EXCLUSIVE DELETED PROLOGUE: One To Keep by Tia Louise - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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There’s a new guy in town…

“Patrick Knight, single, retired Guard-turned private investigator. I was a closer. A deal maker. I looked clients in the eye and told them I’d get their shit done. And I did…”

Patrick doesn’t do “nice.”

At least, not anymore.

After his fiancée cheats, he follows up with a one-night stand and a disastrous office hook-up. His business partner (Derek Alexander) sends him to the desert to get his head straight—and clean up the mess.

While there, Patrick meets Elaine, and blistering sparks fly, but she’s not looking for any guy. Or a long-distance relationship.

Patrick’s ready to do anything to keep her, but just when it seems he’s changed her mind, the skeletons from his past life start coming back.

Reading Order

Each can be read as a standalone.


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Coming 16 Jan

Deleted Prologue


Bright green eyes drew my attention like a magnet. A halo of golden curls framed chubby pink cheeks, and the little girl’s hand clutched the skirt of what was either her mother or an aunt. The woman in the charcoal suit was preoccupied by a phone call.

I placed my order for a Chocolate Decadence to go. The bakery just off Michigan Avenue was my fiancée Stacy’s favorite, and after one too many nights working late this month, I’d decided to surprise her. I’d taken off early, grabbed a bottle of wine and a dozen roses, and I planned to seal the deal with her dessert of choice. Followed by my own dessert of choice…

The little girl’s gaze never left me, until at last I gave her a smile and a wink. Then her green eyes flew wide, and she buried her face between the woman’s legs, causing her to take a step.

“That’ll be eight fifty.” The guy behind the counter waited as I handed over a ten, and when I looked, she was peeking at me again.

Another wink, and the smallest smile crossed her baby face. Dimples pierced both cheeks.

“Here you go!” He was back with my change. I took it and the paper bag, glancing back once more before heading to the door.

In that moment, she stood straighter and pressed both eyes closed at once. The woman lowered her phone just in time to catch it. “Abigail! Are you flirting?”

Abigail’s eyes flew open and up to the woman, and I laughed. Her mom/aunt straightened, and when she saw me, her own eyes widened. “Oh!” she said.

I held out my hand. “Patrick. Sorry, I started the whole thing.”

“Can I finish it?”

For a moment I wasn’t sure whether to answer or laugh it off. Just as fast the woman whipped up her phone and ducked, causing her straight brown hair to sweep like a curtain over her flushed cheeks.

Hastily she touched her phone’s face. “Did I just say that out loud?”

I did laugh then. “You did…”

The little girl jerked on her skirt, causing the woman to lean down. “Ask him to play with us, Aunt Evie.” Her voice was a loud whisper, causing Evie’s cheeks to flush darker.

“Aren’t kids cute?” Her nose wrinkled.

“She’s precious. Your niece?”

“Yes.” Evie pushed a dark piece of hair behind her ear and gave me a tentative smile. “So, um, Patrick? Would you like to play?”

Squatting down in front of Abigail, I took her little hand. “I would love to play with you. But I’m afraid I have to get home to my fiancée now.”

“What’s that?” Abigail’s small brow crinkled adorably.

“I bet your aunt can explain it.” I rose and met Evie’s disappointed face.

“Fiancée, huh?” The corner of her mouth turned down. “I guess that’s serious.”

She was actually a stunning woman, slim with shoulder-length brown hair and hazel eyes. I pressed my lips together, shaking my head. Those days were past, and I was fine with it.

“Pretty serious. But you guys seem really great.”

She nodded. “Just my luck.”

Stepping to the door I smiled at them both as I backed out of the shop. “Have a great night.”

~ ~ ~

The wind slammed into my face as I walked fast up the few blocks to our Lakeview apartment. Heavy grey clouds were building on the horizon, and it was clear Chicago was about to get one of those major snow-dumps that made everyone second-guess living in the WindyCity.

On the elevator to our apartment, I thought of Abigail. Man, I was looking forward to having a little girl. With Stacy’s dark eyes and my hazel ones, the chances of us having a little green-eyed beauty were slim, but that didn’t matter to me. I couldn’t wait to carry her around, take her to dances, intimidate her boyfriends…

A big part of the reason I’d taken off early today was Stacy had stopped talking about kids altogether these last few weeks. We’d barely even slept together.

It was my fault. Too many long hours working on too many cases. Building a solo investigative practice was hard work, and I planned to spend the entire long weekend doing everything she wanted, reminding her how much I loved her.

Unlocking the door, I hoped she wasn’t home yet. In addition to the roses and the wine, I planned to order take-out from her favorite Thai restaurant. Sliding the heavy, black-wool coat off my shoulders, I heard the faintest noise from the kitchen.

I hung it up and dropped my key in the tray on the small table at the door when I heard it again. It was a sound I recognized—it was Stacy moaning.

For a moment I paused, listening to that sexy sound.

“Uhh,” she panted, causing my dick to stir and a smile to curl my lips. It seemed I’d gotten home at just the right time. Hopefully she was on the couch getting off, and my tongue touched my bottom lip as I considered how I’d help her finish.

Going quickly around the corner into the open living area, the smile died along with all the good feelings I’d just had. What lay before me slammed into my face and knocked out my wind. It was a sight I would spend months trying to purge from my memory—along with her cries, growing in rapidity.

“Oh god, oh god, oh yesss!” Stacy was lying on her back on the bar with her knees spread open like a Thanksgiving turkey. There between her thighs was a male I barely recognized from the building. His head was moving fast as he had my fiancé for dinner.

Stacy’s cries snapped me out of my shock. “I’m coming—oh god, ooooh!!!”

Her fingers threaded into his rust-colored hair as her hips started to tremble and rock.

“What the FUCK?” I shouted.

Her head snapped toward me and her thighs clamped shut around the fucker’s ears.

“Patrick!” Her voice was a breathy shriek as her partner struggled to stand up.

“What the fuck is going on here?”

Douche bag backed away with a tent pole in his pants and his chin glistening wet. Bile rose in my throat at the sight. Automatically, I crossed the room and grabbed him by the throat.

“Patrick!!” Stacy jumped down between me and the shithead, pulling on my forearm. “STOP!!!”

The asshole tried to speak, but I pushed my now-ex-fiancée out of the way and escorted the fucker on a rough trip to the door. I jerked it open and threw him into the hall, slamming it on the sounds of him falling.

Then I turned to face her standing in front of me in an open blouse, her landing strip on full display.

Her voice was shaky. “You’re home early.”

My jaw clenched so hard it hurt, and I could see my chest rising and falling rapidly. “How long has this been going on?”

“I… I don’t know what you mean.”

“Godammit, Stacy. A week?”

She didn’t answer. She only stood there daring to tremble.

“Longer? A month?” Now my throat was closing. Everything inside me was crashing down—all my trust, my plans. “I want you out of here.”

“But… wait…” Her face crumpled as if she would cry. It made me sick.

Too much adrenaline was pulsing through me to stay in the same room with her any longer. “I’m going for a walk. And a drink. When I get back, you’d better be gone. Leave your key.”

“Patrick…” she reached for my arm, but I jerked it away, grabbing the door knob.

“Don’t make me throw you out too.”

Without another word, I turned and left, slamming the door on her bullshit. On my dreams, on all of it.

Outside, the cold blast hit me again, and my insides felt like they were freezing with it. I couldn’t believe how bad this hurt; this pain was worse than anything I’d ever felt. I looked around, deciding where to go. A small bar was a few blocks up and around the corner.

As I started toward it, my gaze traveled back up the street to the now-empty bakery, and like a symbol, I realized how much I’d lost.


About Tia

Tia Louise is a former journalist, world-traveler, and collector of beautiful men (who inspire all of her stories… wink)—turned wife, mommy, and novelist.

She lives in the center of the U.S.A. with her lovely family and one grumpy cat. There, she dreams up stories she hopes are engaging, hot, and sexy, and that cause readers rethink common public locations…

It’s possible she has a slight truffle addiction.

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  1. Tia Louise said:

    Thanks, Vilma! 🙂 <3


  2. Cheree Millspaugh said:

    Wow’. Can’t wait for this one!


  3. Carol Savoy said:

    Oh wow! This sounds like an excellent read. Adding this to my THE list!


  4. Livia said:

    I just finished One To Keep, loved it. Thanks for posting the deleted prologue, poor Patrick! cheaters suck donkey butt!


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