Something So Perfect by Natasha Madison

 

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Coming July 31st

 

 

Matthew

Drafted first round pick when I was seventeen, playing first line at eighteen, branded NHL’s bad boy at nineteen. At twenty-three I was cut from the team and living back home with my parents. A knock on the door brought an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. All I had to do was prove I learned from my mistakes, so no way would I fall for a chick with a pouty mouth even if I wanted to spend all day devouring it.

Karrie

When my father gave me a job, I had no idea it would be to babysit some washed up NHL player. He wanted me to be his chaperone, his overpaid babysitter. I thought it was a joke. Then I met him, Matthew Grant. I wasn’t prepared for this particular bad boy. He’s not only hot but he’s arrogant and kinda sweet in a ‘you make me crazy’ kind of way.
Basically now that he’s finished screwing up his life, he’s decided to turn mine upside down.


She’s the first thing I’ve ever wanted more than hockey.

He’s the guy I know I should stay away from.

But what if this thing that started out so wrong turns into something so perfect?

 

 

   Matthew Cooper Stone is my stepfather, the Cooper Stone who’s the best person to ever skate. He holds every single record that’s out there because he’s just that fucking good.
   “What the fuck are you doing?”
   I didn’t even have a chance to say hello before Cooper’s voice filled the room. I groaned and turned over to see that he was on speakerphone. My finger must have touched it by accident. “Matthew, seriously, I’m one second from flying out there and yanking you off the fucking ice.”
    I was twenty-one and already being benched and scratched.
   I was no chump. I was drafted first over all. The day still played in my mind. “The Los Angeles Royals choose Matthew Grant.” The minute my name was said, I sat there in shock while my little sister was yelling and my mother, Parker, had tears running down her cheeks while her face lit up with happiness and pride. Cooper was the first to grab me and stand me up.
   “Go get that fucking jersey.” His voice was loud in my ear. My mother was next. “I’m so proud of you, Matthew, so, so proud.”
   I kissed her cheek and walked down the stairs toward the stage from where the general manager, the owner, and the coach all looked at me. When I walked on stage, I tried to hold my tears in.
   Taking the owner’s hand in mine, I shook it and thanked him. Putting that jersey on was surreal. Posing for pictures was a blur. I got so drunk that night I don’t remember much, except Cooper having to carry me inside while I pledged my love to my mother, my sister, and the trees around us.
   Usually, once you get drafted, you start off on their farm team, but not me. I was on the starting line. I was up to my ears in silicone. There would be a different girl every night, everyone wanting to get a piece of me. The star of the team. Then my game started to slip. The late nights took a toll on me and my body. Three years later, I was sent down to the farm team. You’d think I would wake up, but no, not me. I just partied harder. I was on the front page of almost every single tabloid magazine that you could think of.
   Every single summer I went back home, spending the time training hard with Cooper riding my ass, promising him that I was out of the party phase, but the minute my feet landed back in L.A., it was back to the booze and the puck bunnies. Another three years later, I was put on wavers. When no one picked me up, I packed up and went back home. For two years, I played hockey at home in charity games, till the GM from the New York Stingers came knocking at my door. Robert Western.
   Cooper, Mom, and I sat down with him. My hands shook with nerves, my legs bouncing with happiness that someone actually wanted me.
  “We want to offer him a one-year contract, with certain rules.” He eyed me and then Cooper. I knew Cooper had called in a favor.
   “What is it?” I asked, holding my breath.
   “Chaperone.”
    I was about to get up and say fuck that when Cooper put his hand on mine and blurted out, “He’ll do it.”
   I looked at him while he glared at me. My mother put a hand on top of her husband’s. United. Always.
   Robert slapped his hands together. “Matthew, you, my friend, are going to bring another cup to New York.” He got up to shake my hand and then Cooper’s, slapping him on the arm. “Who knows, you may also knock this asshole off a throne or two.”
   Cooper laughed out loud, but I knew he would be the one egging me on, the one daring me to push him off. He would also be the first one coming to congratulate me if I ever did it.
   He had come into my life when I’d needed a male figure the most. I just hadn’t known it. He showed me that you can fall in love with your whole heart and everything will fall into place. He showed me that you fight for what you want. But most of all, he showed me that love is a gift and once it’s given, you cherish it.
   So now here I am on the plane getting ready to land in New York. I have to meet the owner of the team and the PR people tomorrow at noon. I scroll through my social media sites while I wait for the doors to open. My sister is tagging me in old photos of us from Mom and Cooper’s wedding. Feels like it was just yesterday. When you see the way Cooper looks at my mother, you know he loves her with all his heart. He would walk to the ends of the earth for her.
   I press the heart emoji on the picture and then hear the ping of the seat belt sign telling us we can stand up. I grab my leather jacket and slide it on, put on my aviators, and grab my leather duffel bag. Walking out of the plane, I nod at the two flight attendants, who both slipped me their numbers. Numbers I left in the side of the seat.
   Fresh start. It’s time to make my parents proud of me. Time to show the world that Matthew Grant is here for good this time.
   On my way to my hotel in Times Square, I look out the window of the yellow cab zigzagging its way through traffic. Nothing in the world beats the cab drivers in New York City. You sit back and hold your breath while you pray to not end up being slammed forward. We reach the W hotel. I swipe my card through the card holder in the back, thanking him. I don’t even have time to close the door before he races off from the curb.
   I enter and check in without having anything to say. The woman at reception starts going through her routine talk. I cut in. “What floor is the gym on?”
   She smiles at me, telling me the information while giving me her private number in case I have any other questions.
   I nod at her and then walk up to my room. It’s the size of a closet. Welcome to New York. I take my phone out to send a text to Cooper.     
   Landed. Going to work out.
   Be good.
   I’m always good.
   Okay, then behave.
   I laugh and throw the phone on the bed, and then get my workout clothes out of the bag. I grab my headphones and make my way to the gym.
   I have texts from Allison, my sister, and Tom, who is married to my aunt Meghan and is an ex-NHLer, wishing me luck. But the one that makes me laugh out loud is from my Aunt Meghan, telling me that my dick won’t fall off if I don’t use it. I’m about to answer her when the elevator beeps, signaling I have arrived at the gym floor.
   I walk to the gym and scan my card so I can get in. Usually, these hotel gyms are almost empty, but not this time. A girl is jogging on the treadmill, but I don’t make eye contact with her.
   Grabbing a towel from the basket in the corner, I walk over to the other treadmill, look down at the buttons, and turn it on.
   I start off slow while Drake fills my ears, but that doesn’t last long before I crank it up and push myself hard. I’m in the best shape of my life, thanks to my mom, Cooper, and Tim. They didn’t let me sit down and drown my sorrows in bonbons and booze. They had my ass skating at the crack of dawn. In the gym pushing and pulling. Meaning I’m the biggest I’ve ever been. My shoulders are wider, my waist leaner, my arms bigger.
   I’m sweating up a storm, so I look over to see if the girl is still running on the treadmill, which is my first mistake. Not only is she next to me running as fast as me, but she’s in a sports bra holding up a perfect set of tits, her stomach bare, her abs defined but looking soft, and her little booty shorts not keeping anything back. She isn’t tall. Her blond hair swings in the air while she’s looking at the iPad she has in front of her. Is she watching the Kardashians? Jesus. She must sense me watching her because she looks over, which is when I feel the earth move under my feet. Her eyes are crystal blue, so blue it’s like I’m looking into the ocean. I almost trip over my own two feet, but I recover and smile at her. I turn my head forward and continue running till my legs feel like they’re going to snap in two.
   Getting off the treadmill, I whip my soaking shirt off and throw it over my shoulder before I grab a water bottle and drain it all. I notice she’s slowing her speed. She shuts off the treadmill, dabbing her face with the towel that she has near her. She takes the water bottle, drinking in a good amount.
   I start to walk out of the room when she gets off the treadmill. I stop right before we collide with each other, then put out my hand, giving her the right of way.
   “Thanks,” she says, her voice soft, sweet, pure.
   Following her out, I watch her ass swing in front of me. I don’t even notice she stops and I crash into her, grabbing her shoulders and making sure she doesn’t fall on her face because I was staring at her ass. “I’m sorry, I was…” I’m sure I don’t have to say anything to her because my cock is nestled in her back.
   She shrugs my hands off her shoulders while she presses the elevator button. We stand here not saying anything while we wait. What can you say? Sorry my dick poked your back? Sorry I was watching your sweet ass instead of watching where I was going? Silence is golden right now.
   When the elevator arrives, I wait for her to walk in before entering and see that we are on the same floor. Great. The ride lasts no longer than a second before the door opens and she sprints out, away from the crazy pervert who poked his dick into her back. I head to my door and see she’s in the room right next to mine. I want to say something, anything, but by the time I look up, she’s already in the safety of her own room.  

 

 

When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…

 

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A Losing Battle by Anne Stone

 

 

Hunter has left home to join the Marine Corps, leaving Mackenzie behind, confused and unsure about her feelings. She loves Carter, she really, really does, but could there be a spark between her and Hunter, as well?

Mackenzie does the only thing she can in the circumstances: she buries her conflicting emotions in her work. But when she sees Hunter again, she knows the time for a decision has come.

Little does she know, time is running out for the both of them.
Coming July 24th

 

 

 
Hunter

When we get out off the bus at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, we’re told to step onto the yellow footprints, our first formation for close-order drill. They used the bus ride to give us a first impression of our new life as Marines. To sum it up: nothing here is even remotely gentle or pleasant.
We’re allowed to call home and inform our next of kin that we’ve arrived safely. But, obviously, I don’t. I can’t risk Mac picking up. Hearing her voice would kill me. What if she sounded sad? I’d be on my way home in an instant—but that would make me a deserter. And what if she sounded happy? My heart would turn to dust.
After people have made their calls, we’re given uniforms and a “high and tight”—that hot Marine-style haircut. I already wear my hair short, but after they’re done, I’m practically bald.
That first day, we have to fill in forms, then we get some vaccines and undergo medical examinations. And then? They give us our first weapon.
For three days, we’re up and running without any sleep whatsoever. After that, we have to take the IST—the initial strength test—to see whether we’re fit to be Marines.
First, we’re required to do sit-ups—at least forty-five in two minutes. I’m glad I’m in good shape, thanks to football—and Shane. While it’s happening, I don’t really have time to see how the others do, but I do notice some of them giving up. So far, I haven’t really talked to anyone. But after three days without sleep, expecting anyone to get anything done is pretty much a miracle.
Next, we do pull-ups. We have to do three, which seems laughable. I can do way more, but no need to show them. After that, we have to complete a one-and-a-half mile run in less than thirteen and a half minutes. Not a problem. Even when groggy and sleep deprived. But this is how they separate the wheat from the chaff. I would be embarrassed to be failing already, but some of these guys really do not measure up to what’s expected of a Marine.
I’ve never been so exhausted in my life. You know when you’re dead tired, but then you keep going and get beyond that point? No? I don’t either. I’d fall asleep standing up if they’d let me. But there isn’t a quiet minute to be had. The only good thing about all this? There’s no time to think.
I reach my limits on “Black Friday.” We meet our drill instructor, who yells at us and intimidates us, pushing our psychological limits. Shane told me about this—including the fact that they make the initial stage of boot camp as confusing and disorienting as possible to let us know that civilian life is over for us, and life as a Marine is something completely different.
But it’s tough. In my family, there’s never been a lot of yelling. Dad probably yelled at me for the first time in five years just last week. And suddenly there’s this guy yelling directly into your ear, not giving you an ounce of the respect you’re used to, the respect your father always said you deserved. Your initial impulse is not to stand there and take it. Growing up in liberal California has made it difficult to take that kind of abuse. But I do anyway. I know they want total obedience so that we can function in extreme situations, and this is what I want.
But that was only the Receiving Phase.
As soon as we enter Phase One, I’ll want to go back to the first part of our training—or to any other part of my life, for that matter. Phase One will take four weeks, and they’ll break us down psychologically, trying to expel every last ounce of civilian behavior from our bones. Because we are no longer civilians. We are Marine recruits. Everything we’ve done in our lives thus far is wrong and bad for us if we want to be proper soldiers.
Strict discipline, endless training, and the same routines over and over again—these are the building blocks of our first few weeks. Training is easy for me. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but I knew it was going to be bad. I’ve been preparing myself for this, which makes it easier. I can take it. But what I really hate is all the stuff they do to rob us of our individuality. Your entire life people have been telling you to choose your own path and stop being like a sheep following the herd, and suddenly it’s the exact opposite they want from you.
We’re not supposed to be individuals. We’re supposed to be a team. And it makes sense. We need to be able to rely on each other. In combat, we can’t be successful if we’re not a cohesive unit, but it’s still tough. We’re only allowed to talk about ourselves in the third person, saying things like “This recruit understands” and stuff. Everything inside me rebels against it, but I know that’s part of it all.
At night, I lie awake trying not to think about Mac. She is my strength and my greatest weakness at the same time. I want to make her proud, show her what kind of a man I am. But thinking of her also opens up wounds inside me. It’s hard to love and not be loved back.
On the other hand, intense physical and mental exhaustion makes it impossible to give too much thought to anything. It may sound strange, but I embrace the rigidity. I don’t want to think about all the things that are going wrong in my life, and instead focus on surviving this. And it’s like the drill sergeants know it. They make sure that if they ever give us a free moment, all we want to do is sleep.
We learn about the history of the Marines, the rank structure, first aid. We study formations and uniforms. We learn how to handle our weapon, clean it, and always have it with us. We start our close-combat training. Without weapons, with repurposed weapons, and with our rifle, which is going to accompany us throughout boot camp.
We don’t talk much. Usually we’re half dead when they stop yelling in our ears. But the first friendships develop somehow. Killian Hastings is my bed neighbor. Cool guy. A natural-born soldier, a natural-born Marine. He passes every exam like he was made to do this. If he wasn’t cool, I would hate him. But he’s a team player, always thinking about others first. He is not a leader and never will be, but he is the glue you need to build a team.
Joey Montana is the second comrade I would call a friend. He’s a joker, always up for some banter. And let me tell you, I need it—especially in the third week when we start our swimming and water survival training. The pressure is getting worse. Because this is the first time they can kick us out of boot camp. Fail twice, and you can forget about being a Marine.
It’s enough to drives you to despair. But we don’t have time for that, either. We are not supposed to think, and our superiors take that idea seriously. And they’re really good at it.
Our training gets harder by the day. The stronger we get, the more they expect from us. The more our bodies get used to the strain, the tougher it gets. We’re made to repeat everything, in order to engrain it into our brains and make it muscle memory—so that we’re able to do every exercise in our sleep. It’s tiring. But nobody ever said boot camp was going to be easy.
It does help against heartbreak, though. The harder I work, the less I think of Mac, simply because my brain’s capacity is insufficient to deal with anything beyond survival.
And then there’s the part of Phase One I dread the most. The gas chamber. I don’t want to go in. But we have to. If we leave it, they send us back in. If we don’t obey, they kick us out of boot camp.
I’m standing there with my gas mask doing calisthenics when they tell us to take off our masks. I take it off and feel panic trying to conquer my insides. I can’t do this is the only thought in my head. I can’t do this, but I have no choice. I can’t give up because I wouldn’t know what else to do. I can’t go back home, back to that situation. That might make me a coward, but the thought of it just rips my heart out. Every time Dad kisses her, I want to grab her from his arms and punch him in the face because he’s kissing my girl. But I don’t think the caveman method would sit too well with him.
No, I need to stick to this. It’s all I have.
There comes the command to put our masks back on.
It’s over. My panic recedes.
The threat of Mac has saved me, even if I wish I could entertain more positive thoughts of her.
Before we go to bed, we get one hour of square-away time. It’s not every night, only when our DI says so. We have to make sure our gear is up to scratch, and while we’re not allowed to shower or sleep, we’re allowed to shave, which feels good. We’re also allowed to read and write letters. I keep getting letters from Carey, but I don’t read them, and I don’t write back. I just can’t. It makes me too sad. I feel horrible about leaving him. The only thing that makes me feel a little better is the idea that I’ve left him with Mac.
“Hey, man,” Joey says, sitting down beside me. “There’s this girl I like. She wrote to me, and I want to write back, but all I can think of is the fact that I want to stick my dick inside her.”
I smile.
“Something makes me think that wouldn’t be such a good idea,” he says. “Can you help me out?”
“It depends where you are in your relationship. Have you ever had your dick inside her?” I ask.
He smiles. “Everywhere.”
Across the room, Killian laughs. “I don’t believe you. If you’d actually been inside her ass, you’d know what to write to her.”
“A sonnet to her juicy ass?” Joey asks, laughing.
“Thinking of her juicy ass, I can survive the harshest gas,” Killian says with mock severity.
“Oh man, that was horrible,” I laugh, wiping tears from my eyes.
“When I see her juicy ass, I want her to blow my brass,” somebody else quips.
“Dude, I lose my fucking wits, sucking on her awesome tits,” yells another bard from the other side of the dorm. I laugh because it just feels good to be young and stupid for a change.
“Let me be blunt, I’d fuck her cunt.”
“She sucks my dick, it’s hard as a brick.”
“Good thing none of you have to make a living as a poet,” Joey says. “I actually like her, okay?”
“Hey, man, there’s no need to wallow. She might like you too—does she swallow?”
“Well, if she doesn’t suck it up, you can serve it to her in a cup.”
We laugh and laugh until we hear: “What exactly is there to laugh about, recruits? Free time’s over. A hundred and twenty seconds to get showered. Go!”
A hundred and twenty seconds isn’t that long, but you learn really quickly to only wash the important parts. Normally, this would include my dick—just in case it gets sucked—but there’s nobody here I would want on the job. And besides, I kind of swore an oath I would only ever let Mac do it.
Fuck. I really didn’t think that promise through.
Overall, it gets easier. A person can get used to anything. The tough training becomes second nature, and it gets easier to adjust to the whole drill. Phase Two is mainly weapons training. We’re sent to Edson Range, at Pendleton, for three weeks, where we practice marksmanship. We have to pass several exams, but they prepare us well. And let’s face it. We’ve been through worse. Still, when we get our first badges for marksmanship, it feels good to have achieved something tangible, to get to tick some boxes.
I don’t know whether it’s because we’re going through the same experience, or maybe you just get used to each other more easily in times of crisis, but Killian and Joey become like brothers to me. I don’t want to put Carey down, but I would entrust my life to them before him.
It also quickly becomes clear why the buddy system is such a hit. It is much easier to make it through difficult situations when you have moral support. We cheer and egg each other on—whenever we’re not too tired to open our mouths. Without my two buddies, this would be much harder.
Killian is from Texas and looks like an all-American boy. Normally. There’s hardly anything left of his blond hair, but his blue eyes still shine, even at the ends of the toughest days. He’s tall, not as tall as me, but then again, few are. He has a sunny disposition, and nothing can faze him. He’s always cool, never reacts to people teasing him. Not that a lot of them would try. I guess with his looks, you’re predestined to be respected.
Joey, on the other hand, is small. Sometimes I wonder aloud how he passed the minimum height and weight requirements—but only to tease him. He’s not actually that small, and he has endless strength and endurance. Where Killian and I have trouble with our height, Joey always gets through. Not that I’m jealous or anything.
At the end of our marksmanship training, the platoons compete with each other, and we win, breaking out into enthusiastic cheers. This really lifts morale on our team, and it also earns us a bonus. We’re allowed to make phone calls. A privilege I don’t use…
Still, the next week feels like we’re on break. They take our measurements for our gala uniforms, and any medical conditions are treated. It’s only four weeks left. Then we’re done. The goal during our final phase is to put everything we’ve learned together and polish our initial skill set. This includes an exam and a performance test that I pass with flying colors.
I’m stronger than I was a few weeks ago, not just physically, but mentally, too. I no longer have any doubt: I know what my life is going to look like, and I have accepted it. Physically, I’m somewhat wider, having built up more muscle. And it’s made me feel more at home inside my body. Often, when you’re tall, you subconsciously hunch down in order not to stand out. And even though I’ve always been relatively confident, I’ve always had to bend down to communicate with other people. Which messed with my posture. And, in psychological terms, it does the same to you as walking through life with a bent back.
But now? Now I have a completely different outlook.
Boot camp has given me a new confidence, the type of confidence you can only gain knowing that you’ll be able to defend yourself in any situation you’ll ever face—be it with words, weapons, or your own bare hands.
At the end of boot camp, we’re divided into groups to do a final exam lasting two days. It’s a combat simulation testing us in different stress situations, including sleep and food deprivation, and danger to your body and your life.
It is difficult, but it’s surprising how you can turn into a completely different person in such a short period of time. Twelve weeks ago, I would never have believed I could do this. Now, it seems like I was born to do it, like I’ve never done anything else in my life. And it feels good. It shows what I’ve achieved, what I can achieve if I make up my mind. A lot of it is physical, but it is the mental strength I’ve gained that really surprises me.
After twelve weeks, we’re done. Finally, I want to say. But that’s not how I feel.
Now it feels like I’m leaving my family all over again. It’s not a good feeling.
Joey wants to join the infantry, while Killian and I are going to do twenty-nine days of Marine Combat Training before joining the Marine Combatant Divers. At least it’s good to know I don’t have to leave everybody behind again.
After graduation, we’ll get ten days off. Killian has invited me to Texas, and I’ve decided to accept because I still can’t imagine going home. And I have nowhere else to go.

Everybody is desperate for our graduation ceremony. Not just because it means we’ve made it, but because they’re proud. They want to show their loved ones what they’ve achieved. Personally, I don’t care about that part of it, but I haven’t told the others that when I’m done here, I won’t have anybody waiting to congratulate for me.
At the ceremony, we stand in formation to listen to the final talk, the finish to this chapter of our training. As Marines. All around me, my comrades are hugging their mothers, sisters, and girlfriends. All around me, there is love.
But I’m all alone.
“Hey, soldier!” I hear the voice behind me but don’t turn.
For a moment, I stay completely still, certain I’m hallucinating. Finally, I turn around.
And there’s Mac, standing in front of me in a summer dress. She is so beautiful my breath stops for a moment.
“Marine,” I say softly.
She smiles. “Hey, Marine.”
She comes closer, somewhat unsure about how to act, before throwing herself around my neck. I hug her back, pick her up, and squeeze her really tight.
“I’m so proud of you,” she whispers in my ear.
Fuck, hearing that from her really turns me on!
When, after half an eternity, I put her back down, I look into her teary eyes. “How did you know?”
She shrugs. “I’m stalking you.”
I smile. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything more beautiful in my life. “Oh, really?”
“I knew you wouldn’t tell me, but I wanted you to know how incredibly proud of you I am. I knew you’d make it.”
Right now, I feel ten feet tall instead of six. No, wait! I’m not even mortal. I’m a god!
My girl is proud of me. Is there anything in the world better than that?
“Carey’s here, too,” she says.
I look around and see him standing a little off to the side. He looks insecure, like he doesn’t know whether he’s welcome here. I hate myself for making my brother question whether I care about him. I run over to him and pull him into my arms.
“I’ve missed you, bro,” I say quietly, patting him on the back
“You never wrote back,” he says, his fingers clawing into my uniform like he never wants to let me go again.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t. I always wanted to, but I couldn’t. It would have broken my focus.”
Carey nods. “I thought…”
“I’m sorry, man. I always want you in my life. You’re my brother. The only family I’ve got.”
“You’ve got Mac, too,” he says quietly, and I look over at her. She’s standing a few steps away, her cheeks shiny, looking at us but giving us privacy.
I nod. “I’ve got Mac, too, but not like I want her.” Oops. That just came out. I wasn’t planning to tell Carey.
But he says, “I know.”
I give him a surprised look. “You do?”
“I’m not blind. Your goodbye kiss was pretty obvious,” he says. “And I’m not deaf, either. Dad and Mac fight about you all the time.”
“That bad?”
He shrugs just as Mac steps closer. “Is everything okay, boys?”
I nod, putting my arm around her shoulders to pull her close again. I plant a kiss on her head.
“Hey, Tilman!” Joey calls, coming toward us.
“Hands off,” I joke before I introduce him. He kisses Mac’s hand and smiles at Carey.
“My parents want to go grab a bite to eat. They wanted to invite my friends. You coming?”
I look at Mac and Carey.
“They can come,” Joey says quickly.
Mac shakes her head. “Thanks, that’s really sweet, but I need to go.” She avoids my eye, and I know she’s thinking about Dad.
I make an effort to hide my disappointment as I tell Joey, “Carey and I’ll be there in a second.”
“I’m sorry,” Mac whispers.
“It’s okay,” I say, even though nothing is okay. In that moment, I realize—no, remember—that she’s never going to leave Dad for me.
This needs to stop. Otherwise I will not survive it.
“How long do you get off?” she asks.
“Ten days.”
“Are you coming home?”
“Home. Nice word, but I no longer have one,” I say, shocked at the bitterness in my own voice.
She nods, tears running down her cheeks. “I—”
“Let it go, Mac. Let it go.”
She quickly presses herself against me and runs away without turning around again. I look after her.
“Hunt…”
“She’s never going to leave him, is she?”
Carey shrugs. “No idea, man. But I wouldn’t wait for it.”

 

I’m a contemporary romance writer, who likes her men tattooed, her women independent and her coffee strong.

My stories are all about love, but some are of the romantic kind, some of the sad kind and others of the very steamy kind. So if you can stand drama, foul language and sex, you came to the right place.

Love, Annie

 

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Chapter Reveal: Unconventional by Isabel Love

 

Title: Unconventional
Author: Isabel Love
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release Date: July 20, 2017
Blurb
Happily ever after—what a joke! I tried that once and ended
up divorced.
Now, I only want one thing from men.
Charlie Nelson is good at giving me that one thing. Really, really good.
So good, in fact, I discovered a new side of myself.
I never knew I liked to watch until I saw
his talented hands touching someone else.
I never knew I liked to be watched until I
felt his searing gaze on me.
Maybe happily ever after isn’t always a white picket fence,
wedding bells, and 2.5 kids.
Maybe it’s something a bit more…unconventional.
*Warning: Contains dirty talk, piercings and hot threesomes.
Intended for readers over 18 years of age.
Pre-order Links
99c pre-order only price!AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS

Copyright © 2017
Unconventional by Isabel Love

 

 


That’s some
party trick.
 
I’m so worked
up
 right now, I
almost can’t see straight. I had fully intended to fuck Miss Double D, as Quinn
so aptly named her, but once the security guard interrupted us and Quinn
bolted, having sex with Crystal lost its appeal. All I could think about was
Quinn’s gaze on me, watching me touch another woman, watching me make her come.
She liked watching. I could tell how turned on she was by the
way her chest was rising and falling so rapidly with every breath, the way she
couldn’t tear her eyes away from me, the sheen of sweat on her upper lip and
neck.
 
My cock throbs in
my pants just thinking about it.
 
Quinn insists on
driving as I had a few shots tonight and we decide to go to her place because
it’s closer. Quinn lives in a condo that’s quite nice, actually. Once we’re in
her car, I adjust my dick so my pants aren’t strangling it.
 
“Congratulations
on your new account, hotshot. I don’t know if I told you earlier,” she says.
 
“Thank you. You
told me earlier, but you can tell me again. I like it when you praise me.”
 
“I’m not sure
there’s any room in this car, what with the size of your—”
 
“Cock?” I
interject.
 
“I was going to
say ego.
 
“My cock is
pretty big, too, you have to admit.” I look over at her, flashing a naughty
grin.
 
“I do like your
cock, you know that. Are you fishing for compliments?”
 
I chuckle. I love
that she admits to liking my cock. Most women shy away from dirty talk, but not
Quinn. She’s just as blunt as I am and isn’t afraid to use words like cock or
cunt.
 
“Isn’t there any
way you can go any faster? I’m dying over here.” I’m two seconds away from
pulling my dick out and jacking off while she drives.
 
“Calm your tits.
We’re almost there.” She rolls her eyes but does push down on the gas pedal a
bit harder.
 
“Speaking of
tits, you liked watching me fondle Miss Double D, didn’t you?”
 
“That was one
impressive rack,” she admits.
 
“Have you
ever…been with a woman?” The way she was watching us made me think she’d like
to join in. I could see Quinn experimenting with other women.
 
“No, I like dick,
if you haven’t noticed.” She smiles and glances over at me. “But I can
appreciate that boobs are sexy.”
 
“What about the
way she was able to lick her own nipples, wasn’t that hot?” I almost came in my
pants when I saw that she could do it. That’s going in the spank bank, for
sure.
 
“That’s some
party trick.”
 
“Would you lick
your own nipples if you could?” I ask her. Quinn’s boobs are amazing, large and
perky, though not quite as big as Crystal’s.
 
“Hell yeah I
would. That’s like asking if you would suck your own dick if you could. Don’t
even tell me you’ve never tried to; I won’t believe you.”
 
I chuckle. “When
I was 14, I tried as hard as I could, but I’m not that flexible.”
 
“There’s a sight
I would have liked to see.” She laughs.
 
“It wasn’t even
remotely sexy. I lived in fear that someone would walk in on me and catch an
eyeful of me in different contorted positions.” I laugh at the memory. “It
would seem as though you are a closet voyeur. How did I not know this about you
until tonight?”
 
She chews on her
bottom lip. “I didn’t know it myself. I mean, I like watching porn, but I’ve
never come across an opportunity to watch real-life action.”
 
I file that
information away for later and almost weep with relief when we pull into her
driveway. We turn to look at each other once the car is parked in her garage,
and her eyes roam over my face, stopping on my lips. She leans forward, about
to kiss me.
 
“Is there
anything you need to do before I fuck you?” Once I start, I won’t be able to
stop until I’m balls deep inside of her.
 
“No.” 
I promptly get
out of the car and walk around the front to open her door. As soon as she’s
standing, I’m on her, pulling her face toward mine and taking her mouth in a
hot, wet kiss. Her lips are perfect, plump, and soft, and this kiss has the
perfect ratio of lips, teeth, and tongue. Her tongue dances with mine and she’s
as ravenous as I am, licking and nipping at me. Her hands are busy too,
untucking my shirt and reaching for my belt buckle. Fuck. I love
that she’s desperate for my dick, but I reach down and bat her hands away. We
need to take this inside. I reach down to palm her ass and pick her up. Her
legs wrap around my waist as I carry her to the door, stopping by the security
alarm so she can disarm it.
 
Once the door is
open, I stride inside and sit on the couch with Quinn straddling me. She grinds
against my erection as I pull her shirt up and off. She reaches for my shirt
next, and I reach over my head to tug it off. She sits back on my lap and
stares down at my torso, lust and appreciation shining in her eyes. I also take
a moment to appreciate my view of her. She wears a red, silky bra, but it seems
like some of the material is missing because only the bottom half of her boobs
are covered. The top half is exposed and I can see the pink skin of her areolas
just hinting at where her nipples are. I trail my fingers across the edge of
the bra, dragging the material down a bit to reveal the rest of her nipples.
They’re tight little nubs and I pinch them, hard. She gasps and arches her
back, bringing her chest closer to my face.
 
“I really like
this bra, Red. It seems like you chose the color just for me.”
 
“I chose it
for me. I like the way it makes me feel,” she corrects me, her
voice low and throaty.
 
“How does it make
you feel?”
 
“Sexy.” 
“You don’t need a
bra for that. You’re sexy all on your own. Stand up, take your pants off. I
want to see the rest of you.”
 
She stands and
starts to unbutton her pants. “If I’m getting naked, then so are you. Come on,
let me see that gorgeous cock of yours.”
 
I comply with her
request, grabbing a condom out of my wallet before stripping off my jeans,
underwear, socks, and shoes. Quinn makes quick work of her pants and heels then
goes to take off her panties but I stop her.
 
“Wait, I want
to take those off.” I sit back down on the couch and pull her to stand in front
of me. The underwear is also silky red, and I love the contrast against her
pale skin. Quinn is curvy, her hips flaring out from her waist. I smooth my
hands down them before reaching back to squeeze her ass. It bounces when I let
go and I can’t wait to see it bounce on my cock.
 
“How wet did you
get watching me earlier?” I know she was aroused, but I don’t know how much.
 
“Soaking wet,”
she tells me.
 
“I want to see.”
I reach for the fabric that covers her pussy and run my fingers back and forth,
testing the fabric for wetness. Sure enough, it’s soaked. “Fuck, Red. I need to
taste you.”
 
“So taste me.” 
I slide her
panties down her legs and help her step out of them. I lean forward and nuzzle
my nose right in between her legs, inhaling her musky scent, then lick her
slit, grabbing her ass and pulling her forward, closer to my mouth. She holds
on to my shoulders to steady herself as my tongue laps at her cunt, but I can’t
quite get the right angle while she’s standing up.
 
I stand, and she
whimpers. “Why did you stop?”
 
I look around her
living room and see the ottoman in front of the couch is plush and a decent
size. “Lie back on this, I need to bury my face in your pussy.”
 
She shivers at my
words and reclines on the ottoman, legs spread wide and leaning up on her
elbows so she can watch me. Her red hair is wild, her face is flushed, and her
tits are heaving out of her bra as she pants in anticipation.
 
I kneel in front
of her and hold her gaze as I lick her slowly, from opening to clit.
 
“Fuck, that feels
good. Don’t stop.”
 
My licks are slow
and steady, working her up, but not giving her enough friction to come. She
keeps her gaze on me and I watch as she becomes more and more desperate.
 
“Charlie.” 
“Hmm?” I ask,
like I have all the time in the world.
 
Quinn likes to be
bossy too, and I like to make her beg. She hates begging, which makes me like
it even more. She tips her hips up, chasing my tongue, but I move it to lick
her folds instead.
 
“Charlie!” she
complains.
 
“Did I ever tell
you how much I love eating your pussy?” I ask her conversationally in between
licks. I could eat her out for hours. Her red curls are neatly trimmed, framing
her clit and pussy lips. I spread her wide open with my fingers and lick into
her opening, pushing my tongue as deep as I can get it, then licking the walls
as I come out. Her taste is addictive. Not all women taste the same—some are
bitter, some more musky, some sour. Quinn’s pussy tastes divine, the right
combination of musky, salty, and sweet. I lap up her juices, avoiding her clit,
trying to drive her crazy enough to beg me.
 
“Fuck! Charlie, I
need you. Is that what you want to hear?”
 
Bingo. “What do you need? More of my
tongue?” I focus on her clit and she moans loudly.
 
She doesn’t
answer me, so I back away.
 
“Charlie! Please,
I need you to fuck me, okay? Please fuck me.” She glares at me, pissed that she
gave in and begged me, but so turned on.
 
I chuckle and
reach for the condom. “My pleasure. Why didn’t you just say so?”
 
My body is so desperate to come but his tongue
wasn’t enough; I need his cock, and that fucking bastard always likes to make
me beg.
 
He rolls the
condom on and tugs on his gorgeous cock a couple of times before lining himself
up with my pussy. He pulls me forward slightly, making my ass hang just a bit
off the edge of the ottoman, and rubs the head of his dick up and down my
folds, coating himself with my wetness. I feel his piercing, a stark contrast
to the way a cock feels. The metal of the piercing is unforgiving while his
penis is hard but soft at the same time. The combination makes my eyes roll
back into my head and my clit throbs as I wait for him to push into me. He
doesn’t though, not right away. He picks up my legs and drapes them up over his
shoulders.
 
“Charlie!” I
bark. “Now. Fuck me now.”
 
At my tortured
command, he slams into me. I’m so wet, he gains entry easily, but his girth
stretches me open, making me gasp at the sudden feeling of fullness.
 
“Fuck. This is
going to be fast.”
 
Thank God. 
He leans forward,
seeking purchase on the edges of the ottoman to hold on. I grab on to his
forearms and he starts to thrust into me.
 
“Yessss.” I love
his unrelenting rhythm. His cock is big, and I feel the piercing inside,
creating more friction with each movement in and out of me. It reaches all the
right places and I’m on the verge of coming.
 
“I need you to
come, Red. Are you close?”
 
“God, yes.” 
He leans down and
latches on to one nipple, pulling it and biting it. Then he tends to the other
nipple, and the extra stimulation pushes me over the edge. Pleasure steals my
breath and my vision.
 
“Fuck!” I shout,
wrapping my legs around his waist so I can keep him inside me. My pussy clamps
around his dick while I come and he chuckles sexily.
 
“I love feeling
you milk my cock. Was that good?”
 
“Mmmmm,” I tell
him, too far gone for words right now.
 
He kisses me and
stays still as I come down from my orgasm. Then he starts moving again and I
realize his cock is still rock hard. “You didn’t come yet?”
 
“Not yet. Can you
flip over? I need to see your ass.”
 
“I’m not sure I
can move,” I groan. My body is always a bit paralyzed after an orgasm.
 
“I’ve got you.”
He pulls out of me, helps me sit up, then I turn and face plant into the
ottoman. He positions me so I’m kneeling on the carpet, folded over the ottoman
for support, ass sticking out at him. He palms my ass and slaps one cheek, the
unexpected sting causing me to gasp.
 
“Don’t fall
asleep on me.”
 
“Well then, give
me something to stay awake for,” I retort.
 
He spreads my ass
cheeks apart, so wide I’m completely exposed to his view. I can’t see what he’s
doing, but it seems like he’s just looking at me.
 
“You see
something you like?” I ask him, unnerved at his silence and stillness.
 
“I wish I could
take a picture of you right now, all pliant and satisfied, your pussy wet and
pink from my cock fucking you,” he replies, his voice so husky. “I’d title
it Satisfaction.”
 
“I bet you have a
collection of naughty pictures, don’t you?” He is a photographer, after all.
 
He slides his
cock up and down my crack, teasing me. Then he squeezes my ass cheeks together,
sandwiching his dick in between them, and pumps up and down. The condom catches
on my skin, not slick enough to glide smoothly, so he spits. The sound is so
crass, and I feel the plop as his saliva lands on my skin, but
when he starts moving again, the extra spit allows him to slide easily. Fuck,
his cock is so big. It makes me squirm every time it passes over my asshole,
and that piercing—it’s so unyielding.
 
“You’d think I’d
have naughty pictures, but I don’t. I’m not much for remembering past hookups,
but fuck, I want to keep this image for my viewing pleasure.”
 
“Maybe I’ll send
you a picture sometime.” I’ve never taken nude photos before, too afraid they
would end up online somewhere, but the thought of Charlie jerking off to images
of me gets me hot.
 
“I’d like that.”
He pulls back, his cockhead trailing down my crack to rub my clit. My nerve
endings are still so sensitive from my orgasm that his touch is almost too
much.
 
“Fuck, Charlie,”
I hiss, squirming away from his attention.
 
Surprisingly, he
heeds my complaint and finally slides into me. It’s a slow slide, inch by inch,
until his pelvis is flush with my ass, then he stills. Pleasure zings through
me at the way he stretches me and my recently sated body wakes up, hungry for
more. I need friction, but he isn’t moving. I huff in frustration.
 
“I want you to
bounce that luscious ass on my cock,” he says in explanation.
 
That I can do. I
lift my upper body off the ottoman and brace myself. Holding on to the sides, I
rock forward until I feel he’s almost completely out then I back up quickly,
loving the way he fills me up.
 
His hands cradle
my hips and pull me back to meet him. “That’s it, Red. God, your ass is
fantastic.”
 
Nothing is sexier
than the sounds this man makes during sex. The deep rumbles, the muttered
curses, the bossy commands, even the lewd remarks about my body are all so damn
hot.
 
Charlie Nelson is
one sexy beast.
 
Soon enough, he
takes control and reaches around to rub my clit. He can read my body so well,
and his fingers plucking my clit while he fucks me triggers an orgasm so
intense, I practically pass out. I scream my release and try to grab hold of
something to keep me tethered to Earth. He pitches forward on one final thrust
and shouts hoarsely along with me. His arms come around me, stilling my
flailing movements and holding me close as his dick pulses inside me.
 
“Fucking hell,
that was amazing.” He pants into my neck.
 
“Mmmm,” I agree. 
“You paralyzed?”
He knows this about me—orgasms always steal my coordination and leave me in a
heap of spasms and heavy limbs.
 
“Mmmmhmm.” 
“Stay here, I’ll
take care of you.” Those words sound so foreign coming out of Charlie’s mouth.
I know he means he’ll take care of my body. Not of me. I don’t want
anyone to take care of me.
 
I just want
orgasms.
 
And Charlie is
good at giving me orgasms.
 
I’ll never depend
on any man to take care of me ever again.
 
Charlie returns
moments later with a warm cloth and wipes between my legs gently. Then he lifts
me easily into his arms and carries me to my bed.
 
“Is it okay if I
crash here? I can be out of your hair first thing in the morning,” he promises.
 
I usually hate
having men stay the night. If it were anyone else, I’d make them leave
immediately. In fact, if it were anyone else, I wouldn’t have brought them to
my house at all, but Charlie is in this strange category. He isn’t some random
hookup; he’s someone I see all the time in my circle of friends. I guess he’s
my friend with an amazing cock who I like to have sex with on occasion, so I
trust him more than a random stranger.
 
That’s the only
reason I tug him down into bed with me, snuggle into his side, and promptly
fall asleep with the warmth of his arm wrapped around my waist.
 

 

 

Author Bio

Isabel Love is a hopeless romantic. She loves reading about two people falling in love, overcoming whatever obstacles they may face, and finding their happily ever after. A husband, two kids, and a full-time job keep her busy by day, but by night, she can be found with her Kindle in hand, reading “just one more chapter”.

Author Links

Chapter Reveal: Complicating by Noelle Adams & Samantha Chase

 

 

Title: Complicating
A Preston’s Mill Series Standalone
Authors: Noelle Adams & Samantha Chase
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 19, 2017


Blurb
Forget all those other accidental pregnancy
romances you might have read.
Daisy and Carter don’t have a one-night
stand…because it’s thirty minutes in a back room at a wedding reception. And
Carter isn’t a bad boy baby-daddy…except for the motorcycle, tattoos, and
attitude. Daisy doesn’t have the typical issues with her pregnancy…if you
don’t count the morning sickness, food cravings, and occasional horniness. And
Carter doesn’t hang around all the time, wanting both her and the baby…until
he falls in love.
But they definitely don’t become a happy
family…right away.
Daisy has
always been a good girl. She’s never done anything wild or spontaneous until
she has a little too much to drink at a wedding and has a fling with a sexy
stranger. She thought they were careful, but accidents happen. And now she’s
going to have the baby of a man she barely knows.
Carter is
her opposite in every way and completely the wrong man for her. They can still
work out a reasonable arrangement regarding the baby. But the more time she
spends with him, the less reasonable she feels. And he’s acting all possessive
and protective, so it gets harder and harder to convince herself that he’s just
the father of her baby.
She wants
him to be so much more.

 

Pre-order Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Chapter One

Daisy stared at herself in the mirror over the sink and thought with a thrill that she looked pretty darn good.

Her dress was green to match her eyes, and although it was perfectly appropriate for a five-o’clock wedding, it was sexier than what she normally wore with its sleek shape and slight flare above her knees. She turned a bit to make sure the curve of her butt wasn’t too pronounced.

It was pronounced, but hopefully not unattractively so.

“Your ass looks fantastic,” Chloe said with a grin as she came out from one of the bathroom stalls.

“I wasn’t looking at it.” Daisy gave her butt another quick glance to verify that it did indeed look fantastic.

Chloe laughed uninhibitedly as she washed her hands. “You can act all sweet, innocent librarian all you want, but you’ve got a wild side in there somewhere that I’m going to set loose eventually.”

Daisy gave her friend an appreciative smile and didn’t argue. Out loud anyway.

She knew the truth. She didn’t have a wild side. She was a sweet and (mostly) innocent librarian. She was twenty-four, and she’d only had one serious boyfriend. She went to church every Sunday, and she’d been raised to never swear, never drink, and never, ever let boys touch her in naughty ways.

She might not have lived up to those rules perfectly—and lately she’d been working on being herself and not just who she was raised to be—but she certainly wasn’t close to Chloe’s level of wildness. Daisy had met Chloe at Preston’s Mill, their apartment building in a small town in eastern Virginia, and they’d become friends immediately. Chloe was fun and fearless and had traveled all over the world, and she was always encouraging Daisy to spread her wings a little further.

Daisy was trying. But there was no way she’d ever spread her wings as far as Chloe did on a regular basis.

She would always be a quiet, small-town girl at heart.

“We’ve got to try to find you a man tonight,” Chloe said conspiratorially as they were leaving the bathroom.

“Ha ha,” Daisy replied dryly.

“Why do you mock? There must be a few eligible men around. Half of Preston is here tonight—plus tons of people from surrounding areas.”

“Chris and Heather were both raised in Preston, so they know everyone.”

Daisy had been raised in Preston too. She was a couple of years younger than Heather, the bride of today’s wedding, so they hadn’t been really close. But she knew almost everyone in town.

She also knew there weren’t any interesting single men lurking in the shadows of the reception hall, a large ballroom in a lovely Victorian house that was now hired out for weddings and other occasions.

As she and Chloe reentered the room, Daisy’s eyes immediately strayed toward the far corner where the man she’d noticed before was still lurking in the shadows.

She wasn’t sure why she’d noticed him earlier except he was sitting alone and seemed so out of place. He was tall and well built with unruly dark hair. He was dressed in all black, and he’d evidently made a gesture toward wedding attire with a jacket, but his shirt didn’t have a collar.

He looked rough. Intimidating. Not particularly friendly.

He wasn’t even very handsome—at least not the type of looks Daisy had always gravitated toward. She wasn’t sure why she kept sneaking looks at him.


“You’re just scared,” Chloe said as they returned to the table they’d been sitting at earlier.


The reception was lovely and generously stocked with food, but it wasn’t a formal banquet dinner, and there wasn’t assigned seating. Daisy enjoyed these kinds of receptions more. They didn’t feel so stiff and artificial. The band was playing a good variety of music, and there were a lot of people dancing—but mostly kids bopping around and older couples who clearly knew all the old steps.


“I’m just scared about what?” she asked Chloe, trying to think back to their earlier conversation.


“About coming on to men.”


Daisy sucked in a sharp breath. “I’m not scared about that. There aren’t any men here to come on to.”


“I’m sure I can find you a few. Then what would you do? You’d be too afraid to make a move on them.”


“If there are eligible men around, I wouldn’t be afraid.”


It was a lie. Daisy never came on to men. She’d always waited for them to make the first move, which was why she was often waiting a very long time between dates.


“Are you willing to prove it?”


“Prove it how?”


“If I find three eligible guys, will you come on to them?”


Daisy went still. They’d been joking around before, but Chloe was entirely capable of making good on this particular dare. “What do you mean, come on to them?”


“I mean you have to go over to them, start a conversation, and do a little flirting.”


“And that’s all?”


“That’s all. Best to start with baby steps with you, I think.”


Daisy frowned, although she knew her friend wasn’t serious.


She was by nature fairly conservative and by upbringing rather sheltered, but she wasn’t a child or a coward. She could do something other women might consider normal—even if she’d never done it before.


“Is it a deal?” Chloe asked.


Daisy never would have agreed had she not felt like she had something to prove—to herself even more than to Chloe. She didn’t want to be trapped by her own insecurities. Her heart was already hammering in her chest, but she was going to do this. “It’s a deal.”


Chloe looked delighted and a little surprised. “Okay. Great. We’ll start easy then. The guy with the glasses over there.”


Daisy glanced over and recognized the man as a cousin of one of her old classmates. He was pleasant-looking and a little shy. She breathed out in relief.


She could do this.


She could do it.


She stood up, aware of Chloe watching with amused interest, and she went over to talk to him. She felt a little stupid as she sat down in an empty chair at his table, but she relaxed when he smiled, recognized her, and looked happy to talk with her.


It was easy. He was perfectly nice, if a little boring. She laughed a lot and touched his hand, his arm, so Chloe would believe she’d been flirting.


It was clear to see that the man would be very happy to continue talking to her, but Daisy didn’t actually want to lead him on, so she ended the conversation with a smile and returned to Chloe.


Chloe was laughing, clearly pleased with her friend’s success, and she’d gotten them both fresh glasses of champagne so they could toast Daisy’s victory.


“Okay. That one was easy. Now you have to do that guy over there near the bar. The one with the flashy watch.”


Daisy turned to look and immediately saw the one Chloe meant. She didn’t recognize him, so he must not be from town. He was quite handsome in a charming, entitled way, and he looked like he was used to having his way with women. That would make him challenge enough, but he wasn’t standing alone. He was chatting with two pretty, single women, who were both clearly flirting with him.


And Daisy was going to have to go over there, bust into their conversation, and somehow try to win him away from the other women.


She swallowed hard.


“You can always admit you’re not up to the challenge,” Chloe murmured.


Daisy squared her shoulders. “I am up to it. I’ll do it.”


She walked over to the man in a blur, an anxious stupor taking over her movements, and she almost wilted in relief when, as she got closer, she recognized one of the women.


So when she got to the bar, she greeted the woman, having to remind her of how they’d had biology class together in high school.


They chatted for a minute, and the woman introduced her to the other woman and then the man.


As Daisy turned her smiles on the man, she was aware of how the other women looked annoyed.


Maybe this was normal practice for some women, to horn in on other groupings and take the attention of the best man.


Daisy didn’t like it though. It felt rude. And kind of selfish. But she had something to prove here, and so she tittered with laughter at a stupid joke the man made and did her best to look alluring.


She must have been successful because the man said how much he loved redheads and asked if she wanted another drink.


She said she did, and they walked away from the other two women.


There. That would prove to Chloe that she’d appropriately come on to this man. She’d earned his attention, and he evidently wanted to keep talking to her. She sipped a new glass of champagne, put up with his silly compliments about her long red hair, and finally got so annoyed with his obnoxious attitude and the way he kept flashing his ridiculously expensive watch that she made an excuse and returned to Chloe.


“That was fantastic,” Chloe said, brimming with excitement. “Did you see those other girls’ faces when you took him away from them?”


“Yes,” Daisy admitted, flushed with her third glass of champagne and with a kind of power she didn’t often feel. “Although it feels like a mean thing to do.”


“It wasn’t mean. That’s the way it always is. All’s fair and all that.”


“Okay. Fine. So who is the last one? Or do you just give up now that I’ve proven I’m more than up to this challenge?”


“I’m not giving up. I’ve got your last guy all picked out for you.” She nodded toward the far corner of the room. “There. The guy by himself.”


Daisy tensed up, knowing even before she looked who Chloe was referring to. The rough, intimidating guy she’d been sneaking looks at all evening. “He’s not eligible!”


“What do you mean, he’s not eligible? He’s been alone the whole time. He doesn’t have a date. I don’t think he looks married, but if you find out he is, just say ‘whoops’ and get the hell out of there. No big deal.”


“But…”


“But what?” Chloe was grinning wickedly now. “You’re throwing in the towel, aren’t you?”


“No. I’m not.” Daisy gulped. Was she really going to have to go over there and talk to that guy? What on earth would she even say? She had no thin connection with him to initiate the first contact the way she had with the other two men. She had nothing but a blunt, open approach.


“So do it. He’s been watching you.”


“He has not been watching me.” She knew that for sure because every time she glanced over, his eyes were focused on something else.


“Yes, he has. But it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to go talk to him anyway or else admit you’re not up to it.”


“I am up to it.” She swallowed down the rest of her champagne and then stood up, her head spinning a little from nerves or alcohol or both. “Okay. Here I go.”


She didn’t move.


“Anytime now,” Chloe prompted.


“I’m going. Right. Now.”


Daisy finally managed to make her feet move, and she forced them to head toward the corner. She was halfway there when the man’s eyes landed on her, and his gaze didn’t falter as she approached.


He knew she was coming over to him.


There was no face-saving excuse with this one.


She was breathless and almost numb with fear when she reached his table. Her knees wouldn’t hold her, so she sat down on the chair next to him. “Hi,” she said stupidly.


He raised his dark eyebrows. “Hi.”


His eyes were blue. Very blue. She couldn’t help but notice. He needed to shave—or maybe he was growing a beard. And there were tattoos all over his forearms, exposed now that he’d taken off his jacket.


Tattoos.


She was going to have to come on to a guy with tattoos all down his arms.


“You’re sitting all alone,” she managed to say when it was clear he wasn’t going to help her out in making conversation.


“So you felt sorry for me?” His voice was deep, slightly gruff. Definitely sardonic.


“No. Just being friendly.”


“Is that what you call it?”


She was getting confused now. Her mind was slightly clouded from the three glasses of champagne. “What I call what?”


“It looks more like you have some kind of bet going with your friend.” He inclined his head toward where Chloe was sitting and blatantly staring at them.


“There’s no bet.”

“Really? Because I just saw you come on to two other guys and then walk away when they responded.”

She gulped. “It wasn’t a bet.”

“Then what was it?”

“I was just… just proving something.”

“Proving what? How men will make asses of themselves when faced with a pair of green eyes and a hot body? Because I’d have thought that has already been proven over and over again throughout history.”

He was smart. She could see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice. And he had a dry sense of humor. She liked both those things.

She also liked the strongly chiseled lines of his face and the breadth of his shoulders.

He was big and solid. Man all the way through.

“That’s not what I was trying to prove,” she said.

“Then what?” He asked the question like he had the right to know, even though they didn’t even know each other’s names.

“Just proving something to myself.” She wasn’t sure why she was telling him the truth.

“What did you need to prove to yourself? You must know how gorgeous you are.”

She didn’t know. She’d always figured she was pretty enough, but guys had never been knocking down doors to get to her. But she couldn’t help but flush with pleasure at the heated interest in his eyes.

He thought she was gorgeous. That much was clear.

“Not that,” she said, answering his question. “Just that I can… I can do things other women can do.”

“Things like what?” He seemed to really want to know.

“Come on to men.” No sense in pretense now. He evidently knew when she was lying to him or playing games.

“You really thought you couldn’t come on to men? Angel, all you have to do is show up.”

Her cheeks burned even hotter, and the pleasure washed down from her chest to her belly—and then even lower.

“So you came over here to come on to me?” he asked, swallowing down the last of the scotch in his glass.

She cleared her throat. “Yes.”

“And what was your plan?”

“I didn’t have a plan. Is that something women plan out in advance?”

“Some do.”

“Oh. I was just making it up as I went along.”

He chuckled, low in his throat. The sound seemed to vibrate through her whole body. “I see. Well, I’m waiting here breathlessly to see how you’ll proceed.”

He was teasing her, and she liked it. Her mind buzzed as she tried to keep up with his wit. “Oh. Well, maybe you get me another drink, and we’ll see what happens.”

The man laughed appreciatively and stood up. As he strode over to the bar—damn, the man had a great butt and amazing arms—Daisy tried not to giggle in excitement. She looked over to Chloe and saw she’d gone to talk to a few other friends. But she gave Daisy a grin and a silly thumbs-up sign before she looked away.

Daisy laughed out loud by herself at the table.

Was she really doing this? Flirting with a sexy stranger?

He returned with two glasses of scotch.

She frowned. “I was drinking champagne.”

“I know you were. But if you want to come on to me, you’ll have to drink something less fizzy.”

She didn’t like whiskey, but she took a swallow anyway. It burned her throat and filled her with a pleasant heat.

He nodded in approval. “I’m Carter,” he said.

“Daisy. It’s nice to meet you.”

“I have a feeling it’s going to be very nice to meet you.”

***

An hour later—a lot of flirty conversation and two more scotches each—and Daisy was flying high.

She wasn’t even sure how it had happened, but they were stumbling down a hallway in the old Victorian mansion, looking for a private room.

For the past thirty minutes, Carter had been touching her a lot—kissing her hand, stroking her bare arm with his fingertips—and between that, the alcohol, and his throaty drawl, she was so turned on she could hardly see straight.

He was evidently just as aroused. His cheeks were slightly flushed, and a delicious tension filled his body.

He pushed open a partly cracked door to discover a little sitting room. “This will do,” he growled, pulling her in with him.

He closed the door and pushed her against the wall, kissing her hard.

Her body throbbed with pleasure as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back. Nothing had ever felt so good. Nothing in her whole life. His hard body was pressed against her completely, and every inch of him was hot, was strong, was man.

Was hard.

She could feel his arousal in the bulge he kept grinding against her.

“You sure you want to do this, angel,” he murmured thickly, pulling out of the kiss to nibble a delicious line down her throat.

“Yeah.” She arched against him in helpless pleasure. “Oh yeah. Please.”

“You’re not too drunk?”

“I’m a little drunk,” she admitted. “But not too drunk to know what I want. I’ve never wanted anything more.”

It was true. It was absolutely true.

She might be buzzing from the alcohol, but her mind was still working. This was a choice she was making, and it was exactly what she wanted.

“Damn, I’m glad to hear that.” His hands were all over her now, stroking up and down the curves of her body.

She’d always wished she wasn’t quite so curvy so she could look more like the stylish girls her age, but he seemed to appreciate her body. He couldn’t stop touching it, and the fire in his eyes kept burning even hotter as he gazed at her.

Then they were kissing again, and he was walking her over to a console table against a wall. When her ass hit the edge of it, she gave a little “oof” at the impact.

She was so aroused she was throbbing with it, and she kept lifting one of her legs, trying to wrap it around him so she could get more pressure where she needed it.

He helped her by pushing up her skirt and then lifting her up to prop her on the table. She wrapped her legs around him eagerly and gave herself over to the feelings.

By now, he’d managed to unzip her dress and pull her breasts out of her bra. He lowered his head to nip at them, causing her to cry out at the intense jolts of pleasure. In their position, he couldn’t do much more than that, and both of them were too far gone to take the time anyway.

He slipped a hand inside her underwear so he could finger her, and she whimpered and rocked her hips in response.

“You like that?” he murmured hoarsely.

“Oh God, yeah! Keep touching me like that. Just like that.”

“Damn, you’re hot when you’re turned on. Who knew such a little angel could let go like this? You’re the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.”

She experienced the oddest sort of pride—that she was that kind of woman, that she was capable of being so wild and spontaneous. And sexy.

She’d never dreamed it was possible for her.

He kept moving his fingers inside her until the pleasure coiled up and broke unexpectedly. She cried out loudly as she came, trapped between the wall and his body, propped up on the table.

“There you go, angel,” he was murmuring, his eyes devouring her face and body. “There you go. So good. Damn, that was gorgeous.”

Her body throbbed in satisfaction as he finally removed his hand.

“Do you have a condom?” she asked, her groggy mind managing to land on one reality she didn’t want to forget.

“Yeah.” He reached into his back pocket.

She wondered if he always carried condoms around with him.

She wondered if most men did.

She’d only had one boyfriend—the guy she’d dated all through college and had briefly been engaged to—and he’d never had condoms available at a moment’s notice.

But maybe some guys did.

She was infinitely grateful for it now as they both worked on undoing his pants and rolling on the condom. His erection was big and hard, and she couldn’t wait to feel it inside her.

He adjusted their bodies so he could enter her, and she wrapped her legs around him tightly as he sank in.

Both of them groaned at the penetration.

“Jesus,” he hissed through his teeth, holding on to her ass tightly. “Jesus, you feel so good.”

He felt good too. Better than anything.

She wriggled as her body relaxed around him and started to need even more.

He levered his hips and pushed into her with a short, hard thrust.

She cried out, dropping her head back as the sensations slammed into her.

“Like that?” he asked, his body so tight it was almost shuddering.

“Yeah. Yeah. More. I need more.”

He took her like that, propped up on the table with her legs wrapped around him, and she’d never known it was possible to feel so sexy and uninhibited. She tried to keep her voice down since there were people all over the building, but she couldn’t stay quiet. Every time he pushed into her, a helpless sound of pleasure escaped her lips.

When she felt the sensations start to tighten into another orgasm, she started to urge him on. “Harder. Faster. More. Please more.”

He was taking her hard now, almost roughly, and he was grunting with a primal passion as he thrust.

She bit down on her bottom lip hard as a climax ripped through her, causing her to shake and shudder. Then he was coming too, letting out a long, low exclamation that sounded like, “angel” as he let himself go.

And all of it felt good. Amazing. Exactly what she wanted.

Until she started to come down from her climax and realized she’d just had sex with a stranger at a wedding reception.

His name was Carter, but that was all she knew about him.

She wasn’t this sort of person.

She felt weird and achy as she unwound her legs and he pulled out of her.

“Damn, what a mess,” he muttered as he started to take care of the condom.

She was wet between her legs. Really wet. And it seemed to emphasize that maybe she hadn’t really thought things through as much as she’d believed.

Carter was looking down at the condom as she readjusted her panties and smoothed down her dress.

She was suddenly terrified. The heated fog was lifting in her mind, and she had no idea what she’d been thinking.

Her legs were sore. She was sore inside. Her whole body was sore.

She gasped and hurried toward the door, wanting only to be alone so she could think.

“Angel, wait—” Carter began.

She didn’t wait. “Sorry,” she said, swinging open the door. “I’ve got to go.”

And with that, she ran down the hall.

(Copyright © 2017 by Noelle Adams and Samantha Chase. All rights reserved)

Noelle Adams
Noelle handwrote
her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she
hasn’t stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and
currently resides in Virginia, where she reads any book she can get her hands
on and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.  She loves travel, art, history, and ice
cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she
has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary
romances. Find her at noelle-adams.com.
Samantha Chase
Samantha Chase released her debut novel in 2011 and
currently has more than forty titles under her belt! When she’s not working on
a new story, she spends her time reading romances, playing way too many games
of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook, wearing a tiara while playing with her
sassy pug Maylene…oh, and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their
two sons in North Carolina. Find her at chasing-romance.com.

Chapter Reveal: The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent

 

Title: The Unrequited
Author: Saffron A. Kent
Genre: Contemporary/Erotic Romance
Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs
Release Date: July 13, 2017


Blurb
Layla Robinson is not crazy. She is suffering from
unrequited love. But it’s time to move on. No more stalking, no more obsessive
calling.
What she needs is a distraction. The blue-eyed guy she keeps
seeing around campus could be a great one—only he is the new poetry
professor—the married poetry professor.
Thomas Abrams is a stereotypical artist—rude, arrogant, and
broody—but his glares and taunts don’t scare Layla. She might be bad at poetry,
but she is good at reading between the lines. Beneath his prickly façade,
Thomas is lonely, and Layla wants to know why. Obsessively.
Sometimes you do get what you want. Sometimes you end up in
the storage room of a bar with your professor and you kiss him. Sometimes he
kisses you back like the world is ending and he will never get to kiss you
again. He kisses you until you forget the years of unrequited love; you forget
all the rules, and you dare to reach for something that is not yours.
NOTE: Please be aware that this book deals with sensitive
topics like cheating and death. 18+ Only.

 

 

Pre-order Links
99c for a limited time
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Thomas & Layla’s First Kiss
It’s Saturday and I’m at The Alchemy with Emma, Dylan, and
Matt. We find a table in the middle of the room and Emma thumps the big bag of
goodies down on it. It’s prompt night for the Labyrinth and Emma is in charge
of producing the prompts.
“Explain to me one more time why you need this giant-ass bag
again?” Matt says, taking off his coat and hanging it on the chair as he takes
a seat.
Dylan gives him a disdainful look. “She’s got her prompts in
it, dumbass.”
Emma smiles in pleasure, her eyes on the bag as she looks
for something. It’s adorable how shy she is in front of him when she’s normally
so self-assured. Dylan and Emma have gone on a few dates this week. Turns out,
Dylan loved the tangerine. I knew it.
“And why can’t you show them a picture or something on your
phone?” He bumps his shoulder with mine. “Back me up here, Layla. This freaking
bag is a monstrosity.”
“I don’t have a problem with it, actually,” I say. “It’s
kind of fun to look at something while writing about it.”
When Emma told me about the Labyrinth’s prompt night, my
first reaction was panic. I didn’t think I could be a part of it. I wasn’t
prepared. I haven’t even read all the books I own.
Reading has become a vital part of my life, now. In the past
week, I’ve only roamed on the street once. I haven’t been to Thomas’ house at
all. I stay up late reading. There’s so much to discover, and I’ve been living
inside this fog for so long. I feel like time is running out on me. I’ll
probably die before reading all the books out there.
I try to calm myself. I’m here to be a part of something
greater than me—art—and I don’t have to be perfect. The only thing I should be
worried about is seeing Thomas.
It’s been six days since I cried in front of him, told him
my ugly love story, and sort of licked his hand, trying to taste him. Since
then I’ve seen him all around campus, at Crème and Beans with Nicky, in the
corridors at the Labyrinth when Emma dragged me to a play reading. I’ve even
seen him in the park, at the bench, the one time I went out at night. He was
smoking and battling with himself, as usual, and I was hiding behind the
tree. 
It’s like he’s everywhere. My secret keeper. The one person
who knows what I did.
And he is disgusted by me. He never looks at me. To him, I’m
invisible. Somehow, this hurts even more because deep down I thought he could
relate to me, but he doesn’t.
I really am a freak of nature.
The front door of the bar opens and in strides Sarah Turner,
followed by Professor Masters and Thomas. The snowflakes swirl behind his back
as he enters and the door swings shut.
“Hello children,” Professor Masters greets us in a jovial
voice as he saunters forward. There is a chorus of chuckles and Hi Professor
around the room.
Without paying attention to anyone, Thomas breaks off from
the trio and heads for the bar. Sarah throws him an annoyed look but Professor
Masters steers her toward their destination.
Thomas orders a drink and sits on the barstool, his long
legs straddling the small seat. He takes off his jacket, revealing a plain grey
t-shirt that stretches across his shoulders and biceps. His jean-covered thighs
bulge as he bounces his right leg with impatience.
The bartender sets down a chocolate martini in front of him
and I look away, embarrassed. His weakness for chocolate awakens something raw
and melty inside my stomach. I haven’t thought about what I’ll do come Monday.
Will I go back to class? Will I hide and never show my face again?
Emma gets up from beside me, greets the room, and explains
the instructions. She digs inside her bag and fishes something out. “So the
first prompt is this bottle of hot sauce. You have to write a short poem, no
more than twenty lines, with whatever comes to mind when you see a red bottle
with H.O.T. written on it. I’m going to pass this around for a bit so you guys
can look at it.”
My first thought is that I hate hot sauce. I’m more of a
sweet-loving person. In fact, I’m the only sweet-loving person in my family or
the families I’ve had over the years. My mom, Caleb, my dad, Caleb’s dad, even
Henry—they all shy away from sweet things.
The thought of Caleb makes me aware of the phone in my
jacket pocket. Since those missed calls at Crème and Beans, he’s called several
times, but I haven’t picked up. I was hoping he’d leave a message or something
so I’d know what it’s about, but he hasn’t.
Why does he keep calling me? As impulsive as I am, a strange
fear is keeping me from taking his call.
Emma bumps my elbow and tells me to get writing.
Right, hot sauce. I nibble at my pen, trying to think…no,
trying to feel. How does hot sauce make me feel? H.O.T. Feel. Feel.
I close my eyes and the first thing I see is Thomas’ face.
His beautiful, intense gaze. How every molecule of my body, every inch of my
flesh burns when he is near. How he has the power to change the weather, cold
to hot.
Gasping, my eyes whip open. Thomas Abrams is a
fire-breather. He breathes flames and lust, makes me forget everything and say
yes. Yes to obsession. Yes to stalking. Yes to insanity. Yes to licking.
With shaking hands, I begin to write and capture him in
words. The pen moves and the words flow out. They keep flowing without my
knowledge. All I can feel is the heat seesawing through my body.
Next thing I know I’m jolted by Emma’s clap and shrill
voice. “All right guys, it’s time to stop. Put down your pens.”
Murmurs escalate and the room breaks out in conversation, as
Emma asks someone to volunteer their poem first. With flushed cheeks, I pocket
my small notebook. While the entire room is busy, I get up and shuffle into the
hallway in the back. I need to get to the ladies’ room and calm myself down.
I rub my arms at the unexpected chill in the dank hallway
and take a deep breath. My legs can barely support themselves. Is this how
poets feel when they put feelings into words? Is this how Thomas feels? It’s
like bleeding. It’s like running for miles and running out of breath.
Before I can reach my destination, I’m being hauled into a
dark, tiny room. I don’t even have time to squeal before the flimsy wooden door
is shut, and I’m surrounded by a very familiar heat.
It’s Thomas.
He has me trapped inside what looks to be a storage room,
his hand banded around my elbow, pushing me back against the dank wall.
“T-Thomas.” I’m panting. “What… What’s happening? What’re
you doing?”
His chiseled face is a study of thick shadows and thin
slices of light under the flickering yellow bulb. The only bright spots on his
features are those fire-starting eyes of his. I can smell the delicious smoke
rising from my body, can feel the sting.
Now that the initial shock is gone, my body sags, relieved
to be the center of his attention after days. He sees us. There are things to
worry about, I know that, but I can’t muster the energy to.
“Thomas?” I whisper when it’s clear he won’t say anything.
“Wh-What are you doing?”
His breaths are choppy, short jabs of air inhaled and
exhaled as he stares at every inch of my face. “Do you still love him?”
“What?”
“Do you still love that guy?”
“I… Yes.”
“How much?”
My breaths match his, succinct and sharp. I study him, this
man in front of me. There’s a hint of vulnerability to him. His usually cool
persona is frayed. Is it because I told him my story? Maybe he relates to me
after all.
“Thomas, what’s going on?”
“How much do you love him, Layla? Do you love him so much
that you hate yourself? That you can’t stand your own sight? Do you constantly
think about how to fix it? How to make it better? How to be better?”
He isn’t merely frayed—he’s coming apart. Naked agony dances
on his features. It’s too bright and glaring. It’s too similar to mine, but I’m
not worried about that right now. I’m worried about him.
“Yes,” I whisper. I lift my hand and press it to his
stubbled face. His cheekbone is arched and high, seemingly made of granite as
it pulses beneath my palm. “But I’m so tired of it,” I admit, and his eyes
flare. Fire-breathing eyes. I wonder why I didn’t notice it before. It’s so
obvious now. They never fail to start a fire in my soul.
He crowds me against the wall, as if sinking his hard body
into mine, but there isn’t any touch involved. His frame sort of hovers over
me, heating me up, jumpstarting my nerves. I’m a mesh of live wires, firing
lust and adrenaline. I’m sticky as sugar and drunk as whiskey.
Thomas arranges his body and places both his palms on the
wall, caging me in. The vein on his bicep becomes taut, a purple string tugging
on my senses.
I watch him watch my parted lips, and suddenly, it’s the
only piece of my body I can feel. My mouth, throbbing, puffy, swollen with the
need.
“Me too,” he whispers, almost to himself.
I wasn’t meant to hear it, but I did. Again, I’m hit by a
storm of desire to kiss him better. It’s a tornado, an avalanche in my body,
and in one breathless moment, I decide to go for it. It’s okay. I can take the
blame for it later.
I break the rules and reach up and kiss him. A feathery peck
on his plump lips, it’s a kiss of solidarity, a kiss that intends to tell him I
understand—but one isn’t enough. It only manages to ratchet up my lust. So I
give him another, this time on the corner of his mouth, and then another one on
his jaw.
It’s not enough, these small, barely-there touches. I want
more, but I won’t take it. I’ll be good; I’ll only give.
Abruptly, he fists my curls and stops me. I look at him
fearfully, ready to apologize—not for the kiss, but for being the kisser. His
gaze reflects passion, stark, raving need, and I shiver, despite wearing layers
and sweating with his heat.
“Are you trying to kiss me, Layla?” he rasps, flexing his
fingers on my makeshift ponytail.
He couldn’t tell? Blush rises to the surface and I know I’m
glowing like a neon sign. Swallowing, I nod. “Yes.”
He inches closer to me, still not touching—as impossible as
that is—but infinitely closer. “You want to kiss me, Miss Robinson, you do it
right.”
Oh God, does he have to call me that? Now, here? My spine
arches on its own and my heavy tits graze the contours of his shuddering chest.
“H-How?” I ask innocently, belying the daring action of my
body. His stern, professor-y voice is doing things to me, making me wild,
uncontrolled.
For a second, he’s silent, just watching. I’m afraid he’ll
back out from whatever this is, whatever insanity we’re about to commit—but
then I sense the shift in the liquor-laced air as he opens his mouth and
growls, “Like this.”
Twisting my hair in his grasp, he swallows my lips in his
mouth. He sucks on the shape of my sensitive flesh and all I can do is let him.
I put my palms on his shoulders, feeling the heated muscles under the soft
material of his t-shirt. His chest shifts and slides over my breasts, like a
wave of water. I want to be drenched with it. I want every drop of his sweat,
his lust on every inch of my skin. I pull him toward me so he can crush me with
his massive weight.
He doesn’t budge though. He stands there, unfazed, still
devouring my lips, immobile. His tongue thrusts in and licks me from the
inside—the roof of my mouth, my tongue, my teeth. He is after my essence, the
special taste that lives deep. He growls when he gets it, my flavor, and the
pressure of his grip on my hair increases tenfold.
It’s painful, but not enough to tamp down my arousal. I give
up my attempts to bring him to me. Rather, I go to him. I lift my leg and wrap
it around his waist. My hands creep up and lock around his neck. I climb him
like an ivy, toxic and poisonous and shameless.
I press my body to his and kiss him back with everything I
am. I pour my soul into it. For these few moments, I become a balm to his pain.
But it doesn’t last long. My selfishness and my need for him
take over. My core starts leaking and it becomes hard to remember I’m only
meant to give, not to take.
I rotate my hips, searching for that magical friction
against the ridged planes of his body. Then I feel it—his erection against my
upper tummy. It’s huge. Hard. A heated rod. It’s alive, and when I move against
it, I feel it throb. A tortured moan rips out of his chest.
Thomas tears his mouth away from me and even my soul mourns
the loss. We stare at each other, gasping for breath. I’m still clung around
him and his cock is still nestled between our aroused bodies. I adjust my thigh
around his hip, and it throbs with the small movement.
“Don’t fucking move,” he tells me, emphasizing it with a tug
on my hair.
“Okay.” I swallow. “I’m sorry.”
A pained chuckle. “For what?”
“I made you kiss me.”
The legendary tic makes its appearance at the heel of my
words. It drums on his jaw like a secondary heart, or maybe a time bomb. “You
did, didn’t you?”
Unable to talk, I simply nod.
In answer, he lodges his thigh between my legs and presses
on my core. It’s an electric shock multiplied by a strike of lightning, and I
almost burst into flames.
“Wh-What…” I try to speak but he increases the pressure,
eliciting a moan from me.
“Why?” he whispers, noting my lusty reactions. “Why did you
make me do it, Layla?”
“Because I—”
Again, he repeats his movements, reducing me to wordless,
needy moans. What is he doing?
“Because you what?”
“Because I do this kind of thing. I-I’m selfish and bad…” I
moan, doused in shame and arousal. “I take what I want because I can’t control
myself. I don’t want to.”
“And you want me, don’t you?” When I don’t answer, he tugs
on my hair sharply. “You want me, Layla.”
It’s not a question, but still I nod my head. Yes, I want
him. I’ve wanted him since the first time I saw him. I want him more and more
with each passing day. I want him because he’s like me. He’s in unrequited love
and I want to save him, somehow.
His eyes shine with satisfaction, a sense of victory at my
answer. He loves my desperation and it makes me hornier.
We’re so fucked, my omniscient heart says. I agree.
“I can do whatever I want with you and you’ll let me. Isn’t
that right, Layla?” He licks his lips as if savoring his own words. “I can tell
you to jump and you’ll ask how high. I can tell you to strip and you’ll strip
as if your clothes are on fire.”
“Yes,” I moan.
He rewards me by grinding his muscular thigh and my cunt
pulses. My lust-addled brain commands me to move, to chase the friction, and I
do it. I slide up and down his maddening leg, digging my nails into his scalp
as the pleasure mounts.
I feel the angry and rhythmic jerk of his cock on my stomach
and I love it. I love the fact that I’ve shed all my inhibitions and am reduced
to this, a lust-drunk puppet. I love that it gives Thomas pleasure. He isn’t
sad anymore, or vulnerable.
Yes, I love all that.
His pain has become my pain, and it’s going to make me come
on his leg. I watch Thomas with hazy eyes. I watch the arrogant slope of his
flushed cheeks. I watch his dilated pupils, his wet, parted lips. All the
while, I’m moving, humping his leg. Up and down. Up and down.
“Of course you will,” he rasps. “Will you come for me,
Layla?”
I jerk out a nod. In the back of my mind, I know how wrong
this is, how shameful, but I can’t stop myself. As Thomas said, I’ll do
anything for him in this moment.
My movements are haphazard now, jerky, epileptic. I want it
so bad. I want my cum to gush so hard it seeps through my panties and leaves a
wet patch on his jeans.
The graphic, vulgar thought pushes me over the edge. Hard
and moaning, I come, just the way I wanted—no, just the way he wanted. I was
simply following his orders. My mind is filled with cotton and shooting stars
and static. I want to bask in it forever.
Oh God, it’s so good. So good.
The pressure on my body eases. I don’t feel his muscles
between my legs, and the harsh grip on my hair has vanished. In the wake of my
orgasm, Thomas has let me go, and in turn, forced me to unwind my body from
his.
I’m still recovering from my climax, leaning against the
wall for balance, but I try to focus. Thomas is watching me, intensely, his
flaming eyes working double-time to take me in, his hands on either side of my
head.
“Do you understand what I’m telling you, Layla? Can you hear
your heart beating? Is it trying to pound through your chest? Do you think you
can control it? Tell it to calm down? Your hips are still shaking. I bet you’re
still leaking cum, aren’t you? Do you think you can control any of that?”
I shake my head.
“Yeah, that’s right. You’d be surprised to know how many
things aren’t your fault at all.” His eyes bore into mine, as if telling me the
importance of his declaration.
For a second, I can’t make the connection between what he’s
telling me and what happened here, but then I get it. He’s absolving me. He’s
rendering me blameless for kissing him, for making him kiss me. I wonder if
this absolution includes what happened with Caleb. Am I free of those sins too?
My heart scoffs. Are you kidding? We tricked him into having
sex.
“I saw you,” I blurt out without thinking.
As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I know in my bones
that this will destroy whatever kindness he’s harboring toward me.
“Through the window,” I add, because I can’t handle not
being blamed.
Everything is always my fault. The broken vases at home.
Muddy footprints on the tile floors. The missing bottles of liquor from the
cabinet. Caleb’s missing underwear. The fact that he ran off to college a month
early and won’t even visit home. The fact that I shoplifted, drank and drove
numerous times, crashed parties, broke my mom’s ice sculpture.
It’s all my fault. It’s just like me to do those things. I
want Thomas’ accusation too.
“I saw how lonely you were. I saw the anger on your face,
the way you…the way you paced around the room, like you were trapped.” The
scene plays in my head: his frantic steps, his hands tugging at his hair.
Then the scene changes and I’m outside his bedroom window.
“And-And then you were with her—Hadley. I… You were talking and you looked so
sad and angry, and then she left. I kept watching your back and your shoulders.
They were so tight and I could see the effort it took you to keep yourself
together. Then you picked up a vase and I thought you’d throw it against the
wall, break it, because I know your heart was breaking, but you held on to it.
You set it down gently. You were better than me. I-I could never have done
that.”
Nothing moves on his body. I don’t know if he’s breathing,
if he’s even seeing me.
“Thomas, I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to see it. I…”
Then he shifts on his feet and the overhead light slashes
his face into two halves of shadow and light. He appears beastly, like an
animal with bright eyes and hard face. For the first time since I began my
confession, I feel a tinge of true fear.
I can see he wants to do something, maybe harm me
physically. His body is taut with violence. He looks bigger, enlarged with the
barely leashed control. For a second, I think he does lose control. His hands
jerk and ball into fists, but then he takes a shallow, choppy breath.
“Stay the fuck away from me,” he says softly, deadly.
 With that, he marches
out of the storage room.
Author Bio
Writer of bad romances. Coffee Addict. White Russian
Drinker. Imaginary Ballet Dancer and poetess. Aspiring Lana Del Ray of the book
world.
I’m a big believer in love (obviously). I believe in happily ever after, the
butterflies and the tingling. But I also believe in edgy, rough and gutsy kind
of love. I believe in pushing the boundaries, darker (sometimes morally
ambiguous) emotions and imperfections.

The kind of love I write about is flawed just like my characters. And I hope by
the end of it, you’ll come to root for them just as much as me. Because love,
no matter where it comes from, is always pure and beautiful.



 

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Country Nights by Winter Renshaw

 

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Sixty country days and sixty country nights—that’s all I wanted.

I needed to get away from the city, away from the hot mess that had become my life.

When I stumbled upon my childhood home on RentBnB.com, I took it as a sign, cleaned out my life savings, and hightailed it to the only place that ever meant something to me, a place I hadn’t seen since a lifetime ago.

Only when I arrived to the familiar South Dakotan farmhouse, I was met by a brooding, we-don’t-take-kindly-to-strangers cowboy by the name of River McCray, who insisted this was his house and most definitely not a rental property.

I’d been internet scammed.

And that cocky, smart-mouthed stranger had the nerve to make me a humiliating offer: I could stay in his house for the next two months rent-free, but I had to work for him.

He’d be my boss. And my roommate.

With no money and nowhere else to go, I agreed. But nothing could have prepared me for the tension, the attraction, and the bombshell revelation that changed … everything.
Coming June 27th


Leighton

“Babe, I’m not done yet.” My fingers press into the back of his arms as his naked body unsticks from mine. My lips, parted and breathless, wait for his to return, craving the heat of his tongue as I bask in the early Arizona sunrise peeking through our curtains.
Grant pushes himself away from me, rolling to the cold side of the bed. The contents of his climax spill from the unsatisfied ache between my thighs.
“Thought I told you.” He offers a two-second apologetic smile. “I’m meeting a client at eight. Have to go in early.”
I glance at the vintage alarm clock on his nightstand. There’s more than enough time.
“Five more minutes?” I roll to my side, my swollen lips curling into a slow grin as I trace my fingertips along the crumpled sheets between us. “Please? That’s all I need.”
He smirks, like he thinks I’m being cute, and then he walks around to my side of the bed. Bending to kiss my forehead, he drags his thumb along my lower lip and exhales through his nose.
“Here,” he says, reaching toward my bedside table. Pulling the top drawer open, he fishes through the contents before retrieving my purple vibrator, a relic from the early days of our relationship when I was still trying to be the girl I thought he wanted me to be. A plan that backfired and then some. “This ought to help.”
If there were more light in our bedroom this morning, he’d probably be able to see the color draining from my face.
“You don’t want it?” he asks, pausing for a beat before placing it on the bed to my left.
I can’t answer.
I’m speechless.
Ever since Grant finished law school at NYU and made partner at his uncle’s prestigious law firm in Scottsdale, he’s become self-involved, self-obsessed, and disgustingly self-centered. It’s all about him, all of the time.
I didn’t want to see it.
I didn’t want to believe it.
All this time, I made excuses for him, convincing myself it was a phase. Convincing myself one of these days I’ll get the old Grant back …
… the one with the charming smile who couldn’t keep his hands off me …
… the one I fell in love with fresh out of college …
…the one who was obsessed with me, seeing to it personally that my happiness was above all else …
… the one who almost made me forget about the ones before him and not think twice that there might ever be one after him …
Grant strides toward the en-suite bathroom, his tight ass flexing as he moves, and I listen as he flushes the toilet a moment later. The shower begins to spray. My eyes move to the vibrator. I refuse to touch it.
And besides, my mood has miraculously vanished.
Twisting the diamond engagement ring on my left finger, I run my fingertip along the sharp edges of the glimmering brilliant-cut stone.
It was supposed to symbolize his commitment to me. Hope for the future. Infinite love that never ends.
Peeling myself out of bed, I wrap the percale sheets around my body. Suddenly the idea of standing naked before him feels awkward and vulnerable in a way I’ve never felt around him before. As I make my way to the bathroom, I clear my throat and feel the creep of nervous heat as it blooms up my neck.
He turns to me, rinsing suds from his eyes as his fingertips massage his thick, sandy blond hair. “You want to get in?”
“I don’t want to be with you anymore.” I didn’t rehearse the line. I didn’t ponder the decision longer than the time it took me to walk from the bed to the en-suite. Sliding the diamond ring from my finger, I place it gently next to the sink.
Grant scoffs, pressing the glass shower door open and sticking his head out. “Leighton.”
I shrug before tucking a messy strand of dark hair behind one ear, unable to meet his gaze because although my head knows the man standing before me is different from the one I once knew, my heart knows no difference. As soon as he leaves for work, I’ll clean myself up and pack my things.
I’m not sure where I’ll go, but I’ll figure it out. Anyplace would be better than sticking around here like Grant’s personal doormat.
“All because I didn’t give you an orgasm?” He laughs. He isn’t taking me seriously.
Shaking my head, I say, “It’s not that.”
He rinses the soft white suds from his body, steps onto the mat, and wraps a white towel around his waist, tucking it at his hip. The scent of cedar wood shower gel permeates the muggy air, suffocating my senses as his hands circle my waist.
Spinning me to face him, he cups my chin in his right hand.
“Talk to me,” he says, focused. “What’s this about? What’s going on here?”
“You’ve changed.”
He rolls his eyes, still smiling. “Of course I’ve changed. I’m building the life we’ve always dreamed of. The long hours? The Maserati? The wardrobe? It’s all part of an image I have to project. Nobody wants to hire a lawyer who rolls up in a rusty sedan in an off-the-rack suit. Come on. You know that.”
“I’m not talking about that.”
His brows meet. “Then how have I changed?”
“You’re selfish,” I say, “And you never used to be. We used to be in this together. You and me. We used to fit together so easily, and now … now it’s like we don’t even line up anymore.”
“Christ, Leighton. You know I love you. You know you’re the center of my world.” He drags a hand through his damp hair. “I’m sorry my career is overshadowing what we have right now, but I promise it’s not forever.”
My mind replays a moment from last weekend, when we attended a charity gala in downtown Phoenix. I counted at least eight women who couldn’t take their eyes off Grant all night, and the man was well aware. He strutted around, peacock proud, introducing himself to anyone who so much as met his cunning emerald gaze. Never once introducing me as I stood in his shadow like a forgotten afterthought.
There’s a difference between networking and schmoozing.
The old Grant would’ve worn me proudly on his arm, kissed my forehead every chance he got, and introduced me like a true gentleman.
Instead he left me alone by the open bar, at one point spending twenty-five minutes chatting up a leggy redhead in head-to-toe Givenchy. She couldn’t stop smiling in his presence, touching his arm as she laughed at everything he said, and he stood unusually close to her.
I’m not a jealous woman, and I never have been, but seeing how Grant looked at every other woman that night with the same gaze he used to lovingly reserve for me filled me with doubt and made me question our relationship for the first time since we met.
“You scheduled a client dinner on our anniversary last month,” I say. “And you forgot my birthday this year.”
Grant places a hand over his perfect, chiseled chest. “And I apologized for those incidences, did I not?”
“The old you—”
“—the old me?” His brows lift, incredulous. “There is no old me. Stop being dramatic. I’m going to work before you make me late with all of … this.”
A little piece of me dies every time he takes that tone with me, which lately has been more frequent than ever.
He shakes his head, disgusted, and heads to the closet. When he returns with a red gingham tie in hand, he releases a quick breath.
“We’ll finish this when I get home tonight.” He places the tie on a robe hook, and his tone is softer than it was a second ago.
For a splintered moment, I second guess my decision.
Am I being rash?
Do other people spend almost eight years with someone and then wake up one morning and decide it’s over? That it’s not worth trying to salvage? That it’s suddenly come to this?
I watch Grant as he stands over the sink, lathering shaving cream onto his chiseled cheek bones, humming a Rolling Stones song to himself like it’s any other day. I don’t think this man has ever worried for a single second that he might lose me, and maybe that’s why he’s pushed me to the back burner over the last couple of years.
“I love you, Leighton.” He stares into the mirror, our eyes meeting in his reflection. “I’ll fix this. Whatever’s bothering you, we’ll figure it out tonight. I’ll make it right, I promise.”
That’s Grant: cold and cutting one moment, sweet and tender the next.
He never used to be this way.
Grant’s razor drags along his cheek, leaving a track of smooth, tanned skin in its place, and he flashes his trademark disarming smile that makes me think the old him might still be in there somewhere, waiting for me to breathe him back to life.
I pause before stepping out of the bathroom and heading back to bed. Mondays are my late day, and I don’t have to be at work for another three hours, which will give me more time to think this through.
Passing his nightstand, I catch his lit phone screen from the corner of my eye.
Normally I wouldn’t look, but there’s a nagging sensation in the pit of my stomach, a jarring feeling that tells me something isn’t right.
Peering into the bathroom, I don’t see Grant. He must be in the closet, changing into his suit. Sucking in a deep breath, I steal a look at the text message taking up half of the screen.
And then my heart drops to the floor.

I’M READY FOR MY CROSS EXAMINATION THIS MORNING, COUNSELOR, BUT I HAD A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS BEFORE WE PROCEED. LACE OR SILK? MY OFFICE OR YOURS? XO

A million questions swarm my mind, all of them circling at once.
Who is she?
How long has this been going on?
Is she the first?
How could I not know?!
Why would he initiate sex this morning?
Why would he tell me he loves me and then run off to fuck someone else?
“Leighton?” Grant’s voice brings me back, and my frozen stare moves from his phone to the bathroom doorway where he stands. His hands adjust the Windsor knot of his tie, though right now I’m wishing they were my hands, pulling it tighter and tighter still. If I can’t breathe right now, why should he get the privilege? “What’s wrong?”
My vision drowns in warm tears.
It was different earlier. There was a sense of pride in knowing I could make the decision to end things based on principle.
But now …
It seems the decision has been made for me.
There’s no recovering from this.
There’s no bouncing back.
This is the bottom dropping out.
“Leighton, talk to me.” Grant moves closer, lowering to his knees and taking my limp hands in his. I want to recoil at his touch, but I don’t have the energy. “Did something happen? Is it your grandmother?”
He doesn’t get it, at least not right away.
But when his eyes move toward the phone, his breath catches. And then he lets me go, his hands sliding off of mine, slow and careful.
Grant stands, straightening his posture before slipping his phone into his pocket and studying my face.
The weight of his stare is heavy, but the silence between us is heavier.
The man who has argued hundreds of cases over his budding career is officially speechless, unable to defend his reprehensible actions.
And how could he?
The evidence is damning, and his lack of words may as well be a guilty plea.
He leaves.
I stay.
But not for long.


Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j
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Blood Enemy by Mina Carter

 

Coming June 27th
Feral doesn’t do babies. Or pixies. So when someone dumps a pixie baby of all things on his doorstep, he does the only thing he can think of. He tries to palm it off on someone else. Unfortunately his neighbor is out of town, leaving her sister, Tessa, to house-sit. Her single and disturbingly attractive sister. Which leaves Feral with a couple of problems, especially when a bunch of pixie ninja wannabes break into the place and try to steal the baby. Does he turn his back on the pixies, a race he’s always hated… or will Tessa cast her own spell on the strong, silent-type Kyn Warrior?

Chapter one

There was a baby on his doorstep.
Feral stood in the open doorway of his apartment and looked down at the small bundle with confusion. Wrapped in a pale-yellow blanket, one pudgy arm and leg had escaped from the folds to punch and kick with enthusiasm. Gurgles filled the air, bursting with baby satisfaction and happiness. Whatever it thought it was fighting, in its mind it was obviously winning.
He scrubbed a hand over his shorn head. What was a baby doing on his doorstep?
“Well, hello little…actually, what the hell are you?” he murmured. “And how did you get out here?”
He squatted down to pick it up. It took three attempts. His large hands weren’t the right shape to pick up something so tiny. Lifting the squirming bundle carefully, he glanced up and down the corridor, trying to catch a glimpse of whoever had knocked on his door.
Nothing. Zip. Nada. Not surprising. Even if someone had been lurking in the shadows, the near six and a half feet of bare-chested kyn male who’d opened the door would have scared them off for sure.
Then the smell hit him.
Pungent and forceful, it stripped several layers off the inside of his nose like a gallon of paint thinner. Recoiling, he wrinkled his nose in disgust. “Fuck, are you supposed to smell that bad, mate?”
He looked at the baby in surprise, settling it into the crook of his arm. He didn’t really want it so close, not smelling as foul as it did, but he couldn’t leave it alone on the floor.
“Okay, let’s see who you are then.” He reached out to move the edge of the blanket covering the baby’s face and then froze. His lips peeled back from his fangs.
Its hair was bright pink.
Which meant two things: one, the baby was male, and two, it was a pixie. They were the only species Feral knew of with such weird hair colors.
“You just had to be a bloody pixie, didn’t you?” He glared up and down the corridor again. Still no one.
He sighed heavily. There was no point standing out on the doorstep like a spare prick at an orgy. A chill ran up the hallway and he looked down at the baby. He couldn’t leave it out here, even if it was a pixie. It would freeze to death.
He stepped back into his apartment, hooking a bare foot around the door and kicking it shut before wandering into the main room. Coming to an abrupt stop in the middle of the open area, he frowned. What the hell did he do now?
It was one of his rare nights off, so he wasn’t dressed for company. A pair of ripped, faded jeans hung off his hips and his feet were bare. Alone as he was, he hadn’t bothered with a shirt. And he’d already had a couple of beers, make that a lot of beers, so he couldn’t drive. Which left him with a problem. A small, baby-shaped problem.
He looked down, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips as the baby opened its eyes and blinked at him. Its wide, bright eyes were peacock blue.
“I don’t suppose you’ve got any suggestions as to what we should do?”
The baby just looked back and smiled the toothless, gummy smile of the very young. Feral had to admit, for a pixie, he was cute. The sort of cute that women went gaga over. The baby was also more placid than he’d been led to believe babies were. As the thought wandered through Feral’s mind, though, the baby’s face crumpled.
“WwwwwwwuuuuaaahhhHHHHHHHHHH!”
The cry started off low, but then swelled and grew in volume, like an old-fashioned air raid siren. Feral had only ever heard them in films, but now, he held an appreciation of what it must have been like in London during the Blitz. It seemed impossible someone so small could make so much noise. But he was, threatening to pierce Feral’s eardrums with the sheer volume.
“Shh…shh…shh, it’s fine. Everything’s fine!” He jiggled the baby a little, trying to calm it down, but this action only released fresh waves of the foul stench emanating from the diaper.
It wasn’t fine. It was so far from fine it beggared belief. He must really have pissed the fates off at some point for them to dump a baby on him… a pixie baby no less, when his dislike…no, his hatred of pixies was well known. Perhaps he’d kicked kittens or puppies in a former life or something.
Out of ideas, he strode across the room to the breakfast counter. The apartments on his block were open plan, with the kitchen and dining room leading into the main living space. Bathrooms and bedrooms were separated by the narrow excuse for an entrance hall.
He located his cell behind a couple of empty beer bottles and flicked it open. Vixen would know what to do. His partner of several years, and a mother herself, she’d know what to do with a baby. If he was lucky, she might even offer to look after the child for him.
Here’s hoping, he thought, hitting speed dial for Vixen and lifting it to his ear.
“Hi, you’ve reached Vixen’s phone…”
“Crap,” Feral swore as his patrol partner’s voicemail cut in. He’d forgotten Vixen’s mate, Kalen, had taken her out of town for the weekend. A second honeymoon since Vix had been eight months pregnant, and the size of a house, during their first.
“Fuckit.” He flicked the phone shut and tapped the edge of it against his teeth. Then he realized the terrible wail had stopped and he looked down in surprise. Peacock blue eyes were fixed on his cell.
“Oh, you like this, huh?” He smiled and waggled the phone. The baby watched it, tracking the movement. Feral frowned—he didn’t know they could do that until they were older. He shrugged. He must be mistaken. The little man was tracking the phone like a hawk.
Pudgy fists emerged from the blanket and made a grab for the sleek silver case, fastening around it and wrenching the thing from Feral’s grasp. He chuckled, an expression that turned to horror the next instant as the baby stuffed it into his mouth.
“No no no… Not good, not food!” he exclaimed as his phone was used as a teething ring.
“Give the phone back to Feral. There’s a good little boy,” he coaxed and worked to get a finger between the baby’s mouth and the phone. But the slobbering little thing had formed an unbreakable seal and he couldn’t even get his smallest finger in. He hissed in frustration, looking at the baby in confusion as he tried several different angles. It was no good. His hands were too big, more accustomed to battling rogue vampires than dealing with tiny babies.
Finally, he managed it, sliding his finger down the side and popping the phone free. He grimaced as his finger and the phone came away covered in baby slobber, and he held the phone up in triumph. A furious squeal tore the air while little fists struggled and pummeled the air.
“WWWWWWAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”
“Shit. Here.”
Feral stuffed the phone back in the baby’s mouth, silencing the squeal as quickly as it had started. Great, so what did he do now? He had no clue how to take care of a baby and had no time to learn. He needed to do something about the smell soon as well because it was getting worse.
Diapers. He needed diapers. But what sort, and where could he get them from? Disposable ones would be fine—he wasn’t all earth-momma like the woman two units down. He often saw her in the basement with laundry loads of white diapers.
His eyes widened. A woman with children. Even better, she had pixie blood. Once you’d seen one pixie woman, it was easy to spot them. Which meant he wouldn’t have to explain why the baby was sporting what looked like a bad dye job.
Grinning, he did an about face. Sliding his feet into a pair of heavy boots, he trudged out the door in search of salvation.
***
The tub of ice cream in the freezer was calling Tessa’s name. Chocolate fudge brownie—her favorite comfort food. After the crap day she’d had, she didn’t care about the extra calorie load. Fresh from the shower and swaddled in one of her sister’s huge toweling robes, she padded into the kitchen to collect the tub and a spoon. She didn’t bother with a bowl. Instead, she just pulled the lid off and dug in, right there in front of the freezer.
“Mmm…” She moaned in pleasure as the first taste of the chocolatey, gooey treat hit her tongue. The stresses of the day melted away, aided by the long, hot shower she’d just had and the taste of the ice cream. A little taste of her childhood. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the freezer.
Today had been the day from hell. Working in a busy logistics office meant everything had been put on hold when the trunk shipments had been late, throwing the whole day into disarray. It also meant Tessa didn’t get to leave until late. Considering she’d been on duty since 6 a.m., it hadn’t impressed her.
Finally, she’d been able to escape, a long weekend ahead of her. But even then, she hadn’t been finished. She’d agreed to house sit for her older sister Lisa, who was off for a break with her hubby and the twins. So, it had been a mad dash home to throw whatever she needed into a weekend bag and then a breakneck drive over to the apartment to catch Lisa before she left to get the usual “remember to feed the fish” chat. Lisa was only a couple of years older than Tessa, but anyone would think she was Methuselah the way she carried on.
Now though, all was calm. Tessa had waved Lisa and James off, twins already asleep and packed up in the back of the car, a little over an hour ago. Just enough time to unwind over a glass of wine as she watched the evening news and take a long, hot shower.
She just loved the shower here. A power unit, it had a setting that felt like needles bombarding her skin—thousands of tiny, dull pinpricks that took her breath away and felt wonderful after the day she’d had. She’d stood there for a full five minutes under the spray before even reaching for the shower gel.
Opening her eyes, she dug the spoon into the ice cream again, tucking the tub into the crook of her arm as she headed through to the main room. Flopping down in the middle of the comfortable sofa, she rooted around for the remote, spoon in mouth. It was there somewhere, she just needed to find it and then she’d be all set. The player was loaded with tonight’s choice of chick flick movie, one she’d been looking forward to watching for weeks but just hadn’t found the time to see. Now, she had the time. This weekend was all about her and relaxation. Lots of relaxation.
“Ahh, there you are.” She recovered the missing remote from under one of the scatter cushions. Her sister was obsessed with the things. Either that or they were breeding in here.
Sighing in satisfaction, she spooned more ice cream into her mouth as she flicked the player on. She curled her legs up under her and settled herself into a more comfortable position as the opening credits rolled. Life didn’t get much better than this.
Rap, rap, rap.
“Damn it.” She looked over her shoulder, but the knock on the front door continued as she stared. Who was that? Had to be a cold caller, she decided. A total control freak, Lisa would have let all her friends know she was going to be away. Which meant it had to be someone who didn’t know Lisa or James. And if it was, perhaps they would go away if she ignored them.
Rap, rap, RAP.
No such luck, the hammering got worse. Tessa sighed as she contemplated moving, flicking pause on the remote and freezing the scrolling text on the TV screen.
“This had better be good,” she grumbled under her breath as she put the tub on the floor, drove the spoon into the melting ice cream with a vicious stab, and then got to her feet. It had better be good…and quick, since she had a major fan-girl thing for the actor in the movie. The quicker she got back to ogle his toned and sculptured bod, the happier she’d be.
She grumbled under her breath all the way to the door, her bare feet silent on the wooden floor. Ever security-conscious, she threw the chain over before she opened it a crack.
“Hello?” That was as far as she got. The sight that met her eyes stopped any further comment in her throat.
On her doorstep was the most handsome, ripped guy she’d ever seen. Her eyes started at the middle of the broad chest, noting the heavily toned muscles as they moved outward. A long way outward. The guy was huge. And tall. Her eyes flicked upward. He had to be well over six feet. Made her feel kind of dainty, which wasn’t something Tessa got to feel very often.
He was also carrying a baby.
She blinked in surprise. Okay, this was one situation she wasn’t used to facing. Drop-dead gorgeous men did not appear on her doorstep with babies. They didn’t appear on her doorstep at all, with or without babies.
“Sorry, can I help you?”
“You might just save my life.” His voice was a low rumble that took Tessa’s breath away. The sort of sound that did things to her insides on a very primitive level.
“Um, okay?” she managed, dark eyes flicking to the bundle he carried. Then a slight breeze in the corridor, someone must have opened a door down the way, carried the unmistakable scent of a dirty diaper.
“Hmm, not being funny… but you might want to change the baby before you take it out visiting,” she suggested. And maybe put a shirt on, she added mentally. Although, she was enjoying the view. What kind of a father was he, though, bringing his baby out with a dirty diaper?
“That would be the problem.” He shifted the baby in his arms and smoothed the edge of the blanket down. Tessa caught her breath at the color of its hair.
It was bright pink, a color she’d only seen in the full-blooded members of her mother’s family. He looked at her and smiled, the merest hint of fang showing. “As you can see, it’s not mine. Someone just left it on my doorstep and I haven’t a clue what to do with it.”
He was a vampire.
The knowledge stunned Tessa for a moment, almost as much as his appearance on the doorstep had, and fear hit her system like a bullet. As she watched, he shifted on his feet a fraction and the light fell across the marks across the left side of his face and body. Her breath left her lungs in a rush.
“You’re a kyn warrior,” she exclaimed in relief, glad she hadn’t opened her door to a rogue vampire.
Even though the small amount of pixie blood flowing in her veins protected her from being turned into a vampire, rogue vamps were more interested in the high from a kill than turning their victims. And they generally didn’t use a baby as a decoy. They were more into breaking the doors down to get at their victims. A baby would be little more than a macabre snack.
“Live and kicking…name’s Feral,” he introduced himself, grinning a little. The small expression curved his full lips, transforming his rather cruel features…features made starker by the shaved hairstyle… from merely gorgeous, to devastating.
“Tessa, pleased to meet you,” she replied on automatic, silence stretching between them.
*
“So,” Feral continued, “you going to help me out here? The little guy…he’s really beginning to smell bad…” He watched her, hope coiling in his chest. When she’d first opened the door, his heart had sunk. She wasn’t the woman he remembered in the laundry.
However, she was a pixie. He could see the slight glamour clinging to her, making her appear more human. On second inspection, there was also a faint family resemblance to the woman with the diapers. Younger sister maybe? He tried that route.
“I remembered your…sister?” He smiled, a cautious edge in his voice as he hoped he’d gotten it right. Women could be funny about ages. Relief shot through him as she nodded.
“I remembered your sister has kids, so when I found him, I came ‘round to beg mercy…and a couple of diapers.” He grinned as he tried his hardest to be charming and personable. She only had to look at him to see he wasn’t a baby sort of guy. Practicing for making babies, yes. Dealing with the result, no.
Come on, sweetheart, say yes.
His silent plea seemed to work, her coffee-cream eyes flicking over him again. Feral shivered, the look like a caress over his skin. His nipples tightened as a thrill shot through him. She stepped back and released the chain.
“Come on. Bring him in and we’ll get him cleaned up,” she ordered, her voice brusque. Feral stalled, not used to being ordered around… no that was a lie. He was used to being ordered around. Vixen did it regularly, as did their boss Marak, the current kyn monarch. But both Vixen and Marak weren’t people one would want to piss off in a hurry while this woman was, well, tiny. And curvy to boot—the figure the shapeless toweling robe hinted at was enough to make his mouth water.
He followed her into the living room, looking around the plush interior and dismissing it just as quickly. It had all the hallmarks of expensive interior design and was about as interesting as the back of a cereal box.
“Come on. Let’s have him down here then.” She dragged out a changing mat from its hiding place behind the sofa, plopping it on the floor as she glanced at him. “The diapers will be a bit big, but it’s better than leaving him dirty. Can you take his diaper off while I get a fresh one?” She arched an eyebrow, obviously doubting his ability to carry out even that simple task.
“Of course.”
He kneeled to settle the baby in the middle of the changing mat. He could do this. But for such a small, little thing, it took virtually every part of Feral’s body to make sure he was placed carefully on the mat.
“Look, mate, you aren’t making this easy you know,” Feral muttered, trying to get his nose as far away from his hands as he could without turning his head or being on the other side of the room. He’d managed to remove the diaper, but he hadn’t been prepared for what it contained.
He grimaced as he considered the contents, not sure what he was supposed to do now. He’d watched Vixen change her little daughter, Marianne, more times than he could remember, and she’d always made it look easy. Grabbing a wipe, he tried to remove the sticky mess on its ass and quickly found out it wasn’t as easy as it looked.
“What the fuck is this stuff?” he muttered, not managing to clean it off but just smear it around more. “Fucking industrial glue?”
He heard a stifled giggle and found the little pixie woman watching him. At the sight of her, he sucked in a hard breath. She was utterly beautiful. He’d known she was a pixie, and he’d thought he could see through her glamour to what lay beneath, but now he realized the truth. He could see the glamour itself, and the potential of what lay beneath, but nothing more.
Now though, she’d stripped the glamour away and he could see her true appearance. And it was stunning. Exotic, feline-cast eyes dominated a small heart-shaped face, with a tiny button of a nose and full lips he ached to taste. Her chin was small but delicate and the arch of her slender neck, half hidden by the mass of dark curls, made both his cock and his fangs ache. One look and he wanted her in the worst way, under him as he drove both his fangs and his cock into her soft sweetness.
“Just where I like to see a man,” she quipped, “on his knees. Come out of the way. You’re just making it worse.” She shooed him away and then knelt in front of the baby, who was taking advantage of the moment to try and flip himself over. Reaching a hand out, she stopped him just before he managed it and tapped his nose playfully.
“Oh no you don’t, handsome,” she chuckled, catching his ankles in one hand and cleaning him up with the other. Her movements were swift and efficient and within a few seconds, the baby was cleaned up with a fresh diaper on him. Feral blinked, unsure how she’d managed it so quickly. Magic, obviously.
“There we go, all clean and dry. Aren’t you a clever little man?” She fastened his top as he wriggled again, doing his best to escape. Grinning, she caught him, his chortles filling the room as she tickled his sides.
Smiles wreathed her face and Feral bit back another surge of lust. He wanted her. Badly. She wasn’t his normal type. Kyn women tended to be tall, slender and pale whereas she was petite and curvy, with dark warm hair and eyes that reminded him of chocolate. But he didn’t care. Everything about her called out to him. Unaware of his attention, she tickled the baby again, running her fingers along the soles of his bare feet as she reached for his trousers.
“He’s a gorgeous little thing,” she commented. “So, he was just left on your doorstep?”
“Yeah, about half an hour ago. Was a bit of a surprise…usually I just get pizza delivery,” he chuckled, shrugging a shoulder. “Not the domestic type.”
“Pizza? I didn’t think vampires ate?” She flicked a glance up at him while she finished dressing the little one. Picking him up, she handed him over. “Here, hold him for a moment while I clear this lot up. Hey…what’s this?”
A piece of paper fell free of the yellow blanket as she picked it up. Reaching down, she recovered it from the floor as Feral watched, jiggling the now clean-smelling baby in his large arms. It was a sheet from a reporter’s notebook, crumpled and folded into quarters. She smoothed it out and frowned at the words scrawled on it in a hasty hand.
“What’s it say?” He shifted closer, peering over her shoulder. The scent of shower gel and warm woman enveloped her, causing a shiver to run down his spine. He really needed to get laid if just being close to a woman stirred up a reaction like that.
She shook her head. “I don’t know. It’s an old fae script, I think… This is more Lisa’s kettle of fish than mine. Some of it I recognize,” she pointed out a word in the middle, fingernail tapping the paper lightly. “This is the word for Morrigan. Oh, shit!”
She looked up at him, eyes wide.
“What? What is it?” Feral frowned, brows raised.
“He…the baby…he’s a Morrigan. There’s a fae prophecy about a male Morrigan… The only male Morrigan.” She swallowed, visibly shaken. “When he grows up, I think he’s going to be a god.”

Mina was born and raised in the East Farthing of Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England) and spend her childhood learning all the sorts of things generally required of a professional adventurer. Able to ride, box, shoot, make and read maps, make chainmail and use a broadsword (with varying degrees of efficiency) she was disgusted to find that adventuring is not considered a suitable occupation these days.

So, instead of slaying dragons and hunting vampires and the like, Mina spends her days writing about hot shifters, government conspiracies and vampire lords with more than their fair share of RAWR. Turns out wanna-be adventurers have quite the turn of imagination after all…

(But she keeps that sword sharp, just in case the writing career is just a dream and she really *is* an adventurer.)

The boring part: A full time author and cover artist, Mina can usually be found hunched over a keyboard or graphics tablet, frantically trying to get the images and words in her head out and onto the screen before they drive her mad. She’s addicted to coffee and would like to be addicted to chocolate, but unfortunately chocolate dislikes her.
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