Book One in the Afterburn & Aftershock Duo
The realization that Jax still affected me so strongly was a jagged pill to swallow. He’d only been part of my life for five short weeks two years ago. But now he was back. Walking into a deal I’d worked hard to close. And God, he was magnificent. His eyes were a brown so dark they were nearly black. Thickly lashed, they were relentless in their intensity. Had I really thought they were soft and warm? There was nothing soft about Jackson Rutledge. He was a hard and jaded man, cut from a ruthless cloth.
In that moment I understood how badly I wanted to unravel the mystery of Jax. Bad enough that I didn’t mind how much it was going to cost me...
Never mix business with pleasure. Never bring politics into the bedroom. In a way I did both when I took Jackson Rutledge as a lover. I can't say I wasn't warned.
Two years later, he was back. Walking into a deal I'd worked hard to close. Under the tutelage of Lei Yeung, one of the sharpest businesswomen in New York, I had picked up a thing or two since Jax walked away. I wasn't the girl he once knew, but he hadn't changed. Unlike the last time we'd drifted into each other's lives, I knew exactly what I was dealing with... and how addictive his touch could be.
The inner circle of glamour, sex, and privilege was Jax's playground--but this time, I knew the rules of the game. In the cutthroat business world, one adage rules all: keep your enemies close and your ex-lovers closer...
Sylvia delivers the debut novel from Cosmo Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin, and the first in a provocative duo culminating in Aftershock.
- Afterburn and Aftershock, together, tell the story of Jackson and Gianna. Both e-novellas will be released in paperback together in Afterburn/Aftershock.
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This excerpt contains adult material and is intended for readers 18 years of age or older.
Jackson and I sized each other up for a long minute. He was wearing the gray sweater and slacks from earlier in the day, the casualness more familiar to me–and beloved. A lock of his dark hair fell over his brow, softening the severity of his beauty. He had his back against the door, his hands in his pockets, his legs crossed at the ankles. But only an idiot would fail to sense the predatory alertness in him. His hooded gaze was watchful and knowing, seeing way too much.
“I miss the curls in your hair,” he said finally.
I backed up to my father’s desk, resting my butt against it. I crossed my arms. “That’s a seriously delayed response.” A couple years too late…
“You were closing in on the kill when I got here. Are you thinking about fucking Chad Williams because you want to, or because you want him to sign on the dotted line?”
Some other woman might have held her tongue because the question didn’t deserve an answer. I didn’t say anything because I was too hurt. I’d never seen Jax deliberately mean or cruel–he’d just disappeared from my life.
“Don’t call me that.”
“What would you prefer?”
My foot tapped restlessly. “I’d rather not see or hear from you.”
“I would think that’d be obvious.”
His wonderfully sensitive mouth tightened. “Not to me. We know each other. We get along well. Very, very well.”
“I’m not fucking you again!” I snapped, feeling the walls close in on us. He’d always had that effect on me. When he was with me, I didn’t register anything else.
“Stop asking me that!”
Jax straightened and the office got even smaller. My breathing quickened, my gaze darting to the door at his back.
“It’s a valid question.” He engaged the lock without taking his eyes off me. “Tell me why you’re so angry.”
A surge of panic got the better of me. “You fell off the face of the earth!”
“Did I?” He took a step toward me. “Are you saying you didn’t know how to find me?”
I frowned, confused. “What are you talking about?”
“It had to end, and it did.” He came closer. “Quietly. No messy scenes. No ugly memories. We–”
“Neat and tidy.” I sucked in a sharp breath, more wounded than I could say. I lashed out in self-defense. “So why rehash and screw it up?”
“Can’t we be friends?”
Jax stepped into my space. “Can’t we do business together?”
“Nope.” I unfolded my arms, feeling the need to take the defensive. “You made this personal from the get-go, and business should never be personal.”
He smiled, flashing that damned dimple. “You’re sexy as hell when you’re mad at me. I should’ve pissed you off more often.”
“Back off, Jax.”
“I did. It didn’t take.”
“Actually, it did. For two years now. Go back to your world and forget me again.”
“My world.” The smile faded along with the light in his eyes. “Right.”
He’d stopped his advance, so I skirted him quickly, aware that I’d been gone too long and Chad was waiting.
Jax caught my arm, his hand flexing around it. He spoke in my ear. “Don’t fuck him.”
Afterburn is Book 1 in The Jax & Gia Series. The full series reading order is as follows:
- Aftershock Debut Aftershock debuts at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list! The print anthology of Afterburn & Aftershock debuted at #1 on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list, and hit both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.
- Afterburn Debut Afterburn debuts on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Thank you, readers!
- Sneak a Peek Anywhere Magazines are Sold… Read an exclusive excerpt of Afterburn in the August 2013 issue of Cosmopolitan, featuring Demi Lovato on the cover!
- Fresh Fiction:
“Afterburn is a captivating story of second chances. Gianna is a smart, relatable heroine, but the true star of this novella is Jax. Fans of Sylvia Day's Gideon Cross will find Jax irresistible. Like Gideon, he is an incredibly sexy but flawed hero. He is magnetic, and, like Gianna, readers will be helpless to resist him.” — September 2013
- Maryse Black:
“A deliciously rich 'reading-snack' that was short-ish, sure... but it had plenty of steam and romance to indulge and entertain me. My perfect bedtime read!” — August 2013
- Aestas Book Blog:
“Sylvia Day's writing is addictive, sexy and compelling and she has once again managed to make me fall in love with a mouthwateringly gorgeous yet flawed hero. I could just feel the passion and desire between Jax and Gia rolling off the page and I didn't want their story to end.” — August 2013
- Book Reader Chronicles:
“Sylvia once again created a world that draws you in and characters that captivate you so much that you cannot possibly put the book down. I absolutely loved these characters, including the supporting ones, and became so instantly engaged in the story that I read it in one sitting.” — August 2013
- Natasha is a Book Junkie:
“Sylvia Day does it again! Just when I though that there was no way that she could possibly grab my attention so completely like with the Crossfire series, she gives us Gia and Jax. The writing is pure Sylvia Day - direct, effective, mouthwatering. A seasoned storyteller, she grabs our attention in every scene and gives us such emotionally intense interactions between characters, we are not just reading them, we are living them.” — August 2013