CONTEST! The Professional: Part One by Kresley Cole

XOXO is heating up the month of December with an exclusive excerpt from THE PROFESSIONAL, the first installment of Kresley Cole’s  sizzling new Game Maker erotica series. Part 1 releases in e-only on Monday, December 16th, but below we have a special sneak peek of Chapter 1 to get you all revved up!

And we’re also hosting an awesome Kresley contest–see bottom of the post for details! 

Chapter 1:

Mommy issues. Serial cheater. Humor void. Two-pump chump.” With each guy who entered the campus bar, I ticked off my initial impression to my drunken friends.

I had an uncanny knack for sizing up males—I was a regular “manalyst.” My secret? I always went negative, and the guys, well, they always accommodated.

The girls at the table—several of my roommate’s friends and a couple of mine—looked at me like I was a fun sideshow act, their carny pal. Drinks were perpetually free.

After the week I’d had, my dinner of salt, tequila, and lime was hitting the spot.

My best friend Jessica murmured at my ear, “You better be careful, you picky prude, or else you’ll take your hymen to your grave. Like a skin tag.”

She alone knew that I’d never given it up—and why. “Low blow, Jess,” I said without any heat. Like her, it took a lot to get me ruffled, which was one of the reasons we made such great roommates.

Other than that, we were as different as we could be. Where as she was leggy and tan with twinkling blue eyes and cropped black hair, I was short and top-heavy, with long red hair and pale-as-porcelain-sink skin.

I was a workaholic studyaholic, pursuing my history PhD. After years’ worth of incompletes, Jess had finally dipped a toe into the core courses of her major—leisure studies—and decided college was “a racket” for “wretched fucks.” Though it was midsemester, she was heading out tomorrow for a tour of the Greek Isles with her wealthy family.

Another round of tequila shooters arrived, sent by a trio of frat boys a few tables away. We raised our glasses, then dutifully licked, pounded, and sucked. The tequila, not the boys.

While other women might look at these superficially attractive guys and see potential mates or even fun one-night stands, I saw impending headaches. Other girls got hot and bothered by their lines and pickups; I just got bothered.

But I hadn’t always been that way.

“Do the frat boys, Nat!” our friend Polly cried. She was a sturdy corn-fed Nebraska girl—her family’s farm was in a small town outside Lincoln, just a few miles away from ours. Well, not ours anymore, since Mom had sold out last year.

“Too easy,” I said, having already sized up the trio. The first guy had been constantly checking sports scores on TV while his leg jogged. The second was a bleary mess whose own friends

rolled their eyes at his drunkenness. The third one’s grooming and clothing were fanatically perfect, and he kept checking his appearance in the mirror behind the bar.

“From left to right, then?” I said. “Inveterate gambler, habitual drunk, and—how should I put this?—the third is illequipped.”

I sighed. Yep, those guys were too easy to read. Where was the excitement? Here I was at the same Lincoln bar I always went to, with the same crowd I always hung around. I had an early work shift tomorrow at one restaurant, a late one at the other, and classes to take and to teach on Monday. I’d been averaging five hours of sleep a night for the last few weeks. What was I even doing here?

I guessed I could sleep when I was dead.

“I’ve chosen my quarry for the evening,” beautiful Jess said. “Ill-equipped is mine.” As per her usual, she would pick up another conquest and take him back to his place—so she could leave when finished with him. “His type,” she continued blithely, “usually make up for any shortcomings with their mouths. True story.”

I told her, “And you better be careful, Jessebel, or else you’ll collect another admirer who clings like lichen.”

“I can’t help it that this is the Bermuda Triangle”—she pointed at her crotch—“when guys venture there, they tend to stay.”

I tapped my chin. “Oh, I thought you called it that because it’s sucked in lots of seamen.”

Between guffaws, she said, “That’s a completely fair statement!”

We could laugh about it now, but I’d lived with the aftermath of her affairs: the desperate gifts, the late-night phone calls, the stalking.

What was the point of all the drama? Of all that angst? Dating, love, and sex were all overrated—as I’d repeatedly tried to explain to Jess. She would get this secretive smile and say, “You’re gonna get blindsided one day. I only hope I’m there to see it. . . .”

When the laughter died down, Polly said, “Do him,” with a wave at the door.

“Fine.” Exhaling with boredom—earn your booze, carny—I turned toward the entrance. And saw the baddest-looking man I’d ever encountered.

His eyes were a vivid gold, stark against his thick black hair. He wore it longish, the ends brushing his collar. He had a roman nose that had likely been broken and a razor-thin scar that sliced

down across both lips. A fighter?

Yet that didn’t fit with his expensive clothing: a tailored black coat and dress shirt, dark gray slacks, black leather shoes and belt. Through Jess, I’d learned enough about fashion to recognize fine

threads. His outfit probably cost more than my entire wardrobe.

When he stood at the bar and ordered a drink, I saw that he had three rings on one hand, a ring on his other thumb, and a wicked-looking tattoo peeking out from his starch-stiff collar. His

style was a mix of privileged and street.

He was tall, with a lean, muscular build, and looked maybe twenty-nine or thirty, but his face was weary, as an older man’s would be. With those rough-hewn features, he was ruggedly handsome, yet not classically so.

There was an aura of ennui about him, but he also seemed hyper-alert. What the hell? My  internal manalyzer whirred with confusion. Does not compute!

I could feel my friends staring at me, but I was at a loss. “I . . . I got nothing.” Was he a brawler or a rich playboy or both? I was also sensing top notes of European—along with strong undertones of dangerous!

He was like a history book written in a script I’d never seen. Fascinating.

Jess pinched my side, drawing my attention to her smug grin.

“You can close your mouth now, hooker.” In a patronizing tone, she said, “Welcome to my world—where first meetings are always in slo-mo and the song ‘At Last’ repeats on a loop.”

No, no, her world was angsty and overwrought. So why had my gaze darted back to the man?

“That’s one hot piece of tackle—in a cage-fighter/GQ model mash-up kind of way.” Jess wasn’t going to let this go. “Probably gets more ass than a toilet seat. But he got you to look twice,

which makes him a rare and wondrous creature, this bar’s very own unicorn. Requires closer investigation, don’t you think?”

I could question him, type him, then discard all thoughts of him. I was just tipsy enough to consider it. “I should go up and introduce myself?”

She nodded. “Unless you’re a twat. Now, go forth with confidence, for you look cute-iful tonight.”

Jess’s style was SEXY GLAM! Mine? See-me-love-me, motherfleckers. Yet tonight, I was wearing a hip-hugging short suede skirt and a slinky red top—one of Jess’s fashion-forward, low-cut numbers. For once, my bra wasn’t a minimizer.

This outfit had come about because the clothes I’d normally wear—jeans and a turtleneck—were all in an overflowing laundry hamper. I’d worn the black knee-high boots Jess had bought me,

to show appreciation in front of her.

I rose, smoothed my wavy hair over my shoulder, then tugged down my skirt, prompting Jess to give me a loud slap on the ass for encouragement. As I passed their table, Ill-Equipped and Habitual Drunk raised their glasses to me, which didn’t hurt my confidence.

Once I was halfway over to Badass, his eyes locked on me. His gaze grew heated, and immediately the area felt smaller, warmer. I squelched the urge to fan myself. For the first time in my life, I was a little . . . giddy.

When I sidled up to him at the bar, he turned fully to me. Up close, he was even more intimidating, even more attractive. Taller than I’d thought.

His spellbinding eyes were the color of amber, irises ringed with black.

As I noted additional details—scarred knuckles, tattoos on his fingers under those rings, chiseled jawline clean-shaven—I perceived the heat coming off his big body. Then I got my first mind-numbing hit of his scent.

Crisp, masculine, intoxicating.


Speak, Nat. I had to look up to face him. “Uh, hi, I’m Natalie.” I offered him my hand to shake. He didn’t take it. Okay . . . I swallowed. “Can I buy you a drink?” Was that a vodka rocks he’d ordered? He didn’t look like a 7&7 type of guy.

He canted his head, studying my face—the same way I studied men’s expressions. Still he said nothing. Maybe he didn’t speak the language. UNL had a lot of overseas students. “Drink?” I

pointed to his untouched glass and mimed a shot.

His expression gave away so little, it was like I was talking to a wall.

As my cheeks flushed, I muttered, “Sooo, this went well. Good talk, buddy.” With a mortified smile, I turned around—

A callused palm closed around my elbow, his rings cool compared to his skin. The contact was so electric, I shivered.

“Wait,” he said. Had there been a subtle v sound to that w?

My heart leapt—maybe he was . . . Russian. I turned around, a genuine smile on my face now. “Are you from Russia?” I added, “Zdrav-stvooi-tee.” Hello.

He still cupped my elbow. How could his hand be so hot? I stifled imaginings of him cupping other parts of me, those hands spreading heat in their wake. . . .

“You speak my language, then?”

Bingo, a Russian! “A bit,” I said with delight. I could grill him about the country, learning more about my birthplace! “I took a class or two.” Or five. My master’s had required fluency in a second language, and I’d chosen Russian.

He swept his glance around, his stance alert, as if someone might throw a punch at any second. Then he met my gaze once more. “Of all the men in this bar, you choose me to approach?”

His English was very good, though heavily accented. “Are you looking for trouble?”

With a confidence I didn’t feel, I teasingly said, “Maybe I am.” I sounded breathy—I still hadn’t caught my breath since he’d first touched me. “Have I found it?”

He glanced down, seeming surprised that he was still holding my arm. He abruptly released me, growing angrier by the second. “No, little girl. You have not.” With a disgusted look, he turned away and stalked out.

I stared at the door, battling my bewilderment. What just happened? I’d seen interest in his gaze, hadn’t I?

Yet then he’d acted like a vampire who’d discovered I was a fucking sunbeam.


Question: If you were a mafiya princess, what kind of man would you want by your side?

Be sure to answer in a comment below by 5 p.m., Sunday, December 15, for your chance to win free (and sexy) books by Christina Lauren, Lisa Renee Jones and Nicole Camden! One grand prize winner will be chosen at random.

**Click here for complete contest rules.

And keep reading here for an extended excerpt of THE PROFESSIONAL: PART 1!

<< read previous read next >>
Professional: Part 1

Professional: Part 1

Kresley Cole

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole comes The Game Makers; a scorching new erotica series about a young woman desperate to uncover the mysteries of her past and the hitman bound to protect her.



48 comments so far

  1. If I was a mafiya princess, I would want a strong, dangerous sort with a soft lovable soul. ;-)
    Can’t wait to read this series.

  2. I just read the extended excerpt…This is going to be sooo good. :-) Thanks for shaaring.

  3. Can’t wait to read the complete book

  4. a tough alpha

  5. If I was a Mafiya princess I would want a strong, honorable man by my side.

  6. tall, dark, alpha, totally into me. Can’t wait to read the series.

  7. If I were a Mafia Princess I would need a man who could take care of me in case of danger or take care of me for other things as well.

  8. Dark haired blue eyed bad ass.

  9. Natasha411

    If I was a mafiya princess I’d want a trustworthy, strong, smexy man by my side.

    Looking forward to the new series!

  10. I would want someone who is strong, dependable, honorable, smart, and funny who can also be sweet and tender but only when he’s with me :)

  11. tiffanyfreund

    If I was a Mafiya princess, I would want someone dangerous, yet honorable and loyal toward me. Protective with a ‘don’t f***’ with me’ look/attitude, but kind and caring to those who deserve it.

  12. If I were a mafyia princess, I would want a strong alpha man who is also drak and sexy with a good heart to be by my side! <3

  13. Mr. tall, dark and deadly sounds good to me. He could protect me if needed and would be a strong male for children to follow. He also sounds yummy.

  14. jovialvampyre

    I think I’d want one with morals.

  15. ellesmearacdc

    I want him dark and dangerous and sexy a hell but with a loving and tender nature, abd I want him whip smart so e could banter as well, basically I’d want him to be able to protect me with his fists and be a master of seduction with his tongue :-)

  16. Jojoluvv010

    i’d want an Alpha male ofcourse (lol), one that is a closet romantic/softy.

  17. amypeppers

    if I was a mafyia princess, I would want a strong, dark, and sexy, yet really sweet and loveable to me :) … also amazingly hot with his clothes off ;) lol

  18. Tall, dark, and sexy with a sensitive side.

  19. amypeppers

    If I was a mafyia princess, I would want a strong, dark, and sexy, yet really sweet and loveable to me:) … also amazingly hot with his clothes off lol ;)

  20. amypeppers

    If I was a mafyia princess, I would want a strong, dark, and sexy, yet really sweet and loveable to me:)

  21. KRESLEY COLE’S AMAZING WRITING HAS RUINED ME FOR OTHER AUTHORS!!! There I was contented with reading my perfectly mediocre romance novel from my nook. I decided to take a break and check my Facebook page. What do I see? Only a free 6 chapter excerpt of the professional. I had already pre-ordered this book and only knew what it said in the description (I love everything Kresley writes and have read all the books she had written. Hell I’d buy a pack of gum if Kresley wrote the description lol). I have a momentary thought of self preservation “Do I really want to get the book blues before I even get a chance to read the full book? This always happens to you when you go Cole” I mused mentally. So of course like a moth to a flame I immediately toss reservations to the way side and tuck in to the excerpt like a complete crack addict. I fly through it and am done before I realize what happened and then comes the remorse. I knew it, I shouldn’t have gone there. It was like one moment I stepped into an inferno of passion only to be foisted into the arctic circle the next. It was the book blues to the nth degree. I was blissfully unaware of the mounting awesomeness of this books potential one moment, then thirsting for more like a dying man in the middle of the desert the next. I numbly pick up my nook after several minutes of pining for what I cannot have at the moment. I attempted to settle with reading my mediocre novel only to realize I was officially bored out of my mind with it. Darn you again Kresley! Not only did the 7 days until the release of The Professional seem like eternity but, now I couldn’t even get back into the book I was reading. The comparative was like in Lothaire when Elizabeth was trying to explain the difference between a human orgasm (fire cracker) and that of a vampire ( off the charts and volcanic). The book I was reading seemed like a small firecracker in compared to reading The professional which was volcanic in its intensity! And this was only a TASTE of what is to come!!! The only thing that I can console myself with is the knowledge that I won’t have to wait a year for the other parts of the book to come out (ahem-like with arcana chronicles & IAD-seriously Kresley…straight up book blues torture with the year long waits). So it in short, I’m ruined and can’t take my mind off of the professional that has been increasingly sluggish to make it to the release date. Eagerly anticipating reading more of your awesome literature ( like a crack addict).


    Alisha Lindsey

  22. blueyedgal623

    I would totally want Sevastayan. Totally hot bad boy!

  23. Tall, strong, and protective, and gorgeous!

  24. LizzyBiddy

    I would melt for a big tall handsome muscular Scottish man who knows his way with a bow. As long as he sounds and fight like Bowen I will be all set.

  25. amandadalon

    Question: If you were a mafiya princess, what kind of man would you want by your side?

    Hmm.. a strong man that is gentle with me but stern and authoritative with others. who takes slights personal. (Thor-ish) wink wink . cant wait for Dec 16th i so pre-ordered baby!

  26. brooksmelvin

    My list of wants- tall, dark, black hair, unusual eyes, tats that have meaning to them, quiet, but has a loud laugh, smart as me but not too smart!

  27. If I were a mafiya princess, I would definitely want a smokin’ hot badass like Sevastyan to protect me (and to teach me how to be kickass too)!

  28. A trustworthy, strong, and sexy man.
    Can’t wait to read this one!

  29. glrpeppers

    I would want a strong and sexy man that knows how to treat a woman.

  30. zacharyquarles

    I would like a very dangerous man who treats me with respect and loves a good time :) and loves me for me ;)

  31. glrpeppers

    A man that will stand beside his woman not in front of or behind my equal :)

  32. I would want a fierce male who is strong, brave and wickedly smart. But I would also love for him to be loyal and loving despite his bad-assness. And for him to be smoldering sexy, that too! :)

  33. krstndevore

    As a mafiya princess I would like a walking contradiction. Brooding, sexy , dangerous , smart, and witty. Then we’ll throw in a heart of gold for good measure and voila! Mr. Perfect ;)

  34. I’d want a civilian (i.e., non-Bratva) man with an ordinary background who would love me despite my family’s business. While he wouldn’t be a part of that world, he’d still recognize that the mafiya don’t make threats—only promises.

  35. Can I have whatever warrior Channing Tatum’s playing in the upcoming Jupiter’s Ascending? That was an excellent trailer.

  36. Genevieve23

    A dark, dangerous Alpha male. With a sense of humor and an irreverent charm.

  37. If I where a Mafiya princess, I think I would desire someone by my side that skillfuly makes use of both his brain &braw to achieve his end goals. A protector and guardian who could guide me through any sticky situations that may arise during the challenges ahead, but has no issues in poking fun at me when I “obviously” deserve It..
    Now if he happens to be hot as hell, and place me on top of his goal list;we might have a story>;)

  38. If I were a mafiya princess, I would want a tall, muscular, guy with dark hair and dark eyes that you could get lost in. He would have to be reserved and mysterious. I would accept the challenge of breaking past his shields and making him mine.
    He would be able to handle himself in any situation. A very dangerous man who is very overprotective of the one he loves. One who is guarded around everyone, but me.

  39. Question: If you were a mafiya princess, what kind of man would you want by your side?
    a tall tall man with old fashion manners to treat me like a lady but so passionate for me that his sexual beast tests his old fashion values. and no i don’t need a man to make me laugh. just worship me.

  40. I would want a tough, strong, loyal badass who had a soft and gentle side for me and who could protect me as well as teach me how to be a badass too. Thanks for the sneak peek!

  41. I would want a man. Tall, muscular, dark hair, smoldering eyes, sinful lips, strong jaw. The kind of voice that makes you squirm. With that kind of arrogance that lets you know no one would dare to mess with him, and that he’s earth shattering in bed. With enough of a personality that keeps me on my toes and makes me want to know more. And interested in figuring me out and protecting me.

  42. I would need a very large, intimidating, scary badass with a sixth sense about security. He would have to be tough as nails but melt with my touch. Together we would combust. He would need to be in absolute control except with me, then he would need to absolutely lose control.

  43. I would want a strong lean masculine man who knew how to protect me and was easy on the eyes. Someone who would be smart and savvy and also be gentle and kind when necessary, rough and head strong when it benefited my safety.

  44. Lynne_Muller

    Hmmm, what kind of man would I want if I were a Mafia Princess….. Would have to be some variation of Chris Hemsworth as Thor with a kick ass side and a tender side. MUST be an alpha all the way, but willing to do anything for me. Will naturally be an exceptional lover with perhaps a penchant for ropes….. **sigh** My sandman, bring me a dream….

  45. shabfarhadi

    If I were a mafiya princess I would want a guy capable of killing anyone BUT me. Lol. Pretty sure it’s hard to love a guy who could get a good night’s sleep after snapping my neck.

  46. I would want a tall dark handsome mysterious bad boy with facial and physical features that live me breathless. I would want to be able him to understand me and want to protect me without me having to tell to him and also is doing it because he loves not because its his job. Then of course when it comes to love I think its obvious based on my description that he will one hell of a seducer as well as a extreme lover who could literally take my clothes off with just his eyes. Another important trait that I want my guy is a sense of humor which consist of sarcasm, dirty thought jokes, etc; things that would catch me off guard and make me laugh.

  47. Someone who would take me away from it all and make me feel safe.

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