EXCERPT: The Initiation by Nikki Sloane
No one knows how new members are selected to the board of Hale Banking and Holding.
But there are rumors of a sordid rite of initiation.
Whispers how one woman and nine men disappear into a boardroom.
This time, that woman will be me.
The Hale family owns everything—the eighth largest bank in the world, everyone in our town, even the mortgage on my parents’ mansion. And now Royce Hale wants to own me.
He is charming. Seductive. Ruthless. But above all, he’s the prince of lies. My body may tighten with white-hot desire under his penetrating gaze, but I refuse to enjoy it.
I’ll make a deal with the devil to save my family and sell myself to the Hales. But Royce will never own my heart.
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Every pair of eyes in the restaurant was on us as we were led to our table for dinner.
Probably not every pair, but God, it felt that way.
“Is it just me,” I asked over the top of my menu, “or is everyone staring at us?”
Royce was indifferent. “They’re staring at you.”
His statement rattled me. “Why?”
“Because you’re here with me.” His gaze never lifted to mine, like he couldn’t be
bothered. “Or more likely, because you’re fucking gorgeous. Who knows?”
Breath halted in my lungs. “You can’t just say shit like that.”
The leather-bound menu holder dropped onto the table with a thud, and I was met with
the full power of Royce’s irritated stare. “That you’re beautiful? You are. Get over it.”
Dismay twisted my lips into a frown. “Please, don’t. I don’t need bullshit lines from
someone like you.”
“It’s not a line, and . . . someone like me?” More annoyance darted through his eyes, but
intrigue too. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
How was I going to put it into words? “You’re a ‘haver.’ I mean, you could have any
woman in this room if you wanted, and probably some of the guys too. You’re young, hot, and
His irritation vanished. It was replaced with an arrogant expression that said none of this
was news to him. I pushed forward, gathering steam.
“Me?” I said. “I’m a ‘have-not.’ I’m sure you didn’t intend for it to happen, but when you
said I was a nobody, you made it true. No one will touch me.”
“I touched you.”
He was immune to my scorching glare. “You wanted to know why I was still a virgin last
year. Well, there’s your answer. You’re the reason, Royce. Nobody would be caught dead with
He considered the accusation I’d lobbed at him. “You’re wrong,” he said finally. “I was
aware what was going to happen. It’s exactly why I said it.”
My head turned into a void. “What?”
He leaned over the table to ensure he had my full attention. “I saw you at the bar with
your sister that night. You were swaying to the music, all happy, and pretty, and it pissed me off.
My father had already laid out plans for me. I was supposed to be with Emily, but that wasn’t
what I wanted.”
I clenched the menu in my hands. I sensed where he was going, but I couldn’t wrap my
head around it. My heart chugged along, thumping loudly in my ears.
“So, yeah. I knew you were behind me when I called you a nobody. I did it on purpose,
because I couldn’t stand you with anyone else. I wanted you for myself.”
“Oh, my God.” My body flushed hot, although I didn’t know if it was with anger or
excitement, or a deadly combination of the two.
About the Author: Nikki Sloane
USA Today bestselling author Nikki Sloane landed in graphic design after her careers as a waitress, a screenwriter, and a ballroom dance instructor fell through. For eight years she worked for a design firm in that extremely tall, black, and tiered building in Chicago that went through an unfortunate name change during her time there.
Now she lives in Kentucky, is married and has two sons. She is a three-time Romance Writers of America RITA© Finalist, a Passionate Plume winner, a HOLT Medallion finalist, and couldn't be any happier that people enjoy reading her sexy words.