THE RULE MAKER by Jennifer Blackwood

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Cover Design : L.J. Anderson / Mayhem Designs

Model: Kamil Nizinski

Release Date: January 16, 2017

 

Synopsis

Ten Steps to Surviving a New Job:

 

1. Don’t sleep with the client. It’ll get you fired. (Sounds easy enough.)

 

2. Don’t blink when new client turns out to be former one-night stand.

 

3. Don’t call same client a jerk for never texting you back.

 

4. Don’t believe client when he says he really, really wanted to call.

 

5. Remember, the client is always right—so you can’t junk punch him when he demands new design after new design.

 

6. Ignore accelerated heartbeat every time sexy client walks into room.

 

7. Definitely ignore client’s large hands. They just mean he wears big gloves.

 

8. Don’t let client’s charm wear you down. Be strong.

 

9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the client. You’ll lose more than your job—maybe even your heart.

 

10. If all else fails, see rule number one again.

 

 

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Giveaway

$50 Sephora Gift Card

 

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0cba4250416/?

 

 

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About the Author
Jennifer Blackwood is an English teacher and contemporary romance author. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and poorly behaved black lab puppy. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she’s binging on Veronica Mars episodes and white cheddar popcorn.

 

Connect with Jennifer

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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Blackwood/e/B00OPXL0VG/ref=la_B00OPXL0VG_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1481596906&sr=1-2

 

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ONE CAREFUL OWNER by Jane Harvey-Berrick

 

 

 

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Take me, all of me, broken and in pieces, or say to hell with me.”

WARNING!
This book will break your heart!
From the best-selling romance author of THE EDUCATION OF SEBASTIAN comes a sexy, heart-breaking and heart-warming story about one man and his dog. (Standalone)

Alex is lost and alone, with only his dog, Stan for company. He doesn’t expect kindness from anyone anymore, but sometimes hope can be found in the most unlikely places. He has a second chance at happiness, but there’s a dark side to Alex, and a reason that more than one person has called him crazy.
Single mother Dawn is doing just fine. Except that her ex- is a pain in the ass, her sister isn’t speaking to her, and her love life is on the endangered list.
At least her job as a veterinarian is going well. Until a crazy-looking guy arrives at her office accompanied by an aging dog with toothache. Or maybe Alex Winters isn’t so crazy after all, just … different.
Dawn realizes that she’s treated him the same way that all the gossips in town have treated her—people can be very cruel.

Contains scenes of an adult nature.

This is a standalone novel with no cliff-hanger.

 

He still reminded me of a Mountain Man, and he appeared to be wearing the clothes that I’d thought were rags. His long, shaggy brown hair and thick beard hid most of his face. A shudder of apprehension ran through me.
He seemed just as ill at ease as he had been by the lake, his eyes darting around restlessly, but then he walked around to the passenger door and I lost sight of him.
When he reappeared, he was carrying a large dog, one that easily weighed 80 or 90 pounds. He must have been strong because he carried the weight easily. I recalled the thick slabs of muscle that sculpted his chest and arms when I’d seen him earlier. Yes, there was no doubt that he was strong, but as he held his pet, his hands were gentle.
I watched his chin bob, and I realized that he was talking to his dog.
Carefully, he set the animal on the ground and fixed a leash around its neck.
The dog immediately sat down and refused to budge. His coat was thick and looked glossy and healthy, his muzzle starting to gray. I guessed he was part retriever, part mastiff—large and solid. And heavy.
Ashley giggled as the man tugged on the leash, but the dog still wouldn’t move. The man stood still, looking at his pet, his hands on his hips, then he shook his head in defeat. Bending down, he scooped up the dog again and shouldered his way through the door into the office.
Now he was closer, I could study him in more detail.
His hair was a tangle of light brown with sun-blond lights, still uncombed, an off-putting mess of wild, crazy curls. His clothes were even worse now I could see him wearing them, unkempt and torn as if he’d given up, but they were clean. And when he stopped in front of Ashley, I caught the faint scent of soap and laundry detergent—no cologne. This man was a paradox.
Ashley smiled tightly from her position behind the reception desk.
“Mr. Winters and Stan, is that right?”
He nodded but didn’t speak, still holding his dog in his arms. His face was grim, as if he’d never smiled, never thought of smiling.
So this was the man who’d bought Old Joe’s place? I immediately felt guilty that I’d assumed he was trespassing and camping illegally. I didn’t know that somebody had already moved into the property. Technically, I’d been the interloper this morning. I felt like such a judgmental bitch. But he’d really scared me, and I hadn’t been thinking clearly.
“I’m so sorry,” Ashley said with fake sweetness, “but Dr. Petz, our male veterinarian, had to go out on an emergency visit. Dr. Andrews over there is available.”
He turned to stare at me and his body stiffened. I saw a flicker of recognition in his eyes before he dropped his gaze to the floor again. I thought for sure that he’d turn and walk out, but then he glanced at his dog and I saw the expression soften in his curious golden-brown eyes as he peered up at me and nodded slowly.
“Great!” said Ashley, her gaze glancing across to me. “I’ve got basic information from your email, but if you could just fill out this form and…”
“Maybe you’d like to bring Stan into the examination room, Mr. Winters,” I interrupted quickly. “He looks rather heavy.”
The man blinked twice, but carried the dog inside without commenting or even looking at Ashley.
“Rude!” Ashley said, not quietly enough, and although I agreed, I shot her a look and took the form from her.
She leaned toward me, her eyes wide as her voice dropped to an urgent whisper.
“I’ll keep my ears open, Dawn. He looks kind of weird. You know, serial killer weird.”
I pressed my lips together and followed my new client.

 

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Jane is a writer of contemporary romance fiction, known for thoughtful stories, often touching on difficult subjects: disability (DANGEROUS TO KNOW & LOVE, SLAVE TO THE RHYTHM); mental illness (THE EDUCATION OF CAROLINE, SEMPER FI); life after prison (LIFERS); dyslexia (THE TRAVELING MAN, THE TRAVELING WOMAN).
She is also a campaigner for former military personnel to receive the support they need on leaving the services. She wrote the well-received play LATER, AFTER with former veteran Mike Speirs. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk1CyB8c0xA )
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BROKEN PIECES by Toni Aleo

 

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Can be found in the Once upon midnight anthology

From the moment Oceanus von Stein, second-in-command to the Patchwork family, caught sight of Taegan Conner, daughter of the leader of the Wolves, he knew he would never love another. Only now, she has been promised in marriage to another, an arrangement to strengthen her family’s alliances–and she gets no say in the matter. Can they find a way to be together, or will they both always be two Broken Pieces?

Take place during Pieces

 

Chapter One  
Being the oldest isn’t always easy.
Everyone depends on you.
Looks up to you.
You are the poster child for the family.
Plus, you worry about everything.
Well, at least, I do.
Which means being selfish isn’t possible. Maybe not selfish—that word is harsh and I’ve
never really liked it, but something along those lines. What I mean is that my needs, my wants
are not important when I have three younger siblings and a father to worry for.
You see, I’m a very busy man. I have many jobs. The first and most important being to
protect and love my family. With everything inside of me. It is my job to guide my brothers and
sister in the right direction to be future leaders of our community. The community my family
runs. A community that is unseen to the human eye, which is fine by me. Dealing with witches,
wolves, shifters, and vampires, along with the Patchwork citizens is enough in my opinion. They
cause enough drama for one man, yet I love them. I want to protect them.
They are my extended family.
Even if a faction of our Works—the shifters—wants to overthrow my family and take
over, I still care for their well-being. I have to. It’s my job as a future leader of the Works. When
my father decides to step down, which could be at any moment, it will be my job to step up and
be the king this community needs. Not that my father isn’t doing his job; he is. It’s just…he’s
old-school. Very old-school, and while all his parts are working at their full capacity, he isn’t the
man he used to be. So much has changed. This isn’t the 1800s anymore, but my father apparently
missed that memo. He’s budged a bit, adapted some, but he still has the same notions he had
back then, and they drive me absolutely mad.
Beyond furious, actually.
But what do I expect? He lived in a time where a man was always right and you followed
your father, your leader. After he lost his father to the plague, he became the leader and led his
family. I don’t think my father meant for his life to go where it did, but it all changed when he
found his grandfather’s old lab books.
That grandfather was Dr. Frankenstein.
The guy who made Frankenstein’s monster himself. Yes, the stories are true. But what
the stories don’t tell you is that he had a son, who had four more sons, my father being one of
them. With Father’s grandfather gone, and then his own father dying, I doubt anyone expected
for Dr. Frankenstein’s work ever to surface again. But my father was and may be smarter than
his ancestors. For when he found the books, he became obsessed with them, and soon he
developed a formula that granted a man immortality.
True immortality.
He soon administrated the formula to his brother, Samuel. But after their mother and two
other brothers died when the formula didn’t work on them, Samuel and Father were discovered.
So, of course, they fled. They had no choice. But they did have a choice when they decided to
come to America and make their own clan.
A clan full of immortal people who would follow and bow down to them. Or, really, to
my father. I doubt Samuel had much say in it, but my father, yeah, he was drunk with the power
he had. He knew he was the best, a god in his mind, and people flocked to him. They begged for
the formula, needed it, and soon my father had his clan.
His Patchwork.
You would think that would be enough, but it wasn’t. Soon he reached out to the other
supernatural groups. The vampires were first. The main reason was the simple fact that my uncle
loved to sleep with them. The vampires didn’t need anything from my father, but he offered them
an alliance, a way to get them constant blood since he had turned the owner of the local hospital
immortal. As long as the vampires followed my father, he would be there to help them. As
creatures of the night, and being killed off almost every other night by hunters and humans, they
signed on quickly.
Next were the witches. My father promised to export and import anything they needed or
wanted on his fleet of ships. In return, he would use their spells and rituals for things he was
unable to fix.
The wolves signed on for the money. My father needed lots of guards and security
support, and he paid very heavily for them. At first, it was just employment. But somewhere in
there, my father worked out some kind of alliance. It’s beyond me, but he did it, and now they
are basically eating out of his hand.
No pun intended.
The shifters are a whole other story. The resisted us, only coming to us with offers for the
formula itself. Father denied them, of course, but he did ask them to join us. He offered that we
would protect them and even employ some of them. He wanted to make our community
complete with the five strongest clans of supernatural beings. But the shifters didn’t want any
part; they were independent. That was, until people started dying and they needed the protection
my father offered since no one could catch who was killing off their clan. I believe my father had
a part in it, that he hired people to kill them, but he denies it.  
Either way, my father got his underground clan, and soon, the rules were in place.
Do what your clan is expected to do. All of us have a particular job to keep the Works
running. The guard support the wolves offer—along with their construction work. The spells and
treatments the witches provide. The political connections the vampires play a part in. And we
can’t forget the connections on Wall Street that the shifters give us. It’s simple, really. Everyone
plays their part and reports back to Father. Well, the clan leaders do, at least.
Another rule is paying your taxes. For obvious reasons, if my father is protecting your
group, curing diseases, providing good housing, and everything else he does, the least you can do
is pay the monthly tax.
Lastly, don’t mix clans. Father wants to keep the purest of bloodlines, to make the future
children of the Works the strongest and best—my father’s words, not mine. Now, that is the rule
that gets broken the most. Mostly by my uncle Samuel and his obsession with vampires. But
even with his lust for the creatures, he has never fathered a child, mostly because vampires can’t
have children. That isn’t the case for other clans, though. And when it happens, I mean, when a
mixed-clan child is conceived, it isn’t long after birth that the child is killed.
That sickens me and will be one of the first things I change when I am the leader of the
Works.
I just have to get there.
“You’re thinking way too hard for someone who just woke up.”
I smile, my heart filling with such unadulterated tenderness for the wide blue eyes that
soon trap me in their gaze. A grin pulls at my sweetheart’s lips, her long, flowing strawberry
blond hair falling every so delicately along her jaw and onto my chest as she traces the scar on
my stomach.
“I thought you were sleeping,” I whisper, my lips pressing against hers as my hands grasp
the thick globes of her ass. Holding her tight against my side, I kiss her. Softly, ever so slowly,
memorizing every single thing about her lips and the way they make me feel.
Perfection. Pure perfection.
When she pulls back, her eyes darken a bit as she throws her leg across me, straddling me
as her nails bite into my chest. “I’m not sleeping,” she says, her cheeks dusting with color as I
drink in the gorgeous freckles along her body. She is covered head to toe in them, and I swear, I
want nothing more than to spend the rest of my days tracing each of them with my tongue, my
fingers, anything. As long as I’m touching her.
My love.
As she moves her hot center against my growing erection, I smile. “I can see that.” My
hand comes up to cup her full breast. “Whatever are you doing up there?”
She scoffs, her wet core making every single thought from before disappear within
seconds. “If you have to ask, I worry for ya,” she jokes, and I smile, my eyes falling shut a bit.
Her voice, her thick Scottish brogue, does the dirtiest things to my body. Turns me on to the
point of no return.
“I thought you had to leave?”
“I think I have a wee bit of time. Maybe we can spend it?”
Bringing her down by a hand at the back of her neck, I kiss her jaw as her breasts press
into my chest. “I know we can,” I say before rolling her over, my body pressing into hers as I
push her legs back into her chest and enter her quickly. She is hot, accepting me and squeezing
me, making me breathless as I stare down into her beautiful, flushed face.
She stuns me, and I just look at her, my lips curving as my cock throbs inside of her,
begging for release. But I can’t move. Not when she is looking at me like that. She reaches up, a
grin pulling at her lips as she runs her thumb down my jaw.
“Gonna stare at me, my love? Or fuck me?”
“Stare,” I say simply, my body heavy against her legs. “I swear I’ve never seen anyone as
beautiful as you.”
Her grin grows, her body flushing even more, and my heart explodes in my chest.
Cupping my face with her other hand, she threads her fingers through my hair. My body breaks
out in gooseflesh as she holds my gaze. When she looks at me, I know she doesn’t see the scars
or the wounded flesh, the cut marks or the gunshot wounds. She sees me, her lover.
Because that’s all I can ever be.  
“I love you, Oceanus,” she whispers, her eyes so dark, so full of lust, and of course, love.
Fuck, I love it when she says those words. Those three words that are ever so beautiful—but
more tragic than one could think. Well, that is until I take over the Works. The moment that
happens, which pray God is soon, I will marry my love. I will make her mine, I will put my child
in her, and together we will lead the Works.
She will be my queen.
I don’t care that she is Taegan Conner, the princess of the wolves, because I don’t see her
faction or even her family name.
I see her heart.
And it’s mine.
All mine.
Moving her hair out of her eyes, I kiss her nose before sliding mine against it. “I love you
too, my love.”
When her mouth captures mine, I lift her up, holding her ass in my hands as I fall back on
my haunches, thrusting up into her. Her breath is harsh against my mouth, her breasts heavy
against my chest, and as I drive into her, I don’t care about anything but her and me.
I’m being selfish.
I’m taking what I want.
And I don’t care one bit.
It doesn’t happen enough in my opinion, but I guess, being me, I don’t get that luxury.
Truth be told, being Oceanus von Stein isn’t easy.
But it’s who I am. And while I lose myself inside of this beautiful woman, I don’t think
of anything but her, and that’s okay for now.
Eventually, I’ll be able to do it for the rest of my days.
I just have to be patient.
Because my time is coming.  

 

 

My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?
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KING’S CAPTIVE by Amber Bardean

 

 

Coming February 13th

 

 

For three years, I’ve belonged to Julius King.

Some people would think being stuck on a private island is heaven, but this is my hell.  

Because I’m not here as a guest. Not even close. I’m a prisoner. I’m his.

Julius King. Powerful. Wealthy. Dangerous.

There are parts of me he wants that I can’t give him. When he looks at me, there are times I swear he sees someone else. And the scary part is that sometimes, when he touches me, I think he may be someone else, too.

Though my body might be tempted, and he might control everything else, I can’t let him have any piece of my heart. I won’t. But every day, the fight gets harder, and Julius manages to slip past my defenses in the most unexpected ways.  

I have to find out the truth about Julius King. Even if it destroys me.  



This book is approximately 81,000 words



One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise! Find out more at CarinaPress.com/RomancePromise

 

Chapter One

He’s coming.
A twig creaks. I jerk upright in the swing seat, where that day has been rolling through my mind like a snippet of a movie reel that’s been hacked to pieces, then glued back together.
Him—the reason I’ve spent the last three years in this tropical Caribbean prison.
Leaves crunch. He wants me to hear him coming. Julius enjoys anticipation.
I brush my dress over my knees. Pale blue chiffon picks up with the breeze. “Hello, Julius.”
“Good morning, baby.” He reaches my side and bends down and plants his lips on my cheek.
My eyes close for an instant. His kiss is deceptively warm, but then, hell is warm, no surprise the devil should be too.
“I’ve brought you something.”
The bitterness of his cologne coats my breaths. Like everything about him it’s a bit too much.
“Thank you.”
He leans closer, his watch right by my face.
Tick, tick, tick.
One tick to every two of my heartbeats.
He lays a rolled-up newspaper in my lap. I don’t open the paper.
“Have dinner with me tonight.”
Not a question, but then, nothing he says ever is.
My gaze collides with his. It’s like looking into the wind, makes me want to blink and look away.
“We’re having guests.” The corners of his eyes wrinkle. “I’m trusting you’ll be polite company.”
“Have I ever been anything else?”
He smiles his serpent smile and takes my chin between his thumb and forefinger. “No, you’re perfect.”
I’d bite him, but he has a nice firm grip on my lady-balls, and he knows it.
Leverage. He has it—I don’t.
It’s the reason why, even if I could escape, even if he didn’t control all transport on and off the island, I’d still stay.
Everything here is in his control, even me.
Except for one thing.
I smile back at him, a real smile. There’s something I have that he doesn’t. Something that makes me want to gloat. Captivity has made me petty.
“Thanks.” I keep that satisfaction inside.
There’s a reason visitors make me giddy. There’s one thing I know that Julius doesn’t. There’s something that gives me hope.
“Dinner’s at five.” He releases my chin.
His sharp gaze disappears under the aviator sunglasses he slides over the bridge of his nose. I watch him leave, and wait until he’s rounded the corner to the house.
Only when he’s completely out of sight, I unwind the newspaper. He gives me many gifts, and on Fridays it’s always this. A weekly recap of a world moving along without me. It’s been rolled for too long and tries to curl back in on itself. I scan the headlines, flicking through the features and articles. Royals got married. A celebrity named their baby something that’ll plague the poor kid for the rest of eternity. Politicians broke election promises and sports happened. I circle back through the paper, trying to suck in this one taste of the outside world I ever get.
I scan one more time, pausing over my horoscope. “Do you really require the messages your forecast reveals? You have all the answers the cosmos can provide. Connect with your intuitive—”
I sigh and turn the page. What happened to the days when I could rely on the little strip in the back of the paper to tell me something useful, or at least hopeful—like to expect a tall dark stranger to sweep me off my feet? Please bring back that astrologer now. As much as I like my feet rooted in the dirt, I’ve spent the last three years praying for the stranger.
For anything.
Some small clue.
Now not even my fortune can be bothered pretending to reveal a sign. I close the paper, and fold it in half. Run my finger over the date.
The date…
My finger stills. I can’t move it from the number. I don’t want to see. Math was never my subject but I get this math right away.
I drag my finger aside.
One month.
I have exactly one month left until the first of October. The ticking in my head clicks louder than his watch had.
I’m almost out of time.
* * *

For a man with a fully staffed private island, it’s surprising the things Julius insists on doing himself. He likes to cook. More specifically, he likes to barbecue. Fat hisses on the grill. My tongue moistens despite myself. The empty plate in front of me seems bigger, somehow more empty. No one does meat like Julius.
He’s a master of flesh.
I’ve seen him butcher a calf himself. Make his own sausage, hang and cure charcuterie. I’ve watched him massage salt into a whole pig with his hands—impale lambs for the spit.
Today his table is full. So the barbecue will be too.
Unfortunately, I know all the faces crowding the twelve-seat outdoor setting. None of them are ones I care to see. Next to me, Dan pops the lid on a beer. His third. Don’t know why he bothers, it’s nonalcoholic. Not that Dan doesn’t enjoy his drink. I’ve seen the man stumble back to the table with piss on his jeans when he’s “off duty,” which isn’t often. Even off duty, Julius’s Men are always Julius’s Men.
And Julius likes his men and his muscle sober.
That’s Dan—muscle.
I glance at him briefly. He’s so big it’s heinous. Yet, for a guy who occasionally pisses on himself, I’ve seen those thick arms move quick enough to shoot a glass out of a person’s hands as they’re drinking. Unlike Julius, this snake doesn’t cover its scales. He wears jeans, and T-shirts that leave enough skin bare to let everyone know exactly how much time he’s done. Some days, if he’s had to stay over unexpectedly, when he lifts his arm to take a swig of his nonalcoholic beer, the odor alone is enough to knock a person dead.
No disguises, he’s a thug.
Julius lifts a T-bone with the prongs of his meat fork, then drops it onto the grill. A wave of smoke drifts over us. I wave my hand in front of my face, then reach for a glass of orange juice. The tang cleanses my palate. Sweet, and full of pulp I have to chew. Fresh-squeezed by Pa, the elderly man sitting two seats from me on the left. The seat between Pa and me remains empty. I set the juice next to the glass of wine beside my plate, untouched as always.
“Potato?” Dan hands me the stainless-steel bowl filled to the brim with potato salad. I take the bowl but pass it past Pa, who I know full well doesn’t believe in mayonnaise, to Leo.
Leo, Julian’s younger muscle, takes the potato salad without looking. He knows his eyes don’t belong on me. All of them do.
Almost all of them.
Julius joins us at the table with a platter full of meat. He serves his guests first. Jack Connelly and his five “brothers.” Then me. He lays a steak on my plate. Rib eye. Meat of the day is T-bone, but I have rib eye. My favorite, cooked medium how I like it. He’s never asked me to choose a cut, never asked me how well I prefer meat cooked, but he knows.
He had my tastes figured out in the first month. I can’t begin to think what he’s learned about me in three years.
“Thank you,” I say.
I give him only detached politeness. Formality. While he figures out my personal tastes, I figure out how little I can give him before he feels the need to reel me closer.
It’s a game—push-pull-push.
Julius always being the pusher.
He dishes up meat to his men, Dan, Leo, Pa and the new guy. I don’t look at the new guy. He hasn’t learned the rules yet and frankly I’ve got no desire to watch him bleed, despite the fact that if he’s working for Julius, he most likely has it coming.
The table’s split six to six.
Julius prefers things that way—even.
Even or in his favor.
He places a dripping steak on his own plate, then puts the meat tray in the center of the table with the mountains of other food.
My spine creaks more than his chair when he sits.
Dan used to sit where I’m sitting. Before I “came along.” Now I sit here, on Julius’s right. Yep, I’m his right-hand girl. I’ve brought nothing to this table, contributed nothing, but here I sit at his right.
I stretch for the garlic butter, and fork a large knob on top of the rib eye. You can bet your sweet ass I don’t hold back on that stuff. Never know when a girl might need a little garlic breath on her side. Male voices laugh and boom across the table, joining a chorus of scraping knives and clinking glasses.
They don’t speak to me, so I don’t speak either.
One of them, the stupid new one, watches me, though. He’s careful. Only glancing at me for a heartbeat or two before moving on.
But I don’t miss that throbbing pause. If he’s not careful, neither will Julius. He’s too stupid to live, that one. I make new guy a black spot in my vision. Don’t see him. Don’t hear him. When I look around the table, it’s like that chair is vacant.
“Something wrong with your steak, baby?”
The voices around us dull. Everything grows quieter when Julius speaks.
I set down my fork, one untouched morsel on the tines. “It’s a little overdone.”
It’s not, it’s perfect. No steak would ever suffer overcooking in Julius’s care. I don’t smirk. By some divine miracle the satisfaction stays under wraps.
“You should have said something.” He leans closer, leans right over me. “You know I’ll always take care of you.” His voice is low, dropped down to some husky key that seems to be reserved solely for me. My breath hiccups. Yes, he takes care of me. Every single moment of every single day. It’s Julius who feeds me. He who clothes me. He who keeps me safe.
He who can take all away.
He drags the steak off my plate with his fork, and tosses it onto the grass with a sharp swing of his arm. Not on a plate or in the bin, onto the lawn that looks as though it’s been trimmed by a thousand leprechauns with nail clippers, not a blade out of place.
Julius did that. Julius, who likes everything just so.
My pulse pounds in my ears like it’s trying to tell me something. I’ve heard this same thudding warning for years.
Watch out, watch out, watch out.
My heart doesn’t seem to realize I never stopped doing just that.
He cuts his T-bone, then scoops half up. Blood drips in the space between us. He drops the cut on my plate. So rare it’s almost blue.
I stare at his arm.
His shirtsleeves are rolled up, his right arm exposed to the elbow. That’s the benefit of sitting on his right. I get his clean side. Don’t have to stare at the evil thing on his neck. Dark hairs run down his forearm to his wrist, growing finer as they bridge the top of his hand. I wonder how far I’d get if I rammed my fork in that arm—right in his wrist joint—if I just lodged it right in there…
How long would it take for him to reach for the gun at his side?
How far could I get?
To the dock, maybe, with the help of a little adrenaline? Before Danny boy got to me. Before I remembered that every way off this island is Julius’s.
Before I remembered the other things keeping me here.
“Happy?” There’s that soft personal tone again, and it’s impossible not to hear. Impossible not to catch the switch when he speaks to me.
I look at him, something like a smile biting the corners of my lips. “Thank you, Julius.”
He turns back to his guests. The Connellys all sit together on the other side of the table. Jack Connelly in the middle. If Jack is here, it means one thing—today’s business is guns.
The kind Julius carries around tucked in the back of his pants.
Until I met him, I’d never seen a handgun.
I’d seen plenty of shotguns. At home even our gardener walked around with one on his back. Growing up, I thought everyone who worked on acreage carried a shotgun. Dad told me they were for snakes. Yet, in all my years, I never saw a single snake.
Not one.
But then, there were a lot of men with a lot of guns on our ranch to keep them at bay.
Now I know they were always waiting for a different kind of snake.

 

 


After spending years imagining fictional adventures, Amber finally found a way to turn daydreaming into a productive habit. She now spends her time in a coffee-fuelled adrenaline haze, writing romance with a thriller edge.

She lives with her husband and children in semi-rural Australia, where if she peers outside at the right moment she might just see a kangaroo bounce by.

Amber is an award winning writer, Amazon Bestselling Author, and member of Romance Writers of Australia, Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, and Writers Victoria.

 

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Cover Reveal of AMNESIA: A Psychological Thriller By Kylie Hillman

 

Coming February 20th

 

Amnesia, a Psychological Thriller

Dr. Jaxon Ray has only ever wanted one woman. He’s loved her from afar since their Junior School days, worshiping the ground she walks on, intent on having her for his own when the time is right.
Amber St. George isn’t interested in the trappings that come with her family’s wealth. A simple life as a teacher at an underprivileged school, a comfortable home with her lover, and good friends; that’s all she desires.
Once Jax decides it’s time to take what’s his, Amber finds herself at the mercy of a madman. A sociopath with access to the latest neurological advancements, who possesses the ability to use her own mind to keep her captive. Programmed to forget. Reprogrammed as her captor’s perfect partner. Amber’s left with medically-induced amnesia and no idea that she’s in for the fight of her life.
When the people who know you’re missing aren’t on your side, and the love of your life has been led to believe that you’ve turned your back on him, is rescue possible? When you can’t remember the real you, is escape even on the cards?
DISCLAIMER: This story contains triggering content and is not suitable for all readers, especially those under eighteen years of age.

 

Wife to a Harley riding, boating and fishing, four-wheel driving, quintessential Aussie bloke.
Mum to two crazy, adorable, and creative kids.
Crohn’s Disease sufferer and awareness campaigner.
She’s also an avid tea drinker, a connoisseur of 80’s/90’s rock music, and is known for lacing everything she says with sarcasm and inappropriate innuendo.

Formerly working in finance, she was forced to reevaluate her plans for her life when severe Crohn’s Disease brought her corporate career to a screeching halt. Restarting her childhood hobbies of writing and reading to alleviate the monotony of being sick and housebound, she found her calling and is enjoying life to the max. A typical day is spent in the “real” world where she hangs out with her awesome family and “book” world where she gets to chill with her fictional characters.

Kylie writes the books she wants to read. A lover of strong men who aren’t perfect and aren’t afraid to admit it, straight talking women who embrace their vulnerabilities, and real life gritty stories, she hopes these themes shine through her writing. An avid reader of all genres, Kylie hopes to release books that keep the reader on the edge of their seat- be it with suspense, heart-stopping thrills, or laughter.

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LOVESICK by T.L. Smith


Banner15942765_10155656368733136_2033253927_oTitle:
Lovesick

Author: TL Smith

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: February 1

Goodreads

Synopsis

I couldn’t do broken.

Broken is what he was.

Broken is what I will always be.

To his eyes, that held so much despair, I couldn’t look for long.

To his fist, that clenched so tightly, like he was locking away the sorrow.

To his lips, that never uttered a word, from the years of heartbreak.

And despite it all, I couldn’t stay away from him.

It was like he was drowning in an ocean, and I wanted to grab his face, and whisper to his lips, “Don’t forget to breathe.”

This was how I fell for a man. A man who was so lovesick, I was afraid he would drown me in that same ocean he was lost in.

***Standalone***

Lovesick Teaser 2

Excerpt

I used to believe I was a strong woman, a good woman, a faithful woman. I had dreams, things I wanted to accomplish, places I wanted to visit. Things I wanted to do and see.
My hands rubbed softly on my upper thigh. I tried to stop the wince that accompanied that action, but escaped me anyway. My hand lifted slowly, I looked at my nails, they were chewed right down to the skin. I used to love my nails, now I looked at them and despised them as much as I despised my weaknesses—the pitiful looks that I got from others, my hair that hadn’t been colored for over a year, my dry and broken skin that felt like sandpaper, my gaunt and haggard eyes.
My mind—well, that’s beyond repair. Questions like ‘would I ever be pretty enough or smart enough’ for his love ran rampant through my mind. Instead, all I got was his fists. They loved me, he told me so.
I listened hard as his footsteps came closer. I hadn’t cooked dinner because I’d lost track of time, sitting in that bathroom, listening to my own heartbeat, reminding me that I was still alive. Reminding me I could still breathe, still function, but only barely.
His fists crashed down hard on the door rocking it on the hinges, my body pulled itself in tighter, gripping harder onto the very foundations of my sanity. It didn’t want me to move, it wanted me to stay safe, to heal.
My mind knew otherwise. It knew that if I didn’t move within the next sixty seconds, more would follow, his patience would run thin, very thin. The second wave of his fists came down on the door, this time the ferocity of the jolts moved the door back and forth. I could hear the sounds of wood cracking and splintering slightly with every impact. My arms pull tighter, my body went rigid.
I internally screamed at myself to shift—just to get up and move.
You can do it I told myself. But my body had had enough, knowing that it couldn’t take any more punishment. It plain and simply didn’t want to accept any more.
I loved him so fiercely, so blindly that I gave him my all, and in return he gave me fractions of himself then his fists. His punishments hurt, but then he would kiss me with scolding passion, telling me I was the only one for him. I wanted to believe what he told me, I wanted to believe that our love could overcome his evil actions. I wanted to believe that five years ago when he first struck me—believing it was my fault—that it would only be that one time, and that he loved me so much he would never dare hurt me on purpose again.
Pushing thirty seconds, the time had clicked away in my head slowly. Those thirty seconds felt more like a lifetime. Again I attempted to force my body to move, screaming that there was only a mere thirty seconds at the most remaining. Yet again, it chose to ignore me. It was like we had been separated, something I knew I should have done with Jamie the first time five long years ago. Love is blind.
There was three more sets of pounding and counting, his cold hard voice started to permeate through the bathroom door. He told me to open it, to get out there. I didn’t reply, afraid of how my voice would deceive me.
I tried wiggling my toes, using all my concentration to work on that tiny action. It worked, I closed my eyes and willed my legs to move.
I just need to stand, I prayed to them.
The pounding had gotten harder, the banging louder as he frantically went about his fourth attempt. His temper was now raging. If I didn’t open that door in the next ten seconds, it would be torn from its hinges, I knew it would.
My hands clenched into fists, my eyes closed, a single tear escaped my eye. I wondered why, as my hand went up to touch it. I couldn’t remember the last time I cried or the last tear I’d shed. It all stayed inside, eating and chewing away at me. A war within my body raged that I knew I couldn’t win, but chose to try.
I looked down at my wet finger, while my other eye remained dry.
How odd. A single tear? Just the one escaping and running for its freedom. I wiped it across my shirt so it couldn’t escape. If I couldn’t, it couldn’t. It was only fair.
My hand landed on the door handle just as his hammering came again, and I managed to turn and open it. He stood there, tall and expansive. Stunningly gorgeous. He’d come straight from the gym, his shirt was off, his shoulders broad. His skin glistened with sweat.
How could someone so evil look like that? His mouth was tight, his hands were opening and closing at his sides. With all the pounding he’d done on the door, there were tiny blotches of blood on his knuckles. He was attempting to release the anger he had for me through his tight-clenched fists. I didn’t even know why. His hazel eyes closed, just for a brief second, enough time for me to take a deep breath before he stepped closer and I instinctively shuffled back the smallest of steps hoping he wouldn’t notice.
His hand came up, my insides screamed, my body wanted to bolt. But it was a gentle hand that touched my face, deceiving me again. I never closed my eyes to him anymore, I wanted to see the look on his face, store it in my memory for safe keeping every time he was angry. At first, it was to collect clues, to consider what it was I was doing to make him angry, and now it was just a habit. I couldn’t close them, even when I was choking I couldn’t close them. I needed to see that demonic fire in his eyes, remember it, preserve it, use it.
“Baby,” he whispered, stepping even closer. His touch on my skin was hot, scalding, burning me with an intensity that could melt steel, while his other hand grabbed at my hip. He leaned in, his lips touched mine, just softly.
I loved him, I hated him. I couldn’t figure out between the two feelings which were worse.
“I’ve missed you.” His hands came around my hips, circling, until they reached my ass and he squeezed hard. He breathed me in when his mouth left mine. Slow and soft kisses touched my shoulders. This was the part I hated myself the most for. That no matter how much I hated him, he was the only man who knew how to touch me. To make me only see him, to only want him. I. Hated. That.
He pushed himself into the bathroom fully, shutting the door that I struggled so hard to open. Closing it like there was no effort at all involved, while I fought with every ounce of strength I could muster within me to open it. He lifted my tender body, placing me in the shower, stripping my dress, and kissed every mark that he’d marked on me. I didn’t move, and soon he was as naked as me, the cold water running down my breasts. His hands ran up and down not so tenderly this time as he lifted and slammed me against the bathroom wall. My breath hitched. My breathing became hard for two reasons, one it hurt and two he was about to make me come. Even when I knew it was wrong, even when he whispered his love in my ear, I screamed internally my body shaking.
He carried me to our room, a room that was full of everything that was his. A single drawer to my name. I didn’t have much, he didn’t allow me the pleasure of my own things.
He laid me on the bed then got on top of me, his eyes shone brightly.
“I’m leaving you.” I rush the words out.
It was my body, my mind, and it seemed to have gained some control. My insides screamed, why must you do this? His eyes went wide, my hands started to sweat. Those beautiful lips became hard to mine. His hands moved from my side, snaked up around my neck, and I took one last breath as I watched the love of my life, the only man I’d ever loved, squeeze the life right out of me.
Like it was nothing.

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About the Author

TL-200x300-1

T.L Smith Lover of chocolate, books, but mostly words.

T.L Smith loves to travel, loves to shop for books, sometimes shoes 😉

Don’t be shy about contacting T.L Smith, she doesn’t bite, hard!

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PIECES OF GRAY by Kelly Moore

BUY LINK: http://amzn.to/2ilQbwO

Would you risk your life for someone that you love? Would you risk theirs?

Gray Milby was a badass sniper in the Army. She was held captive deep in the jungles of China for two years. She left behind the only man she has ever loved believing that he was dead until now. She risks her life and others to rescue him, returning to the place where her own nightmares come from.

Captain Kell Crew has survived four years of torture, being held captive in a cage. Physically he survived, mentally he will never be the same man that Gray remembers. In order for him to survive again, she has to make the choice of giving him up once more.

A year later they accidently meet again and Kell is drawn to every part of her being. He feels he remembers Pieces of Gray, but how is that possible when he has never met her before? All he knows is that he wants her.

Gray has tried everything to move on with her life and forget about her love for Kell. He forces his way back into her life and she can no longer push him away. Her love for him is too deep. Being with him risks his own life. Their love for each can destroy them both.

Someone else is lurking out there waiting to seek revenge. He just might kill them both.

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kelly Moore was raised in Mt. Dora, Florida, a true southern girl with a sarcastic wit. Gypsy traveling nurse by day and romantic author by night. Loves all things romantic with a little spice and humor. Loves two characters who over comes their pasts to fall in love and have a happy ending. Wife, mother, grandmother and dog lover. Travels the US in a fifth wheel making memories and making friends.
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