AUTHOR: S.M. STRYKER
Will dreams slip through Charlie’s fingertips, or can she catch the ball?
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1fi2JjP
AUTHOR: S.M. STRYKER
Will dreams slip through Charlie’s fingertips, or can she catch the ball?
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1fi2JjP
Book Title: Jack Gets His Man
Author: D.E. Haggerty
Genre: Romantic Comedy – M/M
Release Date: July 1, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
Jack’s life is awesome. His store is making money hand over fist and his best friend has found love. So what if he’s feeling a bit restless and put out about his upcoming birthday and his ex is being a pain in his fabulous behind? That’s nothing he can’t handle. But
then his smoking hot new bookkeeper discovers things at the store aren’t actually as they seem. Someone is playing fast and loose with the finances. Jack’s bestie and his gal pals, the gray-haired knitting detectives, jump at the chance to solve Jack’s problems.
When they aren’t re-enacting scenes from spy thrillers, they’re setting Jack up on dates and generally insinuating themselves into his love life. They’re determined to find love for Jack as well as his missing money. Will Jack catch a thief or find love? Either way
Jack’s going to get his man.
The first candidate arrived promptly at 9:30 or at least his mom did. Danny ushered an elderly matron with a stern bun into Jack’s office and made a hasty retreat.
Jack just stared at her until Izzy cleared her throat and poked him in the ribs. “I’m sorry,” she said when Jack kept staring. “We were expecting someone named Fred. Is that you?”
The woman looked first at Jack and then at Izzy. “Of course that’s not me,” she snapped. “What kind of name is Fred for a woman?”
“Er.. um,” Izzy stumbled. “Do you know where Fred is?”
The woman rolled her eyes and harrumphed. “He’s in the bathroom. He always gets nervous at interviews.”
“Um. Okay,” Izzy was quick to respond when she saw Jack opening his mouth. Knowing Jack nothing appropriate was coming out of his mouth at the moment. “Can you have a seat outside while we conduct the interview?” Izzy could do prim and proper when necessary.
The woman gave Izzy the evil eye before turning on her heel and walking out. They never saw Fred.
Jack was licking his fingers when Danny ushered in the next candidate. “Hi!” the enthusiastic candidate nearly shouted. “I’m Tim!” That part was definitely shouted.
Jack and Izzy stood to shake the man’s hand. He swayed a bit as he leaned forward. Jack took a sniff, but didn’t smell anything untoward. Tim collapsed in his seat while Jack stared at his hand in disgust. Tim’s hands were sweaty. Jack’s mouth pulled tight in a grimace and his nose scrunched in displeasure.
“So Tim. Why do you want this job?” Izzy’s voice was overly enthusiastic in an attempt to bring Tim’s attention to her so he wouldn’t see Jack’s grimace. She need not have bothered. Tim had leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. When he didn’t respond, Izzy snapped her fingers. “Tim?”
He started. “Huh? What?”
“Have you been drinking?” Jack didn’t even bother to ask in a polite manner.
Tim shrugged. “Just a tiny drink to settle my nerves.”
Jack stood. “Okay. Thanks a lot for coming. We’ll be in touch.”
Tim looked confused but managed to struggle to his feet and lurch out of the door. Izzy was giggling uncontrollably by the time Jack sat back down. He snorted. “At least this isn’t boring.”
An hour later, Jack had changed his mind. Interviews #3 and #4 were tedious. Like he was going to hire someone wearing a gray, off-the-rack suit to work in his company. He laid his head on the table, careful not to mess up his hair, and turned pleading eyes to Izzy. “Can we please have lunch now?”
Izzy shook her head. “Nope, another interview before lunch.”
“I hate you,” Jack whispered as the door opened again. Danny ushered in a beautiful man and Jack perked up immediately. Izzy gave him a side-long glance but he ignored her. Things were looking up.
“This is Damien,” Danny said before backing slowly out of the office, eyes glued to the man candy that was Damien.
Izzy jumped up to shake his hand. Jack just stared until she kicked him in the shin. Then he stood up as well, but he looked like he was in a trance as he reached forward to shake Damien’s hand. Izzy had to cover her mouth to keep from giggling.
“So,” Izzy began once everyone had sat down and Jack had inspected Damien from top to toe. “Why do you want to work here?”
Damien turned his dazzling smile on Izzy and winked. “Seriously? This store is awesome.”
“Are you a cross-dresser?” Jack asked before Izzy had a chance to kick him again.
“No,” he shook his head. “But I think it’s great that someone is willing to have a store dedicated to cross-dressers in such a small town in Oklahoma of all places.”
“You do realize that a significant portion of the store’s income comes from the big and beautiful women’s section,” Izzy pointed out.
Damien waved his hand in dismissal of her objection. “But that’s great as well. Everyone should have good clothing options.” He looked at Jack for confirmation and Jack nearly took his head off nodding in agreement. Izzy had to stifle yet another laugh.
Jack cradled his head in his hands with his elbows on the table staring at Damien. Obviously it was up to Izzy to conduct this interview. “Tell us about your work experience.”
The interview lasted 30 minutes, but Jack couldn’t tell you one single thing that was said during that time. He was too busy trying to keep his drool from spilling out of his mouth. Izzy cleared her throat and Jack realized that everyone was standing. He quickly jumped to his feet and shook Damien’s hand, holding on for as long as possible. Damien gave him a megawatt smile before turning to leave.
Izzy collapsed in the chair and turned squinted eyes on Jack. “No.”
Jack flounced into his chair and decided to play innocent. “Whatever do you mean, my dear?” He might be overdoing the innocent thing.
“The five female seniors’ involvement in all of this, especially the investigation, is both hilarious and endearing.” ~ Amazon Reviewer
“I would recommend this book (and am) to friend that read. It was light hearted, quick to read, and fun in all the best ways.” ~ Amazon Reviewer
“The “gray haired detectives” are back, which I’m happy to say are in their usual rare form. There is nothing feeble about them and they use their skills to do recon missions, perform accounting audits, and get in a little bit of trouble with the local police. In their spare time they play matchmaker to the single people in their church, whether or not the poor souls want any help.” ~ Amazon Reviewer
I was born and raised in Wisconsin, but think I’m a European. After spending my senior year of high school in Germany, I developed a bad case of wanderlust that is yet to be cured. My flying Dutch husband and I have lived in Ohio, Virginia, the Netherlands,
Germany and now Istanbul. We still haven’t decided if we want to settle down somewhere – let alone where. I’m leaning towards somewhere I can learn to surf even though the hubby thinks that’s a less than sound way to decide where to live. Although I’ve been a
military policewoman, a commercial lawyer, and a B&B owner, I think with writing I may have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. That’s assuming I ever grow up, of course. Between playing tennis, running much slower than I would like, trying
to adopt every stray dog within a 5-mile radius, traveling to exotic new locales, singing off tune, drinking entirely too many adult beverages, addictively watching new movies and reading books like they are going out of style, I write articles for a local expat
magazine and various websites, review other indie authors’ books, write a blog about whatever comes to mind and am working on my sixth book.
#MMRomance #RomanticComedy #BEP @denaehaggerty
Book: Beautiful Imperfection
Author: Hayley Oakes
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hosted By:Francessca’s Romance Reviews
Failure wasn’t what Cassidy Sinclair expected when she got married … but that’s exactly what she got.
Instead of getting her happy ever after she is struggling to adjust to living back with her unconventional parents and the chatter of small town gossip.
Desi Cardwell was never known for his interpersonal skills and being back in small town Tolvey, sending the rumour mill into overdrive, was not what he wanted for himself.
Both forced home after a decade away, Cassidy and Desi begin an unlikely alliance when she agrees to train with him at his newly opened gym.
Desi is mysterious, guarded and borderline rude but what he lacks in charm he more than makes up for with his hard body and devilish good looks.
Desi does not need anything to keep him in Tolvey longer than necessary.
Cassidy needs something mind-numbing to help her forget her ex.
Both beautifully broken can they find in each other a light in the dark?
Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/1hSZMrH
Amazon USA – http://amzn.to/1JfBUHZ
What others are saying
Hayley Oakes again writes a beautiful story with characters that you’ll find are easily loved even with all of their dark spots. I highly recommend this to everyone! ~ Amazon USA review
The twists and turns along the way made sure this wasn’t your run of the mill romance novel. Highly recommended. ~ Amazon UK Review
You put these two together and they fit perfectly – they’re two beautiful persons just a little broke. Add in an average new age family including a wacky sibling, some fun friends and your set for a great story and I have to say loved callain!
Beautiful writing and a story that will keep you turning pages ❤ ~ Goodreads Review
It tugged at my heartstrings, made me smile, made angry and made me cry. A enjoyable roller coaster read – just simply amazing! Highly recommended.~ Amazon UK Review
About The Author
Hayley Oakes is a wife to a Manchester United fan and a mother to a young daughter both require patience and a sense of humour. She enjoys reading angst ridden romance and writing stories that she would love to read. She loves post-apocalyptic movies, TV and anything 80’s.
@ #BeautifulImperfection #Promo #bookbloggers
Discovering Delilah Synopsis:
After the death of her parents on the day of her college graduation, Delilah Armstrong thought she could finally follow her heart and come out to her closest friends, but the guilt of going against her parents’ beliefs haunts her. The feelings she has for her best friend, Ashley, are stronger than anything she’s felt before, but Delilah has never even kissed a girl, and fear stops her at every turn.
Ashley Carver promised herself that she would never again date another girl who wasn’t out, but that was before she met intoxicatingly sweet and sexy Delilah.
When another girl offers to teach Delilah the ropes, it changes Delilah’s whole world and gives her the courage to go after the only girl she really wants. But coming out isn’t as easy as Delilah imagined, and moving past her parents’ death and the feelings of guilt she is left with is even harder. The intense passion between Ashley and Delilah is too strong to deny, but coming together means risking everything.
Discovering Delilah is an edgy, evocative, romantic story of friendship, family, and the courage to love.
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Pg7E0X
About Catching Cassidy (Harborside Nights, bk1)
Wyatt Armstrong never imagined that instead of celebrating his college graduation, he and his twin sister would be dealing with the death of their parents. Then again, Wyatt had never been one to think pasttomorrow. He heads to their summer home in Harborside, Massachusetts, with his best friend Cassidy Lowell in tow, to deal with his parents’ death and to try to figure out his next step.
Six foot two, infuriatingly handsome, and flirtatious, Wyatt Armstrong has always been there for Cassidy, helping her pass her classes and fend off unwanted advances, while driving her insane with his one-night stands—but that’s what best friends are for, isn’t it? Having each other’s backs. There was never any doubt that she would accompany him to his family’s summer home—but she never expected to begin seeing Wyatt as more than a friend. Or has she been ignoring her feelings all along?
It’s impossible to ignore the sizzling heat between them as Wyatt and Cassidy get even closer, but Cassidy knows Wyatt’s past, and she has a real job to begin in the fall. Wyatt may be a sure thing for the summer, but Cassidy needs more. For the first time in his life, Wyatt is forced to look toward the future if he doesn’t want to lose the one woman who’s shared his past and owns his heart.
Melissa Foster Bio:
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance (M/F, M/M, F/F), romantic suspense, thrillers, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa also co-writes the Love on Rockwell Island series with New York Times bestselling author Bella Andre. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success.
Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.
Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on social media or her personal website. Never miss a release! Follow Melissa here on Amazon and sign up for her newsletter: www.MelissaFoster.com/Newsletter
STREET TEAM: http://www.facebook.com/groups/melissafosterfans
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Foster/e/B002LTT7U2/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Book Title: How to Catch Crabs
Author: Demelza Carlton
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: June 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
Love and babies: two things Lucy doesn’t have time for in her life. It’s 1926 and this young West Australian woman is happy as an accountant. And she intends to stay that way.
Until Giorgio, an Italian migrant fisherman sent to Australia in disgrace. The moment their eyes meet across the fish market, he knows Lucy’s the girl for him. If it weren’t for his reputation as a rake, he’s certain he could catch more than just her eye – perhaps even
her heart, too.
A tale of crabs, cricket bats and catching your heart’s desire in Jazz Age Western Australia.
How To Catch Crabs Excerpt 1
Motion through a shop window caught my eye and I focussed on the source – Mr Paino, peering over a pile of potatoes. When my eyes met his, his waving turned to beckoning as he enticed me inside.
“What are you doing up from the farm?” he asked as a gust of wind slammed the door shut behind me.
“Buying fish. Mum’s got another bun in the oven and she’s insisting on fish for dinner.”
Mr Paino laughed. “Sounds like my Maria was with little Sam. She wanted fish every day. Good thing our shop is only a few streets from the fish markets – she’d walk there in the morning with the children while I worked.” He eyed me. “So when are you settling
down and having children, Lucy?”
“Doesn’t that usually require a suitable husband?”
His smile died. “For a respectable girl like you, yes.” Without lightening his dark tone, he continued, “My brother has arrived from Italy. He’s just started working at the fish markets for Merlino, though I don’t know how long he’ll last. Last night he came home
swearing that crabs and sardines were the spawn of the devil.”
He wasn’t far wrong, but even if they were, I’d have the devil to pay if I didn’t bring that spawn home. “So your brother and Mr Merlino have crabs and sardines today?”
Mr Paino choked. “I don’t know about Merlino, but I wouldn’t be surprised about my brother. He was quite the troublemaker back home in Sicily, which is why Mama sent him to Australia. She seemed to think that sending him over to the other side of the world
might make him turn over a new rock.”
“Leaf,” I corrected without thinking. “Turn over a new leaf.”
His smile turned rueful. “Whatever the expression is, I doubt my brother is capable of changing. The girls all loved him back home and he loved them right back.”
“So you’re warning me that your brother is a rake, Mr Paino?”
He chuckled. “I don’t think you need warning, Lucy. You’re not silly.”
No, but there were plenty of girls who were. I glanced outside and was surprised to see a lance of light pierce the cloud, reflecting off the footpath in blinding white. “Looks like the rain’s let up. See you later, Mr Paino.”
I slipped out of his shop and hurried toward the fishing boat harbour. The market hall was so busy, no one noticed an extra body – least of all one as skinny as mine.
“No, my boys don’t have crabs. With weather like this, they’re off catching big fish and not messing about in the shallows!” a laughing voice cut across the hubbub and all sound seemed to quieten. Maria’s unmistakeable voice was music to my ears and everyone
else’s, too, it seemed.
I’d never envied a woman so much in my life. She was the same age as me – but that’s where the similarities ended. Blonde and curvy like some sort of Italian painting of an angel, Maria Speranza was a young widow who could do as she pleased. She worked for the
Basile family, but you’d never guess that she was anyone’s subordinate. As Merry D’Angelo’s niece, she had no parents to answer to, and as long as Merry approved of her, she had all the respectability any woman in Western Australia could muster. She’d arrived
three years before and showed no sign of taking a second husband, nor needing one…though every man who saw her seemed to think otherwise. She was the uncrowned queen of the fish market.
In the dim recesses of my mind, I registered what she’d said: the Basiles didn’t have crabs. But Mr Paino had said that Mr Merlino did, so I headed for the cramped corner of the market where his counter stood. Like everywhere, there were hierarchies and as Mr
Merlino was new here, with no relatives to vouch for him, he had to build his own reputation. Much like my parents had – and many of the other migrants here.
As I approached the counter, he rose from beneath it, unfolding to a height several inches taller than me. And my eyes met…a pair that were much darker than Paolo Merlino’s. Then one of them winked.
I blinked furiously, backing up to put some distance between me and this…rake, I realised, as I took him in. Well-muscled arms strained at his shirt sleeves as he folded them across his chest, making his knitted jumper tighten just enough to show the outline of
more muscles beneath. He said something in Italian, his voice rich and deep, though he looked much younger than his brother.
His voice felt like it rumbled through my chest as much as his and his second wink said he knew it, too.
Don’t be silly, I told myself. Rakes are good for gardening and that’s it.
“I don’t understand Italian,” I told him. “Where’s Mr Merlino? I need crabs and I understand he can help me.”
His eyes seemed to widen as he heard my broad Australian accent. Had the fool thought I was Italian? “If it is crabs you want, streghetta, I will give you those and much more besides.”
“English,” I insisted. “If you’re going to insult me, then I’ll go elsewhere.” I turned to go, but I had no idea if anyone else stocked crabs. If Maria didn’t have them, I’d be lucky if anyone did.
“I called you a little witch, miss, because you have enchanted my senses. I am at your service.”
Demelza Carlton has always loved the ocean, but on her first snorkelling trip she found she was afraid of fish.
She has since swum with sea lions, sharks and sea cucumbers and stood on spray-drenched cliffs over a seething sea as a seven-metre cyclonic swell surged in, shattering a shipwreck below.
Sensationalist spin? No – Demelza tends to take a camera with her so she can capture and share the moment later; shipwrecks, sharks and all.
Demelza now lives in Perth, Western Australia, the shark attack capital of the world.
The Ocean’s Gift series was her first foray into fiction, followed by the Nightmares trilogy. She swears the Mel Goes to Hell series ambushed her on a crowded train and wouldn’t leave her alone.
#BookBlitz #HistoricalRomance #DemelzzaCarlton #BEP
Book Title: Body Checked
Author: Katherine Stark
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Sports, Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 11, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
SERGEI DRAKONOV. The newest left wing for the Washington Eagles hockey team is a triple threat: muscle, roughed-up good looks, and a dangerous tabloid reputation. Not the kind of guy who fits into Jael Pereira’s five-year plan. Jael doesn’t have time for a
relationship, between her challenging senior-year course load and her stiflingly dull internship at the FBI. But for one steamy night, she gives in to Sergei and his smooth-talking ways.
Sergei wants more than just another one-night stand. But his brother—a high-ranking member of the Russian mob—wants him to help the family business. He can use Sergei as an easy way to launder money, or to smuggle drugs on the Eagles team plane. And if
Sergei doesn’t agree, he can kiss his skating career goodbye.
The FBI’s been watching Sergei. When they learn about Jael’s fling, they want her to persuade him to inform on his brother. But the more Jael sees the real Sergei, beyond the role he plays on the ice and in front of the cameras, the more she wants him in her life.
How can she win his trust, though, when she’s playing a role of her own? And how can she protect him from his mobster brother when she can’t even protect her own heart?
Body Checked is a standalone HEA sports romance in the Center Ice series of interconnected hockey athlete stories. It contains explicit language and sexual content between consenting adults.
I glance toward the corridor’s entrance. Sergei ducks through the red velvet curtains and lopes toward me, his eyes glittering in the darkened corridor.
“It’s Jael.” Shit. Why did I tell him that? But it doesn’t matter. He won’t remember anyway.
“Jael.” He says it slowly, teasing, testing out the way it shapes on his tongue. I know this because I’m staring at his mouth as he says it, that ripe, boyish mouth, his lips just a little pink from drinking. His tongue grazes along the edge of his teeth as he speaks. And
then I’m imagining how that tongue might feel on my earlobe and running between my legs and—oh, god. I have got to stop.
“I promise you,” Sergei says in Russian, “I’m not what you think.” He props one hand against the wall behind me and leans in close. He’s got half a foot on me, and at least a hundred pounds of muscle, but he’s left me an escape if I want it.
I tilt my head up toward him and keep the scowl firmly fixed on my face. “And how do you know what I think?”
“It’s what everyone with half a brain thinks about me. That I’m some overly talented, privileged asshole with no discipline and no concern for anyone but myself. That I’ll screw over my teammates, cheat on my partners, and burn through all my money.”
His voice is so low. It hums inside of me, steady as a drumbeat, igniting my every nerve ending.
“They think I’m just skating through on raw talent alone, and sooner or later, all my mistakes and all my callousness are going to catch up with me.” He sighs. His breath is so warm against my throat. “Is that what you think?”
“You really think I care enough about you to think all of that?” I ask. “That anyone does?”
Sergei’s hand curls into a fist and he closes his eyes. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Well, that’s how it sounds. That none of us have our own lives, our own problems, and all your adoring masses live and die by the attention bestowed on them by Saint Sergei.” I’m whipping out Russian vocabulary I didn’t even know I knew, but it’s flowing
effortlessly. Maybe I am still a little drunk. “That all those women over there fawning over you only exist in whatever moment you choose to acknowledge their existence. That other teams only exist for you to defeat them. That your teammates only exist to make
you look good.”
He runs his tongue across his upper teeth, quick enough that I don’t think it’s intentional, but oh, god, does it turn me on. Only the white fury of anger is keeping me from grabbing him by his belt buckle right now. Like I so badly want to do, despite how much I
hate him right now. Despite how much I hate self-centered boys like him.
But I hate boys like ex-boyfriend, too, trying to dress up their baser instincts in their elaborate plans and career goals and trust funds. In the end, all it took was a pair of good legs attached to an MBA candidate to lure him away from me. At least Sergei is honest
about what he’s after.
“So that’s what you think of me.” Sergei straightens up, his face no longer looming before mine. “I guess it’s fair.”
“It’s not what I was thinking right now,” I admit.
Katherine Stark is the pseudonym for an author of novels in a variety of genres for children and adults. She can nearly always be found buried underneath a pile of story notes. If she isn’t writing, she’s probably reading, playing video games with her husband,
watching hockey, or eating her way across the East Coast.
#BookBlitz #Romance #New Adult #Sports #ContemporaryRomance #BEP
Date of Publication: August 25, 2015
She’s known it her whole life. She knows it every time she spreads her legs. Every time she begs for the pain, the pleasure, the heat of a hard man driving deep inside. She’s a slave to her own twisted lusts–and it’s eating her alive. She loves it. She craves it. Sex is her drug, and she’s always chasing her next fix. But nothing can satisfy her addiction, not even the nameless men she uses and tosses aside. No one’s ever given her what she truly needs.
Until Gabriel Hart.
Cold. Controlled. Impenetrable. Ex-Marine Gabriel Hart isn’t the kind of man to come running when Leigh crooks her pretty little finger. She loathes him. She hungers for him. He’s the only one who understands how broken she is, and just what it takes to satisfy the emptiness inside. But Gabriel won’t settle for just one night. He wants to claim her, keep her, make her forever his. Together they are the lost, the ruined, the darkness at the heart of Crow City.
But Leigh has a darkness of her own. A predator stalking through her past–one she’ll do anything to escape.
Even if it means running from the one man who could love her…and leaving behind something more precious to her than life itself.
Note: This book contains material that may be triggering for some readers
“State your name.”
Cold, clipped words, blending into the noise of the police station. Leigh lifted her head from a fixed study of her clenched fingers. Colors whirled around her in a lurid carnival nightmare, too bright, too blurry. On a bench on the far side of the room, a wasted and broken scarecrow woman picked at a scab on her wrist with a certain habitual listlessness, oozing diseased red-brown blood over liver spots. Her tendons were rails under her skin, and the dull gleam of cuffs chained her to the bench. She raised her head and stared at Leigh with yellowed eyes that captured her with a sort of empty, terrifying promise.
Across the desk a policewoman waited, with that compassionate impatience only a half-step from pity and shoulder-to-shoulder with disgust. Her flat blue eyes said she’d been trained to care, but couldn’t be bothered anymore. Leigh swallowed and tugged her hoodie close against the tinny air-conditioned chill. Her mouth had dried to a tacky, sticky mess, gummy pills of lipstick beading on her lips, and her tongue was a bloated and useless organ, this swollen pink thing pushing pointlessly against her teeth.
“Leigh,” she ground out. “Clarissa Leigh…” Her married name scratched sandpaper syllables against her throat. “…van Zandt.”
“And Miss van Zandt, do you know why you’re here?”
She nodded, her neck a creaking wooden puppet-hinge. “I do.”
“Your family’s been worried about you.”
She knew what she should do here. Bow her head in shame and contrition, maybe even sniffle. But she looked for the emotions and they weren’t there; just scraps and tatters, clinging to the empty place where they belonged. She had no feeling left, hollowed out and lost and wondering how she’d ended up here. This didn’t feel real. Instead it was a dream where everyone leered in fisheye close-up, their smiles all teeth and stretched red lips and manic glee. She wanted to run, but somehow she’d gone too numb to do anything but sit here surrounded by the stink of fear-sweat, stale beer, and that particular police-station smell of urine soaked into concrete for decades on end.
“What happened to you?” the officer asked. Leigh didn’t answer, and the officer’s pen tapped against the forms on her desk, rat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat, Morse code for I’d rather be anywhere but here with this spoiled little runaway princess. “It’s been four years. You were declared legally dead.”
“That’s all right.” She closed her eyes with a laugh that ripped her guts up into her mouth, and buried her face in her hands. Dead. Dead.
Yeah, that was about right.
“Miss van Zandt?”
Stop calling me that.
“Miss van Zandt. I need you to focus on my voice.”
Stop calling me that!
Leigh took a measured breath and opened her eyes. Her shoulders squared. The bolts on the back of the hard, ass-biting chair dug into her shoulder blades. “I am focused. I can hear you just fine.”
“Eyes are dilated.” The officer—her nametag read Maroni, could there be a more clichéd name for a Crow City cop—leaned across the desk, peering at her face. Then she beckoned to the aide hovering over them like a mannequin. “I’ve seen this too many times. Drugs and prostitution.” She talked about Leigh like she wasn’t even there. “We’ll have to clean her up before her husband gets here.”
“I’m not on drugs. I’ve never been on drugs.”
Maroni’s pen-clicking stopped. Her disbelief was a heavy thing, push-push-pushing until Leigh nearly laughed.
“You’re not on drugs.”
“Then what happened?”
There it was. The first hint of exasperation. Of frustration, stitched into knitted brows and the purse of lips in just the right shade of I can’t be a woman, I’m a cop mauve. Because like anyone normal, anyone who wasn’t fucking broken to pieces and liked being that way, Maroni needed to make sense of this. Needed to quantify it in a world where the rules worked as normal and everyone wanted to chase that dream of happiness that wasn’t anything but desperation painted over of a frantic tally of things. Things of plastic, things with value created by people whose upper lips curled when they looked down at little girls like Leigh, and demanded she account for herself in sane, rational ways that made proper sense.
Sorry, Officer Maroni.
I’m not the kind of thing that makes much sense.
Maroni pushed a harsh sound through her teeth. “You had a job, a husband, a newborn son. You had a life other people would kill for, and we find you here on the streets. Were you pressured? Kidnapped?”
“No. None of that.” Leigh shook her head.
“You’ll have to explain, then.”
“I left.” She trailed off, lips parted; no words came for long seconds, until she managed, “I…I was afraid.”
“Of what?” Maroni tried to catch her eye, but Leigh looked down at her hands, at her chipped pink fingernails dipped in the sparkles of shooting stars. “Miss van Zandt. If someone was hurting you, you need to tell us now so we can take appropriate steps to protect you.”
“No. No one hurt me. Not like that.”
“I’m afraid you’ll need to be more clear. What were you afraid of?”
She struggled for an answer. Struggled for something this woman would accept, something that would make her sigh with sympathy and pity and relieved disdain that said there, but for the Grace of God…
But again, she found nothing. Nothing but the truth, and Leigh shrugged as she looked up at the policewoman and wondered if she had daughters who might one day be like Leigh, daughters who would cut stark red lines of fingernails in the walls of flesh that caged her in the shape of pop culture’s perfect woman.
“Of the inevitable monotony of it all,” she said.
Corporate consultant by day, contemporary romance author by night.
Mid-thirties. Coffee addict. Cat lover. Bibliophile. Technophile. Definite sapiophile. Native Southerner. Runner. Country boy turned city suit. Shameless collector of guitar picks, vinyl records, and incense holders. Aficionado of late-night conversations over live music in seedy bars. Browncoat with a secret crush on Kaylee Frye.
Fascinated by human sociology, and particularly by the psychology of sex and gender – and their effect on relationship expectations, the culture of dating, and what it means to fall in love.
Non-smoker. The picture’s just a stock photo. A rather broody, dark one for someone who isn’t all that broody or dark, but sometimes forgets to smile even when he means to.
@ #TheLost #Release #bookbloggers @RockStarPRLC
FIND ME is the HIGHLY ANTICIPATED sequel to FREE ME and the Conclusion of Gwen and JC’s Story
NOW AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING RETAILERS:
Gwen Anders came to The Sky Launch to begin fresh, away from the horrors of her past. She fit in quickly, becoming good friends with her co-manager, Alayna Withers and the owner of the club, Hudson Pierce. Though the circumstances that brought her here were not the best, she’s never felt more at home.
But starting a new life means letting go. And there are some things she doesn’t want to leave behind – like JC, the man who taught her how to let loose. The man she wasn’t supposed to fall in love with. The man she doesn’t want to lose.
Now, with the reason she ran still a threat, Gwen fears she’ll never be able to move on completely. And if she does, can she still hold out hope that JC loves her enough to come and find her?
I grabbed my cell and checked the time. It was six-twenty-nine. I threw it in my purse and turned back to the mirror to give myself a pep talk. “We will not have sex. We will not have sex. We will not have sex.”
Jesus, I was so horny already, and I hadn’t even seen him yet. I’d thought about taking care of myself before JC got there but wasn’t sure if that would make things better or worse. By the time I’d decided it would make it better, Ben was there, and now JC was ringing my buzzer.
“You look incredible,” he said when I opened the door.
I blushed as I gave him a onceover. He was dressed in khakis with a fitted shirt and a lightweight jacket. Lots of buttons, I thought. Which was a good thing, considering how damn good he looked. Had he always been that buff? “You do, too.” My thighs felt hot. Good thing I’d changed out of my pants.
I really should have pulled out my vibrator earlier.
“You brought flowers?” I’d been so taken by him I hadn’t noticed the small bouquet in his hands. Three red roses dressed with some smaller white bell-shaped flowers I couldn’t identify were wrapped in a red ribbon. I hadn’t expected it. “I didn’t know you were the kind of guy who brought girls roses.”
He shrugged with one shoulder. “I’m trying to impress you. I have a feeling this date is a test of some kind, and I want to make sure I pass.”
“Not a test,” I said dismissively. Though, wasn’t that what this was? A test to see if we got along as well outside the bedroom as we did inside? “But thank you. You do impress.”
I shifted my weight to one hip and flitted my glance between JC, still standing on the other side of the threshold, and the flowers in my hand. “I should put these in water.” But I wasn’t sure I was ready to invite him in. Because in meant we’d be closer to my bed. And my couch. And my kitchen counter. All of which were locations that could be tempting.
Really, I just shouldn’t be anywhere alone with him.
Either JC felt the same way I did or he could read my mind. “You can do that later. The plastic containers on the stems should last until we get back. And we should get going.”
“Perfect.” I set them on the console table behind me, relieved and nervous all at once. I took a deep breath, grabbed my purse, and turned back to him. “Let’s go!”
In the hallway, he offered me his hand. I took it, then, there it was—the shock of his touch as his fingers weaved with mine. I let out an involuntary sigh, and with it bricks of tension fell from my body. Release. It shuddered through me as electricity sparked up my limb from where we were connected and spread throughout my body, and I wondered if this was what it felt like to melt. What it felt like to be frozen for so long and then, finally, to have the sun brush against cold ice, transforming it into something more fluid, something entirely different.
I glanced down to where we were joined, so overcome by how right it felt to be touching him in this simple way. When I looked back at him, I found his eyes pinned on me. His expression said he’d felt it too.
“You messed up, you know,” he said, as we started toward the elevator. “You were supposed to wear something that I didn’t want to rip off of you.”
My cheeks heated—actually, I wasn’t sure they’d ever cooled from the first blush he’d caused. “You said it would be impossible for me to wear anything that wouldn’t elicit that response. The only other choice was to go naked.”
“That would have been an excellent choice.”
“But not very practical.”
“I’ve never been a fan of practical.” He pushed the call button and the elevator doors opened immediately, the car likely still there from when he’d arrived.
We stepped inside, our hands still molded together. The doors closed, and I so badly wanted to turn and kiss him.
Instead I delivered the short speech I’d practiced since I’d woken up that afternoon. “I think I should tell you, I don’t have sex on first dates.”
“Wow. That’s…surprising. Considering we had sex before we’d ever even been on a date.” He squeezed my hand. “But, after you left me with blue balls this morning, I already figured out you’d turned into a prude.”
I laughed. “I’m not a prude. I’m cautious. And that’s nothing new. That’s always been me.”
“Yes, it has.” The short phrase was full of subtext, and I knew he was remembering how uptight I’d been when we’d first met. Icy. Frigid bitch.
“I’m better than I was,” I assured him.
He nodded. “I know. Otherwise you wouldn’t have given me even this much of you. And if you want to wait, then I can too.”
What I wanted was to push him against the wall and devour him.
But that was an in-the-moment want, and long-term, I wanted a relationship that was real and lasting. “Thank you. It means a lot.”
He leaned in close and, though we were alone, whispered in my ear. “I’m not going to say that I’m not dying to have you under me, Gwen. Because I am. But I’m dying to just be with you more.”
Despite the descent of the elevator, his words sent me floating. “You’re really good at that impressing thing.”
He gave me my favorite grin. “Who knew?”
Haven’t read this series yet, check out FREE ME at:
About the Author:
Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She’s a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.
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