Category: Tough Enough

Rogan is here! Check out the first three chapters of "Tough Enough" right here <3

ROGAN! ROGAN! ROGAN! Rogan is here, he’s here! OMG y’all I seriously CANNOT wait for you to meet him. There are no works to describe this man. Well, wait–there are: hot, sexy, intense, hot, driven, dark, protective, hot, delicious–and did I mention hot? Yeah.

And let’s forget Katie. Her story makes me tear up every. time. And together with Rogan…well. Just love. <3

Go meet them! Get Tough Enough on Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, and Google Play. And don’t forget to add it on Goodreads!


Here’s a bit about the book:

He’s a fighter who never loses, but is he tough enough to win her heart?

There was a time when I had everything–a wonderful family, a bright future. Love. But all that was taken away in a single night, torn from me like flesh from bone. Since then, I’ve hidden away in my second-choice job as a makeup artist. But I prefer it that way, actually. I’m comfortable in the shadows, where no one can see my scars.

Kiefer Rogan literally took my breath away the moment I met him. MMA champion-turned-actor, notorious playboy, charming to a fault—he’s everything I vowed to avoid.

But he just wouldn’t stop until I opened up and let him in. Maybe I should’ve tried harder to resist him. Maybe I shouldn’t have fallen in love with him. Because I, of all people, know that everyone has secrets. Scars. And that they’re usually ugly and painful and destructive to the people we love most.

I just never guessed that they could be deadly, too.


And because I know that reading is the BEST aphrodisiac …specially when it comes to a guy like Rogan …here are the first three chapters of Tough Enough. Enjoy! <3

Chapter One

Katie

“You’re not the least bit excited to be putting makeup on the Kiefer Rogan?”

Mona and I slow our walk as we approach my office. I use the term office loosely since mine is really just four thin walls that house a makeup chair, a bank of lighted mirrors and a wraparound counter. Two of the four walls are covered with shelves that hold the supplies of my trade—a wide array of everything from pancake makeup to prosthetic noses. It’s not fancy, but it feels as much like home as any place does.

I turn my eyes to Mona’s cornflower blue ones. She is the only person who might even come close to being called my best friend. “Am I excited to be putting makeup on Kiefer Rogan?” I repeat. Am I oddly nervous? Yes. Am I extremely uneasy? Yes. But am I excited? “Not even a little bit,” I reply sincerely.

Her full lips fall into a disbelieving O. “Wow! I can’t even imagine not getting excited over a guy like him.”

“He’s just a guy,” I declare with a shrug. I wish I felt as casual as the gesture indicates. Kiefer Rogan is just a guy, but guys like him spell trouble. For that reason alone, I can’t really be as nonchalant as I pretend to be. There’s no point in dwelling on it, though, so I try to redirect her. “Besides, why should you care anyway? You’ve got a boyfriend.”

She grins, which makes her look even more innocent than her platinum hair and eyes that are too big for her face. Physically, Mona is the perfect split between a Barbie Doll and a Precious Moments figurine, all with a touch of clueless porn star thrown in for good measure. She can work her assets like nobody’s business, but she does it in such a way that doesn’t make her detestable. That alone is quite a feat. She’s very genuine, too, which is one of the things I like most about her. That and the fact that we are polar opposites in practically every way.

Mona is tall and fair and beautiful with a sweet, outgoing personality. I am none of those things, which is probably why we get along so well.

“White’s great, but he doesn’t look like that.” White Bristow, Mona’s boyfriend, is the executive producer of the show. He’s fairly good looking, but nothing like the man I’m about to meet, Kiefer Rogan. White’s as much of a player as Kiefer is alleged to be, but Mona loves him enough to overlook it. No matter what else he’s doing (or who else he’s doing), he always comes back to Mona. I guess maybe he loves her in his own way and that seems to be enough for her. “God, I wish he did, though.”

“Looks aren’t everything,” I remind her softly.

Her expression falls into one of regret and sadness. She reaches out and smoothes the hair that I always keep swept over my left shoulder. It can always be found draped around my neck to hide my scars. She’s one of the few people who know what lies beneath the swath of hair. And how sensitive I am about it. “No, looks aren’t everything, but if they were, you’d still be one of the most wanted.”

I smile. That’s Mona—always seeing the best in me, whether it’s accurate or not. “That’s sweet, but you and I both know that’s not true.”

“Oh, but it is. Look at you, Katie. All this thick, wavy auburn hair, those big dark blue eyes and you’re so tiny! I’d give anything to be petite like you.”

“Mona, you’re like a living, breathing Barbie Doll. If I were you, I wouldn’t want to change a thing, not even your Amazonian height,” I tease. She’s not the least bit insecure about her five-eleven frame. In fact, she’d be the first to tell you that it’s her unusual stature, replete with legs that go for miles, that helped her get the attention of White. And White is the person responsible for bringing her into the Hollywood world.

I stop in front of my “office” door and turn to face her. Mona leans up against the jamb, her eyes going all dreamy. “I wonder if Rogan likes tall women,” she muses.

Back to Kiefer Rogan, I think with a deflated sigh. I won’t be able to avoid him much longer, so why do we have to talk about him now?

My bitterness surfaces. A guy like him—beautiful, wealthy, had the world in the palm of his hand—showed me just how destructive men like these could be, and he left me with scars to prove it. Scars that won’t ever let me forget it.

In an uncharacteristic show of emotion, I let that bitterness flow, secretly hoping it’ll stop her from bringing the conversation back to him. “From what I’ve read in the tabloids, he likes anything with boobs. But I think he’s into the divas mostly, which would count you out. Thank God!” I, for one, am glad that Mona isn’t conceited about her looks or her position here at the studio. She’s utterly guileless, happily clueless and I like her just the way she is—diva not included.

“I could be a diva,” she says, straightening, her expression turning enthusiastic. “I could totally be a diva. If it meant having those flirty green eyes and that drop-dead gorgeous smile turned on me, I’d be whatever he wanted me to be.”

Her little-girl giggle belies her words. She could never be a diva. “You don’t have a diva bone in your body. Besides, why would you want a guy like that? He dates the most horrible women and he goes through them like water. I mean, look at Victoria,” I say, lowering my voice as I scan the hall left and right to ensure we aren’t being overheard. “What kind of decent person would date her? She’s awful!” I go on cynically, finding some strange comfort in pigeonholing him, calling a spade a spade. Hoping that maybe if I build up my armor against him, I won’t be swayed by his pretty face. “I bet he’s a conceited jerk who only cares about what his arm candy looks like.”

“Guys who look like him can be annnything they want, as long as they stay hot.”

“Well, he’s all yours, then. I don’t have room for cocky, obnoxious, self-involved sleazeballs in my life.” I glance at my watch. Six fifteen a.m. Mr. Rogan should be here by six thirty, but I won’t be holding my breath. “I bet he doesn’t even show up on time. Jerk!”

Mona sighs, tilting her head, a faraway look in her eyes. “I’d wait all day for a guy like that. He makes my special places shiver.”

“Well, you and your special places are welcome to him. I don’t see what the big deal is,” I reply, turning into my office. “He’s not even that good-looking.”

I take two steps through the door and come to an abrupt halt. There, settled in my makeup chair with one ankle resting on his other knee, looking highly amused and as though he’s been here for a while, is none other Kiefer Rogan.

More gorgeous than words.

A rising star.

My first client of the day.

And the guy I just insulted.


Chapter Two

Rogan

I sit in the makeup chair listening to the conversation happening out in the hall. I don’t feel guilty. I’m not trying to eavesdrop. They brought that shit to my door. Literally. So of course I’m going to listen.

I’m curious to see what the two women who are talking look like. One is obviously very complimentary, while the other is anything but. I’m more used to flattery than dismissiveness, so I’m already working on a mental picture of the skeptic. I mean, yeah, I have an ass-ton of flaws, but I was lucky enough to be born with a decent face and a strong body, a combination that never leaves me without plenty of female attention. I’m not arrogant about it. It is what it is. I don’t try to be handsome. I guess I just am. I mean, hell, I make a living getting punched in the face. Well, not anymore really. There aren’t many who are good enough to land one on me these days. That’s the beauty of rising to the top in the mixed martial arts arena.

I’m surprised when the two women walk through the door into the room where I’ve been waiting. I’m even more surprised by the way they look. One is a tall, blond goddess, the kind of woman I love to spend my nights with. The other is shorter and darker, but no less appealing. In fact, something about her immediately snags my attention. Holds it pretty damn tight, too.

She’s staring at me with wide, midnight eyes, her deliciously lush mouth hanging open in shock. A long, thick rope of reddish hair is swept over one shoulder in a sexy wave and she’s wearing a prim little dress that’s the color of an apricot. What’s inside that dress is just as appealing as the rest of her—two plump, more-than-a-handful tits pressing rhythmically against that soft cotton. They make my palm tingle to touch them, to see if they’re as firm as they look.

When I make my way back to her face, I realize quickly enough that she was the one running me down. She doesn’t have to say a word. It’s all right there in her expression. The blonde looks dazzled. This one just looks . . . shocked.

Of course, me being the healthy guy that I am, she’s the one I want.

The one who doesn’t want me.


Chapter Three

Katie

Even though Mona is still pressed flat against my back where she nearly ran me over because I stopped so quickly, I can’t seem to budge. All I can do is stare, open-mouthed and embarrassed.

“Mornin’, ladies,” Kiefer Rogan drawls, dropping his ankle from his knee and crossing two thick arms over his impressive chest. He looks like a man who has not a care in the world.

And why should he? Look at him! I think.

Sweet Mary! His pictures don’t do him justice. I knew he was a handsome guy. I mean, I’m not blind or dead. I’ve seen the tabloids. I’ve seen the news. But I had no idea just how handsome he would be. He’s stunning. Simply stunning. Practically perfect in every rugged, manly way.

His short hair is dirty blond and his brows are just a few shades darker. They hover in a dramatic slant over amazingly bright green eyes. They nearly glow in the tanned sea of skin that’s stretched tightly across his angular face. His mouth is chiseled perfection, and his jaw and chin might as well be carved from a chunk of granite. He’s not so perfect that he’s pretty, though. No, he has flaws. Well, at least one that I can see. It’s his nose. There’s a slight crook at the bridge. Obviously it’s been broken a few times, but it does nothing to detract from his looks. Not. One. Thing.

“Mr. Rogan,” I finally manage to mutter. “You’re early.”

“Just Rogan,” he instructs in a sandpaper voice. “I may not be that good-looking, but at least I’m a prompt selfish asshole.”

Ohgod ohgod ohgod! He heard me!

I can hear Mona’s soft whisper in my ear. “Shit!”

For far too long, that’s the only sound in the room aside from the pounding of my heart and the crackling of the fire that I’m certain has engulfed my face. Or is that just my imagination?

“I didn’t call you an asshole,” I defend weakly.

“You might as well have.”

“But I didn’t,” I maintain, starting to feel a bit prickly, like a cornered animal.

“Touché,” he says with an acknowledging nod. As I watch, one side of his mouth pulls up into a grin that’s so sexy, for a split second I worry about Mona’s panties bursting into flames and burning us all alive in this tiny little square of an office.

I don’t know how to respond, so I say nothing. I just stand here, sinking in the quicksand of his stare as the silence stretches between us like thick, stringy taffy. Unfortunately, that gives me too much time to notice how his smile makes my stomach feel shaky and how the sparkle in his jade eyes makes my skin feel warm. None of this helps my composure.

Mona recovers first. I hear her clear her throat just before she steps around me. “Hi! I’m Mona. Mona Clark,” she says in her friendly way.

My best friend strikes out across the room toward Rogan. As I watch her, I’m a little deflated. I could never measure up to a woman like Mona. And I don’t just mean her California looks, surgically enhanced figure and her loose-hipped swagger, the one she’s using right now. No, it’s something more than that. It’s her outgoing personality, too. Mona’s just the whole package.

And I am not.

I can see her from the side when she stops and sticks out her hand for Rogan to take. She smiles and I think to myself that there aren’t many men who can resist Mona, least of all men like this one. But when I swing my gaze back to his face, I’m more than a little surprised (and even more disconcerted) to find that he’s not looking at Mona—Mona the beautiful, Mona the charming, Mona who’s standing right in front of him offering her hand. No, Kiefer Rogan is still looking at me.

Instantly, my tongue goes dry, dry like a damp cotton ball that’s been left out under a hot sun all day. Only this hot sun is a hot man with a curious gaze.

With my breath coming in odd little bursts, I’m forced to admit that I’m feeling a little starstruck, which is totally unlike me. Yes, Rogan is probably the most attractive person I’ve ever seen, but that shouldn’t matter. It’s no longer in my DNA to care about things like that. About men at all. I’m the classic “once bitten, twice shy.” Things like this don’t happen to me.

Ever.

Or at least not anymore.

I frown, confused by his attention. My confusion seems only to make him smile bigger, though. I want to look away. I really do, but I can’t. I feel like a fly trapped on flypaper, glued to this spot by his penetrating stare. Stuck until he decides to let me go.

Just a heartbeat before his disregard of Mona would be considered rude, Kiefer Rogan finally shifts his focus to my friend and takes her hand, grinning up at her. “So, Mona, are you the one who’s supposed to cover up all my imperfections?”

“No, that’s Katie. And don’t get me wrong, I love her and she’s one of the best artists in the biz, but I don’t think God Himself could improve anything on you,” she gushes with her most winsome, wholesome smile. I can tell she’s about ten seconds from stripping and throwing herself in his lap, but I doubt he can see it. She’s all calm confidence and cool beauty.

God, she’s good!

I envy my friend’s ability to be flirty and natural and unflustered in situations like these, whether she feels it or not. I used to be that way—poised and outgoing—but that girl, that version of Kathryn Rydale, got burned up in a fire a long time ago.

“I appreciate that, Mona,” he replies in a surprisingly genuine manner, “but I think the hi-def cameras might disagree. Apparently, scars are a bad thing.”

I cringe a little on the inside, even though I know it doesn’t show on the outside. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s how to hide. Emotions, insecurity, myself—hiding is the one defense mechanism that I’ve mastered.

“Why? Scars make a man . . . a man,” Mona assures him with a cute wink. That’s something else I could never pull off—cute. It would look clumsy and ridiculous on me. I don’t know what I can pull off, but I have a feeling it would be more in the neighborhood of awkward or weird.

“Oh, I’m a man, all right. All man,” he teases, shifting his eyes back to me. The instant they connect with mine, I’m unable to move or speak.

Again with the flypaper thing, I think in exasperation.

I want to avert my eyes, to hide from scrutiny like I’ve done for so long, but I can’t. It’s like I literally can’t look away. Even though it makes me distinctly uncomfortable in my own skin, I can’t look away. Maybe that’s because it also makes me feel breathless and warm and nervous and . . . fluttery.

In some way, the bizarre apprehension I’ve carried all morning makes perfect sense now. My gut told me he would be trouble. I just never expected him to be this kind of trouble. No one affects me this way anymore. No one. It’s been safer for me that no one has. And I liked it that way. Because this isn’t safe.

I work to hide my unhappiness with this situation. After all this time, why am I reacting to Kiefer Rogan? Of all people, why him? Is it his looks? His attention? The position of the moon or a random twist of fate? And why did I know, deep down, that he was going to be a problem? I don’t know the answers. What I do know is that my life is much less complicated when men aren’t a part of it. And Rogan is not just any man. He’s danger on two legs. And danger is something I don’t need. I’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime.

“I don’t doubt that one bit,” Mona murmurs, drawing me back to reality and the conversation going on around me.

“So does that mean you’re Katie?” he asks me, blatantly ignoring Mona, who is still clutching his hand, practically drooling all over it. “Are you the beautiful artist I’ll be spending my mornings with?”

There’s a silk thread in the gravel of his voice now. It soothes and it entices. It invites and it promises.

No wonder the world fell in love with him. He’s flat-out hazardous! That smile, that friendly nature, that wickedly handsome face . . . It’s a potent combination. It’s even working on me! And, as damaged as I am, I didn’t think any masculine wiles would be able to penetrate the thick scars I’ve developed. But, then again, I never expected to meet someone like Kiefer Rogan either.

“Yes, I’m Katie,” I mumble when I finally find my voice.

Rogan unfolds his big body from the makeup chair. I catch and hold my breath, stunned into immobility for the second (or it is the third?) time in a few short minutes.

He’s got to be over six feet; six feet of solid muscle and graceful lines. Wide shoulders, narrow waist, thick arms and legs, and it’s all encased in denim and cotton that hugs him like a lover.

In a slow walk that practically screams SEX, he makes his way across the room to me, not stopping until I have to look up at him from my diminutive five feet, three inches. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Katie. I look forward to changing your mind about me.”

I’m spellbound. As much as I don’t want to be, I am. Not only is he gorgeous, which is bad enough, it’s clear that he’s charming, too. Good God, what a combination.

Up close, he’s even more heart-stopping. I can see that, unlike his hair, his lashes are nearly black and sinfully long, framing his eyes and turning plain green into dazzling emerald. I can also see that there’s a tiny scar marring the smooth line of his upper lip. I wonder what it would feel like to run my fingertip over it. I find myself inordinately fascinated by it.

I drink him in, albeit reluctantly. Kiefer Rogan is like champagne—undeniably delicious, deceptively light, and too easy to get drunk on. To lose your mind with. To make a mistake with.

That mouth quirks into a half-grin and my gaze flies back up to his. His expression is amused. Confident. Sizzling.

Not taking his eyes off mine, Rogan reaches for my hand, curling his warm, rough fingers around mine. He lifts and shakes my hand, each pump a leisurely, measured movement, like he’s thinking of things other than the polite, innocuous gesture. It gives me a little chill to imagine what those things might be.

When I reply to his determination to change my mind about him, I’m proud that it’s in a calm that belies my inner flux. “That’s not necessary. We don’t have to like each other. I’m just here to pretty you up for the cameras each day.”

“Oh, I already like you,” he claims in a low voice. Before I can respond, he continues. “But Mona here doesn’t think I need much prettying. Do you disagree?” His eyes twinkle with mischief, and I can only imagine what a less scarred and backward woman might be feeling right now. Dazzled, flattered, lustful. All of the above?

“It’s my job to make everyone prettier,” I reply mildly. I know better than to stir up that hornets’ nest. I’m used to stroking egos and protecting pride. I work with some of the world’s vainest actresses. Diplomacy is practically a job requirement in my field.

One corner of his mouth curls into that irresistible, lopsided grin again. This time, he’s so close that I can see a dimple appear in his lean cheek. “Then consider me your willing canvas. Do your worst.”

I would take a deep breath, but my lungs feel like they can’t expand anymore, like they’re already near bursting. “Then have a seat and we’ll get to work,” I suggest breathily, hoping he’ll take the hint. At this point, I’d say just about anything to get some space from his disconcerting proximity. If I’m to spend the next six weeks in his face, touching him and getting him ready for his part as Drago in the cable series Wicked Games, then I need for day one to begin with as much professionalism as possible. And at this rate, that’s looking less and less likely to happen. I mean, I started off by insulting the guy within earshot. Not an easy opening from which to recover.

After a few seconds of staring at me with that bone-melting gaze of his and then giving me a full-blown smile, Rogan finally turns to head back to his chair. I carefully and quietly let out the breath I was holding.

“Captivating the crowd already, I see,” a cool and cultured voice says from behind me. I turn to find Victoria Musser, actress, beauty, and witch extraordinaire, standing in the doorway behind me. She looks perfectly rumpled, as though she fell out of bed looking amazing and dragged herself in here to hypnotize all the cameras, with or without makeup.

Having worked for Cinematic Studios for two years, I’ve been assigned to her before, and I despised every minute of it. I was thrilled when Kelly, our key makeup artist, assigned someone else to fix her up.

Before anyone can comment, Victoria is sweeping me into a hug. Her arms feel like scrawny, steel traps.

Or maybe like spider pincers.

I’m stiff as a board. Even after she releases me and smiles down into my face. Her blue eyes are soft and her expression is warm. I have no idea what to think of her right now. Other than that she’s possessed.

“Katie! I’m sorry I haven’t been around to see you in a while. I’ve missed you, girl!” I’m not sure how I manage to keep my mouth shut, but I’m glad that I do. I just stare at her like she’s sprouted wings and a tutu as she makes her way around me to accost Mona. “And, Mona, how are things with White?”

Although Mona is not only the girlfriend, but the personal assistant to the executive producer, just like me she is far, far, faaar beneath the notice of Victoria Musser. Well, until today, that is.

Mona looks dumbfounded as she, too, gets drawn into the cold-fish embrace of Victoria. I suppress a grin, wondering if that’s what my face looked like when she hugged me.

“And, Rogan. God, it’s been too long. How have you been?”

Like a slinky kitten, Victoria eases herself into Rogan’s lap, wrapping her arms around his neck in that familiar way that says, “Yeah, we’ve seen each other naked a million times and it was awesome.” When she leans back from her hug, her face still very close to his, Rogan returns her smile. Even from this distance, I feel the effects of it. Like a drug, which is what reminds me that men like him are toxic. Especially to me.


So what did you think? Do you love Rogan and Katie yet? ;-) I sure do! Go get the rest of their story on Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, and Google Play. And don’t forget to add it on Goodreads!