Once Upon A Summer
A Contemporary Romance Anthology
With Stories By:
Brooke Moss, Liz Ashlee, Clara Winter, Tammy Mannersly, Sarah Vance Tompkins, Kitsy Clare, Mark Love, Melissa Kay Clarke
Beaches, boyfriends and danger…summer is certainly hot! Grab a hold tight as these eight authors wow you with stories from sweet to sizzling! After all, every day can have some summer fun!
Breaking Girl Code by Brooke Moss
Aubrey is having the perfect evening out, with the perfect guy, on a perfect summer night. The problem is… Preston’s not her date. His real date is her B.F.F., and she’s passed out in the backseat.
Wishing on Water by Liz Ashlee
After watching everyone’s else’s lives hit huge milestones, all Hope wants is to escape to her boring, unchanging, single life. So, where’s the one logical place to escape to? A retirement home.
Art with a Pulse by Clara Winter
Artist Alice finds herself rescuing a seal on the sands of Laguna Beach with screenwriter Elijah. Can Alice put her past behind her and give Elijah the chance he deserves?
A Natural Passion by Tammy Mannersly
How will marine biologist, Dylan O'Day, solve the illegal poaching problem threatening the ecosystem he loves and protects when the gorgeous, new intern, Kyra Shine, is occupying his every thought?
You Had Me at Aloha by Sarah Vance Tompkins
Social media guru Vivienne Parker's dream trip to Hawaii turns into a nightmare when her roommate in the luxurious surf shack is the hot Olympic athlete who just got her fired.
More Than Puppy Love by Kitsy Clare
Fireworks spark when Arianna, a city girl with an elite pet portrait business is in a wreck and asks Dave a country auto mechanic for help, but can these two beagle owners from different worlds see eye to eye?
Stealing Haven by Mark Love
Sand, sun, romance and a mystery to solve. Sounds like a perfect vacation for Jamie.
Harmony in the Key of Murder by Melissa Kay Clarke
Summer in the South can mean a different type of heat when a newly appointed investigator and a mechanical genius cross paths leading to murder and love.
"I write because if I don't...my head will explode, and ruin the drapes." ♥
Brooke Mosswrites complex, character-driven stories about kismet, reunited lovers, first love, and the kind of romance that we should all have the chance at finding. She prefers her stories laced with some humor just for fun, and enough drama to keep her readers flipping the pages, and begging for more!
When Brooke isn't spinning tales, she spends her time drawing/cartooning, reading, watching movies then comparing them to books, and, of course, wrangling five kids, mugging on her hubby she lovingly refers to as her "nerd", and attempting to conquer the Mount Everest of laundry that is the bane of her existence.
Liz Ashleeis a romance novelist who recently graduated from Northern Kentucky University her B.A. in English and B.S. in Library Informatics. She has been published in Loch Norse Magazine and The Pentangle, and has won the Miller Award for Outstanding Fiction Writing. She currently lives in Independence, Kentucky, with her family and dog-daughter, Hero
Clara Winter is the writing name of Amy Rugg.
Amy Rugg grew up reading Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, and Alice in Wonderland, while watching Buck Rogers, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. Writing her own stories naturally ensued. She is a wife, mother, and former school counselor, with a Master’s Degree in Counseling. Amy is from Colorado Springs, Co and currently resides in Mission Viejo, Ca.
Tammy Mannersly is an Australian author based in Brisbane, Queensland. She loves writing romance, has a fondness for animals, is crazy about movies and enjoys a great Happily Ever After. Her passion for writing started from a very young age and led her to complete a Bachelor Degree in Creative Industries majoring in Creative Writing at Queensland University of Technology.
Sarah Vance-Tompkins was born in a small town in northern Michigan. She spent every summer exploring the sugar sand beaches near Sleeping Bear National Park. She left her heart behind when she moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California. She received an MFA in Film Production and went on to work in feature film development in Hollywood. She has worked as a reporter for a weekly entertainment trade publication, and been paid to write obituaries, press releases, the directions for use on personal lubricant bottles, and breathless descriptions of engagement rings for an online jewelry store. She lives in a small town north of Los Angeles with her husband and three cats.
Kitsy Clare hails from Philadelphia and lives in New York. A romantic at heart, she loves to write about the sexy intrigue of the city, and particularly of the art world. She knows it well, having shown her paintings here before turning to writing. Model Position, her new adult novella is about artist Sienna and her friends. Living in a Bookworld says: “Beautifully written! We get to learn things about art & painting, which is refreshing. A colorful story from a promising new adult author.” The next in her Art of Love series, Private Internship launches in September with Inkspell.
Kitsy loves to travel, draw, read romance, speculative fiction and teach writing workshops. She also writes YA as Catherine Stine. Her futuristic thriller, Ruby’s Fire was a YA finalist in the Next Generation Indie book awards. Fireseed One, its companion novel, was a finalist in YA and Sci-Fi in the USA News International Book Awards, and an Indie Reader notable. Her YA horror, Dorianna, launches fall 2014 with Evernight Teen. She’s a member of SFWA, RWA and SCBWI.
I am a Michigan native, who up until recently lived in the Metro Detroit area, where crime and corruption always seem to be at the top of everyone's news. So there's always the chance to find something that can trigger a story idea and enough interesting characters to jump start your imagination.
While I have worked in many industries and career paths over the years, one of my passions has always been writing. I was even able to parlay that passion for a while, working as a freelance reporter for a couple of newspapers in the Detroit area. Writing features and hard news helped me hone my talents. But while newspaper work was interesting and paid a few bills, it was a far cry from the fiction writing that I enjoy the most.
I've always been drawn to mysteries and thrillers, the kind of stories that have a fast pace, that keep you moving and keep you guessing as to what's going to take place next. Mix those in with some elements of crime, perhaps a glimpse of the seedier side and you've got me. So it's always been one of my goals to write stories like that.
Melissa Kay Clarkewas born in Tupelo, Mississippi and raised in Houlka, a small rural town forty-five minutes southwest down the famous Natchez Trace. She found a love of reading very early and quickly devoured everything she could. Told repeatedly that she had a wonderful imagination, she turned to scribbling her musings and wrote her first novel while in college. It was never published and has since vanished. The death of a close friend who aspired to become an author reawakened her own desire resulting in penning her first book, Shattered Dreams, published in 2013.
Melissa now resides in Meridian, Mississippi with her supportive family – husband, Robert and daughter Rebecca, two cats, and two dogs. When she isn't writing, she spends way too much time with her online friends and feeding her ravenous appetite for the written word.
Harmony in the Key of Murder Excerpt
"Thank you for tonight. I had a great time." Her smile was like flipping on a thousand watt bulb.
He ran a finger along the side of her jaw. "So did I. Maybe the next time we can go to my place and you'll let me make you dinner. I happen to make one of the best omelets in town."
She shivered slightly from his tender touch but didn't draw back. In fact, she leaned toward him slightly.
"Omelets? Isn't that for breakfast?"
He chuckled softly. Cupping her jaw in his fingers, he held her as his lips searched out hers, feathering a tender kiss on their plump softness. Her breath stopped, and her eyes widened as he whispered to her, "It can be. The when of that will always be up to you, Pix."
Hunter loved the flustered look on her face and the way her eyes told every emotion she was feeling. He knew without a shadow of a doubt, her heart rate was going a hundred miles an hour. The old Hunter would have found her reaction to him as a stroke to his overly inflated ego. Now, however, he found it endearing. The fact he could affect her so profoundly made him want to be worthy of her adoration and damned, if he wouldn't do anything in his power to make it happen. He had dated, a lot, but with Harmony he was a different man, a better man.
Taking a step back, Hunter tapped on the roof of her car. "Be safe; I'll call you tomorrow, yeah?"
"Yeah okay, Hunter. Talk to you tomorrow."
He smiled as he watched her leave. With a toss of his keys into the air, he hurried to his car with a light step and grin on his face. Harmony Tailor may not know it yet, but she would be his. Tonight he realized something important. Somewhere along the way, she had captured more than just his attention.
She would be his because he already was hers.
Stealing Haven Excerpt
“You like my smile? I always thought it was kind of lopsided.”
I took his face in both hands and turned it toward me. “Maybe a little crooked. But that’s part of the appeal.” Now I initiated a kiss. His hands slid through my hair, then softly ran his fingers down my neck. Shivers of excitement coursed through me. A horn sounded nearby. He broke the kiss and turned to check the water. Another boat passed in the opposite direction. A man and woman were at the helm, mirroring our positions caught in the moment and sensuality of being on the water. I bit down on my bottom lip in frustration. I longed for more than kisses but safety came first.
“We don’t want to run into some sailboat out here,” Randy said with a grin.
I scooted back onto the bench. Maybe a little distance was in order? It might help my racing hormones. “How fast are we going?”
“About thirty. Want to go faster?”
Was he talking about the boat, or the two of us? Randy shifted. His right hand had dropped to the controls, his left lightly holding the steering
wheel. He watched me, his lopsided grin worked its magic.
More than Puppy Love Excerpt
“Could you ever see yourself living in a rural area? Fitting in?” Dave's eyes are still fixed on me as he sips his daiquiri.
“I don’t know. It’s beautiful with all of the trees, nature. Bart sure likes it. But…”
“I’m not sure I’d be able to sustain a pet portrait business in the country. You heard Gail. She was wary of the prices I’d charge without even hearing what they were. Would enough people be able to afford my photos? If they had extra cash wouldn’t they prefer to spend hard-earned dollars on family photos, and not pet photos?”
“Hard to make a blanket statement.”
I pause to drink my daiquiri and to check out Dave’s reaction. He’s handsome inside and out with his dark curls framing his kind face and his patient way of just letting the words sink in before he says a definitive yes or no. “What about you?” I ask him. “Could you see yourself living in Philadelphia? In any big city?” Now it’s my turn to study him. It’s not an inquisition, but it seems inevitable if we are going to admit we like each other, and visualize being a couple.
He shrugs. “I like to visit big cities—Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia. I’ve had good times in Philly—seeing Independence Hall, hiking in Fairmount Park. Lunch in Reading Terminal Market at the Amish booth was cool, too. I love their shoe-fly pie, sweet and sour cabbage and freshly made sausages.”
“Mm, yeah, eating lunch at Reading Terminal Market is a blast.”
“But my auto body business is up here.” He looks down at his drink and rubs his forehead. “I’m not sure I’d be able to afford the commercial rents in a place like Philly.”
“There’s always the suburbs.”
“True. Honestly though, I’d love to get out of the car biz and fully into dog breeding.”
“Like me and teaching. I love it, but I love photography even more. It’s time to follow my passion. You too.”
Dave looks up and nods. “I want to do it all, but I also want to be realistic. Kennel equipment isn’t cheap. Dogs need tons of space, to run, to board, to breed.”
With the word breed, he flushes and I feel my neck heat up. I take this moment to pour us one more round.
“Nothing’s impossible,” he says after he’s gotten his drink refreshed and taken another gulp.
“Yeah. Never say never.”
He puts his big hand back on mine. It’s warmer than before, and I really like having it there. “By the way, your car is all done,” he says, giving my hand an extra pat.
“Great! When should I come get it?”
“At some point tomorrow? I’ll let you know.”
“Okay, sounds good.”
He slides his hand further up, to my wrist and then along my arm. And then he leans even closer and brushes my hair back.
And then he kisses me.
Art with a Pulse Excerpt
Stepping out of the jeep at the rescue, my flip-flop snagged on the gas pedal and I lost my grip on my scorching hot tea latte. The plastic top came loose, and the tea spilled down the front of my top. Leaping out of the car, I managed to knock most of the liquid off before it scalded my stomach. My flesh was saved, but my vintage tee was likely ruined. I stared, sadly, down at the four-dollar puddle on the floorboard. After grabbing some napkins out of the side pocket of the driver’s side door, I bent over to wipe up my mess. The London Fog was easily soaked up, thanks to the plastic floor mats.
“Having problems?” asked a familiar voice, behind me.
My stomach did a somersault, but I wasn’t ready to turn around. That is, until I realized my rear end was on prominent display. I stood bolt upright, adjusting my tee the best I could. Nothing was going to help this disaster, so I may as well own it.
“Actually, several. Flip flops, jeeps, and hot beverages do not make good bedfellows.” I met Elijah’s sparkling, emerald-green eyes.
He chuckled, producing a half grin. I hated to admit how good he looked. Elijah was probably the only person on the planet who could look pulled together in athletic gear. I wasn’t a fan of the trend, but he looked great in long running shorts and a close fitting, breathable shirt. Although these were the only types of clothes I had seen him in, I was sure he looked amazing in anything.
“Let me take that. I assume we’re here for the same thing.” He reached for my empty coffee cup and wet napkins. Was he the last gentleman on earth? Or was Jude right and I was just bitter?
I thanked him, and he jogged over to a trashcan, then back to where I stood. Now I felt more of a heel. I wasn’t willing to claim any miracles, but I did at least owe him an apology.
“I’m sorry for snapping at you, yesterday. You were trying to be nice, and I was…”
“I know what you were feeling, don’t worry about it,” he interrupted. “The morning was stressful, enough. Then to find out your stuff was stolen. I got it.”
Suspicious, my eyes narrowed, a little. I couldn’t help it; this guy was too good to be true.
“Are you from California?” I asked, thinking I had found the answer. Elijah must have hailed from a mid-western state; a place which produced corn, cows, and people who looked out for one another. Somewhere like the place my grandparents hailed from. This would also explain the milk-ad appeal of his handsome, good looks.
A Natural Passion
by Tammy Mannersly
“What are you up to, Shine? Playing with the fishes?”
“Something like that,” she agreed, fighting back the girlish giggle that wanted to burst from her lips as soon as those gorgeous brown eyes had met hers.
His gaze dropped and roamed over her body for a moment. His head nodded slightly with the movement. Kyra’s nipples hardened under his stare, and the heated tingling of desire clawed at her. Warmth blossomed over her skin. She glanced down, checking that her body was still hidden beneath the flimsy material of the red and white frangipani bikini.
“Lucky fishes,” he drawled, dragging his gaze back to hers.
She chuckled, suddenly tense. “You’ve seen me in this bikini before, Jake. It’s nothing special.”
“Nothing special.” He stepped forward, closing the gap between them. “I would never say that.”
His fingers reached up, skimming her collarbone before slipping under the thin rope of material that formed the halter around her neck. He slid them along her skin, the hot, rough, dryness of him against the soft, moistness of her. They caressed their way up to her neck and then back down, just above the cup of the bikini’s bra. He let his fingers linger there, his chocolate brown eyes gazing deep into her own.
Jake stepped back from her reluctantly. “What are you doing tomorrow night?”
Her dark blonde brows narrowed as she tried to calm her ragged breathing. “Sunday?”
“That’s family night,” Kyra began again. “I mean, you know we can’t miss family night. Your dad always invites everyone from the Turtle Center and the Science Center for a big barbeque. Everyone who wants to come is invited.”
He shrugged. “Maybe we don’t want to come this time?”
She giggled. “And, what are we going to do instead?”
Jake reached for her free hand, holding it, cool and damp against the warmth of his. “Go out for dinner. Somewhere nice. Together.”
Dylan reached out, his hand going high on her shoulder, his thumb close enough to her neck to caress her lightly, calmingly. She leaned into his touch, enjoying the feel of his hand on her skin, savoring the comfort and serenity it offered her. Without thinking it through, she moved into his arms, her own wrapping around his waist as she hugged him close, relishing the human contact. He went rigid at her touch, the solid muscles of his torso locking before he relaxed into the embrace. His free arm slid around her back, while the hand at her shoulder slipped up behind her neck, gently pressing her head to rest against the warmth of his chest.
“You shouldn’t give him an extra thought if he makes you feel like this, Kyra,” Dylan all but purred soothingly into her ear. “I may not have Jake’s extensive experience in the dating scene, but I have enough of an understanding to know if the person you care for is making you feel this way, then they aren’t worthy of your affection.”
He rested his head softly atop hers and cuddled her tighter.
As she nestled in his arms, Kyra breathed in his scent, enjoying the earthiness of his skin, the slight tartness of his sunscreen and the hint of the fresh smell of soap left behind from his morning shower. She knew what Dylan had said was true, Jake’s actions and feelings were questionable, but she was still conflicted.
In Dylan’s embrace, she struggled to think of Jake and remember why she was upset.
Opening the trunk, Kyra threw her stuff beside the other bags and a packed tent, before closing it and coming around to open the passenger-side door. As Kyra placed her foot on the side step, ready to climb into the vehicle, she glanced up at the driver.
Dylan’s handsome face grinned at her as he turned down the radio’s volume. “Ready to go on your first stake-out?”
She paused for a split-second. Her heart raced at the surprise, before lowering her bottom to the cushioned seat. “I thought I was rostered with Sandra?”
He frowned. “Max hasn’t told you?”
She sighed, unable to hide her disappointment. “Sandra can’t make it?”
He nodded as he jerked the gearstick out of park and drove slowly up the long driveway toward Mon Repos Road. “Belle’s too sick to be left with a babysitter and Sandra’s ex is back at the mine in Dawson this week.” After pulling out onto the bitumen of the minor road, Dylan glanced quickly in her direction. “I’d thought about saying no, but there was no one else to do the shift at the last minute.”
A tug of remorse pulled at her belly. Even though she’d been avoiding him to have some time to get her own thoughts and feelings in order, she hadn’t meant for him to feel forced to do the same. It wasn’t as though she didn’t want his company. She couldn’t tell if the feelings she had were true and she didn’t trust herself around him.
“I’m glad you didn’t,” she looked over at him quickly, “say no, I mean.
Moms With Secrets
Tammy & Lisa Mom Detectives Book 1
by Bena Roberts
Genre: Chick Lit , Cozy Mystery, Parenting Drama
Move over Thelma and Louise! Enter Tammy and Lisa two moms of troubled teenage boys. Not convinced of the school's ability to deal with serious issues, the two mothers become mom detectives.
Meet Tammy Lewis - the local politician's wife. She is a dutiful wife and adores her family. Her life in her cozy village and Victorian home is perfect.
Enter Lisa Evans - an enigmatic yoga teacher and single mother. Lisa has worked hard to succeed in her life, and when she discovers her teenage son might be dealing drugs, she comes up with a crafty plan. Lisa sets out to frame innocent mom Tammy Lewis for her son's misdemeanors. Lisa's son and Tammy's son are best friends so; the set-up could work.
Is Tammy the pushover that Lisa believes?
More importantly? Has the village school got the accusations right? Are Mark and Ethan, Tammy & Lisa's children really the local village school drug lords?
Author Bena Roberts has delivered a warm and witty short read ideals for mums with troubled teenage boys who understand the pull of motherhood. How far would you go to protect your teenage son?
Bena Roberts was a journalist and analyst. Now she prefers the title novelist and romance adventurist. She graduated in England 1994 and then with a Masters in 1997.
Born in 1973, Bena lived in West London until she was 24. Then she lived and worked in Budapest, Bruges, Prague, Amsterdam, Vienna, Hamburg and Munich. She currently resides in Germany, between Heidelberg and Frankfurt. Although she still refers to London as 'home.'
Bena successfully created a technology blog which gained funding, had lunch with Steve Ballmer and was 'top 50 most influential woman in mobile.' Her blog also won several awards including Metro Best Blog.
Bena has two children, loves small dogs and always writes books with a cup of Earl Grey.
Bena's favorite literary style is black humor, and she hopes to offer a unique voice in this area. Her books aim to confront the darkest of life experiences, with levity. Most of her writing is heavy hitting yet also entertaining. The second novel out in 2018 offers thought-provoking fiction which embraces the absurd with reality.
Friends & Lovers Book 1
by PE Kavanagh
Genre: Contemporary Romance
A grieving heiress.
A celebrity psychologist.
A decade of friendship.
UNDONE BY ONE BOLD MOVE.
When Camille first met Jackson she was too young.
Friendship was less than what she wanted, but all she could handle.
Ten years later and she’s a different woman. Strong, successful, brave.
At exactly the wrong moment, one bold move threatens everything.
The safe harbor of Jackson’s family.
The unconditional commitment of his friendship.
The collection of secrets she never knew existed,
Claims and confessions come hard and fast as Jackson and Camille navigate all that has never been said.
Each step they take, closer to the truth and each other, demands another layer of secrets must fall.
Collecting Secrets is a steamy standalone contemporary romance with no cliffhanger. You will meet characters who will reappear throughout the series.
Friends & Lovers Book 2
For Ramona Barrett, a lot has happened in fifteen years.
Her maniacal grandfather finally died.
Her father sobered up and got his life in order.
She built an enviable life based on righting her family’s wrongs.
And the chubby, awkward boy who used to be her best friend is now a man she hardly recognizes.
Lucas Winston recovered from his law-school fiasco and is now the hottest chef in DC. The elite clamor for a seat in his restaurant, the power-hungry vie for connections to his powerful family, and an old friend demands a forgotten promise be honored. Everyone wants a piece of him.
Except Ramona. She can’t see that he’s never stopped loving her. That they are meant to be together. Even if he is about to marry someone else.
If you’re looking for smart, sexy characters in a layered, emotionally-gripping story, Coming Home will take you there.
This steamy, standalone contemporary romance has no cliffhanger, but includes characters you will meet throughout the series.
I believe that everything we experience exists as a story within us.
My journey as a writer includes the award-winning poem I penned at the ripe old age of seven, decades of hiding and doubt, and then finally… finally!... realizing that art needs to be shared. Storytelling is part of my heritage, even though I denied it for so long. The stories I created - true and imaginary - have saved me numerous times.
My characters come to me, like old friends excited to tell me what's new.
They represent the world I see and the world I want to see.
More than anything, I care about recovery from life’s setbacks… getting back on your feet after life has brought you to your knees… and my characters fight the hard fight for the lives they know are waiting for them.
I’ve drawn my inspiration from the many flavors of my life experience. Once a sad, shy girl, I’ve also been an MIT-trained engineer, biotech executive, professional dancer, yoga teacher and business owner, school founder, spiritual counselor, entrepreneur, and author.
And I own a magic wand that I’m certain will work one day.
When I’m not typing, furiously trying to capture the stories that pour from me, you can find me loving my people to excess, globe-trotting to the next great adventure, and sporting bright red lips as a tango diva. And of course on my digital homes: pekavanagh.com and boldsoulcoaching.com.
Collecting Secrets Excerpts
300 word scene
When she exited the bathroom, she was hoping that he would notice, but his eyes were closed. As she waited for him, the plan began to sound more and more ludicrous. Maybe this was a huge mistake. Maybe he was right about them not consummating their relationship just yet. Maybe she was making a huge fool of herself.
Just as the idea to duck back into the bathroom and change crossed her mind, his eyes fluttered open.
He blinked as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He sat up in bed, face frozen.
Her sheer negligee, in the lightest pink, hadn’t been a bad idea, after all. She walked slowly toward him, watching his eyes scan her breasts, the curve of her stomach, the line of her legs, and the small line of hair on her mound. She was clothed, but nothing was actually concealed from view.
“Cam… for me?” She picked up how hard it was for him to form a thought, much less an intelligible sentence.
She knelt astride him and took his face in her hands. “Yes. All for you.”
He kissed her so softly, she wondered if he thought she would break. When she offered him her tongue, the energy of his body shifted from shock to hunger. Any tentativeness disappeared.
“You really did this for me?”
“Who else would I do this for? I’m yours. Completely.” She knew he was waiting for her to say that, to feel that. There was no question in her mind that becoming her best friend’s lover was the right decision.
He slid his hands up the sides of her waist and under her breasts, which were already aching for him. The pull from his mouth and the twist of his fingers created a jolt through her body. She ground herself into him while he nuzzled her breasts. His hands wrapped around to grip her bottom and she rocked forward to press herself farther into him.
“This is so beautiful,” he said, fingering the delicate fabric, “but I don’t want anything between us.”
900 word scene
This was not the first time Camille had looked foolish, but it might have been the first time she didn’t care. Unable to find her room key or hold back the torrent of tears, she plunked down onto the ugly hotel carpet in front of her door and sobbed, loud and hard. With nothing but the back of her hand to wipe away the tears and snot, the scene quickly escalated from tragic to gruesome.
Heartbreak was no stranger. But this break-up was beyond humiliating. How dare he? She had given him everything and he claimed it wasn’t enough. He’d stood in the cold marble lobby and yelled at her. Accused her of cheating. In front of everyone.
Humiliation mingled with anger and desperation, halting any effort to pull herself together. They’d flown across the country to attend this wedding and now she’d be conspicuously dateless in a room full of happy couples. She tried to take a breath and choked on a new wave of tears.
A soft crush of footsteps stopped in front of her, but Camille had no interest in lifting her head off her knees to look.
“Hey, Cam. What’s wrong?”
She knew that voice, as well as the gentle stroke of his hand in her hair.
“Camille. You’re scaring me. What’s going on?”
His worry pierced through her pain and, with great effort, she tilted her head up to see her best friend’s face inches from hers.
His eyes flashed to fear. “Camille! What happened? Are you okay? Talk to me!”
It took so much energy to form words. “Calm down, Jack. I'm okay.”
“You don’t look okay. Did something happen with Charlie? Where is he?”
The questions were coming too fast for Camille’s throbbing, blurry head. “He dumped me.” There, she said it. Out loud.
The line of his lips flattened and his breath growled. Rage filled his expression. “That mother fu-”
Camille shook her head, trying to regain her composure. “We flew all the way here and that bastard couldn’t even wait one more day.”
Jackson’s mouth softened. “I'm so sorry.” He rubbed his thumb across her cheek.
She looked into the warm brown eyes of her closest friend, the man who’d been like a brother for the past ten years. This was how she knew him best – kind, caring, and sweet. She didn’t care how the world saw him. She had gotten to know the real man.
“Let’s get you up and into your room.” He slipped his long arms under hers and stood her up. She fell into his broad chest, melting into the arms that enveloped her.
“Where’s your key, love?” he whispered into the top of her head.
She mumbled into his chest. “I couldn’t find it.”
Keeping a firm grip around her with one arm, Jackson dipped down to pick her purse up off the ground. “Can I take a look?”
“Of course.” She had no secrets from him.
She winced when he had to unlock his arm from her waist to search through her purse. Of course, he knew exactly where she would have put the key: in the smallest zippered pocket.
He waved it in front of the magnetic pad and the loud click confirmed his success.
As expected, the room had been cleared of all Charlie’s belongings. His compulsiveness would have prevented him from forgetting anything. Camille stepped away from Jackson to look around, hoping to find a belt, or a tie, or even a tube of shaving cream. Any excuse to contact him again. But there was nothing, not even a stray hair.
Charlie had almost snuck out without her knowing. If she hadn’t had to leave the restaurant to go to the bathroom, she would never have seen him, bags in hand, striding across the lobby.
Jackson stepped in front of her, halting her examination of the room, and began wiping her eyes and nose with a tissue.
“I'm a mess.” Only the slightest tinge of self-consciousness colored the moment. This was who they were and had always been. He pressed the tissue across her nose and she blew, like a small child.
“No, Cam. You’re just hurting.” He balled up the tissue and flicked it into the small metal bin to his right. “I know you’re upset, love. But, personally, I'm glad he’s gone. He was never good enough for you. And he reinforced his complete lack of class by doing this here. I mean, he couldn’t have ended it before flying to Chicago with you?”
Camille dropped her head, another rush of tears pressing against her eyes.
His broad palms cupped her face, tilting her up to look at him. “Hey, hey, Cam. He has no idea what an amazing woman you are. There are better things in your future. I know it.”
His shoulders lifted as he took a deep breath. Something about the look on his face locked her attention on him. When he touched his lips to hers, a first in their relationship, a tiny spark of surprise jolted her awake. When he pressed in, more deeply, passionately and deliberately, gripping her and parting her lips, there was no question a line had been crossed.
A column of heat filled Camille’s body as his mouth explored hers. She could not have imagined anything as wonderful as that kiss in that moment. Until she remembered to whom that mouth belonged.
Coming Home Excerpts
200-300 word scene
Lucas pulled a towel from a hook and turned around to wipe along the edge of the cooktop. His broad shoulders shimmied as he worked a particular spot, sandy brown curls grazing the top of his white chef’s jacket.
Ramona sucked in a breath, trying not to ogle the remarkable sight. He definitely didn’t look like he’d been partaking of his rich, restaurant food. All the chubby softness of his youth had transformed into a rock solid wall of a man.
He turned just as her gaze hovered around his bottom. Her eyes didn’t move nearly fast enough to play it off. It was impossible to know if he knew that she was staring. And what she was staring at.
He shook the towel out. “What’s up, Mo?”
Something in the sweetness of his voice switched on a memory of a life she had all but tucked away. “It feels like no time has passed. Like we’re kids again.”
His smile broadened. “Except that instead of being noon, it’s midnight.”
“And we’re in your phenomenal restaurant, instead of my mom’s kitchen.”
He looked down and swiped a crumb from the counter. “And I’ve learned how to clean up after myself.”
“Looks like you’ve learned a lot of things. Including how to grow facial hair.” And a super hot bod.
He stroked his close cropped goatee. “Yeah, I’ve had that one down for some time now. Speaking of growing things, I see all those prayers for boobs finally paid off.”
700-800 word scene
Ramona arrived at her door and remembered tiptoeing down that same hallway, like a delinquent teenager, the night before. Except she’d never done anything that courageous as a teenager. Mostly she just hid. Maybe if she’d had a chance to act out more when she was younger, she’d have gotten all this risk-taking out of her system. She’d heed consequences and be less impulsive. She wouldn’t find herself in a tizzy about some guy, wasting precious moments she could be spending with her father.
Exhaustion pulled her into the room, longing for rest. She’d hardly slept the night before. How foolish, going to bed all sexed-up and excited. Sure, it had been a night to remember. Scorching hot. Great material to replay during her many nights alone. And wrong, wrong, wrong.
Anger gave her enough of a spurt of energy that her clothes and shoes hit the ground with added velocity. That fucker. Lucas had made a fool of her. No. He made a fool of himself. How had he turned out to be such a louse?
As she looked around the room with bright pink walls, nostalgia weaved itself into the fist of her anger and forced it open. Too many nights had been spent cowering in her bed, wanting to be transported anywhere but there. It was his voice on the other end of her gold princess phone that had helped her calm down. Sometimes even his arms around her while she cried, helping her get to sleep. The boy and the man didn’t align. It was all too hard to believe.
She plopped herself onto the large bed, the only item in the room she could tell had been replaced. Even the chair she and her brother had painted with orange polka dots still sat in the corner.
She slid between the cool sheets, so grateful that the day was over. There’d be plenty of time tomorrow to figure out this mess. A good night’s sleep would help. Her eyes drifted shut as her body relaxed. Despite her room’s history, a sense of safety, the first she’d had all day, wrapped itself around her.
Heavy footsteps sounded through the house. Her initial startle passed quickly - it must be Connor coming to check on Dad - but the sound continued getting louder and closer to her room. Maybe something had happened and he wanted to talk. He opened the door and she squinted at the silhouette. Something was different about the frame of the body, the line of the hair. Her eyes snapped open. It wasn’t Connor. It was Lucas.
“What the hell are you doing here? How did you get in?”
He stepped over her clothes and shoes, strewn across the carpet, and walked over to her bed. “Because your father has yet to ever lock the side door.”
She sat up, trying her best to cover what was not being sufficiently concealed by her skimpy nightgown. “What do you want, Lucas? I’ve really had enough. Today was…”
“I know. It was a spectacularly shitty day for you. And I didn’t help things by coming after you that way. I wasn’t being rational. So, I'm here to apologize.”
“Really? You couldn’t just send me a text or apologize tomorrow?”
“No.” He took off his suit jacket and unbuttoned his shirt, dropping them both on the back of the chair. “Because I also came here to do this.”
Ramona watched, mesmerized, as he stripped down to his shorts and slid into bed with her. The shock of it stole her ability to respond. It was all deja vu, although instead of sneaking into her room through the window, he had walked down the hall. And instead of her house burning with the rage of her parents, the inferno was happening inside her own body.
He turned her away from him and enveloped her in his body. He had always been bigger than her, but the size difference had magnified. His breath brushed against the top of her shoulder as he held the pressure that forced her to soften into him. Tension and anger gave way to grief. She closed her eyes and let the tears flow.
What would your fans be surprised to know about you?
I have an extremely diverse background. I am a Caribbean immigrant, a former engineer and biotech executive, spiritual teacher and counselor. Writing romance novels, although it is all consuming these days, has only been part of my life for less than five years. I’ve always been captivated by the journey of an intimate relationship, so when I think about the process of growth, maturation, and becoming fully adult, I think about love and sex and connection. I can’t really explain why my stories come to me in the way that they do, but it all makes sense in my head. I want to write about people who discover the best in themselves and others. It just happens that the way I see that discovery unfolding is in emotional, sexy, exciting relationships.
What has been the best compliment?.
Whenever a reader has an a-ha moment about themselves, it’s like winning the lottery for me. I love it when readers thank me for honoring their intelligence, for not writing cookie-cutter romances, for shedding a light on an aspect of relationship that they never appreciated. For some reason, my first book, especially, had a large male readership. One reader in particular wrote in his review that every man in a relationship with a woman needed to read my book. It was that enlightening.
I remember being totally blown away by that comment and the others like it. It has stayed with me all these years and I think about it when I'm deciding how to mold and form my characters.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Resilience is a major theme in my life and in all of my work – as a counselor and as an author. I'm most interested in the forces that conspire to lift people up after tragedy. All of my books center around that transition from broken to whole, from a loss of faith in themselves to a re-ignition of self-awareness, personal power and love. I think we are the compilation of the stories we tell ourselves, and all my characters figure out how to tell a better, more uplifting story. My message is that we always have the means to heal and grow. Sometimes it’s the hardest possible option, but it’s always there.
How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
I write novels that explore the broad issues of being human – honesty, kindness, trauma, regret, desire – in the context of love relationships. If my readers reconsider their long-held beliefs, or learn something that makes their lives more vibrant and beautiful, then I will feel like I’ve done my job. I also love how a beautiful sentence lingers on the tongue like a delicious meal. I want to create an experience for the reader that transcends their analytical understanding and goes right to the heart.
What mindset or routine do you feel the need to set when preparing to write (in general whether you are working on a project or just free writing)?
From the moment I surrendered to the fact that I was an artist (which took about ten years), I’ve kept myself porous and open. That means I am available to the Muse whenever she wants to visit me, whether it’s waking me from deep sleep, pulling my attention while I'm doing anything else, or even driving along. I set myself up with notepads and a recording device wherever I am, so that I can always capture those gifts of inspiration.
Do you take your character prep to heart? Do you nurture the growth of each character all the way through to the page? Do you people watch to help with development? Or, do you build upon your character during the story creation?
I typically spend a long time with my characters before committing to them on paper. It’s almost like an interview. I want to know they’re going to be worth the time and effort before I agree to tell their stories. That way, I know most of what they’re going to go through before we even begin. Inevitably, there are changes and shifts I wouldn’t have predicted. It’s a lot like life. Plan and prepare for the unexpected, both at the same time.
Have you found yourself bonding with any particular character? If so, which one(s)?
I fall in love with all my characters, even the ones who are tragically flawed and sometimes unlikable. I create them in the image of how I’d like to see humans behave. My first heroine was a nearly broken woman who was able to find herself through a series of bold moves. She, and the man who facilitated much of that awakening, will always hold a special place in my heart.
Do you have a character that you’ve been working on that you can’t wait to put on paper?
Whenever I'm writing a novel, I often find myself straying into the stories of the side characters. Right now, I'm writing two novels at the same time (while editing a third) because I just can’t wait for one to be complete before starting the other. They are all so compelling. The trilogy (although it may grow to more than three books) involves around the idea of dancing with power. The characters in each of the books are related to the others through family, intimate, or professional ties. It feels almost like making a tapestry in three dimensions. I'm loving it!
Tell us about The Friends & Lovers Series! What inspired this story?
Like all my stories, the ones from Friends & Lovers, came to me in a series of dreams and daydreams. I’ve always had an extremely overactive imagination (which I appreciate!) and snippets of stories are always weaving in and out of my mind.
When I began fleshing out these tales, I didn’t know they were connected. It was only much farther into the process that I realized the cast from one story had a variety of connections – from family, history, work, and social – to the others. What I'm left with is a world with three strong, primary families, and the stories they tell.
My readers are always asking if side characters will get their own stories too, which I'm open to. As of now, I don’t know how many books will comprise this series, but I'm guessing it will be at least five.
Why romance novels?
I'm completely obsessed with the human mind and spirit, which I’ve been studying for at least twenty years. I also think that the greatest incubator for human development is the intimate relationship, so all my stories (so far) include that element. They sometimes veer quite a bit toward psychological fiction, but I love the central theme of a love story.
I understand the desire to escape to these worlds as well as the desire to see ourselves in the flawed and lovable heroes and heroines. Romance tells me, over and over, that so many more things are possible than what I might find in my ordinary life. It is exciting, inspiring, and emotionally satisfying.
Unlike many authors I talk to, I'm rarely happier than when I get to write about some sexy time. Writing a fight scene or a chase scene would have me hitting my head against a wall. But a sex scene puts a big, fat smile across my face.
What made you decide to pursue indie publishing instead of traditional?
When I first began, I had the idea that only traditional publishing would provide me the exposure I was looking for. Boy, was I wrong. After years of research, testing, and experimentation, I continue to choose independent publishing. I also choose to give my books the same professional level of attention that any book from the top tier publishers might receive, including several levels of editing, design, publication, promotion and marketing.
As an entrepreneur, I understand the difficulty of single-handedly juggling all these balls. I love having control over all aspects of the process and I also appreciate those who’ve mastered the various aspects and who can help me make my book the best it can be.
I would never proclaim a position that precluded any existing or new means of publication. I'm a professional author and I'm ready to make decisions and choices that support creation of the best books I can write and distribution to a large, receptive audience.
What do you think is the best thing about the indie publishing industry?
I know that that is where innovation is currently happening. That part of it is so exciting to me. I’d rather be on the cutting edge – even if it’s scary as hell – than anchored to a large, slow-moving industry. Personally, I love having a connection to every part of the process. I'm not one of those writers who bemoans any time not spent writing. I enjoy the business aspect of being an author and I love connecting with my wonderful reader community. Having creative oversight over the final product is immensely gratifying, as is finding better and better ways to deliver books that touch people.
What is the worst thing?
It’s hard as hell. The skill set is nearly endless. For a long time, there can be intense financial constraints. The momentum needed to see a project to its end can feel impossible.
What surprised you the most about indie publishing?
I'm glad that I didn’t know the extent of what would be required when I first started out. With each publication, I add another set of skills to my arsenal. I am surprised by all the energy spent on unethically gaming the system, but am constantly amazed by the ingenuity and generosity of my indie author community.
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone considering indie publishing their book?
Do it! But don’t do it alone. Find your tribe, your community, your inner circle of loving advisors. Please note, these are usually NOT friends and family. They may or may not want to support your crazy new pursuit, but they certainly won’t have the tools to do so. I could spend all my time hanging with the author communities I’ve joined over the years. These folks are magnificent. Find yours and the long, rocky road will be journeyed with others who will make everything better.
What are your thoughts on the indie author community?
Love them! Like any community of humans, you will find angels, devils, and everything in between. I have never reached out for help and not gotten it. I am most in awe of those further down the path from me who are CONSTANTLY helping others. That’s the type of author and community leader I am modeling myself after.
Who are some indie published authors you look up to, or that inspired you to follow this path to publication?
When I realized that those stories were coming to me were 'Romance', I started studying the genre intensely. I read all the books I could get my hands on, without checking how they were published. It turned out that so many of my favorites were independently published, including Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, and Alicia Rai. (Notice the multi-cultural themes, too!) The list is long, but some of the authors I currently look up to are Sylvia Day, Kelly Siskind, AL Jackson, and so many more!
How long have you been writing?
That’s so hard to answer! I began writing non-fiction, inspirational articles for my spiritual community almost twenty years ago. Storytelling comes naturally for me and I always infused these lessons with a narrative quality. My first exploits in fiction happened much later and culminated in my doing NaNoWriMo (on a dare!). before that point, I had only written very short pieces and did not anticipate ever being able to sustain a novel-length work. That NaNo project, through years of revision and rewriting, became my very first novel.
What does your process look like? Walk us through a typical writing session for you.
I don’t follow a set schedule, primarily because my life – as a bicoastal mother and business owner - is fairly chaotic. Sometimes I write just a few hundred words, or spend time cleaning up pieces prior to publication. Then there are periods where I'm cranking out 10,000 words or more a day. I follow the rhythms of my body and my creative uprisings. Thankfully, they always come. My MacBook Air is never farther than arm’s reach away.
As for creative process, I have been shifting, with each manuscript, from hardcore, determined ‘pantsing’ to allowing more and more plotting earlier in the process. As opposed to strangling my creative flow (which I had assumed in the beginning), understanding structure is allowing me to create much more cohesive and coherent work. So, after the typically messy first draft is done, I then start applying an overlay of 3- or 5-act structure to the whole thing. It’s like making a huge sheet cake, then carving it to resemble a landscape. Or a face.
I'm always fascinated to hear about other writers' rituals before or during writing. Do you have any?
Because my settings are so varied-- from beds to planes to coffee shops --I haven't attached any particular ritual. Even if my beloved computer is down, I can write on sticky pads, restaurant napkins, and even my phone, when in need. I always make a music playlist for each book and if I listen to anything, it'll be that.
What are some books and/or authors that inspired you to be a writer?
My favorite fiction author is Tom Robbins whose writing makes me want to swoon and dance. His facility with language, his humor, and his weaving of complex plots is astounding. I’ve always appreciated beautiful writing but never felt it was within my abilities. When a particular chart-breaking sexy book came out, however, might have been the first time I entertained thoughts of going public with my writing. Not to disparage, but I did not find the writing compelling. (Worry not. I bought all the books and saw all the movies.) My inner circle, the only ones who’d seen my sexy stories, were always asking for more, so I thought – Maybe I could do this too.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?
I work with may levels of subtlety in my stories. It’s fine to read them on the surface, but when a reader sees the deeply buried ideas and resonates with them, it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s as if all the boundaries between us as humans dissolved, and we are all just a collective of the same inner thoughts and experiences.
I get notes like, “Every man in a relationship with a woman should read this book,” or “This gave me certainty that I could bring love into my life.” There is NOTHING better than that!
What keeps you motivated and inspired to write?
All those stories in my head don’t let get too far. I'm thankful, thus far in my career, I’ve never needed an extra boost of motivation and inspiration. What I need is more hours in the day, or maybe an extra set of arms, so I could capture all the stories that want to come through me.
What is one thing you want everyone to know about your writing?
Look for the easter eggs. I heard this term in the gaming world, where there some fun thing will be hidden for only the most intrepid users. All of my books have these goodies, whether it’s the appearance of a character from a different book/series, a shared location, or an object you wouldn’t expect, they're always there. Here’s to finding them!
What is the best writing advice you have ever gotten?
My very first writing coach was as harsh as he was famous. As I would whine about being too sensitive to handle criticism, or complain that I didn’t like this aspect of writing, or that aspect of writing, he would blaze his baby blues at me and say, “Grow a set.”
As much as I didn’t like that advice when I got it, that set has come in very handy in my career. This is not a career for a Delicate Daisy. It requires strength, stamina, and the fortitude of a whole platoon of Navy Seals. For some of us, growing that strength is most of the journey.
And last but not least, do you have anything currently in the works? What can your readers expect from you next?
Always! I'm minutes away from releasing Coming Home, the second book in the Friends & Lovers Series. Childhood friends reconnect after years apart and chaos hits them from all directions. One of the interesting facets of this book is that I delve into the world of US politics, which has been so fun! (At times, I’ve felt like I’ve been writing my very own season of Scandal.)
The love story between these old friends whose worlds came apart is at the center of it, with a recurring question of what home means to every one of us. As with all my books, I keep upping the ante on smart banter, sizzling chemistry, and twists you never saw coming.
The Trials of the Core
Guardians of the Core Book 1
by Michael Thies
Genre: Futuristic Fantasy
As Edwyrd Eska approaches his two-hundredth year as Guardian of the Core, he must find an apprentice to train under him. His title and role compel him to safeguard and govern his universe, Gladonus, as each Guardian before him has done and those after him shall continue to do until relieved of such duties by will of the Ancients. Prince Hydro Paen, Eirek Mourse, and Zain Berrese—amongst other contestants—receive invitations to compete in a quest of Trials intended to determine who will become Eska’s apprentice. An old adage goes: “The toughest trials test you truest” – and these events challenge their fortitude through tenuous partnerships, intellectual rivalries, and battles of weapons’ mastery. Along the way, each contestant must attempt to overcome personal demons that haunt them. In this tale of ideal dreams and lucid aspirations, these competitors find theirs threatened by deceit, betrayal, sabotage—and even flesh—as all become vital to success…
Michael E. Thies is currently 23 years old and lives in Slinger, Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee). For six years he has been struggling to find the time to write down all of the ideas and characters that come to him while writing. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a Bachelor of Arts degree, double majoring in Advertising and Creative Writing. During his time as an undergraduate he served as a member of numerous organizations like Sigma Tau Delta, an English Honor Society, and was president of the Leadership Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa, and of his fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi. When not writing, he enjoys watching TV (especially Grimm and MadMen), playing tennis, or working out.
The Dead Game
by Susanne Leist
Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Linda Bennett leaves New York for the slower-paced lifestyle of Oasis, Florida. She opens a bookstore and makes new friends. Life is simple that is until the dead body washes up onshore. She is horrified to learn that dead bodies and disappearing tourists are typical for this small town. Rumors abound of secret parties held by the original residents in their secluded mansions. Once night falls, the tourist-friendly community becomes a haven for evil and dark shadows. However, this is only the beginning.
Linda and her group receive an unsigned invitation to a party at End House, the deserted house in the forest behind the town, a mansion with a violent history. They are pursued through revolving rooms and dangerous traps, barely escaping with their lives, leaving two of their friends trapped inside.
It is up to Linda and her friends to search out The Dead and find the evil one controlling their once peaceful community. Can they trust the Sheriff and his best friend, Todd?
THE DEAD GAME has begun.
**Only .99 cents!**
Book 2 releasing soon!!
I have always loved to read. I grew up with Agatha Christie, Alistair Maclean and so many other authors who filled my imagination with intrigue and mystery. The TV show, Murder She Wrote, kept me entertained when I was not reading late into the night.
Over the years, my taste in books has expanded to include the supernatural and paranormal genres as reflected in my selection of shows, such as Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, and The Originals.
My first book, The Dead Game, is a paranormal suspense/mystery. It brings fantasy and the surreal to the simple murder mystery. It has dead bodies and suspects. However, it also has vampires, vampire derivatives, and a touch of romance to spice up the mix.
Linda passed the empty tables by the tall windows when she felt her arm being tugged. Before she could react, she found herself being dragged through the open patio doors and onto the isolated garden path. She came face to face with the mighty Wolf and his trusted companion, Hayden. The grounds were deserted. Everyone had left the gardens, and she was all alone with the two wicked vampires.
Wolf glared at Hayden. “Please let go of her arm; we are not animals. We never force ourselves on women.”
“Chivalry among demons—I’m very impressed. Too bad your table manners and choice of dishes leave a lot to be desired,” Linda said. Her hatred of Wolf had just caused her to forget her low position in the food chain; she closed her mouth to stop herself from talking. In the future, she must remember that he was a vampire—the strongest one in the world—and that he could easily destroy her at any time.
Wolf didn’t seem the least bit focused on her. “I didn’t come here to play parlor games with you. I need you to convince Todd to join with us. He can never be human or will ever be accepted by them. He belongs with us. He must stick with his own kind.”
“He’s not like you in any way at all: he cares too deeply for people and is loyal to his friends. On the other hand, you and your kind enjoy killing too much and have no feelings whatsoever.”
“Todd will never be accepted by humans or by his own kind. He will be an outcast with nowhere to go. He must join with us.”
“Todd is human and will always be accepted by humans.”
“Let’s kill her now, boss. She’s going to be trouble. I could take her away and no one will ever see her again,” Hayden said, grabbing hold of her arm again.
Wolf strolled over to her with a wicked gleam surfacing in his eyes.
“I have a much better use for her in the future. When she finally comes to her senses, she’ll realize that she will be better off with a real vampire with limitless powers than with a pathetic human. She’ll learn about intoxicating love and passion—not the games that humans play that pale in comparison.
“Here comes the human. Let her go for now.”
Linda was horrified to find herself wrapped in Wolf’s strong, muscular arms. She became hypnotized by his black eyes and tempted by his deep voice. He seemed perfect in every way. She only wanted to be with him.
“I’ll be back for you.” Wolf held her tight against his body and whispered in her ear. “I love the way you stand up to me with your flashing blue eyes. Soon you’ll be mine, my beautiful ice queen.”
Linda couldn’t move her body. She was stuck in some kind of trance…she couldn’t leave, didn’t want to leave if given the choice. His voice soothed her and made her think of love, passion, and great need: a need that could be satisfied only by him with his expert hands and mouth. She knew that one day she was going to be with him, to be joined with him.
He lowered his mouth onto hers and drew her into a swirling haze of unexpected feelings and desires. His mouth fully covering hers introduced her to a new realm of pure pleasure. His powerful form enveloped her, making her feel feelings that were foreign and untried for her. She couldn’t get enough of him. Linda tentatively began touching his face and then his body with an eager and unrelenting hunger. She didn’t know what she needed, but she knew that she wanted and desired this beautiful man standing right before her. Her past life was washed out of her mind, never to be considered again. Linda begged him to take her with him tonight. In response, Wolf lifted her in his arms, as if she weighed nothing, and turned to leave the party. His beautiful face looked victorious and happy. His black eyes filled with passion. She hoped that it was because of her. He looked down into her small face and gave a hearty roar.
While Wolf carried her in his powerful arms, a dark shadow swooped out of the house and flew directly at them. Linda was knocked out of his arms, and Wolf was thrown across the patio.
She looked up to see who had attacked them. It was Todd, his eyes a deadly shade of green, standing there panting.
Linda backed away in horror. Todd’s eyes cleared and returned to their original dark color. Then he looked at her. “Don’t ever be afraid of me. I’m here to protect you.”
Then he was struck down by Wolf.
1. What place did you have the pleasure of growing up? If you could, would you move back and raise your children there?
I grew up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. I don’t believe I would want to live there now. The neighborhood has changed. I have fond memories of my childhood. It is hard to go back and recapture what we’ve already experienced. Since my immediate family has passed on, it is better for me to move forward instead of going back.
2. What is the first memory you have of books? When did you first realize you could write?
My brother, who was eleven years older than me, loved to read. Since he was my role model, I followed his steps into the pages of mysteries and science fiction. He read Agatha Christie, Isaac Asimov, and Alistair Maclean. And so did I.
I have always done well on reports written for school. I received comments such as insightful and organized. But I didn’t consider writing prose until I helped my daughter with her essays as she applied to college. We spoke about writing about my mother, her blindness, and later her dementia. The words poured out of me. That is when I first realized that I wanted, no needed, to write.
3. Did you ever enter writing competitions as a child? If so, did you win any?
I never thought of myself as a writer when I was growing up. I was a reader. I studied finance and marketing. I enjoyed science classes but never writing classes.
4. If you were to choose, would you rather be a vampire or a shape-shifter? Why?
I’ve always found vampires to be sexy and driven by their desires. They’re intriguing in their dark way. I first heard of shape-shifters on the T.V. show, Supernatural. Portrayed as creepy, some of them had extra-long tongues or resembled animals or monsters. I like my vampires to remain good looking until the end.
5. Which of your favorite TV shows has inspired your writing the most?
It is funny that you should mention this. The show, Murder She Wrote, planted a seed of one day becoming a writer. This seed never took root. I ignored it and went about my life pursuing a business degree. I wanted to be a writer like Angela Lansbury.
6. How did the character Linda Bennett come about? Which person did you model most of her characteristics after?
Linda Bennett is a form of myself. She desires to be happy above all else. A happily-ever-after seems to be forever out of her reach. But she’s determined to find it.
Most of my characters are based on people I know but with an extra twist or two. Shana loves adventure and finds herself in trouble most of the time. I have a friend like that. But my friend doesn’t cross the line, taking her into abandoned houses or a vampire’s lair.
7. Which secondary character in THE DEAD GAME are you particularly fond? Would you ever write a separate spin-off series for this character?
You must be reading my mind. I’m fond of Shana. She is going to be the star of the third book in The Dead Game series. My fans like her, and she deserves a separate book.
8. What were some things you learned about being an author when writing and publishing THE DEAD GAME that you never would've guessed otherwise?
I would never have guessed how hard it is to promote a book. I spend about eight hours a day advertising on social media sites. I’ve opened blogs and a website to share poetry to find an audience. The hardest part is struggling to keep The Dead Game alive on Amazon. Amazon controls the publishing industry. “If you make it there, you can make it anywhere,” to quote the Mary Tyler Moore Show. I’m determined to keep my book #1 in vampire suspense for e-books for as long as I can.
9. Between horror and romance, which scenes do you find easier to write? Were there any scenes or chapters in THE DEAD GAME that was particularly hard to write?
Chapter One was the hardest to compose. The Prologue flowed through my fingertips. Then I got stuck. It is difficult to introduce a town and its residents while keeping the action going strong.
The romance scenes have always been the easiest. In book two, which I have just finished writing, I included some hot scenes; and they were a lot of fun to write. I had to be careful: no fifty shades of vampires for me.
10. Is there anything you edited out of this book?
I edit each chapter and then go back to the beginning to make sure all points and plot twists are consistent. I haven’t edited out any significant scenes or chapters.
11. Besides becoming an author, which you have accomplished, what are some other things on your bucket list?
I would love to travel the world. Unless I win the lottery or become a bestselling author, that isn’t going to happen. I have dreams. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to write.
12. Would you say that writing is an innate talent or an acquired one?
My imagination is innate, but the ability to create scenes and correct sentence structures is acquired. I’m still growing and learning.
13. Are you working on anything new at the moment? Or are you playing with any new ideas of late?
Book Two of the series should be ready to be released this summer. A group of authors has proofed it along the way. After it goes through an editing program, it will be off to the editor.
Margo & George Forever?
By Stephanie Queen
Genre: Romantic Comedy
There was no question in Margo's heart of hearts that she loved George. She really did want to marry him--scratch that--she really did want to be married to him.
There was a difference.
She hoped to heaven that the teeny-tiny distinction wouldn't be their undoing...
The stage is set for the wedding of the year in New York City featuring poor sweet beautiful Margo marrying the most eligible (read that: handsome and wealthy) bachelor, Regal Stores heir and CEO, George Regal, III. The Regal family has long presided over the social and fashion scene in Manhattan and they have embraced the marriage with enough enthusiasm to create a circus.
That could be why Margo feels like she's in the center ring and about to be swallowed by a lion.
But the best things about George, the strong powerful CEO, are the ones he's not known for, like his small thoughtful gifts, the crystal angel Christmas tree ornament he'd given her, the way he holds her hand at odd moments, the way he bear-hugs his grandma whenever he sees her and the way he speaks with misty eyes about his late mother.
Of course Margo wants to spend the rest of her life with him... if she could just get past the family’s ‘enthusiasm’ and THE WEDDING.
Warning: Once you open this book you'll get heart-warming romance, smiles, laughs & fun, but also an adult-sized portion of steamy love scenes. And of course, most important of all, a very satisfying Happily-Ever-After.
Stephanie Queen is the USA Today bestselling author of the romantic detective series, Beachcomber Investigations. She lives in the stunning state of New Hampshire with her family, her cat, Kitty and her fun-loving friends. Besides going to the gym sporadically, Stephanie cooks and crochets and loves chocolate covered potato chips (yes, she should go to the gym more often).
She used to be a 9 to fiver working in downtown Boston, but has thrown her stylish suits and fancy heels in a closet and now hangs out in UConn t-shirts, jeans and sneakers. “If I could come back in another life as anything I wanted, I’d be a regency era heroine.” (Not surprisingly) Regency romances are her favorite secret reads.
Two Excerpts from Margo & George Forever?
“You’re so damn gorgeous.” He kissed her forehead.
“Aren’t you the least bit afraid I’m going to get a big head if you keep saying things like that?”
“Not you. That wouldn’t be you at all. You’re too good.”
And her heart melted just a little bit more because the thing was, he was serious.
Margo didn’t mind waiting until she’d had a swig of her drink before trying to explain herself. She wasn’t sure what to say—or what she thought, if truth be told. But it was time she unbottled whatever mess was inside her.
“I’m scared witless about this wedding circus." She paused. Her friends stared.
"I tremble at the thought of the outrageous pageantry as if I’m the queen of a minor Nordic country. I’m horrified that there will be a thousand freaking guests and I don’t know any of them—none but a handful. I have no idea what I’m supposed to say or do.”
Oliana Mercer Series Book 1
by Marguerite Ashton
Genre: YA Mystery
Oliana knows that every family has a secret, but she never expected hers to come from the grave.
High school senior Oliana Mercer dreams of attending the prestigious Reyersen Drama Academy and pursue her acting career. But when tragedy strikes, Oliana discovers secrets hidden from her by her adopted parents, dimming the lights on her perfect world.
As the sins of the past surface, Oliana finds herself caught up in a tug-of-war between two families while the love for her boyfriend is tested.
Determined to find some form of happiness in life, Oliana becomes student director in the high school’s senior play. When her best friend, Devin Worthy, dies during dress rehearsal, Oliana is re-cast as the lead.
Everyone thinks the death was a suicide, except Oliana, whose search for clues may be enough motive for the killer to murder again.
Oliana Mercer Series Book 2
It’s been two weeks since Oliana Mercer learned a horrible family secret and witnessed the death of her best friend. Two weeks of heartache, secrets, and lies. While Oliana wants to move on, graduation day is a turning point for her, but for the worse.
Austin wants Oliana to stay and not attend Reyersen Drama Academy, a relative from the past wants her forgiveness, the custody battle for her little brother moves forward…and then there’s James whose recent drug habit landed him in trouble. Now he’s missing. After a charred body, believed to be James is found in a dumpster behind the high school, Oliana receives a text from James’ phone.
When Oliana turns to the police for help, she is pulled into a conflict that makes her question whether to obey the law while fighting with the family who abandoned her.
Oliana Mercer Series Book 3
Settling into campus life at the posh Reyersen Academy acting school, Oliana Mercer prepares for an audition for a lead part in a play called Cold. She soon discovers that her new roommate is not only vying for the same role, but is seeing Austin - Oliana's ex-boyfriend. She does all she can to avoid Austin until he is found murdered at a party. With hardly any clues, she starts snooping around and descends into Reyersen's forbidden East Wing, which mirrors the set for the upcoming play.
As Oliana learns more about the school's past, she begins to suspect people around her might be involved and becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened. When another body is discovered, Oliana finds out that acting will be her best chance for survival.
Prequel to the Oliana Mercer Series
Newly sober and dating the man of her dreams, Traci Collins is ready to enjoy the good life, until her new best friend, Olivia Durning, confides a dreadful secret far worse than Traci could imagine.
Sealed by a shared bond, and unaware there is more to the secret than what she was told, Collins feels honor-bound to protect her friend when a confrontation between Olivia and her childhood tormentor turns deadly.
A mysterious text forces Traci to question Olivia's actions and re-examine her loyalties. When the answers to Traci's questions endanger a life she treasures more than her own, she must decide if friendship has a limit. For a bridge once burnt severs ties forever...
When Marguerite Ashton was in her twenties, she took up acting but realized she preferred to work behind the camera, writing crime fiction. A few years later, she married an IT Geek and settled down with her role as wife, mom, and writer. Five kids later, she founded the Crime Writer’s Panel and began working with former law enforcement investigators to create; Criminal Lines Blog, an online library for crime writers who need help with their book research.
She’s a workaholic who hides in her writer’s attic, plotting out her next book and stalking Pinterest for the next avocado recipe.
A member of Sisters in Crime, Marguerite grew up in Colorado, but is now happily living in Wisconsin and playing as much golf as possible. She can be found on Twitter and Facebook.
For the last forty-two days, Duran’s coffeehouse had served as my refuge from the temptation of the dark piss colored brew that had slowly eaten away at the lining of my gullet year after year. Alcohol had stopped being my best friend, and it was now my worst enemy. Popping a little white pill to settle the rogue waves of acid reflux was a daily reminder of what I had done to my already marred body.
Therefore, paying $4.50 for a 16 oz. cup of gourmet coffee meant that even my wallet had to do penance for my troubled addiction. On the upside, however, Duran’s served good food, had a glorious view of the distant Rocky Mountains and was just ten minutes outside of Denver, in Cherry Creek. I enjoyed the ambiance and welcomed the conversations affording access to others’ semi-private lives.
For a Sunday afternoon, it was unusually quiet. No line of impatient customers jockeyed for position at the counter; the only people there were we four and a couple sitting across the room talking in hushed voices. Dark clouds spread across the skyline as a heavy thunderstorm brewed outside. My grandmother used to say thunderstorms washed away bad memories and made room for new ones. With every storm, I wished I could prove Grandma right. I wanted my turn to come so I could erase the memory of my car accident. It was only one of the many putrid recollections I had of my mother.
A month and a half ago, after fifteen years of polluting my liver, I had hit bottom. Sipping on the long neck bottles that housed my favorite beer seven days a week had finally lost its allure. I woke up one Saturday evening from a drunken slumber on the floor, my computer desk chair at my side, with a bruise on my shoulder, thinking it was Sunday.
It was nice to see the world more clearly instead of the usual old blur after a night of drinking. It was a difficult choice, but I could already feel a difference.
Even my co-workers at the law firm noticed and had begun complimenting me on how much happier I looked. In a way, I was envious of the other paralegals in my section. Before I stopped drinking, the ladies and I would go to the bar once or twice a week to unwind. Now, I had to politely decline every time they asked. An upside to my new sobriety was that I made three new friends: Olivia Durning, Norman Mercer, and Kevin Walsh. I thought it was odd that I could feel closer to a group of strangers than I could to my own mother. It reminded me of my college days where finding a connection was so easy, so fast, so necessary.
The first time I had a good look at Norman was when he stepped out of his black Lexus GS at the coffee shop. He struck me as the kind of guy who was a knight in shining armor to any female in distress. Blond, with a manicured scruff of stubble, he wore a v-neck shirt with long sleeves and dark wide leg jeans. It was like seeing my favorite Hollywood actor, Roy Majors, back in his heyday, only Norman was more reserved, and nothing overwhelmed him. His Texas accent was as strong as his political opinions while his southern manners showed he was a true gentleman.
“Okay. What’s your count?” Norman asked, interrupting my thoughts, pointing his finger
“Twenty days,” Olivia said.
“I’m closer to sixty and still going strong,” said Kevin.
“You never give me the exact day, my friend.”
“I believe in setting a mental goal and striving to make it happen.”
“All right,” Norman said. “I’m at ninety-seven days.”
“Hey, Traci,” Kevin said, pulling out a deck of cards, “did you forget you owe me a game of Crazy Eights?”
“No, but if you insist on losing another round, I’m ready.”
When I met Kevin, he threw me off balance with his tough guy exterior, raunchy humor, and bright intellect. Some of the things that dribbled from his mouth should’ve stayed put, locked behind the chinstrap beard outlining his narrow jaw. Approaching his forties, Kevin’s feet were grounded firmly as a single father. Two minutes with him was enough for anyone to realize that his twin daughters were his focus in life. To show his love, he sported different style vests to display his pledge tattoo that bore the names of his little girls spelled out in blue ink flanking a pair of angel wings across his shoulder blades. He dared for anyone to challenge that love. Kevin dealt the cards while Norman tapped away on his notepad.
“Olivia, do you want to play?” I asked.
“I guess so.”
Kevin stopped dealing out cards. Norman looked up.
I turned in my chair to face her. “Is something the matter?”
“My birthday is coming up, and it’s not something that I’m looking forward to.”
Kevin laughed. “Who doesn’t like celebrating their birthday?”
Norman shook his head, pressing his index finger to his lips. Olivia noticed and her eyes widened. “Jesus. You told Norman?” she asked, hurling her cards at me.
I picked them up and laid them neatly on the table.
Olivia was a sweet girl with a thin rail frame who took pride in the long chestnut brown hair she kept in a ponytail held with multiple decorative hair ties. She had small eyes like black dots printed on fabric that resisted being a set of the three primary colors. They were lonely and dim. The only time they flickered with life was when she sang. Her voice was as smooth as a saxophone. When she spoke, her words fell from her lips with grace, and when she belted out a song she’d written, her listeners held their breath, enchanted. I believed her songs were telling her story, spilling out her soul of great heartache and dreams.
“I only told Norman because I thought you trusted him. You’ve told me as much yourself.”
“When did this happen?”
“A couple days ago.”
“She’d left her reading glasses here last Sunday, and I ran them over to her,” Norman said.
“I was bothered by what you told me,” I said, knowing how lame I sounded. “Believe me, I regretted it immediately after I said it.”
“It’s a good thing I didn’t tell you my entire story.”
“What story?” Kevin said.
“Olivia–” Norman began.
“It’s okay,” I told him. “I deserved that. I promise not to betray your trust again.”
Olivia snatched the cards off the table and fanned them in her hand. “Can we just play?”
Kevin dealt the rest of the cards. “I hope you know you can talk to me, too.” He placed the remaining stack of cards in the middle of the table.
Olivia pursed her thin lips and pulled from the deck. “I’m not mad. I’m embarrassed.” She laid out her first spread of three fives.
“What happened to you was not your fault,” Norman said.
I played from my hand and waited for Kevin to make his move as he concentrated on what to play next. Olivia retreated into her own world, tracing the sinew strands of her dream catcher.
“Is that a new one?” I asked.
“Yes. I love the feathers on it.”
“Does it really stop bad dreams?” Kevin wondered.
“Most of the time, but I think some of my dreams are too horrid even for a dream catcher.”
“You’re not alone,” Norman said.
“Drinking used to help me sleep. Forget the past for a night.” Olivia placed the dream catcher in her lap. “It didn’t take long for it to stop working.”
“That’s how it was for me,” Kevin said. “Then I began using anything I could as an excuse to drink.”
“Same here,” I said. “One thing I’m certain of – it feels good not to wake up with a pounding headache.”
We all laughed and finished our game, which I lost. Kevin ordered another round of javas to go, and we packed our things.”
“Are we still doing our Thursday dinner?” Olivia asked.
“At six,” I confirmed.
“I have to stop by the hospital first, to pick up my reinstatement papers,” said Norman.
“Congratulations! We’ll make it a celebratory dinner.”
“I’d like that.”
“I’ll pick up the food after my counseling appointment,” Olivia offered.
Everyone else got up and waited for me to stand.
I grabbed my onyx cane and struggled to get out of my chair. My knee ached more than usual, which meant a change in the weather was coming. A storm — a big one — was brewing.
The Vision Chronicles Book 1
by Chariss K. Walker
Genre: Thriller, Paranormal Suspense
Mike Lewis boldly narrates his fantastical story and confesses his secret: He sees horrifying visions of disturbing future events through a kaleidoscope each time he closes his eyes. He'd like to live a normal life, but an elusive threat prohibits him from doing that.Someone wants to study his mystical ability and they'll do whatever it takes to further their strange, covert agenda.
The Vision Chronicles eight-book thriller series is a slice-of-life metaphysical/visionary story that details Mike's changing ability as he protects himself, his family, and his friends from those who doggedly pursue him. If you love mind-boggling suspense with a dash of paranormal and a touch of romance, this is the series for you!
**FREE on Amazon!**
**Get the Rest of the series HERE! They're ALL only .99 cents!!**
The Vision Chronicles Book 2
The Vision Chronicles Book 3
Windows All Around
The Vision Chronicles Book 4
The Vision Chronicles Book 5
Stream of Light
The Vision Chronicles Book 6
The Vision Chronicles Book 7
The Vision Chronicles Book 8
Award-winning author, Chariss K. Walker, M.Msc., writes both fiction and nonfiction books with a metaphysical and spiritual component. Her fiction expresses a visionary/metaphysical message that illustrates growth in a character's consciousness while utilizing a paranormal aspect. Her nonfiction books share insight, hope, and inspiration. Even though Chariss writes dark-fiction about insanely dark topics, such as sexual abuse, incest, pedophilia, sexual assault, and other inappropriate dinner conversation, there is always an essential question of the abstract nature that gives a reader increasing awareness and perception. All of her books are sold worldwide in eBook, paperback, and many are in large print.
Never Letting Go
Knights of Sin MC Book 1
by Erin Trejo
Genre: MC Romantic Suspense
Ten years ago I fucked up. I pushed the one thing I loved the most away. I watched her run as far as she could. I ruined the love we had. I threw myself into the Marine's thinking I could get her out of my system. That didn't work.
When I came back I got the worst news ever. Or so I thought. Now I'm forced to keep a promise I made and find the one girl that stole my heart.
AUBRIE: We had a love that was stronger than it should have been. He threw it away though. After a series of unfortunate events, I was settled and stable.
Happy? Not quiet but when Micah shows up and rocks my world to the core I'm forced back into my old life. A life I ran from. Now being back in the one place I used to call home, I don't know where I belong.
Learning To Love
Knights of Sin MC Book 2
Bullet: I fought my way through life. Family was an important part of that. I kept myself away from them not wanting to see the disgust of my father. My club was all the family I needed. When I was taken and forced into a living hell, the one thing that kept me going was the unknown girl next to me. Getting her out alive was my priority. After I do, I have to make the toughest decision of my life.
Trinity: I was never wanted. My father used me to his advantage. I was taken for his debts. I thought I would die. I wanted to. That faceless man that kept me going was all I looked forward to. Until he was gone. When he finds me again, I have to learn to love. Can he be the one to show me how?
Fighting For a Chance
Knights of Sin MC Book 3
Dax: I was a fighter. I was good at it. When I met Laura I thought I was having a round of hot sex like usual. When I saw her for who she truly was, I wanted more. A lot more. She had her own problems but I wasn't ready to let go just yet. I'll fight for what I want even if she does push me away.
Laura: I have a past that won't go away. Literally. Hector hasn't gotten the message that I don't want him. A night with Dax turns into more. I didn't plan on it. Every single time I turned around, he was there and I found myself liking it. But Hector remains a problem. A problem that quickly gets out of hand.
Knights of Sin MC Book 4
Kane: Unhappily married. Yeah, that sums up my life. I messed up with that shit decision. I still have my sister though. When I attend her wedding, I run into an old friend. Ivy. When she admits that she had feelings for me, I take her home like any good man would do. I didn't expect all the complications that came with it though. She was used before me and I want to show her that I'm not the same as him. The problem is, I am.
Ivy: I fought cancer and won. I fought a useless husband and won. When I see Kane again, I lose. Badly. I always had a crush on him when we were kids. I never thought the feelings would still be there years later. One night with him and my world is thrown off balance. His club is his life and I know that. When my cancer comes back in full force, I do the one thing I can. I run. He will chase me. He told me he would. When the tables turn, will I do the same?
One More Try
Knights of Sin MC Book 5
Blood. Death. Darkness. Those are things I know. Fucking. Drinking. Walking away. I was good at that. I messed up one night when I slept with the President’s niece. We were both drunk and out of control. Now she’s pregnant with my kid. I can’t be a father. I don’t want to be. At least not at first. After a hit goes wrong, I change my mind.
I was taken. I was beaten. I was raped. My uncle’s club saved me. It also destroyed me. Meeting Bash was the worst thing that could have happened. He was a mistake and we both knew it. The more I tried to stay away from him, the more he sought me out. My attraction to him became something more. Now where do we go?
Promise of Love
Knights of Sin MC Book 6
Link: I was a virgin. Yeah, the laugh of the club. It didn't bother me though. I saw the way my parent's and I didn't want to be like that. I love this club. I'd do anything for them. When I met Jordyn, that loyalty was tested. The things that happened between us quickly defined us. I've held out hope that love was out there for me.
Jordyn: I ran from one bad situation to another. When the club I fell into sent me to another to get information, I thought it would be easy. I didn't think I'd fall for the man I was supposed to be spying on. Not wanting to hurt him, I ran. He found me. Now I have to face the music and the man I've fallen for.
I am a wife, mother, child chauffeur and author. I love being able to create different characters and spin a web that makes them come together in the end. My books do not stick to just one genre, they span many.
I write about things that are real life situations and fairy tales are not always smooth sailing. My MC books are hard and gritty and they have struggles just like you would in life.
I also have books that are not so in your face. There are several that are good love stories that are fraught with issues that the characters have to deal with.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, teasers and a giveaway!
Knights of Sin Excerpts
Never Letting Go Excerpt:
Once she steps inside, I know I need to go and talk to her. This was the last thing Benny asked of me... and I sure as fuck won’t let him down. He was the one solid thing in my life. I can’t let him down, not even now.
I stride toward the door, my heart pounding inside of me. I feel like I’m about to have my first kiss.
I don’t know why I’m so goddamn nervous, but I feel like a ball of fucking energy right now. Aubrie had always done strange things to me but ten years later... and I still feel it. That has to mean I have some kind of sanity issues, right? How can someone affect your whole being after so long?
I raise my hand and knock. I swear to God the neighbors could probably hear my heart beating. It’s wild in my chest.
When Aubrie opens the door with a smile, I watch it slowly fade when she realizes it’s me.
I can see her swallow hard.
Learning to love:
I stare out the window when Bash says, “You gonna tell me why we are sittin’ in this goddamn diner catchin’ stares like we’re about to blow this shit up?” Glancing over at him, I shake my head before looking back out the window.
“It’s free food. Shut the fuck up and eat.” I grumble. I hear the fork clinking on his plate. I knew he wouldn’t turn down free food.
My eyes stay on the building across the street. Watching and waiting. It’s a sad reality that I have to face now.
I can’t go to her but that need to know that she is truly ok is ripping me apart.
So, I watch. From a distance, I watch the building a friend told me she’d be at.
“You know we look like some fuckin’ stalkers, right?” He says. Pulling my eyes back to meet his, I shake my head again.
“Can you shut the fuck up for five minutes? I paid that bitch nicely to let me sit here and look like a fuckin’ stalker.” Bash shrugs, going back to his food. He wouldn’t understand this shit.
Fighting For a Chance:
I went back out on stage and sang a few more songs, and got a few more pussies wet before calling it a night.
I hopped off the stage and grabbed a bottle of Jack before coming to sit next to Aubrie, Micah, and Kane.
Now I’m sitting here enjoying the goddamn view.
“I can’t believe you brought me a stripper, Aub’s. I should kiss the fuck outta you,” I tell her. She drags her mouth away from Micah’s to glare at me.
“She is not a fucking stripper, Dax!” So, she says, but when she glances over and sees that woman shaking her ass on the table in front of us in half of what she wore here, she changes her tune.
“Dax! What the hell did you do?” Aubrie snaps at me. I open my mouth, my jaw damn near hitting the floor.
“I’ve been sittin’ here with you!” Raising my hand in her direction, Aubrie looks pissed. Hell, this is the one time I didn’t do it!
“Get her off there, Dax!” Screaming at me, I don’t know what to say.
“Jesus Christ, woman! You act like I was the one throwin’ dollars at her!” Aubrie is not amused with me at all.
“Don’t take that the wrong way…. And don’t fuckin’ pull your hand away from me like that ever again.” I jerk her wrist back and put her hand back where I want it. Her eyes widen when I ask again, “Do I need to get a car or can you ride? It’s a simple question, darlin’.” Ivy licks her lips before glancing around. I reach up with my free hand and cup her cheek, making her look at me.
“Either way you look at it, I’m havin’ you in my bed tonight,” I growl before kissing those sexy lips. I’ve thought about those lips all goddamn day today. Her tongue darts into my mouth, softly stroking mine. A shudder races over my skin as I slide my hand behind her neck. I pull her mouth closer to mine, taking what I want from her. Her hand instinctively tightens around my dick. Her little lips capture every goddamn groan that comes out of me.
“I can ride,” she mumbles before kissing me back with enthusiasm this time. Her hand starts to stroke me harder. I might just fucking cum on the spot if she doesn’t stop. I pull her hand away when I feel like I’m about to explode.
“You damn well better be ready for me when we get there.” I lift her in my arms and slap her ass roughly for good measure. Her lips come back to mine as I walk us toward my bike. Her hips grind against me and hell, if I don’t get harder by the second.
One More Try:
Stop this now, Sebastian. Stop now while you still can. You’re leading her straight into hell again.
That voice in the back of my head tells me to stop. It tells me to do the right thing and leave her alone.
My body isn’t saying the same thing, though. I guess that motherfucker missed the memo. Her nails dig into my back, even through my shirt. The way she raises her hips to get closer to me, I almost fucking blow in my jeans.
I pull away from that sexy mouth of hers and yank my shirt over my head, tossing it to the floor before my mouth is back to covering hers. The taste of her is so fucking erotic. Shannon reaches between us, working the buckle of my jeans before I pull away again. I sit up and let her do what she wants. The lust dancing in those dark eyes rips me apart.
Once she has my jeans undone, I quickly slide them off. Shannon has her own off before I ever get close to her. I look at her naked pussy lying in front of me. So fucking beautiful, and yet I can’t keep it. So, why the fuck are you doing this Bash? That voice asks me. I don’t have a fucking answer aside from I’m a greedy bastard.
I reach for her belt that lies on the floor near her head. I wrap it around her wrists then around the leg of her shelf, securing her in place. Her eyes are wide but she licks her lips. Fuck, those lips. I move down and push her shirt up over her tits. I lean my head in and suck her nipple into my mouth, teasing it through the lacey fabric of her bra. Shannon moans and arches her back with every flick of my tongue.
Promise of Love:
Jesus Christ, my heart’s in my throat. My lips are so close to hers, touching them, caressing them. She feels too damn perfect against me. Why she thinks everything is pain—I will never understand. I get the logistics of it but fuck! I don’t want to hurt her. I brush my lips over hers once more but I let my hand linger on her cheek. I won’t move it. I won’t let her push that part of herself away. She deserves to feel. She doesn’t deserve to hide behind a fake pain that isn’t really there. She’s too young, and beautiful for that.
“Link, please,” she cries. I can taste her salty tears as they run down her face.
“I want you, Jordyn. I want to show you that the first time was nothin’ compared to now. I want to make you feel good,” I whisper against her. God, how do I control myself? This shit is new to me, too. My dick fucking aches in these sweatpants. I don’t want to hurt her. I don’t know that she even wants me to fucking be inside of her again—but the overwhelming need for her is too much for me to handle.
“I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to not feel pain, Link,” she cries.
“Do you want me, Jordyn? Do you want this?” I have to know. I have to know her answer before I get too far gone.
“Yes... but I’m scared,” she admits to me. God, this is harder than I thought it would be. I want her so fucking badly—I can taste her on the tip of my tongue.
“You take the lead. You show me what to do. You show me where I can try to touch you, Jordyn.” Her eyes fly open and see beams up at me. I kiss her softly once more before she nods.
“I’d never hurt you on purpose, darlin’.” She nods her head as if she already knows that.
The Shadow Lilies Book 1
by Lee Ann Ward
Genre: YA Mystery
Sixteen-year-old Julia Reynolds struggles with her parents’ gypsy lifestyle and the urgent need to find out what happened to her missing cousin, Aubree. Soon Julia stumbles upon the mystery surrounding the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans, its banned third floor, and the blessed nails that seal its windows shut.
Solving the mystery of the Ursuline and blogging the story to the entire free world could gain more interest in the disappearance of Aubree. But there’s just one catch: the others who have explored this mystery have one thing in common…they’re all dead.
Things get even more complicated when Julia falls for Ryan Grandle, the hottest guy in her school, and he falls right back. Will she really risk her life and new love to explore an unsolved mystery for the story that could save her cousin? Turns out, staring death straight in the face is just the beginning.
Lee Ann Ward is an award-winning fiction author with a background in journalism and mass communications. She is also the former Senior Editor of Champagne Books. Her love of books started at the age of three, and she's been addicted ever since. She's published six novels with her seventh and eighth on the way (SEE a YA paranormal by Evernight Teen in June 2017 and GLIMPSES OF WILDERNESS a YA romance by Inkspell Publishing in December 2017) and has written several more. When she's not writing, she's reading, singing, baking designer cakes, bowling and dreaming. She's married to Joe (who also happens to be her publicist) and they have 4 sons whom they adore, and a granddaughter who is the love of their life. They make their home in the small fishing community of Bayou La Batre, Alabama.
When someone tells you the worst news in your life, it’s not with screams. No, the screams are what cut through your house like scissors through paper. Ripping. Tearing. Creating torn pieces that will never be whole again. The actual words are calm, quiet—so quiet you can still hear her voice, smell her hair, visualize the wilted flower still tucked behind her ear like the last time you saw her.
“But where is she?” I’d repeated over and over. Repetition never bothered me when I was twelve.
“We don’t know,” Mom had explained for the hundredth time. “Aubree is just…missing.”
“Is she dead?”
“Don’t say that, Julia!”
It was rare for Mom to yell, but the day my 16-year-old cousin disappeared, so did normalcy…if you can call how we live normal.
“Well?” I’d urged again.
“I don’t think she’s dead, Julia. Can’t think it.” Mom never looked me in the eyes that day. “Maybe she just found a better future, more than your Aunt Beth could offer her…”
I decided that day never to ask my mom about Aubree again. My cousin wouldn’t just disappear…wouldn’t up and leave us. Leave me. Maybe my family had stopped searching just to move on with life.
But not me. No matter what, I’m finding Aubree.
Is the Color of a Character's Eyes Really THAT Important?
Characterization. It can make or break a novel. Truly. If a reader can't see into a character's soul from practically page one, then what is their motivation to keep those pages turning? Well, nothing. So, here's my two cents on characterization that should resonate with fellow authors, and let readers know what to expect from my novels. **Hint: I fully flesh-out my characters, and it has nothing at all to do with their physical characteristics.
"He was a handsome man, blond hair and deep blue eyes that melted my insid--" Blah blah blah... Honestly, who cares? Even though it is nice knowing that our leading man has blue eyes, I am more concerned with what I feel when I look into those eyes. And, so are my readers. In every novel, the readers must see the souls of the characters. No one is going to fall in love with looks alone. Okay, I know, I know... Yes, I have seen Jamie Fraser (shout-out to my fellow OUTLANDER fans), and he is a gorgeous piece of man-flesh, no doubt. But, if he were not also devoted to Claire, and his family, and his beloved Scotland--if he were not the man who never compromised his principles of love and country, well, we wouldn't love him nearly as much. Show me a gorgeous character and I will say, "Okay, he/she is gorgeous," and leave it at that. But show me the beauty of his/her soul--make me fall in love with the true person--and I will follow them into the devil's hell and back until the last page is read (or red, depending on the amount of carnage).
With all the Feels...