Coming October 24th 2016
Sinfully attractive playboy Nolan Zimmerman was born into a wealthy family, but maintains grueling hours to keep the reputation of his grandmother’s beloved bar as one of the hottest spots in New York. Sexy and independent Sofia Kendall has made her way to the top as a high powered attorney, and she doesn’t have time for men in general. When Sofia is offered a transfer to Manhattan, she’s eager to reconnect with her family but unprepared for a scandalous love affair.
Upon first meeting several years ago, the circumstances didn’t allow Sofia and Nolan to explore the initial spark of chemistry. And as fate would have it, their chances of starting something doesn’t look too favorable the second time around either. Once they decide they can’t be anything more than friends, is there no going back, or will their unrelenting desire for each other be too strong to resist?
Warning: This book is filled with serious angst and star-crossed lovers. If you’re looking for a sexy tale with steamy love scenes, sit back and enjoy the story.
The easy-going way the dark-haired, tattooed woman caresses the strings on her blue guitar, it would seem she was born to be a musician. With her eyes closed, her powerful voice rises out in a gentle melody reminiscing of love and lifelong commitment—even citing the sacred Marine Corps motto with the lyrics “semper fi.” Tiny enough to fit in my pocket, the New York native knows her way around an instrument and can sing a ballad even better than the metal tunes she was belting out earlier. The moment her whiskey-colored eyes land on me and she grins, my dick stirs in my jeans even though my brain knows she’s off limits.
I’d first heard of Chloe Cirillo a couple years back through mutual friends in the business and witnessed her rise to fame in the local music scene. Now that she’s released her first album under rock legend Rod Vaghel’s label and recently completed a countrywide tour, I knew I was a lucky bastard when she agreed to come play at my bar in Brooklyn Heights. I’ve seen several videos of her performing, but none of them captured the sex appeal she emits in person.
After playing the last note, Chloe rides out the wild roar of applause before returning to the microphone. The shy smile she flashes the crowd is genuine and cute as shit. “Oh my god, you guys have been amazing! We’re going to take a short break to catch our breaths, and then we’ll be back to rock this place some more.”
With her departure from the stage, the atmosphere shifts as the crowd breaks out in idle chatter and Alice in Chains plays from the speakers. A hot blonde at my side nudges me with her elbow, grinning from ear-to-ear with the most genuine smile. The floral print skirt and off-the-shoulder blouse she wears, tits almost visible behind the white fabric, paired with the way her bangs are braided off to the side remind me of my best friend Sharlo’s boho chic style.
“Chloe’s awesome, right?” the blonde asks.
“I’ve never heard anything like her,” I concede.
When Sharlo told me she wouldn’t be coming up tonight, I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed. Thought I don’t have the biggest circle of friends, I can usually count on her to hang with me, making late nights at the bar less daunting. But between Chloe and this blonde, things—namely my dick—are looking up. I should probably be ashamed of myself for lusting after these women, but I’m not. A guy has needs. It doesn’t take much for me to get worked up these days.
“She wrote that song for my best friend’s wedding,” the blonde tells me.
“Impressive. Does she write all her own music?”
“You bet your ass she does. There’s a big voice and a massive heart stuffed inside that little body. When she comes back she’ll play the song she wrote for her boyfriend. It’ll knock your socks off!”
Just like that, the excited burn in my balls fizzles. It’s not like I could actually act on my attraction to Chloe anyway, but sometimes the fantasy is as good as the real thing.
“She has a bright future,” I say in response, glancing through the impressive wall of fans packed in around the small stage.
Since my grandma Leona passed ownership of the bar along to me several years back, I’ve busted my ass to keep its reputation going as one of the best in New York with a never-ending list of hot acts. Rock and roll superstar Charlie Walker has become a regular after I first hired his girlfriend at he time, and we slowly became friends over time. His presence has become a big boost for business as people tend to come more often, hoping to catch one of his random performances. Pretty fucking ironic considering I once despised the guy for hurting Evelyn when they were first dating.
But I love the hell out of this place. It’s like home. So I don’t mind putting in the extra time to ensure it continues to thrive. My childhood memories are confined to these record-clad walls and pounded copper ceilings as my father was too busy with his high-powered career and my mother was intent on enjoying the perks of a being a loaded wife to give two shits about their unplanned offspring. Grams took me under her wing and taught me how to appreciate good music, taking me to concerts on school nights and introducing me to every band to set foot inside the bar. When her memory started to lapse, it destroyed me to know it wouldn’t be long before I’d lose the closest family member I’d ever known.
The old Corp nickname jerks me back to reality. When I spin back around, I’m face-to-face with one of my Recon brothers. Theo Roberts hasn’t changed much in the time since we finished our tour except for the non-military length of his dark hair. It’s no surprise to find a leggy brunette tucked under his arm since gorgeous women always flocked to the guy like flies on shit.
Theo didn’t fall into the same category as guys like me who initially signed up to get the fuck away from their families. He was born for the military, knowing most his life he wanted to enlist and checking off every box of a stereotypical Jarhead—thick with muscle, ballsy and determined, courageous, dirty-minded, and filled with the highest morale.
The Corp was good to me for the most part. I forged many unbreakable bonds with the guys and gained some valuable life experiences. Some of the shit we saw and the things that happened while stationed in Afghanistan, however, turned into endless nightmares that kept me awake at night for years to follow. When I’m struck with a sickening flash of fucked-up memories by looking into Theo’s eyes, I’m reminded why I’ve purposefully kept my distance from the guys in my unit.
“Jesus Christ, Big Rob!” I step forward as he releases the girl and we clap each other on the back in the biggest bro-hug known to man. “Where the hell have you been hiding, brother? Did you go back to the Bronx?”
“We just bought a place in the Upper East Side.” He steps back to wrap an arm around the attractive woman. “Kel, this is Nolan Zimmerman. We did a tour in the Corp together. You won’t meet a crazier fucker than this one. Son of a bitch is lucky to still have his nuts intact.”
Grinning, the woman offers a small wave of her hand. “Hi, I’m Kelly.”
“My wife,” Theo adds, beaming with pride.
My mouth lags open for a second before I have the presence of mind to snap it back shut. Theo was once the biggest player I knew, so it’s a mind-fuck to hear he’s settled down.
“Good on you, man,” I say, crossing my arms over my chest and smirking at the wife. This one is attractive and has a sophisticated aura unlike some of the shallow bimbos he hooked up with the short time we were training in Honolulu. Oorah.
“This place is great.” Theo takes a sweeping glance around the place before his eyes settle on the stage. “When Chloe told me she was playing at Leona’s, I forgot it was your grandma’s bar.”
“Actually it’s mine now,” I say with a shrug, hoping he’ll drop the subject before I have to explain her ailing condition. “So you’re friends with Chloe too, huh?” I tip my head in the direction of the hot blonde still lingering behind Theo and Kelly, giggling with a small group of women. “Do you know her too?”
“That’s my bestie, Jewels,” Kelly tells me with a wave of her finger. “And you can wipe that hopeful look off your face because she’s taken in every sense of the word. Married, kid on the way, the whole nine yards. Don’t worry, you’re not the first guy to ask about her.”
“Aren’t you married?” Theo asks, cocking one eyebrow. “Between that pretty-boy mug of yours and your family’s money, I figured you’d always be the first in the unit to bite the bullet.”
I lift one shoulder and shake my head in response. Thank Christ, I’m far from it. “I’ve dated a few girls. Just haven’t found the right one.”
“‘Bite the bullet’?” Kelly repeats, crossing her arms over her impressive rack and glaring at her husband playfully. “Really?”
Theo pulls her into his thick embrace, chuckling. “Relax, Cavenaugh, you know I’d take a bullet for you any day.”
When she turns into him and he buries his face in her thick hair to whisper something, I look away. I’ve had my share of women over the years, but the closest I’ve had to a meaningful relationship is with Sharlo, and she chose to be with someone else without ever giving me the chance to be something more. The thing is, she’s the only woman who seems to have zero interest in my inheritance since she also came from money and is mostly unimpressed by wealth. And most women who hit on me have the kind of shallow personalities that make me cringe. Sharlo’s the only woman I genuinely enjoy being around. In a city populated by millions, why is it so fucking hard to find another good one?
As if the mere thought of Sharlo conjured her, I spot the top half of her blonde head making its way through the crowd toward the bar. If I weren’t so jealous that she’s starting a family, I’d bust a gut laughing at the way she waddles now that she’s far into the third trimester of her pregnancy.
Nudging Theo’s arm, I say, “I’ll be right back. Stick around and I’ll buy you and your friends a round of drinks while we catch up some more.”
“Alright, brother,” Theo answers, knocking his knuckles against my raised fist.
As I close in on Sharlo, now perched on one of the bar stools, I stop dead in my tracks. Sofia Kendall stands wedged in-between a few guys waiting to put their orders in with one of the waitresses. Navy wool coat draped over her arm, she glances around the bar, her gaze relaxed and curious. With her pale blonde hair swept into a neat knot low on the back of her head, the delicate features of her neck and chin are on clear display. She’s a total knockout.
Not only that, but the woman knows how to dress to impress in a tasteful sapphire dress that showcases her curvy body without being tacky and showing off too much of her tits. In her no-nonsense attitude alone it seems she made the right career choice by becoming an attorney. Her bright blue eyes are as intimidating as the way she carries herself, shoulders taut and chin high, but it seems something about her has changed since I had the pleasure of seeing her last.
Two summers ago, I met Sofia just moments after she arrived at Evelyn and Charlie’s beach house in the Hamptons. We didn’t have the best introduction—not only did I knock her into the bushes, but she insinuated that I was a playboy and gave me a cold shoulder. It was hardly an hour later when Sharlo was struck down by some psychotic driver with a grudge against her father. Sofia was there to witness it happen and somehow took on the burden of the accident, saying it was her fault. I never got all the details even though we spent countless hours together in the ER, waiting for Sharlo to wake from a coma.
Sofia leaned on me both literally and emotionally, but there wasn’t time for any meaningful conversation and it was shit timing to make any kind of move. Her internship forced her to leave before I had the chance to grow a pair and see if there was something between us worth exploring. Of course I would meet someone with potential who lived way the hell down in Texas. Bright, beautiful, no-nonsense, sophisticated, driven, she has the potential to be everything I could want in a woman.
The low burn in my balls from earlier returns when I take another sweeping glance at her figure. How the fuck did I forget that Sharlo told me she’d be coming to visit for the baby shower? But isn’t that in a few weeks? Hell, I don’t know dates without looking at my phone.
Scolding myself to man-up, I finish the distance between myself and the women, stopping to scratch my fingertips inside Sharlo’s thick hair.
“Surprised to see you here,” I say.
“Merely because I’m as unsightly as a blowfish in heat doesn’t mean I’m unable to show my future sister-in-law a good time. But trust me when I say you don’t want to know what I’d do for a shot of whiskey at this point.” My friend turns to me with a sideways smirk before kissing my cheek. With a glow to her cobalt eyes, she taps Sofia on the shoulder. “Love, you remember my mate, Nolan?”
Even though I keep the bar’s lighting dim enough to help everyone relax and unwind, I swear I see a flush fill Sofia’s cheeks when she looks over her shoulder from a few feet away. Not the kind of reaction I’d expect from the hard-nosed law student I met once upon a time.
Fuck. I forgot how irresistible I found her. Her body felt so soft and delicate against mine as she slept in a hospital chair at my side, her silky hair draped over my arm and her jasmine scent driving me wild. It was like having a fucking steak dangled in front of my face. And not just any steak—a filet mignon aged to perfection.
“Yes, of course.” She recovers with a graceful smile. “How are you, Nolan?”
For a split second I consider throwing her the line, “better now that you’re here,” but think better of it. Someone as polished as Sofia Kendall wouldn’t appreciate the lame attempt at humor. She may be the only woman I’ve met who’s completely out of my league for countless reasons.
“I’m doing well,” I answer with a solid smile, jamming my fingers inside my jeans pockets when it’s clear she won’t be offering her hand any time soon. “Welcome back to the city.”
I wave a hand over my head to grab Hope’s attention from behind the bar and point at Sofia, signaling her drink will be on the house. Hope, the bar’s manager Grams hired right before her memory started to fail, wiggles her eyebrows suggestively before dipping her chin with understanding.
I look away, grumbling to myself. It never fucking fails. Whenever there’s a good-looking woman in my presence, I have to endure constant shit from my staff.
“It appears this Chloe has drawn a brilliant crowd,” Sharlo comments, scanning the sea of people. Then her humored expression swings to me as she quirks one brow. “Did you acquire her number?”
One of the biggest problems with having a woman as a best friend? Sharlo doesn’t forget a single fucking thing. When I first caught word of Chloe a while back and looked her up on social media, I had mentioned in so many words I thought she was hot.
Grinding my teeth together, I say, “You know that’s not an option.”
Sofia turns with a martini in hand, beautiful blue eyes wide. “Don’t tell me you’re still single.”
I bristle, not ready to tell her the truth. I’m not even sure I know the fucking truth at this point.
Another dark flush fills Sofia’s face. “I didn’t intend for that to come out as snarky. I simply meant…”
Biting down on my lips, I hold back a chuckle. Even though she irritated me with the single comment, it’s still sexy to see her vulnerable side come out.
“No worries, love,” Sharlo intervenes with a smirk. She leans back on the stool to stroke her swollen belly. “You’re not the first to question how such a handsome bloke has flown under radar for so long without snagging a bird in his undercarriage.” Though I’m subtly warning her with a glance to stop, she continues on. “This bar has become his mistress of sorts. He merely fails to understand that life can exist beyond these four walls.”
Sharlo’s like the little sister I would’ve had if my parents had created yet another inconvenient screw-up, but times like this I wish she’d think before opening her mouth. Resisting the urge to chew her a new one with the familiar “Team Nolan” speech, I stab my thumb over my shoulder.
“I need to head back to the stage before Chloe starts up again,” I tell them. “I was catching up with an old buddy from my Recon unit and said I’d only be a minute.” I offer a friendly smile to Sofia. “It was good to see you again. I hope the city treats you well while you’re here.”
Wow, that was slick. What am I, the fucking ambassador for New York? All I know is the way Sofia looks at me with those sparkling blue eyes does things to my head that I don’t have time for when she’s only in town for a short while. Besides, I have no business thinking about her that way. I need to get the fuck outta here before I say something really asinine that will bite me in the ass later.
“I’m staying in New York,” she blurts. “I mean…permanently.”
When I frown and shake my head, waiting for her to clarify, she simply stares back at me, clearing her throat. I could stand back and watch her squirm all day. Something tells me it doesn’t happen that often, and it’s fucking hilarious.
“Sofia has accepted a transfer with Anisten and Behr to their office in Manhattan,” Sharlo cuts in. “New York just acquired the country’s best up-and-coming corporate lawyer.”
“I was under the impression you had an aversion to this city,” I tease Sofia with a quirked eyebrow, hoping she can’t see the excitement I’m trying like hell to contain. “Last time I saw you, it seemed you couldn’t blow out of here soon enough.”
With a coy smile that lights her eyes, she tells me, “I decided there’s no use fighting it. First Evelyn moves here, then James…seems everyone in my family is destined to live in The Big Apple.”
Sharlo throws me a predictable—nonetheless still incredibly annoying—wink. “She’s staying with us until she finds a rental. Perhaps you could help her find something reasonable in your neighborhood. Tribeca is quite lovely. I imagine you’d fancy taking a break one day this week to provide her with a proper tour.”
Hell yes I’d like to give her a tour. The idea of spending time alone with Sofia has me so adrenalized that I stutter on a reply. “I can—I mean, I could—”
“You don’t have to,” Sofia insists, holding one hand up as her shoulders square. She’s so damn sure of herself that it’s easy to envision her taking charge in the courtroom…and in bed. “The firm hired a realtor to assist me. I’ll do just fine on my own.”
“Shar’s right, I could use a break,” I say. “I’ve spent my entire life in Manhattan. If you want someone to show you around the city, I’m your man.”
All at once, slender fingers wrap around my wrist and I’m met with the familiar, peppery perfume that I swear to god I’ve formed an allergy to. I flinch when thin lips press to my cheek. Why did she have to fucking kiss me in front of Sofia?
“Correction, you’re my man,” Avery says possessively. Her intense green eyes immediately narrow on Sofia. “Who’s this?”
Other books in The Kendall Family Series
Brooklyn Rockstar The Kendall Family #1
Add to Goodreads HERE
Midwest Fighter The Kendall Family #2
Add to Goodreads HERE
Jennifer Ann is the pen name used by Jen Naumann when writing steamy romance novels with complex love stories. Like her characters, she's in love with the city of New York, rock concerts, and Marines. Sometimes you can catch her driving a tractor alongside her husband in southern Minnesota while trying to keep up with the madness of their four active children.
The whole world might be in love with him. But all he’s ever loved is her.
Grant Turner’s name is synonymous with football. The fans and media can’t get enough of the player known as The Invincible Man, a nickname he earned while growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country and the nickname he’s kept by being one of the best players in professional football today. No one can take him down. He’s unstoppable.
But even a suit of armor has its weak point, and Grant’s has always been Ryan Hale.
They were a couple of kids when they fell in love, and just when it looked like the happy ending neither expected was within reach, Ryan disappeared. No explanations. No good-byes.
Grant coped by throwing himself into the game for seven years, and he’s finally moved on. Or so he thinks.
When she walks back into his life, all of those feelings come crashing back, despite the warnings in his head that tell him she’ll leave him again. Grant can withstand the league’s toughest defensive line, but he’s always been weak where she’s concerned.
No man can take Grant Turner down.
But one woman certainly can.
One woman will.
ONE MOMENT YOU’RE soaring. The next one, you’re touching down, scraping rock bottom.
I never planned on coming back here. The day I fled The Clink was both freeing and debilitating for a multitude of reasons I had no interest in revisiting. It had been the only home I’d ever known. It had housed the only people I’d ever loved. Still, I knew when I left seven years ago, I’d never be able to come back. That was the way it would have to be.
So why was I coming back now?
For another multitude of reasons I had no choice but to respect. That was what I kept reminding myself of as I turned onto the block that had been the one beacon of hope in this urban heart of darkness. Juniper Avenue was the official name, but all of us kids had only known it as Aunt May’s.
All of us kids who’d grown up in one of the prison-like subsidized housing complexes stretched across the one-square-mile stretch of land known as The Clink. It was one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country—violence the way of the land, drugs the currency of the kingdom. Murder, domestic violence, drug use, unemployment, ex-cons—The Clink was known for every last one of them.
It was basically a cesspool of humanity. My childhood home.
If it hadn’t been for Aunt May, I never would have escaped The Clink. If it weren’t for her, none of us would have. That was why I’d come back. For her. To say good-bye.
But I’d also come back to see him. To say what had been seven years coming.
Aunt May’s funeral was my chance to make my peace with the dead. And the living.
Just thinking about confronting him made my hands tremble, which made trying to squeeze my old Toyota into the parking spot tricky. As expected, the streets around Aunt May’s house were packed. Everyone from the corner drunk to the mayor knew who Aunt May was and would want to pay their respects to the person she’d been.
The lives she’d saved from these streets couldn’t be counted on a hundred sets of hands. I was just one of those lives. He was one of the others.
Even though he lived thousands of miles away now, I knew he’d be here tonight. I needed him to be here tonight because I’d run out of options, and one day, I’d run out of time too.
Typically these streets were not a place a woman wanted to roam on her own at night, but tonight, I wasn’t worried. Tonight, in honor of this woman, the streets would be at peace. Tonight, the gangs would set aside their turf wars, and the criminals would play nice. It was The Clink’s version of an armistice.
After locking my car, I forced myself to take each step that brought me closer to Aunt May’s house. Each one became harder to take, until the one that would lead me up her front walk felt impossible.
The sight of her house hit me harder than I’d expected. It looked exactly the same, from the lace curtains hanging in the windows, to the beds where her rose bushes had been put to rest for the season. Flowers didn’t grow in The Clink—mainly because people didn’t have any disposable income to spend on them or any patience to tend to them—but they grew here. They had always grown here, and something about realizing that now that Aunt May was gone, that might change, made my eyes burn.
The house was packed with so many bodies, people were starting to trickle out onto the front porch. There was music playing in the background, friends were catching up, lovers were embracing, and it looked more like a summer party than a fall funeral. But that was the way Aunt May would have wanted it. She wouldn’t have wanted people to mourn her death—she would have wanted them to celebrate their own lives.
From the looks of it, she’d gotten her way.
Despite the dread clawing up my throat, a smile started to journey into place as I watched the scene before me. That first step onto hallowed ground became possible, and before I knew it, I was crossing the threshold of the front door.
A few people nodded at me in passing, but it was too dark outside for recognition to settle into the brief exchange. I knew that would change when I stepped into the light of the house.
How right I was.
I could practically feel the whoosh of air crash over me as it felt like every head in the room twisted my way when I stepped inside Aunt May’s house for the first time in seven years. Some of the faces I recognized, some I didn’t, but it felt like every person recognized me. I was met with everything from eyes filled with accusation to brows raised in judgment, but I knew I deserved it.
I hadn’t just been another one of the many children Aunt May set a warm meal in front of or provided a safe haven when there was no other safe place. I’d been one of her favorites.
If you asked her, she’d say she loved all of us the same, but certain ones of us had been labeled her favorites. The truth of it was, it wasn’t because Aunt May held any more affection for us than the others; us “favorites” were the ones whose home lives were the most fucked up. The ones who spent more time with Aunt May than the rest because going back to our shithole apartment in one of The Clink’s Tower Apartment Complexes felt like playing a game of Russian Roulette each day.
So yeah, I’d been deemed one of Aunt May’s favorites because my childhood had come right out of the Fucked Up Guidebook. He’d been one of her supposed favorites too, for the exact same reason. That was a big part of the reason we’d bonded as kids. Our connection had been forged in the fires of a proverbial hell on earth. Our bond built by our shared struggle to survive.
We’d all paid a price for reaching adulthood. For some of us, the cost had been our innocence. For others, it was our soul.
My price for being here today was both. And more.
As my inspection moved from one person to the next, I felt my heart crawl higher into my throat, knowing he was close. Feeling he was close.
That was when I saw him. He was in the middle of the living room, surrounded by a crowd of people and towering even more above the mob than I remembered. It had been seven years since I’d last seen Grant Turner. An entire lifetime had passed in that time. But instead of feeling the anesthetization seven years should have tempered the pain with, the sting felt seven seconds fresh.
Time hadn’t dulled the pain; it had clearly only sharpened it.
I’d barely had a moment to brace myself for the onslaught of feelings that came at me from seeing him again, before his head finally followed the direction most of the others in the room had taken. Right toward me.
His jaw set the moment he saw me, his posture going rigid the moment after that. Clearly, time had not eased any of his pain from my betrayal either.
Then, as quickly as his attention had fallen on me, it fell away. He angled himself so his back was to me, putting up what I hoped wasn’t an impenetrable wall between us. I knew leaving the way I did must have hurt him. I knew it had to have confused and angered and betrayed him . . . but it had been seven years. Grant Turner wasn’t the same boy struggling on the streets of The Clink. His name was known by millions, his life a true Cinderella story. The troubled boy from The Clink became the man whose name was synonymous with professional football.
His life had gone from microscopic to all-encompassing. I’d assumed he’d buried what had happened between us in some unmarked grave and forgotten about it and me years ago. I’d come prepared to remind him of who I was and then bridge the reason why I was back, but I had not come prepared to take on a scorned lover. I’d come equipped to explain myself, not to defend myself, but from the look on his face just now, I’d have to do both.
Following his lead, most of the people in the room got back to doing what they had been before I showed up, seeming as content to ignore me as he was.
My arm curled around my stomach like it was trying to keep me from breaking in half. Too much. Too fast.
What had I been thinking, coming back after all this time? After the way I’d left? After the way I’d hurt Aunt May and Grant with my abrupt disappearance? What I had to tell him would be difficult to tell a closest confidant—how was I supposed to explain it to someone who clearly couldn’t stand me being in the same room as him? How could I expect him to listen to what I had to say once I worked up the courage to voice it?
I looked over my shoulder, eyeing the door I’d just come through with a bit too much longing. I couldn’t leave. I’d come to make peace, and I was going to do just that. No matter how much it cost me.
That was when I felt an arm slide through one of mine, as someone started to lead me into the kitchen. “Welcome to The Pariah Club. Your membership card’s in the mail. Here’s a new member tip—if it feels like everyone in the room is silently judging you, it’s because they are.”
The voice was familiar, and when I matched it with the equally familiar face, I nudged my fellow pariah in the side. “How much are the annual dues?”
Cruz tapped his chin a few times as he steered us through the herd of people that had overflowed into the kitchen. “Just your dignity, self-respect, and faith in humanity.”
I felt a smile surfacing. Cruz’s gift of making people smile had transferred into adulthood. “What a bargain.”
After Cruz had steered us into a somewhat private spot in the kitchen, he crossed his arms and waited with an expectant look on his face. I wasn’t sure what he was waiting for, but that might have been because I was still reeling from being plunged so suddenly into my past.
“So?” he prompted, rolling his hand a few times at me. “Are you going to explain what happened seven years ago, or are you just hoping I’ll be content to pick up right where we left off?”
My forehead creased. “Kinda hoping we can just pick up where we left off.”
Cruz looked like he was considering that for a minute, which gave me the opportunity to catch my breath. Confronting The Clink, Aunt May’s house, and Grant all within the same five-minute span made me feel like the room was spinning. Not to mention the eyes I kept feeling zeroing in on me—everyone’s thoughts were almost as loud as their words.
At least with Cruz, I knew I was safe from the judgment. Safe because he’d been a lightning rod for it, growing up as one of the few openly gay kids in The Clink. Being one of the only out-of-the-closet gay boys living in a neighborhood where testosterone and overt male bravado ruled the streets hadn’t been easy for him. He’d survived it though, his humor and ability to laugh at himself his saving grace.
“Lucky for you, I’m one of those people who’s okay with forgiving and forgetting. Even when a good friend bails without so much as a good-bye or an occasional call to let her worried-sick friends know she’s okay.” Cruz’s brow carved higher into his forehead. “But I know someone who isn’t so into the forgive-and-forget philosophy.”
My gaze followed Cruz’s into the living room, where it was impossible to miss Grant’s imposing frame. His back was still to me, almost like he was acutely aware of where I was and determined to keep his back pointed my way.
My shoulders fell. Once upon a time, we’d been each other’s everything, and now, I felt as though we had nothing left of what had been so grand and beautiful. “He was really angry with me, wasn’t he?”
“Oh, cupcake, angry is for guys who wear polo shirts and walk miniature doggies. Angry is not for the likes of Grant Turner.”
Cruz and I exchanged a look. The realm of average human emotion had never been quite appropriate for Grant Turner. From the time he’d moved to The Clink with his dad all of those years ago, I’d known that. There’d been an intensity about him, a spirit that wound deeper into his core than most.
“So you’re saying he was really angry after I left?”
Cruz smiled tightly, patting my arm a few times. “He was the human equivalent of Chernobyl. How about we leave it at that because that’s as fitting of a metaphor as I’m capable of right now?”
My heart ached as I imagined the pain I’d caused him—for the one-millionth goddamn time. “That was forever ago. He’s moved past it, I’m sure.”
“Sure, sure,” Cruz agreed, waving in Grant’s direction. “Just look how at moved on past it he is.”
My eyes stung from watching how Grant seemed to prefer the company of everyone besides me. It felt like yesterday when the opposite had been true. I wouldn’t cry though, no matter how badly my eyes burned. I’d dried myself out years ago.
“I never meant to hurt him,” I whispered. “I never meant to hurt any of you.”
Cruz wound his arm through mine again. “I know that. Aunt May knew that. Hell, even Grant knew that.” Cruz paused, his face turning toward mine. “But that doesn’t mean you didn’t hurt us.”
My body leaned into his, almost like I needed his support because I was unable to stay upright on my own. It was odd the way our roles had shifted. Back then, it had been Grant and me who Cruz leaned on for support, and now, I was leaning on him.
“I’m sorry.” My words came out louder than I’d intended, drawing the attention of a few people close by.
If Cruz noticed my louder-than-needed apology, he didn’t show it. “Apology accepted.” His arm wound around my back when my head dropped to his shoulder.
“Do you think apologizing to Grant will be that easy?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer.
“Has anything been easy where Grant Turner and you are concerned?” I didn’t have to give that a moment’s consideration.
“No. Nothing ever has been.”
It never would be either.
Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.
I dropped to one knee and stared at the little boy who looked like he might be sleeping amongst the dust and debris. Brushing off the bits of rock and rubble from his face, I picked him up and hugged him close. Despite all my prayers, I knew deep in my heart he was dead, like all the others in this God forsaken mess that surrounded me.
“Declan. We’ve got to go.” Brannon’s voice seemed distant.
Something red and blue caught my eye. It was a little stuffed horse. Had it been the boy’s? Goddammit, be careful, you’ll drop him. Regaining my balance on the cement fragments, I bent down and picked up the toy and put it on the child’s chest, cuddling both of them closer to my heart.
The little boy had lived in this house, one of three destroyed in one fell swoop, killing innocent women and children. The damn headdress obscured my vision for a moment, or was something else in my eyes? I saw something move towards me. Men with shovels, running and shouting. After a moment, I understood them. They were right. Maybe there were survivors. I could help look, or at least help dig out the remaining bodies.
A warm hand touched my shoulder. I turned, it was Brannon Dodge. “We’ve got to go.”
“I did this.”
“No. No, you didn’t. Dec, we’ve got to go.” The body of the little boy was cooling in my arms despite the heat surrounding us. He would never grow up. Never go to school. Never become a man.
“We’ve got to leave the country,” Brannon insisted.
“I’m not leaving.” There was no way I was going back to the US. I’d help these men bury their loved ones. If they realized I was an American, so be it. I deserved whatever happened. The intelligence provided by one of my men had done this. Death would be welcome.
Brannon called out loudly in their native tongue, “Whose son is this?” A crowd of men swarmed and one sobbed.
“My boy. My boy.” The man trembled as I carefully placed the precious bundle into his arms, making sure the stuffed horse stayed with him. He wailed loudly in his grief, as people huddled around him, trying to offer sympathy. Brannon grabbed at my arm. I was just too tired to pull away.
Step after step he dragged me. I couldn’t help myself, I kept looking backwards at the devastation I’d wrought. Homes that an hour ago had held happiness, joy, and dreams of a future.
“Let me go, Brannon. I need to stay.” I jerked away.
“Not going to happen, major.”
So fucking tired. How many days had we been there? We’d been weeding through leads and chasing our tails for what seemed like forever. The team had been shot at, stabbed, and now this. Laird was barely hanging on and had been sent to Germany.. My thoughts sent the bile rushing into my mouth and I doubled over losing the little bit of food I’d eaten that morning. Brannon stood there, then I made a run for it
“Declan, they’ll figure out you’re an American. You’ll be killed, or worse.”
I turned to tell him to shut up, and met his fist. It all went dark.
You want to know about me? I believe in three things: loyalty to my friends, helping those in need and
the end justifies the means.
Declan (Shadow Alliance Book One) by Caitlyn O’Leary
releases October 26th!
Pre-order your copy at the following retailers:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2dWDWUO
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2dQqCnY
Some serious shit went down when I was in the Army. I mean brutal. After my last tour, I created the Shadow Alliance. Me and my team know how to get things done, and will take on all those jobs that others won’t. My name is Declan McAllister and when it comes to keeping people safe, I’m your man. Mess with me and I will rain hell-fire on you like you’ve never experienced before.
Few things get my motor running like beauty and brains. Okay, a nice ass doesn’t hurt either. Getting a chance to work with FBI Agent Allison Davies, who is the whole package, normally would be great, except when she followed my butt down to the flood ravaged country of Paraguay to track down a traitor, and ends up putting her career on the line.
Now here we are attempting to keep things professional, but the more I watch Allison pour her heart and soul into this case, the more I want to see what that same passion would be like between the sheets.
Caitlyn O'Leary is an avid reader, and considers herself a fan first and an author second. She reads a wide variety of genres, but finds herself going back to happily-ever-afters. Getting a chance to write, after years in corporate America is a dream come true. She hopes that her stories provide the kind of entertainment and escape that she has found from some of her favorite authors.
Her Series Include:
It's a bit Paranormal, a bit Sci-Fi and 100% Action/Adventure. The characters have special abilities, that make them targets.
This is focused on a group of Navy Seals. What makes them special is their bond to one another, and the women they come to love.
This is the series that started her career, it is a Menage Series that takes place in Fate Harbor Washington. It focuses on a tight knit community who live and love and care for one another.
Stalk Her: Website, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.
He was going to kill his best friend. He was literally going to fucking kill him.
The party was buzzing and so was Caleb’s brain. He didn’t know the time, but it had to be somewhere around 3 AM, and anger was simmering just below the surface.
He was thankful it was winding down and most of the guests had already left because he was agitated and pensive. The few who lingered were all part of his best friend, Dex’s, crowd. He knew Jake and Bret because they were part of the same group he used to hang with when he was younger, but there were several new faces.
Caleb had been hell-bent on making his father’s life a living hell. Dex and his friends were rough, tough, and tattooed. They walked a fine line between right and wrong; more unruly and wild than the preppy crowd that went to the private high school his father demanded he attend. However, that was sort of the point. The three other guys and two women that remained he’d never met prior to this evening when they’d shown up with his old friend.
Hard to believe how much could change in four years. Look at Wren.
His eyes had been unwillingly glued to her all night, stalking her every move.
The beer in his hand was probably the sixth he’d had in less than two hours, but he wasn’t drunk. The time at home had been a combination of heaven and hell. He’d been dying to see Wren and they’d had some great times together in the week he’d been back in Denver, but the familiar aches in his heart and groin hadn’t magically abated during their time apart. He silently chastised himself for being foolish enough to think that it would ease as she grew into a woman. His breath left his chest in a loud sigh.
Sure, the alcohol was giving him a buzz, but it wasn't enough to kill the burn in his gut or the pressure in his chest as he watched Dex put the moves on Wren. Caleb had asked him to watch out for her in his absence; but Dex was supposed to protect her, not want her. No one fucking wanted her as much as Caleb had wanted her, or for as long. He’d been tortured with wanting her. He’d been tormented for years with it, but everyone thought of them as siblings. The very thought made Caleb’s stomach turn.
Someone was speaking to him, but he barely registered the sound of the female voice. His eyes were trained on Dex’s arms snaking around Wren’s back and waist, under the luxurious curtain of loose blonde curls that rained to just above her hips.
Caleb lifted the beer to his mouth and took a long pull. “Hmm?” he asked of the woman standing close to him as he sat, half-assed, on the back of a sofa. The music was blaring over the state-of-the-art stereo system, and he strained to hear her, but his eyes never left Wren.
“So this is your last year at MIT? Dex said you two were gonna start some sort of motorcycle company together. That’s so cool. My dad is part of an MC.”
Dex’s dad, Darren, had a shop and he had learned a shit load from the two of them; and more importantly, they’d become like family in the years after Caleb lost his mother. Darren was a stand-up guy who’d never abandon his kid, and Caleb envied the close relationship Dex shared with his father. Sure, he was a laborer and Edison Luxon had a successful corporation, but in Caleb’s eyes, Darren was the better man. He had ten times the respect for him.
Caleb met Dex at a high school wrestling meet when Caleb was thirteen and Dex was fifteen, and the two of them had become friends. Caleb spent as much time as possible at Darren’s shop and with Dex’s family, as he could. Dex was sort of a wild child, and his parents were less strict than Edison was, but there was a strong sense of mutual respect in their family.
Caleb and Dex hadn’t been angels growing up, but at least, Dex could count on his parents to have his back. It was completely unlike the abandonment that Caleb felt from Edison. Most of the time, Caleb acted out just to get his father’s attention. It hardly ever worked. Edison would deliver a cold lecture, calmly deal with the situation by paying someone off, and then forget about his son until the next time he got into trouble. Caleb had come to the conclusion that the only thing he could do was get the hell away from his father as soon as he was eighteen. Somehow even that got fucked up.
“Yeah. We’ve talked about it for a long time, that’s why I’m studying mechanical engineering. It’s not that easy; we’re both dead broke, and his Dad’s shop can’t spare him right now. A lot has to happen first,” Caleb answered.
“But…” the young woman began, waving her hand around at the expensive surroundings. “It looks like your family is rich—”
Caleb cut her off. “Don’t get excited, honey. These are my old man’s digs, not mine.” He huffed. The only reason he even came home, ever, was because of Wren. The music changed to a slow, deep rhythm.
“But this place…”
“Yeah. My dad is swimming in it, but hell will freeze over before I’d ask him for a damn thing. He’d just hold it over my head for the rest of my life, or at least, the rest of his.” He could elaborate that his father was a control freak, or explain the reason he hated Edison so much, but he’d most likely never see her again. So, what was the point? Besides, he was preoccupied with what was happening across the room.
Caleb glanced down at the woman for the first time since their conversation began. She had hair so dark it looked black in the dim light. Her make-up was overdone making her skin tone a deep tan, and her clothing was tight and cheap. She was a sharp contrast to Wren’s natural, blonde beauty. Caleb tried to remember the name Dex had mentioned when he’d introduced her earlier.
Was it Marie? He wracked his brain. Maryann? Michelle? He knew it was an “M” name, but not sure exactly what. Fuck!
Movement in his peripheral vision made his eyes return to Dex and Wren. Aside from the girl at his side, everyone else was playing pool on the other half of the big room, except for the one couple dancing. Caleb’s chest was tight as he tried to breathe; it physically fucking hurt to watch.
Dex was pulling Wren close, pressing her against him and they were swaying softly to the song. Wren seemed to be enjoying herself. Her head was tilted up to look at Dex; she was smiling alluringly. She was so beautiful when she was happy. How could she keep getting more fucking beautiful every time he saw her?
Wren laid her head on Dex’s shoulder, her hands slipping up around his neck, clearly losing herself. She had just turned eighteen a month earlier, but Caleb was sure she’d had a drink or two; which was enough to make her less inhibited.
Caleb swallowed. He was mesmerized, unable to look away from the two of them. It was nothing short of torture knowing it was impossible for him to touch her the same way Dex was able to. Not only was she the daughter of his father’s second wife, she was younger by close to three years. Sure, he could protect her from that abusive bitch. He could spend time with her. He could even fantasize about her, but that’s where it stopped. Even though Wren had developed a kind of crush on him at first, he’d never considered they could be more. He loved her. He’d always loved her, but he’d always considered her off limits.
He tried to keep making small talk with the girl whose name he couldn’t remember. He nursed what was left of his beer, until he caught sight of Dex’s hand sliding down over Wren’s ass to the hem of her dress and then creep up slightly; underneath.
Caleb's eyes narrowed and adrenaline started to flood his veins abruptly clearing the alcohol haze. Suddenly the music was deafening. The beat was pounding in his head like a hammer; the dim light flickering with the beat. It was getting brighter with each hit of the base drum.
“It looks like Dex likes your little sister.”
Caleb’s nostrils flared, and the skin of his face felt as if it was lit on fire. He ran a quick hand over the scruff on his jaw trying to alleviate it. The girl reached out to touch his muscled bicep.
Caleb clenched his teeth. “Wren isn’t my sister.”
The girl rolled her eyes. “Whatever. Stepsister then. Same diff.”
No. It wasn’t the same thing, not even close. If the “M” girl sensed Caleb’s irritation, she didn’t show it.
His instincts made his muscles coil, and it was all he could do not to fly across the room and pummel his best friend down to the floor. He still fought in the occasional underground fight club, but he was in even better shape now. The boxing club at MIT was official, and kept him lean and honed. He could still beat the shit out of anyone who challenged him. He could probably do it even easier than before, and right now; he wanted to pound Dex into the fucking ground.
Didn’t he know how Caleb felt about Wren?
When Dex’s hand rose higher under Wren’s dress, his intent to grab her ass full on, Caleb couldn’t stand still any longer. He dropped his beer and the glass bottle broke with a loud crash on the hardwood floor; making the girl beside him jump.
“Party’s over,” Caleb growled deeply.
The girl looked dumbstruck as Caleb left her standing there and moved quickly across the room to shut down the music.
“Party’s over!” he said, louder this time; shouting so he would be heard over the music.
Dex and Wren split apart when the music stopped abruptly and everyone in the room was staring in Caleb’s direction with blank looks on their faces. However, they sat down their drinks, and began putting on their coats.
Dex’s hand slid down Wren’s arm and his fingers closed around her hand, as he took a couple of steps toward his friend. “What’s up, man? Why? The house is empty.”
Caleb met his eyes unflinchingly. “I’m tired. Everyone out.” Caleb’s tone was low but the only sound in the silent room. “Now.”
Dex looked incredulous, and shook his head. “Why Caleb?”
Caleb continued to stare him down, his eyes menacing. “I said; I’m tired.” He was livid and he didn’t even understand why he was so fucking pissed off. Shit, if he’d been dancing with a beautiful girl he was into, he’d probably have copped a feel too.
Wren pulled her hand from Dex’s grip and walked to Caleb, looking up into his face. She looked so damn innocent, her brilliant blue eyes wide. “Cale, what’s going on? We were only dancing.”
Caleb looked down into her face, his eyes softening at the confused look in her blue eyes, and his thumb lifting her chin briefly. “Stay here.”
The others, sensing the palpable tension between Dex and Caleb had already started to file up the stairs to the outside door. Caleb nodded in the direction of Bret, who was waiting for the two girls to precede him up the stairs, then followed.
“I don’t get it, Caleb. I mean, what the hell?” He took two steps in Wren’s direction.
“You don’t have to get it,” Caleb commanded, nodding at the stairwell. “You just have to get the fuck out of here.”
Dex looked pissed, then glanced down at Wren. “You wanna come with?” he asked Wren.
Caleb shook his head once and in one second had moved in front of Wren, to separate her from Dex. “She stays.” His tone insisted compliance.
“Caleb, this makes no sense, man. We were having a good time dancing.”
“Yeah, I saw,” Caleb hissed. The fingers on his right hand began curling into a fist at his side, and he had to mentally insist it didn’t fly and punch Dex right there. “I want to talk to you. Outside.”
Dex’s eyes widened. Suddenly he understood. Definitely, he made a move in Wren’s direction, intending to kiss her full on the mouth just to piss Caleb off, but Wren, sensing it wouldn’t help the situation between the two men, backed up even further behind Caleb.
She’d danced with Dex and purposefully let him get a little too familiar with her because she felt hurt that Caleb was letting Michelle monopolize him on his last night in town. However, she didn’t intend for the two of them to out and out brawl, and she didn’t see it coming. She would have preferred spending the evening alone with Caleb; talking, driving around, or watching a movie together; but it hadn’t been her choice.
“Unless you want to die, I suggest you get the fuck out! Now!” Caleb seethed.
Anger flooded through Dex, as well. His friend was overstepping. He didn’t do anything wrong, and he’d be damned if he’d cower to Caleb’s jealousy.
“Just go, Dex. Go on,” Wren implored, peering at him from behind Caleb’s solid form. Caleb was poised to strike, and Wren could feel his anger vibrate in the air around them like electricity.
Dex was built; lean and strong, but Caleb was a competitive boxer and formidable; he easily had thirty pounds of muscle on Dex. Wren didn’t want Dex getting pummeled or Caleb regretting his actions afterward, which she was certain he would. They’d been friends for as long as she’d known them both and the last thing she wanted was to see their friendship ruined.
She mentally kicked herself for leading Dex on. She was confused by Caleb’s sudden anger, but it made her heart trip around in her chest at the same time. She felt excitement at the prospect he might be jealous making her own adrenalin flow.
Wren liked Dex and he’d taken great pains to fill Caleb’s shoes after he left, but no one could ever take Caleb’s place. Wren had been in love with Caleb for years, but he was older and not once had she imagined he’d reciprocate her feelings. Even now, habit made her push down that daydream.
He was just acting like the protective older brother, as he had since the day he found out about her mother’s treatment of her. He’d changed her life, and that was the beginning of her hero worship. Before she knew it, her schoolgirl crush had eventually matured and grown into full-blown love.
Dex turned and pulled on his leather jacket. He started to climb the stairs with Caleb following closely behind, leaving Wren standing in the middle of the big room, alone. “I’ll be back in a minute,” Caleb said over his shoulder as he left.
Dex’s motorcycle was the only one left in the wide driveway at the back of the house in front of the five-stall garage, signaling that everyone else had already gone.
Before Dex could say a word, Caleb used both of his hands to give Dex’s shoulders a forceful shove that sent him stumbling and falling backward into his bike. The machine fell over with the loud clang of metal bashing against the pavement, and leaving Dex sprawled face-up over it.
“What the fuck were you doing touching her like that? Wren is off-limits! You were supposed to protect her, not try to get in her pants! Have you touched her before this?”
“Son of a bitch!” Dex shouted. “You just wrecked my bike! You’re gonna pay for that!”
“Answer me!” Caleb’s chest was heaving. “What’s going on between you two?”
Dex scrambled to sit up, pushed his weight up off the fallen motorcycle with his hands, and lunged at Caleb without answering; hitting him hard in the middle with his shoulder. Caleb grunted as the breath was forced from his lungs. He stumbled backward but didn’t fall. He pushed Dex back and soon the two were going at each other with fists swinging. Caleb took a hit on the jaw, pain exploding in his face, before he managed to land a hard right hook to Dex’s temple. He followed it with a solid left upper cut to his jaw.
Dex fell backward, hard onto the pavement, and landed with a guttural grunt.
“What the hell is your problem? For Christ’s sake, Caleb, we’re friends!”
Caleb looked down at Dex, his breathing heavy from the exertion of the fight, the fight with his emotions getting the better of him. “Yeah, but friend or not, touch her again and I swear I’ll mother fucking kill you!”
“Wren isn’t fifteen anymore, Caleb!” Dex returned, out of breath and moving to get to his feet. “She’s an adult and she doesn’t need big brother’s permission to dance with me.”
If anyone was painfully aware of Wren’s age and how she’d blossomed into a gorgeous and graceful young woman, it was Caleb.
“I saw what you were doing, and dancing was the last thing on your goddamned mind! I could deal with a random guy; but not you. Anyone but you, Dex!”
Their eyes met and Dex could see the pain on his friend’s face. He’d watched Caleb come to Wren’s defense at school, with her mother, or anyone who made fun of her or hurt her for years. He should have seen that Wren was more to Caleb than he’d ever admitted. It was clear that brotherly was not how his friend felt about Wren. It was clear that it wouldn’t matter who was trying to get with her; Caleb wouldn’t take it well.
Dex nodded and put up his hand to keep Caleb from hitting him again, while he was down. “Okay, man. You should’ve said something.”
“You should’ve known.” Caleb’s brow was furrowed with a scowl firmly planted on his face. He turned his back and reentered the house, running his hand through his over-long hair, anger still pumping through his veins as he went down the backstairs to the lower level. He probably didn’t need another drink, but he wanted one. His body was still on fire, and his mind was raging at him. He took a deep breath, not sure what the confrontation with Wren was going to be like. She was sitting on one of the big recliners that were lined up in front of the big projection TV on one end of the room.
Caleb walked past her, between the theater set-up and the pool table to the wet bar along one side. Foregoing the beer in the full-sized refrigerator, he reached for a glass and the crystal decanter of amber liquid. It was his father’s expensive single malt scotch. He’d never liked that shit. He was feeling in need of something stronger, so he poured half the glass full and downed it in one big swallow. It burned all the way down; Caleb could feel it run down his esophagus and into his stomach, the heat leaving a trail that didn’t lessen the tightness in his chest.
He refilled the glass and turned, his gaze intense as it settled on Wren. The music was still off and Wren hadn’t said anything. Caleb had fought his desire for Wren for years. Ever since he’d seen her as she really was without that hideous disguise she always wore when she and her mother first moved in with the Luxon men. The scotch, along with the beer, might be impairing his judgment just a little, but damn, if she wanted to grow up; he’d help her.
His eyes seared over her body, taking in the short dress that left her legs bare and gave Dex easy access to her ass. Anger flared inside him again.
“I don’t understand you, Caleb—” Wren began, but he held up his hand to stop her. He took another swallow of the scotch then sat the glass down on the mahogany bar and walked purposely toward her.
She was amazingly beautiful, and he’d had enough fantasies about her to last a lifetime. He couldn’t resist the blonde curls that tumbled down her back to her waist. Her dancer’s body was slight and firm, her skin flawless and smooth. Caleb’s cock was already hard, but blood surged again, making it throb even more painfully inside his jeans.
Their eyes met and locked. Wren could sense a danger behind his eyes, a look that had never been directed at her. Her body quickened and heat pooled inside her at the intensity in his eyes as he slowly unbuttoned his white shirt. When he got to her he reached out and took both of her upper arms in his hands, forcefully pulling her up to stand in front of him, close enough to feel the heat radiating between them. She smelled amazing. Like spring flowers with a hint of vanilla. He leaned down and ran the tip of his nose from her shoulder, up the cord of her neck until his mouth was next to her ear.
He spoke in a guttural whisper. “You wanna play with the big boys? Then, play with me.”
The only had each other…
Until one forbidden night ruined everything.
This new sexy stand-alone STEPBROTHER
romance releases on October 25th.
Pre-order on iBooks here: http://apple.co/2dvHJce
**Additional retailers to follow**
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Add to your TBR at: http://bit.ly/2dgdEKY
STEPSISTER. He hated that f*cking word.
When their parents got married, the only thing Caleb Luxan had in common with Wren Brashill was that they both hated their parents. When he was sixteen, Caleb discovered Wren's closely guarded secret and vowed to protect her: from that day forward she became the reason for every decision he made.
Jealousy and long-suppressed desire overpowered Caleb's fierce protectiveness and they spent one forbidden and unforgettable night in each other arms, but the aftermath left Caleb panicked, Wren heartbroken, and their relationship in shambles. In the time since that fateful night, he’d only seen her once and had only managed to make the situation even worse.
The sudden death of his estranged father calls Caleb home and face-to-face with Wren for first time in years. He is presented with a choice that forces him to confront the painful memories of his youth and his many regrets with Wren.
Like it or not, his father's last, hard lesson, will demand Caleb deal with his long denied emotions for Wren, or let go of her forever.
About the Author: Kahlen Aymes
I'm a single mother of one daughter, Olivia. She's amazing in every way.
I was born in the Midwestern United States and educated at a private university where I received a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and Business Administration.
I've always been creative with art, music, theater and writing. I decided to write a story as a way to build a network for a business venture. The reader support of my stories and my overwhelming desire to find out where my characters would take me, soon had the writing morphing the business. No one was more shocked than I. When readers began nominating my work for online awards, it took my breath away and only made me love it more. It soon became clear that writing was, and should be, my focus.
Stalk Her: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Tiny flashes of dim light spark in the darkened corners of my mind. Slowly, it turns from dusk to dawn, awakening my thoughts as the inner light grows brighter and brighter.
I hear a sound, a faucet running, and I realize it’s the blood rushing through my ears. When it reaches my heart I choke as it comes back to life like a bass drum. Boom. BaBOOM it beats, on and on, until it falls into a quick yet steady rhythm. The new life inside me grows louder, stronger, until death fades away and I awake on a gasp.
My eyes spring open. I try to take in air, but nothing happens. I try again and my lungs burn as they finally decide to cooperate. I can breathe, but it hurts like a son of a bitch.
I’m fucking alive.
My first thoughts shock the shit out of me. They’re of a girl. A sad looking girl with shiny black hair and huge dark eyes sitting on the edge of the water tower.
My heart falls out of rhythm, beating faster and faster until it’s thrumming against my chest like the vibration of a jackhammer.
Although my vision is blurry as shit, my thoughts of her are clearer than they’d ever been, and for the first time in my adult life, I’m fucking scared.
I don’t even need to see the big motherfucker standing over me with a baseball bat to know I am completely and totally fucked.
Love. Never. Dies.
Find out why in Preppy by T.M. Frazier
releases on October 25th.
Pre-order your copy at the following retailers:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2cTDLel
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2dLPjxf
Samuel Clearwater, A.K.A Preppy, likes bowties, pancakes, suspenders, good friends, good times, good drugs, and a good f*ck.
He’s worked his way out from beneath a hellish childhood and is living the life he’s always imagined for himself. When he meets a girl, a junkie on the verge of ending it all, he’s torn between his feelings for her and the crippling fear that she could be the one to end the life he loves.
Andrea ‘Dre’ Capulet is strung out and tired.
Tired of living for her next fix. Tired of doing things that make her stomach turn. Tired of looking in the mirror at the reflection of the person she’s become. Just when she decides to end it all, she meets a man who will change the course of both their lives forever.
And their deaths.
For most people, death is the end of their story.
For Preppy and Dre, death was only the beginning.
This is the fifth book in the King Series and it's meant to be read after Soulless.
About the Author
T.M. (Tracey Marie) Frazier resides in sunny Southwest Florida with her husband and three feisty fur kids.
She attended Florida Gulf Coast University where she specialized in public speaking. After years working in real estate and new home construction, she decided it was finally time to stop pushing her dreams to the back burner and pursue writing seriously.
In the third grade she wrote her very first story about a lost hamster. It earned rave reviews from both her teacher and her parents.
It only took her twenty years to start the next one.
It will not be about hamsters.
Stalk Her: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads.
From the first beat of the song, I begin to sing every dang word to her, and she begins to laugh as I put on the bad boy front that everyone already believes. As verse two starts, I move in closer to her, and when he references the bad toy in the parking lot, I point to where my bike’s parked. She takes a step toward me, and I hope and pray that her dad is not looking because it’s about to get hot in here… quick. Chauna begins to sway her hips in rhythm with me and sing right along with me. As the final chorus plays, she looks over her shoulder and smiles as she turns to whisper into my ear.
“Walker, I wanna bad boy,” she says with a slight laugh. When the song ends, we wait for the next, and as I look toward the tables, I see Logan. It’s obvious he’s pissed, which isn’t what I need because I really wanted to be his friend.
As Jackson’s Wheel takes the stage again, we get a drink, and around eleven when the adults begin to show, we decide to head out to our spot. Once we get there, we don’t waste any time getting as close to each other as possible.
My hands find her skin, and she begins to laugh. “What’s so funny?” I ask.
“Nothing, bad boy,” she says.
“Oh, you want a bad boy, huh?” I say roughly.
“Damn right, I do.”
Boondocks by Casey Peeler releases on October 25th.
"One twist of the lid changed everything…"
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2asel2f (add this to your TBR)
#PreOrder #ComingSoon #OneClick #99cents
One twist of the lid changed everything…
The devil sat on my shoulder from my first breath, he watched my every move, and with the first strike of lightnin' I was pulled under.
Walking into Boondocks the voice of an angel called to me and I vowed to live a better life. She kept me on the righteous path until Satan called one last time.
It was time to take him down or lose my angel forever.
About the Author
Casey Peeler grew up in North Carolina and still lives there with her husband and daughter.
Growing up Casey wasn't an avid reader or writer, but after reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston during her senior year of high school, and multiple Nicholas Sparks' novels, she found a hidden love and appreciation for reading. That love ignited the passion for writing several years later, and her writing style combines real life scenarios with morals and values teenagers need in their daily lives.
When Casey isn't writing, you can find her near a body of water listening to country music with a cold beverage and a great book.
Connect with Casey
Coming October 19th
She likes it quick and dirty.
I like orders and rules.
She hates small talk.
I hate to share.
She’s an open book.
I’m a closed dresser drawer.
She rides a Harley.
And that drives me f’ing nuts.
Annalyse and I have both lived in our own personal hells for half a decade. She’s learned to love the warmth, and I’m still consumed. But my new neighbor is stoking more than my libido these days. We agreed on only pleasure. But she changed the rules.
And now I’m not even sure what they are.
Maybe there’s a reason she found me that night, maybe there’s a reason I can’t stop thinking about her, maybe there’s a reason for the pain. Maybe not.
We all look for reasons in life. Reasons for death, love, pain. Why one thing happens and not another? It’s human nature. We’ve been looking for the meaning of life since the beginning of time. But maybe the reason for all of it — life, love, loss, heartache — is the curvy brunette living next door.
There’s just something about being wrapped up in the right man’s arms that makes your heart believe anything is possible.
But the heart is a liar — a cruel, vicious liar.
It’s making me feel things that my head knows I shouldn’t. Holt told me he can’t love me. It was the first thing he said to me, so why is my heart telling me to believe the opposite?
Abruptly, I sit up and wipe water on my face before covering my chest with my hands. He simply leans up and gently rubs my back. “Cold?” he asks.
I nod and get to my feet, his hand running down my butt cheek as I step out of the tub and reach for a towel. Holt darts up and stops me, his fingers circling my hips.
“You have bruises,” he says, causing me to look down. He’s right. A couple tiny bruises grace my hips. He lightly grabs my hips, his fingers lining up with the marks on my flesh.
“Doesn’t hurt,” I say, reaching out to him, but he steps back.
“You’re hurt because of me.”
I can’t explain it, but I can see darkness cascade over him, like a storm you see coming over the horizon. His eyes get darker; his body seems heavier. The weight this man carries — whatever it is — is so huge, even the air in the room seems to change. I should be scared, but I’m not. I can see it in his eyes — the pain, the regret, the guilt.
“I just want to protect you,” he says, his voice low.
“Holt, I would tell you if you were too rough,” I say, stepping closer to him and stroking the stubble on his face.
His eyes spark, and he falls to his knees, kissing each bruise softly. “Think I need to show you how good gentle can feel,” he says, standing and picking me up. He carries me to the bed and lays me down, kissing my hair and whispering, “I want every inch of your body to remember me. Remember the pleasure I give you.” A little moan escapes, and he chuckles low in his throat. “I’m going to make you wait this time.”
“No,” I pout.
He raises his head and stares down at me. “You like it quick and dirty, don’t you?” he asks. Before Holt, I waited five years to have sex again, so my body must think it’s going to be sex deprived again, because he’s right. “Say it. Tell me what you like.”
“Quick,” I beg. “I need to come — now!”
“Demanding,” he smirks at me, pinning my arms overhead. “I’m the one who gives the orders, remember?"
I actually show my teeth. It’s like I’m a wild animal in heat. You know, the kind you see on Discovery Channel when sex looks more like a fight? He just leans down and kisses the tip of my nose. I wiggle my hips, grinding into the length of him, hoping I can catch just the right angle to push him inside. His tip lingers at my entrance — Yes! But just as I start to push into him, he lifts his hips up.
I actually show my teeth. It’s like I’m a wild animal in heat. You know, the kind you see on Discovery Channel when sex looks more like a fight? He just leans down and kisses the tip of my nose. I wiggle my hips, grinding into the length of him, hoping I can catch just the right angle to push him inside. His tip lingers at my entrance — Yes! But just as I start to push into him, he lifts his hips up.
“Bad girl.” Then he lifts his eyes to mine and says, “I told you, no quick and dirty this time. This is a sweet fuck.”
Sweet fuck? Those words do not go together, but something about them makes my body relax. And Holt feels it too, releasing my wrists, his tongue finding mine and slowly exploring my mouth. This is the way he kissed me that first night on his patio — softly and sweetly. He’s winning me over already. There’s definitely something to be said for a patient man.
“Christ, you are so beautiful,” he whispers between kisses.
“Holt,” I say, my voice cracking. It’s much easier to have him talk dirty to me than to hear him say sweet things. Dirty talk equals fucking, not making love. At least, it’s easier to fool myself into believing that. I guess dirty talk happens when you love someone, too. But sweet talk doesn’t happen when it’s just sex. It means something more.
His head lowers to my breast, his tongue circling my nipple, and then I feel it a whole lot lower, my legs clenching together. His hand goes to my other breast, lightly pulling up the nipple while he sucks, licks, and circles the other with his warm mouth. A tightness builds in my thighs, and a wave of heat flashes over my body. I don’t know how, but I know I’m close. Another wave comes over me, and I say a few dirty words in my head.
He keeps his eyes locked on mine as he slides down my body. Clearly, he hasn’t given up on taking his time. He kisses my folds gently, like he’s kissing my face, and my legs push together, but he brings my thighs to his shoulders and lightly runs his tongue across me. “Don’t hold back,” he says. “You know I love it when you talk dirty.” His eyes close, and he moans, sending this incredible vibration through me. He’s being so gentle, so slow. It’s making me lose my mind.
“Fuck me with your tongue!” My eyes flash open. The whispered dirty words in my head have flown out of my mouth. His eyes catch mine, and he does exactly what I asked, slipping his tongue inside me. Oh, I like this game. Ask and I shall receive.
Prescott Lane is the Amazon best-selling author of Stripped Raw. She's got five other books under her belt including: First Position, Perfectly Broken, Quiet Angel, and Wrapped in Lace, and her new release, Layers of Her. She is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and holds a degree in sociology and a MSW from Tulane University. She married her college sweetheart, and they currently live in New Orleans with their two children and two crazy dogs. Prescott started writing at the age of five, and sold her first story about a talking turtle to her father for a quarter. She later turned to writing romance novels because there aren't enough happily ever afters in real life.