A new, emotionally riveting, sexy standalone romance by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster. Watch mysteriously sexy Bear Whiskey claw his way to his happily ever after with sassy, rebellious Crystal Moon.
In TRULY, MADLY, WHISKEY…
Eight months is a long damn time to have the hots for a woman who keeps a guy at arm’s length. But Crystal Moon is no ordinary woman. She’s a sinfully sexy, sass-mouthed badass, and the subject of Bear Whiskey’s midnight fantasies. She’s also one of his closest friends.
Just when Crystal thinks she has her life under control, scorching-hot, possessive, aggressive, and fiercely loyal Bear pushes all her sexual buttons, relentless in his pursuit to make her his.
The more Bear pushes, the hotter their passion burns, unearthing memories for Crystal that are best kept buried. But there’s no stopping the collision of her past and present, catapulting the two lovers down an emotionally charged road that has them questioning all they thought they knew.
"When it comes to contemporary romances with realistic characters, an emotional love story and smokin' hot sex, author Melissa Foster always delivers!" The Romance Reviews
"Like Nora Roberts, Melissa Foster has captivated me with her fantastic, sexy, romantic stories." K. Winning
"One of the greatest contemporary romance authors of all time." Underneath the Covers
"I'm highly addicted to her stories, and still want to kick my own behind for taking so long to finally read her." The Power of Three Readers
They drove to Woody’s Burgers in silence, which was how he knew there was probably more to this than a shitty visit with her mother. He also knew she wasn’t going to tell him what was really going on. At least not yet. He came on strong, but they had a solid friendship that felt more like a relationship and went beyond his desire to finally taste her luscious mouth. He cared about her, and one way or another, he’d figure out a way to get her to talk. He had to, because knowing she was hurting and not being able to fix it made him want to tear someone’s head off.
He parked the truck and reached across the seat, giving her hand a comforting squeeze. “Hey.” He waited until she met his gaze. “Whatever’s going on, you know you can talk to me.”
Her eyes fell to their hands, and a hint of a smile lifted her lips. “Yeah, I know. Thanks.”
Woody’s was a low-key burger joint with brick walls that had been painted white and bright green tables and benches. Overgrown ferns and decorative iron lights hung from metal rods along the ceiling. The floor was a mismatched patchwork of wooden planks. It didn’t look like much, but they had the best burgers and fries in Peaceful Harbor, and tonight Bear had the prettiest girl in the harbor on his arm, too. It was a good night, despite the cloud hanging over Crystal’s head. He’d shelter her from whatever storm came her way.
He slid into the booth beside her.
“There are two benches for a reason,” she pointed out.
“Oh, right.” He kicked his feet up on the bench across from them, the tips of his black leather boots visible over the edge of the table.
“Your turn.” He tapped her thigh, leaving his hand there as she lifted her feet beside his.
She pushed his hand from her thigh without a word, and he stretched his arm across the back of the bench.
“Are you always like this?” She picked up the menu and looked it over.
“You’ve known me for a long time. You tell me.”
“I know how you are with me. I mean with other girls. I’ve never been out with you, like on a date.”
He began kneading the tension from her shoulder. “Then maybe it’s time to remedy that.”
The waitress interrupted before she could respond, and they ordered burgers and fries, and Crystal ordered a milk shake. Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry mixed, please. She was unique in everything she did, and he loved that about her. Their food came quickly, and they made small talk about getting ready for Tru and Gemma’s wedding.
When he couldn’t stand the edge in her voice any longer, he said, “Tell me about your mom.”
She shrugged. “Nothing to tell. We’re not very close.”
“Why was tonight so rough?” He picked up a fry and dunked it in her shake as she lifted her burger to her mouth.
“Um…?” She lowered her burger to the plate. “What are you doing?”
“Dunking my fry in your shake.” He popped it in his mouth. “Haven’t we done this before?”
“We’ve known each other for almost a year and we’ve never had fries and shakes? That’s not true and you know it.”
“You’ve never dunked your fry in my shake,” she clarified.
He brushed his shoulder against hers. “Whose fault is that? I would love to bury my fry in your luscious milk shake.”
She laughed. “Not happening.” She took a big bite of her burger, her cheeks puffing out like a chipmunk, clearly trying to avoid talking about that.
He finished his burger and put his arm around her again, dipping another fry in her shake. He held it up for her, and she swatted his hand away, pointing to her full mouth. Her eyes were wide, but smiling, which he totally dug.
“Okay, I’ll tell you what. Tell me why tonight was so rough, and I’ll leave your shake alone.”
She shook her head, and he dunked another fry. She whimpered, trying to swallow her burger as quickly as she could.
“My girl doesn’t swallow well. Noted.”
She laughed/snorted and choked on her burger. He patted her on the back, both of them laughing.
“I’ll help you with that whole swallowing thing,” he offered, which made her laugh harder, causing her to snort again.
She tried to catch her breath, and he dunked another fry.
“Just try one. You’ll like it. I promise.”
She eyed the fry as if it were poison.
“One bite.” He dragged the fry along her lower lip. Leaning closer, he said, “You’d better lick that off before I do.”
Her eyes narrowed, and her tongue swept over her lower lip.
“Christ Almighty,” he grumbled.
She laughed. “That’s pretty good. Salty and sweet.”
“Stick with me, baby. I’ll make sure you get your fill of salty and sweet.”
New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance (M/F, M/M, F/F), romantic suspense, thrillers, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa's emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café.
Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.
Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on Facebook or her personal website.
The Checkpoint, Berlin Detective Series, book 3
by Michele E. Gwynn
The Kommissar is back, and going rogue in St. Petersburg! A new lead on a cold case, one that has haunted Heinz, and nearly cost him his career now offers a path to redemption. A ledger containing the names of abducted girls recovered from the Vledelets during the Ivchencko affair offers renewed hope. With the wedding to his partner-turned-love of his life, Birgitta Mahler, drawing near, Detective Heinz must find a way to close the door on his guilt once and for all. But will his decision to investigate the disappearance of Marlessa Schubert lead him to an answer he can live with or an early grave? All roads lead to one destination, Warehouse 214, and one man, Vladimir Breshnev, known to his enemies as ‘the Butcher’, and to Interpol as the leader of the Russian mafia. Unsanctioned, and on his own, Heinz pursues his demons. When he fails to check in, his protégé, Officer Elsa Kreiss, must call in a dangerous favor. If she succeeds, Heinz will make it to the church on time, but if she fails, he’ll arrive in a box.
“I have your papers.” She pulled a packet out of her shoulder bag, and shoved it across the table at him. “Don’t open it here. Just put it in the seat next to you. Inside is your new passport. Your name is Martin Lintz, and you are an Austrian school teacher. You teach mathematics to ten year olds. Your birthdate remains the same for ease in remembering should anyone ask, and your address is your old house where you grew up.”
Heinz’s eyebrows shot up. “And how do you know that address?”
She shrugged. “I know everything about you. Faust provided most of it, the rest I dug up on my own.”
“Christ, there’s just no privacy anymore.” He shook his head.
She remained unfazed. “No, none. You will find a new cellular inside. It’s clean and registered to Martin Lintz. You can call whoever you need to, and it will route through your other account. “There is also a baggage tag for your suitcase. You can pick up your ticket to Saint Petersburg at the Air Baltic counter.” She held out her hand.
Heinz looked at it. “What?” he asked.
“Hand over your phone and passport. You can’t take them with you. They will give you away should you be caught.”
“I’m just supposed to leave my personal phone and passport with you? How will I get them back?”
“I will express mail them to Faust as soon as I leave here. They’ll be waiting for you when you get back.”
Joseph sighed. He wasn’t happy about turning over his personal information to this young woman, but it was also obvious that she already had all that since she freely admitted to digging around in his business. He pulled the phone and passport out of his pocket and handed them over.
“Now, in addition to the new phone, there is also Russian currency so you don’t need to stop anywhere to exchange. The amount is five thousand Euros in rubles. You have something for me?”
“Oh, yes.” Heinz reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the thick envelope, handing it over.
She held it in both hands, weighing it. When she was satisfied, she got up. “Thank you.” She turned to leave.
“Wait!” Joseph sat straight, watching her.
“That’s it?” He was shocked at their short exchange.
“What more did you expect?”
That got him. What did I expect? He shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess it all just seemed rather abrupt.”
“I got the distinct impression that you, yourself, didn’t care for bullshit.” She stuffed her hands in her pockets, her face absent any emotion.
“I suppose not. Never mind. Thank you.” He dismissed the girl.
Sarah Brown sets out on a journey to sensual self-discovery and falls face first into danger. In Barcelona, Anthony de Luca, a renowned travel author and photographer, unleashes the full force of his charm that threatens to steal her heart, a prize he openly admits he doesn’t want. Still, she can’t resist him, and finds herself experiencing the heights of ecstasy and the lows of heartbreak as her lover leaves without a word. In Berlin, Paul Christiansen, a handsome Dutch Lothario with a sordid past, works his wiles to seduce her body while in the shadows, a predator stalks a young boy close to Sarah determined to get what he wants or kill anyone who gets in his way. One of her two lovers has led a dangerous criminal straight to her door, but which one, and who can she trust?
What happens when Berlin's premiere dominatrix trades in her whip for a badge and gun? She discovers she cannot completely escape her past. With the help of the detective who saved her little brother’s life, Elsa Kreiss enters the police academy, expecting her world to now be far safer. Instead, it only becomes more dangerous!
An unsolved case of three missing girls from Charlottenburg pulls her mentor, Kommissar Joseph Heinz, back into the dark abyss just as he realizes he’s in love with his partner, Birgitta Mahler. While he searches for a killer, she fights an attraction to a very sexy bad boy. Lukas Trommler is everything she likes in a man; cocky, confident, and hot. An art buyer at a local gallery, Lukas exudes culture with an edge of danger. He invites her into his world where she comes face to face with a familiar monster, Yuri Ivchencko, one of the most powerful and wealthiest men in the world with ties to the Russian mafia and human trafficking. His obsession with the sick and twisted side of human nature expressed in art offends Elsa, who doesn’t hesitate to say so. Her outburst lands her squarely on his radar. When Elsa is reported missing, Heinz must put aside his case to rescue his protégé. The operation brings him face to face with a man from his past, the evil Russian he believes responsible for the cold case that haunts him still.
The stakes are high as they race to save several young women now at the mercy of a sadistic billionaire now bound for St. Petersburg, The fate of those kidnapped, should Elsa and Heinz fail, will be worse than death.
Extra!!! As an added bonus for all my Beliners, I will be offering the Prequel to The Checkpoint, Berlin Detective Series, The Making of Herman Faust, to ALL of my current and NEW Newsletter Subscribers. This novella WILL NOT be available anywhere else. It is EXCLUSIVE to my dedicated subscribers. The Making of Herman Faust will be available in May, 2017.
Michele E. Gwynn is a Bestselling Multigenre Author of Crime/Detective books, Sci-Fi/Horror books, and Paranormal/Supernatural romance books in San Antonio. She previously wrote for newspapers, magazines, and online websites. As a journalist, she's covered news and events, and conducted countless celebrity interviews.
She has 3 series currently with several stand-alones, and more books coming!
She resides in the small town of Schertz, Texas on the northeast side of San Antonio with her four felines who so graciously allow her to reside in their home.
by Monika Summerville
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?
The bartender continued to check back with him every half hour or so. She seemed nice enough, but he knew she only did her job. Her brown hair shimmered in the dim light in the room and her ass looked great in her tight jeans.
A half hour on the dot since her last visit, she came up to his table.
“How are you doing?” she asked for the hundredth time.
“I’m okay. Can I ask you a question?”
She’d started to turn, but stopped and waited. “Sure.”
“Does anyone around here need a day worker for a week or two? You know heavy lifting and that sort of thing.”
“I don’t know. You might find a stocking job at one of the grocery stores. It will be a month or so before the farms start getting their fields ready for planting. Why?”
“My motorcycle is being repaired and I need to come up with the bucks to pay it off.” He saw her brows crease and knew what she would say. “Don’t worry. I have some money to pay for my meal, just not enough for repair bills.”
“No. I wasn’t thinking that,” she said. “We could use a bouncer. Do you have any experience with that type of stuff?”
No, he thought. “Yeah, I can do it.” How hard could it be?
“How’s fifteen dollars an hour to start? If you work out, it could go up to twenty.”
“I doubt I’ll be here that long, but fifteen would work. Who do I talk to?”
“What do you mean?”
“Who’s the owner? Don’t I have to talk to him?”
She laughed. “I’m the owner. This was the easiest interview ever. Can you start tomorrow?” She leaned her hip against the table and her eyebrows rose.
He looked up at her and tried to smile back. “You own this place?”
“Yeah. Don’t piss me off and we’ll do just fine. Start tomorrow at five.”
“I’ll be here. Thanks.” Ian watched her walk away. “Hey. What’s your name?”
She turned back and laughed again. “Sorry, I’m Kris Marcus.”
“I’m Ian Deatherage.”
“Guess I shouldn’t call you death or rage, huh? It would be bad for business.”
“Would it be okay for me to crash here tonight? I can sleep on the floor.”
Ian liked to watch her move, though. Her curves were nice and soft, and her ass would fit his big old hands just right. Sitting up straight on the stool, he looked away from her and around the room.
Do your job, asshole. You can’t fuck the boss, he thought.
Around one-thirty Kris brought him a cup of coffee and during the transfer ran her finger over the back of his hand and looked at him.
“I know you’re watching me.” She smiled.
“So, nothing. Do you like what you see?” She turned and walked back to the middle of the counter swishing her hips. When she turned back, she winked at him and then took an order from a waitress.
When the bar closed, the crew cleaned up, collected the garbage, and put the chairs up on the tables.
As the other employee’s left, he watched Kris turn off the lights behind the bar and move to the stairs. Before she started up, she turned and smiled at him over her shoulder. Ian locked the front door and turned off the Open sign. He stood by the door, looked at the stairs and wondered if he could put this in the good idea column. Should he screw her? His cock said yes, but his head went into a fog.
He went up the steps, turned into the office and saw her perched on top of her desk. She watched him move into the room and he could feel her look burn into his soul. Stopping in front of her with his thighs against her knees, he could feel heat come off her. One of his hands developed a mind of its own and reached up to her cheek. He ran his thumb over her lips.
“I don’t do gentle,” he said.
She bit his thumb and looked up at him. “I don’t like gentle.”
[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.
[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?
[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.
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.
Icarus Fell series, book 2
by Bruce Blake
Genre: Urban Fantasy
If we're good, we go to Heaven; if we're bad we go to Hell. No one wants to go to Hell.
Except one man who wishes people would just remember to call him Ric.
In the aftermath of a serial killer's murderous spree, souls who didn't deserve damnation went to Hell. The archangel Michael doesn't seem concerned, but Icarus Fell can't bear the guilt of knowing it's his fault they ended up there.
But how can he save them when the archangel forbids him from going and his guardian angel refuses to help?
The answer comes in the form of another beautiful, bewitching guardian angel who offers to be his guide. They travel to Hell to rescue the unjustly damned one by one, but salvation comes at a cost and the economy of Hell demands souls.
Is it a price Icarus is willing to pay?
When your guardian angel and her friend, the archangel Gabriel, tell you to stay put, it’s probably a good idea to listen.
I should have, but I have inexplicable difficulty with authority figures. It gets me in trouble. A lot.
An old Buick sat to the right of my motel room door looking like it hadn’t moved in a decade or so, and it certainly hadn’t budged since I checked in; a few other cars were parked in the motel’s lot but there were no people. I stepped across the threshold and closed the door behind me, the click of the lock firecracker-loud in the winter night.
I paused. Still no one around. I breathed deep and stepped away from the door, the first time I’d been outside the dingy, musty-smelling room in weeks.
A month ago, the police found a tranny prostitute named Dante Frank dead on a bed in a five-star hotel, hairy chest and hairless vagina exposed for the world to see along with the biblical references his killer carved in his flesh. Dante, whom I’d known as Danielle Francis, was the last victim of the serial killer dubbed the Revelations Reaper by the media. The police had a suspect in the string of killings: me.
I didn’t kill any of them but, if the truth be told, their deaths were on me.
Forget the angels telling me to stay indoors, the fact the local news had been flashing an unflattering picture of my face on the screen every night until a week ago should have kept me inside my seedy room. But you know what they say about common sense...it ain’t so common.
Icarus Fell: living proof.
I didn’t think that because they finally stopped plastering my face all over the six o’clock news they’d stopped looking for me. Every cop in the city likely still carried my picture like they were at war and I was their girl waiting for them back home, but after four weeks in my motel-room-prison, the prospect of remaining inside held as little appeal as being girlfriend to a bunch of cops. I’d spent every moment of the last month thinking about my role in the deaths, wishing things were different. Another minute trapped alone with my guilt might prove one too many.
I slipped away from the motel and down a side street, disappearing in shadows and down alleys wherever I could. The taste of impending snow in the early December air fortified my lungs.
As I ranged farther from the motel, the garbage strewn on the streets and graffiti tags spray-painted on walls -- ‘Big Turk Wuz Hear’ and other poetic gems -- became less frequent until they disappeared completely. I’d made my way to a neighborhood where people cared, a fact which should have rang alarm bells in my head and made me more careful, but the lack of hookers and drug dealers lifted my spirits and my worry ebbed taking caution along with it.
I paused at the intersection, the lights of an approaching car reflecting on the frost-rimed pavement as I waited to be sure it would obey the stop sign. Without the fresh air loosening my wits, I’d have waved him through, but freedom made my head light in the way of a non-smoker after a few drags on a cigarette. The car’s brakes squeaked as it rolled to a halt. I stepped off the curb and raised a hand in thanks, squinting against the lights, but couldn’t see the driver. Hand replaced in pocket, I continued on my way, thinking nothing of it until I heard the hum and chatter of a power window in need of repair.
The words weren’t spoken with the timbre of someone in need of directions. The caution and worry the beautiful night had leeched from me flooded back; I quickened my pace.
I broke into a run before his engine roared and tires chirped. Cutting across a well-manicured lawn, I hopped a fence, ran through a back yard dominated by an inter-locking brick patio and an in-ground pool emptied for the winter, then vaulted another fence into a rear lane, cursing my stupidity with every step.
Despite a house between us, I heard the car’s engine rev and labor as the driver gave chase. I dove through a line of tall shrubs, their branches scratching my face, and into another yard, keeping my flight to places the car couldn’t go. Ten minutes of fence-jumping and shrub-diving later, I emerged on a sporadically lit street. Familiar graffiti scrolled across the side of a building; Big Turk and his poor spelling were back. Close to my motel. My lungs labored, the cold air hurting my chest instead of refreshing it as a stitch in my side dug in and grabbed hold. I stopped to catch my breath, bent at the waist, hands grasping knees like the world’s worst marathoner run out of steam, but rest didn’t last long. A siren wailed behind me and I forced my legs back into action.
I darted into an alley and the all-too-familiar stink of garbage and piss, depression and decay hit me immediately. I’d lost so many days and nights of my youth in alleys like this, sleeping off a bottle of vodka or poking a needle in my arm. I forced the thought from my mind. This was no time to self-analyze by way of shitty memories.
Tires screeched at the mouth of the alley. I didn’t look back, my attention taken by a figure stepping out of the shadows into my path. A Carrion, I assumed--a human-shaped demon sent to collect souls and make my life difficult--but I quickly realized the silhouette was smaller and more feminine, leaving two possible people. Angels, really. I halted a few paces beyond arm’s-reach in case I was wrong.
“Hey, mister. Long time, no see.”
I recognized the voice immediately. The angel stepped into the light and I saw her gingerbread hair, glimpsed the freckled skin of her cheek.
The Archangel Gabriel is the messenger. She brings scrolls with my assignments inscribed on them: who’s scheduled to pass, where, when, and where to take them when it’s done.
I couldn’t think of a worse time for her to show up.
“Did you miss me?”
Her pure voice echoed off the alley walls and a chorus of swallows which always accompanied her, but that I couldn’t see in the dark, chirped and chittered on a fire escape overhead.
“Don’t have time right now, Gabe,” I said breathlessly and glanced over my shoulder. The alley remained empty, but it wouldn’t for much longer.
She offered a scroll which hadn’t been in her hand a second before.
“Really, Gabe? I don’t--” I gestured toward the alley at my back, offered a pleading look. She shook the scroll at me and raised an eyebrow.
I’d learned the hard way that harvesting wasn’t the kind of job you could slack off at; the hard way seems to be how I learn pretty much everything. I gave in without any real fight.
My finger brushed hers as I grasped the rolled parchment and an electric charge prickled the hairs on my arm, bringing with it a longing to spend time with her, to be in her presence as long as possible. I nearly forgot the man chasing me.
She smiled and shrugged. “You don’t have time, remember?”
Swallow wings beat the air above my head as she walked away. I stared after her for a second before pulling myself from the angel-induced stupor to look at the scroll in my hand. This was my second assignment since everything went down: the deaths, the media frenzy, the explosion at the church. What happened to souls during my seclusion? Did they make other arrangements or were they okay with everyone going to Hell for a few weeks while I got my wits about me? Great vacation for me, but kind of sucked for everyone else.
Unrolling the scroll unnerved me. After being given one inscribed with my son’s name, I couldn’t help but hold my breath. Probably would every time I did it.
I set my captive breath free. Didn’t know him. The address scrawled on the yellowed parchment wasn’t familiar either, but I knew the city well enough to recognize it was close. I read the time of death, then checked my watch.
Two minutes from now.
The sound of shoes hammering pavement reverberated off the alley’s brick walls. I got my legs moving again and took a corner, feet tangling in a pile of garbage bags and spilling me to the pavement. My shoulder hit hard and I skidded a couple of feet along the damp ground, filth snow-plowing onto my jacket. I scrambled to my feet, glanced ahead and behind as the footsteps grew louder, and realized the futility of my flight. Facing my pursuer seemed the only option. Maybe I could talk my way out of it before my appointment came and went.
Bad things happen to good people when I miss appointments. And to bad people; also, the Swiss.
I backed down the alley and didn’t have to wait long for the man chasing me. He rounded the corner, avoided the garbage bags which had tripped me, and skidded to a halt in a pool of light cast by a security light mounted high overhead. The dress pants he wore looked a year or so beyond their best-before date; a long wool coat covered a rumpled dress shirt which may never have made a dry cleaner’s acquaintance. I might have noticed more but the gun in his hand distracted me.
“Mr. Fell,” he said between panted breaths. “If that’s really your name.”
“It’s the name the bastard gave me,” I muttered glancing from gun to a face I’d met a few times and seen many more on the news. The muscles in my jaw clenched and released as I silently counted the passing seconds in my head. “We seem to meet under awkward circumstances, don’t we, Detective?”
“Sometimes happens between serial killers and cops.”
“I didn’t kill anyone.”
“Right.” He leveled the gun, his eternally tired eyes unwavering. “And I’m Serena Williams. Put your hands behind your head.”
A little firework went off in my brain, interrupting my mental countdown. He obviously wasn’t Serena Williams -- wrong sex, wrong skin color, and he didn’t look like much of a tennis player -- so why pick her out of a thousand possible celebrities to use sarcastically? I chanced pissing him off and stole a peek at my watch: t-minus one minute. My gut wrenched one twist to the right.
If I don’t get out of here quick--
The thought cut off half-formed, bullied aside by another. The detective was the lead investigator in the Revelations Reaper case, the guy the newscasts interviewed no matter how uncomfortable he looked on camera, so I’d seen his face a hundred times on TV. And every time they showed him offering his oft-quoted ‘no comment’, they emblazoned his name on the screen in white letters.
How did I miss it?
Detective Shaun Williams.
I raised an eyebrow. “Detective Williams?”
“Yeah, that’s right. Now that we’ve been properly introduced, put your fucking hands behind your head before I shoot you.”
I peered past him, then to both sides. With his name on the scroll in my back pocket, there had to be someone waiting to ambush this man scheduled to die in about forty-five seconds.
“You need to get out of here,” I said, eyes still searching the shadows. “You’re in danger.”
“Me?” He stretched his arm toward me, pushing the barrel closer. “If you don’t get your hands up right now, you’ll never walk again.”
The seconds ticked off in my head, echoing down the hallways of my mind. I gritted my teeth, fought the compulsion to try and save him.
Not my job.
They sent me to retrieve his soul after his death, not prevent it. But so many already died because of me and my poor choices. Maybe this was an opportunity to make amends--with myself, if no one else. My eyes found his and held his gaze for a second; I didn’t have much more than that.
“You’ll thank me for this later,” I murmured and darted toward him, moving faster than he expected an out-of-shape-almost-forty guy like me could.
He squeezed the trigger but I was on him before he got the shot off. The gunshot nearly deafened me, the explosion echoing through my head, ringing in my ears. My arms encircled him, pinning his at his sides, and inertia carried me forward, driving him to the ground. Breath whooshed out of his lungs when we hit, but I didn’t let go.
“This is for your own good,” I said into his ear. His body jerked but my grip held. The last few seconds counted down in my head.
When I reached zero, I held on a few seconds longer in case my timing was off or my watch was slow. Nothing happened. No gunshot, no one jumping from the shadows; a grand piano didn’t drop from a balcony. Nothing.
I leaned back, a hand on his gun arm to prevent him from shooting me. Some thanks that would be for saving his life. I gripped his wrist expecting him to squirm away, but he didn’t. His lack of movement should have tipped me something was wrong, but I was too concerned with making sure we weren’t about to be attacked to notice. Nothing moved in the shadows, no one approached down the alley.
Could the scroll have been wrong?
Unlikely, but it happened before, when other forces manipulated events. How did I know the same wasn’t the case this time?
A small movement caught my eye and I looked left to see a figure standing five yards away. Fear forced bitter, electric saliva into my mouth like I’d bitten down on a piece of aluminum foil, and I snatched the gun from Detective Williams’ hand, jerked it toward the silhouette. The man didn’t react, but simply stood watching. His presence made a knot form in my stomach which worked its way quickly into the back of my throat. The figure stepped forward into the light and the muscles in my forearm tensed, my finger brushed the trigger. It only took a second to realize he wasn’t as opaque as he should be.
This wasn’t a man, but a dislodged soul.
“What--?” I began but the lump in my throat got the better of my voice.
My brain finally registered the detective’s lack of movement and I looked from the soul to the detective’s face. His tired eyes stared up at me blankly; a dark circle of fluid spread across the grungy pavement beneath his head.
The sight of his glazed eyes hit me like a spinning kick to the gut, stealing my breath and energy. My gun arm sagged, the police-issue .38 resting against my thigh, forgotten. I resisted the urge to shake him by the lapel of his wool coat or slap him awake, call out his name. I already knew what the result would be. The overhead light reflected in the pool of liquid around his head making a grisly halo.
I was responsible for another death.
I shook my head in disbelief and looked back at the spirit. There were no black bags under its eyes or worry lines at the corners of its mouth, but there was no mistaking to whom the soul belonged: except for the felt fedora tilted over the soul’s left eye like he’d stepped out of a Mickey Spillane novel, the spirit wore the same clothes.
My words stuck again. Or maybe I didn’t want to complete the sentence because it would make what happened real. No need to worry, the ghost took care of that piece of business for me.
“You killed me.”
To some, death is the end; to others, a beginning. To Icarus Fell, it should have been a relief from a life gone seriously awry.
But death had other plans.
Icarus doesn't believe that the man awaiting him when he wakes up in a cheap motel room is really the archangel Michael, or that God's right hand wants him to help souls on their way to Heaven. Icarus doesn't believe there's a Heaven, so why should they want his help?
But the man claiming to be the archangel tempts him with an offer he can't ignore--harvest enough souls and get back the life he wished he'd had.
It seems Icarus has nothing to lose, until he botches a harvest and the soul that went to Hell instead of Heaven comes back to make him pay by threatening to take away the life he hoped to win back.
To save the wife and son he already lost once, Icarus will have to become the man he never was. Somehow, he will have to learn to believe.
Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don't take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.
Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn't really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the "u" out of words like "colour" and "neighbour" than he does shovelling (and watch out for those pesky double l's). The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of a burlesque diva.
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...
With over 1.5 million books sold world wide, Laurelin Paige is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling Author. She is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She's also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn't do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio. She is represented by Rebecca Friedman.
For our very first interview, we have Grace White, the author of the Lilituria Prophecy Series. Grace's new work, Allure, just came out on March 30th. You can find our review on Allure here.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a Writer/Author?
About three-and-a-half years ago. I was going through some stuff and reading like it was going out of fashion. I completely tuned out of life. And one day, after reading a particular book, I had a brainwave of seeing if I could channel my frustrations and stress into writing (as opposed to reading). I didn’t know if I’d be any good, or if I’d ever do anything with it, but a year later, I had published two books… the rest, as they say, is history.
Do you write full-time or part-time and what made you come to the decision to do so?
Full-time (well, as much as you can with two small children). I gave up my part-time job two years ago, to focus on my writing. It’s hard work, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What does literary success look like to you?
If I can keep writing the books I love full-time, I’ll be a happy fish (maybe that should be my mascot).
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Facebook – said every writer everywhere. It’s so easy to get sucked into social media when you’re supposed to be focusing.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I’m quite stubborn – I write the kinds of books, I would want to read … that said, I am learning that to grow a business in writing, you can’t ignore market trends. So a mix really. But I’m not afraid of doing something outside the box (and I love a BIG cliffhanger… readers who read my contemporary stuff under L A Cotton, have come to expect that, I think).
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start sooner. I really wished I’d have discovered writing earlier in my life.
What do you think makes a great story?
Strong characters, tension, and a great plot. I also love lots of realistic dialogue.
Which Writer/Authors inspire you?
So many. I didn’t know anything about the Indie Community until I started writing. I was just a reader who enjoyed reading good books, but the work ethic and creativity of some of these Indies is phenomenal. Tijan, Rachel Van Dyken, Amy A Bartol, Alyssa Rose Ivy, C L Stone, K Webster … I could go on and on and on, are all big inspirations to me.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Last year, I read a book called Forbidden by Tabatha Suzuma and it affected me so deeply. I can’t really put into words, it’s one of those things you just have to experience. I think because it deals with a subject matter so taboo, in a way that can’t help but have you rooting for the main characters, that you come away really feeling like right and wrong in the eyes of the law and society, isn’t always as cut and dry. It was fiction, but it felt so real – if that makes sense…. Now I’m just rambling!
What kind of things do you enjoy when not writing?
Family is important to me, so when I’m not writing, I’m usually hanging out with my family and children. I also enjoy going to the movies and eating out.
Grace White is your pseudonym. What made you want to write paranormal stories under a pseudonym?
Originally, I’d planned to keep my pseudonym completely separate (and anonymous) – I had so much fun writing Awaken, and I think so of that was because there was no expectation attached to it. I basically wrote it for me, and it was refreshing. However, when I released it, I quickly realized maintaining two sets of social media was HARD WORK! So I decided to ‘out’ myself. I still keep the two relatively separate, but now I don’t have to worry about the ‘secret’.
How can Readers discover more about you and your work?
Goodreads is a great place to get started (you can check me out here: https://goo.gl/4JSYx2) or I have a small reader group where I share my progress, talk about my projects (here: https://goo.gl/7UtJbA)
What was your favorite/least favorite thing to write in regards to the dynamic between the Cattiva sisters?
I wanted so many times for Devlin to redeem herself - she's such a mean girl. But overall, i love the dynamic. Given everything they've been through and who they are, it feels authentic. The fierce protector in Demi, the rebel in Devlin, and the confused baby sister in Daiya. I can't wait to see how the dynamic changes and develops in book three.
Are there any scenes that you edited out of this book in the end that you wish had been included?
My writing process is such that I don’t usually end up with a lot of cut scenes. I edit as I write so as the story moves, the chapters before are usually quite polished. However, when I read it back before starting the third book, I’m sure I’ll be thinking ‘darn, I should have included that…'
What was your hardest scene to write in this book?
The ending… I knew it was going to get readers riled up. Without saying too much, Daiya and Kai have to fight so hard to be together, I really wanted to give them a smoother time… but I take my lead from my characters and that is the path they led me on.
In this book, you switch POV back and forth between the two main characters. What made you come to this decision? And do you find it difficult to write from the opposite sexes point of view?
Awaken was very much about Daiya’s journey and coming to terms with who she is. By the end of that book, I felt like Kai had a lot to say that wouldn’t be captured through Daiya’s POV. I hope it’s brought a ‘wholeness’ to their story. And I actually love writing a male POV – girls are tricky. They over-analyze. Guys are a little more straight talking and thinking.
Can you share any teasers or anything to look forward to in regards to your next release?
I can’t say much about my next Grace White release as it’s part of a group project – but I will say, it’s going to be a little bit of change up. Still PNR but with a Sci-fi element. I’m excited. Hopefully, I’ll have the cover soon and be able to announce more! As for the final chapter in Daiya and Kai’s story, that should be coming around June/July time.
by M.B. Feeney
Born and bred in the UK, Holly is getting the chance of a lifetime—six weeks abroad. The Kings, a host family in the US, have invited her to stay with them and get a chance to experience life as an American. When she discovers that the King family includes two teenage boys, will she be glad she came or ready to hightail it back across the pond?
Aiden King's heart has been broken, and he's taking his anger out on his brother, Tyler.
Can he, with the help of his High School Guidance Counsellor, work through his problems.
Tyler King has moved away from his family in order to help himself move on from the mistakes he made in High School.
A summer romance could lead to so much more, it could lead to him finally surrendering to his repentance for his past actions.
Ellie King has a plan. Do well in her Senior Year at High School before going to study in London, England. That’s all she wants in her immediate future.
Writing to John Davids not only cements her desire to study in the UK, but gives her more if a reason to leave her family in the US.
So, Ms. “It’s MIZZ not MISS” Jones gave me this journal. Apparently writing my feelings down will help me deal with my ‘anger issues’ and the ‘depression’ I’ve been suffering since Jessie ended things between us.
I admit, I am angry, and have been for two months, but I’m not depressed. Yeah, I was hurt and shit, but now I’m just angry. All the time; an emotion I’m not used to feeling so much. Up until now, I’ve never done the ‘angry’ stuff; never even knew I had a temper as such.
She’s ‘advised’ me to start at the beginning as much as I can with these dumb entries. I don’t want to do it, but as we have to read them together at our weekly meetings, I have no choice. At least one entry a day. . . This whole thing sucks ass.
There’s no point starting at the very beginning, though; back then everything was good; real good. No, I think my seventeenth birthday is where I need to start this thing. . .
When his mom first told him a British chick was coming to stay with them, Tyler had been like a shark tasting fresh blood. He was going to charm her into his bed, then let her head back home, he hadn’t forseen her coming back thanks to his brother knocking her up. What choice did any of them have but to have her in the house, this time permanently?
“Hey, where d’you go just then?” Anna’s question brought his attention back to the present. Once again he could feel the warm sand on his bare feet and her small form in his arms. He smiled down at her.
“Sorry, I was thinking about home.” He bent to capture her lips with his own. The kiss making his heart rate pick up as every other kiss they’d shared had done. When he boarded the plane back in Arizona, he’d never expected much to happen on his vacation. He’d planned on lounging on the beach during the day, and drinking in bars in the evenings, but as he was checking into his hotel, he’d spotted Anna struggling with her bags and from the moment he’d helped her into the elevator, his plans had changed.
Plans that had never included falling in love with someone in a two week period.
M. B. Feeney is an army brat who finally settled down in Birmingham, UK with her other half, two kids and a dog. She often procrastinates by listening to music of all genres and trying to get ‘just one more paragraph’ written on whichever WIP is open; she is also a serious doodler and chocoholic. Writing has been her one true love ever since she could spell, and publishing is the final culmination of her hard work and ambition.
Her publishing career began with two novellas, and she currently has multiple projects under way, in the hopes that her portfolio of what have been described as “everyday love stories for everyday people” will continue to grow. Always having something on the go can often lead to block which eventually gets dissolved by good music and an even better book.
Her main reason for writing is to not only give her readers enjoyment, but also to create a story and characters that stay with readers long after the book is finished, and possibly make someone stop and think “what if . . . ”
Millie is unlucky in love and when her long term relationship ends like a soap opera story line, she takes drastic action. She applies for an overseas job as home school teacher on an American family Ranch and finds herself instantly attracted to Jesse-her boss. As for Jesse, well he doesn’t need her getting in his business and constantly reminding him that he neglects his daughter.
In Jesse Connor’s eyes his life would be simple if it consisted of three things. His ranch, his cattle and his horses. But it doesn’t- for one, there’s his young daughter, Adeline, who is fighting for his love and attention because he’s the only parent she has. Then there is Millie Braithwaite-that damn beautiful English woman.
Millie & Jesse are two broken souls who are both fighting against the inevitable, because they both know that this time their hearts could be shattered beyond repair.
Box of Hearts is the first book in the Connor Ranch series and tells the story of second chance love and the joy and sorrow it can bring.
Connect with Nikki Ashton
by Maria Gibbs
Two babies abandoned at birth—one grows up in a life of privilege, the other in poverty.
On the 12th of September, 1981, twin boys are born in a Brasilian hospital and left to their fate as orphans. Jose is adopted by a couple who takes him to England, but the other isn’t so lucky. Pedro ends up on the streets of Rio, left to fend for himself in a harsh and unforgiving world.
Love and betrayal.
Twelve years later Jose’s family returns to Brasil, where he learns the truth about his adoption and his twin. Thinking his adoptive parents no longer want him, he runs away to find his brother. What follows will shake Jose to the core and shape the rest of his life—if he can survive.
Jose isn’t the only one whose life will change. Pedro is offered an opportunity beyond any of his wildest dreams, but to keep it will mean the betrayal of someone he loves. This proves to be a far greater challenge than he anticipated when the orphan finds himself suddenly surrounded by family who, unfortunately, don’t all have good intentions.
Hopes and dreams.
A Boy from the Streets will tug at your heart-strings and have you rooting for the little guy as you follow the twists and turns this multi-continental tale takes.
“Fernando, we must take them both, we cannot separate twins.”
“Christina, you’re too soft, we can’t bring up two children. You’re not strong enough to cope with the needs of twins. Your constitution is weak. It would be unfair to all of us.”
“I know my health is delicate, Fernando, and I will always regret that I can’t carry your baby to term inside me, but I know I can love and care for these twins. We can afford to hire help…” She trailed off when she saw the determined jut of his chin, the expression that brooked no further argument. Christina decided to try one last tug at his conscience anyway. “If we leave one behind, he might end up on the streets, an urchin living in squalor and fighting to survive… if he even makes it past babyhood.”
“Christina, your abundance of love does you credit, but I have no doubts the other boy will be adopted also. The only thing left to do now is to choose which one you would like?”
Christina’s heart sank as she looked at the two bundles in front of her. He was asking her to choose one, like picking out a pair of shoes from the rows on display in a shop. One stirred and let out a howl, disturbing his twin. It was almost as though he were alert to the inherent danger in this situation and was warning his brother.
Christina reached out a hand to each of them, touching their delicate tiny fingers and marvelling at how small, how fragile they were. Both lay quietly now, staring up at her with eyes as yet unable to focus. The boy who had been woken by his brother curled his tiny digits around her finger. In that moment she knew. He was asking her for help. The other twin would have the strength and tenacity to face whatever life threw at him. Christina couldn’t think about that, now that the decision was made. There was no hope of changing Fernando’s mind.
Without a further glance to the brother, she scooped up her new baby, cradling his floppy head and bringing him close to her chest so that he could feel her heart beat and know he was safe. She started to walk away with Fernando’s supportive hand between her shoulder blades. The baby in her arms let out a whimpering cry, and his twin, who still lay in the cot, responded with a heart-breaking howl which tore at her heartstrings and caused Christina to pause her flight. Fernando’s hand applied gentle pressure while she lifted one leaden foot in front of the other. A silent tear fell from her face onto the baby in her arms. She muttered a quick prayer for his twin.
“All that’s left now is to fill in the paperwork and the boy is ours.” Fernando’s handsome face broke into a smile. He reached out and touched the silent baby in his wife’s arms.
“You are to be our son,” he crooned. “We must think of a fitting name to honour your new status in the Sanchez family.”
I'm a self-published author who released her first novelette in January 2015 ‘As Dreams are Made on’ which was closely followed by my second one in February of the same year ‘A Lifetime or a Season.’
In 2016 I released ‘The Storm Creature’ after writing it for an anthology.
2017 will see the release of a novel which I am excited about ‘A boy from the Streets.’ During that time, I have also been working on a number of other WIP’s which are in the pipeline. I don’t fit into any neat genres where my writing is concerned, I am a ‘pantser' and write anything that comes into my head. So my books range from thrillers, to romance, from paranormal, time slip to contemporary women’s fiction.
I started reading as soon as I was able to and followed on by writing soon after. My biggest influence as a child was Enid Blyton who taught me that books were an escape to new and exciting worlds. I love reading books from a wide spectrum of genres, if the cover attracts me and the blurb stacks up then I want to read the book. When I’m not reading or writing, or doing my full-time job I enjoy travelling, crafting, horse-riding and riding my motorbike.