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Shiver (Unbreakable Bonds #1)
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Lucas Vallois is always in control. He’s building an empire in the glittering city of Cincinnati and created his own family from his three close friends. The self-made millionaire has everything he wants within his tight grasp. But his world starts to crumble after he’s jumped by a trio of thugs late one night after leaving a club. The warning is clear—give up his new property venture or end up dead.
Caving to the demands of his friends, Lucas accepts the help of bodyguard, Andrei Hadeon, as as he hunts for the source of this new threat. But as Lucas gets closer to uncovering the danger, he realizes the sexy Romanian bodyguard poses an even bigger risk to his carefully constructed world. Trapped by a need he never expected, Lucas must find a way to deny the shiver of longing he cannot control.
His brother. His warrior. His heart. Four friends. Unbreakable bonds.
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Shiver was alive.
Lucas Vallois leaned over the waist-high wall and surveyed the first floor of his favorite club, pride sending a welcome stream of warmth through him. People were crammed into every available space, gyrating to the music the guest DJ played while six bartenders expertly crafted unique drinks and cracked open beers with speed and finesse. Low and intimate lighting created secluded areas for stolen moments.
He smirked. Maybe not low and intimate enough because he could see bare skin from here—not that he minded. But it was surprising considering the temperature in those corners.
A different world existed on the second floor.
Lucas turned and settled across from his assistant on the supple black leather sofas. They were cool to the touch thanks to the steady stream of frigid air being pumped in from the air conditioning vents. Fall had settled into Cincinnati and the surrounding river valley, but the crisp, evening temperatures outside couldn’t cut the body heat that tried to lift the temperature inside the building toward triple digits. But even without that, Lucas demanded that the air remain cool and sharp inside the nightclub.
How could you expect anything less at a place called Shiver?
Lucas leaned forward and picked up one of the glasses. Taking a sip of water, he kept his eyes locked on the petite blond with the wide blue eyes seated across from him. She’d begun adding smart, matching coats to her business suits when they’d started meeting here more. Though heat rose, the upstairs couldn’t compete with the amount of grinding, crowded bodies below. Candace’s hands flew before her as she signed a list of updates regarding business contracts, negotiations, and other interests he had brewing. He nodded, making mental notes of where he would need to follow up the next day.
When the music changed, a swift jab of annoyance made him frown. Candace’s fingers instantly halted, but Lucas shook his head once, indicating that his frown wasn’t due to anything she had signed.
God, he hated trance. It all sounded the fucking same. Clean, sterile, lifeless, and digital. What happened to the days of Trent Reznor’s raw voice and screaming guitar hammering against the walls? Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, Thrill Kill Kult, Skinny Puppy, and Front 242 echoed through some of his more pleasant memories, but it seemed as if they didn’t have a place now. Of course, whenever he brought it up to one of his friends, they would snicker and mock him about being old.
Restless, he returned his glass to the table, pushed to his feet, then motioned for Candace to halt before he walked back to the half wall. Shiver had been open for more than a year and it was still packed every night it was open. Of the three nightclubs he owned, it was the most popular and his most successful. Bodies writhed in dance and alcohol flowed in a constant stream of lovely profit. Guest DJs fought for spots on his calendar and celebrities made regular appearances. It was the place to see and be seen in Cincinnati.
But Shiver would probably be closing in a year. If he was lucky, maybe two. People followed trends like lemmings scurrying for the cliffs. And what was hot now, wouldn’t be hot in a few years. Nightclubs—the truly profitable ones—never stayed on top for more than a few years at best. Lucas had learned to close his clubs as sales started to dip, timing it so that a newer, more exclusive one was opening up at the same time.
Shiver was his favorite. The sleek, modern atmosphere made an impact and Lucas loved making an impact.
Candace rose and stepped up to the wall in his peripheral vision, but she waited for him to turn toward her. Lucas let her stand there as his gaze slipped over the two bars and dance floor that were visible. Shiver wasn’t at capacity yet, but it was close.
He turned his gaze on his assistant and she immediately started signing, her long, delicate fingers flying through the air. The sleeves of her slim, red coat flapped around her wrists.
“Table service is booked for tonight and all weekend,” she reported. “The whiskey distributor has agreed to our terms. We will have the new contract on Monday.”
Lucas nodded and she immediately stepped back, indicating that she had nothing else to say. Some of the tension eased from his shoulders. It had taken him six tries to find an assistant who could keep up with him, and Candace had come with an added bonus: she knew sign language. It proved to be an excellent opportunity to pick up fluency in a fourth language. Three nights a week, Lucas surveyed each of his clubs and he refused to shout instructions over the pounding music until he was hoarse. He also would not be shouted at in his own club. Of course, most of the bar staff wrongly believed he was deaf, but that was fine. It kept him unapproachable.