Cover Reveal: TRADING YESTERDAY by Kahlen Aymes

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TRADING YESTERDAY by Kahlen Aymes

releases Nov. 21st but you can pre-order now!

AMAZON US | AMAZON UK | AMAZON AU | AMAZON CA

Cover Designed by Shoutlines Designs

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Something inside me snapped.

“Chase, I need you. Please, come.”

Teagan’s words screamed from the screen of my phone. My heart started pounding and I started to sweat. I felt like I might pass out as I was sucked into a vortex of emotions and memories I’d tried desperately to forget.

Teagan Tessler was the love of my life. My professional soccer career was a big part of the future we planned to have together, but an offer with Arsenal, one of England’s premier soccer teams, sent me to London a year ahead of schedule. Just months after I left, Teagan betrayed me with my best friend without an explanation. I was completely and utterly destroyed.

Six years later, I can finally breathe again and my professional and personal life is in a good place; but, now this. I’d have to be insane to even consider ripping open those old wounds, but whatever she needed, it had to be huge.

The truth of my feelings resonated: I should shut off the phone and forget her forever, but my traitorous heart told me to get on a plane, no questions asked.

One decision can ruin your life… Maybe another one can save it.

From USA Today bestselling author, Kahlen Aymes, Trading Yesterday is a sexy roller coaster of emotion, ultimate loss, desperate longing, betrayal and forgiveness that will restore your faith in unconditional love. You’ll be left gasping for more! The Remembrance Trilogy readers will love this book.

 

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EXCERPT REVEAL:

Chase

Six years since I left her. Six fucking years.

It seemed like I had no choice at the time; like it was the start of a dream, not the beginning of a nightmare. It was the biggest mistake of my life.

The offer from the English Arsenal Football Club was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t pass up, no matter how much it ripped me apart to leave Teagan behind. Our plan was for her to finish college then come over there, too. It never happened.

Somehow, it all got fucked up. Royally fucked up. I spent years trying to figure out why it happened without finding any logical answers and then, I was determined to forget about her. I threw myself into the game, booze, and numerous women, but nothing helped most of the time. If I were honest, the pain never really went away and I felt the loss every goddamned day. I knew I never should have left, and that only made it worse. It was Teagan, and not soccer, who was my once-in-a-lifetime everything, but I thought we were madly in love and I completely trusted that we’d make it through it… I completely trusted her. We knew it would be a difficult couple of years, but I had no reason to doubt that things wouldn’t go as planned. I thought we were invincible. Yet, not six months after I left, she married my best friend behind my back.

Some best friend. Anger cut through me like a red-hot knife and settled in to sear my gut and tighten my chest. There was no one I hated more.

My heart ached whenever I allowed myself to think about it. She called and tried to explain once, but I didn’t want to hear it. No words could justify it. I felt betrayed; too devastated to find the will to function, let alone listen. Looking at her would have sliced me open to bleed out right in front of her, and after a betrayal like that, I’d be damned if I’d let her see me suffer.

Jensen tried to talk to me, too, but I was afraid if I saw him, one of us would die. What did it fucking matter anyway? There was no reason that could make it better, more believable, or easier to accept. I’d closed down, focused on the team, and stopped corresponding with either of them. It was the only way to breathe.

My eyes burned and my throat tightened. After all this time, it was still killing me. So often, I ached to call her, my soul crying out for hers, my mind railing that it was all a bad dream and if I could only hear that sweet voice, my reality would be righted. Over time, I realized keeping as busy as possible was the only thing to keep the memories from eating me alive. I was lucky that most of the places I played, and in London, I had zero memories of Teagan to haunt me, but Arsenal and its world-class program wasn’t worth it. A huge career and being one of the top ten soccer players in the world meant nothing. Nothing was worth losing Teagan, but I’d made a life for myself despite her. In spite of her.

Somehow, I moved on. I breathed in and out. I waited, prayed for, and crawled toward the day when it wouldn’t hurt. I was still crawling on the inside, but I’d learned how to camouflage it so no one could see it anymore. I was sure part of me was dead inside.

My parents and siblings knew not to mention her after the first few attempts. The rage and drinking binges that resulted had finally kept them quiet. Kat looked at me with a sort of incredible sorrow, and even Kevin stopped badgering me.

“Just leave it alone, Kev! I can’t fucking stand thinking about what she’s doing with Jensen. Nothing will justify it! If Jensen was bleeding out in the street, the reason still wouldn’t be good enough for her to be with him. It makes me fucking sick!”

I’d flung my mother’s Ming vase at my brother and it barely missed his head; shattering in a million pieces against the wall behind him. He stood there stunned for a split second as my chest heaved and his image blurred behind a haze of fury and tears. Then, he rushed at me, tackling me to the ground. He beat the shit out of me, leaving me broken and crying her name, asking God why she wasn’t mine, begging for relief that never came, wishing I could die right there because I couldn’t see any other way to end the horrible pain. I didn’t know if I was hitting at Kevin or Teagan’s memory, but afterward, he dropped to his knees and held on to me as I fell apart. The whole family looked on in stunned shock, all of them powerless to help me. It was New Year’s Eve and I’d gotten drunk off my ass to try to forget. Everyone left me alone ever since. My mother never even mentioned that vase. She found it at a garage sale and it was probably fake, but she loved to pretend it was real, and I had destroyed it. One more thing I shouldn’t have done that piled on the guilt. I’d ruined my own fucking life by leaving and I had to live with it.

As time moved on the devastating pain eased little by little, and faded in to a dull, ever-present ache. I came home to the States less because being there surrounded me with Teagan’s essence, her memory, and people who knew her and might talk about her. Not knowing where she was, or anything about her, made it easier and possible to survive.

Now, I was in a plane on my way to Atlanta fucking Georgia, because of a few well-scripted words that came across my phone via text message.

Chase, Kat gave me your number. Don’t be mad. I need you. It’s an emergency. Please come ASAP.

Teagan

I ran my hand through my hair. Kat. My mind screamed. My sister, Kathryn was tight lipped, telling me nothing beyond where I could find her. Apparently she’d kept in touch with Teagan all these years, and that enraged me. Goddamn traitor.

“Hmmph!” I huffed in disgust. So much for blood being thicker than water.

When I called Kathryn to confront her, all she’d say was that Teagan and Jensen had moved to Atlanta three years earlier when Jensen got a job with ESPN, and I’d have to wait for Teagan to explain the rest. He must not be very high on the ESPN food chain or I’d have known about his job there.

I didn’t understand why, but I was pissed at my sister. Why would Teagan leave her family…and mine, to live in a strange city with a man who was probably gone more than he was home? It made no sense. But then, none of her decisions made sense since I left. Not since she chose to marry someone else.

The burning ache I’d thought I’d buried flared anew twenty-four hours earlier when her name appeared at the end of her message. I’d felt like a sledgehammer just flew at high velocity into my gut, and left me gasping as the air left my lungs. I could hear that voice saying the words on the screen, as if she were standing right next to me. My heart exploded and blood rushed to my face like liquid fire.

I’d thought nothing would separate us; not distance…not anyone, or anything. Ever. I was so in love I must have been blind to what was really going on behind my back. And yet, years later, all she had to do was crook her little finger and I was dragging my sorry ass halfway across the world without knowing why.

“Welcome to Atlanta, Georgia. We thank you for flying with us today. We know you have many choices for…” The mad rushing of blood in my ears muffled the flight attendant’s words. My skin vibrated as anticipation throbbed through me, and I mentally shook myself. I needed to get my shit together. I couldn’t allow Teagan to see how much this still mattered. I had to be cool, calm… blasé’. She couldn’t know how she’d destroyed me. I’d worked hard to build an aloof persona off the field, and a superstar one on it. When I started to stand out, the sports world shortened my name from Chase to Ace, and I embraced it.

As I gathered my carry on, I braced myself for what I would see in a few short minutes. Would Jensen be with her? Could I take that? I wasn’t sure. I rubbed my hand over the back of my neck in agitation and then held it out in front of me. I was visibly shaking, so I curled my fingers into a fist in an attempt to steady myself. I was a bad motherfucker, solid as a rock, on top of my game and in the best shape of my life, so why the hell was I shaking like a pussy? As I started to walk out of the plane, I willed myself to calm down. I settled a cold mask into place over my face, praying to God it would remain unmoved when I saw her.

The seconds pounded in my head as my footsteps closed the distance to the main terminal, heavy and suffocating. I struggled to fill my lungs with air; sure I’d lose my breath forever the minute I laid eyes on her. Would she be different? I wanted her to be unrecognizable… resistible… no longer the woman I fell in love with… no longer my Teagan.

Please God… let me not give a shit. After everything I’d suffered, would that be so much to ask?

Somehow over the years, the bitterness and anger lessened and most of what I remembered was the intense love and longing. She haunted my dreams more times than I could count, and every time I woke up in a cold sweat missing her or wanting her, I wanted to scream.

I dug down deep for the anger I’d need to make it through the next couple of days. Two days was all I would subject myself to. Then I was gone and I’d put her in the past where she belonged. I had a game in Brasília on Saturday that I couldn’t miss and I was thankful for my contract.

What the hell am I doing here, anyway? I argued with myself. I should have used the game to skip it all together, but what if she was in trouble? My lips pressed together in anger. What the fuck did it matter to me? I shouldn’t care at all. I sighed heavily. Taking care of Teagan was Jensen’s fucking job now, not mine.

Against my will, I searched the countless faces, looking for those soft brown eyes that used to own my soul. I stopped in the middle of the terminal, as my phone buzzed in my pocket.

“Yeah?”

“Hey, lovie. I got your message,” Bronwyn said casually.

“I sent it twelve hours ago. Thanks for the prompt response.” Sarcasm dripped from my voice. She didn’t notice.

“So you’re in the U.S.? Ace, I mean… why?”

I was distracted as I kept searching for Teagan. “I thought you said you got my message. I told you that a friend needs me.”

“For what?” She sounded pissed, but then, “pissed” and “I don’t give a shit” were her two most prominent gears.

“I don’t know, Bronwyn. I’ll call you when I know more.”

“I’m going to bed, so don’t call until morning, hmm?” Her voice was bored and unconcerned; her whiny voice in her English accent was suddenly annoying as hell.

“The time difference is six hours, so hopefully I’ll be sleeping when you wake up. Remember, my body is on London time.”

“Oh, yeah. Well, then just call when you can. Good night, lovie.”

“Bye.” It annoyed the hell out of me when she called me that, and she knew it. I shoved the phone into my back pocket of my dark jeans, my mind immediately dismissing the woman on the phone.

Where was Teagan? I scratched my stomach through the fine linen of my dark blue button down. I’d left it un-tucked, only taking time to change my pants and shove three changes of clothes and my running shoes into a small bag before rushing straight to the airport. I left the club immediately after speaking to Kat.

I was tired and impatient as I put my hands on my hips and turned, stopping dead when I saw her moving slowly in my direction, weaving through the crowds. She looked thinner and more fragile; her skin seemed more translucent against the darkness of her flowing hair, still as long and luxurious as I remembered. My breath caught in my throat at the sight, my heart thudding sickeningly in my chest as time rewound in an instant. I wanted it to stop beating. I didn’t care if it killed me or if I had to rip it from my chest; I just wanted it to fucking stop.

Her brown eyes were huge as she looked up into my face, still owning me as much as she ever had, as she closed the last few yards between us. The sadness surrounding her was so heavy I could almost taste it.

“Hello, Chase.” Her voice rocked through me. The same voice that still haunted my dreams on occasion.

My hand moved to my chest, seeking to ease the tightness that prevented me from speaking. I swallowed hard as I took in her smallness in jeans and summer top that left her shoulders and arms completely bare, except for the thin straps. The yellows and oranges in the floral print made her hair appear darker and emphasized the faint flush on her cheeks.

My arms ached to reach for her and drag her against my body. The pull was tangible and I could see the same battle flash across her beautiful features. She was still so goddamned beautiful.

“Teagan…” Her name fell from my lips unwillingly as emotions I’d tried to ignore, surfaced.

We stood there, staring at each other until finally, my left hand reached for her right one. Our fingers entwined as easily as if we’d never been apart, and her eyes filled with glistening tears and then two fat drops rolled down her cheeks. The years fell away as, unable to help myself; I pulled her to me, and gathering her close then turned my face into her hair. She still wore the same perfume… still felt perfect pressed close to me. My breath left my lungs. Her arms flew around my neck as I lifted her easily into my embrace as a deep sob broke from her chest.

“Chase. Oh, God. Thank you. I honestly didn’t think you would come.”

My hand cupped the back of her head and protectiveness filled every cell in my body. No matter what happened, I couldn’t stand to see her in pain. “What is this about? Why now?”

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

USA Today bestselling author, Kahlen Aymes, writes HOT romance in New Adult, Adult Contemporary, and Erotica genres. Her books bring to life strong and sassy heroines & swoon-worthy, panty dropping alpha males! She is a master at making her readers FEEL as if they are living within the pages.
Kahlen has been on several bestseller lists including Barnes & Noble, Amazon Top 100 Paid at #2, Smashwords, Publisher’s Weekly, iBooks, and USA Today! She has won multiple awards for writing and has a BSBA in Marketing & Business Administration.
She is an avid reader, baker, roller skater and karaoke singing single mother of one daughter and two golden retrievers.
When she isn’t writing she loves interacting with her readers!
Count on Kahlen to deliver strong, relatable characters, deep and detailed plots, and emotion overflow!
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Cover Reveal: Prelude by Auden Dar

Title: Prelude
Series: Interlude Duet #1
Author: Auden Dar
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Hart & Bailey Design Co.
Release Date: November 9, 2017
Blurb

I thought I
had it all until he came back.
Julian
Caine, my childhood friend, was a short, scrawny thirteen-year-old boy with
thick glasses and a mouthful of braces the last time I saw him.
Fourteen
years later, he’s no longer an awkward teen.
He’s all man.
A.  Beautiful. 
Staggering.  Drop-dead.  Gorgeous. 
Man.
This is
more than a fleeting attraction.  I’ve
spent too many sleepless nights obsessing
over him while my fiancé sleeps next to me.
Then Julian
makes a proposal I can’t ignore.
One night.
That’s all he’s offering.
If I say
yes, will I finally have it all?  Or will
it be a prelude to disaster?
Note:

Prelude is Book One in The Interlude Duet.  There is no cheating and due to graphic
sexual content, it is intended for mature audiences only.
Author Bio

Auden Dar
is a romance junkie.  A former A&R
music executive, Auden aspires to create the perfect, imperfect book
boyfriend.  Besides her family and erotic
romance, Auden’s other passions include music, foreign films, stalking bulldogs,
and learning how to cook like Nigella Lawson.
Author Links

Cover Reveal: Clutch by S.M. West

Title: Clutch
Author: S.M. West
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: RBA
Photo: Regina Wamba, Mae I Design and Photography
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Blurb
Clutch –
verb: to grasp and hold tightly; to seize; snatch.
Flighty. Stupid.
That’s what my sisters think of me.
I’m tired of being
misunderstood.
With a suitcase in
hand and the ocean as my beacon, I’m charting my own path.
Yet, barely a day on
the road, I almost crash and burn.
Running into Silas
Palmer, a sexy-as-sin rock star, changes my life.
Silas makes me feel …
Exceptional. Aimless.
He’s always known his
course.
And even now, when
he’s abandoning fame and fortune, he knows what he wants.
Me.
But life is never
that simple.

Pre-order Links
99c pre-order price!
The price will go up on release and will go to Kindle
Unlimited after release day.

Excerpt
Since
Pansy’s come into my life, I’m brimming with song ideas, scraps of
paper everywhere. So much so, half of me is eager to get in that studio and
write, but the other half is reluctant to lose the limited time I have with
Pansy, getting to know her.
“I love
that. Is it new?” Pansy surveys me from the doorway in a faded black one-piece
swimsuit that’s seen better days. All I see is her toned bronze skin, calling
to me.
Crooking my
finger, I beckon her, and she obeys. With each step to me, streams of sunlight
flit across the crown of her head, deepening the warm, red tones of her long
locks.
I pull her
onto my lap, and her delicious bow-shaped lips curl up as her eyes widen,
darkening to moss green. Her warm, almost bare back leans against my chest, and
I swear our heartbeats are synchronized.
“Silas.” My
name is almost a tremble on her lips.
“Hey,” I
whisper, and she smiles.
I place her
hands on the keyboard, my larger ones shadowing hers, and we play a few bars of
the song I just wrote. The one she just overheard. It’s about her.
“Hypnotizing.”
She sways with the beat.
“Very
hypnotizing.” She sure is. 
Lightly
kissing her shoulder, my tongue licks at her salty skin, and she shudders and
sighs, sinking into me. With her surrender, my hands have a mind of their own,
gripping her waist and lifting her to sit on the piano with her legs bent, her
bare feet grazing the keys. 
“Silas,”
she exhales, her hands latching onto my shoulders.
Seated at
eye level with her sex, I glance at her, seeking permission. The tiny nod and
nibble on her bottom lip is all the go-ahead I need. My fingers gently knead
her thighs before pulling her legs wide apart. 
She gasps
as my hands glide up the inside of her legs. Eager to taste and touch, my
tongue kisses, nips, and licks at the soft, silky skin of her thighs, the sea
salt mingling with a flavor that is undeniably Pansy. She tastes like fucking
freedom.
I continue
to rub my palms along her thighs, to the juncture of her legs and pelvis. I’m
overwhelmed with desire, burning inside as my thumb slowly swipes her mound
through the already-damp bathing suit. I’m not sure if it’s wet from the ocean
or her excitement.
 

She
releases a breathy moan, dropping her head forward, her hair falling around us
like curtains. Licking my lips, I plant a wet, open-mouthed kiss at the apex of
her thighs and groan at her musky, intoxicating scent. She sucks in a jagged
breath and curls her fingers and toes.



Author Bio

S.M. West is an
indie author who writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, erotica and
whatever her heart desires. 
She spends her time
juggling ay day job, being a mom and wife, and writing. On top of that, she’s a
self-professed junkie of many things including a voracious fan of music, a
born wanderer, a wine aficionado and chocolate connoisseur.
 
Author Links
Giveaway

Release Blitz: Rewrite by Stephanie Rose

Title: Rewrite
Author: Stephanie Rose
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 19, 2017

 





Blurb

Once upon a
time, a girl loved a boy and he loved her back. They lived happily ever after.
But our
story was never that simple.
I loved
Josh with all I had, right until the day he left. Now, all these years later,
he was back—and wanting me the way I’d always longed for him. Except now, I
belonged to someone else. Someone who never left me the way Josh had. I figured
that was the end of our story. I couldn’t alter the past.
I didn’t
want to rewrite my future.
Brianna was
always more than my best friend. She was the shining light in my black hole of
an existence, and I loved her with every cell and bone in my body. I wasn’t
good enough for her, though—more the villain than the hero in our fairy tale.
When I had to leave, I vowed to come back a better man—for her. But when I
finally did return, she wasn’t waiting for me anymore. She had someone new, her
very own Prince Charming. Did that mean our story was over? I couldn’t change
our past.
It was time
to rewrite our ending.
Purchase Links

99c special release day only price

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Free in Kindle Unlimited

 

 

 

Excerpt
“This place
is amazing, Josh.”
My chest
swelled with pride as Brianna’s widened eyes darted around the shop. Maybe it
wasn’t really my place, but Uncle
Billy trusted me enough to run it on my own. I hired the employees, handled the
books, and met with customers. He depended on me instead of waiting for me to
fuck up. The local troublemaker came back and made good, but that wasn’t such
an easy sell for everyone. Good thing I didn’t give a shit about everyone. The
only opinion that ever mattered stood in front of me, beaming with pride.
My mouth
split in a wide grin. “Thanks. It’s getting there. Hoping things pick up a
little after the holidays. No one wants a new bike when there’s an inch of ice
on the ground.” I laughed until Brianna’s face fell.
“Can I ask
you something?” She slid into the chair in my office as her lips pursed.
“Of
course.” I leaned my hip against the edge of my desk and crossed my arms.
“What’s up, Cupcake?”
“Did . . .
did you really have a new client in Manhattan last week, when you drove me to
work?”
I took in a
deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Why would you ask that?”
“Scott and I—”
She shook her head and waved her hand. “It’s nothing. Don’t mind me.”
“No.” I
nudged her ankle with my foot. “Let me guess. Scott isn’t too happy about me
hanging around so much.” I raised an eyebrow.
Brianna
reluctantly nodded. “It’s a guy thing, I guess.” She chuckled to herself. “They
get territorial if someone else tries to play with their toys.” She laughed
until she realized what she said and then covered her mouth with her eyes huge.
She was so fucking cute I couldn’t stand it. “I didn’t mean play, I meant . . .” She dropped her
head into her hands, and I couldn’t hold in a laugh anymore.
“C’mon,
Bri. I’m dying to know.” I peeled her fingers away from her face and crouched
in front of her. “What did you mean? Scott thinks I want to play with you? Don’t tell him about the
GI Joe and Barbie castle we made when we were kids. He’ll flip the fuck out.”
Her cheeks flushed as she nudged my shoulder.
I caught
her hand and held it in both of mine. As our gazes locked, laughter stopped.
There was no way in hell what I was feeling was only one-sided. I doubted it
ever was.
We didn’t
talk about it, but I remembered every moment of that night at my apartment.
Brianna rushing over to take care of me, the tortured look on her face when I
asked her to get into bed with me. It wasn’t my finest hour, but I needed her.
My soul cried out for her that night and she came, like she always did. She may
have ignored my wimpy confession, but when she said she loved me, I knew she
didn’t mean as only her best friend.
“Josh,”
Brianna pleaded on a whisper. “Don’t, please.”
“Don’t
please what, Bri?” Feeling brazen, I tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and
cupped her cheek. I ran my thumb along the delicate curve of her jaw. Her eyes
fluttered, urging me on. “Don’t touch you?” I let my finger drift over her full
bottom lip. “Don’t kiss you?” I whispered with a husky rasp. Our faces were so
close, our lips brushed. Brianna’s mouth parted, and I uttered a curse under my
breath. We were so damn close. All we had to do was close that distance. Her
hand drifted up my shoulder and clutched the back of my neck.
“Josh,”
Brianna sighed as she rested her forehead against mine. “We . . . We can’t.”
Her hand drifted down my jaw. Her hooded eyes and flushed cheeks disagreed with
the words sputtering from her mouth. I caught her hand and pressed a soft kiss
to her palm. It trembled as she took in a quick gasp.
“Yes, we
can, Bri,” I whispered as I leaned in. “You’re so damn beautiful.” Shit, I almost tasted her. She stilled
as I cupped her neck and inched closer.



 

Author Bio

 

 
Stephanie
Rose grew up loving words and making up stories. Being able to share them with
readers is her dream come true. This lifelong Bronx girl loves Starbucks, wine
and 80s rock. Her voice often gets mistaken for a Mob Wives trailer.
 
She married
her prom date and has a seven-year-old LEGO obsessed son. She believes there is
nothing sexier than a good guy who loves with all his heart, and has made it
her mission to bring as many as she can to the page.
Author Links

Sales Blitz: RISKE & REVENGE by Natalie E. Wrye

Title: Riske and Revenge

Author: Natalie E. Wrye

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Synopsis

Love is the strongest emotion in the world…next to hate.

I knew hate. Had known it since I was seventeen. For me, it was love turned on its head, a product of hurt and fear—twisted, tied up…and placed on the sculpted shoulders of Ethan Riske.

***

Dayton, Tennessee.

Home to the best cow-tipping in the world, the biggest hot dogs, and the lousiest sex.

Or so I’d heard…

They were right about the first two. Ethan Riske proved them wrong about the third and at seventeen, he and I spent a summer under the stars, squeezing our way out of trouble, sweating and panting among the haystacks.

Until he left.

Nine years later, when a huge publishing house tries to buy my small press, I storm into the office of the CEO to find him.

Same cocky grin. Different name.

And suddenly all I can think about is exacting revenge on Ethan Riske for breaking his contract…and my heart.

But there’s someone who wants revenge even more than I do. As I begin to fall for the new Ethan, will the sins of the old one come back to haunt us?

 

Purchase your copy for 99 cents!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

 

Excerpt

“I hope you taste as good as you smell.”

The sound drifted through the air. A slow, sensuous melody floated with it, and as both made their way through the room, the beat of the song and the quiet statement I just heard rattled the bourbon in my hand, making the ice cubes shake.

Or maybe I was the one shaking.

I couldn’t help it.

Griff was poking a hole in my ribs with his elbow, and as the lips that had just whispered in my ear withdrew, I could see the look on my “best man’s” face. He was essentially salivating, his tongue practically swinging as he took in the vision of the woman who was speaking in my ear… and laying a seductive path in my open lap.

She stood, her long legs stretching, her bare torso twisting as she rolled the shape of an “S” in the air with her body, swaying seductively to the music. She was toned… that was obvious. A tight package with tits too big to be real, the buxom blonde in front of me was the object of every man’s wet-dream, star of every cock-swinger’s fantasy…

Except mine.

But she was doing her best. Clad in a piece of cloth that barely covered her clearly cleanly-waxed pussy, she ground her pretty ass two inches from my face while every other man in the room fought the urge to put their fingers all over her. My best friend, included. He nudged my side for the ninetieth time.

“Fuck me, man,” he slurred. “If she was doing that to me, I’d be two seconds from putting my finger in her ass.” He smirked widely and wildly.

“Good thing you aren’t me,” I shot back quietly, leaning over to look into his face. “That’d be a felony, you crazy ass.” I finally smiled. “And the last time I checked you didn’t fuck strippers because ‘and I quote… ‘Who knows how many other items have been in those goddamned holes?'”

I threw Griff’s own words back at him with a silent grin.

“Doesn’t matter,” he declared, staring at the stripper in front of me for the thousandth time. “For her?” He swallowed another mouthful of scotch. “I’d make an exception.”

I glared at the beautiful blonde again. Because Griff was right. The exotic dancer… She might have been one of the best looking I’d ever seen. Maybe the best. She was tall, long-legged. Gorgeous… in the porn star sense, of course, with a wide, luscious mouth made for licking and sucking in only the most erotic of ways.

She licked her lips at me as if she wanted to make good on the promise she’d just whispered, and I had no doubt when she looked at me, her brown doe-like eyes wide, that—if she could, she would devour me until nothing was left. Until she drained every drop.

Unfortunately, for her, I wasn’t interested.

She tried to drag me to my feet, her tiny fingers wrapping around my own, pulling as she walked backwards in the direction of the edge of the room. The overhead maroon lights illuminating the space in our black-curtain closed boudoir made her look as naughty as every word dripping from her blood-red mouth, and Bambi the Bimbo was putting on her best pout to entice me into joining her towards whatever dirty fun lay in the dark room beyond this one.

All of the men—friend and foe—whooped as I slowly dragged myself to my feet, stumbling and fumbling over the discarded decorations that littered the floor. Streamers and “Congratulations” ribbons ran the length of the room, taking up space between the cloth-covered tables, and I staggered past them, barely holding onto my Bourbon as I followed stolidly behind the too-excited dancer who nearly bounced on her platform-covered toes.

With the push of another curtain, we fell into another room, and I let my body flounce on the dark-colored couches beyond it, slumping into the padded cushions. I took a healthy swig of my drink and sank my fingers into the seat beneath, wondering how many stains these comfortable sofas had really seen.

The drunker I got, the more it didn’t matter. Ignorance truly was bliss.

And so was the sensation making its way down my crotch—a gentle rubbing that circled the length of my cock through the fabric of my suit pants. From the tip to the very base. I groaned, closing my eyes as I saw a vision in my mind. A vision too good to be true.

A vision over ten years old.

Waves of dark hair fell to a waist too tiny to be anything but touched. Shiny and soft, the beautiful brown mane swept across my chest, against my shirt, as two eyes, a crystal-clear blue, peeked from beneath the strands, as round and as large as saucers. In my mind, they met mine, saying things that couldn’t be vocalized, voicing words that need not be said.

They seduced in the most innocent of ways, waylaying me, pulling at a possessiveness in me I didn’t know existed. The blue eyes smiled. The smile beneath them was even better—wicked, as it dipped to my abdomen and pressed there, making me ache, causing my cock to strain against the inconvenient zipper located there.

How many times had I imagined those lips doing exactly that? That tongue licking out beneath those straight white teeth to lap at my skin, the edge of her mouth nipping at the most sensitive parts of me? It was torture—letting her tease me, taking me to the brink and back again as she swept that sheet of auburn locks over my body as she bent to her knees. I sucked in a breath soaked in desire as I waited for her to place her mouth where it mattered most.

And then it stopped. The teasing. She stopped.

And before I knew it, she was pulling—no, ripping—at my pants. The top button popped, and suddenly my cock was between her hands, her lips. She sank her mouth around it with a sigh, sucking with delight. The sexiest slurp ever made to man escaped from between her teeth, and I nearly lost it, grinding my own teeth as I gripped the back of her head, my eyelids squeezing tight enough to ache.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck…” I muttered. Over and over and over again.

It was fucking amazing. Something so simple—someone so simple, sweet and secretly naughty could bring a stubborn fucker like me—CEO and all—to his Giorgio Armani-covered knees.

I came… with my cock in her mouth and her name on my mind. I leaned back even further, letting my head fall into the cushions.

“Fuck, Kat…” I mumbled, feeling way too fucked up to move, the liquor coursing through my veins as I came down from my high, my fingers reaching out to touch her once more.

But she backed away.

“Kat?” she said, rising to her feet. “Who the fuck is Kat?”

I opened my eyes, staring at the figure fumbling around in front of me. It was the blonde vixen—the stripper. Standing on shaky legs, she wobbled between my legs, locking me with a stare, her eyes hard and unblinking. She placed her hands on her tiny hips.

“Who the hell is Kat?”

As if she was outraged. As if she had any right to question whatever the fuck I was doing anyway. I ignored her with a shrug, stowing my dick back in my pants with a loud zip! I finished my drink and sat it down.

“Ohhhh… I get it,” the blonde blower hissed. “She must be your fiancé. Well… I guarantee you that she’s never made you come like that. That was epic, baby,” she sighed, trying to straddle me. Her pussy was peeking completely out of her barely-there panties this time, and she tried to rub it across me, sliding her pink slit across the front of my pants with a slow grind.

I almost pushed her off. I stood.

“There is no fiance,” I rumbled.

“But I thought…”

“My friends,” I interrupted, “thought it’d be funny to celebrate my new position. They said it was fitting… seeing as how I’m now married to my job. This isn’t a real bachelor party. And that wasn’t a real blow-job…”

She raised an eyebrow. “Certainly felt real to me.”

I pulled out my wallet, taking out a couple hundred dollar bills and putting them in the palm of her hand. I folded her fingers around them, looking into her eyes.

“Can’t be real… Not when you’re thinking about someone else the entire time.”

I turned just as the fair-haired, breathing blow-up doll gaped. I pulled the black curtain aside, exiting, attempting to avoid the curious gaze of every onlooking employee that came to the party to usher me into my new executive role.

My smile was weak, as I tried to shake off what just happened to me in the other room… and who I was imagining it happening with. Somehow, it was the brunette in my head, and not the blonde on my lap, that felt as if she were still on my skin.

I was in so much fucking trouble.

About The Author

Natalie Wrye is a tequila connoisseur, Game of Thrones addict and author best known for writing page-turning Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense.

A fan of the beautifully polarizing anti-hero, she crafts sexy stories about hard-bodied, complex men and the strong-willed women who crave them.

 

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Release Blitz: Grigori by Lauren Smith

Title: Grigori: A Royal Dragonshifter Romance
Series: Brothers of Ash and Fire
Author: Lauren Smith
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Blurb
He’s one
of the last of a powerful but vanishing bloodline …


Grigori
Barinov is the eldest in an ancient line of dragon shifters and the guardian of
his family’s lands and fortune. Sworn to protect their history and magic, he
won’t rest until he neutralizes any threat to their existence. When he
discovers an ancient manuscript that exposes his family and their dragon
lineage has fallen into a mortal woman’s hands, he knows he must get the book
back by any means necessary. If that means seducing a nosy American woman with
an intoxicating scent, he is more than willing to carry her off to his palatial
home deep in the heart of Russia.
She’s
the one woman who could expose him to the world…


Madelyn
Haynes has never fit in. As an adopted child she grew up in a loving home but
never felt as though she belonged. Plagued by mysterious dreams she’s had of a
silver scaled beast ever since she was a little girl, she is convinced dragons
are real. While in Russia working on her PhD in mythology in order to escape
the ridicule from fellow professors, she unexpectedly crosses paths with the sexy
and dominating Grigori, and after just one night with the man whose eyes seem
to burn, she starts to change inside. Isolated in the Russian wilderness
Grigori calls home, Madelyn can’t help but fall under his sensual spell, yet
something deep inside her calls out that she can’t trust him. She has to show
the world dragons are real to salvage academic reputation, even if it means
costing her the heart of the dragon she’s falling in love with.

Purchase Links

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS
GOOGLE PLAY

Excerpt

Madelyn
woke slowly, the memories of parents she didn’t know and the life she never had
a chance to live fading to intangible presences at the back of her mind until
they were half-forgotten dreams. Her eyelids were heavy and her tongue felt
like sandpaper. She blinked slowly as the leaden feel of her limbs dissipated
and the fog in her head lightened. She sat up, a thick blanket of white fur
dropping down to her waist.
Fur? She stared around at the master
bedroom she was in.
“Oh my . .
.” The tall four-poster bed was made of dark black wood, a midnight blue
bedspread beneath her and a mountain of feather-soft pillows behind her. She
caught her reflection in a large mirror on a dresser table. Her face was ashen
and her lips pale as she sat in a mountain of expensive white furs. Her hair
was in wild disarray. She threaded her fingers through the messy mane and took
a few steadying breaths. Where was she? She struggled to remember anything
before she’d woken up here.
The
elevator, the man following her, and then Grigori . . . in her hotel room.
Oh my
God. I’ve been kidnapped
.
She curled
her arms around her chest for several seconds, just trying to calm her panicked
breathing. They had kidnapped her and brought her here. A thousand horrible
scenarios ran through her head of what they might to do with her . . . human
trafficking being the worst. The thought of it brought bile up to her throat
and she swallowed, gagging.
Just
calm down
. Just
calm down . . .
Her body
froze, and her heart stopped for a painful second before it jolted back into a
steady beat. She summoned the scholarly side of herself to analyze her
surroundings again. She needed to figure out where she was and what they wanted
from her. Then she could plan her escape. Beside her on the table, was a
leather bound book she was all too familiar with. James’s Barrow’s journal.
Heart still
pounding, she pushed the furs down and slid off the bed. Her sock-covered feet
sank into a creamy white carpet. Madelyn grabbed the nearest bedpost, her
fingers gripping the spindle carved wood as she walked around the king-size
bed. She moved through the room and caught a teasing sense of something dark,
pine and masculine. A scent she’d recognized when she’d been standing close to
the man in the suit who’d looked just like Grigori from the journal. He
couldn’t be Grigori. She didn’t know his name, so she might as well call him
that until she figured out who he really was.
Grigori. He was everywhere in this room,
from the elegant furnishings to the clothes hanging in the closet. Madelyn
wasn’t sure how she knew it was his room aside from the lingering scent, but it
just felt like this was part of his world. She couldn’t explain it. She’d never
been in a man’s bedroom before and it was exciting and scary.
Why had he
brought her here? How had they knocked her out? And why did he want to know why
she’d been interested in James Barrow’s book? She had a thousand questions and
no answers. The smart thing would be to find her shoes and coat and get out of
here . . . no matter how intrigued she was with the mystery of Grigori Barinov.
She bent
down and looked in the closet and under the bed for her boots but couldn’t find
them. She had a sneaking suspicion he had hidden them to keep her from
escaping. She approached the beautifully carved bedroom door, gripping the
antique glass doorknob. Would it be locked? Was she a prisoner? She turned the
knob and it gave beneath the pressure.
The door
opened and she entered a small corridor, passing a lavish master bathroom with
a large tub and an oversized glass shower. Whoa. The next room she
entered opened into a huge library and an office. Then the apartment gave way
to a large living room with the kitchen at the back and a dining room. A
roaring fire in a square pit in the center of the living room sparkled over
crystal stones. A wing backed chair facing the fire creaked slightly and a
masculine hand extended past the arm of the chair as it swirled a glass of
wine.
Someone was
sitting there . . .
Madelyn
held her breath, listening to every sound from the antique grandfather clock in
the hall ticking away to the sounds of the man in the chair turning the pages
of his book. The hand holding the glass suddenly disappeared and the chair
creaked again as the occupant stood and turned to face her.
It was
Grigori. He looked too damn sexy, and intimidating, in that expensive suit. His
light hair fell across his blue eyes and he gazed at her with an unreadable
expression. Her heart was racing again, and blood roared in her ears as she
watched him, afraid of what he might do.
“You’re
awake,” he noted. He moved slowly, setting the wine glass on the table beside
his chair.
“Why am I
here?” She was careful to keep a safe distance between them. They were facing
each other, like two animals measuring each other up before they decided to
fight or not. She wouldn’t hesitate to throw anything at him within her reach
to escape.
“You’re
here because you checked out a book.”
His cryptic
reply made her bristle. The last thing she should be was argumentative, but she
suddenly wanted to be brave in front of him.
“Is that
against the law?” she asked, tilting her chin. She may have been scared out of
her mind, but she was not going to let him see it.
Grigori’s
lips twitched. “No, but that book belongs to me.”
She
stiffened. “Then why did you leave it in a public library? You do understand
that’s how libraries work, right?” How she had the nerve to be snarky, she’d
never know.
He placed
one hand on the back of the leather chair, his finger slowly tapping a pattern
as though he was channeling all of his energy into the movement.
“A fiery
creature,” he murmured. “I like that.” This was uttered so softly she thought
she’d imagined it.
“So you
have the book back, you can let me go. I can leave, can’t I?” Her eyes
darted around the room, seeking out the front door. She inwardly groaned when
she realized the only way out was behind him. She’d have to get past brooding,
sexy, and scary Grigori.
“No, I’m
afraid you cannot leave. I have questions that require answers.” He took two
steps toward her. It took everything inside Madelyn not to retreat. She sensed
that any sign of weakness would trigger his animal instincts. He was an
aggressive predator who looked too intense to be in this lush apartment.
“Ask your
questions and then let me go.” She wanted to curl her arms around herself, but
instead planted hands on her hips.
Grigori
arched one eyebrow, calmly removed his coat and laid it on the back of the
chair. His gray wool vest showed off his muscular chest and his tapered waist.
She licked her lips, nervous and all too aware of him and in way she shouldn’t
be given that he had kidnapped her. The image of his face in the journal, the
sketch dated 1821, haunted her. It couldn’t be the same man. That was
impossible. But the likeness . . .
“Who sent
you after the book?” Grigori asked as he rolled up the sleeves of his crisp
white shirt. It revealed muscular forearms, which were also sun-kissed. Her
skin prickled and she tried to swallow the lump of fear in her throat.
“No—no one
sent me. I came here on my own.”
Grigori
nodded to himself, smiling a little as he walked over to the kitchen and opened
a cabinet.
“Would you
care for some wine? It’s a fine vintage.” He held up a bottle and a glass.
“Did you
seriously just offer me a drink? You’ve kidnapped me! For god knows what
reason. You’d better let me leave right now or—”
“Or what?”
Grigori was studying her through hooded eyes. “Ms. Haynes, I understand you are
frightened, but I’m not planning on harming you. We’re merely going to have a
discussion. Once I have learned all that I need, you shall be free to go.”
“You . . .
you promise?” She had no reason to trust him if he did make such a promise, but
part of her wanted to trust him. Part of her was still fixed on the man in the
journal, the one she felt she knew somehow from dreams within dreams.
“I promise.
I have no intention of hurting you. I merely needed a chance to speak to you
privately. On my honor.” He touched his freed hand to his chest with his
fingers curled into a fist. The motion was archaic, like something a knight
from the Middle Ages might do as he pledged himself to the lord of a castle.
Madelyn
weighed her options—not that she really had any. If she was trapped here she
wasn’t going to make a fool of herself trying to escape until she had a real
chance. She wasn’t sure if she believed him, but part of her wanted to. She’d
never felt so torn in her life. All logic and basic instincts were screaming to
run away from the man who kidnapped her, but there was a deeper part of her,
whispering to her to stay and trust. It was like she was staring at his picture
in the library all over again and she couldn’t look away, couldn’t leave.
If I
play along, it might help me buy some time to figure out a real plan of getting
out of here
.
Grigori
waved the bottle in the air. “Well?”
“Sure. One
glass,” she finally replied. God, please don’t let me trusting him a little
be a huge mistake.
“Good.” He
walked over, setting a glass directly in front of her on the black granite
countertop. They were only inches apart now. His body so tall and intimidating
compared to hers. A nauseating pounding started in her head and her skin
tingled like it had in the elevator with that other man.
She closed
her eyes, steadying her suddenly shaky legs. How was it that this man could
rattle her? Was it because he’d kidnapped her and she was freaking out . . . or
was it something else? She’d been scared plenty of times, but it had never been
like this. This felt . . . different. She didn’t feel right, like her body was
trying to change inside. It didn’t make sense.
A hand, his
hand brushed a lock of her hair back from her face, leaving a sizzling
sensation behind wherever he touched her. As she opened her eyes, she saw him
lean close to her and inhale deeply.
“Are you
sniffing me?” she asked in a shaky whisper.
He exhaled
slowly, his full lips suddenly in a firm line. “You smell good. Too good,” he
growled softly. His hand reached up again, but it stopped inches from her. And
that was when she felt it. A faint breeze ruffled her hair, playing with the
strands. Grigori stayed motionless, his eyes narrowed. And just like that, the
unexplainable breeze vanished.
Madelyn
held her breath, hoping he would move first. He finally stepped back.
“Did Damien
MacQueen send you?” he asked as he turned and walked away from her, back to the
fridge. The distance growing between them seemed like a vast chasm. It should
have been a relief, but it wasn’t.
I am
going nuts. Seriously nuts
.
He opened
the door and stared at the contents before shutting it and frowning.
“Who is
Damien MacQueen?” she asked. The name was one she didn’t recognize. Grigori
stared at her for a long moment as though discerning whether she spoke the
truth.
“So the
brotherhood didn’t send you.” He placed his palms on the counter, leaning
forward slightly as he stared at her. The man had that intense gaze down to a
T. She was frozen in place, unable to look away from him as he watched her. She
tried to study him back, analyzing the way his jaw seemed to be cut from
Italian marble and his straight nose gave him an air of distinction. He was
gorgeous—for a kidnapper.
“You are a
professor?” Grigori asked.
“Yes, at
Ellwood University.” She lifted her glass of wine and tried to take a sip. The
wine was soft and dark on her tongue. A truly expensive wine without any bitter
aftertaste. The floral bouquet hit her taste buds and finished with a hint of
smoky wood.
“You like
to research?” he asked.
Weirdly, it
almost felt like she was on a date. These were like the usual questions: Who
are you? What do you do for a living? Do you like it? But this wasn’t a date.
It was the farthest thing from it.
“I do . .
.” she hesitated, trying to figure out what to do.
“And you
enjoy history?” he asked as he sipped his wine, his blue eyes still fixed on
her in a way that made her uncomfortable.
“Yes,” she
paused, trying to focus on answering him but also staying alert. “History is
steady. You know it’s always going to be the same, no matter how much you look
back on it. I like the predictability.”
“But you
fear the future,” he mused.
She
bristled. “I don’t fear the future, I just . . . I just don’t trust things to
happen the way I want them to sometimes.” She’d expected her visit to Russia to
be a safe one instead of getting kidnapped by someone like him.
“You have
nothing to fear in your future,” he promised again. “At least not from me.”
There it was, that solemnity in his gaze that almost seemed to beg her to trust
him.
The hanging
lamps in the kitchen illuminated Grigori’s golden hair as it fell into his eyes
again. Madelyn had the desire to brush those gold strands away from his face
with her fingertips. And that was a crazy desire, because this man had
kidnapped her and she shouldn’t want to be touching him.
“God, I’ve
got a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome,” she muttered. She lifted her wine glass
to her lips and took another sip.
“Look, I
don’t know any Damien and I have no idea what the brotherhood is. You have your
book back so I see no reason for you to keep me here.”
He ignored
her as he pulled out his cell phone. “Are you hungry? I believe I’ll have dinner
brought up.”
“I’m not—”
her stomach rumbled treacherously and he had to hear it because he smirked. He
was smirking at her . . .
“Dinner,
then we talk.” He dialed a number and spoke in rapid Russian to the person on
the other end of the line. She had thought it was a rough language before but
listening to him speak it sounded musical.
I really
need to take more Russian classes
. Her two semesters of Russian in graduate school didn’t help her
understand a word of what he’d just said.
“Will you
please tell me who you are?” she asked as he pocketed his phone in his
trousers. He retrieved his own empty glass to refill it with some wine. He
poured the burgundy liquid into the glass and she stared at it before looking
at him again.
“My name is
Grigori Barinov.”
Madelyn bit
her lip. He could not be the Grigori from James Barrow’s book. He had to
be a descendent of the other man, maybe a great-great-grandson.
“Okay . .
.” she whispered. “So you’re descended from the man in the book. The one in the
sketch?” She thought again about man’s face, the melancholy smile and the
almost indulgent gentleness. That man was a mystery, just as this man was, but
this Grigori’s features were harder, colder. She still had a strange longing to
meet the man in the sketch.
“No. I am
not descended from the man in the sketch. I am that man.”
Madelyn
laughed. “That’s funny.” She had plenty of people make fun of her over the
years for dragon research.
“I do not
jest, Ms. Haynes. You have stumbled into terra incognita. Do you know
what that means?”
Madelyn
swallowed thickly. “It means ‘territory unknown.’ I’ve seen it on old maps.”
“Very
good,” Grigori praised.
He lifted
his wine to his lips and took a slow sip, those blue eyes of his piercing her,
pinning her in place. “And do you know what else those maps said exactly?” The
clink of his glass on the counter was the only sound in the room because
neither of them dared to breathe.
And then
she said the words, the ones that had been stirring like a serpent in a dark
cave at the back of her mind since the moment she brushed her fingertips over
the sketch of his face in the book. Surely he couldn’t be suggesting what she’d
always been too afraid to even contemplate . . . The words hovered on the tip
of her tongue as she stared at him, hypnotized.
“Here there
be dragons,” she whispered.
The words
drifted between them and although she and Grigori stood six feet apart, that
space ceased to exist. His eyes were no longer blue, but a molten gold color,
the pupils sliding into reptilian slits. That was impossible . . .
“Here there
be dragons,” he echoed in a husky whisper, and Madelyn screamed.

Author Bio

Lauren
Smith is an Oklahoma attorney by day, author by night who pens adventurous and
edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She knew
she was destined to be a romance writer when she attempted to re-write the
entire Titanic movie just to save
Jack from drowning. Connecting with readers by writing emotionally moving,
realistic and sexy romances no matter what time period is her passion. She’s
won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including: New England
Reader’s Choice Awards, Greater Detroit BookSeller’s Best Awards, and a
Semi-Finalist award for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. To connect with
Lauren, visit her at
www.laurensmithbooks.com
Author Links

Release Blitz: Ten Thousand Points of Light by Michelle Warren

Title: Ten Thousand Points of Light
Author: Michelle Warren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 18, 2017
Blurb

Five years
ago an unthinkable tragedy slashed Cait London’s life into two parts: before
she had amnesia and after. Determined to keep her past hidden and start
over, she moves to Chicago and plunges into a new job—all while keeping a
walled distance from everyone she meets.
It’s not
long before Cait reconsiders her solitary existence, and soon she’s stepping
beyond her boundaries and taking unthinkable chances, like crushing on her
impossibly sexy landlord, Evan Wade. He’s flirty, annoying, and with him living
in the same apartment building, she can’t stop thinking about him. If she can
sleep with him once, perhaps she can get him out of her system. The problem is,
Evan seems bulletproof to her advances. As the two develop a connection, it
becomes clear Cait may not succeed before her heart remembers what it feels
like to love.
Ten
Thousand Points of Light
is an immersive contemporary romance about the intensity of first
loves, the heartache of loss, and the power of forgiveness.

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Excerpt
In my bathroom, a man kneels on the floor inspecting a gigantic hole of exposed pipes with the roaming beam of a flashlight. I fold my arms and lean into the doorframe.
When I left to meet Aggie everything was functioning. My gaze examines the small room, picking out details: my expensive towels soak up a deluge of water pooling on the tiled floor, there’s a large pile of powdery, crumbled drywall, and then there’s the issue of ass crack—in my face. It is toned and tight, but still, it’s connected to my landlord, Evan Wade.
“Pipes burst, leaking a damn waterfall into 5A,” he says, not bothering to glance my direction.
“Did you have to use my good towels?” I purse my lips.
“I thought about using your sexy lingerie.” He eyes the laundry basket of delicates now sitting on top of the sink. “But the fancy towels seemed like a better option.”
Thanks, appreciate it.” I sidestep him, snatch the basket, and carry it to my bedroom, hiding it in my closet. If he had scrutinized it closer, which he probably did, he would have found an embarrassing amount of granny panties and more sports bras than a Lululemon.
“How long before it’s fixed?” How long before I can get rid of you?
“A week,” his muffled voice answers.
“What?” I race back only to find his sharky grin. Two vertical dimples slice beneath a permanent, mocha-colored five o’clock shadow. They punctuate his bronzy sun-kissed skin, making his caramel eyes gleam with amused delight. My gaze intensifies.
“Just kidding. And you forgot this one.” Evan tosses me a ball of fabric. I catch it and glance at it. My mouth drops open. A smiling kitten stares back from the crotch of a pair of panties. Pussy panties. My cheek temperature flickers between sweaty hot and icy cold.
“Meow.” He chuckles.
I shove Aggie’s gag gift into the pocket of my running pants. “Funny.” I deadpan to appear unaffected.
Still, Evan seems thrilled for tormenting me. It’s something he’s excelled at since the day we met. It may be I’m still tipsy from drinking, but at recalling his history of irritating jokes, I pause. I cock my head and stare at him in confusion when a doubtful revelation hits me. Is this what Aggie was talking about? Is Evan flirting with me? Has he been flirting all this time?
I shake my head. Impossible.
“It’s too late to get the parts I need. So tomorrow.” He wipes his dirty hands on one of my towels, leaving a dark streak. I bite the inside of my cheek to stop from scolding him.
“That’s not going to work. I have an appointment first thing in the morning and I need a shower.” I gesture to my sweaty T-shirt.
“No kidding, Cat, I can smell you from here.”
“It’s Cait, you ass.” I kick off my loose sneaker, tossing it with my toe in his direction. I aim to nail him in the head but he dodges away. The shoe ricochets off the wall, tumbling to the floor.
His grin widens. “I’m kidding, Miss London. You smell like roses, as always.”
“Seriously, what am I going to do?”
“Can’t you use Gusterson’s shower?” He quirks a surly lip because he already knows the answer—no. Mr. Gusterson lives across the hall, but I’ve never seen the man. I’m unsure anyone has.
For this comment, I kick my other shoe in his direction.
“Ow!” This one smacks his sizable bicep, protecting his handsome face. I suppress a triumphant smile.
Evan crouches and stands in one fluid motion of sinewy muscle. He meets my gaze, and then rakes a hand through his tousled chestnut-colored hair. “Fine. You don’t have to beg, Kitty Cat, you can use mine.” He puffs his chest and flashes his brilliant white grin.
Definitely flirting. Though I shouldn’t be surprised. How many times in the last year had I seen him at Mr. Moon’s Coffee House, sitting at a table and flirting with some girl? There were too many times and too many girls to count.
Evan takes his time sliding past, I think, purposely brushing the heat of his body near me. I pin myself against the wall, unwilling to allow our skin to touch. When will he grasp how annoying I find him?
“I’ll pass.” I latch my hands on my hips. This is me sending a clear message. I’m not flirting.
“Suit yourself.” Unswayed, he lumbers for the door.
“What about these tools?” I gesture to his mess.
“I’ll be back tomorrow.” He turns, arms wide, palms skyward and strolls backward with a confident teeter. He’s hitting me with his smile again and those damn dimples, like they’ll make this situation better.
My teeth clench. If I had something else to throw at him I would. When he disappears, I remove my cell from my pocket and text Aggie. Before I do, I glance at my front door, which he left wide open. His footfalls descend the stairs to his apartment on the first floor.
Author Bio

If Michelle Warren had a spirit animal, it would be a tiger
in a pink tutu, riding a Harley through a ring of fire. She lives in
Chicago, dreams of California but hails from Baltimore. She has a slight
obsession with travel, sunshine, Double Chocolate Milano cookies and writing
novels. She didn’t travel the road to writer immediately. She spent over a
decade as professional illustrator and designer. Her artistic creativity
combined with her love of science fiction, paranormal and fantasy led her to
write her first novel. 
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