CUTTING DEEP by T.A. Anderson Synopsis, Review and Excerpt

cutting deep

Cutting Deep

T.A. Anderson

 

Setting off on her dream of culinary school, Ande finds herself knocked senseless by her incredibly sexy Chef Instructor, Daniel, who also happens to have the brains and heart to match.With her plan to keep herself from repeating history, she attempts to deny what could possibly break her. Ande finds out she is not the only one with a torrid past when a bright light is shed on Daniel’s former years.

When ghosts from her past find her in the middle of her trek through culinary school and an impending relationship with Daniel, her life takes a disastrous turn. She must find the strength to push through school alongside a man that drives her wild with lust, all while trying to figure out her relationship with a stranger from years before.With help from her friends, and a tad bit of alcohol, Ande navigates her way through the pitfalls of falling in love, being broken hearted and making lasting friendships.

An amusing love story filled with steamy sex, heartache, and surprises at every turn.

MY REVIEW (Neelam)

4 STARS

Oh the angst! This book’s main character, Ande, has so many problems with her life and such trouble with her relationships. If I were her I would curl up into a little ball and cry!

Ande decides to move on with her life (after divorcing her cheating husband) by attending a prestigious cooking school. There she meets a yummy chef, Chef Daniel, who pursues her but is harboring many secrets and can’t fully commit. Along with Chef Daniel is a woman who does not like his attention on Ande and therefore makes Ande’s life hell while attending the school. Ande has many mixed emotions especially when her ex enters the picture and he is a changed man. Ande has to decide which man she wants in her life.

Although Ande struggles, she still seems to take all her problems in stride. Reading this book felt like an emotional roller coaster. I was so anxiety ridden for much of it, but that did not stop me from continuing. I was obsessed with seeing how she would handle the next bad situation. I ended up reading this book in one day!

With the books MANY ups and downs, there were some comical moments. Ande is not a damsel in distress; she takes on life and everyone around her. She is funny, sarcastic and a survivor. I have to warn you, the ending is a frustrating “cliffhanger” but I look forward to reading the continuing story in book two, The Deepest Cut. In my opinion, the second book cannot come out fast enough.

EXCERPT

Daniel was alluring in the kitchen. Moving so effortlessly, chopping ingredients and tossing hot food in a pan. I didn’t think he could get any sexier then he already was, but his abilities in the kitchen proved me wrong. I hoped one day I could look as good as him in the kitchen.

“To forgetting about the outside world.” He handed me a glass of wine and we clinked them together. I took a very unattractive gulp and continued watching him work.

 “Daniel, you’re incredible. I mean the way you move in the kitchen, you make it look so easy.” He smiled as he took a sip of his wine.

“Thank you, Ande. It wasn’t easy getting to this point, but I love what I do, so it was worth it.”

I found a spot to sit on the vast counter space, far enough away so I wouldn’t get burned by the hot pans. Daniel pulled a few large platters from the cupboards and set them down next to me. His hand brushed my bare leg as he pulled away to grab the pan brimming with food, making the ache in my stomach come back full force.

He placed the hot food on the furthest platter away from me, I’m sure not wanting to burn me. He grabbed the bowl of salad and slowly transferred it to the other platter, making sure to place all of the fresh sliced strawberries on top. He pulled the salad tongs from the platter, stopping abruptly when a strawberry fell from the back of the utensil, landing on my thigh. I reached for the strawberry as he grabbed my hand.

 “No, it was my fault. I’ll clean it up,” his voice took on a seductive edge as he caressed my knuckles with his thumb.

He moved closer to me, releasing my hand. He stood against the counter, pressed between my dangling legs. He grabbed my chin and brought my face close enough to his, so our noses were touching.

“Ande, I know we have a lot to talk about, but right now all I can think about is eating every morsel of this food, and I’m not planning on eating it off a plate.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ta

I reside in Sunny Southern California. I recently self published my first novel, Cutting Deep. I wrote this during a quarter life crisis, and never dreamed it would ever be finished or actually published.  I would say I have the worst sense of humor out of anyone I know, except my friends. I find things funny that others may find not so funny, but I cant help myself. I try to find the humor in everything in life.  I’m addicted to tattoo’s and I’m not sure I know one person in my massive family that does not have a tattoo. Crazy Right?

I will leave you with this quote “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” -Ben Franklin.

I truly believe that every person is capable of doing great things. If you told me a year ago I would be self publishing my first novel I would have slapped you and called you crazy. But that is the point. We never think we are capable until we do the unthinkable.

http://www.t-a-anderson.com
twitter username: TAAnderson_

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WICKED TORTURE By J. Kenner Release Blitz with REVIEW. @juliekenner, @socialbutterflypr

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Wicked Torture, an all-new sexy standalone from New York Times bestselling author J. Kenner is LIVE!

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Outwardly, Noah Carter is riding high as the tech world’s hottest new genius. Inside, he’s still reeling from the abduction of his wife and baby daughter eight years ago, and then the devastating discovery of his child’s body. For years, he kept up hope that his wife was alive, but now that she’s been declared legally dead, he’s thrown himself even more deeply into his work, cutting himself off from emotional ties because they just hurt too damn much.

Then he meets Kiki Porter, an eternal optimist with a killer work ethic and dreams of fronting a band. And everything changes. Even though he tries his damnedest to fight it…

Sexually, they are combustible together. But their true fire is emotional, though it is a slow to burn. But once it lights, it is all consuming. The relationship grows emotionally, the sex is hot, things are good.

But just when it’s looking like they might have a real future together, the past comes back to haunt them. And Noah’s going to have to decide what he’s willing to give up for love …

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Read Today!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2z67mt0

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2z4ON8l

iBooks: http://apple.co/2h37Qvo

Nook: http://bit.ly/2zXI7IC

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2zYsAYQ

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2zpHMSQ

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2tfuFjN

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About J. Kenner

Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.

Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal mommy lit.

JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A five time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy). Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development with AwesomenessTV/Awestruck.

Her books have sold over three million copies and are published in over twenty languages.

In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.

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Connect with Julie:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JKennerBooks/

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Website: http://juliekenner.com

 

TWISTED TWOSOME by Meghan Quinn Release Day!!!! @AuthorMegQuinn @wordsmithpublic

We’re celebrating the release of  TWISTED TWOSOME by Meghan Quinn!

 

 

TWISTED TWOSOME
NA Romantic Comedy

 Purchase: http://hyperurl.co/99udeh

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2uarCWF

 

Racer McKay is a broody bastard.
From the moment I met him, he’s been rude, irritable, and unbearable.
A contractor working to remodel my parents pool house for extra cash, he stomps around in those clunky construction boots with his tool belt wrapped around his narrow waist, and a chip on his shoulder.
Racer McKay is also infuriatingly . . . sexy as hell. I want to take that pencil tucked behind his ear, and draw lazy lines slowly up and down his body all the while wanting to strangle him at the same time.
We try to stay out of each other’s way . . . that is until I have no other option but to ask for his help.
But what I don’t realize is he needs me just as much as I need him. I have money he’s desperate for, and he holds the key to making my dreams come true.
Our pranks turn from sarcastic banter, to sexual tension and lust-filled glances. Bickering matches quickly morph into slow burn moments. We’re hot, we’re cold. We push and pull. I need him, I don’t want him. We’re on the verge of combusting with an agreement dangling dangerously between us. Neither one of us can afford to lose one another and yet, we’re finding it quite hard to decipher the line that rests between love and hate.
*Twisted Twosome is a stand alone romantic comedy.

 

 

 

Excerpt:

**GEORGIANA**
“So, are you ready for tonight?” Madison asks.
The heat of the sun intensifies with the mention of tonight. It’s beating down on me, building up the pressure, circling me in an inferno of what’s to come.
Tonight.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous in my entire life. Even when I was forced to go with Danny Leshay to senior prom because it was part of my father’s business deal with a client. My dad buys out a lumberyard, and in return, I have to go with the guy’s son to prom. Thoughts of being stabbed and murdered on the side of the road by someone I didn’t know terrified me. Thanks, Dad!
“I’m prepared but so freaking nervous.” I turn on my side and face Madison. “I have that sinking feeling he’s going to say no.”
“How can he say no, G? You’ve run through your presentation a million times. I’ve seen it. You are solid with all your numbers, with your projections; it’s an easy yes.”
“To any other businessman, my presentation is an easy yes, but to my dad . . . I have this horrible feeling it’s going to be a hard pass.”
And that’s the honest truth. He’s a good man, but when it comes to me, I’m his little girl, not an aspiring entrepreneur.
“You might be surprised.” Madison takes a big sip from her drink. “He wasn’t happy at first about you going to Northwestern and earning your master’s in business, but he changed his mind about that.”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah, because on paper, I’m more appealing to one of the ‘husbands’ my dad has chosen for me. An educated girl is a girl with goals and motivation, one that will be able to participate with knowledgeable commentary in dry, pointless conversations at charitable events. My entire life leading to this point has been a long and drawn-out finishing school run, and operated by my father, preparing me for the very moment I meet the one man I can stand at his side, woo his clients, and be the trophy wife I’ve been morphed into.” I set my drink on the table between us and rest my hands under my cheek. “I want so much more, Madison.”
“If you had red hair and was brushing it with a fork right now, I would think you were the little mermaid.”
“I’m serious.” I laugh just as cursing from a thousand men breaks up our little conversation.
From the side of the pool where renovations for the pool house are taking place, the lone construction worker is holding his finger between his jean-clad legs.
Madison sits up and lifts her sunglasses to get a look at the commotion. “Did you hammer a nail into your finger over there?”
The man who’s been working on the building for a few weekends looks up at us. His head is covered by a backward black baseball cap, his chest is bronze from working many hours outside this summer, and it’s hard not to notice the corded muscles wrapped around his entire body, from his chiseled stomach to his powerful biceps. To be honest, it hasn’t been a chore watching him these last few weekends.
What’s-His-Name looks up and pops his finger in his mouth, sucking on it as his body ripples under the brightness of the sun.
“Damn,” Madison mutters under her breath just as the man pops his finger out of his mouth. “Mama likes.”
Unable to hear Madison slowly discredit his self-respect, he gruffly says, “I’m good.” Not giving us a second thought, he shakes his hand and turns back toward his project.
Never having spoken to the man—I’ve only seen him around—I cautiously say, “You sure? Kind of looks like you’re hurt.”
Slowly he turns his head in my direction, his eyes cutting me a look of indignation. “I’m good, Princess. No need to set your cocktail down to check on me.”
Pardon me? Was that attitude?
I sit up, my legs straddling my lounge chair and tip my sunglasses up so he can see my dissatisfaction in his choice of words. “It’s Georgiana, not princess.”
Picking up his hammer, he shoves it in a holster attached to his side and says, “Could have fooled me.”
“Oooooo,” Madison says as if she’s in grade school. “Burned.” She sits back in her chair, taking a sip of her drink as if she’s preparing for the show of a lifetime, one she might just get.
Slowly, I set my drink down and stand. I adjust the fabric of my swimsuit bottom so it’s covering my ass and saunter over to the man, now sorting nails as he casually glances in my direction.
When I stand in front of him, I watch his eyes travel over my barely covered frame until he meets me head-on. His staggering height doesn’t intimidate me, even though he towers over my petite frame. He appears strong and powerful with a hard set in his jaw.
“What did you say?” I ask, a hand on my hip.
Not giving me his complete attention, he says, “You heard what I said or else you wouldn’t be over here trying to put on a front.”
“Put on a front?” My voice sounds a little shrill from the accusation. “I’m not putting on a front.”
“Yeah?” He pulls a rag from his back pocket, lifts his hat, and wipes his brow. His blond hair sticks up in all different directions with beads of sweat at the tips that aren’t covered by his hat. “So you’re not trying to act intimidating in front of your friend? You know, push around the hired help to make yourself feel better?”
“Excuse me?” Two seconds ago I was irritated, now I’m mad. “How dare you make such an awful accusation about me. You don’t know a thing about me.”
“I know enough,” he answers and turns around to nail another board for the new siding. His incessant hammering has ensured a headache all morning.
“Hey.” I poke his sweaty back, trying to ignore how amazingly tight it feels under my index finger. “I suggest if you want to keep your job you show a little respect.”
Whoa, can we all say it together? Georgiana, you’re a bitch. The words felt dirty leaving my mouth. I really don’t act like this, like my—gulp—parents, but I’m tired, anxious about meeting with my dad, and irritated. It’s a cataclysmic combination and when that happens, nothing good comes from it. I’m about to apologize when he starts to go off on me.
“Respect? You want to talk respect?” He spins on his heel and holds up his hammer. “What do you know about respect, Princess? From where I see it, you know nothing. Every weekend I’ve been here, you’ve ordered people around, watching them wait on you hand and foot, complained about not having any money, gossiped about every bad boob job in town, and have yet to be pleasant to anyone who stands an inch beneath you.” He goes to hammer again but turns around once more and says, “And the heels you just had to wear out to the pool ripped a fucking hole in my nail gun hose, giving me no other option than to nail these boards by hand, adding on time I can’t afford. So, Princess, excuse me for upsetting you, but I’m sticking with the nickname. It fits you to a T. Oh, and just so you know, sandals. Sandals are the proper footwear you should be wearing around the pool.” He rolls his eyes, turns around, and starts hammering another nail into the siding of the pool house.
How dare he!
“That’s what you think I am? Some whiney brat?”
“If the unnecessary high heel fits, Princess.”
Unsure of what to do. I stomp my foot and say, “Well, I’m not.”
Pretty sure my reaction just solidified his assumption.
“Tantrums don’t work on me; try your daddy.” He continues to hammer away, his back muscles shimmering with each movement.
“Maybe I will. We’ll see what he has to say about this little conversation.”
He places another nail against the board and starts hammering. “Wouldn’t be shocked if you did. You step on my hose, ruin my chances of getting this project done today, which only prolongs my time here, cutting down on my chance to make more money since I’m getting paid a flat rate, and now you want to get me fired. Sounds about right. Can’t take the blame for anything.”
No one has ever been so disrespectful to me.
“How was I supposed to know I stepped on your stupid hosey thing?”
“Maybe if you pay attention to people and objects around you, you may have noticed.”
“You’re a jerk, you know that?” He has me all wrong, and it is really bothering me that he pictures me as a spoiled, inconsiderate, self-consumed brat. That’s not who I am at all. 
“How do you figure? Because the way I see it, you’re the jerk.” His body fully turns around to face me, challenge in his eyes, maybe a bit of humor at the corner of his lips as he awaits my answer.
Holding my chin high, I say, “Because, instead of having a hissy fit like a petulant child, you could have come over to me and said, ‘Miss Westbrook, sorry to bother you, but you seem to have poked a hole in my hose.’ But instead you decided to stew over here and then pick on me when I was trying to see if you were okay from your inability to hammer a nail into a piece of wood properly. It’s called being an adult.”
He studies me, hands on his hips, not showing any kind of reaction. “Being an adult, huh? And you think you’re an expert at that?”
“I would say I’m well-versed in the topic.”
He nods, his teeth biting down on his lower lip as his eyes flick to where Madison is sitting. “Well-versed, interesting. Tell me, when did adults start eating dinosaur chicken nuggets for lunch?”
Just when I’m about to reply, Madison calls out, “Nuggies are ready, G. Come eat T-Rex’s arms with me. Roar!”
I shut my eyes tight, willing for this moment to disappear, maybe praying for the ground to swallow me whole due to Madison’s poor timing. The infuriating man says with a smile, “Your nuggies are ready, Princess. Don’t want them getting cold.”

 

About the Author:
Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.
Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.
Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!
Find me on Goodreads:

Wide Open Spaces by Aurora Rose Chapter Reveal!!! @auroraroseR @RSofRomance

WIDE OPEN SPACES EXCERPT

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Shelby

Shutting off my car, I stare at the two-story house I used to call home. It looks the same as it did when I left. The deep blue is still vibrant, even more so now against the backdrop of the gray sky behind it. The white porch is still welcoming, with flowers hanging from the banister.

My grandmother and I would spend hours planting flowers in those boxes during the summer. When she passed away during my sophomore year of high school, I made sure to keep up the tradition in her memory. It looks like, in my absence over these last fifteen years, someone else had taken over the job.

Looking at the bright blooms growing wild, hanging over the sides of the boxes, I wonder if Granddad hired someone to plant them for him when he left to live in Florida. He never mentioned that he cared about the flowers we planted. Honesty, I don’t remember him mentioning them. Growing up, I didn’t even think he noticed, but now, looking at the blooming buds that are artfully arranged, I know they meant something to him after all.

“Mom?” Turning my head, I look at my son Hunter and force a smile as aching pain and regret slice through my chest.

“Sorry, honey. I spaced out. Do you want to unpack tonight, or do you want to wait until tomorrow, kiddo?”

Looking over his shoulder, he eyes the boxes and suitcases piled in the back then looks at me. I hate the sadness I see in his eyes. I hate I’m the cause of his pain. I know he misses his father already, and I know that at ten years old, he doesn’t understand why we’re no longer together even if it’s been over two years since we separated and divorced.

“Tomorrow,” he grumbles, and I feel that ache in my chest expand. He hates me for moving him across the country. Away from his friends, away from everything he knew. And I hate myself a little bit, too, for failing miserably at keeping my family together. I just hope this move will be a new start for us.

“Tomorrow,” I agree softly, unhooking my belt and opening the door.

Rounding the hood of the van, Hunter has already made it to the porch and is waiting at the top of the stairs, with his eyes pointed over my shoulder. Stopping, I look behind me as rain soaks through my clothes. I can’t believe how much the town has changed and grown. When I’d left home, you could see the sound from the front porch of my grandparents’ home. Now, the view is blocked by houses that have been built up side-by-side across the road. The street looks more like a New York City block, rather than a street in small-town Alaska.

“Is it always raining?” Hunter’s voice breaks into my thoughts, and I turn back toward him and take the steps slowly, noticing they are rotting out in a few spots. Something I will have to fix soon.

“Not always, but this is a rainforest, so I guess the answer in some ways is yes,” I tell him, when I make it up to the covered porch.

His brows draw together over his blue eyes, making him look like his father, as he asks, “This is a rainforest?”

“It is.” I want so badly to reach out and run my finger down his cheek, but I keep my hand locked at my side. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but some time ago, he stopped wanting my affection. Stopped being my little boy.

“Really?” he asks curiously, with wide eyes. “It doesn’t look like a rainforest,” he states, and he’s right; it doesn’t look like what you might imagine a rainforest would look like.

“It doesn’t look like one, but it is all the same.” I smile, and his eyes move over my face then to the view, and his face loses the curiosity it held a moment ago.

He turns, muttering, “Whatever.”

Biting my lip, I take the key the lawyer mailed me out of the front pocket of my jeans, put it in the lock, and turn. The door opens with a loud creak and dust rises up from the floors. A loud alarm sounds, making us both jump. Running into the house, I look frantically for some kind of alarm system, finally finding the small white box off the door in the kitchen. Flipping the panel open, I stare at the numbers.

“What’s the code?” Hunter yells over the siren, covering his ears.

“I don’t know,” I yell back, pressing in every single number combination I can think of, but none of them work.

“Is it in the papers in the car?”

“Maybe,” I yell, then run for the door and down the stairs to the van. Swinging open the back door, I shove three boxes out of the way before finding the one I’m looking for. Ripping off the tape, I shuffle through the contents and scan the papers the lawyer sent, searching for the code, but stop and look over the hood of the van when the alarm goes quiet. “What was the code?” I ask Hunter, when he steps out onto the porch.

“I don’t know.” He shrugs, looking over his shoulder into the house, like he’s waiting for someone to come out, which makes me frown.

“Did it just stop?” I question, slamming the van door. His eyes come back to me and he shakes his head then starts to open his mouth to say something else, but is cut off by a deep voice.

“I turned it off.”

It takes one breath to realize who just stepped out of my grandparents’ house. One breath for every moment I spent with the man standing before me to flash through my head. Two seconds for me to feel my world come to a stop.

The boy I once knew is gone. There’s nothing boyish about Zach Watters anymore. His jaw is now sharp, the stubble on it giving him a rugged look while accentuating his full lips. His dark hair has silvered around the edges, drawing attention to his expressive hazel eyes that look like they hold a thousand stories. His red and black plaid shirt is stretched tight across broad shoulders, giving a glimpse of the muscles it’s covering. He’s still every bit as beautiful as he once was, only more so now that time has aged him, taking him from a handsome boy to a gorgeous man.

Swallowing, I look at my son then back again. “Thanks,” I whisper, and Zach’s eyebrows pull together as he sweeps his gaze over me. I have no doubt that I too have changed, but unlike him, time hasn’t been good to me. I’ve gained a few too many pound from eating my feelings over the last year. My skin has lost its youthful glow, and my hair has grown out at the roots without my bi-monthly maintenance appointments.

“Shelby?” he asks, but all I can do is confirm with a nod, since my mouth has dried up and I can’t find my voice. “Jesus.” His eyes widen as he looks down at Hunter then back toward me. “What are you doing here?”

“My… my son Hunter and I are moving in,” I stutter, caught off guard by his presence. I wasn’t stupid enough to believe I wouldn’t see him when I moved home, but I had convinced myself that seeing him would be on my terms, or sporadic at best.

“What?” he whispers, leaning back on his boots, crossing his arms over his chest.

Ignoring his question, I start to move back toward the stairs, asking, “Do you mind giving me the code for the alarm? I’m sure it’s somewhere in the papers the lawyer sent, but…” I stop and look to the left when Zach’s name is called. Standing on the porch of the house next door is a woman I know he got with a few months after I left. A woman he married soon after she gave birth to their twins. A woman I used to call my friend.

A woman I now hate.

I absently hear him say something to her, but the nausea turning my stomach and the sadness prickling my skin have me moving quickly up the steps, focusing on not falling over as I move past him. “Never mind about the code. I’m sure I’ll find it. Thanks for shutting off the alarm,” I mumble, as I walk through the door.  

“Mom.”

“Come on, honey. Let’s have a look around, and then we need to get to the store.”

“Mom,” Hunter repeats, sounding confused. I plaster a fake smile on my face.

“The pizza place we drove past has the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. We could do that for dinner.”

“Mom.”

“Right here, honey.” I laugh, even though that laugh feels like glass edging down my windpipe.

Studying me for a long moment, he finally mutters, “Pizza sounds good. I’m gonna call Dad before we go, and tell him we’re here.”

“Sure,” I agree, watching him pull out his cell phone and walk toward the kitchen. I didn’t agree that he needed a cell phone at his age, but like all things with his dad, there was never any kind of conversation. He didn’t ask what I thought about it; he just did what he wanted to do.

I hear a familiar throat clear. “You’re back?” Zach asks from behind me, making my shoulders slump forward and my eyes slide closed briefly.

“Yeah.” I turn to face him and wrap my arms around my waist, feeling my stomach twist into knots. When I left town, we didn’t fight, didn’t yell at each other, didn’t say things we would end up regretting one day. I just knew there was too much pain between us to make what we had left work, and Zach, knowing the same, didn’t put up a fight when I told him my plans.

“You’re staying here?” he asks, and I nod. Running a hand over his head as his eyes move to the right, where Tina had been moments ago, before bringing his gaze back to mine. “The code for the alarm is one, two, three, four. I told Pat to change it, but you know Pat,” he mutters, and I nod, knowing exactly how stubborn Gramps was. Shoving his hands into the front pocket of his jeans, his voice drops. “I’m really sorry about Pat.”

“Thanks.” I hold myself a little tighter. His eyes drop to my arms around my waist and soften before moving up to meet mine once more.

“If you need anything, I’m next door.” He lifts his chin in that direction, and my world stops again.

“Pardon?” I breathe.

“I live next door.”

Okay, maybe I should have guessed that, since Tina was over there, but I didn’t, and this is not good… as in really not good. There is not one damn thing I can do about it, though, unless I want to load Hunter back into the van and live out of it for the next year or so, which I don’t think will win me any brownie points with my son.

“Cool,” I whisper pathetically, with nothing else to say. Something familiar-looking and soft slides through his features, making my stomachache twist again, but this time in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.

“Well…” I pause, needing this encounter to be over. “Thanks again for turning off the alarm. I wish we had time to catch up,” I lie. “But I need to get to the store before it closes, and then I need to get Hunter some food. Growing boys don’t do well without food,” I ramble, as I put my hand to the door, wanting so badly to shove it closed.

“Sure.” He nods then looks over my shoulder, into the house. “Nice meeting you, Hunter.”

“You too—” Hunter looks between Zach and me.

“Mr. Watters, honey,” I mutter, answering his unspoken question, as he comes to stand at my side with his cell phone in his hand.

“You too, Mr. Watters.”

Zach’s eyes come to me and his face softens once more. “See you around, Shelby.”

“Yeah, see you around,” I lie again, since I plan to pretend he doesn’t exist from this moment forward. I wait, even though I don’t want to, until he is walking away to close the door then stand there for a moment, trying to process what just happened.

“How do you know him, Mom?” Hunter asks.

“When I was younger,” I say, turning to face him, “we were friends.” I shrug, looking toward the stairs. “My room used to be in the attic—it’s the best room in the house—and if you make it there before me, I’ll let you have it.” I raise my brows before taking off in a sprint up the stairs, listening to my son, who I haven’t heard laugh in weeks, giggle as he runs up the stairs behind me.

“Wow, this is awesome.”

Looking over my shoulder at Hunter I smile as he walks into the room with wide eyes. “I told you it’s the coolest room in the house.” I used to love hanging out up here when I was a teenager. The vastness of the space, with its angled ceilings and four large skylights, was a cool place to spend time. Looking at my son now, I can see the excitement in his eyes as he wanders around the room.

“Do you think I could get a telescope?” he asks, looking up at the cloud-covered sky through one of the skylights.

“Definitely.” I bump my shoulder with his as I walk past him toward the couch in the corner that’s covered with a sheet and pull it off. “We may also want to find a cover for this thing while we’re at it,” I say, looking from the floral-covered couch to his scrunched up face.

“Yeah.” He nods, moving to the bed, where he rips off the sheet that is covering the mattress. “I can’t wait to tell Dad about this. He’s going to think it’s so cool,” he mutters, and I bite my tongue to keep from saying, No, your dad will definitely not think it’s cool.

Max, Hunter’s father, grew up wealthy. He never owned anything that had been used. Even when we got married, he insisted I sell the Victorian house I bought when I graduated college, wanting instead for us to buy a newly built house in a cliché subdivision, where all of his friends lived. Shortly thereafter, he insisted I sell all of my old furniture, things I had bought secondhand and refurbished over the years. At the time, I was blinded by hope and love, so I didn’t think anything about it. But over time, I slowly realized I was no longer the person I used to be. I had turned into a trophy wife who lived in a show home and neither of us had any real character.

“Mom,” Hunter calls, bringing me out of my thoughts, and I turn to look at him and notice he has a stack of photos in his hand. “Who’s this?”

“That’s my mom,” I say softly, while walking over to where he’s sitting on the bed, holding out a picture of my mom and me. In the photo, we’re sitting outside on the porch, with our arms wrapped around each other, smiling at the camera.

“You look like her,” he says thoughtfully. “You have her eyes and hair.”

“You think so?” I ask, looking at my mom, who had to have been about my age when the photo was taken. She was beautiful, with long dark blonde hair, big blue eyes, and a smile that lit up the world.

“Yeah.” He nods then looks at me, and asks quietly, “Do you miss her?”

“Every day.” I nod, taking the photo from his hands. “She gave the best hugs,” I say, fighting back the tears I feel creeping up my throat. My mom and dad both died in a plane crash when I was fifteen. My father was the owner and pilot of a local adventure company, and he had taken my mom with him to drop off supplies to some men who were bear hunting out at one of the islands. On their way back into town, the weather shifted, and their plane went down on one of the mountains. Neither of them survived. That’s when I moved to Cordova to live with my dad’s parents.

“Do you have any pictures of your dad?”

I pause, trying to recall if I’ve ever really spoken to Hunter about my parents, if Max ever asked about them, but I can’t think of a single time. “There are a few downstairs on the wall. I’ll point them out to you.” I lean into him a little then stop when his arm wraps around my shoulders, surprising me. “I love you, kid,” I whisper, not surprised when he doesn’t say it back, but happy that his arm tightens ever so slightly.

“I’m starving.” He chuckles releasing me when his stomach growls loudly, breaking the moment.

“We can’t have that.” I laugh, standing from the bed. “Let’s go to Joe’s. Hopefully, the pizza is still awesome. If not, you’re gonna have to suffer and eat it anyway, ‘cause the store is probably closed by now.

“Is there such a thing as bad pizza?”

“I guess we’ll find out,” I murmur, and then head out of the room and down the stairs, grabbing my purse as we leave.

When we make it to Joe’s, I find nothing has changed in the years I’ve been gone. The owner Joe, an older Korean gentleman, is still in the back making the pizzas, and his wife Kim is still working the counter, gossiping about everything and everyone. While we wait for our pizza, Kim talks my ear off, telling me about the people in town, including Zach, who she informs me is not only a cop, but also the sheriff. She also tells me that Zach is single. He and Tina supposedly got divorced nine years ago, and Zach has had full custody of both his kids since then. I tell myself I don’t care that Zach is no longer with Tina, but I still feel some relief knowing I won’t have to witness seeing them together.

“Can I sleep in my room tonight?” Hunter asks, as I finish off my third slice of pizza and wipe my mouth with a paper towel.

“I don’t mind, but everything in the house needs to be washed. So if you want to sleep up there, we have to get your stuff from the van.”

“I’ll get it, and then we can bring in everything else too.”

“You want to clean out the van?” I ask, not at all excited about lugging stuff up three flights of stairs.

“Yeah.” He nods again, taking his half of the pizza box lid that he used as a plate to the trash bin.

“If that’s what you want,” I agree, regretting those words an hour later as I head out for the last box. My arms and legs are tired from carting everything inside and up the stairs. I haven’t worked out in the last year, and I can feel it now as every muscle in my body protest.

Stopping when I hear a door close, I hold the box in my hands closer to my chest and look toward the house next door. I spot a handsome blond boy, who looks a lot like Zach, hopping down the steps, with Tina following close behind. Ducking down, I hide and watch them as they get into an old pickup truck, only coming out of hiding when they drive off.

Having over fifteen years to deal with the adoption of Samuel should make it easier to see Zach’s other children, but it doesn’t. I still feel bitter about the situation. I know it’s the fact that Zach’s children were born a little over a year after Samuel, meaning Tina got pregnant not long after I left town. So not only did Zach have a relationship with Tina, but he built a family with her and kept the kids they had together.

Heading back into the house with the final box, I wonder how I’m going to do what I’ve been doing for the last fifteen years. It was easy to block out thoughts of Zach when I was gone, but now that I’m back and living next door to him, I wonder if it will be as easy to ignore the feeling in my chest that coincides with thoughts of him.

~*~*~

Grabbing my quilt from the end the my bed, I carefully balance my Kindle and glass of wine in one hand as I open the sliding glass door in my room and step out onto the balcony. Tonight is one of the first nights it hasn’t rained since we moved in, and I have been looking forward to sitting outside under the stars with a good book all day long. Grabbing my glass, I take a sip then look to the left when the sound of rock music starts up and light flutters across the back deck next door, making me wonder if Zach’s room is off the balcony like mine.

Pushing that thought away, I turn on my Kindle then proceed to get lost in someone else’s happily ever after.

“Shelby.” Jumping, some of the contents from the glass in my hand sloshes out over the side and runs down my fingers as I swing my head to the left, where Zach is leaning on the banister, his eyes on me. A short glass full of dark liquid is in his hands, and the light casts a glow behind him.

“You scared the crap out of me,” I gripe, holding my free hand over my rapidly beating heart.

“I’ve been standing here awhile,” he mutters, then takes a swig of his drink. “I thought you would have noticed.” He rolls the glass between his hands while looking at me intently, making me fight the urge to squirm in my chair.

“When I’m lost in a good book, the world could crash down around me and I wouldn’t notice.” I shrug, taking a sip of wine, using the moment of reprieve as an excuse to look away from him, but realizing for the first time that I don’t know the man standing across from me. Yes, he looks a little like the guy I dated years ago, but he also seems more intense, like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’s definitely not the easygoing kid I dated in high school.

“How are you guys settling in?”

Pulling my legs out from under me, I rest my Kindle on the edge of my lap and turn to face him fully while adjusting the blanket.

“It’s going to take a little bit to get everything cleaned up. I didn’t know Gramps was such a hoarder until now. I think I’ve thrown out about ten thousand issues of National Geographic, along with a hundred empty boxes and every single item you can possibly buy from an infomercial,” I reply, then smile when he laughs a deep rumbling laugh and leans a little farther over the railing between us, causing another plaid shirt—this one blues and yellows—to tighten across his wide chest.

“You didn’t keep them? You never know when you might need an automatic potato peeler.”

“I thought about it, but if I did, I wouldn’t have anywhere to put my shoes, since all of it was stacked up on the floor in his closet, everything unopened.” I smile, watching him grin for a moment before the smile slides away and his eyes move beyond me to the forest that sits behind the house.

“I’m gonna miss him. I know he’s been gone from town for years, but I’ll miss our talks,” he mutters, then looks up at the sky for a moment before meeting my gaze once more. “Why’d you come back? Last time I talked to Pat, he told me you were planning on following him down to Florida.”

His words catch me off guard, since Gramps never told me he kept in contact with Zach. But then again, I never asked. I shouldn’t be surprised they kept in touch, since they we’re close when I was home, and were obviously neighbors before Gramps moved to Florida. Plus, Zach is the sheriff in town. Yet, it still feels strange that he knows about me, while I know nothing about him.

“I was.” I let out a breath, adjusting the blanket around my shoulders. “But I had to wait until…” I trail off, not wanting to talk about my divorce to anyone, especially not him. “Then when Gramps passed away, there was nothing for me in Florida, so I decided to come back here instead.”

“You didn’t want to stay in Seattle?”

“No, I needed something different, so when I found out Gramps left me his house, I just knew I needed to come back here,” I whisper the truth. Ever since I read the will and found out this house was mine to do with as I please, I had a feeling in my gut that I couldn’t get rid of. Something telling me that I needed to come back here.

“This is a good town,” he murmurs, but the look in his eyes is saying something I can’t quite figure out.

“This is the last place I remember being really happy. I hope that I can make it that way for Hunter,” I say quietly, and his face softens.

“He looks like you.” His words and tone catch me by surprise and I sit up a little taller. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be sitting on my granddad’s deck in the middle of the night talking to Zach about anything. Definitely not about my son.

“You wouldn’t say that if you saw his dad,” I return honestly. “When he was a baby, he looked like me, but not any more.”

“He has your eyes and your smile.” He pauses, taking a drink from his glass. “He seems like a good kid.”

“He’s the best kid.” I take a sip of wine, trying to keep whatever it is I’m feeling right now in check.

“I… I think I saw your son. Um, the other day. He looks like you,” I tell him, wanting to take the words back after I say them, because I don’t want him to think I was spying on him.

“He looks like his mom, but has my personality, which I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or not. My daughter, Aubrey, on the other hand, looks like me, but is sweet down to her core. Where she gets that sweetness, I have no fucking clue.”

“Oh.” I bite my lip, trying to figure out what to say to that. The Zach I knew was a good guy, sweet even. Tina, however, was mostly bitch, and I honestly don’t even know why we were friends. Then again, growing up here, there weren’t a hundred girls to choose from. My graduating class had five girls in it, and none of them liked Tina, which meant none of them really liked me either.

“I better go in,” he says abruptly, cutting into my thoughts, standing to his full height. “I need to be to the station early tomorrow.”

“Sure… uh… have a good night.” The urge to say something that will make him stay hits me hard, and it takes everything I have in me to keep my mouth shut.

“You too, Shelby. And be careful when you’re out here reading. Louie’s out and about around this time of night, searching for food.”

“Louie?” I question, scrunching up my nose. Cordova never had homeless people before, and I can’t imagine it would now.

“Louie’s a black bear. Normally, he sticks to the woods, but he’s been known to nap on the decks now and then.

“Oh, man.” I jump up, looking around for any sign of Louie, not sure how I could forget there are bears out here, since we are in Alaska. “What’s funny?” I frown, turning to face him when I hear his deep laughter.

“You’re in Alaska, babe. You lived here for years. You know there are bears out in those woods.” He nods to the trees.

Babe. Why, oh, why did that word make butterflies erupt in my stomach?

“I know that, but I forgot.” I shake my head and watch his face soften once again.

“Still sweet as pie,” I think I hear him say, but can’t be sure, because his voice dropped to a low rumble that I felt skid across my skin.

“Well, I’m gonna go in too,” I blurt, picking up my Kindle and wine glass. “Have a good night.” And with that, I duck my head and go back into my room. Closing the door I lock it behind me then hurry and get into bed where I try to forget once more about Zach Watters.  

~~**~~

“Hello?” I answer the phone, still half asleep, then look at the clock and notice that even though it’s light out, it’s barely 6:00 a.m.

“Shelby, I’ve called three times,” Max, my ex-husband, says into my ear, and I pull my pillow over my head with thoughts of suffocating myself with it.

“It’s only six, Max. I haven’t gotten out of bed,” I grumble, tossing the covers back and sitting up. “What’s going on?”

“I want to fly out there this weekend,” he states, and I fight the urge to toss my phone across the room or scream at the top of my lungs.

“This weekend?” I verify, rubbing my face. “We haven’t even been here a week.”

“I have a few days off and would like to see Hunter.”  

I sigh, considering him and his request. “Our stuff is going to be delivered in two days. Then I start my new job next week, and Hunter has swi—”

“You’re not keeping my boy from me,” he cuts me off, and I can tell by his tone that he’s mad and likely pulling at his ever-present tie in annoyance. Something I make him do often.

“I’m not saying you can’t see him, Max,” I clarify, wishing I had at least one cup of coffee before this conversation. “I’m just explaining to you that we’re trying to get settled in here. Can you wait a few weeks before you come out?”

“Such fucking bullshit. I can’t believe you moved to Alaska, of all goddamn places. A boy should have his dad in his life.” My heart stutters and I feel my pulse skyrocket. We didn’t have a custody battle, but I wouldn’t put it past Max to take me to court to gain custody of Hunter if I step out of line in his eyes.

“Max,” I soften my voice as I walk to the kitchen, “you know we talked about this. You can come see him anytime, and in a couple years, he can fly out to see you whenever he has a break,” I say, then drop my voice even lower. “We agreed on him living with me at least until he’s sixteen. After that, he can choose who he wants to live with.”

“I miss you both.” He sighs, making me roll my eyes. I know he doesn’t miss me. I know this, because he’s been dating woman after woman since I asked for a separation. For all I know, he was dating before that. Hell, the last year I spent under the same roof as him, he hardly spared me a glance. Hunter later suffered from his lack of attention, when we lived in the same town after our separation. With Max, it’s always about him getting his way.  

“Max, please just wait a few more weeks, and then you can come and stay as long as you like,” I offer, the words leaving a horrid taste in my mouth. I will do whatever I have to in order to keep my son, though, including putting up with his dad in my childhood home for more than a few days.

“Fine, when?”

Closing my eyes, I whisper, “Next month. Whenever you like. Just let me know, so I can make sure I don’t make plans for Hunter. I know there are a few camps here he’s interested in.”

“Fine. Where is he now? I called his cell phone, but he didn’t pick up.”

“Sleeping. Like I said, it’s only six here, and he was up late talking to his friends back in Seattle on Skype.”

“You really shouldn’t let him stay up so late, Shelby,” he scolds, sounding disapproving, and again, that’s not a surprise.

“It’s summer, Max, and his ‘late’ is ten, not three in the morning,” I mutter, wondering how the hell I put up with him for so many years. “I’ll have him call you when he gets up.”

“Don’t tell him I’m coming out. I want to tell him that myself.”

“Will do,” I grumble, looking at the coffee pot and begging it to hurry up.

“Talk to you later.”

“Talk to you later,” I agree, setting the phone down on the counter. I make myself a cup of coffee and take it out to the back deck, drinking it while the morning sun beats down on me.

WIDE OPEN SPACES COMING SOON

 

New from Aurora Rose Reynolds!

Wide Open Spaces releases August 2016!

Add to your TBR at: http://bit.ly/1PDVZsf

wide open spaces cover (1)

Blurb

That moment your life changes.

That moment that changes your life.

That moment you love someone more than you love yourself.

That was the moment we gave our son up for adoption and the moment I was left bare. A wide-open space that would forever be empty.

There are moments that define you as a person, moments that prove just how strong you are, moments you push yourself to keep going forward when all you really want to do is give up. It was in one of those moments when I reached out and found him waiting for me.

When Shelby Calder left home fifteen years ago, she never planned on returning to the Alaskan town she left behind. But after the death of her grandfather and a bitter divorce, she hopes going home will be a fresh start for her and her ten-year-old son.

Zach Watters has made a lot of mistakes in his life. But when he sees Shelby Calder, looking more beautiful than ever, standing outside her childhood home, he promises himself that letting her go won’t be a mistake he ever makes again.

Some things never change and love is one of them.

About the Author:

aurora rose reynolds (1)

Aurora Rose Reynolds is a navy brat who’s husband served in the United States Navy. She has lived all over the country but now resides in New York City with her Husband and pet fish. She’s married to an alpha male that loves her as much as the men in her books love their women. He gives her over the top inspiration everyday. In her free time she reads, writes and enjoys going to the movies with her husband and cookie. She also enjoys taking mini weekend vacations to nowhere, or spends time at home with friends and family. Last but not least she appreciates everyday and admires it’s beauty.

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DISTRACTION by Aurora Rose Reynolds Blog Tour Stop! @auroraroseR @RSofRomance

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distraction it's l ive

Fall in love with Maggie & Sven in Distraction by

Aurora Rose Reynolds

NOW AVAILABLE ON ALL RETAILERS!

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Blurb

Distraction: The great intensity, novelty, or attractiveness of something other than the object of attention.

Sven is a man who takes pride in his ability to separate himself from his emotions. He’s a man who knows who he is and where he’s going in life, a man who needs no one, because needing someone, anyone, is a weakness.

His past taught him love isn’t enough.  

Maggie wants the happily ever after, but has never picked the right men, or stuck around long enough, to build a forever. It’s always been easier to get out early, before emotions make things messy.

 

When Maggie wakes up naked in Sven’s bed, with no memory of the night before, these two must be honest about their feelings and face their fears, so they can build a future together.

Will love be enough for them to get their happy ending together, or will a threat from outside strike them down before they ever have a chance?

distraction teaser 3

EXCERPT

“Fuck no,” I snap, loosening my tie. The last assistant I had ended up being a clusterfuck. The woman was pissed that I wouldn’t fuck her. I finally had to fire her ass when she brought another woman up to my office and proceeded to try and get me to join them on my couch when I walked in on them half naked. Work is work. Yes, I might invite women up to fuck, but never anyone I work with.

“It’s not like she’s your type,” he says, and I feel my jaw tick. “Besides, if she’s up here with you, she’ll stop harassing the women down there.” He nods toward where she’s sitting and my eyes follow the movement, seeing her talking to a girl who looks a little startled by whatever it is Maggie is telling her.

“It’s not happening. You guys need to keep her out of the club,” I tell him, turning away from the window.

“Just saying it would be a good way to keep an eye on her,” he gripes, patting my shoulder before leaving my office and closing the door behind him.

Letting out a frustrated breath, I turn away from the window and try to focus on all the shit I need to get done.

“Yeah,” I pick up my desk phone when it beeps and looking at the clock, seeing that an hour has passed since Teo left.

“Look out your window,” Zack says, and I spin my chair around and scan the floor, wondering what he wants me to see. Then I spot Maggie with a man’s head tucked under her arm as she leads him toward the front of the club, with Lane and Zack following closely behind them.

“What the fuck is going on?”

“That guy tried to put something in some chick’s drink, and Maggie saw him and went postal on his ass,” he explains almost proudly.

“Jesus Christ, what the fuck do I pay you for?” I gripe.

“I saw the whole thing. I was getting ready to step in when she stood up on her barstool, jumped on the guy’s back, and then did some fucking ninja shit, wrapping her arm around the guy’s head and forcing him to his knees. She won’t let him go. She said she wants to ask him some questions.”

“I’m on my way down,” I say, slamming down the phone and jerking open the door to my office, taking the stairs two at a time. Reaching the front of the club, I see Zack holding the guy and Lane’s arms wrapped around Maggie’s waist, trying to drag her away. What the fuck is going on?” I roar, and all eyes come to me except Maggie’s, who takes the opportunity to grab the man’s ear and twist, making him drop hard to the ground on his knees.

“You think it’s funny to drug innocent women, you flaming turd bucket?” she yells, hitting the top of the guy’s bald head, and Zack chuckles along with Lane, but I don’t see one damn thing that’s funny about this shit.

“Maggie, let him go and come here,” I growl, and she raises her eyes to meet mine, looking startled.

“He—”

“I said get your ass over here now!” I yell, cutting her off and feeling the vein in my neck bulge as I point to the ground at my feet.

“Fine.” She pouts, letting the guy go, walking sullenly toward me as Zack pulls the man to his feet, taking him with him around the corner, with Lane following behind them with his phone to his ear. I’m sure they are going to have a talk and wait for the cops.

“Let’s go,” I say, wrapping my hand around the back of her neck, leading her through the club and up the stairs to my office. Sitting her in the chair in front of my desk, I walk over to the cabinets where I keep my personal bottle of scotch and pull out the cap. I then lift the bottle to my lips, taking a swig while trying to calm down.

“Alcohol isn’t good for you,” she informs me as I take a seat behind my desk.

“Do I look like I give a fuck about that?” I ask her, taking another swig.

“You might not care about what it can do to your body right now, but you may want to know that it lowers sperm count and stamina in the long run.”

“Jesus.” I shake my head and rub my eyes in aggravation.  

“Just saying it’s not good for you,” she mutters, dropping her eyes to her lap.

“What happened downstairs isn’t okay, Mags.”

“Maggie,” she corrects, still not looking at me.

“Whatever,” I drone, taking another swig. “You could have gotten hurt.”

“I have a black belt—”

“Look at me,” I demand, cutting her off and slamming the bottle down on the top of the desk, waiting for her eyes to meet mine. “You could have gotten hurt or worse. Do you understand that? He could have had a weapon on him.”

“You don’t understand,” she whispers as tears fill her eyes, but I harden myself against them, needing her to understand this isn’t a fucking movie. This is real life, and there are bad—really fucking bad—people in this world.

“You’re not allowed on the club floor anymore,” I state firmly.

“I’m going to find the guys who hurt my sister,” she states, and I see the determination in her eyes that make me proud and pissed at the same time.

“If you come, you come to my office, and if something happens down there”—I point to the club floor over my shoulder—“you’ll be the first to know.”

“Why would I come to your office? I need to be at the bar where I can see what’s going on.”

“You just got the job as my new assistant,” I tell her, watching her frown while wondering what the fuck I’m doing. This chick is a distraction I do not need right now, or ever for that matter.

“I already have a job,” she says as her frown grows deeper.

“Well, quit. You’re here every night, Mags, and you don’t leave ‘til the club closes at one. I can tell by the bags under your eyes that you’re exhausted.”

“Why would you want me to work here?” Now, isn’t that the million dollar question?

“Either take me up on my offer, or I’m going to have a restraining order placed against you and you won’t be allowed within a few hundred feet of the club.”  I shrug like it’s all the same to me.

“You know this is malarkey, right?” she stands and I take her in fully for the first time tonight. Her loose, sheer, black dress is cinched with a thin belt emphasizing the dip in her waist between her full hips and breasts. Her hair is down in a mass of messy waves, and her makeup is subtle but still draws attention to her eyes, which look even more golden now that she’s standing in front of me looking pissed off.

“I’m not messing around with you anymore either. You take me up on my deal, or I’ll call the police and have them escort you off the premises,” I tell her, ignoring the fact I’m getting hard just looking at her.

“This is total crap,” she mumbles, looking around before meeting my eyes again.

“Take it or leave it.”

“Jeez, can I have a second to think?” she cries, and I feel my lips twitch, so I rub my hand down over my mouth to hide it.

“Ten,” I state, watching her eyes narrow. “Nine…eight…seven…” I continue counting, watching as she looks at me like she’s ready to kill me. “Six,” I raise a brow. “Five…”

“Fine!” she yells when I open my mouth to finish my countdown.

“Thought so,” I say triumphantly.

“You’re such a…you’re such a bigasterd,” she growls.

“A what?” I ask, and I can’t help it, I laugh at that one.

“When do I start?” she asks, ignoring my question while red spreads across her cheeks and down her neck.

“Tomorrow. Be here at five, and I’ll show you around the club and tell you your responsibilities.”

distraction teaser 1

Additional Books in the Underground Kings Series

Assumption (Book 1)

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Obligation (Book 2)

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1EWf7QW

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1y2bxMH

iBooks: http://bit.ly/1DVAfDi

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1NnURKm

About the Author:

aurora rose reynolds

Aurora Rose Reynolds is a navy brat who’s husband served in the United States Navy. She has lived all over the country but now resides in New York City with her Husband and pet fish. She’s married to an alpha male that loves her as much as the men in her books love their women. He gives her over the top inspiration everyday. In her free time she reads, writes and enjoys going to the movies with her husband and cookie. She also enjoys taking mini weekend vacations to nowhere, or spends time at home with friends and family. Last but not least she appreciates everyday and admires it’s beauty.

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HE WILL BE MY RUIN by K.A. Tucker Release Blitz with Excerpt!!! @InkSlingerPR @KathleenATucker

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We are so excited to bring you the Release Week Blitz for K.A. Tucker’s HE WILL BE MY RUIN! HE WILL BE MY RUIN is a Suspense novel, published by Atria books, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, being released on February 2, 2016! Grab your copy of this suspenseful read today and see what everyone is talking about!

 

 

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About HE WILL BE MY RUIN:

The USA TODAY bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series makes her suspense debut with this sexy, heartpounding story of a young woman determined to find justice after her best friend’s death, a story pulsing with the “intense, hot, emotional” (Colleen Hoover) writing that exhilarates her legions of fans.

A woman who almost had it all . . .

On the surface, Celine Gonzalez had everything a twenty-eight-year-old woman could want: a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a job that (mostly) paid the bills, and an acceptance letter to the prestigious Hollingsworth Institute of Art, where she would finally live out her dream of becoming an antiques appraiser for a major auction house. All she had worked so hard to achieve was finally within her reach. So why would she kill herself?

A man who was supposed to be her salvation . . .

Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a lethal cocktail of pills and vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers a scandalous photograph in a lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man Celine believed would change her life.

Until he became her ruin.

On the hunt for evidence that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer. A killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.

 

 

 

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EXCERPT

Maggie

December 23, 2015

My wrists burn.

Hours of trying to break free of the rope that binds my hands behind my back have left them raw, the rough cord scrubbing away my skin and cutting into my flesh. I’m sure I’ll have unsightly scars.

Not that it will matter when I’m dead.

I resigned myself to that reality around the time that I finally let go of my bladder. Now I simply lie here, in a pool of urine and vomit, my teeth numb from knocking with each bump in the road, my body frozen by the cold.

Trying to ignore the darkness as I fight against the panic that consumes me. I could suffocate from the anxiety alone.

He knows that.

Now he’s exploiting it. That must be what he does—he uncovers your secrets, your fears, your flaws—and he uses them against you. He did it to Celine.

And now he’s doing it to me.

That’s why I’m in a cramped trunk, my lungs working overtime against a limited supply of oxygen while my imagination runs wild with what may be waiting for me at the end of this ride.

My racing heart ready to explode.

The car hits an especially deep pothole, rattling my bones. I’ve been trapped in here for so long. Hours. Days. I have no idea. Long enough to run through every mistake that I made.

How I trusted him, how I fell for his charm, how I believed his lies. How I made it so easy for him to do this to me.

How Celine made it so easy for him, by letting him get close.

Before he killed her.

Just like he’s going to kill me.

 

Author pic - KA TuckerAbout K.A. Tucker:

Born in small-town Ontario, K.A. Tucker published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

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RUIN AND RULE by Pepper Winters Blog Tour Stop with Review!!! @PepperWinters @RSofRomance

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Meet Killian in Pepper Winter’s new MC Romance!

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ruin & rule

Blurb

“We met in a nightmare. The in-between world where time had no power over reason. We fell in love. We fell hard. But then we woke up. And it was over . . .”

RUIN & RULE

She is a woman divided. Her past, present, and future are as twisted as the lies she’s lived for the past eight years. Desperate to get the truth, she must turn to the one man who may also be her greatest enemy . . .

He is the president of Pure Corruption MC. A heartless biker and retribution-deliverer. He accepts no rules, obeys no one, and lives only to reap revenge on those who wronged him. And now he has stolen her, body and soul.

Can a woman plagued by mystery fall in love with the man who refuses to face the truth? And can a man drenched in darkness forgo his quest for vengeance-and finally find redemption?

“Ruin & Rule is a full-length book at 436 pages and ends on a cliffhanger. Cleo and Kill’s story continues in SIN & SUFFER.”

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Prologue

We met in a nightmare.

The in-between world where time had no power over rhyme, reason, or connection. We met. We stared. We knew.

There was no distortion from the outside world. No right or wrong. No confusion or battles from hearts and minds.

Just us. In our silent dreamworld.

That nightmare became our home. Planting ghosts, raising fantasies. Entwined together in our happily skewed reality.

We fell in love. We fell hard.

In those fleeting seconds of our nightmare, we lived an eternity.

But then we woke up.

And it was over.

Chapter One

I always believed life would grant rewards to those most worthy. I was fucking naïve. Life doesn’t reward—it ruins. It ruins those most deserving and takes everything. It takes everything all while watching any remaining goodness rot to hate.

—Kill

Darkness.

That was my world now. Literally and physically.

The back of my skull hurt from being knocked unconscious. My wrists and shoulders ached from lying on my back with my hands tied behind me.

Nothing was broken—at least it didn’t feel that way—but everything was bruised. The fuzziness receded wisp by wisp, parting the clouds of sleep, trying to shed light on what’d happened. But there was no light. My eyes blinked at the endless darkness from the mask tied around my head. Anxiety twisted my stomach at having such a fundamental gift taken away.

I didn’t move, but mentally catalogued my body from the tips of my toes to the last strand of hair on my head. My jaw and tongue ached from the foul rag stuffed in my mouth and my nose permitted a shallow stream of oxygen to enter—just enough to keep me alive.

Fear tried to claw its way through my mind, but I shoved it away. I deliberately suppressed panic in order to assess my predicament rather than lose myself to terror.

Fear never helps, only hinders.

My senses came back, creeping tentatively, as if afraid whoever had stolen me would notice their return.

Sound: the squeak of brakes, the creak of a vehicle settling from motion to stopping.

Touch: the skin on my right forearm stung, throbbing with a mixture of soreness and sharpness. A burn perhaps?

Smell: dank rotting vegetables and the astringent, pungent scent of fear—but it wasn’t mine. It was theirs.

It wasn’t just me being kidnapped.

My heart flurried, drinking in their terror. It made my breath quicken and legs itch to run. Forcing myself to ignore the outside world, I focused inward. Clutching my inner strength where calmness was a need rather than a luxury.

I refused to lose myself in a fog of tears. Desperation was a curse and I wouldn’t succumb, because I had every intention of being prepared for what might happen next.

I hated the sniffles and stifled sobs of others around me. Their bleak sadness tugged at my heartstrings, making me fight with my own preservation, replacing it with concern for theirs.

Get through this, then worry about them.

I didn’t think this was a simple opportunistic snatch. Whoever had stolen me planned it. The hunch grew stronger as I searched inside for any liquor remnants or the smell of cigarettes.

Had I been at a party? Nightclub?

Nothing.

I hadn’t been stupid or reckless. I think…

No hint or clue as to where I’d been or what I’d been doing when they’d come for me.

I wriggled, trying to move away from the stench. My bound wrists protested, stinging as the rope around them gnawed into my flesh like twine-beasts. My ribs bellowed, along with my head. There was no give in my restraints. I stopped trying to move, preserving my energy.

I tried to swallow.

No saliva.

I tried to speak.

No voice.

I tried to remember what happened.

I tried to remember…

Panic.

Nothing.

I can’t remember.

“Get up, bitch,” a man said. Something jabbed me in the ribs. “Won’t tell you again. Get.”

I froze as my mind hurtled me from present to past.

I’ll miss you so much,” she wailed, hugging me tighter.

“I’m not dying, you know.” I tried to untangle myself, looking over my shoulder at the final call flashing for my flight. I hated being late for anything. Let alone my one chance at escaping and finding out the truth once and for all.

“Call me the moment you get there.”

“Promise.” I drew a cross over my heart—

The memory shattered as my horizontal body suddenly went vertical in one swoop.

Who was that girl? Why did I have no memory of it ever happening?

“I said get up, bitch.” The man breathed hard in my ear, sending a waft of reeking breath over me. The blindfold stole my sight, but it left my nose woefully unprotected.

Unfortunately.

My captor shoved me forward. The ground was steady beneath my feet. The sickness plaiting with my confusion faded, leaving me cold.

My legs stumbled in the direction he wanted me to go. I hated shuffling in the darkness, not knowing where I came from or where I was being herded. There were no sounds of comfort or smothered snickers. This wasn’t a masquerade.

This was real.

This is real.

My heart thudded harder, fear slipping through my defenses. But full-blown terror remained elusive. Slippery like a silver fish, darting on the outskirts of my mind. It was there but fleeting, keeping me clear-headed and strong.

I was grateful for that. Grateful that I maintained what dignity I had left—remaining strong even in the face of the unknown terrors lurking on the other side of my blindfold.

Moans and whimpers of other women grew in decibels as men ordered them to follow the same path I walked. Either death row or salvation, I had no choice but to inch my way forward, leaving my forgotten past behind.

I willed snippets to come back. I begged the puzzlement of my past to slot into place, so I could make sense of this horrible world I’d awoken in.

But my mind was locked to me. A fortress withholding everything I wished to know.

The pushing stopped. So did I.

Big mistake.

“Move.” A cuff to the back of my head sent me wheeling forward. I didn’t stop again. My bare feet traversed…wood?

Bare feet?

Where are my shoes?

The missing knowledge twisted my stomach.

Where did I come from?

How did I end up here?

What’s my name?

It wasn’t the terror of the unknown future that stole my false calmness. It was the fear of losing my very self. They’d stolen everything. My triumphs, my trespasses, my accomplishments and failures.

How could I deal with this new world if I didn’t know what skills I had to stay alive? How could I hope to defeat my enemy when my mind revolted and locked me out?

Who am I?

To have who I was deleted…It was unthinkable.

“Faster, bitch.” Something cold wedged against my spine, pushing me onward. With my hands behind my back, I shuffled faster, negotiating the ground as best I could for dips or trips.

“Step down.” The man grabbed my bound wrists, giving me something to lean against as my toes navigated the small steps before me.

“Again.”

I obeyed.

“Last one.”

I managed the small staircase without falling flat on my face.

My face.

What do I look like?

A loud scraping noise sounded before me. I shied back, bumping against a feminine form. The woman behind me cried out—the first verbal sound of another.

“Move.” The pressure on my lower back came again, and I obeyed. Inching forward until the stuffy air of old vegetables and must was replaced by…copper and metallic…blood?

Why…why is that so familiar?

I gasped as my mind free-fell into another memory.

“I don’t think I can do this.” I darted away, throwing up in the rubbish bin in the classroom. The unique stench of blood curdled my stomach.

“Don’t overthink it. It’s not what you’re doing to the animal to make it bleed. It’s what you’re doing to make it live.” My professor shook his head, waiting for me to swill out my mouth and return white-faced and queasy to the operation in progress.

My heart splintered like a broken piece of glass, reflecting the compassion and responsibility I felt for such an innocent creature. This little puppy that’d been dumped in a plastic bag to die after being shot with BB gun pellets. He’d survive only if I mastered the skills to stem his internal bleeding and embrace the vocation I was called to do.

Inhaling the scent of blood, I let it invade my nostrils, scald my throat, and impregnate my soul. I drank its coppery essence. I drenched myself in the smell of the creature’s life force until it no longer affected me.

Picking up a scalpel, I said, “I’m ready—”

“Holy fuck!” The man guiding me forward suddenly whacked the base of my spine. The hard pain shoved me forward and I tripped.

“Wire—get me fucking reinforcements. He’s started a motherfucking war!”

Wind and body motion swarmed me as men charged from behind. The darkness I lived in suddenly came alive with sound.

Bullets flew, impaling themselves into the metal sides of the vehicle I’d just stepped from. Pings and ricochets echoed in my ear. Curses bellowed; moans of pain threaded like a breeze.

Someone grabbed my arm, swinging me to the side. “Get down!” The inertia of his throw knocked me off balance. With my wrists bound together, I had nothing to grab with, no way to protect myself from falling.

I fell.

My stomach swooped as tumbled off a small platform and smashed against the ground.

Dirt, damp grass, and moldy leaves replaced the stench of blood, cutting through the cloying sharpness of spilled metallic. My mouth opened, gasping in pain. Blades of grass tickled my lips as my cheek stuck to wet mud.

My shoulder screamed with agony, but I ignored the new injury. My mind clung to the unlocked memory. The fleeting recollection of my profession.

I’m a vet.

The sense of homecoming and security that one little snippet brought was priceless. My soul snarled for more, suddenly ravenous for missing information.

I skipped straight from fumbling uncertainty into starvation for more.

Tell me! Show me. Who am I?

I searched inside for more clues. But it was like trying to grab on to an elusive dream, fading faster and faster the harder I chased.

I couldn’t remember anything about medicine or how to heal. All I knew was I’d been trained to embrace the scent of blood. I wasn’t afraid of it. I didn’t faint or suffer sickness at the sight of it pouring from an open wound.

That tiniest knowledge was enough to settle my prickling nerves and focus on the outside world again.

Battle cries. Men screaming. Men growling. The dense thuds of fists on flesh and the horrible deflection of gunshots.

I couldn’t understand. Had I fallen through time and entered an alternate dimension?

Another body landed on top of mine.

I cried out, winded from a sharp poke of an elbow to my ribs.

The figure rolled away, crying softly. Feminine.

Why aren’t I crying?

I once again searched for fear. It wasn’t natural not to be afraid. I’d woken up alone, stolen, and thrown into the middle of a war, yet I wasn’t hyperventilating or panicked.

My calmness was like a drug, oozing over me, muting the sharp starkness of my situation. It was bearable if I embraced courage and the knowledge that I was strong.

My hands balled, grateful for the thought. I didn’t know who I was, but it didn’t matter, because the person who I was in this moment mattered the most.

I had to remain segmented, so I could get through whatever was about to happen. All I had was gut instinct, quiet strength, and rationality. Everything else had been taken.

“Stop fighting, you fucking idiots!”

The loud growl rumbled like an earthquake, hushing the battle in one fell swoop. Whoever had spoken had power.

Immense power. Colossal power.

A shiver darted over my skin.

“What the fuck happened? Have you lost your goddamn lovin’ mind?” a man yelled.

A sound of a short scuffle, then the fresh whiff of tilled dirt graced my nose.

“It’s done. Throw down your weapons and bend a fucking knee.” The same earthquake rumbled. The weight of his command pushed me harder against the damp ground.

“I’m not bending nothing, you asshole. You aren’t my Prez!”

“I am. Have been for the past four years.”

“You’re not. You’re his bitch. Don’t think his power is yours.”

Another fight—muffled fists and kicks. It ended swiftly with a painful groan.

The earthquake voice came again. “Open your eyes and follow the red fucking river. Your chosen—the one you hand-picked to slaughter me and take over the Club—he’s dead. Did you ever stop to think Wallstreet made me Prez for a fucking reason?”

Another moan.

“I’m the chosen one. I’m the one who knows the family secrets, absorbed the legacy, and earned his way into power. You don’t know shit. Nobody does. So bend a fucking knee and respect.”

Another tremor ran down my back.

Silence for a time, apart from the squelch of boots and heavy breathing. Then a barely muttered curse. “You’ll die. One way or another, we won’t put up with a Dagger as a Prez. We’re the Corrupts, goddammit. Having a traitor rule us is a fucking joke.”

“I’m the traitor? The man who obeys your leader? Who guides in his stead? I’m the traitor when you try and rally my brothers in a war?” A heavy thud of a fist connected with flesh. “No…I’m not. You are.”

My mind raced, sucking up noises and forming wild conclusions of what happened before me. Was this World War Three? Was this the apocalypse of the life I couldn’t remember? No matter how I pieced it together, I couldn’t make sense of anything.

The air was thick with anticipation. I didn’t know how many men stood before me. I didn’t know how many corpses littered the ground, or how such violence could be permitted in the world I used to know. But I did know the cease-fire was fragile and any moment it would explode.

A single threat slithered through the grass like a snake. “I’ll kill you, motherfucker. Mark my words. The true Corrupts are just waiting to take you out.”

The gentle foot-thuds of someone large vibrated through the ground. “The Corrupts haven’t existed for four fucking years. The moment I took the seat, it’s been Pure Corruption all the way. And you’re not fucking pure enough for this Club. You’re done.”

I flinched as the sulfuric boom of a gun ripped through the stagnant air.

A crash as a body fell lifeless to the grass. A soft puff of a soul escaping.

Murder.

Murder was committed right before me.

The inherent need to nurture and heal—the part of me that was as steadfast as the beat of my heart—wept with regret.

Death was something I’d fought against on a daily basis, but now I was weaponless.

I hated that a life had been stolen right before me. That I hadn’t been able to stop it.

I’m a witness.

And yet, I’d witnessed nothing.

I’d been privy to a battle but seen nothing. Knew no one. I would never be able to tell who shot whom, or who was right and who was wrong.

My hands shook, even though I managed to stay eerily calm. Am I in shock? And if I was, how did I cure myself?

The woman beside me curled into a ball, her knees digging into my side. My first reaction was to repel away from the touch. I didn’t know who was friend or foe. But a second reaction came quickly; the urge to share my calmness—to let her know that no matter what happened, she wasn’t alone. We faced the same future—no matter how grim.

Voices cascaded over us, whispers mainly, quickly spoken orders. Every sound was heightened. Being robbed of sight made my body seek other ways in which to find clues.

“Get rid of the bodies before daybreak.”

“We’ll go back and make sure we’re still covered.”

“Send out the word. It’s over. The Prez won—no anarchy today.”

Each voice was distinct but my ears twitched only for one: the earthquake rumble that set my skin quivering like quicksand.

He hadn’t spoken since he’d condemned someone to death and pulled the trigger. Every second of not hearing him made my heart trip faster. I wasn’t afraid. I should be. I should be immobile with fear. But he invoked something in me—something primal. Just like I knew I was female and a vet, I knew his voice meant something. Every inch of me tensed, waiting for him to speak. It was wrong to crave the voice of a killer, but it was the only thing I wanted.

Needed.

I need to know who he is.

Wet mud sucked loudly against boots as they came closer.

The woman whimpered, but I angled my chin toward the sound, wishing my eyes were uncovered.

I wanted to see. I wanted to witness the carnage before me. Because it was carnage. The stench of death confirmed it. It was morbid to want to see such destruction, but without my sight all of this seemed like a terrible nightmare. Nothing was grounded—completely nonsensical and far too strange.

I needed proof that this was real.

I needed concrete evidence that I wasn’t mad. That my body was intact, even if my mind was not.

I sucked in a breath as warm fingers touched my cheek, angling my face upward and out of the mud. Strong hands caressed the back of my skull, fumbling with my blindfold.

The anticipation of finally getting my wish to see made me stay still and cooperative in his hold.

I didn’t say a word or move. I just waited. And breathed. And listened.

The man’s breath was heavy and low, interspersed with a quick catch of pain. His fingers were swift and sure, but unable to hide the small fumble of agony.

He’s hurt.

The pressure of the blindfold suddenly released, trading opaque darkness for a new kind of gloom.

Night sky. Moonshine. Stars above.

Anchors of a world I knew, but no recognition of the dark-shrouded industrial estate where blood gleamed silver-black and corpses dotted the field.

I’m alive.

I can see.

The joy at having my eyes freed came and went as blazing as a comet.

Then my life ended as our gazes connected.

Green to green.

I have green eyes.

Down and down I spiraled, deeper and deeper into his clutches.

My life—past, present, and future—lost all purpose the second I stared into his soul.

The fear I’d been missing slammed into my heart.

I quivered. I quaked.

Something howled deep inside with age-old knowledge.

Every part of me arched toward him, then shied away in terror.

Him.

A nightmare come to life.

A nightmare I wanted to live.

If life was a tapestry, already threaded and steadfast, then he was the scissors that cut me free. He tore me out, stole me away, changed the whole prophecy of who I was meant to be.

Jaw-length dark hair, tangled and sweaty, framed a square jaw, straight nose, and full lips. His five-o’clock stubble held remnants of war, streaked with dirt and blood. But it was his eyes that shot a quivering arrow into my heart, spreading his emerald anger.

He froze, his body curving toward mine. Blistering hope flickered across his features. His mouth fell open and love so achingly deep glowed in his gaze. “What—” A leg gave out, making him kneel beside me. His hands shook as he cupped my face, his fingers digging painfully into my cheekbones. “It’s not—”

My heart raced. Yes.

“You know me,” I breathed.

The moment my voice webbed around us, storm clouds rolled over the sunshine in his face, blackening the hope and replacing it with pure hatred.

He changed from watching me like I was his angel to glowering as if I were a despicable devil.

I shivered at the change—at the iciness and hardness. He breathed hard, his chest rising and falling. His lips parted, a rumbling command falling from his mouth to my ears. “Stand up. You’re mine now.”

When I didn’t move, his hand landed on my side. His touch was blocked by clothing but I felt it everywhere. He stroked my soul, tickled my heart, and caressed every cell with fingers that despised me.

I couldn’t suck in a proper breath.

With a vicious push, he rolled me over, and with a sharp blade sliced my bindings. With effortless power, so thrilling and terrifying, he hauled me to my feet.

I didn’t sway. I didn’t cry. Only pulled the disgusting gag from my mouth and stared in silence.

I stared up, up, up into his bright green eyes, understanding something I shouldn’t understand.

This was him.

My nightmare.

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♥MY REVIEW♥ by Colleen

4.5 STARS

        Ruin and Rule rocked my world. As a self-professed MC book wh*re, I certainly expected a rough and raw storyline, but what I got was so much more. What made the book so spectacular to me was the mystery element. I devoured the book easily in one sitting because I NEEDED to know what in the world was going on. Pepper Winters has taken a tale of a kidnapping and made it into a mysterious love story. I had no idea that was possible.

         Cleo and Kill’s story is one of lust, betrayal, secrets, and sins. These two set fire to the pages in a dangerous dance together, resulting in undeniable passion. Unfortunately, it also causes additional agony for them both. Pepper Winters writing is stronger then ever making these characters some of her best. The story is concise, on point and never veers away from main plot. Most definitely a stellar read.

        If you are faint of heart, I would suffice it to say that Ruin and Rule is not the book for you. It is raw with a storyline that may make some readers uncomfortable. There are adult themes throughout making this an 18+ read. That being said, Ruin and Rule is honestly one of the best MC books I have read this year. I am waiting impatiently for Sin and Suffer and the next chapter in Cleo and Kill’s story!

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About the Author:

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Pepper Winters wears many roles. Some of them include writer, reader, sometimes wife. She loves dark, taboo stories that twist with your head. The more tortured the hero, the better, and she constantly thinks up ways to break and fix her characters. Oh, and sex… her books have sex.

She loves to travel and has an amazing, fabulous hubby who puts up with her love affair with her book boyfriends.

Her Dark Erotica books include:

Tears of Tess (Monsters in the Dark #1)

Quintessentially Q (Monsters in the Dark #2)

Her Grey Romance books include:

Destroyed

STALK Pepper: Website | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads

SILVER BASTARD by Joanna Wylde Excerpt Reveal!!!

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silver bastard cover

Blurb

First in the new Silver Valley series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Reapers Motorcycle Club Novels.

Fourteen months. For fourteen months, Puck Redhouse sat in a cell and kept his mouth shut, protecting the Silver Bastards MC from their enemies. Then he was free and it was time for his reward–full membership in the club, along with a party to celebrate. That’s when he saw Becca Jones for the first time and set everything in motion. Before the night ended he’d violated his parole and stolen her away from everything she knew.

Five years. It was five years ago that Puck destroyed Becca and saved her all in one night. She’s been terrified of him ever since, but she’s even more terrified of the monsters he still protects her from… But Becca refuses to let fear control her. She’s living her life and moving forward, until she gets a phone call from the past she can’t ignore. She has to go back, and there’s only one man she can trust to go with her–the ex-con biker who rescued her once before.

Puck will help her again, but this time it’ll be on his terms. No more lies, no more tears, and no more holding back what he really wants…

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Excerpt from Silver Bastard

By Joanna Wylde

http://www.joannawylde.com

Prologue

California

Five years ago

Puck

Motherfucker that burned.

The shot was a double, and the fact that it’d come cradled between two beautiful, giant tits attached to a stripper with endless legs and a tight ass didn’t hurt one goddamned bit. Tequila hit my stomach, the alcohol shocking my system, and shit finally got real.

Freedom.

Fourteen months since the last time I’d had a decent drink—all but forgotten what it felt like, too. That sweet, harsh pain that comes from losing the surface layer of skin all the way down your throat? Gorgeous. Never felt better in my life, and that’s a fact. Helped that the queen of body shots had sucked me off right after we’d pulled up to the party.

Spent the last year trying to decide what I’d do first when I finally got out. Kept going back and forth between getting laid and getting drunk, but God apparently has a soft spot for assholes because we’d found one hell of a good compromise.

I’d been free nearly four hours now. Still felt like a dream. The California Department of Corrections took its own sweet time with everything, up to and including processing a man out. I’d spent half the wait wondering if the cockwads would change their minds or if the club lawyer had forgotten something. Figured they’d find some way to fuck with my head.

FBI, state cops, even Homeland Security—they all wanted a piece of my club, the Silver Bastards MC, and not a week went by inside that they didn’t try to cut it out of my hide. Guess they figured a prospect made an easy target.

Not fucking likely.

My old man died for the Bastards. If I turned, he’d haunt my ass the rest of my life because that shit does not stand in my family. I’d been born to wear a Bastard cut. And tonight? For the first time I finally had the right to show those colors off.

A hand slapped my shoulder, then a burly man caught me up in a hug so tight it hurt. My fucking ribs creaked.

“That patch feel right on your back, brother?” asked Boonie. He was the president of the Silver Bastards in Callup, Idaho, and I’d heard him call me a hell of a lot of things—but never brother. Felt good. Damned good. Until an hour ago, I’d been a prospect and I’d never gotten any special treatment because of my old man.

That’s how I wanted it.

“Best night of my life,” I admitted. He pulled back, and his face grew serious.

“Proud of you,” he said. “You did what you had to. Protected the club, took care of business. Painter told us how things were inside, how you took his back. You earned this, earned it with your life and your blood. I know you won’t shame this patch, Puck.”

“I won’t,” I replied, his words almost too much. Boonie grinned suddenly, then grabbed my arm and turned me toward the bar again.

“Drink up,” he told me. “Then find yourself some pretty little thing to play with, because tomorrow we’re ridin’ home. Your bike’s in good shape—took care of it for you.”

“Thanks.”

“Another shot, baby?” the stripper asked. She rolled onto her side, reaching out to catch my neck with her hand, pulling me in for a kiss. That brought me a little too close to her face. She was sweaty, and her mascara had started running. Didn’t smell that great, either.

“More shots,” I said, pulling away. I’d appreciated the blow job, no question. But she wasn’t exactly the fantasy I’d been jacking off to the last year and I’d promised myself I wouldn’t settle once I got out. I wanted someone fresh—someone clean and soft and sweet enough to eat. I’d play with her for a while before letting myself go, punching through all that softness until she screamed and begged for mercy.

Mouth, cunt, ass.

That’d been what got me through those long nights wondering why the fuck I’d let myself get caught.

Ignoring the bitch on the bar, I reached across and grabbed the bottle of tequila, chugging nearly a third of it down. Christ, there went the rest of my throat. Then I turned to look out across room. Four of my new Silver Bastard brothers had come down from Callup—Boonie, Miner, Deep, and Demon. Joining them were four Reapers and two Reaper prospects. They were here to welcome Painter, who’d gone down with me on a weapons charge. This sucked, but such is life. We’d been fighting for our clubs, so no regrets there. Through a combination of luck and well-placed payoffs, we’d managed to stick together for the duration of our time served. The clubs provided the funds and the attorneys—to protect them, we matched that investment with our silence.

Painter caught my eye from across the room, grinning. After so much time together I could almost read his thoughts. I gave him a nod, one of those chin jerks that speaks volumes.

Congrats to you, too, asshole.

“You havin’ fun?” a man asked. I looked down to find a painfully skinny, greasy little man missing half his teeth standing next to me. Tweaker called Teeny. His face was just a little too eager, his eyes a little too bright. Unfortunately, Teeny was our host for the night so I had to be nice to him. We were out in the middle of nowhere, tucked back in a canyon where this douche had somehow acquired a house. The Longnecks MC—one of our “allies,” although their loyalty was questionable—had a warehouse set up in a shop right next to this guy’s house.

This Teeny asshole wasn’t even part of the club . . . Apparently his brother Bax was patched in, though, so they used him as a pit stop. Something didn’t quite add up about the situation, but fuck if I cared. In the morning I’d be riding for home. With luck my future association with the state of California in general and Teeny in particular would be extremely limited.

“See anything you like?” he asked. “That’s my old lady, there. “You want her? She’s real good, welcome you home right.”

I shrugged, glancing over toward his woman. She was probably in her midthirties, I decided. Pretty enough, but she had a hard, tired look around her eyes that didn’t appeal. Not only that, she was wiry and skinny as fuck. Probably smoking meth to block out the fact that she had to live with this dickwad.

“No, she’s great but not my type,” I said, casually taking another drink of tequila. Wasn’t burning so much now, which in retrospect should’ve been a sign to slow down. Maybe things would’ve turned out different.

Shitty thing about time—only runs the one direction.

“What’s your type?” he asked. I shrugged. The day I needed some tweaker to find me pussy, I’d cut off my own cock and get it over with. Swallowing another drink, I glanced across the room, pointedly ignoring him.

That’s when I saw her.

Now, I fuckin’ hate clichés, and shit like this only happens in movies . . . but I swear to fuck, I think I fell for her in that instant. She was small, with long brown hair in one of those knot things on top of her head. Not dressed to show off her figure, either. I could still see she had a tiny waist, though, along with generous tits and the kind of round, healthy curves you just know will cradle your hips perfectly when you’re pounding her.

I had to have her.

Like, needed her. Now.

“Good call,” Teeny said. I ignored him, focusing on the angel I had every intention of owning just as soon as I talked her out of her pants. God, she was pretty. Kind of out of place, too. Not flirting with anyone, and not a ton of makeup. Just wandering around, picking up empties, and avoiding conversation. Fascinating.

“I’ll introduce you.”

Teeny walked across the room toward my Dream Fuck. I started after him, because I didn’t want the asshole speaking on my behalf. Then Boonie caught my arm.

“Heads‑up,” he said, his voice pitched low, difficult to hear through the noise of the party. “We think somethin’s going on with that guy. Don’t be afraid to talk him up, okay? Can always use good information.”

I nodded, wondering why the fuck Teeny had to pick me to buddy up with. Tonight was for relaxing, enjoying myself. Just looking at him made me feel dirty, and considering some of the shit I’ve pulled in my life, that’s an accomplishment. Another hand slapped my back, then Painter caught me by the neck, squeezing me as he laughed.

“Never ends,” he said. “Boonie cock-blocking you?”

I punched him in the gut—not hard. Just enough to make him back off.

“No, right now you have that honor,” I muttered, glaring at him. “Christ, we just spent a year together in a fuckin’ cell. Think we’ve covered everything, so let me get laid? Please?”

He answered by punching me back, and I reeled . . . damn, hadn’t realized how drunk I’d gotten. Still, I wasn’t about to go down easy. I swayed, watching him as our brothers started crowding around us. The wild gleam in his eyes—a mixture of almost manic happiness and pent‑up energy—matched my own.

“Take it outside,” Boonie said. “I got fifty on Puck.”

“Hundred on Painter,” Picnic Hayes, the Reapers’ president, answered and then we were bundled outside for the fight.

I couldn’t wait.

We’d sparred before, of course. Nothing but time to kill in the pen, so I knew Painter’s moves like they were my own— and he knew mine, too. We were a good match, could go either way. Neither of us had much in the way of formal training but we’d both picked up a fair amount along the way. Hell, I’d gotten caught in my first bar fight when I was fourteen years old, seeing as my pop wasn’t exactly Father of the Year material. Still loved the old bastard, though.

The sun was fading as we stepped outside, painting the sky in pinks and oranges shot through with smudged clouds. I paused a moment, struck by the incredible beauty all around me, and smiled, breathing deep. So fucking good to be outside again. Nobody knows what it’s like, trapped in a cell like an animal. Nobody but the guys who’ve heard the sound of those gates closing behind them.

Fortunately for me, I wasn’t exactly the first Silver Bastard to do time for the club, which meant my brothers got me. They knew what this was like.

“Okay, we got a circle here,” Pic was saying. I blinked, starting to process the fact that maybe boxing with Painter while I was drunk might not be such a hot idea. Of course, he was drunk, too, and the booze would numb the pain . . . “Fight goes until one of you is down or taps out. Time to make your bets, brothers.”

Boonie caught my arm, pulling me to the side and looking into my face.

“You ready?” he asked. I nodded sharply, because drunk or not, I wasn’t going to pussy out in front of my president on the same day I got my colors. I glanced across the dusty circle to see Painter, who gave me a friendly sneer. Laughing, I flipped him off, then shook my arms out, loosening up.

That’s when I saw her again. Off to the side, standing next to Teeny, who was talking rapidly and pointing to me. I frowned, because I really didn’t need or want that asshole on my side. Knowing my luck, the fucker would send her running. I nudged my brother, Deep, who was standing next to me.

“See that girl?” I asked, jerking my chin toward her. “Make sure Teeny doesn’t scare her off, okay?”

“Sure,” he said. “I’ll keep an eye out.”

“Thanks.”

Painter and I stepped into the circle together, and I felt the thrill of adrenaline cut through the haze of alcohol. My blood started pumping, pounding through me until I could all but taste it. Christ, but I loved to fight. Always seemed to clear my head, and I’d gotten good enough over the years that I won more than I lost. Inside, those skills had saved our asses, and I’d picked up my fair share of pointers from the very man I found myself facing.

Painter moved first, coming in with an experimental jab toward my stomach. This wasn’t a real attack, just him testing my limits. I’d had a lot to drink, which would slow my reflexes. So had he. That changed the baseline, something we both needed to feel out.

“Can’t believe they gave you a top rocker,” he said, taunting me.

I grinned.

“Try harder, old man. I know you too well.”

Painter laughed, then came at me again, suddenly. He punched me square in the stomach and I doubled over. Shit. I fell back and almost stumbled out of the ring, catching myself at the last minute. I heard the shouts of my brothers urging me on.

Oh, hell no.

No fucking way I’d lose a fight tonight. Painter could fuck right off, because he’d had his colors for years. This was my night. I owned this bitch and he’d just have to suck it up and deal.

Still staggering, I lurched forward toward him like I was out of control. Then I attacked, and this time I caught him. One hit, two. Three. Right in the gut. Painter gasped and I moved in for the kill.

Somehow he pulled himself together, catching me across the chin. My entire head rattled as I staggered to the side. I felt blood in my mouth, then found a loose tooth with my tongue.

Asshole.

I thought of the pretty girl I’d just seen, which pissed me off. The anger was good. Cleared my head. Didn’t matter if I won or not, she wouldn’t want to suck face with someone bleeding like a stuck pig. This wasn’t a fight—it was a cock-block.

Time to end it.

Painter waited for me, swaying. I’d gotten him pretty good.

He was definitely favoring his left hand, which was great news because he was left-handed. Lucky me. I was ambidextrous.

I launched myself at him, turning that to my advantage.

He tried to block me but his arm was weak. I landed a blow to his gut followed by one that caught the side of his cheek. Pain seared through my hand, parting the fog of alcohol.

“Dick,” he managed to gasp as I danced back, flexing my fingers. That last one had been bad—if I’d been any more off-center, I’d have a fist full of broken bones.

“You got him,” Boonie shouted. I stretched my hand again. Did I want to risk another head blow? I hadn’t even wrapped my knuckles. . .

Fuck it.

I caught his chin again and Painter went down, falling hard. Blood dribbled from his nose and for long seconds I wondered if I’d actually hurt him for real.

Then he managed to roll onto his stomach, tapping out and flipping me off, all in one gesture.

“Congrats on getting your colors, Puck,” he groaned. “I’ll give you this one. Enjoy it while you can because next time I’m killing you.”

I staggered back, grinning and raising my hands once I realized he wasn’t seriously hurt. It’d been a lucky shot and we both knew it—we were well matched, could’ve gone either way. As I heard my brothers shouting in victory I didn’t care. This was my night. I had my freedom and my patch.

Still needed that girl, though.

I looked around and spotted her standing next to Deep. Teeny stood on the other side of him, looking all sorry for himself. She was hugging herself with both arms, obviously nervous, and I felt my smile fade. Shit. I hadn’t wanted her scared. I shook my head, wishing things weren’t moving so fast. Waving off the men crowding around me, I headed toward her, half expecting her to run off.

She didn’t, though.

As I came to a stop in front of her, she gave me a wavering smile, then spoke. “Can I help you find another drink?”

“Fuck yeah.”

I took her arm and pulled her into my side, exchanging a satisfied look with Deep.

“Let me know if you need anything!” Teeny yelled after us, and

I felt the girl shudder.

“Christ, but he’s a nasty little shit, isn’t he?” I asked her conversationally, and she gave a startled snort of laughter. I liked the sound. Sweet and sort of innocent. Made my dick happy, that was for sure. Still, I didn’t want to fuck things up and push her too hard, because the skittish vibes were intense.

“Yeah, he is,” she agreed quietly, and I leaned down to kiss the top of her head. She smelled good—fresh and clean, just like I’d been fantasizing all those months inside. Fresh and clean and perfect.

I wondered what she’d taste like.

“They’re lighting a fire out back,” she told me, her voice soft. “By the kegs. Maybe we should go over there?”

Hmmm . . . I could work with that.

“Okay.”

She tried to pull away from me then, but I caught her hand playfully, tugging her back toward me.

“I can’t get you a beer if you don’t let me go,” she pointed out.

Fuck. She was right. Still, I wasn’t about to let her get away that easy—knowing my luck, Painter’d swoop in and take her, just to fuck with my head. If anyone could pull it off, he could. Fucker was pretty in his own weird way—even I could see it. I couldn’t compete, not with the nasty scar on my face.

I’d just have to keep a close eye on her, I decided. Protect what was mine.

* * *

An hour later I found myself leaning back against the wall of the house, wondering how I’d gotten so lucky. My girl’s name was Becca, and she was rapidly turning into my all-time favorite female. Not that we’d talked much—she was pretty quiet. But she was soft and warm, and now I had her tucked between my legs, leaning back against me.

“Skittish” hadn’t been the right word for her, either. She’d been nervous as hell, so nervous I’d been afraid at first she’d pull a runner on me. Beer helped with that, and now she was relaxed into me, eyes closed, head turned toward my chest so that my chin brushed her forehead. I’d have said she was asleep if it wasn’t for the little noises she made every time my fingers circled her nipples under her shirt, or slid down her stomach.

We’d pushed up the bra about ten minutes ago, and I’d explored down below just enough to know she wasn’t sopping wet for me yet . . . but she was getting there. This was a good thing, because my dick was harder than a rock and ready for more. I shifted my hips, sliding my erection against her back, and groaned.

Feeling her up in the firelight was great, but time to move things along.

I pulled out one hand, catching her chin and tilting it up for a kiss. God, she was sweet. She tasted like sunshine and beer, with a hint of tequila mixed in for good measure. I could tell she didn’t have a ton of experience, because when I slid my tongue into her mouth she wasn’t quite sure what to do with her own.

Turned me on in a big way, gotta admit.

“Becca, you should take him on upstairs, don’t you think?”

Teeny’s voice cut through the kiss, and Becca stiffened. She pulled away from me, shutting down so hard I could practically feel the arctic chill. Fuck. For an instant I gave serious consideration to killing Teeny. It’d taken me nearly an hour to get her to this point, and he was not going to fuck it up for me.

I stared him down, eyes narrow.

“Is there a reason you’re talking to her?”

He smirked.

“Just making sure it’s all good here.”

“Go away.”

“Take him upstairs, Becca.” If anything, she got more tense, and I groaned. Sure, I could just go find someone else. But I didn’t want anyone else, and this asshole was ruining things for me. I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her into me, tight, making it clear that she didn’t need to worry about Teeny.

“Now would be a real good time to disappear,” I told him, my voice full of a quiet menace designed to convey one message—fear. Becca shivered, which pissed me off. Been hard enough to get through to her, and now she had to see this. “Otherwise I’ll make it happen. Got me?”

Boonie came to stand next to us.

“We got a problem here?” he asked.

“No,” Teeny said, glaring at me and Becca. Then he turned and scuttled off like the fucking roach he was. She shivered, and I rubbed my hands up and down her arms.

“Don’t worry, babe,” I told her absently. “Thanks, Boonie.”

“No prob,” he muttered looking after Teeny. “Glad we’re leaving in the morning. There’s something wrong here—been a very educational trip.”

I nodded, although I didn’t have the full story. They’d fill me in later, so until then I’d just follow Boonie’s lead.

“Let’s go inside,” Becca said. “Find some privacy.”

She pulled free and stood up. This startled me, but I wasn’t exactly unhappy about the development. I lurched off-balance as I rose, and things were a little hazy around the edges. Wasn’t messing with my dick, though, so all good where it counted. She led me into the house and up the stairs to a small room in the back. It had a twin-size bed that was rumpled and stained. There was a puddle of beer spilled on the floor next to a turned-over bottle. More cups and bottles littered the area, and an ashtray was half full on the bedside table.

“Guess we aren’t the first ones looking for some privacy,” I commented, but I didn’t really care. Nope. I just shut the door and locked it. When I turned back, she’d already stripped down to her bra, and was busy unzipping her jeans.

Holy shit.

Becca was gorgeous.

I mean, I’d seen how pretty she was outside, but those sweet little boobs I’d been groping the last hour were even more perfect than I’d imagined. Somehow the fact that a plain cotton bra cradled them just enhanced the experience. Then she slid her pants off and I nearly died because I’d never seen anything sexier. I wanted to tie her down and take possession of every hole in her body. Twice.

Becca saw it all written in my face—clearly it scared her. She took a step back, and held up a hand. A deeply disturbing question flickered through my foggy brain.

“Are you a virgin?” I asked, the words tasting strange in my mouth. She gave a harsh laugh, then shook her head.

“No, I’m not a virgin.”

She reached behind to unhook her bra and I saw her nipples for the first time. Pink and pointy and gorgeous, exactly the right size for my mouth . . . I stepped toward her and she surprised me, dropping to her knees and reaching for my fly.

“How long has it been?” she asked, her voice almost businesslike. I groaned as she pushed down my jeans and briefs, cock springing free. I’d never been harder—wasn’t entirely sure I’d survive the next ten minutes. Fuck, would I even last ten minutes? Then her hand wrapped around me and I closed my eyes, reaching out to lean against the wall because otherwise I would’ve fallen flat on my ass.

She started out slow and steady, wrapping her fingers around me and rubbing up and down. After a minute she paused. I opened my eyes to see her peeking up at me as she licked her palm, looking older and more seductive than I’d pegged her before. Fuck. Fuck. Then her other hand reached down to cup my balls as she started working me again with all ten fingers.

I gasped, falling into the sensation again. Definitely wouldn’t be lasting that long, I realized. No way. But that was just fine, because tonight I had a lot more than one load saved up and ready to go.

“Use your mouth.”

She obeyed, opening up and taking me in, her tongue flicking at me expertly. Almost too expertly . . . weird, and a little surprising, given how she kissed. Then she sucked me deeper and I stopped thinking at all. Everything was warm and wet and fucking perfect.

Thirty seconds later I blew up in her mouth without warning. Hell, it caught me off guard, it happened so fast, and I cringed. Reaching down, I caught her hair in my hand, pulling out the rubber band holding it so the long, brown strands fell around her face. She stood, wiping her face with the back of her hand, soft brown eyes meeting mine.

She looked like an innocent little angel again.

“Becca, that was . . .” I didn’t have the words. God, I’d missed sex. Real sex, not just jacking off in my hand. Nothing in the world quite as sweet as the feel of hot wet woman wrapped around my dick.

She turned away, reaching down to grab a half-empty fifth of rotgut vodka off the bedside table, taking a big drink, and swishing it around her mouth. Then she spat it out on the floor so it mingled with the pooled beer before taking another swig.

Okay, not a total angel.

I reached out, and Becca handed the bottle to me wordlessly. Then she slid off her plain cotton panties and laid back on the bed.

“You ready?” she asked. I drank deep, my head spinning because I’d never been more ready for anything in my life. She didn’t look ready, though. Her eyes were distant, and when I kicked off my pants and stepped between her legs, I could see her body wasn’t with me, either.

Fortunately I knew how to fix that.

Pulling off my cut, I looked for somewhere safe to put it. The only available flat surface was the little table, but in the back corner was one of those hanging racks with some clothes on it. I walked over and grabbed a hanger, hung up the leather vest, and turned back to Becca.

She’d closed her eyes, and I’d have thought she was asleep if I didn’t know better. Fuck, maybe she’d passed out.

“You awake?”

She nodded her head.

“Yeah, just sort of drunk,” she muttered. “Don’t worry about it.”

Shrugging, I pulled off my shirt, then knelt down beside the bed and caught her legs up and over my shoulders. She squawked as I spread her pussy lips, giving her a long lick straight up to her clit.

“What are you doing?” she demanded, suddenly awake and alert. I licked her again, and Becca squirmed and gasped as her little nub started to harden for me. Nice. “Oh my God! I can’t believe how good that feels . . .”

She fell back on the bed as I got going. I love pussy. Of course, most men do, but not all of them love going down on a nice, juicy cunt as much as me. I licked and tickled, every once in a while giving a little nip as Becca came to life under me. I think she was trying to keep still at first, but no way was I having any of that shit. Nope. I wanted her soaking wet and screaming, because I planned to ride her hard the rest of the night.

Then I slid two fingers deep inside, searching for just the right spot as I sucked on her clit like candy. Found it on the first try, and she blew up around me, crying out and sobbing. I pulled away, grabbing a chunk of loose sheet to wipe off my mouth, and she moaned, little shivers running through her body.

I’d been hard for her before—almost constantly, even right after I’d come in her mouth—but that was nothing compared to my cock now. Fluid seeped from the tip, and I reached across the floor for my pants, pulling out a condom. Along the way the vodka caught my eye and I took another drink, following her lead as I swished out my mouth and spat on the floor.

The place was truly disgusting, but I’d spent fourteen months in prison so a little filth was the least of my concerns. Tilting back my head, I sucked down the rest of the booze, swaying as I stood. I caught her under the arms and scooted her up the bed before I slipped on the condom. Seconds later I pushed deep into her. Fuck, this had been the right call tonight, because—I shit you not—never felt anything that good before in my life.

She moaned and I caught her mouth with mine, kissing her hard and claiming her. This time I didn’t hold back. Nope. I just took as much as I could, savoring her sweet taste and wondering if she wanted to see Idaho . . . We’d be leaving in the morning, and the thought of throwing her on the back of my bike and taking her along worked for me in a big way.

Then she squeezed down on me hard and I stopped thinking altogether.

* * *

We slept for a while. Maybe we passed out. Dunno. Same difference. When I woke up, Becca was tucked into my side, one leg thrown over mine. Her hair trailed across my chest and her breath tickled my skin.

That’s all it took.

I rolled her over onto her stomach, sliding a pillow under her hips and spreading her legs before grabbing a condom. She murmured, not really talking, but the sounds coming out of her mouth weren’t unhappy when I found her clit again. Seconds later I pushed into her. I’m sure some man—somewhere in history—had enjoyed the feel of a woman’s cunt more than I did in that moment. Hard to imagine how, though.

I’d taken off the edge earlier and now that I had her nice and warmed up, I was ready to do this thing for real. Grabbing her hips, I pulled back and slammed deep. Becca screamed and stiffened, now well and truly awake. Fuck, so hot and slick . . . I started pumping in and out of her hard, loving how she convulsed around me. Her arms reached out, clawing the sheets, and I lowered myself across her back, using my knees to spread her legs out even wider. Then I caught her hands in mine, nipping at the back of her neck before groaning into her ear.

“Reach down below and finger your clit.”

“I can’t,” she gasped. I paused, catching her hand and shoving it down beneath her stomach as I lifted my weight. We found her clit together, then I shoved back into her roughly.

“Oh my God . . .” she moaned. “That’s incredible.”

Damn straight.

“Now keep it there,” I ordered. “You’re going to come for me at least twice, got it?”

She nodded into the sheets and I pulled my hand free, bracing myself as I started moving again. It wasn’t gentle, but that was okay because I felt how wet and slick she was around me. Tight, too. Even better than I’d imagined back in my cell, and I have a hell of a good imagination. I leaned up on my elbows, catching her hair and jerking it back because I get off on that shit. Each twist of my hips took me closer, and when she started convulsing around me and crying, I nearly lost it. Not quite, though. I wasn’t finished.

Mouth. Cunt. Ass.

I’d planned it all out in my head, dreamed about it for months . . . Now I finally had the staying power to finish it. As she shuddered and trembled, I pulled free and sat back on my heels. Becca’s ass spread wide in front of me, and I smiled because it was fucking gorgeous. Heart shaped, pretty. Not too big, but not fucking skinny and nasty like a half-starved donkey, either.

Christ, I wanted to fuck her there.

My cock was still wrapped tight and dripping with her juices, but I spat into my hand a couple times for good measure, slathering it on for a little extra lube. Then caught her hips and pulled her up and onto her knees.

“Brace yourself.”

She nodded, stretching out her arms in front of her like a cat, which was cute but totally inadequate under the circumstances. I caught her hair again, yanking her head to the side. Becca gasped.

“I said brace yourself,” I repeated. “Gonna fuck your ass now.”

She squawked, and her entire body stiffened.

“That a problem?” I asked. She shook her head quickly.

“No, do it.”

Shit, could she sound less enthusiastic? I stilled, realizing my prison dream girl might not be up for the full porno fantasy in living color. Fuck.

“It’s okay,” I said, pulling back. I closed my eyes, running a hand through my hair and shuddering. I’d just fuck her cunt some more. I could do that. Then she shocked the hell out of me by reaching around behind to grab my cock. She pushed back with her hips, awkwardly trying to guide me to her asshole, which was funny and pathetic at the same time.

Because I’m a shitty human being, I went for it. Not a complete dick, though. I could see the tension radiating off her.

“You never done this before?” I asked her. She shook her head violently, not looking at me.

“Okay, we’ll go slow.”

She nodded this time, but she still didn’t give me her eyes. It bothered me for some reason, although why, I had no fucking idea. I dug my fingers deep into her hair, twisting her head around enough to kiss her. Hard. My tongue dug deep, forcing her to kiss me back and, I shit you not, I felt like fireworks were going off in my head. Clichéd as all fuck, but there you have it. After long seconds we came up for air, and I stared into her eyes, seeing how her pupils grew wide.

Slowly, steadily I found her opening with my cockhead, pushing in as she gasped.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine,” she said, eyes wide, her lips trembling. I held her there, my heart beating so hard I thought it might come right out of my chest as I pushed down deep. She was tight—really tight. Sure as hell hadn’t been lying when she’d said she’d never done this before. I sank into her for what felt like forever before I hit bottom, balls resting against her pussy. Her heartbeat pulsed around my cock and I realized that I would be happy to die in that moment. That’s how good it was.

Becca closed her eyes and turned her face into the covers, spasming around me. I didn’t like the position—I wanted to watch her face— but she seemed to need some privacy. I got it. I’ve never been a nice, vanilla kind of guy, but this was a different kind of intensity than even I was used to. No screaming, no scratching, no fighting with each other until we both lost our minds . . . No, this was powerful on a whole new level, and looking into her eyes the whole time was probably too much for me, too.

I pulled back out, then slid in again. She gasped.

“Play with your clit some more.”

She nodded without speaking, burrowing her hand back down until she found her target. I started moving, going slowly and carefully at first. But it felt really good, and I’ve never been one to take things slow and careful.

Looking back, I can’t decide if that’s when things really fell to shit, or if they’d been falling to shit all along and I was just too stupid to see it. Never have figured that one out, but what happened next was not my finest hour. I started moving faster. It felt fucking amazing. She felt fucking amazing. Then I was pounding her and she was shuddering and I thought she was coming and it was perfect.

Becca sobbed suddenly. Loud. Not a pretty crying kind of noise, and not one of those moans bitches give when they’re getting off so hard they can’t quite control themselves.

No.

This was the kind of noise a puppy makes when you kick it, and I felt it all the way down to my gut like a knife ripping me open.

Big. Fucking. Mistake.

I pulled out and caught her up and into my arms. She flinched and I hated myself, because even like that she was soft and pretty and I just wanted to keep nailing her ass. Becca knew it, too, because she tried to pull away from the press of my cock against her back. More sobs escaped and tears rolled down her face and I knew for a fact that I’d burn in hell for this.

Rubbing her head, I tried to think of soothing noises. Instead I was full of questions. Why had she let me do it?

‘Cause you’re a pushy, scary bastard.

Fuck.

“I’m sorry,” I told her, my head starting to spin. Shouldn’t have drunk so much. I had no idea what time it was, no idea how long we’d been up here . . . I heard noises outside, the sounds of music and the party still going, but that didn’t mean much. A good party could last all night and into the next morning.

“It’s okay,” she finally managed to whisper, and I bit back a harsh laugh because that was a huge fucking lie and we both knew it. Then she did something that blew me away. Becca turned in my arms and pushed me down onto my back. Seconds later she had the condom off and was sucking me deep again, which made no fucking sense at all.

Unfortunately my dick wasn’t the sensitive, caring type because it really didn’t care that she was clearly so scared and drunk off her ass she’d lost touch with reality.

I could’ve stopped her.

I should’ve stopped her.

Instead I sank my fingers into her hair and blew up into her mouth and it was even better than the first time. The room was seriously spinning all around me as she tucked into my arm and stroked my chest.

“Tell him I did good, okay?” she whispered. “Just tell him I did good. Please?”

I passed out, wondering what the fuck she was talking about.

* * *

My bladder was about to explode.

Needed to pee. Maybe rinse out my mouth, too, because it tasted like something died in there and that was not an exaggeration. Shifting, I realized that Becca was still tucked into me, sleeping heavily. I managed to crack my eyes open, blinking. Faint light was creeping in through the window, although even now I could still hear music down below.

Great. Gonna be a long ride home with no sleep. Sliding carefully out from under Becca, I stood and pulled on my pants. My shirt had fallen into the sticky puddle of beer and vodka, so I stumbled out of the room half naked. The door across the hall was locked, although from the smell it had to be the bathroom—either that or people had started pissing and vomiting in the bedrooms, which I supposed wasn’t entirely impossible. Felt great to be back with my brothers, but our hosts kind of sucked ass. Bunch of assholes and meth heads, so far as I could tell. No wonder Boonie didn’t trust them.

I walked down the stairs into the living room, where despite the fact that music still blared, people were passed out all over the place. My brother Deep leaned back against the bar separating the living room from the kitchen area, arms crossed, a look of faint disgust on his face.

“Hey,” I said, keeping my voice low.

“You look like death. Have fun up there?”

I shrugged, feeling like an asshole.

“She’s perfect,” I said. “But I think I hurt her.”

His eyes narrowed.

“We got a situation? Should I go get Boonie?”

Shit.

“No, not like that,” I said quickly. “I mean, I think I pushed her too far. Tried to fuck her ass, and it didn’t go over so well. She’s okay, but I still feel like a douche.”

“We got a girl who’s gonna cry rape?” he asked quickly, and I snorted.

“Probably should,” I replied. “She told me to do it, though. Afterward she sucked me off. Feels wrong, somehow.”

“You want another drink?” I turned to see Teeny standing there, his beady eyes bright and full of something I couldn’t quite follow. God, I hated him—he was like a cockroach that wasn’t smart enough to stay out of the light.

Anger replaced my disgust. He needed to leave me the fuck alone.

“Are you serious?” I asked him, turning and cracking my knuckles. The fight with Painter had taken off my edge, but it’d come back again as I told Deep about Becca. Hitting someone— anyone—would feel good, but hitting this guy? That’d be a flat-out pleasure. “God, don’t you ever go away? Fucking piece of shit!”

I started toward him, but Deep caught my arm, pulling me back.

“Careful, bro,” he said quietly. “This isn’t about him. You’re pissed about the girl. Pick your battles, because there’s a lot more Longnecks than Reapers and Bastards combined. All he did was offer you a drink.”

Fuck. I breathed deep, looking at the scared little shit and wishing desperately he’d do something—anything—to give me an excuse to take him down. My brothers would back me no matter what, but I wasn’t stupid enough to think there wouldn’t be a price for my actions.

“I’m going back to bed,” I said after a tense minute or so, pulling free. “Talk to you later, brother.”

Deep nodded, watching Teeny as I turned and stalked back up the stairs. This time the bathroom door was open. Sure enough, someone had missed the toilet, and I felt my own stomach heave sympathetically. For a sec there I thought I might lose it. Then I pulled it together enough to piss without barfing. Afterward, I turned to look at myself in the mirror. As always, the face looking back at me was ugly as fuck. Dark, ragged hair. Scar cutting across my face. Nose that’d been broken at least four times now . . .

Shit, no wonder Becca had been scared of me—I looked like a fuckin’ serial killer. I wanted to punch the mirror and break it into a thousand pieces, which would accomplish even less than beating the shit out of Teeny.

Instead I went back into the room and found her still sound asleep on the bed. Her skin was pale and fragile, dark shadows ringing her eyes. Still gorgeous, but younger and more frail-looking now. Christ. What had I done? I crawled back into bed with her, sure I’d never get to sleep. I’d underestimated how much booze was still floating around in my system, because everything went dark again.

* * *

This time the sun was bright and harsh. I blinked, trying to remember where I was . . . Then it all came back and I looked around, wondering where my girl went.

Shit. Becca was gone.

What the hell really happened last night? I sat up, spotting my colors hanging from a rack next to . . . school uniforms? Fuck, some kid must live in this room, I realized. That’d suck, coming home to a mess like this. I turned and lowered my feet on the far side of the bed, figuring I’d open the window to air things out, check the lay of the land in the process. I stepped on a pile of books, which fell over. I reached down to pick one up.

Textbook.

I picked up another. Shit, it was another textbook, and under that was a notebook. That’s when I started to get a very bad feeling in the pit of my stomach—something I wouldn’t have pegged as possible, given how shitty I already felt about how the night had played out.

The notebook opened in my hands, and I saw the name Becca Jones written on the top of the front page, along with English: First Period and the date.

Below were notes.

Maybe she was in college, I thought desperately. Please, fuck . . . let her be in college. A piece of colored paper fell to the ground, and I dropped the notebook to pick it up.

What I saw nearly made me throw up.

It was a flyer for a dance—a high school dance.

Becca was still in school. Jailbait. The fuck? It didn’t add up . . . Then her last words to me sank in, and it all added up far too well.

“Tell him I did good, okay? Just tell him I did good. Please?”

* * *

I flew down the stairs half dressed, my boots thudding loudly. My shirt was filthy from her floor, but my cut was still fine—safe and sound after a night spent hanging next to Becca’s little school dresses. Fucking piece of shit pimp Teeny.

Had to be him.

This was his house. Who the hell was she? His kid? What the fuck kind of asshole pimped out his own daughter? But shit, I guess it happened all the time, all over the world. About halfway down I heard her scream, which should’ve woken up everyone all over the goddamned house. Most of them were still passed out drunk, though. I heard more shouts outside and knew my brothers were probably coming.

That turned out to be a good thing, because I came damned close to ending a man’s life that day—fucking craptastic way to start parole . . .

Teeny stood in the center of the kitchen, Becca huddled at his feet as he kicked her. Then he whacked her across the head with a fucking soup pot, of all things, and I lost my shit.

“You cocksucking asshole!” I shouted, launching myself at him.

“Fucking twat! I’ll kill you!”

My fists destroyed his face with a crunch. It felt good— cathartic.

He fell like a bag of concrete and some part of my brain noted vaguely that Becca was scrabbling away from us, chunks of her long hair torn loose and left on the floor. Blood, too. Another woman shouted and tugged at her, but I didn’t turn to look.

Nope. I had work to do.

Specifically, I needed to kill Teeny with my bare hands. Then I’d tear him apart and eat his heart. Raw. He screamed like a bitch the whole time, and I heard Boonie yelling in the background. Then they hauled me off his ass, kicking and fighting because I’d well and truly lost my shit.

“What the fuck is happening here?” Picnic Hayes demanded. Beside him stood one of the Longnecks, a guy who looked a fuckuva lot like Teeny and I realized this must be the brother who was part of the club. Bax.

Bax wasn’t a happy camper. Fair enough. I was pretty fucking unhappy myself.

Teeny moaned on the floor, rolling onto his back, and I spat at him. Then I heard a sobbing noise—one that’d already been burned into my brain. Becca was crying, and I looked over to find her huddled up against Teeny’s old lady.

Shit. I hadn’t seen it before because the woman was so nasty and used up, but under that scrawny, tweaker body was an older copy of Becca. Had to be her mother . . . Even with the meth eating her, though, she seemed too young. If that was the mother, she must’ve had Becca really fucking early.

“She his daughter?” I asked her, my voice like a knife. The woman shook her head quickly, lips quivering. “You let him pimp her out?”

She looked away.

“Damn,” Picnic said. “This is a hell of a clusterfuck.”

“I’m not leaving her here. He’ll kill her.”

Pic shook his head slowly, thoughtfully, but I could see it in his face—he knew I was right.

“Yeah, she can come with us,” he said. “You up for that, Boon?”

My president nodded, eyes never leaving the huddled mass of blood and human filth crying on the floor.

“We’ll head out in twenty minutes,” Boonie said decisively. “Anyone got a problem with that?”

He looked around the room in challenge, and several of the Longnecks glanced away—apparently they weren’t going to stand up for Teeny. Said a hell of a lot about them in general and Teeny in particular. I mean, I was glad that we weren’t fighting our way out, but that’s just pathetic. They were happy to party with him. When it came time to take his back, they were out.

“C’mon, let’s go upstairs and grab some of your shit,” I said to Becca, reaching toward her. She gave a little scream and pushed back with her feet, sliding across the floor to get away from me. Fuck.

“I’ll get her ready,” her mother said suddenly. Her voice quavered, but her eyes were resolute as they met mine. “She’ll go with you—just get her away from here. He’ll hurt her bad for this. Real bad.”

I nodded, watching as she drew her daughter to her feet, then pushed her toward the stairwell.

“Jesus, you can sure pick ’em,” Boonie said. “How old you think she is?”

“She’s still in high school,” I said, my voice grim. “Fairly certain I’m up for statutory if this goes down wrong.”

“Damn,” Painter said, coming up behind me. “That’s fast work—usually takes a little longer to violate parole, bro.”

I met his gaze, and for once his face didn’t hold even a hint of mockery. Fuck. This was really bad.

“Outside,” Picnic said sharply. “Horse, Ruger—you stay here. Make sure the girl gets out safe, okay?”

He caught my arm and pulled me toward the door. Boonie flanked us, and I sensed real danger beneath their calm expressions. We walked over to the bikes as the others scrambled to grab their shit and pack up.

“I won’t leave her,” I told them again. “I know she’s scared of me, but I don’t give a fuck. That girl’ll die if she stays here.”

“Not gonna leave her,” Pic said. “But we do need to get out fast, before they have time to figure out what happened and get pissed off. They decide to fight for her, things’ll get ugly. Not sure we can take ’em.”

“Thanks for standing with me.”

Boonie snorted.

“You’re our brother, Puck,” he said, his voice casual. “This is what we do. You went down for us, you think we aren’t prepared to do the same for you? Now pull your shit together. We can put the girl in the truck with the prospects, or you can take her on your bike. No time to fuck around.”

* * *

Fifteen minutes later, I watched as Horse, Becca, and her mom walked out of the house. At least thirty members of the Longnecks MC stood watching, talking quietly among themselves. I kept waiting for one of them to reach for a gun or challenge us, but they didn’t.

No sign of Teeny.

Becca had stopped crying, but her face was still covered in tear-smeared blood, and nasty bruises were popping up all over. Her breath sounded wheezy, too, and I hoped to hell she didn’t have broken ribs.

“I don’t want to go,” she whispered, catching at her mom’s arm. “I want to stay with you.”

“You’re getting out,” the woman replied, her eyes hard and calculating. “Let him cool off, then we’ll talk. Figure something out.”

Becca shook her head, but when I caught her arm gently she let me pull her away.

“You want to ride in the truck or on my bike?”

Becca glanced at the truck, eyes widening at the sight of two Reaper prospects. “I’ll stay with you.”

I nodded and climbed on my bike, eyes alert as I monitored our audience. She climbed up behind me, and then her mother gave a satisfied nod. Becca wrapped her arms around me and I felt her tits press tight against my back. My cock stirred to life. What the fucking hell was wrong with me?

“How old are you?” I asked, my voice low.

“Sixteen.”

Shit.

“Like, you’re almost seventeen?”

“No, I turned sixteen last week.”

Double shit.

Boonie kicked his bike to life, and we followed his lead, pulling away from the house in formation.

So that’s the story of how I committed statutory rape less than twenty-four hours out of prison—on my birthday, no less. In retrospect, I probably should’ve stayed inside, served out my full five-year term. Would’ve been less work for everyone

 

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joanna wylde

Joanna Wylde is a New York Times bestselling author and creator of the Reapers Motorcycle Club series. She currently lives in Idaho.

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NOT LOOKING FOR LOVE Episode 1 by Lena Bourne Promo!

not looking

Not Looking for Love Episode 1 by Lena Bourne

 

SYNOPSIS

 

Sometimes, what you want is not really what you need.

 

Gail is only twenty-two years old and her mom is dying. Not just dying, she will be dead in a few days, if the doctors are to be trusted, and Gail is certain she herself won’t survive that. After a run in with Scott, the hot gardener from next door,

Gail begins to see him as the perfect distraction from her unbearable life. It’s not love Gail wants. She just wants to feel good with someone who makes her forget, if only for a little while, and Scott fits that description perfectly.

 

Scott just got back into town and he’s still trying to get his life back together. He already has more problems and regrets than he can ever hope to live with, and the last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who is clearly a little unsettled, if not downright insane. But the fact that Gail is very attractive and keeps throwing herself at him makes it impossible to keep sending her away. Which he should, for Gail’s sake more than his own.

 

Warning: This book is intended for people 18 years and older, since it contains hot, explicit sex between consenting adults, and all the bad words associated with it.

 

***This is the first episode of an edgy and steamy New Adult romance serial, Not Looking For Love***

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Mom’s coughs, raspy and urgent, wake me. Her room is at the far end of the hall, five doors down, yet the sound rips through my chest like she’s lying right next to me. Leaving me, saying goodbye. The too many cocktails I drank at Kate’s party no longer make my thoughts fuzzy, instead they buzz around in my stomach, churning, making me sick. The coughing doesn’t stop, changes pitch until it sounds like she’s screaming. I bolt out of bed and run to the door, the sudden movement making the room spin around me. Dad’s footsteps pound down the hallway as he rushes to my mom’s room, so I sit on the chair by my makeup desk and turn on the sidelights, willing the room to stop spinning.

I’d only be in the way now, if I go to my mom. Then my dad will think he has to take care of us both: comfort my mom and keep me safe. Only he can’t, because my mom is dying, and there is no one who can change that. Twenty-two years old is too young to lose a mom. Cancer. Such a whimsical word for such a terrible disease. My birth sign. Bile rises in my throat as I struggle to chase the thought away, thinking of anything but that. That my birth sign is killing my mom, that I’m killing my mom. It’s childish, and it’s stupid to think it, but the idea still feels like I’ve swallowed broken glass.

I grab my wrist, hoping to clutch the charm bracelet she gave me on my 21st birthday just over a year ago. She gave me all of her jewelry for my birthday this year. Tiny charms dangle from the bracelet: a little princess, a colorful egg, and a golden coin. But all I feel is my racing pulse, a tiny ball bouncing in my vein that might break free at any moment, making me bleed out. The bracelet is gone.

I had worn it to Kate’s party, since I never take it off. I’d only gone to the party for a little distraction, and because Kate’s house is just next door, I could be back with my mom in a few minutes if she needed me. It was a total disaster. Brandon wouldn’t stop pestering me, and he ended up throwing me in the pool for a laugh. After that, I ran home, very nearly crying.

Digging through my makeup table, I send creams and blushes, hairpins and lipsticks toppling to the ground, searching frantically for the bracelet, even though I don’t remember taking it off. I run back to the bed, throwing the sheets, the pillows on the ground, checking the nightstand. The bracelet isn’t anywhere.

I’m outside on the patio before I can think.

Mornings are chilly this late in August, and dawn has hardly broken. All I’m wearing is a white tank top and the silk boxers I sleep in. I run across the lawn barefoot, not thinking of what I may be stepping on. I have to find the bracelet; I have no time to put on shoes.

I crawl through the hole in the fence that separates my garden from Kate’s. It’s a tight fit, now that I’m no longer five years old. Chairs and towels, empty glasses and discarded clothes are still strewn across the lawn, but, thankfully, no one is around. Likely, the cold dawn chased the last of the party away. I glance up at the house to make sure no one is watching. All the windows are dark. A light reflects in the first floor windows, and I drop into a crouch reflexively, but it’s just a passing car.

I find my dress near the pool where I took it off to take a dip. Right before Brandon tossed me in. I just left it lying there when I ran home. Everyone must think I’m completely mental now. I hope Brandon does too. Why won’t he just take a hint? Brandon is Kate’s brother, and since she’s like a sister to me, he’s like a brother to me. I can’t be dating my brother. Besides he’s the love ’em and leave ’em type, and all he can give me is a broken heart. Like he did with his last five girlfriends. As if my heart could take any more breaking.

I look around, tossing things aside, not caring where they land, hoping to find the bracelet. It’s not anywhere. The sun’s not up yet, but birds are chirping something awful all around me, and the sky is more white than grey now. Dawn is my favorite time of day. I love watching the colors of the sky change from inky black to grey to lilac blue and finally yellow, the new day being born, bringing new hope. Today, I just wish the sun would come up.

If the bracelet is not in the grass, it might be in the pool. The thought of going back in the water makes me shiver, but my desperation to get the bracelet back right away is stronger.

I ease myself off the side of the pool in roughly the spot where I went in before, feet first, trying not to make any sound that could wake Kate’s family. It’s like slow torture to do it that way, and my whole body cramps up, but the last thing I need is to cause a panic. I could just go back home and come back once the sun is up, but I can’t. I need that bracelet, or else I won’t sleep.

The cold water grips my body like a vice and I take shallow breaths until the worst of the pain passes. The lights in the pool are off already, they’re connected to the porch lights, and someone thoughtfully turned them all off after the party ended. Too thoughtfully. I could really use those lights right now.

After a final deep breath, I submerge my head, fighting the overwhelming urge to gasp as the cold water goes straight to my brain, which is what it feels like. I can almost see the steam coming off, but at least my heart is no longer pounding. I let myself float on the surface, scanning the floor of the pool. Lucky really, that Kate’s pool is saltwater. I can float, eliminating the need to tread water to keep myself on the surface.

Shadows play upon the mosaic floor of the pool, all blues, whites, yellows, and pinks. I turn slightly to adjust my angle of view. No silver gleams against the tiles anywhere. I only come up for air once my lungs start burning and dip my face back in immediately. Grey is giving way to white in the sky now, so the visibility should soon improve. I’m enjoying the silence, the serenity of floating in the water, with my long hair plastered down my ears, blocking out the chirping birds.

The eerie silence is almost like diving, only without the crushing weight of the water pressing against me. But I can’t see my bracelet anywhere, and no doubt the servants will be out cleaning up soon. I adjust my angle again and am just about to come up for more air when something grabs my waist and flips me over in the water.

I scream and flail, gulp water instead of air, with visions of a shark attacking vivid in my mind. Beating and kicking, I paddle hard to get out of the water, my hair obscuring my vision.

Whatever grabbed me is no longer touching me, but I kick back to the side of the pool frantically anyway, still coughing, still seeing nothing. My knuckles collide with the wall of the pool, but I ignore the pain, scraping my knees as I struggle out of the water. My arms are shaking so badly I can’t lift myself up to get out of the pool

“Calm the fuck down!” a man yells behind me. “You’ll hurt yourself. It’s alright.”

He places his hands on my hips and lifts me from the water.

I’m panting now, but at least I’m not swallowing water anymore. I brush my hair from my eyes and stand up, though my legs are shaking so hard I’ll probably just topple back down even if I succeed.

The guy is still in the water, eyeing me like I’m insane. “Are you alright?”

I nod as I finally manage to stand.

He hoists himself from the water in one fluid motion. His white t-shirt is plastered against his chest, and his grey pants hug his legs tightly. He’s all muscle, from his biceps, to his shoulders, chest, and stomach that ripples in a neat six-pack. And not those chiseled for-show muscles that otherwise thin guys have. He’s bulky, twice as wide as any guy I know. Even his legs. No wonder he had no problem tossing me out of the pool.

“Are you alright?” he asks again, standing right in front of me now.

I quickly look up into his face, hoping he didn’t notice me checking him out before. He can’t be much older than me, I see now. His short blond hair looks black near his scalp, but stands up in light colored spikes all over his head. His eyes are either blue or grey—the kind of eyes that change color according to the light. And deep. I could stare at his eyes all day long just to see what I could see.

“Are you high?” he asks. I shake my head a little too sharply and feel my boobs bounce around under my tank. My wet white tank, which isn’t covering me up at all right now if the state of his shirt is anything to go by. A thought to cover myself up flitters through my mind, but it’s distant and sounds ridiculous.

His eyes leave my face and travel down, taking me in. He likes what he sees, and I can feel it. It’s like his gaze is fire, and whatever he’s thinking is bringing my blood to a boil, warming me.

His eyes return to my face, my parted lips. His are slightly parted too, like he’s breathing hard, but I don’t hear it.

“What were you doing in the pool? You scared me to death,” he says, his eyes soft now, and his lips curl into a sheepish grin. “I thought you were dead.”

I shake my head again, this time catching my boobs under my arm. “I thought I lost something in the pool. My bracelet… but I can’t find it.”

He turns back to the pool. The ripples from my flight have still not died down completely, and the surface is an opaque white now, reflecting the sky.

“I doubt you’ll find it in there, not now at least. Wait ’til the sun comes up, maybe,” he says and shrugs like he doesn’t think I’ll ever find it.

“I have to find the bracelet,” I say too loudly, too shrilly.

He holds his hands up like he’s wading me off. “Alright, alright, I’m just saying, wait ’til the sun comes up.”

I look up at the sky, checking to see if the sun is anywhere near up. “Everyone will be up by then.”

He smiles at me again. “I can help you look, I guess.”

I let my arms fall to my sides and turn to the pool. My boobs bounce and that hungry look is back in his eyes. They look brown now, almost black. It’s like he’s touching me with his look, and my nipples, erect and clearly visible through my tank prickle like he’d just run his fingers over them. A ball of heat erupts between my legs, heavy and urgent. Somehow, all I can think of are his arms around my hips, and his cock, so plainly outlined by his wet pants, pressing into me. I really want to go for another dip in the pool with him. I can’t remember any other guy ever turning me on so fast, so hard.

“Gail!” Brandon’s whiny voice rips through my fantasy of me and this pool boy entwined in the water. “What’s happening? Is he harassing you?”

Brandon’s footsteps thump through the grass toward us, and the pool boy takes a step away from me, crossing his arms over his chest. I mimic his motion, and face away from Brandon. Likely, his yells have awoken the whole house. A dark shadow passes over the pool boy’s eyes, and he’s staring at Brandon, but he stays quiet.

“I’m fine,” I say and turn to Brandon. He picks up a towel and wraps it around my shoulders, keeping his arm there too like he owns me.

“Your girlfriend lost something,” the pool boy says. “You should keep a better eye on her.”

I shake off Brandon’s arm. “I’m not his girlfriend.”

Somehow, it’s very important that the pool boy knows this. Softness flashes across his eyes but is gone again in an instant.

He turns and walks toward the gardening tools he tossed on the ground by the pool when he thought he had to save me.

I take a step after him, my arm stretched out like I want to pull him back. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I was warm before, when he was looking at me, and now I’m cold.

I cover the gesture by wrapping the towel tighter around myself. “Do you need some dry clothes? I can bring you something.”

He bends over and picks up a hoe off the ground. “Don’t worry about me. I have a change of clothes in my truck.”

Brandon’s next to me, trying to place his arm around me again. I step to the side, and his arm flails through the air. I could swear pool boy chuckles a little seeing it, but I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just what I want to see. I want him to want me.

The sun finally peeks over the fence, and something glimmers a few steps away from me in the grass.

I lunge for it, making both Brandon and the pool boy start.

“My bracelet!” I ‘m clutching it so tightly the charms dig painfully into my palm. I know my face is a mask of deranged glee, but I can’t help it.

The pool boy picks up the rest of his tools and shakes his head, muttering something that could be ‘crazy rich chick,’ but I may be wrong.

“Do you want to go inside? Get warmed up?” Brandon asks. He’s hovering next to me again, standing between the pool boy and me. Going in with him is the last thing I want to do. Pool boy is already at the far side of the garden.

I shake my head and run toward the hole in the fence, wishing Brandon never showed up and I was dipping in the pool with, well, pool boy. I need to find out his name. Pool boy is a dumb nickname. Especially since he’s obviously the gardener.

Dad is standing on the patio and sipping his coffee, his eyes glazed. I’m not even sure he sees me approach.

“How’s Mom?” I ask, forestalling any questions from him and making sure he knows I’m sober and ready for bed.

“She’s asleep now. Try not to wake her.”

I slip past him, not wanting to share his grief. It multiplies when we’re together, breeds, grows, and expands until it’s all there is, and I can’t breathe. A week or so is all Mommy has left. All the doctors agree. I hope they’re wrong. Every second of every minute, I hope they’re wrong. And right now, I’d rather loose myself in the fantasy of pool boy and me in the pool than hope for anything at all.

 

I fell asleep before I could get any kind of fantasy going, and by the time I wake up it’s almost one in the afternoon. Since, I ended up sleeping in my sweats, I just pull my damp hair into a messy bun and go in search of some coffee.

I stop by my mom’s room, cracking the door open just a little bit to see if she’s awake. All I hear is her raspy, shallow breathing. One of her hands is hanging off the side of the bed, and her cover and sheets are all crumbled up like she just woke from a nightmare. Only she’s still sleeping, each breath like stone grating against sandpaper.

I slip into the room and tiptoe to her bed. My heart is in my throat, beating against the hot, jagged ball of burning tears that’s always there when I see her. I can’t let her see me cry because I’m not a little girl anymore, even though that’s exactly how I feel most of the time now. Like I’m ten and my mommy is dying. She can’t know any of that; it would just make it all harder on her. But she’s asleep now, and a hot tear trickles down my cheek. Only I don’t whimper, don’t let any sound escape my clenched throat. She might wake up. I take her hand, tears rushing from my eyes now, and place it on the bed next to her. She doesn’t stir. The nurse is giving her the maximum amount of morphine she can now. It’s not always enough to dull the pain. And she’s sleeping now. I mustn’t wake her. Yet all I want to do is climb in bed with her. Like I did when I was little. Wake her, talk to her. Laugh. Instead, I’m crying, inching back out of the room silently because I can’t wake her.

I wipe my tears away as I walk down to the kitchen, concentrating hard on the cup of coffee I’m about to have, until it’s all I know and all I think about. I lean against the counter, waiting for the coffee to brew. The window has a partial view of Kate’s service driveway and the red pick-up parked there. A magnolia tree by the fence near it is shaking like someone’s cutting it. Pool boy or gardener. The memory of him, in his wet clothes this morning sends, tingles through my stomach. He’d be a better distraction than a cup of coffee and much better than one of Kate’s wild parties.

I run back up the stairs, untangling my hair as I go. I slip on a sundress with a deep v-cut that I’d normally only wear if it was really hot out. Back in the kitchen, I pour two cups of coffee and walk across the lawn to the fence, hoping pool boy is indeed trimming the magnolia tree.

I climb through the hole in the fence, sloshing hot coffee over my bare leg, but at least I don’t spill it all over my dress. Kate’s high-pitched laugh echoes from the pool, but the hedge from here to the magnolia tree is so thick she shouldn’t be able to see me.

The shrubbery hides me from the pool boy too. He’s wearing a pair of faded jeans now and no shirt. The sunlight makes his skin glisten, and all I really want to do is run my hand down his back, feeling those hard muscles. That desire surprises me. I’m not usually very forward with guys and definitely prefer them to take the lead. He’s got one of those electric cutters going, so he doesn’t hear me approach.

I clear my throat once I reach him. “Excuse me.”

The saw sputters, and the noise dies out. He turns toward me, surprise evident in the way his face hovers between a smile and a frown. I wouldn’t mind touching his lips either.

“I thought you might like some coffee,” I say, holding one of the cups toward him, sloshing more of it across my arm in the process.

He just stares at me like he can’t figure out what I’m doing there.

“Thank you for saving me,” I explain, belatedly adding, “or, you know, trying to.”

He puts the saw down, wipes sweat off his face with the back of his hand, and finally takes the coffee.

“I put milk and sugar in. I don’t know how you like it,” I say rather stupidly.

His eyes, the color of a cloudless blue sky now with just a hint of sunlight dip down to the v of my dress. With the push-up I’m wearing, the dress reveals more than it hides.

“Thanks. I like milk and sugar just fine.”

His gaze warms me again, heat shooting through my stomach. Somehow, I don’t think he’s really talking about the milk and sugar.

What I’m feeling must be showing on my face because he chuckles a little and gulps down the coffee.

“Thank you, Miss…?” he says, holding the empty cup toward me.

“Gail,” I manage.

“Miss Gail,” he says and chuckles again.

“No, just Gail,” I explain too seriously. His eyes are still taking me in, sizing me up, and sending tingles across all the places I wish he’d touch. “And what’s your name?”

“Scott,” he says and shakes the empty cup at me. “And you’re welcome. Anytime. I’m just glad you’re not dead.”

Dead, I hate that word. That word used to be scary, now it’s terrifying. Dead is what my mom will be. Her two-month sentence will be done in one week. An image of her laughing face flashes through my mind, as she bought me the bracelet in Rome, and as she listened to me telling her of that boy I was so helplessly in love with back in sixth grade. She doesn’t laugh like that anymore. Soon she never will. Because she will be dead.

Scott’s eyes narrow and pull together. He bends down and places the cup on the ground. “I should get back to work. Thanks for the coffee. Have a nice day.”

“I’d like to thank you properly,” I hear myself saying, with no idea where the words are coming from or where they’re going. “Do you have time for a proper drink later, after work?”

I’ve never asked a guy out so pointedly before. Never had the nerve. Not in sixth grade, not at any time since. So, I don’t know why I’m doing it now. I must be crazy.

He lifts his eyes up to mine again, stopping just a little too long at my boobs.

My mouth is hanging open, and my eyes must be too wide. I know all this, but can’t stop it. I wish I had Kate’s easygoing manner with guys, but I don’t. And now he’ll say no, thinking I’m just a crazy rich chick, and this is the second time I’m making a total fool of myself in front of him.

He gives me a lopsided grin, and locks his eyes on mine. “I’d love to; I really would, but…”

I hate that ‘but’. At least he’s being nice about it.

I want to wipe the expectant look off my face, but it’s stuck there.

“… that guy, Brandon… he likes you. He’s my boss, sort of, and I need this job, kind of, but I’d love to.”

I know I’m wearing a confused, unattractive grimace on my face right now.

“So is it a yes or a no?” I ask.

A cloud of annoyance covers his eyes, and I look away, down to his chest at his dark red nipples. I wonder what they’d feel like between my teeth. Oh my God, I’ve never ever wanted to suck a guy’s nipples before. What’s wrong with me?

“It’s a no,” he says. It feels more like a slap.

I’m going insane; it’s the only explanation. I’m asking a gardener out on a date. And he said no.

“Fine, fine, whatever,” I mutter, pick up his empty cup, and twirl around, sloshing my own, untouched coffee all over my dress this time.

It’s too much. My mom is dying, I’ve barely slept, I’m not acting like myself at all, and now this guy is rejecting me. Tears blind me.

“I’m sorry.” I think I hear him yell after me, but I’m already climbing back through the fence, sloshing more coffee all over myself. What was I thinking? I’m a mess. I should be with my mom, not chasing guys and wondering what their nipples taste like. Not asking gardeners out on dates.

 

 

BUY LINKS

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

lena

Lena Bourne is a young writer, but she has seen her fair share of the world, of love and loss, and all that happens in between. Now she’s here telling the stories you might otherwise have missed, which are made up, of course, but could very well be real and true. Not Looking For Love is a five part steamy New Adult romance serial and it is now complete and available for purchase.

 

 AUTHOR LINKS

 

Website:  http://www.lenabourne.com/

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lena_Bourne

FB: https://www.facebook.com/lenabourneauthor

 

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Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/lenabourne

Email: bourne.lena@gmail.com

 

 

 

DIRTY DEEDS by Karina Halle Release Day!!!!

 

“He’s fearless and ruthless. Soulless.”
As a flight attendant, Alana Bernal has had her share of suitors. She’s also had more than
her fair share of tragedy within her messed-up family. But what she hasn’t had
is love. Real, rip-your-heart-out, tear-your-clothes-off, all-consuming love.
At least that was the case until she met an American tourist, Derek Conway, a ripped
ex-soldier with steely eyes and a commanding presence.
What started as a chance encounter between the two in Puerto Vallarta, a weekend full of hot
sex and mindless passion, has led to something more.
Something deadly.
Because Derek isn’t the type of man to fall in love. He’s not a man who sticks around.
And he’s definitely not in Mexico on vacation.
Derek is a mercenary, a killer-for-hire, a man who does the ugly jobs for the highest
bidder.
Unfortunately for Alana and Derek, the highest bidder has the power to destroy whatever
worlds they have created for themselves.
The highest bidder can destroy everything.
This is a romantic suspense book, #2 in the Dirty Angels trilogy but can be read as a
standalone novel*
EXCERPT
Once we were in the back of the cab, she was sitting with her thigh flush against mine. I was somewhat dressed up – dark jeans, white and blue pinstriped dress shirt – and yet I could feel her heat through my clothing. That and her smell and the way her hair fell across her face, highlighting the coy glimpses of her eyes and smile, was driving me borderline insane. Though we made small chat throughout the ride, my mind was elsewhere, concentrating on keeping that well-earned control I had. I had to focus on the task at hand, which of course was her. But not in that way. I needed in deep, for her own safety and my own sanity.
It took a long time to finally get to the restaurant, located in the old town of Puerto Vallarta, despite the driver cutting everyone off along the way. You either drove aggressively around here or you didn’t drive at all.
“Thank you,” she said to me as I took her arm and helped her out of the cab. When she straightened up she looked at the place and made an impressed face. “Wow. You know, I’ve never been here before and I’ve lived in PV for a long time.”
“First time for everything then.”
I picked the place because it looked a bit different from the tourist traps in the downtown area. There wasn’t much to the outside except for a tall stone fence topped with strangling vines and flowers that bloomed like white and magenta cotton balls. But on the other side of the cast-iron gate was a different story.
I helped her over there, even though she was walking so much better now on her cast, and a waiter opened it up, giving us a hearty welcome to Coconut Joes. I gave him the reservation name and he led us through tables with ivory-lace tablecloths, past a clear blue pool with koi fish and a waterfall, under dramatic palm fronds, and all the way to a table in the back corner with a lit candle on it. The place wasn’t anything too outrageous or stuffy but it was just classy enough.
“Again, wow,” Alana said as I helped her into seat. I was starting to like being her nurse. She looked around, her cheeks glowing beautifully in the candlelight. “This is something.”
“Something good?” I asked as the server poured us bottled water.
“More than good,” she said. “The guys I dated never brought me places like this.”
Something pinched in my chest. “Oh? They take you to McDonalds?”
She gave me a look. “Most of the men I dated were pilots. They would take me somewhere really snobby and expensive to try and seem better than they were.” She took a polite sip of her water and straightened her napkin on her lap. Every day, her pain seemed to be easing, her movements becoming more fluid. “Then the next night they would take some other stupid flight attendant to the same place.”
As much as I felt an unjustified hit of jealousy, she was giving me some information, something I could work with.
“So I guess there’s a lot of drama in the workplace, huh?” I said casually, eying the waiter who was approaching us with menus in hand. In the background “Morena de Mi Corazon” started to play from the speakers. “Spurned lovers and revenge in the air,” I added.
She laughed. “No, not really. It was my fault. Rookie mistake to date a pilot…even though I did more than a few times.” She looked away, embarrassed. “Most guys I date are a mistake but no one seems to get hurt.”
So that probably ruled out the whole spurned lover angle. Not that I thought an ex-lover could or would attempt to have her taken out and for that amount of money. Love made people do crazy fucking things but that would have been a first in my books. Besides, if she did have an obsessed ex-boyfriend then I was sure I’d find out about him sooner or later.
The waiter came by and told us the specials. I ordered for the both of us – seared Ahi – because I’d never done that before, not even with Carmen, and made sure he kept the bottles of wine coming.
She was about three glasses of wine in, giggly and eating her fish with gusto when I started pressing her.
“So do you have any siblings?”
The smile seemed to vanish right off her face. There. I had something there. No matter what her answer was, I hit a nail.
“I have a twin sister and a brother,” she answered simply.
“Oh? And where do they live? What do they do?”
She relaxed her jaw a bit and took a bite of her rice. “My sister, Marguerite, she lives in New York. Goes to film school.”
Hmmm. That placed her out of range and a student at that.
“And your brother?”
“He lives around here.”
“In Puerto Vallarta?”
She shot me a wary look. “Around here. But he’s an asshole and I’d rather not talk about him.”
I raised my brow. “An asshole? What makes you say that?”
“I just do,” she said stubbornly. Then she sighed. “He just is. Every family has a…what do you say, black sheep. Right? Well, that’s him.”
“What’s his name?”
She bit her lip and said, “Juan.”
I didn’t know her well enough to tell if she was lying or not. I’m not sure why she would lie about her own brother.
I pressed it further. “What does he do?”
“He’s in importing and exporting. Trade with America. That sort of thing.”
Well, we all knew what that meant down here. Running drugs, like everyone else. Still, that gave me something to go on. Of course the name Juan didn’t help me much.
“What’s his last name, his surnames?” I asked, knowing that sometimes the men in Mexico took on their mother’s maiden names as well as their father’s.
“Bardem,” she said without hesitation. “Why all the questions?”
I shrugged and leaned back in my seat. “Just want to know more about you.”
Her brows knitted together as she eyed me suspiciously. “Maybe so, but you’re asking with this look on your face, like you’re all David Caruso.”
“David Caruso?”
“CSI Miami. It’s still my favorite, I don’t care for the other ones.”
“Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you but I don’t have the hair to be David Caruso, nor do I have the sunglasses and quippy one-liners.”
She took a sip of her wine but couldn’t hide her smile. Good, she was back to trusting me again. I wanted to ask her about her parents but I thought that would be pushing my luck. Whoever they were to her though, they were either dead or out of the picture. They had never come to see her in the hospital and the truth about her brother and sister explained why they hadn’t either.
What the hell have you done, Alana? I asked in my head as I stared at her across the table, the light illuminating her in an angelic way. Why would anyone pay me two hundred thousand dollars to have you killed?
And how the hell would I ever know the answers to those questions without incriminating myself?
From the USA Today Bestselling author of Love, in English
and The Artists Trilogy, comes a dark romance about a good girl and a very,
very bad man. It’s a deliciously twisted take on forbidden love, set among the
drug cartels of hot, steamy Mexico and is not for the faint of heart. It
contains explicit sex, violence, abuse, drug use, bad language and sexy
Mexicans. You have been warned…
For Luisa Chavez, a twenty-three year old former beauty
queen, a better life has always been just out of her reach. Sure, she’s had men
at her feet since she was a young teenager but she’s never had the one thing
she’s craved – security. Having grown up in near poverty, her waitressing job
in Cabo San Lucas can barely let her take care of herself, let alone her ailing
parents. Every day is another unwanted advance, every day is a struggle to
survive.
When Salvador Reyes, the depraved leader of a major Mexican
cartel, takes an interest in her, Luisa is presented with an opportunity she
can’t afford to pass up. She’ll become Salvador’s wife and exchange her freedom
and body for a life of riches – riches she can bestow upon her deserving
parents. But Luisa quickly finds out that even the finest wines and jewels
can’t undo the ugliness in her marriage, nor the never-ending violence that
threatens her every move.
Soon, Luisa is looking for an escape, a way out of the
carefully controlled life she’s leading. She finally gets her wish in the worst
way possible.
As it is, being the wife of Salvador makes her an ideal
target for rival cartels and there’s one particular man who needs Luisa as part
of his cartel’s expansion. One particular man whose quest for power has
destroyed lives, slit throats and gotten him out of an American prison. One
particular man who will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants.
That man is Javier Bernal. And he wants Luisa. He wants to
take her, keep her, ruin her.
Unless she ruins him first.
Some men were born to create empires, some women were meant
to be queen.
**Dirty Angels is the first standalone novel in the Dirty
Angels Trilogy, in which all books feature or involve different characters. The
character of Javier Bernal is from The Artists Trilogy, and while reading TAT
is recommended if you want additional insight into this twisted character, it
is not required.**

 

Halle Headshot
With her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term “Hybrid Author.” Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she’s a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA…whenever possible.Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiancé and rescue pup.

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