The Naked Man
The Fixer – Katerina Mills Book 1
by Jill Amy Rosenblatt Genre: Crime Suspense Fiction
Silver Medal Winner - Suspense Fiction - 2017 Global Ebook Awards
"...fun and fast-paced...Packed with thrills and fun characters..." Ashton, Beauty, Books & Babble
“Katerina—I need some help. Be a good girl and come over here and I’ll make it worth your while.”
It’s an offer NYC college student Katerina Mills should refuse. But how can she?
A desperate situation....
After ditching her cheating lover (and boss), she’s stuck in dead end temp jobs. Her dad just ditched her mom and his promise to pay Kat's college tuition bill. She has two weeks to come up with $14,000 or she's out of her apartment, out of school, and out of luck.
A dangerous world....
Katerina falls into a job as a "fixer” for New York City's wealthy and privileged men. They have problems they need “fixed,” quick and on the QT, and they’re willing to pay. The rules are simple: collect the money, use your contacts, fix the problem.
Kat's first job is easy: tail a shopaholic socialite wife. But who’s tailing Kat? Kat’s second job is not so easy: steal a VHS tape hidden in an antique chest. She can’t do it alone. To be a thief, she needs a thief: handsome, reclusive Alexander Winter to be exact.
Kat soon learns the real rules for a fixer: there are no rules, there are no refunds. Get in. Get results. Get gone. As every step brings her closer to her goal and closer to danger, there’s one rule left for Katerina Mills to learn: once you’re in, there’s no getting out.
Kat raced out of her morning class and made it over to Winter's loft space by noon. She rang the bell, laying on the button until the buzzer sounded. Settling into the safety cage of the elevator, she pushed the button for the top floor.
When the lift stopped, she entered a space of luminous hospital white—walls, carpeting, furniture. There were three glass elephant figurines on a wall shelf, placed in perfect alignment, one behind the other, from upturned trunk to tail. She could have sworn they were spaced apart in equal measure. The magazines fanned out on the glass coffee table also appeared to overlap each other by the exact amount.
A man stood in the center of the living space, his black slacks and shirt a sharp contrast to the snow-white surroundings. Kat studied him, putting him at a little over six feet, the shirt accenting the muscles of his arms and shoulders. His features were rugged with a strong jaw, and his hair, a closely cropped dark thatch that somehow suited him. She couldn't peg his age but hazarded a guess of late thirties.
He examined her with sharp, blue eyes.
“Mr. Winter.” Her voice sounded shy and tentative.
Winter moved to the couch and sat, arms folded across his chest. Kat drew on her social psychology class; to sit while someone stands is the equivalent of ceding power. Winter didn't appear concerned. Congratulations Katerina, you command no respect whatsoever.
“I assume Winter is not your real name.”
“Very good, Miss Mills.”
She ignored the condescending tone. “This is an unusual space.”
“I'm fond of it.”
“Have you lived here long?”
He smirked. “Not long . . . no . . . and I'll be leaving tomorrow.”
“Why is that?”
“My profession requires me to have residential flexibility, especially when beautiful, foolish young women seek my company.”
His voice, a rich mixture of gruff and gravel, had a warm, soft tone. A voice perfect for telling a bedtime story . . . one for consenting adults. The thought brought a flush of embarrassment to Kat's cheeks. She caught the glimmer of a smile on his lips. He finds me amusing. And he's playing with me.
“Did Doc tell you why I wanted to see you?’ she asked, channeling her voice from the night at Lessing's apartment.
“He doesn’t get involved with details.”
“I need to engage your services, Mr. Winter.”
The amusement left his eyes.
Pulling a piece of paper from her pocket, she approached him, holding it out. When he didn't take it, she placed it on the coffee table before him. The intensity of his scrutiny made her shift in discomfort.
“Are you familiar with the area where this house is located?”
He leaned forward and glanced at the paper.
“Because you’ve been there before.”
“Possibly,” he said, his voice indifferent.
He got up and went into the kitchen.
Kat felt rooted to the spot. Is that it? He's done with me? Great, I'm being dismissed. Why did I come here? Oh right, trying to earn fourteen thousand dollars before the last day of the month to avoid financial disaster.What now?
He reappeared, carrying a cup and saucer.
Kat exhaled in relief. She pulled another piece of paper out of her purse and thrust it out toward him.
“I'm looking for this piece,” she said, thrusting the picture of the cabinet at him.
Winter glanced up after taking a sip of tea. He shrugged. “You want to steal that?”
“I don’t want to steal it. I don’t want to steal anything. I need to know how I can get into the house to see this piece . . . I need you to tell me how to do that.”
Winter let out a chuckle. “Try the 92nd Street Y. Maybe they’ve added B and E for Beginners to their course list.”
A bolt of anger spiked within her. “Did Doc mention that I'm serious?”
Winter nodded. “He said you were an earnest, intelligent, and enterprising young woman. Where are you from?”
“Somewhere over the rainbow,” she snapped. “What does it matter?”
“You're a beautiful girl, Katerina. Surely you can find a less dangerous, more pleasant way to earn a living.”
“Not an option,” she said.
“Then take my advice, earnest, intelligent, enterprising young woman—pack up Toto and head back to Kansas. This is not the place for you.”
“Not an option,” she repeated.
He nodded at the paper. She swiped it up from the table, crushing it in her fist. Turning away, she headed to the elevator, then stopped and turned back.
“How do you know Doc?”
“I know a lot of people. I’m a very social person.” Bullshit. “I'm sure you are, but Doc isn't. He only deals with people when they have a medical issue. Why aren't you working, Mr. Winter?”
“I work when I need to work.”
“How often do you work, Mr. Winter?”
Winter put down the cup and looked her over; his blue eyes were cool. Her pulse quickened.
“You aren't studying law enforcement by any chance, are you Katerina?”
“I'm pre-law. The two have nothing to do with each other.”
He got up and closed the gap between them. He stood over her. A hint of cologne filled the space between them, warm and inviting. Her breath caught in her throat as a sudden desire to press her lips against his neck came over her. Her eyes met his; arctic, icy pools.
“You’re a thief. You sit outside a house. You watch. You wait; and in that split second, you know you're going to do it.”
The low rumble of his voice sent a sensation of heat spreading through her body; She could feel the warmth rising in her face. She fought the urge to close her eyes and lean into him. How can someone look so cold and give off so much heat?
“You know that one mistake, one slip, and your life will change. But you enter the house. You get to the box. You bypass the alarm. Then you give yourself five minutes, that’s all. You know that every extra minute brings you closer to getting caught. You make a mistake, you don’t get out, and it’s over. Your life, as you know it, will end.”
Katerina realized she was holding her breath.
“You think I can give you a crash course in how to do that?”
She shook her head. “No . . . you . . . you'll need to go with me.”
The blue eyes laughed at her, then a flicker of interest.
“What's in it for me?”
Kat's mind raced, searching for something, anything to make her case. “The satisfaction of helping a damsel in distress.”
Kat let out a sigh of relief.
He bent his head low. “No, really,” he whispered, his breath warm on her neck. “What's in it for me?”
At a loss for an answer, she sucked in a ragged breath. Damn.
“Is there anything else in that house that would interest me?” he said finally.
“You're not allowed to steal anything.”
Winter let out another deep chuckle and walked away.
“I can't have you stealing anything,” she said, trotting after him. “I told you, this isn't really a theft. I have to get something out of the cabinet. It belongs to the previous owner.”
Settling back on the couch, he smiled. “I see. What are you getting for this--retrieval?”
Kat bit her lip. “Twenty thousand.”
“I'll take half.” Damn it.
“Forty percent.” His eyes challenged hers.
Kat imagined she saw amusement in those icy pools. “Listen, I need—” She broke off, mentally cursing herself for the slip.
His eyes slid over her, then held her gaze until she looked away. “I wouldn't want to be thought of as a man who took advantage of a damsel in distress,” he said slowly. “Thirty percent . . . last offer.”
Six thousand dollars. She had no choice. “Deal.”
They passed a moment in silence, Katerina not wanting to walk away and end the meeting.
“Mr. Winter do you have a first name?”
Kat waited, her annoyance spiking as he remained silent. The smile pulling at the corners of his mouth only served to irk her even more.
“At the moment, I am Alexander.”
“Alexander,” she repeated softly.
Winter got up from the couch. “Katerina. I'll call you in a few days and let you know.”
“But you just said—”
“I said my fee would be thirty percent. I didn't say I would do it. I'll call you in a few days.”
She shook her head and turned to leave.
“Katie,” Winter said.
Kat stopped on a dime and turned. “That's not my name.”
“It is now. And the next time someone asks you what your cut is, it would be better if you didn’t give the real amount.” He paused, giving her a long look. “That’s lesson number one.”
Kat pursed her lips, forcing herself not to talk back.
On the way down in the elevator, she realized he didn't have her number. She chided herself for her ridiculous concern. There was never a chance she would see or hear from Alexander Winter ever again.
The Killing Kind The Fixer – Katerina Mills Book 2
Silver Medal Winner - Thriller Fiction - 2017 Global Ebook Awards
"The Fixer: The Killing Kind (The Fixer - Katerina Mills Book 2) by Jill Amy Rosenblatt is every bit as good, if not better, than the first book in the series. Even more action is packed into this edge-of-your-seat tale as Kat leads us on another thrilling journey."
Readers' Favorite Book Reviews
Kat’s back and in over her head with cops, criminals... and killers.
Christmas is around the corner but professional “fixer” Katerina Mills isn't feeling the holiday spirit, juggling college classes, a lovesick cop, and demanding clients.
Obnoxious hedge fund manager Simon Marcus wants Kat to get his prized Porsche back from his vengeful wife—but Simon isn’t the only one after the car.
Rock star writer Paul Patel needs something “special” to finish his next bestseller—something that will send Katerina straight to prison if she gets caught.
And what about mysterious Thomas Gallagher? His jobs are simple and easy. Is he just a bored billionaire, or is he watching Kat’s every move, making his own plans for her?
Katerina needs help. Enter handsome, elusive thief Alexander Winter. He’s back, tutoring Kat in all things criminal. But is that all he’s going to teach her?
Katerina Mills is still haunted by her first assignment...and her first assignment is about to come back to haunt her...a deadly enemy who’s closer than she thinks...
The Last Romanov The Fixer – Katerina Mills Book 3
Kat's back for the third installment in the suspense thriller series that's been called "a rollercoaster ride of an adventure." (Jennie Reads)
"My name is Katerina Mills. Make sure I disappear."
Katerina Mills is getting out . . .
Desperate to escape a psychotic former client, a vengeful mobster, and a dirty DEA agent, professional "fixer" Kat Mills is ready to drop out and disappear.
She doesn't trust her employer, the shadowy MJM Consulting, but Katerina can't say no to one last job for the biggest score yet, enough money to get lost for good . . . until the client asks the impossible . . .
Dmitry Zilinsky claims he is a direct descendant of Russia's last Tsar, Nicholas II, and he demands Katerina steal the item that will prove it.
Kat must get the job done or she can't make her escape. But when professional thief Alexander Winter reappears in her life, Katerina Mills faces a new choice: go it alone or risk everything to be with the one person she doesn't want to live without?
Thank you so much for joining The Fixer series tour and for letting me visit with you. I’m very happy to be here and have this opportunity to introduce Katerina Mills!
What inspired you to write this book?
The Fixer series, or the first book in the series, The Naked Man, is the first book I attempted after coming out of a bad bout of writer’s block. I had finished a second standalone novel, For Better or Worse, published by Kensington Press. I couldn’t seem to get a handle on what my next book should be. I started several projects but got lost in the middle of each one. I couldn’t get out of my head, and I was terribly self-critical and doubted everything I was writing. Finally, it got to the point where I stopped writing.
One night I was so upset with myself that I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t doing the one thing that made me happy. I had a sleepless night where I kept tossing over why I couldn’t think of a story to write. That night I had an idea of a powerful man and a young woman locked in a cat and mouse game of negotiation – over what I didn’t know. That was the seed of the idea that I worked on for many months. I had heard of the term “fixer” before, but there have been tv shows and movies about fixers, Michael Clayton, Scandal, for example. I decided to change it up and make an origin story. How does someone become a “fixer?” That’s how it began.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More of The Fixer! I already have an idea of the overall direction of the series and where it’s going.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Fixer: The Naked Man?
Katerina Mills is a young woman who suddenly finds herself in a tough situation. She’s living in New York, attending college and thinking her future is all set. She’ll finish college, go to law school, and make her father proud by becoming a high-powered lawyer. But Kat finds herself out of money and in danger of being out of school, out of her apartment, and out of luck, so she takes an offer to get cash fast by solving other people’s problems, and therein lies the tale.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
While the books in the series have a plotline that begins in Book 1 and continues through the next books, Katerina takes on a new job in each book, and faces new challenges that force her to learn new skills. These jobs also have her questioning her own ethics as she tries to decide how far is too far?
Alexander Winter, on the other hands, doesn’t suffer from any ethical dilemmas. He’s a career thief and a very good one. Since the world of the professional fixer requires Kat to use her current contacts to find new contacts, she meets Winter through someone she knows. I have a soft spot for Winter. He was only supposed to appear in the first book. For quite a while, I thought about him returning in Book 2, The Killing Kind, but I always decided that he wouldn’t come back. One of the reasons I hesitated is that I couldn’t quite get a handle on his character. He turned out to be quite pesky and persistent. I couldn’t stop thinking about him! Eventually, he became clearer to me and then his backstory started to come together.
For the supporting characters, such as Moose, Doc, Gertie, and April, each character functions as a compliment to Katerina in one way or another.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
I think the best way to describe Katerina is complicated. I’ll never forget feedback I received from one reader. He commented that he thought Katerina actually liked the danger and complications of being a fixer, that she enjoyed the adrenalin rush of living a wild life outside the law. I thought that was a very interesting take.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
The Naked Man is taken from a specific incident in the book. The Killing Kind comes from Katerina’s realization and understanding of the people who inhabit her world. The Last Romanov refers to a character in the book.
Thanks again for having me and for taking a chance on The Fixer!
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