PIECES OF HEAVEN by Natasha Madison

 

 

 

I didn’t want this life.

But sometimes you’re forced to make the best of the crappy hand you’ve been dealt. I wanted to teach my daughter that. No matter what happens you face your problems head-on.

Never cower. Never give up.

Then someone took her and I had to put my faith in a system that had failed me, and my hope in a man I didn’t know.

Serve. Honor. Protect, are the only things I’ve ever cared about until her case was dropped on my desk. As we searched for her missing daughter, the last woman I thought I’d fall in love with became my reason for living.

Then the world came crashing down around us.

One secret would change everything, but I had one more hand to be dealt. And if I played my cards right, maybe, just maybe we’d get our piece of heaven.

 

 

Chapter Eleven
Marissa

The bells over the door ring every single time someone walks in. I’ve been on edge ever since I got in this morning. Lucky for me it’s been non-stop people coming in, so my mind hasn’t been able to wander to Lori.

Now that it has been quiet and I’m filling the salt and pepper shakers, my mind wanders. It wanders to my baby girl, who is somewhere out there begging to come home. The sound of her voice plays in my head on repeat. My hands start to shake, so I close my eyes and sit down on a chair before my knees buckle.

I blink away the tears threatening to fall over, my heart starting to beat so fast I hear the echoes in my ears. A plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy is shoved in front of me. Phyllis’s eyes greet me when I look up.

“Eat that and then go home. You are done for the day. You’ve been here for fourteen hours.”
I look over at the clock hanging behind the counter that reads 8 p.m., realizing she’s right.

“I’m just going to finish filling the shakers then I’ll take off.” I know she’s about to argue with me when the bell over the door rings again, making us both look up.

His eyes find me right away. My heart that was starting to calm down is now speeding up. I focus on my meal, cutting a piece of meatloaf and dipping it in the gravy before popping it into my mouth. I try to ignore the heat of his stare, try to think of anything but him and that naked woman from last night. His girlfriend. I was so stupid to think that he would actually want me. I’m a used up stripper whose daughter ran away from home. I’m the opposite of what he wants or needs.

The chair in front of me is filled with his big frame. The scent of his aftershave, of cologne lingers around us. Musky, rich, and woodsy. It’s the smell that has seeped its way into my memory along with the way his lips felt on mine. The way that I just fit, like I was made for him. I blink away the memory, looking up at him.

 

“All the seats in this place are open and you sit in front of me?” I ask him before scooping up more food. I didn’t notice how hungry I was till I started eating.

“You didn’t text me back.” His voice is hard, his muscles tight, his jaw ticking.

I take out my phone. “Oh, I put the do not disturb on under your name. Maybe that’s why.”

My phone is snapped out of my hand in a blink of an eye. “What the fuck?” I see him touching the screen angrily and turning it off.

“You know you’re doing that for nothing since I can turn it on again?” I finish off my whole plate, making my stomach hurt since it’s the first thing I’ve eaten since last night.

“What if I had information on Lori?” Bulls-eye, hit straight through my heart. He must see the color drain from my face as I realize that I fucked up. I’m not going to admit it to him, though.

“I don’t have Jackson’s number blocked, and he would have called me.” I shrug my shoulders, picking up my plate to bring it to the gray bussing bin.

Walking over, I wipe down the table right when Phyllis comes out from the kitchen.
“There you are! I have your order ready. It’s being boxed up. Did you want dessert with that?”

His eyes never leave mine. “No, that’s okay. Thanks, Phyllis.”

I grab my phone from him, putting it in the front pocket of my waitress pouch. “I’m taking off. My feet are killing me. See you tomorrow, Phyllis.”

I don’t wait for her to say anything to me before I walk out the door to my car. Turning it on, I drive home, determined not to give Mick another minute of my thoughts. Just one problem with that plan, though. No one mentioned to my head that I wasn’t thinking about him because his eyes flash in my mind, the hard lines around them. The sorrow that is buried there, the sadness that he thinks no one sees but is there, if you look long enough.

 

I make my way into my apartment, taking my shoes off my throbbing feet at the door.

Walking into the kitchen, I take out the tips from my pocket and count them out. Three hundred and seventeen dollars. Two hundred of that is going to that damn debt that I’m still paying off. I can’t fucking wait till it’s over. I walk over to Lori’s room like I do every single night, turning on the light to see if maybe something has been misplaced or moved.

I’ve put scotch tape on the drawers to alert me if they’ve been opened, but it’s still intact. I’ve labeled her clothes hanging in the closet by number, and I count them, seeing that none have been taken either.

The bed is exactly how she left it. I crawl into her bed and grab her pillow, breathing in her scent. Tears run down my face, seeping into the pillow. This has become my nightly routine. I sleep here so I’m closer to her. I lie in this bed, talking to her. Telling her about my day, praying that she calls me again. I tell her stories about when she was small, about the day they placed her in my arms. The tears never stop. It’s like an endless river.

The soft knock at the door has me raising my head. Walking slowly to the door, I look through the peephole and see that Mick is in the hallway. His hands are braced against the doorframe, his head hanging down.

I place my forehead on the door, take a deep breath in, and open the door. His eyes land right on mine. The tears continue to roll down my cheeks, right off my chin on their way to the floor. He brings his thumb up to my chin, catching them.
“Marissa,” he whispers, and it’s all I can do before I collapse into his arms, sobbing. Begging. Pleading with him to bring her back to me.

He picks me up and carries me inside. Sitting on the couch with me curled into a ball in his lap, my tears soak his shirt. I’m so exhausted from the fear, stress, and worry. I’m just too tired to move.

 

“I’m a good mom,” I whisper to him. “I was tough on her only because I wanted better for her. Wanted her out of this life. Wanted her to be something.” My hand lies on his chest, the beat of his heart pounding against my palm.

“I know, baby, I know.”
I don’t say anything more. I just continue to soak up the feeling of his heart beating as it calms me. My eyes droop, and the exhaustion drags me under.

I don’t move from this position all night. I wake the next morning with the same heart beating against my hand.

 

 

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

 

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FIFTEEN NIGHTS by Zoe Lee

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Fifteen Nights by Zoe Lee

Publication Date: January 26th, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Romance

An all new STANDALONE novel from Zoe Lee is now LIVE!!

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The deeper they look, the harder they fall.

Jamie Houston was supposed to just be Leda Riveau’s Thursday night (and maybe Friday morning) fun.

Leda has awesome brothers, friends who are as allergic to emotions as she is, and a great job. She’s back in her hometown, Maybelle County, after a romantic and professional disaster three years ago in Nashville. It might not be what she planned when she was a teenager, but it’s perfect.

Or, well, it’s almost perfect. Because Leda is still angry and bitter about Nashville, and everyone knows it. She hates romance and doesn’t do relationships, and her younger brother’s trying to get her to be nicer. But she’s not nice. She even has her own hashtag: #ledagoesnuclear.

Then she sees Jamie again, when he’s between serious girlfriends, and discovers that the chemistry she’s always suspected is right there, ready to explode if she lets it.

Jamie is a serial monogamist who’s always liked Leda, but the timing’s never been right. After he sees her while they’re both single for the first time since high school, he knows he wants to be with her. Everybody knows she doesn’t date and doesn’t get serious, but he’s always serious, especially because he has a three-year-old son and a three-hour commute to get from work to Leda.

What starts out as a casual Thursday night arrangement gets messy when Leda and Jamie also have interfering friends, sad brothers, a pushy mom, an amazing son, and chemistry so intense it’s scary.

How does a man who needs forever win a woman who hates romance?

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(now free in KU)

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Excerpt:

I stalk-strolled towards her, my patience stretched paper-thin by desire.

I crowded close, so tall and wide that she couldn’t see anything else but me, and my hand cupped her waist. She stumbled against the wall, her feet wide apart to keep her balanced.

“You’re so damn tall,”I murmured. Still a few inches shorter than I was in her heels, she angled her head back, her hair scraping the textured wallpaper, to meet my eyes again. My thumb stroked in arcs over her hips and I saw her try to suppress a shiver. “You must be six-three in those heels. Usually I can’t look a woman in the eye unless we’re lying down.

”Her eyes flashed fire and she asked belligerently, “Are you going to keep me here till midnight?”

I ran my fingertips down her earlobes and chandelier earrings, not bothering to confirm what was obvious. I knew she didn’t want to go anywhere either. If Leda Riveau didn’t want to be somewhere, she sure as hell would’ve told me so and moved.

When the crowd screamed and chorused “Happy New Year,”I half-smiled.

My face dipped until the tips of our noses grazed together, testing the boundaries, and when she only parted her red lips, I laid mine against them for the first time.

Light flickered behind my closed eyelids as her mouth softened a fraction.

But I didn’t want her soft, I wanted her fierce and dynamic, so I caught her around the waist. My voice dropped in volume and register while I demanded, “Kiss me harder, Leda.”

Her arms wound around me and her nails dug into my neck, scratching hard as she swooped in and bit at my bottom lip before her nimble tongue pushed into my mouth.

I couldn’t have stopped the heartfelt moan that escaped into the air between our open lips.

But at the noise, she pulled back sharply and looked at me, brows creasing. I didn’t know what had made Dunk say what he had, but I knew plenty of gossip about everyone in Maybelle, and I’d never heard so much as a word about her sleeping around.

I wanted to reassure her, but I knew that the usual platitudes about how she was beautiful and Dunk was a fucking idiot wouldn’t work because they’d make her feel too vulnerable. My best shot was probably self-deprecation, to shift the attention to my shit and away from her.

So I hooked her hair behind her ears, smoothing the disarray I’d caused.

“Do you know how many women run from this?”I pointed at my eyes. “I always have to hide it. I haven’t been able to do that with you tonight, and all you’ve done is stare right back.”

“I, uh, like it. It makes me feel special,”she practically stammered. “And that’s incredibly…”She swallowed, her eyes dipping down to my mouth again. “…tempting.”

My gaze sharpened with desire. “I would like to make love with you.”

She jabbed a finger in my chest. “You cannot call it that,”she ordered. “No bullshit about how you were moon-eyed over me half our lives ago when we didn’t know shit about shit.”

I grabbed her finger and reeled her in.

“You can stare at me all you want,”she half-babbled, “but this is just good chemistry.”

pleasure

About the Author:

Zoe has been writing since she was a little girl, growing up north of Chicago. Since then, she’s lived in Ohio and San Francisco, and now lives near Boulder. She has a job that she loves, but it doesn’t sound exciting to anyone else. She does yoga and takes dance classes when she can. She has a husband, who reads her romances, and an amazing little girl, who is way too young to read what Zoe writes (yet). She’s inspired by her family and friends, books and art, and all of the places she’s traveled.

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Connect with the Author:

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ZoeLeeBooks/

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2jsCWYU

Website: http://www.zoeleebooks.com

REGINALD BONES 2 by Lucian Bane

Cover Designer: Sabre Gray & Bane Cover Studio

Release Date: January 27th 2017

Add it to your GOODREADS

Bones should have known allowing Reginald to “date” a

woman would end badly. And if he’d known how badly, he would have never

allowed it. But it’s too late. She’s in their life, she’s in their

mind, and she’s in their basement with a death wish. And after

discovering her dirty secrets, Bones is ready to oblige her.

AMAZON US / UK / AUS

(Add your review of Reginald Bones 2 here. If you are not reviewing, please delete)

AMAZON US / UK / AUS

Bones is hell-bent on hiding from the world.

Reginald is hell-bent on living in it.

Bones vowed to never talk to women again.

Reginald is falling for the one that visits their graveyard.

The problem is, Reginald and Bones share the same body.

And when Bones gives an inch to accommodate Reginald

His dark past returns to devour them whole.

(Add your review of Reginald Bones here. If you are not reviewing, please delete)

I’m a husband and author, and I

may be a little religious about both. I like writing hot sex and

encapsulating it in the delicate white silk of devotion, commitment, and

maybe even a little psychotic obsession.

Lucian

Check out my everything here

REGINALD BONES 2 by Lucian Bane

Cover Designer: Sabre Gray & Bane Cover Studio

Release Date: January 27th 2017

Add it to your GOODREADS

Bones should have known allowing Reginald to “date” a
woman would end badly. And if he’d known how badly, he would have never
allowed it. But it’s too late. She’s in their life, she’s in their
mind, and she’s in their basement with a death wish. And after
discovering her dirty secrets, Bones is ready to oblige her.

AMAZON US / UK / AUS

(Add your review of Reginald Bones 2 here. If you are not reviewing, please delete)


AMAZON US / UK / AUS

Bones is hell-bent on hiding from the world.
Reginald is hell-bent on living in it.

Bones vowed to never talk to women again.
Reginald is falling for the one that visits their graveyard.

The problem is, Reginald and Bones share the same body.
And when Bones gives an inch to accommodate Reginald
His dark past returns to devour them whole.

(Add your review of Reginald Bones here. If you are not reviewing, please delete)

I’m a husband and author, and I
may be a little religious about both. I like writing hot sex and
encapsulating it in the delicate white silk of devotion, commitment, and
maybe even a little psychotic obsession.

Lucian

Check out my everything here

FLAWED by Sara Hubbard

Flawed

by Sara Hubbard
Publication Date: January 12, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

When I fell in love with Ivy Carter, I fell hard. She had a grip on my heart, and she refused to let go. After I committed a brutal assault, I pushed her away so she could have a life without me, but I’ve ached for her ever since. I assumed in a few months she’d move on, go off to school, and find some guy that actually deserves her. But that’s not what she did. She pushed back. And the more she pushed, the more I wanted to give in. I didn’t, though. I can be a mean SOB when I want to be.

It’s six years later now, and I’m out. I just want to see her so I know she’s okay, but one look at her angelic face through the window of where she works and I’m seventeen again, ready to do what it takes to put a smile on her face. I want to go straight and be the man she deserves, but when her brother steals from my criminal uncle, I have no choice but to make a deal with him. I might as well sell my soul; the devil is kinder.

About Sara Hubbard

Sara Hubbard is a romantic fiction author. She loves alpha males and the sweet, sassy women who make them believe in change. Sara lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her two children (four if you count her husband and her needy labradoodle) and works as registered nurse.

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A WAR LIKE OURS by Saffron A. Kent

A War Like Ours

by Saffron A Kent
Publication Date: February 24, 207
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A liar…

Three weeks ago, James Maxwell’s wife died in a car accident, but he hasn’t been able to tell his five-year old daughter the heartbreaking truth behind her mother’s death. Instead, he packs them up and leaves for a summer resort in upstate New York to spend a few peaceful weeks and to gradually break the news. But a spirited and outspoken maid at the resort has figured out his secret.

A hater…

After witnessing her mother’s violent death at the hands of her stepfather, Madison Smith has turned aimless and bitter toward the world—men, in particular. Her dead-end job at the local resort and her convenient girlfriend barely keep Madison from falling apart. When she meets James, however, she’s driven to protect his child from the darkness she sees inside him.

A forbidden kiss…

But Madison doesn’t expect to find that very darkness irresistible. Drowning in guilt and memories, neither does James expect to be drawn to the sharp-witted woman who has made his life miserable. When their tempers flare, a brutal kiss triggers a need that blurs the lines of hate and desire. As their lust spins out of control, they must decide if their attraction is worth fighting for or if love is the real enemy.

Please Note: This book is intended for mature audience. 18+ ONLY.

About Saffron A. Kent

Romance Writer and Reader. Coffee Addict. White Russian Drinker. Imaginary Ballet Dancer. Wanna-be Poet. Lana Del Ray & Gillian Flynn Worshiper.

My stories are grey-shaded and NC-17. I write what I love to read. And what I love to read is always twisted and angsty and emotional. My characters desperately need therapy. They tend to kiss a lot too, among other naughty things.

I LOVE to chat with readers about reading and writing so come follow me!

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FIGHTING FOR ALEXA by Jennifer Ann

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Cover Designer: Najla Qamber Designs

Photographer: Eric Battershell Photography

Cover Model: Matt Zumwalt

Release Date: February 15, 2017

 

Synopsis

Michael Harrison is bad for me.

 

Angry, albeit drop-dead sexy men in prison for murder are generally bad for anyone. So I’m unable to explain why I feel a need to prove his innocence, or why every time he opens his mouth I want to feel those thick lips all over my body.

 

I’ve worked hard to prove my worth since my parents abandoned me, and getting involved with an inmate could cost me the career I worked so hard to establish. So why do I find myself ready to throw it all away for a chance to be with a tattooed biker?

 

Alexa Darrington must be an angel.

 

How else can I explain the sudden appearance of this mouthwateringly gorgeous woman with legs that go on for miles? It’s not only her looks that make her irresistible. Her determination and stubborn will make her the kind of woman worth laying down my life for.

 

Even though it’s too dangerous to involve her in the truth, I’m too selfish to let her go. But what will I have to offer if I’m stuck in prison for life?

 

FIGHTING FOR ALEXA is a full-length standalone novel bursting at the seams with heat and intrigue

 

Goodreads

 

 

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Giveaway

One of Five ARCs of Fighting for Alexa

 

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About the Author

Jennifer Ann is the author of eight published steamy romance novels with complex love stories. Like her characters, she’s in love with the city of New York, rock concerts, and Marines. Sometimes you can catch her driving a tractor alongside her husband in southern Minnesota while trying to keep up with the madness of their four active children.

 

Connect with Jennifer

Facebook Author Page: http://bit.ly/2kuDaz1

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Instagram: http://bit.ly/2jTtNKs

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Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2gLurdF

BookBub Author Page: http://bit.ly/2j6v1Vr

 

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