How bad do you want it?
The only man within the Brandon empire with a moral compass, Shane Brandon is ready to take his family’s business dealings legitimate. His reckless and ruthless brother, Derek wants to keep Brandon Enterprises cemented in lies, deceit, and corruption. But the harder Shane fights to pull the company back into the light, the darker he has to become. Then he meets Emily Stevens, a woman who not only stirs a voracious sexual need in him, but becomes the only thing anchoring him between good and evil.
Emily is consumed by Shane, pushed sexually in ways she never dreamed of, falling deeper into the all-encompassing passion that is this man. She trusts him. He trusts her, but therein lies the danger. Emily has a secret, the very thing that brought her to him in the first place, and that secret that could that destroy them both.
New series special pre-order price – $4.99!
will go back to $7.99 the week of
“High-octane romance set above the glittering lights of Denver is enhanced by the dominance of a powerful man and the cunning sweetness of a woman who isn’t cowed or swayed by his wealth…a fascinating mystery and characters with distinct voices.” – Publishers Weekly
“I was hooked from beginning to the end and was gasping when I reached that last page. I am in desperate need to get book two. The characters are completely charming. Shane and Emily are perfect together,” – Lindsey, The Smut-Brarians
A Note From Lisa
· Book One – Hard Rules – August 9, 2016
· Book Two – Damage Control – February 2017
· Book Three – Bad Deeds – August 2017
· Book Four – End Game – February 2018
I am SO excited for this series to come out, because it is so unlike my other series. I am hoping my readers love it just as much as I did when I was writing it! PLEASE be sure to sign up for my TEXT LIST (link below). That will be where/how I communicate when these titles, and others, are available for pre-order, on sale or when I have a big giveaway!
straighten, intending to claim my coffee and find a seat, when a pretty
twenty-something brunette races forward in a puff of sweet, floral-scented
perfume, and grabs it.
grimaces. “What is this?” She turns to the counter. “Excuse me,” she calls out.
“My drink is wrong.”
drink,” Karen reprimands her, setting a new cup on the counter. “This is your drink.” She reaches
for my cup and turns it around, pointing to the name scribbled on the side.
“This one’s for Shane.” She glances at me. “I’ll be right back to fix this. I
have another customer.”
and she hurries away, while my floral-scented coffee thief faces me, her
porcelain cheeks flushed, her full, really damn distracting mouth, painted
pink. “I’m so sorry,” she offers quickly. “I thought I was the only one without
my coffee and I was in a hurry.” She starts to hand me my coffee and then
quickly sets it on the counter. “You can’t have that. I drank out of it.”
picking it up. “You grimaced with disgust after trying it.”
matches the short-sleeved silk blouse, go wide. “Oh. I mean no. Or I did, but
not because it’s a bad cup of coffee. It’s just very strong.”
looking quite serious. “Did you know that in some third- world countries they
bottle that stuff and sell it as a way to grow hair on your chest.” She lowers
her voice and whispers, “That’s not a good look for me.”
midst of a chuckle I would have claimed wasn’t possible five minutes ago, “I
don’t share that dilemma.” I lift my cup and add, “Cheers,” before taking a
drink, the heavy, rich flavor sliding over my tongue.
exceedingly uncomfortable, before repeating, “I drank from that cup.”
it back to her. “Try another drink.”
it on the counter. “I can’t drink that. And you can’t either.” She points to
the hole on top, now smudged pink. “My lipstick is all over it and I really
hate to tell you this but it’s all over you too and . . .” She laughs, a soft,
sexy sound, her hands settling on her slender, but curvy hips, accented by a
fitted black skirt. “Sorry. I don’t mean to laugh, but it’s not a good shade
and impossibly charmed by this woman in spite of being in the middle of what
feels like World War III. “Seems you know how to make a lasting impression.”
lasting,” she says. “It’ll wipe right off. And thank you for being such a good
sport. I really am sorry again for all of this.”
a napkin from the counter and offer it to her. “You get it off.”
says, clearly recovering her quick wit. “You put it on you.”
put it on me, we both would have enjoyed it much more than we are now.” I
glance at the napkin.
hugs herself, her sudden shyness an intriguing contrast to her confident
banter. “I’ll let you know if you don’t get it all.”
stained lips curve at her quick wit but I take the napkin and wipe my mouth,
arching a questioning brow when I’m done. She points to the corner of my mouth.
“A little more on the left.”
courage, but takes it. “Fine,” she says, stepping closer, that wicked sweet
scent of hers teasing my nostrils. Wasting no time, she reaches for my mouth,
her body swaying in my direction while my hand itches to settle at her waist. I
want this woman and I’m not letting her get away.
lowering, and not about to let her escape, I capture her hand, holding it and
the napkin between us.
Those gorgeous pale blue eyes of hers dart to mine,
wide with surprise, the connection sparking an unmistakable charge between us…
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series, which is now in development for a television show to be produced by Suzanne Todd of Team Todd (Alice in Wonderland). Suzanne Todd on the INSIDE OUT series: Lisa has created a beautiful, complicated, and sensual world that is filled with intrigue and suspense. Sara’s character is strong, flawed, complex, and sexy – a modern girl we all can identify with. I’m thrilled to develop a television show that will tell Sara’s whole story – her life, her work, her friends, and her sexuality.
In addition to the success of Lisa’s INSIDE OUT series, she has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa is presently working on a dark, edgy new series, Dirty Money, for St. Martin’s Press.
Prior to publishing Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by the Dallas Women’s Magazine. In 1998 Lisa was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.
Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at www.lisareneejones.com and she is active on Twitter and Facebook daily.
For years I have been cast away—afar, out of reach, out of sight, out of mind. But now I’m back. I’ve been brought back into the fold, and I don’t know why. But I’ll find out, no matter the cost.
I’ll also break free from the shark infested waters littered with those that seek to restrain me, to keep me in line—my ex, my father, my mother, my sister.
And as for the Wolfe twin brothers, I’ll take them on. And I’ll take them out too.
Drasko Wolfe thinks that he’ll make me his—but I am all mine. If he thinks I am going to be just another conquest, and do things at his behest then he may do so at his own coroner’s inquest.
I am not just fighting for my survival, I am fighting for my little brother’s protection, and that makes me doubly motivated and doubly dangerous.
I—Riletta Kasonite will best them all and come out on top. I will bow those who seek to hurt me to my will until they renounce their lies—until they come clean and their secrets are exposed. Until I get what I want.
WARNING: Contains countless confrontations, not to mention mature, young adult/ adult situations too.
Writing isn’t a job – it’s not a way of life – it’s a dream!I’ve lived thousands of moments and I’ve been to thousands of places crafted by the soul crushing and soul mending words of thousands of authors. (Metaphorically raises glass of gin and tonic) Here’s to hoping I’ve created one thousandth of a moment of life for you …
Edward Grey is no stranger to the undead; since raising his cat as a zombie when he was a child, he and his mentor Mariel have explored and developed his power as a necromancer. Despite everything he’s learned, as a necromancer and a medical student, he’s never encountered a ghost.
While Mariel is unreachable in Haiti on mysterious business, a ghost wakes Edward in the middle of the night, claiming to be his grandfather. When the ghost offers to teach him about this different form of undeath, Edward has little choice but to trust the spirit.
After receiving a phone call from a young girl claiming her father is possessed, Edward and his Undead Canadian fiancé, Kit, must travel to an acreage in Kingston…Ontario.
The haunting proves far more complicated than Edward could ever have guessed, and he finds himself pitted against an ancient evil determined to engulf everyone on the farm.
Edward’s love and connection to Kit will be tested, and his necromancy stretched to his limits as he has to find—and destroy—a twisted spirit more powerful than anything he’s ever encountered.
T. Strange didn’t want to learn how to read, but literacy prevailed and she hasn’t stopped reading—or writing—since. She’s been published with Torquere Press since 2013, and she writes M/M romance in multiple genres, including paranormal and BDSM. T.’s other interests include cross stitching, gardening, watching terrible horror movies, playing video games, and finding injured pigeons to rescue. Originally from White Rock, BC, she lives on the Canadian prairies, where she shares her home with her wife, cats, guinea pigs and other creatures of all shapes and sizes. She’s very easy to bribe with free food and drinks—especially wine.
Seaside Summers is a series of stand-alone romances that may also be enjoyed as part of the larger Love in Bloom series.
“You can always rely on Melissa Foster to deliver a story that’s fresh, emotional and entertaining. Make sure you have all night, because once you start you won’t want to stop reading. Every book’s a winner!” New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Novak
“Melissa Foster is synonymous with sexy, swoony, heartfelt romance!” New York Times Bestseller Lauren Blakely
In SEASIDE LOVERS…
After months of long-distance communication, actress Parker Collins and artist Grayson Lacroux finally plan to reconnect in the seaside town of Wellfleet, Massachusetts. But Parker never shows, and weeks pass without a word, leaving Grayson to believe he’s misinterpreted their budding relationship.
Parker has been running on autopilot ever since she lost her friend, mentor, and the only family she’s ever known, Bert Stein. Armed with junk food, tequila, and her big, lovable dog, she’s prepared to hole up and mourn–and determined to mend a fence Bert had never been able to with his estranged and bitter brother. But Parker didn’t count on the sinfully hot artist she’s been fantasizing about for nearly a year walking in on her grief-induced drunken night.
When Grayson stumbles across Parker, he has no idea what to make of the gorgeous blonde who blew him off despite the heat sizzling between them. But that doesn’t stop him from feeling protective of the woman who’s consumed his thoughts for months, and when he learns of Parker’s plans to confront an angry old man, he refuses to leave her side. As Parker’s past unfolds, they’re led on an unexpected journey of discovery. Their connection deepens, and late-night fantasies become passionate realities, until good intentions spark painful secrets, threatening the love they’ve found.
Seaside Summers is part of Melissa Foster’s bestselling Love in Bloom series. All Love in Bloom books may be enjoyed as stand-alone novels, or as part of the series.
Seaside Dreams (Bella)
Seaside Hearts (Jenna)
Seaside Sunsets (Jamie)
Seaside Secrets (Amy)
Seaside Nights (Sky)
Seaside Embrace (Hunter)
Seaside Lovers (Grayson)
Seaside Whispers (Matt)
Read the complete LOVE IN BLOOM series:
THE BRADENS (at Weston, CO)
THE BRADENS (at Trusty, CO)
THE BRADENS (at Peaceful Harbor)
WILD BOYS AFTER DARK
For a complete reading guide, family tree, checklists, and more, visit Melissa’s website.
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance and new adult romance, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.
Melissa hosts an Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.
Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.
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We just couldn’t wait for June 28th – we wanted to share a sneak peek of Ryan Michele’s CONQUERING now! You can read the first chapter below – make sure to preorder before the June 28th release for a special preorder price!
Wes ‘Stiff’ Collins lived life on the wild side. He worked from the moment he knew what the word meant, always making the best of every situation. There was nothing about his past he would change.
Without a real family except his brother Xander, Stiff joined the Vipers Creed Motorcycle Club, and they taught him what it was to have people he could depend on. When his past crashed into his present, he vowed to protect the club that had always been his steady, even if it meant turning his back on the woman who had given him life.
Chelsea Miller’s life was simple: work, take care of her family, and save for the future. Everything was about having a goal and a plan. However, when her sister ended up battered and bruised on a diner floor, everything she thought was in her past suddenly threatened her future. In a moment, she had a new goal, everything else be damned. She would protect her family … at all costs.
Stiff and Chelsea’s worlds collide in an explosion of determination, strength, and lust. Will they give in to temptation, or will conquering each other be too steep a price? Two people not afraid to put in the work will either overcome everything in their paths or finally crumble under life’s troubles they can’t escape, all in the name of family.
**Due to content, mature audiences only.**
Add CONQUERING to Goodreads here!
Preorder CONQUERING now for just $2.99, a preorder special price:
CHALLENGED is on sale for a limited time – grab it now!
Read the first chapter of CONQUERING:
“Chelsea, order up,” Charlie called from the back, slapping a plate of grub up on the window ledge of the diner.
I shook off my drowsiness, plastering on a smile and grabbing the food, never feeling the heat from the plate due to the calluses on my hands. They were rock hard, shielding my skin against any amount of heat.
At twenty-nine, I’d worked at Charlie’s Diner for thirteen years. Thirteen years of serving people with mediocre tips that had given me feet that, by the end of the night, ached so badly nothing, including soaking them in warm water, helped soothe anymore. Twelve hours a day, five to seven days a week would do that to any woman.
As my grams used to say, “Can’t get anywhere in this world if you don’t work hard.” So, work hard I did, always.
I wasn’t complaining. I loved Charlie, the owner. He had taken me under his wing when I was a pitiful sixteen-year-old, and to this day was the only man in my life who had yet to let me down.
I had clean clothes on my back, food in my belly, and a place to crash. I had my sister, my grams, and my mother. What more could a woman ask for? Me, I wasn’t asking for anything. I was happy where my life was going. I had a plan. It wasn’t some grand extravagant one, but I had it and clung to it because everyone needed to have goals in their lives. Those could be small or large, but people needed something to reach for, work for, and take a hold of. Of course, this all came from my grams, too, but being a really smart woman, I took everything she’d said to heart.
I lived on the cheap and saved as much of my meager earnings as possible. I had a decent savings, but that did not stop me from working at every available opportunity. A dollar was a dollar, and no one knew how far a buck could take you.
My ultimate goal was to own my own home. The American dream, some might say. For me, it was about having my own, doing my own, and it being my way. Hard work and sacrifice would eventually get me there.
Paying rent every month on a beat to hell trailer when I could be making payments on something that would be mine didn’t sit right with me. Unfortunately, my credit was shot to hell by a no-good ass of a father.
I shivered with anger at the thought of him and tried shaking it out, but it was impossible when it came to that man.
When I was a teen, he decided to use me for a couple of credit cards. Okay, it was seven of them. No joke. He really did, to the tune of one hundred seventy-nine thousand dollars and forty-seven cents. He swiped and signed for debts he never intended to repay, all of it striking against my credit.
I, of course, did not find this out until I was nineteen and was denied a credit card I had signed up for, which I’d thought was unusual yet passed it off as being young. Grams being Grams, however, immediately set me on a path to checking into it.
When information came back leading to my father, I was crushed. We hadn’t been exceptionally close, but he was my dad, the man who was supposed to have my back. He should have protected me, not have done this to me. At least, that was what I had thought a father should do. I’d expected better of him, but I should have known.
Prosecuting my father for the theft still weighed heavily on me to this day. I only had two choices, though: one, not say anything and pay back all the money stolen, or two, I could turn my father in, which had been the only way I could get it expunged from my record and have the debt extinguished. I hated doing it, but really, the choice was made the moment he’d taken out the cards in my name. I couldn’t live with that huge weight on my shoulders. I had to bear it for a while when the courts had to do their thing: having creditors call me, looking for their money. And that was enough.
It took me some time, but the courts deemed him guilty, and my credit fell back in line. Thanks to a wise banker, I’d gotten a secured credit card with the little savings I had. Then, like clockwork, I made sure to pay it off.
Never missing a bill, I now had a very decent score to the point that if I saved enough for a down payment, a bank might take a chance on me. And I was almost there. I could almost taste my victory. It was another step in the right direction. “Eye on the prize, always,” Grams would say, and my eye was firmly set on loan equals home.
Unfortunately, that had been the end of my relationship with my father. I’d received a few not so nice calls from jail and a very nasty letter that I’d burned, never wanting to read it again. The little girl inside me, though, still yearned for a father, even if mine happened to be a douche.
After everything I’d been through, I took the lesson my father taught me the hard way and kept my name, social security number, and other personal information close to heart. I protected it with everything I had, kept an eye on it, and did routine checks to make sure no credit cards or loans were taken out under my name. Luckily, that hadn’t happened beyond the initial time, but I always had that fear it would.
Life was looking up, allowing me to tackle it and reach my goal.
As I walked across the black and white tiled floor of the diner, old man Darren looked up, a wide smile on his wrinkled face. The man had been coming in for years, and we had developed a friendly relationship.
“There’s my girl,” he cried out, pushing his coffee cup off to the side as I slid his food onto the table, the porcelain hitting the Formica table with a scratching sound. It was a sound I’d come to find comforting over time, though others said it hurt their ears.
“It’s nice and hot,” I told him, brushing my hands on my apron, feeling like something was on them, which was a job hazard. “Anything else I can get ya?”
He beamed up at me. “That smile of yours sure makes an old man’s day,” he remarked. Even though he’d told me that hundreds of times over the years, I felt the same heat creep into my cheeks.
“You make mine by coming in here,” I responded, trying to shake off the blush. “You good?”
“Some more coffee when you have a chance, sweetie?”
“Of course.” I spun on my heel, grabbed the coffee pot, and then topped him off.
The other tables in my section seemed good, so I began my prep for the next shift. I checked and filled the condiments, along with taking two more orders, delivering them, getting more drinks, and cashing out my tables.
Everything at Charlie’s was second nature to me, reminding me a lot of home. It did not slip past me that I thought of my job as home, but when you spent so much time in one place, it happened. I counted myself lucky to have this constant in my life.
Charlie’s was the hot spot in Dyersburg, Tennessee except for Tuesday through Thursday—those were blah. Hence, why tonight was blah, but a girl could use that every now and then. A rest from the go, go, go, even if it was almost a waste of time because the tips were scarce.
Charlie was into cars and bikes, so the entire place was decorated as such. His old plates off his cars and even handlebars from an old bike hung on the walls. I didn’t think some of the stuff actually came from him. Rather, he bought it to go with the theme. Regardless, the walls were covered in a rustic automobile motif, and I loved it.
With the night ticking away at a little past ten, Mitzi and I were the only ones working the floor. I’d worked with Mitzi for a couple of years. Our relationship was purely work-related since a lot of what I’d learned about Mitzi had turned out to be fake. I didn’t do fake; hated it. Therefore, working relationship only.
The bell above the door chimed, and instinctively I looked up from wiping down ketchup bottles. My stomach clenched.
Plastering on my wide smile, I greeted them. “Welcome, boys. Go ahead and have a seat anywhere you’d like.”
The air in the diner changed—it always did when they came in, which was regularly. The space felt smaller, closed in by their presence alone. They commanded the room just from stepping over the threshold. The farther they stepped in, their boots hitting the tile, the denser the air became.
For most people, waiting on a table full of four large men who were members of an exclusive motorcycle club would come off as a bit intimidating, but they tipped well. As a result, once they sat, I was thankful they were in my section.
When the Vipers Creed MC rode in, my pockets usually went from decent to way off the charts. I’d gladly let my knees tremble for the next hour to have that extra padding in my pocket. Not to mention, they weren’t hard on the eyes, either.
I steeled my spine, grabbed my order pad and pen, then strode over to the table.
Since I tended to keep my section steady with the regulars, it was no surprise to find Mitzi giving me the stink eye as I made my way to their table. She hid it quickly, flying under the radar with her perfect smile. She was good at that.
Four men sat at a six-person, speckled, white rectangular table. Each man took a post on the farthest corner. One was a man named Bosco who’d been coming here since I had started and knew nothing about how to wait tables. I even spilled a Coke on him once. I would have thought he’d blow up at me, but he laughed it off, and he’d been kind to me ever since. He had dark hair with some white scattered through it. His beard and mustache were so burly they covered up his mouth almost completely.
Across from him was a man I knew as Ben back in school, but now he went by the name Boner. I mean, really? What kind of name was that? Being a senior, he’d had no idea who my freshman self was, but that was expected considering I didn’t socialize much. He had light brown hair that normally was tousled on top like he’d run his fingers through it a million times, but today, he had a dark stocking cap on, covering his locks. He was handsome yet rough looking.
Next to him, one seat over, was a man they called Dawg. Yes, not Dog, but Dawg. My assumption was he played the field a lot. He had been several years older than me in school; therefore, he was unknown to me. He had dark brown hair that curved around his ears. A striking man who turned many a woman’s head.
Across from him was Wes, now known in our town as Stiff. With him being three years older than me, we hadn’t associated in school, either. That wasn’t to say my eyes weren’t wide open to him, because they had been … and still were. Then, he’d had the lightest blond hair imaginable, almost white. Currently, he had nothing. Completely, utterly bald, but it wasn’t the freaky bald you saw sometimes on men. No, this worked for him in a major way. Sexy, check. Hot, check. His beard was lightly colored and trimmed. Even as kids, Stiff’s eyes were magnetic, and some things never changed. They weren’t blue nor green. No, they were both, creating a swirling ocean inside them, sucking you into their depths.
Truth be told, the men were each their own brand of sexy, but not men a person should fuck around with. Stories had been told over the years about the Vipers Creed—hell, Charlie had some doozies. I didn’t need any of that in my life. I liked simple, and judging from the stories, they were anything but.
I would be happy to take their tip money, though.
A smile went a long way, so I put it in place as I reached their table.
“Hey, boys. What can I get ya?” I asked, standing behind the empty chair between Bosco and Dawg.
All conversation halted and their eyes turned to me.
My insides shrank a bit from the combination of their penetrative stares, but no way would I show that on the outside. Nope, I was Chelsea Anne Miller, and no matter what was on the inside, it would never show.
“Little Chelsea, how are ya doin’?” Bosco asked.
He would consider me little. I was five-feet-six, but anyone next to Bosco would be considered small. Nevertheless, I gave him a genuine smile. I mean, come on! If a man like him forgave you for dumping a pop down his shirt, it was a must.
“I’m good. Hanging in there.”
“Good. Can I get a burger with the works, onion rings, and a Coke?”
I wrote all of this down in my usual short script, nodding then turning my attention back to the table.
“Who’s next?” I asked, switching my focus between the guys, not allowing myself to linger on Stiff.
“I’ll have the tenderloin with onions, fries, and a Dr. Pepper,” Dawg answered, and I scribbled then looked up expectantly.
“How long have you worked here?” Boner asked, shocking me a bit. We hadn’t ever really conversed casually, but like everything else that life threw at me, I rolled with it.
“Thirteen years,” I replied then waited for him to tell me what he wanted. He didn’t.
“And you still fill out that uniform so damn well.” Boner whistled low.
I felt it coming, and then bam! Cue blushing cheeks. I had never been one to accept compliments easily. I felt a flutter, but it landed more on the shy side, not the hot and wet.
Charlie didn’t make us wear a uniform, really. We wore black pants, comfortable shoes, and a white button-down shirt—long for the winter, short in the summer. To me, what I had on was unflattering as all get out, but to each their own.
“Thanks,” I responded. “What do you wanna eat?”
Boner chuckled. “I get it, not interested. It was worth a shot.”
I kept quiet. Really, though? Not interested? While my interest in Boner was slim, that didn’t mean I was dead. I could see how attractive each of them were in their own right. Still, the thought of him even wondering if I was interested was strange.
“I want one of those hamburger horseshoes with a Coke.”
“Got it.” My eyes lifted to Stiff, and the air left my lungs in a whoosh.
Damn, those eyes were like laser beams cutting into me, swirling like a tornado, sucking me down. My heart picked up, thumping like a jackhammer, and it took everything in my power to stop my hands from trembling. While I might not be interested in Boner, Stiff, well, he just did something to me; had for as long as I could remember.
“What can I get ya?” I asked, hoping to God my voice wouldn’t give my rising temperature away.
“You on the menu?” he asked calmly.
I felt the blush slink back but ignored it. Stiff had always been a flirt—a huge flirt to anything in a skirt, that is. Even me. I knew he was just playing around, but over the years, there had been times I’d hoped he wasn’t. It was stupid and immature, not to mention utterly ridiculous. As my dad used to say, “You’ll never be anything. No man will ever want you.”
Some things, no matter how hard you tried, you never got over them. This was one. Those words were like brands on my soul, never leaving.
Instead of feeling the embarrassment or heat of the hot man flirting with me, I gave it back to him. As my grams said, “You have two choices: run away like an afraid, little rabbit or buck up, steel your spine, and hold your head up high.” Me, I held my head high. She also said, “Fake it till ya make it.” I lived by that motto every day. This situation was no different. My father might have branded me, but that was on the inside. No one could see it if I didn’t show them, which would never happen, so I faked it.
Jutting out my hip and putting my hand there, I said, “Nah, Sugar, but thanks for askin’.” I gave him a playful wink that took every bit of my strength. “What can I get ya?” I asked, wishing I had some gum in my mouth, as it seemed to taste like cotton.
He scanned my body, the heat from his gaze causing my panties to dampen, something that hadn’t happened in a very long time, mind you. And I continued to stare with an expectant look, even raising my brow in impatience.
Instead of answering me, he took his time, and it became difficult to breathe. He caught it and smirked at me.
I looked down, focusing on my order paper. Breathe in, breathe out, I reminded myself. A hot guy checking you out is not a reason for you to pass out on the floor, Chelsea.
“Burger, tomato, waffle fries, and a Coke.” He paused, causing me to look up from my order pad. “Add you on there.”
My skin practically burned from arousal, but I once again powered on. “Sugar, you couldn’t handle me.”
His lip tipped up, and I swore time stopped for a brief moment, allowing me to plug that one movement into my memory bank. Holy shit, it was sexy.
I hadn’t had much sexy in my life, but that was by choice, because men sucked. First, there was my no-good father. Then came the asshole who drugged me in high school and took my virginity. Yes, I knew who it was, but it couldn’t be proven. Therefore, nothing had been done. Then there was Steven, who turned out to be way into porn. Barry was next, and at the name, I should have put him in the “no” pile. I learned that one the hard way, too. So, you see, men sucked. I was better off keeping to myself and aiming for my goals.
Stiff scratched his beard while he studied me appraisingly. “Baby, conquering you would be a fucking pleasure.”
I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. Did he really just say that? Holy shit, he did.
Somehow, I snapped myself together and ignored his comment. How I did this, I had no idea.
“Nah,” Bosco replied, and I scooted away from the table right as I heard Bosco say, “Stop that shit, Stiff.”
“What? She’s pretty.”
My step faltered, but I regained it just in the nick of time. He said I was pretty.
I gripped the countertop, needing something to hold on to in order to ground myself. This was surreal. Definitely surreal. Sure, he’d flirted—hell, he flirted with every woman he could when in here—but to have that intense look then to call me pretty, that was just bizarre. Totally unlike the other times.
Regaining my composure, I put their order in and filled their drinks. Then I walked back to their table and began handing the drinks out.
“Coke,” I called out, getting a grunt from Bosco.
I continued calling out drinks and passing them around.
“How’s that sister of yours?” Boner asked.
This time, I smiled huge, and it wasn’t the one I plastered on my face every day. No, this one was genuine because I loved my sister more than anything in this world. Anyone honestly asking about her made me happy.
“She’s good. Almost done with college. I’m damn proud of her.” My heart swelled with emotion. I’d never been so proud of anything in my life.
Jennifer had always been so damn smart. Mom and I were lucky she had received scholarships, but even if she hadn’t, I would have taken on another job to get her through.
Jenn wanted college so badly. It was one of her goals, and she deserved every chance in life. She worked her ass off up there, having a job besides school. I still sent her running money, which she continually returned, becoming our game.
She was only a thirty-minute drive from here, but it seemed like a lifetime away. I missed her. It had been almost a month since I’d seen her last. Though we talked every day, it wasn’t the same.
Bosco whistled. “College girl. Always knew she’d do good.”
I nodded. “Yep, and she’s getting all A’s.” I knew I was beaming, because my cheeks began to have that twinge in them that bordered on pain from when you smile for too long. But you kept doing it, anyway, since you really felt it.
I looked over at Stiff and saw his eyes dead focused on me.
My smile wobbled a tad, but I held strong.
Stiff had always had that something—call it charisma, charm, badassness, or anything along those lines. Then again, it might just be my hormones considering getting laid was up there with getting a hole in my head. I had no time for either.
“I’ll be back with your food in a bit,” I told them, striding away.
While filling the mustard containers, my eyes would drift over to their table whenever I heard the barks of laughter between the men. Stiff snagged me once, but I smiled then quickly looked away. I mean, I couldn’t have him thinking I was staring at him, right?
The rest of the night went without incident, and as expected, I got a hefty tip from the boys.
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About Ryan Michele
Ryan Michele found her passion in making fictional characters come to life. She loves being in an imaginative world where anything is possible and has a knack for special twists readers don’t see coming.
She writes MC, Contemporary, Erotic, Paranormal, New Adult, Inspirational, and many more romances. And whether it’s bikers, wolf shifters, mafia, or beyond, Ryan spends her time making sure her heroes are strong and her heroines match them at every turn.
When she isn’t writing, Ryan is a mom and wife living in rural Illinois and reading by her pond in the warm sun.
Publisher: Entangled Otherworld Select
It’s been two years since I tried to overthrow Death…
Now, all I have to show for it is a life in exile without my lover and personal Grim Reaper, Brent Hume. He bargained his soul for my safety. If I could get him back, I would, but I don’t don’t have the first idea how. So I live for the night when Reaper’s bring nightmares to the living—and Brent visits me in mine. Doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep, but I’ll take what little of him I can get.
When Death comes calling, sending me into an old foe’s camp as a spy, my inner rebel awakens once more. If I play my cards right, I might improve upon my growing Master Scrivener powers and finally free Brent so that we can be together for good. I know he’ll do anything to keep me safe—even if it means I’ll never see him again. And that scares the Hell out of me.
Abigail Baker shares her home with a Siamese cat endearingly named “The Other Cat” and two rescued mutts with mundane human names that people think are cute. In addition to writing about rebellious heroines, she enjoys hiking, discovering craft beers, baking the perfect vanilla bean cupcake, and rock climbing (going as far as scaling 800 vertical feet to the summit of Devil’s Tower National Monument in 2013).
Abigail won first place in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s 2010 Colorado Gold Writing Contest for Romance for THE BLOODSUCKER and first place in RWA’s Golden Network’s 2011 Golden Pen in Paranormal Romance for TATTOO OF YOUR NAME ACROSS MY SOUL (now THE REAPER’S KISS, Deathmark Book One). She regularly blogs about life observances, lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains, and can be easily found hiking any of Colorado’s best trails.
The Bad Boys are a series of stand-alone romances that may also be enjoyed as part of the larger Love in Bloom series.
Indulge your inner vixen…You asked for naughtier lovers, with the same fierce loyalty as The Bradens – Meet the Bad Boys… Four sinfully sexy, uber alpha brothers, about to fall head over heels for their leading ladies.
Everything’s naughtier after dark…
Amanda Jenner is done being a boring-man magnet and has finally taken control of her love life. As any smart paralegal would, she’s researched the hell out of how to seduce a man. She’s waxed, primped, and ready to put her newfound skills into action–and a masquerade bar crawl is the perfect venue for her solo coming-out party.
Entertainment attorney Mick Bad lives by two hard and fast rules. He never mixes business with pleasure, and he doesn’t do relationships, which makes the anonymity of a masquerade bar crawl the perfect place for a onetime hookup.
Amanda thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she bags a tall, dark, and sinfully delicious masked man–until she discovers the man she’s made out with is her off-limits boss. Mick’s already crossed a line he can never uncross, and one taste of sweet and sexy Amanda has only whet his appetite. When Mick offers to give Amanda a lesson in seduction–no strings, no regrets, and for goodness’ sake, come Monday, no quitting–the tables turn, and Mick’s totally unprepared for the lessons this sweet temptress provides.
From the USA Today bestselling author of the Bliss series comes a new spin off series featuring your favorite Bliss series characters who are yet to meet their match. This time it is Zach and Danika’s turn.
I’m a gamer by nature and by profession. I’m all about strategy, performance, and coming out on top.
Five months ago I threw caution to the wind, and in the first miscalculated step of my twenty-one-year life, I made a move on my brother’s best friend.
The first mistake we made was keeping our relationship secret. The next was going off half-cocked when a train wreck of epic proportions hit us.
Now our secret is secret no more. As I struggle to deal with all of the swirling emotions, conflicted feelings, and the multitude of burned bridges that I need to mend, the one person who can help me through it all is the same man I need space from.
To fix it I’ll have to pull on my big-girl panties, focus on what I truly want in life, and put everything I have into winning the most important game I’ll ever play.
Life is a game, and it is what you make it.
Coming out unscathed is a whole other matter.