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Author/Writer of Book/Novel:

Deborah Bladon

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Ruthless, a new standalone from New York Times and USA Today Bestseller, Deborah Bladon.

When I agreed to go on a blind date my best friend set up, I had no idea how the night would end.
As soon as I got to the restaurant, I spotted the dark-haired, gorgeous man I thought I was there to have dinner with.
I sat down at his table and proceeded to flirt awkwardly with him.
When his actual date came back to their table from the ladies’ room, I realized my mistake.
The sinfully sexy man I told a condensed version of my dating history to wasn’t Dale, the friend-of-a-friend I was there to meet.
Mortified, I went home and hid in my bed for the rest of the night swearing off blind dates forever.
Three days later, I came face-to-face with the hot-as-hell stranger from the restaurant again.
This time he introduced himself.
Barrett Adler.
He’s that Mr. Adler. Barrett is my new boss.
He quickly proves he’s the most annoying, arrogant, and ruthless man I’ve ever met.
My employment contract ties me to him for the next year.
Three hundred and sixty-five days from now I’ll be free of him forever.
Or will I?

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Deborah Bladon Books

Chapter 1


“What are you wearing?”

Rolling my eyes, I press the phone closer to my ear. “That’s creepy as fuck. Why would you ask me that?”

“Duh.” My best friend, Max Polley, drags that one syllable out as I cross the street headed toward a restaurant in the West Village that I’ve never been to.

“Maxwell,” I snap back, weaving my way through the early evening pedestrian traffic. “Focus.”

I’m finally done work for the week. That should bring a sense of relief, but it feels as though half of Manhattan has converged on this block. It’s swarming with people. I escaped my crowded office only to dive into this mess.

“I’m focused.” He clears his throat. “The guy you’re meeting for dinner is named Dale Simpson or Smithson. Maybe it’s Samson. All I remember is that there’s a son in his surname.”

I inch my way past a group of five women who have come to a dead stop in front of a hotel. Rolling suitcases sit at their heels.


I toss them a smile as I pass them by. “What does he look like, Max?”

He heaves a sigh. “I asked Tiffany to send me a picture of him, but so far there’s nothing incoming from her.”

I slow, anxiety dictating my movements. “Remind me again why I’m going on this date. You know I’d much rather come down to the store and hang out with you.”

Max ignores my request to join him. “Remember a few months ago when I was Tiff’s plus one at her friend’s wedding? I saw Dale that night for a split second. You know that I save every face to memory. I’ll describe him to you.”

I agreed to this blind date less than an hour ago as a favor to Max.

He arranged it as a favor to his friend. Tiffany Alesso met Max a year ago when she walked into the shoe store his family owns. She bought a dozen pair of stilettoes from him. The commission on the sale paid his rent for a month.

It also funded our joint twenty-third birthday getaway to Atlantic City.

Max covered the bus tickets and the hotel. I sprang for the food and one hundred dollars each for gambling.

We didn’t win a dime, but we created memories that will last us forever.

“If you weren’t my best friend, I would bail on this,” I point out.

“Stop walking and talking.” Max laughs. “You sound breathy, Bella. You need to tone that down before you meet Dale or he’s going to think you’re panting for him.”

“What does he look like?” I repeat, stopping to lean against the exterior wall of a cell phone store.

“He’s taller than me.” He pauses for a moment. “Dark brown hair, blue eyes, no beard when I met him. He’s a good-looking guy. I’d give him a solid nine-and-a-half out of ten.”

I know his type, so picking Dale out in a crowded restaurant should be a breeze.

“The reservation was for seven,” Max goes on, “It’s almost seven fifteen. Tiff said Dale’s early to everything, so he’s probably already seated and waiting for you.”

I set off again toward the restaurant. “He can’t fault me for being late, Max. An hour ago I didn’t even know he existed.”

“What are you wearing?” He bounces back to the first thing he asked when I called him.

“Why does that matter?” I ask as I round the corner.

“Isabella Calvetti.” My name comes out like a warning. “I’m trying to find you a husband. Work with me here.”

“A husband?” I laugh. “I’m twenty-four-years-old. I’m not looking for a life partner.”

“I know, I know,” he says, his voice edged with fake exasperation. “You’re looking for a good time.”

I hang my head. “I need to go. I’m almost there.”

“The outfit, Bella,” he presses. “Tell me what you’re wearing.”

I look down. “The black heels you gave me for my birthday last year and…”

“Killer, so fucking killer,” he interrupts in a rush. “Go on.”

“That short sleeve white sweater I bought last month.”

“Your boobs are perky melons in that thing.”

“Creepy as fuck, again, Max.”

“Tell me you’re not wearing your grandma’s pants.”

“My grandma sometimes wears black dress pants, and I sometimes wear black dress pants. It’s a coincidence.” I stop just short of the entrance to Atlas 22, one of the best seafood restaurants in the city. “I’m wearing my black leather skirt if you must know.”

“Damn.” I hear the smile in his tone. “The one that makes your ass look like a million bucks?”

I glance at my reflection in one of the panes of glass with the Atlas 22 logo etched on them. “As much as I appreciate the compliment, I need to go.”

“Hair and makeup?”

I take a step closer to the glass and study myself. “My hair is just past my shoulders and dark brown, and yes, I wear makeup.”

“You’re so not funny,” he drawls. “You know how to answer the question.”