A Dark Prequel to Digital Velocity (The McAllister Justice Series Book 1)
by Reily Garrett
Theft of spirit is no one’s birthright.
A quirk of her X chromosome furnished Alexis with an edge few others enjoyed. After fate plunged her into orphan status and an intolerable foster home forced her to the streets, a group of prostitutes sheltered her from their vicious pimp. Seeing something special within, they nurtured and shielded her from their harsh reality until she could forge her own path in life.
Destiny frequently takes us back to our roots. Lexi’s return journey begins when a serial killer attacks one of her adopted sisters. Relying on courage and wit, she must stay a step ahead and secure evidence to free her family from a psychopathic murderer.
“Jesus, Charlie. Hold on. I’ll get you to a hospital.” Lexi swallowed hard against the rising tide of acid degrading her throat’s lining as the unfolding scene corrupted her sanity. Pressure against the makeshift bandage on Charlie’s belly wound yielded a deeper crimson soaking her jacket, the provisional dressing secured by fingers encased in a thickening, sticky glove. So much blood.
This could’ve been Lexi’s fate—stabbed, slashed, disfigured for all time, blood forming rivulets pooling in the alley’s filth. Maroon puddles mingled with body fluids common to alleys sheltering the homeless as if destined to couple in a macabre, virulent concoction.
“R-run, Lexi. D-don’t let him make you a w-whore. I wasn’t—strong enough. Y-you were never p-part of the street life.” Trash and other filth from the narrow passageway cushioned Charlie’s bruised and battered head. One front tooth was missing, probably swallowed, while blood seeped from jagged slashes on her cheeks and brow, both career enders in the event she survived. “You shouldn’t be here. It was a mistake to text you, but the cops wouldn’t believe us girls.”
“Did your pimp do this, Charlie? What’s his real name?” Tell me so I can help you.
Remnants of a cardboard box, a vagabond’s homemade privy, retained odors of the dispossessed, rivaled only by the excrement saturating every molecule of thickened air drawn into her lungs. This was no place and no way to die.
“Yeah—said I stole from a customer. But I didn’t. The b-bastard just wanted a freebie.” Otherworldly pain glazed eyes forecasting a nonexistent future while icy wind leached color from a once-beautiful face now smeared with crimson streaks and pain. “Won’t tell you his name. I didn’t want to die alone. You’re f-free. You made it.”
“No, Charlie. I’ll get help. Lie still while I secure a pressure dressing.” This late at night, there’d be few cars to flag down and no foot traffic from which to enlist help. She was forced to rely on emergency personnel who’d classify the incident as NHI, no human involved.
Terror-induced flashbacks spewed forth of a stranger offering refuge to a teenager standing on a precipice, a choice. She’d first thought him relatively handsome, not understanding the slimy base of his character. She’d had no experience with pimps. Still, something inside steered her away from his pleasant façade. Perhaps she’d sensed his underlying character. Instinct had directed her to the unknown, where a small group of prostitutes offered shelter and nurtured her mind.
With one hand, Lexi freed her belt and maneuvered it under the fallen girl’s tiny waist amid groans and mewling cries. Youth and a livelihood from flatbacking necessitated a svelte figure, which facilitated her efforts to cinch the leather strap tight. Lexi reached for the cell clutched in Charlie’s hand, knowing the late hour meant a longer wait for help. Her fingers, covered in sticky crimson ropes of blood, tangled briefly with Charlie’s, a squishy squeeze to lend encouragement. Another bolus of acid rose in her throat.
“No.” One word spoken from the disembodied voice behind her could flash freeze Hell and instigate the formation of ice crystals in any world, under any circumstance.
COMING APRIL 24!
“Digital Velocity is a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller that sophisticatedly weaves drama, excitement, grit, raw emotions and mystery. Garrett takes her readers on a journey where suspense and romance are taken up several notches as she unfolds and reveals the identity of a murderer that is on the loose. With her vivid prose, Garrett entices readers to see the bond that is brewing between Detective Ethan McAllister and his unlikely informant.” Michelle Tan, RT Book ReviewsKeyboard prodigy, Lexi Donovan has risen from teenage orphan of the streets to complete independence with little help along the way. When a friend is threatened, Lexi’s anonymous message sends police into a firefight, leading to a wounded cop.
Detective Ethan McAllister’s well-ordered life turned upside down the day an obscure text message led to a sexual predator’s identity. Since then, Callouston PD’s finest can’t trace the elusive hacker. The latest tip leads him to a brutal mutilation and a riddle indicating the identity of the next murder victim.
The dark net houses a playground for the morally depleted and criminally insane. When Lexi discovers the killer’s digital betting arena, she finds herself centered in a cyber stalker’s crosshairs bearing equal talent.
Street life strengthened Lexi while toughening her protective shell, but nothing could shield her from the shrewd detective forging a path to her heart.
Reily’s employment as an ICU nurse, private investigator, and work in the military police has given her countless experiences in a host of different environments to add a real world feel to her fiction.
Though her kids are her life, writing is Reily’s life after. The one enjoyed…after the kids are in bed or after they’re in school and the house is quiet. This is the time she kicks back with laptop and lapdog to give her imagination free rein.
In life, hobbies can come and go according to our physical abilities, but you can always enjoy a good book. Life isn’t perfect, but our imaginations can be. Relax, whether it’s in front of a fire or in your own personal dungeon. Take pleasure in a mental pause as you root for your favorite hero/heroine and bask in their accomplishments, then share your opinions of them over a coffee with your best friend (even if he’s four legged). Life is short. Cherish your time.
Ever wondered about the personalities behind your favorite books? Victoria Danann's new podcast with Riley J. Ford has an incredible lineup of authors booked through the spring. No question is out of bounds. Check it out!
THIS WEEK'S BEST SELLING AUTHOR...
MIMI JEAN PAMFILOFF!
Mimi Jean Pamfiloff is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of Paranormal and Contemporary Romance. Both traditionally and independently published, Mimi has sold over 800,000 books since publishing her 1st title in 2012, and she plans to spontaneously combust once she hits the one-million mark. Although she obtained her international MBA and worked for over 15 years in the corporate world, she believes that it’s never too late to come out of the romance-closet and follow your dreams.
When not screaming at her works in progress, Mimi spends time with her two pirates in training, her loco-for-the-chili-pepper hubby, and rat terriers, Mini & DJ Princess Snowflake, in Arizona.
She continues to hope that her books will inspire a leather pants comeback (for men) and that she might make you laugh when you need it most.
The crown princess Samantha fears she’s mad; no one but she sees colors glowing around people. The peasant Robrek Angusstamm believes he’s a demon; animals speak to him, and his healing powers far outstrip those of his village’s priests. Despite their fears, their combined powers make them the goddess’s choice to rule the kingdom of Korthlundia. Samantha’s ability enables her to discern a person’s character through their multi-colored aura, and Robrek’s makes him the strongest healer the kingdom has seen in centuries. But their gifts also endanger their lives. Royals scheme to usurp the throne by marrying or killing Samantha, and priests plot to burn Robrek at the stake. Robrek escapes the priests only to be captured by Samantha’s arch-enemy, Duke Argblutal; Argblutal intends to force the princess to marry him by exploiting Robrek’s powers. To save their own lives and stop the realm from sinking into civil war, Robrek and Samantha must consolidate their powers and unite the people behind them.
The Princess Samantha sat at her dressing table and glowered at her reflection as her maids dressed her hair. She detested balls and loathed the hundreds of suitors who flocked around her, spouting empty flattery: “I have never seen a lovelier flower, Your Highness!” or “Your eyes rival the brilliance of the stars, Your Highness!” If I hear that one again, I’ll vomit. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if even one of them meant it. Sometimes she wished . . . . She pushed the thought away. She was the heir to the throne. She couldn’t expect romance.
“Let us be painting your face tonight, Your Highness!” Ardra begged, in her north Korthian accent. Samantha’s maid was as small and slight as the princess herself and had hair so blonde it was almost white.
“Yes, Your Highness,” Malvina chimed in. “Lady Shela’s maids said just yesterday we couldn’t possibly know our business ’cause you never wear paint.” Malvina, more of a typical Korthlundian woman, was tall and broad and not nearly as pretty as Ardra.
“Lady Shela,” Samantha snorted in disgust. Shela wore so much paint she resembled some ghastly sea creature. Samantha knew she wasn’t pretty, but she was fond of the freckles that speckled her nose and thought the emerald green brilliance of her gown set off her white skin and auburn hair beautifully. Besides being appallingly uncomfortable, paint would absolutely spoil the effect. The princess gestured toward the huge portrait that covered one wall of her bedchamber. “Do you think Danu wore paint?”
Malvina shrugged. “The Princess Danu was said to be a powerful sorceress, Your Highness. She probably didn’t need to wear paint to attract men.”
Samantha laughed bitterly, as she thought of the army of men waiting below. “I wish not wearing paint was all it took to scare them off. They say Danu never married, and see how happy she is.”
Samantha yearned for Danu’s freedom. The long-dead princess was laughing as she galloped across the fields. Danu’s auburn hair flew out behind her in the wind. The stars on the forehead and chest of her horse shone against its gorgeous coat. Samantha loved this painting, which was just as well because it was bolted to the wall and couldn’t be removed without tearing her chambers apart. She’d decorated the rest of her bedroom to match. Tapestries of horses covered the walls. Her dressing table, armoire, and large four-poster bed had horses carved into the woodwork. A quilt, embroidered with horses and stars, was spread over the bed. The mantle over her fireplace sported figurines of horses in gold, silver, jade, crystal, and precious stones. Every new ambassador added to her collection.
“Your Highness, you’ll be having to marry one of them eventually,” Ardra persisted. “The king won’t be letting you hold out forever. You are seventeen, after all. Your mother was only thirteen when she married the king.”
“You needn’t remind me, Ardra.” Samantha picked up her silver-backed brush from the dressing table. The gift from the Neaserian ambassador was inlaid with an amber Horsetad; diamonds marked the stars at its forehead and chest. She fingered it lovingly. “Do you think it’s true Danu rode a Horsetad?”
“So the bards sing of her,” Ardra said.
Malvina made an impatient noise in her throat. “And they also sing her kiss turned suitors into toads! You don’t really believe such nonsense, do you, Your Highness? Nobody can tame a Horsetad.”
“No, I suppose not,” the princess sighed wistfully, then smiled at the toads that hopped around the feet of Danu’s horse. How I wish my kiss could do that!
The Crown Princess Samantha and Sir Robrek struggle to solidify their rule in the aftermath of the king’s murder and Duke Argblutal’s attempt to usurp the throne. They are thwarted at every turn by those who seek power for themselves and desire to prevent their marriage. Just when they think their problems are solved, a deadly curse begins to spread throughout Korthlundia and Samantha becomes pregnant. Samantha must fight off priests, enemies, and her closest advisors while Robrek discovers the reason the goddess chose him as king, to defeat the Soul Stone, a stone capable of sucking the soul out of its victims, which threatens to obliterate all life in the joined kingdoms. Their archenemy, the Bard Alvabane, awakens the Soul Stone and plans to use its power to reclaim Korthlundia for her people (a people driven out over a thousand years ago by the hero Armunn). Armunn had to sacrifice his life and soul to contain the Soul Stone. Will Robrek have to do the same? Will the young couple have only a few short months to love each other?
At bedtime, Alvabane sat at her dressing table brushing her long hair. It had once been a bright, rich red, but it had dulled with age and was now mostly grey with only a few strands of color to remind her of what once had been. It seemed a metaphor for her life—small flashes of color to remind her of her once bright purpose.
One of those flashes, Erick, set her nightly goblet of fortified wine next to her hand. She needed the strong alcohol to dull the pain of her joints so she could sleep. Erick had served her for ten years. When her former servant had died, he’d been sent by her people, despite the fact that she’d only been a disappointment to them.
She turned to thank him, but the words died on her lips as she saw the reproach in his eyes. Alvabane turned back to her mirror. Tonight was the night of the new moon. She should have been preparing to perform the rites of the dark gods, not preparing for bed. “They have forgotten us,” Alvabane said. “The Soul Stone does not live.”
In the mirror, she saw Erick’s eyes narrow. He was not yet twenty and still had the optimism of youth. He still believed the Stone would come to life again when the gods willed it. He believed it would again be the weapon it had once been. Created in the far past by magic which had since been lost, it had been used by her people to protect themselves from the barbarians that now ran free over Korth and Lundia.
“I will perform the rites next month,” she promised, but so had she promised last month and the month before that. The stairs to the bottom of the East Tower were agony to her knees. Erick made a mewing sound, reminding her what he’d sacrificed to serve her and the dark gods. She herself had cut his tongue from his mouth when he came to her as a ten-year-old child. He had surrendered it stoically. Only the Bards were allowed to sing the rites of the gods. All others who heard them had to be rendered mute so they couldn’t repeat music not meant for their tongues.
“Do you think you have sacrificed more than I?” She turned to face him. “I submitted to the brutish duke’s bed for years. I gave birth to a child of rape. All so I could remain near the Stone. I performed the rites faithfully every new moon for decades. And for what, I ask you? The power of the Stone remains trapped behind the shield the demon Armunn created from his own soul. That shield can’t be destroyed. I have dedicated my life to trying, but it is impossible. The Soul Stone won’t live again!”
Erick mewed again and looked toward the tapestry on the wall. It showed the map of the desert of Sehra, to the south of Korthlundia, where her people had lived in exile since Armunn and his hordes had trapped the Stone and then driven them from their homeland. Blinking back tears of despair, she turned from him. “Do you think I have forgotten? Every generation fewer of our children are born. Only by returning to the land of our birthright can we be strong again.”
She got up and went to the tapestry, touching it lovingly. “Do you not understand? The dark gods have found me unworthy to be their messenger. I once thought I was the child of the prophecy, the one who would drive the descendants of Armunn’s hordes back across the mountains into Korth and reclaim the land they call Lundia as our own. But I was wrong. I’m an unprofitable servant, an unfit vessel.”
The Ghost is going to hell. Not even the goddess can forgive his sins: assassin, oath-breaker, traitor (an affair with the queen earned him that title). No one can ever learn the princess is his daughter. To keep this secret, he flees to the land that turned him from a simple stable groom into an infamous killer.
His mission now? To find evildoers and take them to hell with him. But when an impulsive act of heroism saddles him with a damsel who refuses to be distressed, her resilience forces him to questions why he really ran from his daughter.
The Ghost knelt at Ares’s feet, where the stench of blood was nearly overpowering. The altar was stained with it, and the bowl at the god’s feet was full from a fresh sacrifice. The power present in this place was undeniable—dark and forbidding, far from the peace and serenity in Sulis’s temples. But he was no longer worthy of Sulis’s blessing. The Ghost drew his dagger, held his left forearm over the sacrificial bowl, and sliced a new cut alongside his numerous scars. As he bled into the bowl, he felt the magic of the place coalesce around him. His blood sizzled as it hit the bowl, and the wound on his arm healed instantly, signaling that The Ghost truly belonged to the Saloynan god.
A door opened behind him, he stood and faced the high priest. Zotico was completely bald and looked no older than he had when The Ghost had first met him ten long years ago. He had small, beady eyes and a typical Saloynan narrow nose. “Pandaros! How wonderful!” the priest beamed, calling The Ghost a name he’d decided he must take up again. He could no longer be either “Ahearn” and “Darhour”; they were both dead. “Rumors said you were no longer among the living. Come in, come in.” Zotico gestured toward the doorway. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you.”
Zotico’s enthusiasm seemed excessive even for him. Warily, The Ghost followed Zotico down the corridor to the high priest’s office. It was large, the walls covered with instruments of war—swords, shields, battle axes, and plaques ornamented with what looked suspiciously like human ears. The ears were new. Zotico caught The Ghost looking at them and swept his hand over a plaque that contained five ears nailed side by side. “Do you like the new decor? Sacrifices, all of them. I had them moved from our private sanctuary so I could better remember the devotion demanded by the god I serve.”
Zotico may not appear to age, but his ghoulishness grew with each passing year. The Ghost carefully schooled his features to avoid betraying any sign of revulsion.
In the center of the office was a large desk with one chair behind it and two large, comfortable chairs facing it. Zotico gestured The Ghost into one of the facing chairs. The Ghost sat, and the high priest offered him a glass of oenomel, a sweet mixture of honey and wine. Zotico poured himself a glass from the same pitcher and sat behind the desk. “Pandaros, my friend. Why have you neglected your obligations to Ares?”
The Ghost waited for Zotico to take a sip of his drink, then took one of his own. It was cloying in its sweetness. “I’ve been distracted.”
Zotico smiled sadly. “A true tragedy. There’s no one better with a blade.” The priest mimed drawing a knife across his own throat. “I’ve had acolytes scouring the city more than once looking for you, but I gave up years ago when not the slightest sign of your whereabouts could be found. Tell me, my son, where have you been?”
“Away.” The Ghost had no intention of ever letting Zotico learn anything about Samantha, who was both his daughter and his queen. Because of his careful disguise, Zotico believed The Ghost was a Saloynan.
Zotico laughed. “Long have I wished for the power of Delphi to penetrate your secrets. Is there a person in the world who knows even half of them?” Zotico looked expectantly at him, but The Ghost didn’t answer. “I see my curiosity shall have to be contained. Ares is a harsh master and not attentive to trifles. Still, I can’t tell you how happy I am that you have now returned to his fold. His temple has truly felt your absence.”
The Ghost grunted, “Do you have a job for me?”
Zotico’s eyes gleamed. “Do I ever! I’d nearly despaired of finding a capable assassin, but your fortunate arrival proves that Ares will never fail those who serve his name.”
“Who do you want dead?”
“I think it would be best explained by the one in need of Ares’s assistance, but I assure you it is your sort of kill. May I tell the client you’ll meet?”
The Ghost nodded.
Zotico’s entire body relaxed. “Good, good. The client would prefer not to be seen here. I’ve an arrangement with the high priestess of Aphrodite. The two gods were lovers, after all. Enter the goddess’s temple tomorrow morning and choose the acolyte wearing the pendant of a vulture.” Zotico smiled broadly. “Pandaros, my friend, it is a great day for you to have returned.”
“You are not my friend.” The Ghost left with Zotico’s laughter ringing in his ears.
Jamie began writing stories about the man from Mars when she was six, and she never remembers wanting to be anything other than a writer. Everyone told her she needed a back up plan, so she pursued a Ph.D. in American literature, which she received in 1998. She started teaching writing and literature at Auburn University. One day in the midst of writing a piece of literary criticism, she realized she’d put her true passion on the backburner and neglected her muse. The literary article went in the trash, and she began the book that was to become The Goddess’s Choice, which was published in April 2012. Her other novels include The Soul Stone and The Ghost in Exile. In addition, she has published a novella, Demons in the Big Easy, and a collection of short stories, Blood Cursed and Other Tales of the Fantastic. Her short fiction has also appeared in the anthologies--Urban Fantasy and Of Dragons & Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds—and in Bards & Sages, The World of Myth, A Writer’s Haven, and Short-story.me. She claims she writes about the fantastic . . . and the tortured soul. Her poor characters have hard lives. She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and four cats, which (or so she’s been told) officially makes her a cat lady. She still teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. She is the mother of a grown son.
Title: Allure (The Lilituria Prophecy #2)
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Author: Grace White
Release Date: March 30th, 2017
From the moment Kai Stanton laid eyes on Daiya, he knew something was special about her. But a haze surrounds them, and like a dark cloud, it shadows their relationship. What if his feelings aren't his own? Can he trust himself? Can he trust the girl he’s almost certain he’s falling in love with? With Kai’s father back and insistent on inserting himself into his life, everything starts to spin out of control. He doesn't know what—or who—to believe anymore.
Daiya Cattiva knew awakening would be difficult, but she had no idea she would find herself at the center of an ancient prophecy that could change everything. She knows her destiny is entwined with Kai’s, but how can she be sure what he feels is real and not just the allure of the demon inside her? Either way, Kai’s life hangs in the balance, and Daiya must make a choice: save Kai over the greater good, or be with Kai and risk her demon consuming him.
It only takes one touch ... the next could be their last.
Other Books in the Series
Awaken (The Lilituria Prophecy #1)
only 99 cents for a limited time
About the Author
Grace White is the paranormal pseudonym of romance writer, L A Cotton.
She resides in the UK with her family, and lives for binge watching series on her Firestick, losing herself in a good book, and reliving her younger days through trashy teenage movies ... not necessarily in that order.
Connect with the Author
Part of the Enchanted Keepsakes series
by Aubrey Wynne
Genre: Supernatural Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Sexy Scribblers
The ghost of the Pungo Witch meets a shattered heart.
Jackson Hahn, Virginia Beach's local historian, has his eyes on the mysterious new woman in town. When she enters his office, he is struck by her haunting beauty and the raw pain in her eyes. Her descriptions of the odd events happening in her bungalow pique his curiosity.
Chloe Hicks' life consisted of an egocentric ex-husband, a pile of bills, and an equine business in foreclosure until a fire destroys the stable and her beloved ranch horse. What little hope she has left is smashed after the marshal suspects arson. She escapes the accusing eyes of her hometown, but not the memories and melancholy.
The sexy historian distracts Chloe with the legend of a woman wrongly accused of witchcraft. She is drawn to the story and the similarities of events that plagued their lives. Perhaps the past can help heal the present. But danger lurks in the shadows...
Four Seasons Riding Stable
Chloe sat straight up, willing the fog in her head to dissipate. The bed sheets were twisted around her ankles. Sweat trickled down her back. The terror froze her limbs while she struggled to calm her thudding heart and listen for the sound all horse owners dread. But it was the smell that made her realize this was not a terrible dream.
Instinct took over and she scrambled from the four-poster, making a beeline for the back door and the barn. Her toe smacked against the corner of a wall as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. Oh god, not my babies. Not Bunny. Panic weighed down her legs as her bare feet hit the gravel. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. She tried to run down the long driveway, her eyes riveted to the red-orange flames shooting up into the black sky. Paul emerged from the darkness, his face colored yellow from the fiery glow. He signaled for her to take the front of the building as he disappeared around the back.
The frigid night air slapped her awake, but a horrifying screech from a panicked horse kicked in her adrenaline. Chloe reached the big, sliding doors and tugged them open. Heat smacked her face, and the smoke assaulted her lungs. Coughing, tears running down her cheeks, she slid back the bolts and opened the stall doors. On the other side, Paul’s voice faintly reached her over the crackle that filled her ears.
“Hiya! Move it, move it.”
The fire had consumed the other half of the barn where the arena was located. Above her was the loft, filled with winter hay and the last of her savings, now adding fuel to the already intense blaze. She pushed the thought from her mind as the flames shot through the center of the alleyway and the arena caved in.
Grabbing one of the lead ropes that hung at each door, she smacked the first horse on the rump and sent him flying out of the barn. The first three horses on each side followed their stable mates into safety with little persuasion. But Duchess, her mother’s old mare, wouldn’t budge. Chloe threw the lead rope over her neck and forced a calm tone. “Easy, girl. That’s my girl. Walk on, now. Walk on.”
The old horse snorted and pranced but followed her out of the stall. When they neared the opening, she withdrew the rope and whacked Duchess’ hindquarters. With a leap, the horse disappeared into the gray haze. The acrid odor of scorched hair and burnt wood filled her nostrils. Embers popped and her cheek blistered. She wiped at it with her shoulder as she led two more horses out by hand.
Above them, a beam gave way and formed a fiery V. The horses must have sensed it also because they lunged ahead, snapping Chloe’s shoulders forward. She struggled to maintain her balance but fell to the matted floor, her knees striking the hard rubber. A boom behind her sent a spray of sparks, and pain shot along her backside. From the corner of her eye, she saw a strand of her hair spark. Frantically, she beat at it with her bare hand, putting it out on her neck. The heat was sweltering now. Images wavered in the flames that licked at the dry timbers of the remaining stalls and the heavy beams above.
Scrambling to her feet, Chloe ran outside into the frigid night and stumbled down the drive to help Paul. As she reached the other side of the barn, she doubled over as a coughing spasm racked her body. Hands on her knees, gasping to pull air into her tight chest, she heard Paul yelling over the crackle and whinnies.
“Bunny won’t leave the stall, and won’t let me near her foal.”
“What about Jack?”
“He’s good. C’mon, the roof is gonna give.”
His hand tightened around her arm and pulled with such force her feet almost left the ground. Plunging back into the smoking hell, they entered Bunny’s stall and found the foal in the corner.
“Paul, I’ll get the foal then Bunny will follow.”
Another loud snap from above. She grabbed the lead rope dangling from the horse’s halter and handed it to the trainer. Running a palm down her mare’s neck, she spoke soothingly, “Atta girl, Bunny. There’s my girl. Let’s your get your baby out of here.” The mare’s ears perked at her voice and words. Chloe tossed a rope around the foal’s neck and pulled. The baby gave to the pressure and followed Chloe out.
Behind her, a loud, splintering crash was followed by a shrill squeal. Her stomach twisted as she turned to see her trainer pulling at the lead rope. A fiery beam pinned Bunny as she thrashed, her legs flying in the air. One hoof caught the man in the head, and he crumpled to the ground.
Fighting for air, her chest a tight ball of agony, Chloe stumbled back in and grabbed Paul under his arms. She dragged him with the last of her strength and shuffled backwards until her feet tripped on something solid. She fell, his body tangled in her legs as they both landed with a thud. A sob ripped at her raw throat at the sound of a muffled shriek. Tears spilled down her burning cheeks as she shook the lifeless body on top of her. Chloe collapsed hand rested on Paul’s chest, finding hope in the slight rise and fall of his shallow breathing. In the back of her brain, the sound of sirens wailed before the world went black.
Her short stories, Merry Christmas, Henry and Pete's Mighty Purty Privies have won Readers Choice Awards and Dante's Gift received the 2016 Golden Quill and Heart of Excellence award, as well as being a Maggie and Aspen Gold finalist.
Besides her Chicago Christmas novellas, Aubrey will release "A Vintage Romance" series inspired by tales of her stepfather, who served for the British Air Force in WWII. The stories will be set in the 40s & 50s. Her medieval fantasy series will launch in 2017 with Rolf's Quest.
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A place of handsome knights, dashing gentlemen, beautiful, sassy women, and romance from the past to the present. You’ll also have some opportunities to help promote Aubrey with her upcoming releases if you feel so inclined. There is fun to be had, prizes to be given, and heroes and heroines to fall in love with. Come join Aubrey's street team.
Cherry Donaldson goes through dates like some women go through coffee. So when she find herself in need of a temporary roommate, saying yes to the gorgeous guy—even if he’s not her usual type—is a bad idea. A very bad idea.
The last thing she expects is to fall into a friendship with Jared. But he makes it so easy. And before she knows it, the lines blur and his annoying habits become just a little bit charming.
Will Cherry break her own rules to take a chance on the guy she now calls a friend, or is The Truth About Love too much to bear?
Catch up now with The Truth About Love Volume I for just 99¢ on Amazon!
Destiny: Choice or Chance, book 1
by Eris Field
Abbey’s Search for Sanctuary, Stand-alone Book One of Destiny: Choice or Chance Trilogy. A riveting story of violence against women including baby girls and those who fight to protect them.
Turkish-American nurse Abbey shelters her younger sister after she divorces her Muslim husband when she learns his mother is going to perform a circumcision on their baby girl, Jenny. When her sister is murdered by her ex-husband, Abbey knows she must find a way to keep Jenny safe.
Once a Peshmerga fighter and medic with the Kurdish forces in Iraq, Rami now works with refugees in Buffalo. Shunned by his grandfather and family for failing to demand retribution when his arranged marriage failed, Rami avoids emotional attachments. That is, until he meets Abbey.
Warning Abbey that honor killings are often family affairs and she and Jenny are in danger, Rami offers her a way out: a marriage of convenience and refuge in his homeland, Kurdistan.
Abbey is committed to doing anything to protect Jenny but can she face going back to the world of her childhood: a world of headscarves and submission, a world that scarred her mother and killed her sister, a world she escaped once?
“Relationship!” Abbey exploded. “There is no relationship between a Muslim man and a woman. He’s the owner and she’s his property. She’s not even a second class citizen in her own country.”
“It’s never been that way for Kurdish women. They have never covered their faces or worn those black shrouds. Some choose to wear headscarves and some don’t. They wear brightly colored clothing. They like colors, especially amethyst” He became more serious. “They have fought alongside their husbands for centuries. They believe it’s better to die in battle beside their husband than be raped as one of the spoils of war.” He spoke more calmly, “Women are pushing for changes. They want to get rid of polygamy, forced early marriages, and female genital mutilation. . . . We’ve talked about what we don’t want. Now we must learn what each wants in life. Tell me what’s important to you.”
“A family. I’ve always dreamed of having a family.” She felt a blush creep over her cheeks but she forged on. “Not just two children. A real family, at least four children.”
“You say ‘at least’?”
She lifted her eyes to his. “Do the math! I am twenty-six. I would be very fortunate if I had four babies.”
“What else is important to you?”
“I want to stay me.” She hurried on at the sound of his glass hitting the table. “I remember when my mother and father lived here, in Buffalo. She was happy. They laughed together and did things together.” She shifted and sat back on her heels in front of him. “When my father took us back to Turkey, to Gaziantep, it all changed.”
“How did it change?” Rami asked somberly.
“There were so many things she couldn’t do.” Abbey choked up. “She had to have my father’s permission for everything! My mother couldn’t go out alone, not even to go shopping. She couldn’t drive the car. She had no money of her own and no friends. Slowly, the beautiful, happy mother I had known changed. When her father finally was able to bring her home, to his home in Orchard Park, she was just a shadow of herself, worn away by the rules. She brought Jeyda and me with her but she had to leave my little brother in Turkey . . . with his father.” Her voice broke as she reached for her wineglass. “The same thing happened to my sister. She met her husband when she was teaching at the University at Buffalo and he was a graduate student from Egypt. Before they were married, they did everything together. Then, when they were married, it changed.”
“Tell me. Did your sister help him get his ‘green card’ so he could stay in this country?”
“Yes. She was so much in love. She wanted to do everything to please him.”
Abbey wrapped her arms around herself. “I tried to warn her . . .Almost instantly after they were married, everything changed. Jeyda could not go out of the house without his permission. She had no money. He took away her credit cards and cell phone. He didn’t want me to visit her.” She reached involuntarily for his hand and felt him lace his fingers with hers. “He did not want her to talk to me on the phone. I begged her to leave him but she was pregnant and afraid." Abbey shuddered. “I didn’t think she would have ever left him but when she learned they were going to cut baby Jenny . . ."
As a seventeen year old student nurse at Albany Hospital, Eris met a Turkish surgical intern who told her fascinating stories about the history of Turkey, the loss of the Ottoman Empire, and forced population exchanges.
After they married and moved to Buffalo, Eris worked as a nurse at Children’s Hospital and at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. During the time she took time off to raise five children, she amassed a collection of rejection letters for her short stories. Later, Eris returned to school and earned her master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing at the University at Buffalo. While teaching psychiatric nursing at the University, she wrote a textbook for psychiatric nurse practitioners—a wonderful, rewarding but never to be repeated experience.
Now, Eris writes novels, usually international, contemporary romances. Her interest in history and her experience in psychiatry often play a part in her stories. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Western New York Romance Writers. In addition to writing, Eris’ interests include: Prevention of Psychiatric Disorders; Eradicating Honor Killings, supporting the Crossroads Springs Orphanage in Kenya for children orphaned by AIDS, and learning more about Turkey, Cyprus, and Kurdistan.
by Monika Summerville
[Siren Allure: Erotic Consensual BDSM Romance, sex toys, HEA] Riley Frost is an attorney. He played in the BDSM community as a Dom and liked to be in control. He'd never found a woman with a sense of adventure and passion, until one night when he walked into a bar and... Sophie Pantagen is the vice-president of her father's company, Pantagen Industries. For the past ten years she's spent a couple evenings a month having one-offs with men whose names she never new. That was until one night in a bar when Riley and Sophie find each other at a time when both are looking for something. They're not sure what it is they want, but think they may have found it. Sophie's father is a cut-throat business man and when he thinks Sophie tells company secrets he comes after her with vengeance. Pantagen Industries begins to fall apart. Sophie is fired from her position and threatened by her father with an Edgar Allen Poe nightmare result. ** A Siren Erotic Romance
Riley Frost walked through the front door at Fellow’s Bar and Grill and, Ben, the bartender, waved. He nodded and sat down on a barstool at the end. The room wasn’t overly crowed and there were enough women in the place that he thought he’d come out on top. He hoped to find a nice curvy woman to curl up with for the night. The noise and laughter helped bring his tension down a notch.
Ben walked to his end and set a glass of Loch Lomand single-malt-whiskey in front of him. It was Riley’s favorite and the bar kept it stocked for him.
“My headache thanks you, Ben.” He accepted the glass.
“Steven should be back from a break shortly, Mr. Frost. Care for a game of chess?” the bartender asked. “It would give me a chance to win back some of my losses from last month.”
“Perhaps. I’m a little on the prowl tonight. Is it too late to get a pulled pork sandwich or something?”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Riley nodded, picked up his glass and a newspaper off the end of the bar, and walked over to an empty table.
Ben came out from behind the bar. “We can do the sandwich. Chef wants to know if you want coleslaw, chips, or fries?”
“Chips are fine. There’s no need to heat up the fryer.”
“Good.” Ben smiled and went back to the kitchen.
Riley read through the headlines on the front page of the paper and then heard the front door open. A woman about five-foot-ten walked in and went straight to the bar. He did a double take and found it hard to take his eyes off of her.
She wore an emerald green, mini-tank dress that had lace in all the right places. It hugged her hips tightly and when she turned to the bar, he saw it had no back. The sides were cut low under her arms and the curve of her breasts showed just enough. Her long, brown hair would slide side to side when she moved and he thought he saw a scar on the middle of her back. Her legs alone caused Riley’s cock to stir and he thought he may have found his catch for the night.
An older man with dark-graying hair walked up to her. Riley almost started to crack up laughing. The guy wore his hair in a fluffy 80s style cut and had a walrus mustache. The woman smiled and spoke with him. The man put his hand on her arm and she peeled it off and shook her head.
“Woo...turn down, dude. Things are looking very good,” Riley said to himself, and took a sip of his whiskey.
Ben brought his sandwich over and set the plate down on the table. Riley stopped him from leaving.
“The woman at the bar, dead center, with the green dress and brown hair, what can you tell me?”
The bartender looked over his shoulder and nodded. “She is gorgeous, but I think she may be a professional.”
“Really?” Riley felt a bit surprised. She looked too classy to be a hooker.
“I don’t know it for a fact, but she comes in here every other week or so and never leaves alone.”
“Good, her drink’s on me, Ben.” He’d never seen her before and he spent a lot of time at Fellow’s.
“I’ll see to it. She’s a single-malt woman. May I give her some of the Lomand?”
“Very good idea.” Riley nodded and started to eat his food.
He saw Ben walk behind the bar and prepare the drink. The woman still spoke to the 80s throw back. The bartender put the drink in front of her and pointed toward Riley. She looked over her shoulder just as he slid a potato chip into his mouth. Her eyebrow arched and she turned back to Ben and pushed the glass back at him. They exchanged a few words and the woman picked up the drink and walked toward Riley.
She set the glass down and leaned over with her hand on the table. Riley had a perfect view of the tops of her breasts and he almost lost his breath.
“I don’t accept drinks from strangers, but thank you.” She straightened up.
“Why don’t you have a seat? I’m Riley Frost, now we’re not strangers anymore.”
She stared at him for a moment with caramel colored eyes and then turned back to the bar. He admired her rear and his cock became hard as a rock, it wanted her so much. She is mine, he thought.
As she slid onto a stool, she motioned for Ben to bring another drink.
The other man sat next to her and continued to make his moves. He tried to put his hand on her thigh and she moved it.
Riley stood, finished his drink, and pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. He took a bill out and picked up the full glass of whiskey she’d left on his table. On her left side, he moved between her and Mr. Walrus Mustache, to crowd the guy away from her. Riley put the cold glass against her bare back.
She sat up, leaned into his hand, and looked at him over her shoulder. Riley didn’t look back, but flagged Ben. He handed the bartender a one-hundred dollar bill and then leaned toward the woman.
He moved his lips to a millimeter from hers and whispered, “The Loch Lomand is a thousand times better than that swill you’ve got. Have a lovely evening.” He brushed his lips over hers and let his hand slide over her breast as he set the drink in front of her. Her nipple felt hard as a bullet. He smiled and started toward the door.
Oh yeah, I give her less than five minutes. She’s mine, he thought. He went out the door, turned left and stood at the corner of the building.
[Siren Classic: Erotic Contemporary Romantic Suspense, HEA] Turner Black works for a group in Seattle that helps find people who were separated from loved ones for one reason or another. He’s hired to find the half-sister of a man, Stewart Tarver. Their shared father has passed away and left the half-sister part of a large inheritance.
Turner finds Rae Smith. She works as a stripper at a dance club in Tracy, California. She always wanted to be a ballet dancer, but the death of her mother took that dream away and Rae started to strip when she turned eighteen years of age. From one club to another, she is happy to just survive.
Turner and Rae are drawn to each other and, although the sex is great, she isn’t big on commitments and doesn’t want to deal with the inheritance game. And someone tries to kill her and then kidnaps her for sale to a slave trader in Hong Kong. Will she be able to trust Turner?
Turner found her performance one of the best he’d seen and this trip turned out to be worth it. She definitely could be the Rae he’d searched for. He could see the little girl who held the stuffed rabbit from the old picture.
He showed his investigators badge to the bartender and explained that he needed to speak to her. The owner came out and asked him why. All Turner told the man was that her brother looked for her due to a death in the family.
After about a half hour, she came out from behind the stage. Her hair was tied up in a Scrunchy and she wore tight jeans with a pale blue cable knit sweater. Instead of the three inch spiked heels she had on a pair of flat tennis-shoes.
She walked up to the bar alone and sat on a stool two down from him. “Jake told me why you’re here. I think you may have me confused with someone else. I don’t have a brother.”
“My name is Turner Black and I’ve been hired by your half-brother, Stewart Tarver, to find you, Miss Sibley.” He looked at her as she leaned over the counter and snagged a bottle of vodka and a shot glass. She really was gorgeous and he admired her ass as she moved back down to the stool. Her eyes were a light carmel color and she had a little sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of her nose.
“The name is Smith, not whatever you just said.” She took a sip from the shot glass.
Turner took the old picture out of his pocket. She looked at it. He watched her and saw her eyes squint. It was a dead giveaway and he’d learned how to read people over the years.
When she sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly, he knew she remembered that photo.
“According to your half-brother, this picture was one of the few times you met him and your father.” He knew by the look in her eyes it was familiar.
She pushed it back at him. “I’m sorry, Mr. Black. It’s not ringing any bells.”
This goddamn woman is stubborn, Turner thought.
When Rae looked at the picture she saw a little girl with a stuffed rabbit in one hand and an older boy stood next to her and held her other hand. That stupid rabbit was the only thing she had left of her mother and would never give it away.
“I think it does ring bells, Miss Sibley.”
“Smith, as I said. I’m Rae Smith.”
“Your father passed away about a year ago and your half-brother’s looked for you since.”
“Mr. Black, I never met my father or any brother. I’m an only child. My mother died when I was twelve. I’ve been on my own ever since. She never said anything to me about a brother.” She swallowed the vodka and put the lid back onto the bottle.
“Miss Smith, I know your history.”
“You know nothing about me.” She slid off the stool and started back to the dressing room. Grabbing her jacket and bag, she walked out the back door of the building, rounded a corner and there stood Mr. Black by a dark grey Toyota Prius. Good gas mileage, she thought, arched her eyebrow and started to walk past him.
“Miss Smith, could I give you a ride home?”
“No thanks,” she said and kept moving down the sidewalk.
The engine started in the car and she realized he followed her. When she got to the corner, she stopped and looked at him.
“So, you’re a stalker and all that other story was bullshit?” She bent at the waist and looked at him through the window.
“No, I’m not a stalker. Can I buy you some coffee? There is more to explain.”
She started across the street and as he motored through, she turned left and headed another direction. Her apartment was only a few blocks away, but if she cut through the alley, she could go in the back way. He wouldn’t be able to follow her.
She saw a light flash in the corner of her eye and looked over her shoulder. Her pace picked up and the alley turned about one-hundred feet away.
“Look, what do you have to lose? You’d be able to finally open that dance school you always wanted,” he shouted from the car window.
Rae stopped dead in her tracks and stared at him. There wasn’t any way possible he could know what she wanted.
[Siren Classic: Erotic Contemporary Romance, HEA] Jarrah Hejazi is an ex-Marine, who defended his country and now owns a security company. He's worked, but forgot to live. On a visit with friends at Safe Haven, he meets Grace McKay and a boy named Jonah. Haven is a place where street kids get help and feel safe. Little does Hejazi know that within a couple of months his life will change one-hundred percent. Grace McKay, an ex-marine, works at Haven. She'd heard the owners talk about their friend Hejazi and when they meet, there's more she wants to know. Hejazi and Grace surrender to their attraction and work to find the brother of Jonah. The brother was taken by Feathertop, who gives street kids a safe place to live and then trains them to pick pockets, rob cars and homes. Dealing with a team member off the grid, and being chased by people who want them dead, Hejazi and Grace have to figure a way to keep it together. ** A Siren Erotic Romance
“How did you fair, Jarrah?” Rae asked.
“The kid beat me twenty out of thirty games.” He looked over his shoulder. “I have some information.”
Grace followed them out of the room and down a hallway toward the offices. He stopped and lowered his voice. “His name is Jonah Sullivan and he’s eleven years old. He has a brother named Jacob who’s fourteen. They were dumped at a park and ride in Reno by their mother and after they lived on the street for a few days met some guy named Feathertop who brought them to Sacramento.”
“Unbelievable, the kid's been with us for six weeks and all we knew was his nickname.” Rae shook her head.
“This guy Feathertop gives them the nicknames and insists they use them always.”
“I’ve heard of that guy. He’s sort of like Fagin in Oliver Twist. He promises them food, safety and in exchange they’re taught to pick pockets, steal purses and I’ve even heard they’ve robbed some houses,” Grace said.
“I was over in Sacramento this morning and think I may have seen his crew. We were protecting the singer Veronda and I don’t know how many worked the crowd, but they were good.”
“Let me see what I can find out about Jonah Sullivan.” Rae looked toward her office.
“It’s sad. I mean, to be dumped by your mom and then his brother brought him here and told him to wait until he came back. Poor kid.” Hejazi shook his head.
Grace now found she admired this man’s heart. He felt for Kit.
“Turner will be here to pick me up around five-thirty, oh and Grace will be joining us.” Rae grinned.
She wanted to crawl into the carpet and hide. When she looked at Hejazi, he smiled.
“Great, I won’t be a third wheel,” he said.
Grace stared at his dark eyes and realized she couldn’t determine what color they were. They were either black or dark brown, but they mesmerized her and when she became aware that he stared back, she blushed.
“Rae, could I ride with you and Mr. Black?” she asked.
“You could ride with me. I don’t know my way around here and you can direct me,” Hejazi said before Rae could answer.
Grace smiled. “Sounds good.”
“I should go find a place to stay the night. How about I meet you out front at five o’clock?”
Hejazi found a Holiday Inn and booked the room for the next five days. He wanted to spend some more time with that kid, Jonah, and see if he could find out more about Feathertop. He also wanted to get to know Grace McKay.
With his connections to the military and feds he could easily find out about her, but decided he’d rather get the low down direct from the source.
It was over fifteen years since he’d been with his last girlfriend. On his first tour of duty, when he’d gone home to Chicago for two weeks leave, his girl, Marissa, acted strange when they met back up. After a couple of days, she’d told him that she’d fallen in love with an insurance salesman. The news kicked him in the balls and he’d decided to put his time and energy into the Marine Corps’ and starting his security group. He never wanted to feel his heart tear in half again.
Fifteen years passed with a blink of an eye and this coming October he’d turn forty years old. He’d gotten to a point where he could monitor the business from wherever he decided to live. The men in his group could handle the job professionally and didn’t need him to be present all the time.
Grace McKay was a beautiful woman and ex-military which gave them something in common. Her height caught his attention, too. His six-foot-five build made it difficult to date smaller women, not that he dated. The fleeting thought that he wouldn’t have to bend at the waist to kiss Grace made him smile while he shaved. Their bodies might even fit together nice and snug, too.
He looked at himself in the mirror. “You’re putting your cart way before your horse, asshole. She’s probably married,” he said to his reflection. “Or she’s involved with someone and you won’t have a chance. You have work to do in a month and don’t need the aggravation.”
Ian Deatherage’s past is a shadow. He’s doesn’t make friends traveling from place to place on his motorcycle. When it breaks down he has twenty dollars in his pocket, he’ll have to find a job to pay for the repairs.
Kris Marcus is the owner of The Scamp. She offers Ian a bouncer job. Ian works for a week and the relationship between he and Kris builds and boils over into a night of hot passion. His words to her - I don’t do gentle - turns out fine. She isn’t used to soft touches.
Ian and Kris dance around each other and find a hot attraction. She figures once his motorcycle is fixed he’ll leave area and wants to protect herself. He doesn’t know committed relationships and isn’t sure what to do.
After several weeks of burning sex, Ian convinces Kris that he doesn’t want to leave. Will she let him stay or watch him go?
One of her hands moved to his shoulder and her nails dug into his skin. She felt him jerk under her and he swatted her hand away.
“You keep that up and I’ll have to put you over my knee,” he said and then bit the tender skin on her breast and flicked the nipple. “You want to ride me, don’t you?”
The thumb on his hand kept alternating the pace and Kris realized the power shifted. Ian now held all the cards and she didn’t mind one bit. He could do this to her all day long.
When his hand moved away from her crotch, her eyes popped open. “What…don’t stop.”
He palmed her breast. “I want your mouth again. Come here.” His mouth covered hers and they both started to breathe hard. She didn’t think she’d be able to catch her breath right for the rest of the day. His lips, tongue and teeth devoured hers and she thought it could be the best kiss she’d ever experienced.
Monika Summerville is an avid reader, loves good tense movies, and works hard on her writing. She lives in Western Washington State with her four cats, Agamemnon, Tazmania, Jasper and Jericho.
She has written A Risky Dance and A Lost Dance for Siren BookStrand. The third book - A Flame Dance - is available now.
You either use magic or it uses you…
Sam has regained her memory—and with it, the Knowing. There is magic inside her; strong, powerful and old as the Earth, it is more than enough to heal the sick werewolves. If only she could figure out how to use it.
Alex Channing has finally done something selfless and walked away. For the first time ever, his reasons are not about his own interests. He knows full well Sam is the only one who can heal him. But Alex knows better than anyone: magic always comes with a price. And he refuses to let Sam get hurt because of him. He’d rather die than cause her pain—and he plans to do just that. The more rabid werewolves he can take with him, the better.
With Alex’s days numbered and more and more feral werewolves being drawn to Sam, she must learn to wield what’s inside her and claim her inheritance. Before it’s too late.
Book 2 in the Heart Lines Series by Heather Hildenbrand.
Book 3 coming April 2017!
Cross Creek Series, book 2
by Kimberly Kincaid
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cocky farmer Eli Cross plays twice as hard as he works. When his latest stunt drums up a heap of negative PR for the family farm, he grudgingly agrees to play host to an ambitious New York City photographer. Her feature on Cross Creek could be just the ticket to show the country what the Cross brothers do best…which is more problem than solution for Eli.
Scarlett Edwards-Stewart has photographed everything from end zones to war zones. She’s confident she can ace this one little story to help her best friend’s failing magazine. At least, she would be, if her super-sexy host weren’t also so tight-lipped. But the more Scarlett works with Eli, the more she discovers he’s not who he seems. Can his secret bring them closer together? Or will it be the very thing that tears them apart?
Scarlett’s pulse kicked in a burst of realization. “You’re going to be my point of contact at the farm for the whole four weeks?”
Looked like she’d unknowingly managed to piss off karma after all. But come on. She needed a blockbuster, not a ball buster. She had to be stuck with the cockiest Cross of the bunch?
That unsettling smirk worked its way back over Eli’s mouth. “Yes ma’am.”
Greeeaaat. “Scarlett,” she said. “And I’m not going to keel over from heat exhaustion.” She was hardly a delicate freaking flower.
Eli lifted one shoulder halfway before letting it drop. “That’s what everyone says right up ’til they do it. But just because you don’t plan on something doesn’t mean it isn’t gonna jump up and bite you on the…”
“Ass?” Scarlett supplied, filling in the obvious blank from where Eli had abruptly trailed off. No, really? They didn’t even swear all the way out here in God’s country? Fuck, she was hosed.
Chagrin flickered over his sun-bronzed face, there and then gone. “Yes ma’am.”
“Scarlett,” she reminded him, pulling a breath full of hot air into her already tight chest. Story. Story. You’re here for a story. “Okay. Any other house rules I should know about?”
“We start early ’round here.” He angled his boots over a branch on the path, heading toward a long, skinny barn-looking structure.
Wait… “How early?”
His smile paved the way for his answer. “Five-thirty.”
Oh, ow. “You do know that’s inhuman, right?”
“You do want the ‘authentic experience’ of farm life, right?” Eli volleyed, slinging air quotes around the words she’d used earlier, and shit. Shit, shit, sleepless shit. He kind of had her there.
Not that she was conceding defeat of any kind. “So no flip-flops, hydrate, cover up, and be ready to roll at oh-dark-thirty. Is that all?”
The slight lift of his dark blond brows was the only betrayal of his surprise. “It’ll serve for now.”
“Excellent, because I’ve got a couple rules of my own.” Scarlett jammed her flip-flops to a halt on the path, staring Eli down even though he stood a solid foot taller than her in those banged-up boots of his. “I’m here to do a job, and I don’t intend to take any half measures, which means, yes, I’m going to take a lot of pictures, and yes, I do want to experience farm life authentically. I’m fine with hard work, and also fine with any suggestions or guidance you’re willing to offer while we get that hard work done. What I’m not cool with”—she lifted a finger to send her point all the way home—“is you underestimating me. These features are going to do a lot for your farm, and I’m a damned good photographer, not to mention a pretty smart woman. Now, are we going to play nicely together for the sake of this magazine layout, or are you going to keep leading the way with your cocky attitude? In truth, I’m fine with either, but if you want to go the arrogant route, be forewarned. I bite back.”
Hunter Cross has no regrets. Having left his football prospects behind the day he graduated high school, he’s happy to carry out his legacy on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Shenandoah. But when a shoulder injury puts him face-to-face with the high school sweetheart who abandoned town—and him—twelve years ago, Hunter’s simple life gets a lot more complicated.
Emerson Montgomery has secrets. Refusing to divulge why she left her job as a hotshot physical therapist for a pro football team, she struggles to readjust to life in the hometown she left behind. The more time she spends with Hunter, the more Emerson finds herself wanting to trust him with the diagnosis of MS that has turned her world upside down.
But revealing secrets comes with a price. Can Hunter and Emerson rekindle their past love? Or will the realities of the present—and the trust that goes with them—burn that bridge for good?
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she's not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as "The Pleather Bomber", she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a USA Today best-selling author and 2016 and 2015 RWA RITA finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.