it made New York City the best and worst place for me to call home. Every day, extreme wealth met extreme poverty on the streets of this city. I’d been trying to work the middle ground, but I’d only ever known one life.

I exited at my stop and left the bustling station for the busy street. I exhaled the community air I’d spent the past ten minutes breathing. The early morning breeze was cool through my light shirt. I tried to tighten my blazer around me, except it was fashioned not to button in the front.

I turned the corner, and the building was already in sight. Only a block from the subway stop, the prime real estate would be home to our new fitness center—the project my brothers and I had been planning for months.

My brothers, Cameron and Darren, had informed me that walls would be going up this week. Construction sites weren’t really my forte, but having been involved in the design and layout of our second location, I wanted to get a quick look at how the renovation was coming along.

I paused before the entrance. A temporary sign was bolted above the doorway that read, Future Home of Bridge Fitness, A Donovan Property. A swell of pride filled me when I thought about everything my brothers had accomplished with this venture, without the financial backing of our parents. Cameron and Darren were making it on their own, even if our family’s wealth had provided every excuse not to.

One step inside, and a different kind of pride stiffened my spine. The walls were going up indeed. Just beyond the entrance, a line of evenly spaced studs divided the entryway from the rest of the gym. I’d spent hours poring over blueprints with the architect, and that wall was not supposed to be there. Nonetheless, a worker was hammering nail after nail into the structure.

“This wall doesn’t belong here,” I said, pointing toward the offending two-by-fours.

The worker turned to me and then gestured to the other side of the room where two men were talking. “The boss is over there if you want to talk to him about it.”

Without a second’s delay, I approached the men. “Excuse me,” I said firmly, barely able to harness my irritation.

Both turned toward me. The older one had gray hair buzzed close to his scalp and soft brown eyes. The younger man stilled when he saw me. His blue-eyed gaze made a slow circuit up and down my body. I shifted my blazer again. Unfortunately, the morning chill had turned my nipples into tiny popsicles, and anyone with two eyes could see that now.

I cleared my throat and prepared to rip him a new one. “We have a problem.”

“What’s the problem, miss?” The older man frowned.

“For starters, that’s supposed to be a glass wall. You need to tell him to stop. You’re wasting manpower and materials. This isn’t what the plans call for.”

The younger man spoke up. “And who are you?”

I cocked my head when his eyes narrowed slightly. The intense blue bored into me with an intensity that sent a shiver over my skin.

“I’m Olivia Bridge.” I didn’t bother shaking his hand. Hopefully the name rang a bell.

I straightened my spine, though I couldn’t compete with the height of the broad-shouldered man in front of me. From the neck up, he was fashion catalogue material. Chiseled cheekbones and a strong jaw, dirty-blond hair that fell haphazardly across his forehead, and full, refined lips.

But this guy was a construction worker. Not my type. At all. His plain white T-shirt hinted at the muscular body beneath the cotton. His blue jeans fit well, snug around his thighs and bulging where his hands filled his pockets and in one more noticeable place. I averted my eyes quickly, noting the white dust that marked the denim at the knees.

I silently reproached myself for checking him out. He obviously had no class since his gaze hadn’t left my breasts in the span of ten seconds.

I cleared my throat, regaining his attention. “This is my project. I worked on this design.”

His unaffected expression seemed to reinforce my anger with every passing second.

I rolled my eyes with a sigh. “Maybe you’re not the one to talk to. Who’s in charge here?”

The corner of his mouth lifted, and his careful stare shifted to the older gentleman. “Tom, you want to deal with this?” He gestured along the length of me, as if I were the problem that needed to be dealt with. “I’m going to check out the progress upstairs.”

“Sure thing.” Tom rubbed his forehead as he guided me away. “So this is the wall you’re talking about?”

“Yes, this was meant to be glass. All the way across. We want people to walk in and see the facility and everything we offer, not drywall. You need to take these studs out immediately.”

“Okay.” He frowned. “There must have been a change in the plans.”

I lifted my brows. “You have a blueprint. Why would you change the plans?”

“This is a structural wall here, so I’m guessing instead of putting in reinforcements, Will modified the plans.”

“Why would he do that?”

He let out a soft chuckle. “Well, it’s a lot cheaper, for one.”

I frowned. “I don’t care how much it costs.” My voice went up an octave. “This isn’t what we agreed on.”

He sighed. “I guess I’ll have to run it by Will.”

“Who’s Will? I thought you were the boss.”

He laughed and rubbed his forehead again. “No, I’m just the GC. Will Donovan’s the boss. You just met him. He owns the building, so whatever he says goes.”

“Oh.”

Shit. The man I’d mistaken for an exceptionally good-looking laborer was Will Donovan, the investor and real estate developer whom my brothers spoke of frequently. I’d never met him, but I knew enough about him to know I’d probably pissed him off. Too bad for him. I wasn’t going to stop until I got my way.

I put my hand on my hip and took a quick scan around the empty shell of a room. I should let this go, but I couldn’t. Cameron and Darren—all of us—had worked too hard to start cutting corners now. “I guess you’d better reintroduce me to Will.”

“This way,” he said with a grimace before leading me through a long unfinished hallway and upstairs to the second floor.

Will was leaning over a kitchen island, looking at blueprints that nearly covered the whole surface. He straightened when we entered. A quick glance passed between him and Tom, and I couldn’t tell if Will was amused or on edge. His height and the confidence in his stride as he approached gave me pause though.

“Miss Bridge. You’re back.”

“I am,” I said simply, curbing my tone now that I knew whom I was talking to.

He nodded toward Tom. “You can get back to work. I’ll take care of this.” He glanced back to me. “What can I do for you?”

“Tom explained the structural situation, but I’m concerned because this is not the design that we approved.”

“Cameron has given me creative control.” He crossed his arms, and the motion showcased his firm muscled arms. A mild distraction as I processed those last words.

“He has.” A statement. More like a statement filled with disbelief. Cameron couldn’t have done that. “I don’t understand.”

“Part of my investment is in the build-out. If I need to make adjustments to keep us on budget, I will.”

“You’re compromising our design and our brand. How do you expect us to pay you back when you’re ruining our design?”

“I think you’re being a little dramatic over a wall, Miss Bridge.”

I glanced around the open floor plan and quickly moved past him. I stopped when I stood under a wide arch that provided an opulent threshold between the kitchen and the living room of what I assumed would ultimately be a luxury condominium.

I turned toward him and pointed to the arch. “Was this a structural wall?”

“Yes.”

“And I take it you were able to resolve that?”

The corner of his lips lifted a fraction. “Obviously.”

“To preserve the view?” I lifted my brow in challenge.

“That’s a multimillion-dollar view, Miss Bridge. So is the room next to it. Needless to say, the budget allows for these things.”

“Our fitness centers aren’t sweaty gyms for jocks. They are visually appealing. They welcome members and inspire healthy lifestyles. We want patrons to walk through the front door and experience that.”

“Have dinner with me.”

My lips parted, but no words came. I wasn’t expecting that major shift in the conversation. “Excuse me?”

He cocked his jaw, and his tongue poked against his cheek, as if he were considering something. “We can go over the plans. I appreciate your passion for aesthetic. I’m sure we can find some common ground.”

“We can find common ground right here. I’m telling you—”

“I’m your only investor on this project, and you’re challenging my choices. So you can continue pissing me off, or we can have dinner and discuss this further.”

Blood rose to my cheeks as he walked toward me. Those slow confident strides were becoming more and more distracting. He paused when he was only a foot from me. His energy and dominance nearly set me back a step, but I held my ground.

“Maybe I should just talk to Cameron about this,” I said, but the veiled threat came out shakier than I had wanted it to.

“Let me know how that goes,” he said flatly.

I lifted my chin, weighing his last sentence. One carefully worded call to Cameron, and Will could make sure I wouldn’t step foot in here again until the ribbon-cutting. I was protective over the design, but I knew Cameron wouldn’t do anything to compromise the timeline. And if getting my way cost me a night otherwise spent with reruns, fine. Obviously the current route wasn’t getting me far.

“And the wall?” I crossed my arms as frustration and intrigue fought for control over my emotions.

Amusement glittered in his eyes. Maybe from my persistence. Maybe because he knew I was about to agree to his invitation.

“I’ll tell Tom to stop construction on it for now. Stand me up, and I’ll have drywall on it by morning.”

I ground my teeth, biting down on all the expletives I wanted to hurl at him. “Fine.”

He smiled, revealing a perfect set of straight white teeth. “I’ll have a car pick you up at eight.”

WILL

I had a weakness for rich girls. Maybe because I’d spent roughly half my life figuring out new and creative ways to get them to fall on their backs for me. But more than that, I enjoyed their layers. Or lack thereof, depending on the girl. I played a game with myself, trying to peg what their fathers did, what borough they lived in, what schools they went to. Out loud I pretended to care about any of it as a means to getting them to betray their careful upbringing and let me fuck them filthy.

Over time I’d discovered that under every rich girl I met, there was a dirty girl waiting for the right guy to invite them out to play. That was me. I was that guy.

I’d intended to pick Olivia Bridge up from her Brooklyn brownstone and eye-fuck her all the way to dinner. A prelude of the filthy things I planned to do to her—with her permission, of course. But my father had called me again, so she was riding alone, and I was stuck in my condo pacing through a conversation I didn’t want to have. I’d dodged my father’s calls all week, but I couldn’t avoid him forever.

“How have you been? I haven’t heard from you in a while.” Forced affection strained his words.

I rolled my eyes and held back an audible sigh. Bill Donovan rarely wasted time with formalities, which told me that he was getting desperate for my ear.

“Cut to the chase, Dad. What do you want?”

He was silent a moment. “I want to talk to you about contingencies if this investigation escalates.”

I shook my head, angry all over again for the mess he’d gotten himself into. A mess that was quickly bleeding into my own affairs, despite the years I’d spent ensuring our businesses intersected as rarely as possible.

“Do you think it will?”

His voice was quiet and low. “I can’t say. We have the best legal money can buy, but if there’s an indictment, we’re finished.”

The investigation into his and his business partners’ shady dealings funneling millions through a local charity had been going on for months. There had been whispers, but so far no charges had come down on them. If they did and he was found guilty, he’d be looking at restitution and the possibility of doing time at one of those resorts in upstate New York they called “jail” for white-collar folks like him and his cohorts.

Worse, the damage to his reputation in the financial world would be irreparable.

“It was an arts charity for underprivileged youth, for Christ’s sake. You couldn’t have picked someone else to scam out of their money?”

He made an unintelligible sound on the other end of the phone. “I didn’t call to talk about that, Will. If any of us are charged, the business will suffer. All the investors will walk. I need you back in the ring until the situation stabilizes.”

He’d been trying to pull me into the hedge fund he ran with David Reilly since its inception earlier in the year. I’d entertained a few cocktails and lunches with investors, but I wasn’t interested in that world. I had my own projects to nurse.

“Don’t you pay people to run your businesses? You don’t need me.”

“You’re the only one I trust. Especially under the current circumstances. Beyond that, it’s your money too.”

“I don’t care about the money.”

“You think you don’t care because you’ve never had to live a day of your life without it. I made damn sure of that.” His words whipped through the phone, sharp with truth and weighted with years of tireless effort that went into building a lifetime of wealth.

Our relationship had always been matter of fact. The facts about the tried-and-true path to success. The facts about money and business. The facts about women, which in reality were his slanted personal opinions about the finer sex and their usefulness when it came to satisfying one’s personal sexual appetites. He was all fact and no feeling, and that’s how I’d been raised.

According to his law, I should drop him like a bad fucking habit and move on with my life. I searched for empathy, but I could only muster mild concern and a massive dose of irritation that he’d been irresponsible enough to possibly get caught. Now I was at risk of being ensnared in his affairs when I was firmly committed to my own. The last thing I wanted to do was inherit his problems, or his hedge fund.

“I don’t want to get involved in this,” I finally said.

“The things that went down with the Youth Arts Initiative are a separate matter. The money in the fund is clean. You have my word. I can get back on track after all this, but not without your help. Just meet with me. I can lay it all out for you, and you can see what’s at stake.”

I hesitated. He was in deep shit, and as much as I disagreed with his ethics, he was my father and I could at least hear him out—even if I wasn’t willing to stick my neck out to protect his money. Our money, considering I was his only heir and he’d rather burn every dollar than give a penny more to my mother.

“I’m in the middle of a major renovation. I don’t have a lot of time right now.”

“I’ll swing by the site this week. Won’t take long.”

I didn’t want him anywhere near my project. “I’d rather you didn’t. Let’s meet for lunch. I’ll text you when and where.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

The hint of vulnerability in his voice scared me more than anything. Desperation where there’d been only righteous, fearless dedication to his work.

I hung up and stared at the skyline through my window. Another million-dollar view. I had plenty, and my father was right. I’d never known a life without the security of wealth—wealth that he’d amassed by any cutthroat means possible, it would seem. I’d taken my share and played with it in my real estate ventures. But I’d never take his path—moving money between accounts and countries and investments. Options and futures and formulas that only made sense to money-chasers like my father.

And when I finally decided to sit down with him, that’s exactly what he was going to try to sell me. A life I’d never wanted.

I glanced at my watch and moved for the door. I was late, pissed off, and all I wanted was to take those frustrations out on the beautiful brat that was Olivia Bridge.

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