Copyright © 2009,
Reviews For HIDDEN FIRE by Star Ferris
4.75 out of 5 hearts, Reviewer Top Pick! “Ah lawyers in love make an interesting story and Star Ferris did a beautiful job in this book. I loved the bickering and passion between Alexa and Devon. They definitely have chemistry and man when they're together it's easy to see the love between them. Though he was born with wealth you can tell he is not all about money but is all about family. Alexa is just like him but they deny what they have in common. I loved the way the story line went smoothly between them. Great job Star.” Melinda, Night Owl Romance Reviews
Sample Chapter For HIDDEN FIRE by Star Ferris
“Obstinate, selfish, arrogant jerk!” Alexa Chastain stormed through the front door of her sister’s apartment, slamming it so fiercely that the impact made the Dresden doll figurines pirouetting in the curio cabinet tremble. “Karyn, I’ll never understand why you chose to marry into that Munroe clan. I adore Evan beyond words, and I’m sure he’ll be a gem of a husband, but I have no use for the rest of the family!” Words were spewing from Alexa’s mouth with venom the likes of which her sister Karyn had never witnessed before.
“Now wait a minute, Lexa…” Karyn was rising from an overstuffed teal and rose-colored sofa, her hands extended defensively in her sister’s direction. Her eyes were beginning to fill with tears.
Alexa stopped short, surveying her baby sister’s pathetic expression. “Oh, sis, I apologize for my dreadful behavior. It’s just that your fiancé’s brother Devon has got me in an uproar again over this prenuptial business. Why can’t he stay away from your wedding plans? Maybe you should hire another attorney, someone who can put up with Devon Munroe’s chauvinistic tendencies!”
“Lexa, you and I know Evan doesn’t really want this prenuptial agreement. It’s merely another ploy by his father and Devon to break up our relationship. This is their final chance to cause a rift, try and make us break the engagement. I’ve endured this madness for two years, with his family hanging that inheritance over his head like an emotional anvil. I don’t see why you’re allowing yourself to get so worked up over this.” Karyn folded her arms, waiting expectantly for the barrage of unmentionables cruising through Alexa’s mind to tumble out one-by-one in fiery, expletive blocks. Her sister was a sweetheart, except when angered.
It didn’t happen. Alexa simply dropped her shoulders in resignation and sidled up next to Karyn. “Hey kiddo, what do you say we sit down and talk about this? As your attorney and sister, we’ve got some serious problems here which you cannot continue to brush aside. The future of your marriage and my sanity could depend on it.”
Karyn began to bristle; Alexa saw it and immediately realized that the kid gloves she’d just used to broach a delicate subject with her sister hadn’t worked. In fact, the reaction she’d gotten was the opposite of what she’d expected. She thinks you’re pulling rank on her again, and treating her like a child instead of a twenty-six-year-old woman with a mind of her own.
“Hey, sis,” Alexa was choosing her words carefully, “didn’t we swear to be honest with one another regardless of the consequences? Well, I’m going to be painfully honest with you. I may have to end my involvement in this matter. My feelings for you are hindering my ability to act competently as your attorney. Devon Munroe and I are like two big jungle cats fighting for territorial rights tooth and nail; neither willing to give in to the other. And there won’t be any compromise if I stay in the game.”
Alexa shifted uncomfortably on her expensive alligator pumps, bracing for her sister’s acidic response. Alexa was remembering how outraged she’d become at Devon over some of the ridiculous conditions he’d demanded for Evan and Karyn’s prenuptial agreement: a measly fifteen hundred dollars a month for living expenses; a provision stating that, in case of divorce or death, Karyn would not be afforded use of any of the five Munroe estates (three in the United States, two in Europe). Worst of all, Karyn would not be allowed to retain the Munroe name.
When questioned about the severity of the provisions, Devon wordlessly skimmed the curves of Alexa’s athletic body with his feverish hazel eyes. She had dressed conservatively in a navy blue suit and eggshell silk blouse, with touches of gold jewelry at the ears, throat and wrist, but Devon’s gaze made her feel exposed nonetheless. She could feel his eyes—WOLF’S eyes—peeling through the layers of her clothing: finding the lacy trimmings of her camisole, tracing the elastic of her designer underwear around her abdomen, tickling the edges of her warm place...
“...And I don’t need this extra stress a month before the wedding, Lexa. Alexa? Do you understand what I’m trying to say? I simply can’t stand this pressure. Just work up a final copy of the agreement Devon has presented and I’ll sign it. I just want this to be over with so I can concentrate on becoming the future Mrs. Evan Allen Munroe. Edmund and Devon can keep their money and mansions.”
Karyn’s face was flushed. She had apparently been on quite a tirade while Alexa had been away in a secret place. A secret place where Alexa was repulsed by the very image of Devon Munroe—yet ironically attracted by his animal essence. The thought of any woman being attracted to such an egoistic boor made her shiver in disgust.
“You’re forgetting one important ingredient to this recipe, dear sister,” Alexa said and frowned. “Your fiancé has no intention of ever signing such a vicious agreement, and I don’t blame him one bit. You are the absolute love of his life, and he wants to afford you the same lifestyle he’s been privileged to receive—now and forever. You may be willing to risk everything for Evan now, but once you become elderly and he passes on, you’ll be nothing more than a destitute old woman with no home, little money, and worst of all, stripped of your rightful name as Mrs. Evan Munroe.”
“Please…” Karyn’s forehead was beading with sweat; she was a terrified ball of energy. “Let’s forget all this. Help me persuade Evan to sign the contract. If he doesn’t, his father will stop his current means of support and he’ll lose all rights to future inheritance. I refuse to ask him to give up everything for me. I would rather sign the agreement and take my chances than not marry him at all!”
Alexa sighed deeply, pulled Karyn close, and squeezed her in a one-armed hug like she used to when they were growing up in northeastern Oklahoma. They’d come a long way from those wheat-covered fields her parents harvested in the summer, hadn’t they? No more dusty jeans, plaid shirts, pigtails and cowboy boots as standard attire. Now she and Karyn shopped at boutiques, not the mercantile store. Now her little sister, sans freckles, needed big sister Alexa. Could she honestly walk away from the case now?
“Karyn, you’re not thinking clearly. You and I were brought up to persevere, to throw the odds in our favor. You’ve come too far to give in to Evan’s bullish father and rogue of a brother. And if you are planning on giving in to them instead of hiring another attorney, then I WILL pull rank on you, sis! I don’t care if you and Evan have to postpone the wedding; I’ll do whatever I have to do to get a fair agreement out of Edmund Munroe and his legal henchman of a son. I don’t care how long it takes.”
“But...” Karyn stammered between sobs, “I thought you said you’d lose your sanity if you had to deal with Devon any longer.”
“Forget what I said,” replied Alexa, reaching over and wiping the tear tracks from her kid sister’s cheeks. “If Devon expects to fight it out, he is going to be in for a surprise.”
“I don’t like that look on your face, Lexa. What’s going on in that shrewd mind of yours? Nothing illegal, I hope!”
“Illegal, moi?” Alexa feigned exasperation. “I am a member of the legal profession, dear sister. How could you even suggest such a thing?” A wicked smile flirted across Alexa’s full lips.
“Well, since you’re my hired hand, there’s no harm in letting me in on your plans, is there?”
“Understand this, Karyn. I have nothing to lose personally by all of this, but you do. Nothing would give me more pleasure than seeing Devon Munroe outfoxed for once in his life. He may be used to running with the wolves, but never a FEMALE wolf. It’s time he got a little of his own sordid medicine. I’ll simply play his game for now, make him think he’s got me where he wants me, then I’ll neatly and effortlessly turn the tables on him, that’s all.”
“He’s a dangerous man, Alexa. You have no idea what you are getting into.” Karyn paused nervously, as if she were searching for the right words. “He hurts women. Uses them up and throws them away like crumpled pieces of paper. Evan’s told me more than I care to know about Devon’s ruthless ways with women, both professional and personal. I don’t want you to offer yourself up for sacrifice to this man for me. God forbid, I feel guilty enough about all the hoops Evan has been jumping through to please both me and his family. I won’t ask you to jump through hoops, too.”
“I’m not ‘jumping through hoops’ for anyone, Karyn. You are forgetting that I’m a big girl now, not some goofy teenager who can be persuaded easily by a smooth talker like Devon Munroe. I know his game, and I can beat him. In fact, it will be satisfying to watch him eat his pride. Maybe he’ll even learn a few manners along the way.” Alexa folded her arms in a gesture of confidence and determination.
“I still say it’d be much easier for me to convince Evan,” Karyn responded in a doubtful tone.
“Nonsense!” Alexa exclaimed forcefully. “You would be playing into their hands, doing what they expect and want you to do. A pawn in their little game of financial chess. They know you can wear Evan down, make him submit. Well, I won’t allow you to be treated in such a shoddy manner.”
“And what would your scheme make you in the long run? A temporary pawn of mine—and Devon’s.” Karyn sighed heavily. “I can’t bear the thought of you stooping to such a low level. I wouldn’t ask a perfect stranger to sacrifice herself in such a way, let alone my only sister!”
Alexa strolled to the door and wheeled around toward Karyn. “You are not asking me to do any of this. I’m merely exercising my rights as your attorney to do whatever I feel is best for my client. Besides,” she winked conspiratorially, “it’ll be fun to see Devon Munroe get a taste of his own Machiavellian techniques.”
Karyn looked confused. “Machia—what?”
Alexa dismissed her sister’s question with an impatient wave of her hand. “Never mind, sis. We never had this conversation, right?”
“Right. I guess,” Karyn replied dryly.
“Don’t worry,” Alexa assured her. “I know how to swim with the sharks and not get eaten.” Then, reverting back to her old familiar Oklahoma accent: “Don’t worry, Daddy didn’t raise any fools!”
“Sometimes I wonder,” Karyn said with a chuckle. “Hey, don’t forget about the party tomorrow night. Bring a date!”
Alexa smiled tightly. She had almost forgotten about the honorary fete for Evan and Karyn being held by a group of the couple’s friends at Moorland Manor, just outside Colorado Springs. Her private practice kept Alexa running almost day and night, not to mention the added distraction of her sister’s situation. Bring a date? She hadn’t dated for at least six months…but wait! Wouldn’t this be a perfect time to put her plan with Devon into motion? She thought it would. “Will Devon be there?”
Karyn shrugged. “Everyone attending the wedding is invited. I suppose Devon will make an obligatory appearance. He has never been known to pass up the opportunity to be surrounded by eligible females.”
Alexa could picture Devon strolling in nonchalantly, wearing one of his gray tweed designer jackets with the self-important elbow patches. He would scan the room with the smoky eyes of a predator searching for its prey, all the while tossing back his slightly-long sandy blond hair so it would fall as perfectly as it always seemed to do. All the “date Devon wannabes” would converge upon him, one by one, to tell their superficial stories of how it is oh-so-hard to be models for television commercials when they are actually the next Meryl Streep in disguise. Devon would smile that fake smile, laugh in all the right conversational places, and choose the starlet of his liking for the remainder of the night.
Alexa felt a mixture of disgust and anger roiling inside of her at the mere thought of tomorrow evening. She would have to be quite an actress herself to stomach his presence, to suppress the urge to slap him squarely across the face. Maybe he could get away with treating other women like commodities to be bought and sold, but she would teach him a lesson he would never forget: Mess with my sister, and you will answer to me. Devon Munroe was unaware that he was about to receive the drubbing of a lifetime, courtesy of Alexa Marie Chastain. And oh, what a drubbing it would be!
“Lexa? What are you smiling at? Have you plans for tomorrow evening?” Karyn cast a knowing glance in her direction. “Care to let me in on it?”
“Not particularly. Just make sure I’m seated next to Devon for dinner and I’ll handle the rest. Enjoy your party, enjoy Evan, and…” she paused for emphasis, “…enjoy the SHOW!”
“When she was good, she was very good,” recited Karyn, “but when she was bad, she was HORRID!”
They both broke into schoolgirl giggles as Alexa hugged Karyn one last time. “When shall I show tomorrow?”
“Party begins at eight p.m. sharp,” replied Karyn.
“Fine, I’ll be fashionably late!” Alexa breezed out the door, grinning all the way.