Thursday, June 30, 2016

Release Tour: Southern Comfort by Andrea Smith

Southern Comfort
By: USA Today Bestselling Author Andrea Smith
Release Date: June 14, 2016




SYNOPSIS

Welcome to Layton, Alabama. Population 11,000. Where the sweet tea runs through our veins, the air smells of cobbler, and the secrets lie so deep that not even the confessionals are safe anymore.

Our community was tight-knit, friendly, and comprised of God-fearing Christians, many of who attended Sunday services at Briar Ridge Southern Baptist Church. That is, until Avery Dawson appeared.

My name is Sunny Gardner, born and raised in Layton. I loved our small, quiet town. And then, one day, a man came into town and upended everything that I held dear to me. Shattered my life, really.

This is my story. A story of struggle and triumph and, ultimately, how I saved myself and my community from the devil himself.

Get ready to hold your breath in anticipation when you travel this dark tale of one girl's struggle to save a community in this Bible Belt town!




EXCERPT

“How have things been at home between you and Eddie?” Avery asked Gloria, as he stood up from behind his desk and closed the distance between them. “May I?” he asked, gesturing towards the empty spot on the sofa in his office where she sat.

“Oh, of course, Avery,” she replied, scooting over a bit to make more room for him. “Well, I’ve done as you suggested. I’ve not given in to his lusty requests, but I have talked to him about my discontent.”

“That’s good, Gloria,” Avery replied, “But you were sensitive to his feelings when you divulged your dissatisfaction with his performance?”

She nodded vigorously, “Oh yes, of course. Just like you said, I told him that we needed to examine the flaws in our emotional relationship before we moved on to perfecting the physical part of it.”

“Excellent,” Avery said, giving her a supportive smile. "Are you ready to move on to the next step?"

Gloria blushed and fidgeted with the hem of her flowered sundress. "Avery. I understand that as a man of the cloth, your only goal is to help members of your congregation heal and mend the things in their lives so as to live according to God’s word. I reached out to you for guidance, and you’ve been very supportive and understanding. I won’t lie, I struggled with this over the past few days, but I now have put my total trust in you, because I know that it won’t work any other way.”

“That is wonderful to hear, Gloria,” Avery said softly. “I’ve always told you the main component for success is mutual trust. The Lord answers our needs in mysterious ways. This is a crucial component in making your marriage healthy and loving once again. Are you ready?”

Gloria nodded, biting her lower lip.

“Good then. On your knees, please.”

Avery stood up and watched as Gloria sank to her knees before him. “Look at me.”

She raised her eyes to him, and his gaze locked with hers. “One of the key components to mutual satisfaction is stated clearly in the Bible, Ephesians 5:33: Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Show me now how you will reverence Eddie in the future.”

Avery unzipped his fly, and pulled out his impressive member. Gloria watched as he stroked it slowly with his own hand to full erection, and then he nodded for her to begin.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Smith is a USA Today and Amazon Best-Selling Author of the G-Man Series! She has a wicked sense of humor. No matter the genre, she is able to infuse laughter throughout.

She self-publishes Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, and Sensual Romance with a paranormal twist. She also writes New Adult Romance, and has recently collaborated with Author Eva LeNoir on two M/M Romances, with the third in process!


Social Media Links

To sign up for her monthly newsletter, visit her website: http://www.andreasmithauthor.com/

Follow her on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Smith/e/B00A1MLQGY/
Stalk her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndreaSmithAuthor/

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GManAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6869343.Andrea_Smith


OTHER TITLES BY ANDREA SMITH



Baby Series
(Contemporary Romance/Suspense w/erotic tone)

These Books should be read in order
Maybe Baby (Book 1)
Baby Love (Book 2)
Be My Baby (Book 3)
Baby Come Back (Novella) (Book 3.5)

G-Man Series
(Contemporary Romance/Suspense w/erotic tone)

These Books do not have to be read in order, but they are most enjoyable if done so.
Diamond Girl (Book 1)
Love Plus One (Book 2)
Night Moves (Book 3)
G-Men Holiday Wrap (Novella) (Book 3.5)
These Men (Spin-off) Part of the BEND anthology. (M/F/M)
My Men (Sequel to "These Men") (M/F/M)
Taz (G-Man Book 4)

G-Man: Next Generation
(New Adult Romance)

Walk of Shame  (Book 1)


WTF? Series

Jaded

Limbo Series
(Contemporary Steamy Romance w/paranormal edge)

Silent Whisper
Clouds in my Coffee 


September Series
(New Adult- Taboo)

Need to be read in order
Until September (Book 1)
When September Ends (Book 2)


M/M Romance

Black Balled (Co-Authored with Eva LeNoir)
Guns Blazing (Spin-Off from Black Balled)



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Release Blitz: Pieces by T. Aleo

Introducing Toni Aleo's highly anticipated debut Paranormal Romance novel, PIECES. This radiant, powerful + magical love story takes you into a new world where anything is possible; where an underground society in NYC will make you question everything you thought you ever knew.

Dare to venture into... THE WORKS.

NOW AVAILABLE

Capture

Download Here


  
Overview
In New York City, an underground society of supernatural beings exists, hidden among everyday humans. They don't know of our activities or any of our secrets.
The districts of the Works are made up of vampires, wolves, shifters, witches, and I'm in the fifth and arguably most important district, the Patchwork. My father is the leader of our group, and he oversees all of the other factions.
As his only daughter, that makes me the princess of it all. Cool, right? Actually...no. Sure, I live in a mansion and money isn't an object, but that doesn't matter because I can't leave. I have a guard who follows me around 24/7. My father and three older brothers treat me like I'm a fragile piece of glass, never allowed to take an independent step or make any decisions on my own. It's beyond frustrating--especially since my father essentially runs my life. He says what I do, when I do it, how I do it, and all that jazz. He tests his formulas and new techniques on me. I'm a walking science experiment. I hate it. I hate my life here.
But then he comes along: Killian. He's just some vampire...or so I thought.
But you'll have to read my story to find out what I mean. To know my secrets. Until then, though, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Rebekah von Stein. And I'm a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein.
Welcome to the Works.

FB COVER-01-01

BOOK COVER PHOTOGRAPHY + DESIGN || REGINA WAMBA
EDITING || LISA A. HOLLETT
MARKETING + DESIGN + SOCIAL MEDIA || KELLIE GUNDERMAN
 
Reviews
 
"Wow! Toni Aleo is the queen of hockey romance but now she writes paranormal flawlessly. Is there anything she can’t write? I think not. She weaved this new world of witches, wolves, vampires and Dr. Frankenstein’s descendants, that had me hooked from the very first page. It was a fresh new story that I devoured in one sitting. This story was filled with suspense, mystery and romance. It had me on edge wanting, no, needing to know what would happen next." - GoodReads Review \\ Jill M \\ Embrace The Romance
 
"Okay, so what the hell? I didn't see that coming. I mean, really, the queen of hockey writing about vampires, werewolves and Dr. Frankenstein's descendants? Let me be a little sceptical. And after I read it, let me apologize for it. This book was a fresh wave. I devoured it. It took me only one night to finish it because this story didn't let me go. I'm sitting here trying to put together the pieces - not funny - but I can't. I want to read more books like this one. Just keep it up, Toni!" - GoodReads Review \\ Becca
 
"I loved this book it was phenomenal.I could not put it down for anything. I help my breath for most of it and still didn't fully exhale when it was over! The end was left with a bit of a cliffhanger and it has me wanted so much more!" - GoodReads Review \\ Ash \\ Morning Books and Coffee

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

#TeaserTuesday Bossman by Vi Keeland

#PreOrder

iBooks exclusive pre-order http://apple.co/25x2jyX
Paperback pre-order  http://amzn.to/25Qhza8
 
Add to your TBR on Goodreads  http://bit.ly/22zNyG6
 
Get notified when Bossman is LIVE via email  http://bit.ly/1ZGfTsC

Join Vi’s Violets for chatting and giveaways https://www.facebook.com/groups/ViKeelandFanGroup/

Release Blitz: Dirty by HJ Bellus


AMAZON | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

DIRTY
By: HJ Bellus

"Wrong Has Never Been So Right”
Survival.
It's all about the next dollar.
It started out as a job, but has morphed into an addiction.
Money flows and life is good.
Women respond to my mere presence, begging for one more taste.
I was the King, on top of the world.
It was all a game and I expected nothing less than being crowned the champion.
Then she waltzed into the club.
And everything became dirty.


Release Day SPECIAL- $0.99
(LIMITED TIME SALE)
AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1PUGaTP
iTunes: When Available
Nook: When Available
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1PnwHyN

 
 
 
FILTHY
Rhett & Darby's Book
Coming August 2016
EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL
It was just a summer fling.
He taught me his bad boy ways.
And now I’m beyond being saved.
At first it was fun, but now it’s an addiction my skin craves.
All sense of reality disappears and there’s no boundaries holding me in.

My name is Darby and this is FILTHY. ADD TO YOUR GOODREADS http://bit.ly/25OslxB

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
HJ Bellus is a full-time romance writer and part-time livestock wrangler.
When not making readers laugh or cry, you can find her in the middle of Idaho, shot gunning a beer, and listening to some Miranda Lambert on her Beats. She is a small town girl who loves the art of storytelling. Her heart belongs in the Wild West.

To follow all things HJ Bellus-
Subscribe to my newsletter!
Here ---> authorhjb.com


HOSTED BY:

Release Blitz #review: Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen



Synopsis

The new series is set in Vermont. True North is populated by the tough, outdoorsy mountain men that populate the Green Mountain State. They raise cows and they grow apples. They chop a lot of wood, especially when they need to blow off steam. (Beards are optional but encouraged.)

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.
 



 

Buy Links



Review

Farm boy from Vermont? Sign me in, please!
This was an excellent read, Sarina Bowen always writes multidimensional characters that add so much to the story line and Bittersweet is a great example of that.
Griffin Shipley had it all at one point in his life, that is until one phone call delivered a tragic news that changed his life, making the decision to go back home to help with the family farm.
Audrey Kidder has been under the shadow of a very dominant and non supportive mother most of her life, when she finally finds her calling in life she goes for it with all she has. Unfortunately the company she works for is a bit shady and doesn't give her the credit she deserves, but it is through them that she finds a way to an old hook up.
Griffin and Audrey's chemistry is off the charts hot, you can feel it from the moment they see each other again, even though that first re-encounter it's not the best.
Sarina Bowen has a way with words, she will pull you into the story and won't let you go until everything has been solved, and even after that you're wanting more from the story, more from the characters, simply more.
She gave us a guy who put family over everything else, even his own dreams, and a girl who struggled to find her identity and succeeded at it through hard work, despite her mother's criticism.
Bittersweet it's a beautiful story of sacrifice, finding who you're really are and stand for, as well as learning to love yourself regardless of others opinions. I was enthralled from beginning to end, every single character felt like they were essential to the story.
A book you won't be able to put down.




About the Author

 Sarina Bowen is the USA Today bestselling author of steamy, angsty Contemporary Romance and New Adult fiction. She lives in the wilds of Vermont.

She is the author of The Ivy Years, an award-winning series set amid the hockey team at an elite Connecticut college. Also, the The Gravity series.

With Elle Kennedy, Sarina is the author of HIM and US.

Social Links
Twitter: @sarinabowen
Sign Up For Her Newsletter: http://www.sarinabowen.com/signup



Release Day: Dominance Never Dies by Lexi Blake


  Blake DND Now Available (1)      


DominanceNeverDies_highres

 Synopsis

A loss he can’t forget
Since losing his twin brother, Theo, in the line of duty, Case Taggart has felt dead inside. The former Navy SEAL has dedicated himself to his family and their business but he can’t help but feel stuck as he watches everyone else move on with their lives. Only meeting the beautiful Mia brings Case out of his misery, until he discovered she was just a reporter looking for a story. Betrayed, he turned his back on her and never looked back.
An attraction she can’t deny
Mia Danvers can’t get Case Taggart out of her head. Though they hadn’t been lovers, she’d felt more for him than for any man she’d ever met. Growing up in the shadow of her over-protective, older brothers, she felt free when she was with Case and she longs to feel that way again. She knows that if she can find any trace of Theo Taggart, Case will be forced to let her back into his life. Months of searching have finally paid off and she knows this is her second chance.
A desperate search
Case and Mia follow the clues they hope will lead them to Theo and the villainous Hope McDonald, but the search becomes increasingly dangerous. From Dallas to South America and beyond, dark forces work against them and threaten their lives. With each step forward, Case and Mia are pulled closer together and forced to confront their mutual attraction. But when the truth about Theo is revealed, Case may have to make a choice between his brother and the only woman he’s ever loved.

Buy Links

GOODREADS / AMAZON / iBOOKS / BARNES & NOBLES / GOOGLE PLAY

   

Excerpt

“Who was that nightgown for?”
She was glad she wasn’t looking up at him or he would have seen her wince. Still, she’d promised him the truth. “I put it in there when I flew from Austin to Dallas. I knew it would be an overnight flight to Colombia. I needed something to sleep in.”
His hand found the top of her head and gently forced her to tilt up. One brow was arched over his blue eyes. “You expect me to buy that? You sleep in ridiculously sexy lingerie?”
She tended to sleep in a tank top and panties, but he didn’t need to know that. If he was anything like her friends’ Doms he wouldn’t let her sleep in anything at all. “No, Sir.”
“Then what was the plan? I know there was a plan in there somewhere.”
“I thought I might accidently need something from the main cabin after I’d gone to bed and then you would see me in my sexy nightie and very likely ravish me.” She’d read too many romance novels.
“Put it on.” He stepped back and offered her a hand up.’
“Case, I know it was a silly thing to do.” So why had she still snuck it into her bag? She’d casually made her way back to the bedroom after she’d landed the plan and carefully slid the gown into her overside Louis Vuitton overnight bag.
He frowned her way. “Mia, do you know how many women in my life have gone to the trouble to seduce me?”
She could only guess. Thousands, likely. “A bunch, I would suspect.”
“None,” he replied. “Not a single one. I was the easy hookup who could get them off in my hometown. In the Navy, it was a parade of women who thought it would be awesome to fuck a SEAL. In the last couple of years, it’s been women I picked up at bars. I’ve had two fairly serious girlfriends in my whole life and I initiated sex every single time. So yes, I want you to go to the bathroom and change into that filmy nightgown and I want you to show me how you would have played it.”
“Those women were crazy.” The words were out of her mouth before she could think about them. But they were also true. She’d planned to seduce that big cowboy from pretty much the minute she’d laid eyes on him. Schemed and plotted and planned to be with him any way she could.
His lips curved up in a sad smile. “They just knew I was a bed bet as a potential husband and honestly, the two girlfriends were probably more submissive outside the bedroom than I would have liked. But they were easy to be around and they didn’t give me trouble.”
She was trouble. A whole lot of trouble. She couldn’t seem to help it. “I’m not like them, am I?”
He smoothed back her hair, staring down at her. “You are the opposite of every girl I’ve ever been with before. You’re a woman who lied to me, used me to further your cause, and caused me to do the one thing I swore I wouldn’t. Be the guy a girl cheats on her man with. You put me in that position.”
She felt tears well. “I’m sorry, Case.”
“It upset me more than I like to admit. I didn’t like being the guy who hit on a taken woman, but beyond that I kind of wanted to know what the hell you were thinking getting engaged to him when it was so obvious you were meant for me. So go and put on that gown and show me how you would have seduced me.”
Mia grabbed the bag he’d set down when they’d entered the room and made for the bathroom. He’d said the one thing guaranteed to get her moving.
You were meant for me.





About the Author
Lexi_Blake
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog int eh world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.

FACEBOOK / TWITTER / WEBSITE / AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Cover Reveal: Love and Angels by Kris Hack


Synopsis

Before Laney ascended, Kass fell, and Ryan was resurrected…

Laney and Kass were normal high school students.

Introduced to one another the summer before Kass’s senior year, they are inseparable. Kass is determined to keep their relationship exclusive and promises Laney the end of the summer will not change the way things are. Laney fears Kass will be whisked away by the popular, pretty girls once school begins.

Wanting their love to last—one has reservations, the other determination—neither one of them is prepared for what the upcoming year holds and what it will destroy.



Books in the Ascent Series

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Amazon

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Join us in Kris Hack’s fan group for a group read of the first book in the series starting in July!



About Kris Hack

Kris Hack grew up in Texas and continues to reside there with her husband and their two fur-babies, a chi-weenie named Sara and a Labrador-Retriever named Max. She is a full time student hoping to get a degree to help her with her writing career.
As an adult she became an avid reader and always seemed to have her own story to tell. She always had a knack for the creative side and found an outlet she loved in writing. Finally, she took the leap and wrote, and wrote, and wrote, until she laid her heart and soul into writing and told her story.
Kris Hack is the author of the Ascent Series. Her first published novel is The Ascension of Laney, a New Adult Paranormal Romance.

Kris Hack Website
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Amazon
Goodreads
 Twitter


Monday, June 13, 2016

Chapter Reveal: His by Brenda Rothert

HisChapterRevealBanner

Today we are sharing chapter one from HIS by Brenda Rothert. This book is a contemporary romance title and currently up for pre-order. It will be released on June 28th!

his_amazon
 

HIS by Brenda Rothert

Releasing: June 28

PRE-ORDER IT NOW!

Amazon | iBooks

HisBlurbTeaserPredorder

  Blurb

Quinn I’d say I’m down on my luck, but that’s an understatement. I’m flat on my ass. Homeless, hungry and in hiding with my little sister at the age of twenty-one, I’ve never been so desperate. I’ve hit rock bottom when I get an offer I can’t refuse. Sell my body to save my sister? There’s nothing I won’t do to keep her safe. I make the rules and I’m not afraid to defend myself if this rich guy crosses the line. But once I see beneath his cold, calculating fa├žade, the lines aren’t so clear anymore.

Andrew She’s an intoxicating mix of tough and vulnerable I’ve never known before. This homeless woman who fits right into my upper-class world is running from someone powerful, and I’ll do whatever it takes to protect her. But Quinn isn’t meant to be controlled, so I’m forced to choose between owning her and loving her. I’ve finally met my match, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make her truly mine.

HisBlurbTeaser

CHAPTER REVEAL

Prologue September 28, 2001 Andrew
 Seventeen days ago, my life caught fire. Two planes. Two towers. Nothing will ever be the same. The fire at Ground Zero is still burning, and somewhere inside the smoky piles of rubble is my father. Do I want them to find him? For the first week, I did. I stayed home from school every day and stared at the TV, praying I’d see them pull my dad from what’s left. I told myself over and over that he couldn’t be gone. David Wentworth was too strong to be taken down like that. He’d show them all. My dad would come crawling out of the pile of debris, still wearing his dark suit. He’d probably pull other people out, too. My dad is like that. He does things people say are impossible. But the second week, my mom said I had to go back to school. When I told her I wouldn’t go because I was waiting for my dad to be rescued, her shoulders fell. “He’s gone, Andrew.” “You don’t know that. Dad’s a fighter.” She shook her head. “I know it’s hard for a thirteen-year-old to wrap his head around. I know. You want him to be here, and I do, too. But he’s gone. It’s just you and me now.” I glared at her, my throat burning. How could she give up on him like that? I’d never give up on my dad. I went back to my spot in his favorite leather chair in our living room and turned up the news on TV. But after two weeks, my school counselor came to our house to see me. He frowned and told me no one could survive for two weeks in there. Then he gave me a pamphlet titled, “It’s Okay to Cry.” I crumpled up his advice on grieving and threw it in the trash. I wasn’t going to cry. My dad wouldn’t want that. He’d always told me a man’s true measure was his strength. “Chin up, Andrew. You’re a Wentworth. We’re made of steel.” Today we’re having a memorial service for him. My chin will stay up, and my back will stay straight. When I look at the family pictures of my parents and me on a long table at the funeral home and my eyes start to feel watery, I pinch my leg through the pocket of my suit pants. The burning sting in my thigh makes me angry instead of sad. Better. Dad used to yell at people from his company sometimes, so I know he wouldn’t mind me being angry. At night, when I’m staring up at the stars me and Dad stuck on my ceiling when I was little, my stomach twists and hurts with the anger I feel for the men who killed my dad. They murdered thousands of people. I’m not the only kid without a dad now. Everyone is scared. Nothing will ever be the same. My mom covers her mouth with her hand, crying as one of her friends squeezes her arm and talks to her. They did that, too. They made my mom cry. My dad wouldn’t stand for that. Since he’s gone, I have to be the strong one now. I have to take care of my mom like he would. I have to think about what dad would want for us. I have to hold on tight to my need for those men to pay for what they did to my dad. The firefighters will eventually extinguish the smoldering fire at Ground Zero, but the fire burning inside of me will never go out. Chapter One October 2015 Quinn There’s nothing good in Mauricio’s Dumpster tonight. Hard pieces of uneaten pizza crust and cold spaghetti covered in olive oil are the only edible things I’ve found so far. And it won’t get better if I dig further. So why am I still ripping open bags of trash on this cold fall evening? Because my little sister is hungry. I can still see the hope that was shining in her huge blue eyes when I left for a food run earlier. If we’ve learned only one thing in our four years on the streets of New York City, it’s that hunger and cold are realities, but facing them at the same time is a bitch. I climb up a pile of trash heaped at the end of the rusted Dumpster, bracing my foot on a stack of empty pizza boxes. My hair whips across my face when the chilly breeze catches it. Fall is my least favorite season now. I loved it when I was a kid and it meant hot, spicy cider, piles of crunchy leaves to plow through, and football games to cheer at. But now, fall means the dreaded, bitter winter is on its way. I’ll spend my days taking Bethy from one heated public place to another in an effort to stay warm. At night, we’ll sleep underground. The cold down there isn’t life threatening, but some of the people are. I’m so tired. It hits me all at once, and I sag against a filled plastic trash bag. Last night we got kicked out of the park and chased by a group of frat boys threatening to gang rape Bethy and me. If there hadn’t been nine of them, my friend Bean and I would’ve wiped the cocky grins off their faces. Fucking rich boys. Their sense of entitlement is staggering. I sigh and crawl back down the trash hill. The wail of a siren approaches as I fish a plastic bag out of my pocket and stuff the cold spaghetti noodles into it. It’s food, and Bethy won’t complain. We’ve both eaten worse to stave off hunger pangs. I close my eyes, pushing down the wave of anger welling inside me. The fatigue won’t go away if I sleep well tonight. It’s bone-deep. I’m tired of running. Tired of feeding my sister scraps of food other people threw away. Tired of wondering if the hell I saved her from is worse than the one I brought her into. Thinking about this will drain me. I force the thoughts away, wrap my hands around the edge of the Dumpster and swing my leg over. Two more years. That’s what I focus on instead. In a little over two years, Bethy will turn eighteen and we can have a real life. I’ll get a job, and she’ll go back to school. We’ll stop running and looking over our shoulders constantly. We won’t go to bed hungry or cold ever again. I’ll make sure of it. The alley is quiet. It’s just me and a chubby guy smoking a cigarette, the orange glow of its end bright in the blackness. I put my head down and stuff my hands in the pockets of my coat. “Hey.” The man’s voice is deep and insistent. I don’t look up at him. “Hey, I’m talkin’ to you.” This time, he grabs my upper arm. I shake myself out of his grasp and push off the ground to run away, but his arm locks around me. “What’s your fuckin’ problem?” His warm breath smells like cigarettes and garlic, and I turn away when it hits my face. I thrash, struggling to escape his hold. He laughs at me. “Tough girl, huh?” He’s bulky, and I can’t stop him from slamming my slight frame against a brick wall. The more I fight, the harder he laughs. “Let go,” I say in a level tone. He presses my upper arms against the cold stone so hard it burns, and he laughs some more. “You think you’re too good for me?” I kick him in the shin, and he pulls my arms forward and then slams me against the wall again. The impact rattles my teeth and knocks the wind out of me. And now I’m pissed. “Please don’t hurt me,” I say in a tiny voice. “Scared now, aren’t you?” The satisfaction in his tone sends my adrenaline racing. “You better be.” “I’ll do whatever you want. Just…please don’t hurt me.” My voice shakes, and he relaxes his grip on me. It takes me less than a second to knee him in the crotch and wrap my hand around the knife in my leg holster. In a move too fast for this lard-ass to see, let alone block, I pull it out and sink the blade into his gut. Underhanded—harder to block. If I wanted to kill him, I’d pull it out quickly and stab him again with the tight, quick jabs Bean taught me. But he’s not worth the trouble. There’s resistance from his flannel and his skin, but once I get past that, it’s a smooth trip through layers of fat. My arm muscles tingle as I hold the knife in place for a few seconds. I see the whites of his eyes get larger. His mouth drops open as he stares at me in disbelief. “You bitch,” he mutters. I’m not gentle when I pull out my knife. He cries out and puts his hands over the wound. I quickly wipe the two sides of my blade on his shirt to clean it. He reaches for my wrist, but I’m faster. I’ve landed a punch to his meaty face before he even realizes it’s coming. “Want some more?” I ask, flashing the business end of my blade. “No.” He backs up a few steps, shaking his head. I arch my brows at him. “Who’s scared now?” I don’t wait for an answer. Instead, I turn and head for the street, where sirens are once again wailing in the distance. My knife tucked safely away once again, I turn my thoughts back to Bethy and Bean. It’ll be cold tonight. Much as I hate to do it, it’s time for us to head back underground. *** Andrew It’s possibly the worst sales presentation I’ve ever seen. The guy trying to sell me his software company got Strike One when he didn’t introduce himself to me. And now he’s tapping his foot on the ground like he’s about to piss his pants or something. Strike Two. “This thing could be huge. You know what I’m saying, Mr. Wentworth?” he asks me, grinning. “Not at all.” His smile slides away, and he clears his throat. “Um, well…like I said, I’ve already made close to a million on it.” “How much have you made? Precisely?” His Adam’s apple bobs as he swallows. “Seven hundred thousand or so…sir.” I lower my brows. “Seven hundred twenty-one thousand eleven dollars. That’s according to the paperwork your CPA prepared and forwarded to me at your request.” He nods. “Sounds about right.” “About right?” I hold back a sigh of disgust. “This is likely the biggest meeting of your life to date, and you don’t have the answer to that critical question prepared?” “Well, I…I knew it was in the papers, so…” “Seven hundred twenty-thousand is not close enough to a million to call ‘close to a million.’ Especially when you subtract your start-up expenses from that figure. Cash flow of this venture is nearly nonexistent at this point.” He silently concedes my point. “It’s still got a lot of potential.” I’m about to lay out the cold, hard truth when my secretary, Susan, opens the door. “Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Wentworth, but Preston McCoy is here and he says it’s urgent.” My stomach clenches into a knot of tension as I stand and button my suit coat. “Go ahead,” the nameless man offers, sitting down on the leather sofa in my office. “I’ll hang out here.” His suggestion that I’m going to step out of my own office while he “hangs out” here is Strike Three. “Thank you for your time,” I say, heading for the door. “Oh.” His expression is crestfallen. “We’re done, then?” “We’re done.” He stacks his poster boards in a pile and packs his laptop into its canvas bag covered with buttons advocating marijuana legalization. “So…when will you know?” he asks. I meet the gaze of one of my vice presidents, Carla, and I can tell she’s holding back a smile. “I’m not interested in purchasing your company,” I say, spelling it out. “Really?” Susan puts a hand on his shoulder and steers him from my office before I blow. “How the hell did he get this meeting?” I ask Carla. “His mother is a friend of your mother.” I just stare at her for a second. “My mother set this up?” “Well…she asked if you’d donate to the hospital league banquet, and then she told Susan she’d accept an hour of your time in place of the monetary donation.” My mother only accepts the word no when someone is saying, “No problem, Mrs. Wentworth.” I learned much of my tenacity from her, but I can’t have her using my time this way. I make a mental note to discuss this with her. Preston McCoy steps into my office, his gray comb-over sparser than the last time I saw him. “Andrew. Carla.” He shakes both our hands, and Carla steps out. Preston’s gaze stays fixed on her ass as she departs. The old perv isn’t even sly about it. “So,” he says, sitting down in one of the leather wingback chairs in front of my desk. I hold up a hand to stop him, walk over to my office door, and close it. Susan generally makes sure my door is closed for meetings, but she’s probably still getting rid of the pot proponent. Preston waits for me to unbutton my jacket and sit down. I meet his gaze, not letting on that my stomach is churning, ready to spill its contents. I know why he’s here. He has the answer I’ve been waiting seven long months for. “The paternity test results are in, and you are in no way related to Ms. Henley’s child.” My insides liquefy with relief. Thank fuck. I press my sweating palms to my thighs and wait for Preston to continue. “Ms. Henley has dropped her claim for child support. It’s over, Andrew.” I nod. “Good. Thank you for coming by with the news.” “Of course. I can file a claim for the ten thousand a month you provided as support during the pregnancy.” I can still see Amber Henley’s quaking lower lip when she told me in my kitchen that our one and only sexual encounter had gotten her pregnant, and there was no doubt I was the father of the baby she was carrying. The bottom of my world fell out that day. At age twenty-eight, I was just hitting my stride with my company. Not to mention she wasn’t someone I saw myself with long-term. I’d royally fucked that kid over before it was even born. Wasn’t in love with its mother and wasn’t ready to be a father. I’d spent a lot of the past seven months loathing myself over it. And after all that, Amber had been lying. I can’t even be angry about it because the relief overpowers everything else. “I don’t care about the money,” I tell Preston. “Like you said, it’s over.” He arches his brows in a judgmental glare. “Well, maybe this’ll be a lesson to you.” “I’m not paying you a thousand an hour for life lessons,” I say, my tone crisp. “Now if you’ll excuse me.” “Of course. I apologize.” He gets up and leaves my office, closing the door behind him. I turn my desk chair toward the window and look out at the expanse of stone on the building next door. It’s over. I didn’t wrong my unborn child. I don’t have to deal with gold-digging Amber anymore. If I ever cried, I’d weep with relief right now. Instead, I sigh deeply and run a hand over the light five-o’clock shadow coating my cheeks. Never again will I cede control of my life to a woman this way. I won’t give Preston the satisfaction of admitting this was a lesson to me. From now on, I hold all the cards.
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AUTHOR INFORMATION

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Brenda Rothert is an Illinois native who was a print journalist for nine years. She made the jump from fact to fiction in 2013 and never looked back. From new adult to steamy contemporary romance, Brenda creates fresh characters in every story she tells. She’s a lover of Diet Coke, chocolate, lazy weekends and happily ever afters.

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