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Advance excerpt from REBEL HARD
When they walked into the grand wedding hall side by side, Nayna saw all eyes go to Madhuri. She wanted to smile. That was the way it had always been and would probab— Her thoughts cut off mid-word, her eyes locking with those of darkest brown across the room.
What was Raj doing here?
“Who is that smoking-hot hunk of deliciousness?”
Madhuri’s whisper had Nayna jerking. “Raj,” she said through a dry throat, her pulse a panicky beat. Because she knew what happened to men when they saw Madhuri. She knew.
“Oooooh.” Madhuri’s tone was intrigued. “I see what you mean about you two not suiting. He’s what, six three?”
It wasn’t a dig, was just Madhuri being Madhuri. And it wasn’t as if her sister would attempt to poach Raj. Men asked to be with her—she didn’t have to steal. Stomach churning and cheeks hot at the scene surely to come, Nayna walked with her sister to take a seat at one of the tables. The centerpiece was created of tea candles and exotic blooms floating in a fishbowl, each place setting perfectly arranged.
There was no assigned seating, but every one of the six hundred guests was guaranteed a seat. This was a very expensive wedding. And the back of her neck was prickling. Just her imagination. Raj was unlikely to be staring at her when Madhuri was right next to her.
“Good evening, ladies,” a deep male voice said just as Nayna put her purse on the table.
“Hello.” Madhuri glowed up at him, her smile luminous. “I’m Madhuri, Nayna’s sister.”
“Raj.” He slipped into the chair beside Nayna, his expression as solemn as always and his body clad in a black suit that was criminal in how it highlighted his rough-edged sexiness. “This wasn’t taken, was it?”
“My mother was going to sit there.” Nayna scowled at him instead of curling up into a self-defensive ball.
“Oh, Ma can sit by me,” Madhuri said airily.
Raj nodded and stayed put, his large body emanating a heat that made Nayna want to cuddle into him and sniff at his scent from the curve of his neck.
He rose to his feet only when her parents arrived after making their way through all their friends and greeting everyone. Shaking her father’s hand and smiling at her mother, he then sat back down. His own parents soon joined them at the table.
Oh. My. God. The man wasn’t just playing dirty, he had declared no-holds-barred war.
She kicked him under the table.
When he gave her a steady, stubborn look, she wanted to strangle him. Despite the black-tie-attired orchestra out front and a gifted singer crooning away Hindi classics as the guests settled in, every eye in the place was on them. Single, unattached men did not sit next to single, unattached women unless something was going on—or that was the accepted point of view. And no one would’ve missed that he’d deliberately chosen the seat next to her, not Madhuri.
Which… okay, yes, that made her want to kiss him. After she finished kicking him.
Bruised ankles or not, he stayed. And brought her chai. Then got her extra sweets. Her parents and his looked on benevolently.
And it started to dawn on her that this serious man, whom she’d never seen laughing, was playing with her. Her bones threatened to melt—but she still had to grit her teeth to control the urge to pour the piping-hot chai into his lap in punishment for his behavior.
“I wouldn’t,” he said roughly under the hubbub of conversation. “You might damage parts you like.”
“I’m going to kill you,” she murmured despite the urge to do highly inappropriate things to his spectacular body.
Music drummed through the huge hall.
The wedding was finally ready to begin two hours after the scheduled time. Which meant it was right on Indian-time. The Hindu priest—the pandit—got up to do a small prayer, then the emcee did an introduction lauding the couple. Their university degrees—in science for the groom, in finance for the bride—were heavily emphasized.
“Is it because I don’t have a degree?” Raj whispered, his breath ruffling her ear. “Is that why you only want me for my body?”
“I swear to God, I’m going to murder you in a minute.”
His responding look held the faintest hint of a smile, and it was pure provocation. She wanted to rip off his clothes and kiss him all over. Did he realize how madly arousing it was to have him crack his mature, serious shell just for her? It made her wonder if he might be like this in bed sometimes, after they got comfortable with one another.
Nayna’s toes curled. Hard.
© Copyright 2018 by Nalini Singh
If you’d like to read Gabriel’s story, Rock Hard is currently available everywhere.
Book 2: the Hard Play series
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Hard Play series with a sweet, sexy romance featuring big, fat, OTT weddings, a meddling grandma, and a too-serious hero who needs to be unbuttoned…
Nayna Sharma agreed to an arranged marriage in the hope it would heal the fractures in her beloved family… only to realize too late that a traditional marriage is her personal nightmare. Panicked, she throws caution to the winds, puts on the tiniest dress she can find, and ends up in the arms of a tall, rough-edged hunk of a man who has abs of steel—and who she manages to mortally insult between one kiss and the next.
Abandoned as a child, then adopted into a loving family, Raj Sen believes in tradition, in continuity. Some might call him stiff and old-fashioned, but he knows what he wants—and it’s a life defined by rules… yet he can’t stop thinking about the infuriating and sexy woman who kissed him in the moonlight then disappeared. When his parents spring an introduction on him, the last woman he expects is her. Beautiful. Maddening. A rulebreaker in the making.
He’s all wrong for her. She’s all wrong for him. And love is about to make rebels of them both.