Taking the Lead (Secrets of a Rock Star #1)

By: Cecilia Tan

A Secrets of a Rock Star novel





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


This book wouldn’t exist without the enthusiasm and encouragement of my agent, Lori Perkins, my editor Megha Parekh, and the whole team at Forever/Grand Central Publishing/Hachette, including Marissa, Leah, Elizabeth, Latoya, and everyone. You’re the best!

Thank you to my beta readers Angela, Chris K., Corey, Leela, JaNean, and Melanie, and to all the various cheerleaders, kibbitzers, and innocent bystanders on Twitter who watched me fuss with band names, story locations, and other minutiae. Twitter “co-workers,” you know who you are. See you at the virtual water cooler.

Almost this entire book was written in four coffee shops in a half-mile stretch of Mass. Ave. So thank you to Pedro at Tisan Coffee, the crew at Simon’s and Bourbon Coffee, and the late-night folks at the Shepard Post Starbucks. (The exception was the chapter I wrote at the Epcot Center Starbucks, to take a vacation from my vacation.) Tea-fueled writing binges win.

I would also like to thank everyone at RT Magazine/RT Booklovers, RWA, Georgia Romance Writers, Authors After Dark, and the New England Chapter of RWA for being warm and welcoming.

But as always, longest and loudest praise for my family: corwin, my partner of twenty-four years, and my parents. You’ve always believed in me.





PROLOGUE



RICKI

The sex toy catalog was glossy, tasteful, full of subtle typefaces and swaths of cool, corporate gray. If you didn’t look closely you might think it was advertising office furniture, not vibrators and color-coordinated bondage accessories. I flipped it closed on the blotter of my desk and pushed it toward my sister, Gwen.

“Do we have it in the budget?” was my only question to her.

Gwen silently mouthed the word “Jaded!” at me, before actually speaking. “Seriously, Ricki? Could you stop thinking like an MBA for half a second? You didn’t even get past the dildos to the leather section. There’s a whole selection of handmade whips and floggers—”

“I don’t care if they’re made of organically sourced fair trade yak hide,” I said, waving my hand as if dispelling a cloud of smoke. “Sex toys are sex toys. Is it in the budget?”

“Yes, it’s in the budget,” she said sullenly, settling back in her chair. Her eyes darted around my office. I’d tried to neaten up the place since taking it over after my grandfather’s death, but two months later there were still vestiges of his eccentric taste. I hadn’t figured out what to do with the seven-foot-high carved wooden statue of an eagle, for example. And I’d kept his massive oak desk, as big as a dining table.

I liked the desk. I leaned back in my own chair, kicked off my heels, and put my stockinged feet up onto it. “Don’t sulk, Gwen.”

“You know it’s a good idea,” she said defensively. “Kresley Palmer’s daughter almost discovered his vibrator collection in the back of his car. Plus we’ll reduce liability by maintaining and cleaning them ourselves—”

“Didn’t you just say it was in the budget? Buy all the sex toys you want, Gwen. It’s a great idea. Maybe look into installing private lockers, too.” Providing our members with everything they needed on site so they didn’t have to transport incriminating implements made good sense.

What didn’t make as much sense, though I tried not to dwell on it, was the fact that the two twenty-something granddaughters of one of Hollywood’s richest moguls were running a secret sex dungeon in the family mansion. But our grandfather Raymond “Cy” Hamilton had left some very odd requirements in his will. Some I could almost understand, like the one that said if I wanted to work for the family corporation—the former Coast to Coast Pictures, now simply known as CTC—I had to work somewhere else for at least three years. I would even have understood if the will had said to destroy all evidence of the dungeon and never speak of it again. But no. The price of our inheritance: keep the tradition alive.

“Your mouth is saying yes but your attitude is no,” Gwen said, her slim blond eyebrows drawn together with concern. “You don’t look thrilled.”

“It’s not my job to be thrilled.” My feet ached and I pulled one toward me to rub it. “Honestly. What’s the point of running a secret BDSM club if I don’t have a slaveboy to give foot rubs?”

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