Excerpt/Teaser Share, New Releases

Chapter Reveal – While You Were Spying by Stina Lindenblatt

CHAPTER REVEAL
Title: While You Were Spying
Series: Love Undercover #1
Author: Stina Lindenblatt
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: February 20, 2020
BLURB

She needs a fake husband. He needs to protect his best friend…

Ever since I caught my boyfriend getting hot and steamy with another woman, I’ve thrown myself into my career. But now I’m ready to move from being the super-efficient office manager to an operative with Quade Security and Investigation.

Just as soon as I prove to my boss that I’m kick-ass enough to do the job.

So when my grandmother asks for my help, there’s no way I can say no. Her former love has a mission for Jayden—my hot colleague and best friend—and me. What more could I want?

***
The last thing I want is for Isabelle to be is an operative. She’s my best friend, and I hate the idea of her being in danger. Unfortunately, our boss has other plans.

Isabelle and I go undercover at a resort for happily married couples. But forget moonlight walks and hanging out by the pool. To maintain our cover, we have to participate in activities that would make a nun blush.

Clothes come flying off, and we agree to temporarily be friends-with-benefits while there. No strings attached. No complications. Nothing could be simpler. Right?

Wrong—because there’s another reason we’ve been lured to the resort. A reason that will put our hearts to the test…and our lives on the line.

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49934190-while-you-were-spying

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CHAPTER ONE

Isabelle

I nod at the jogger heading toward me. Six foot. Maybe six foot one. Marathoner. Early thirties.
Good-looking.
Single.
It’s also possible he has a girlfriend or wife, but she doesn’t like to run with him. Every day, rain or shine. Or as is so often the case during our regular morning runs overlooking the bay and marina…the fog.
He nods back like he does every time he sees me, his long stride effortlessly eating up the distance—the opposite of how the run is for me. My legs and lungs burn, beg me to slow down. Possibly even take a siesta.
Not much farther, I remind them. You can do this. I mentally break out the pom-poms and cheer my legs on while I keep an eye on my surroundings, noting anything unusual for this time of day.
That’s not to say I live in a bad neighborhood and have to watch for thugs and whatnots. But the number one rule of being an operative with Quade Security and Investigations is to be aware of your surroundings. The people, the location, the vehicles. Nothing is ignored. Nothing is considered insignificant.
Truth? I’m not an operative.
I’m the office manager—the person those five hot alpha men couldn’t survive without.
But although I enjoy my job, I have a different career aspiration. I want to be more than just an office manager.
I push myself a little harder and a little further, then slow my pace for the cool down. Even though the temperature isn’t exactly warm, sweat soaks through my T-shirt and running shorts. I can thank the last round of fartlek training—sprints that left my legs burning with resentment and resignation—for that.
I can also thank, with a healthy dose of cursing, Jayden Price.
My best friend. My colleague. And in his mind, my personal trainer.
Who is currently away on a mission, being all dark and dangerous and hot, helping to take down a Russian mafia crime boss.
I power walk across the street to the familiar Victorian-style bungalow, sandwiched between two taller houses. Their exteriors are light blue. Mine is rose pink—the color my grandmother on my mother’s side painted it many moons ago.
When she died five years ago, the house became mine, and I decided to keep the colors as they were: warm and eclectic.
I approach the stairs to the porch. Mojo, the big goofball of Bernese mountain dog, lumbers to his feet. His face shifts into his friendly doggy grin.
“Hey, boy. Anything exciting happen while I was running?” Despite his size, Mojo sucks as a running companion. He doesn’t like to run. At. All. Relaxing is his activity of choice.
Not exactly the dog you would associate with a man like Jayden, Mojo’s owner. You’d expect something big and powerful—and a whole lot of scary—like a German shepherd or a Rottweiler.
Mojo gives me a happy woof.
I laugh. “You don’t say. How about I shower, and then we can head to the office? And maybe the guys will be finished with their mission today.” I untie my sneaker shoelace and remove my front door key from it. Then I unlock the door and let Mojo into my house.
As I walk toward the bathroom, my cell phone rings from the kitchen table. Thinking it might be Jayden, informing me that he and the men are on their way to San Francisco, I make a quick detour to the kitchen and answer the phone without checking who it is.
“Hello?”
“Isabelle, darling,” Grandma Josephine exclaims.
A smile breaks out on my face. “Morning, Grandma.” And because I know she’s on speakerphone, and I know her routine, I add, “Good morning, Liza and Henri.”
I open the kitchen cupboard and remove a glass.
The three eighty-two-year-olds say good morning back to me, their voices more excited than they typically are for this time of day. And normally their voices are pretty damn happy.
“I’m in a bit of a kerfuffle,” Granny says. “Can you come over right away?”
“I have to go to work, but I can visit you afterward.”
“Now would be better. It’s rather urgent.” Her honey-smooth voice, which seduced the trousers off many a man in her younger days, has shifted slightly to the panicked zone.
And panic is not an emotion I associate with my grandmother.
“I just returned from my run, and I’m sweaty. Let me shower first.”
“A woman is never sweaty,” Liza says in a falsely snotty tone. “She only glows.”
“Well, my glow needs to be washed off before I can join you. And just so you know, I have Mojo with me.”
“Oh, is tall, dark, and handsome joining us?” Henri’s tone is more excited than usual.
“Darling,” Granny purrs, “how many times does Isabelle have to tell you Jayden isn’t gay?”
“I know that. Besides, even if he were, I’m old enough to be his father.”
“More like his grandfather,” Liza points out with a snorted laugh.
“No, Jayden won’t be joining me. He’s away on business.”
All three of them release a disappointed sigh.
“Such a shame,” Liza says on another sigh.
“I won’t be long,” I tell them before ending the call.
Forty-five minutes later, I’m in Sausalito, pressing my grandmother’s doorbell. After a heartbeat, her housekeeper opens the door and lets Mojo and me inside.
I hug Juanita, who is more like family to me. She’s been in my grandmother’s employment for as long as I can remember. Because the elegantly furnished estate home is too massive for her to handle on her own at her advanced age, she mostly does the cooking and light cleaning. A gardener and housekeeping company are also on Granny’s payroll.
Juanita fusses over Mojo, who laps up the attention like a paper towel. “Now, don’t you get fur all over the place, young man,” she chastises him with her typical warm and friendly smile.
He whimpers as if to apologize for snoozing on Granny’s couch the last time we were here.
“They’re on the balcony,” she tells me, even though I already know that. Unless it’s cold and rainy, the trio always eats their breakfast outside.
Mojo and I step onto the large deck that overlooks the bay. My stiletto heels click against the light, reddish-brown tiles.
Granny and Liza are seated on the wicker sofa, looking as elegant as always in their designer outfits. Henri sits in a matching armchair.
In front of them, the coffee table is loaded with teacups and an assortment of cut fruit and pastries, including my favorite—strawberry-and-cream filled croissants.
Which Granny only has on hand when she knows I’m coming over.
So, this definitely wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment request for me to join them.
Henri, being the gentleman that he is, stands. Or at least attempts to stand. It takes him a minute to get to his feet, his movements not as spry as they were twenty years ago. He’s wearing an expensive Italian-cut suit, the jacket a checkered camel fabric. He also has on a burgundy tie, dark-brown slacks, a fedora, and leather shoes that are worth a small fortune.
Henri has always had an eye for fashion.
I walk over to him, and he kisses me on both cheeks. “Looking gorgeous as always, Buttercup. I can’t believe you still haven’t found a beau yet. Those men are nothing but fools.”
I laugh because he says that every time.
“There’s nothing wrong with our Isabelle being particular,” Liza says. I lean down and kiss her powdery cheek. She pinches mine in return, with a teasing gleam in her eyes. “Although if she doesn’t hurry up and find herself a man, her eggs will be as old and wrinkly as mine.”
“Darling,” my grandmother says, “your eggs withered away decades ago. As did mine. But Isabelle has no need to worry about that. Thanks to modern technology, she can freeze her eggs now, so they are still youthful for when she’s ready to settle down with Mr. Perfect.”
I kiss her on the cheek and hug her. “I’m not interested in settling down with a man. I’m too busy with my career.”
Okay, that’s not entirely true. My career hasn’t exactly traveled in the direction I had envisioned it would when I obtained my political science degree.
Before attending college, I had planned to be a human rights lawyer and follow in my grandmother’s humanitarian footsteps. She was a popular film and stage actress in the sixties and seventies and then switched to focus on her philanthropic work.
She never went to law school. It was my father who pursued his law degree—corporate, not human rights. It was my father who strongly encouraged me to follow in his footsteps.
Except, being a lawyer wasn’t for me, I eventually realized.
A lifetime of legal talk sounded dull and uninspiring.
“That’s true,” Liza says. “It can’t be easy working for those five hot men.” She fans herself.
“Any luck yet convincing your boss to promote you to an operative?” Granny asks.
“Not yet. I know Liam wants to hire at least one female to join the team. Possibly two. But he’s been too busy to even consider candidates.”
Plus there’s the matter of him wanting experienced individuals, which I’m not. Or at least not experienced at the level he’s looking for.
“What you need to do is prove you’re fully capable of doing the job.”
“I know, but it’s not like I’ve had the opportunity to do that.” Other than some minor tasks, like interviewing persons of interest who were more likely to open up to a woman than a man.
But I want to do more than that. I want to be involved in the dangerous missions. Like when the government hires the team for operations that require outside assistance, beyond what the FBI and CIA can do.
The side of the company that the general public doesn’t know about.
As for the threesome’s original discussion about my love life—or rather, lack of one—I’m not looking to find my own happily ever after. My father cheated on my mother when I was a little kid. Mom never remarried after that. Dad did. Four more times. His marriages tend to last as long as a harvest moon. At most.
But I didn’t let this jade me against relationships. Not at first, anyway. I’ve had boyfriends over the years. But none—except for one—lasted long. Richard was a fellow political science major. The love of my life.
Until I found the love of my life going down on another woman. In our bedroom.
He’d never gone down on me, so my discovery was a double layer in the brick wall of disappointment.
I guess it was my fault for not kicking his sorry ass through the door sooner. Even before the situation with the other woman, I knew deep down that he wasn’t the right man for me.
For one, he hadn’t been a fan of the colored streaks in my hair (they were purple back then). And he preferred that I didn’t speak my mind when I accompanied him to the dinner parties his graduate school professors had thrown.
He even hinted more than once that I should also go to grad school and become a boring academic.
All right, he didn’t use the word boring.
That was all me.
A slight breeze blows a strand of hair into my face. I brush it behind my ear and bite into the yummy croissant. “So what was so urgent that I needed to rush over?”
Last time it was because she needed a fourth opinion on an outfit she was wearing to a gala for the opening of an art gallery. It was exhibiting photos by famous photographers—both alive and dead—that showcased the movie stars of the past—also both alive and dead.
“Urgent” means something entirely different to me than it does for Granny.
She exchanges a glance with Liza and Henri. They both rapidly nod their encouragement. “I’ve got the perfect opportunity for you to prove to your boss that you’ll be a great operative.”
“What opportunity?”
“An ex-boyfriend of mine needs your help.”
“Do I know him?” There have been a string of casual boyfriends since Grandpa’s death.
“No. Bernard Bradshaw and I used to be an item before I became famous. He was a director at the time, waiting for his big break. We dated for a few years, but then he had an offer to work in Europe.”
“Okay, but what kind of help are we talking about?”
Henri picks up his teacup. “The kind of help that you and that tall glass of hot stuff can give him, Buttercup.”
Granny grins. “He means Jayden. You and Jayden would be perfect for this mission. And Bernard agreed with me when I told him about you two.”
“Great, but what exactly does he need help with?”
“Bernard would rather talk to you face-to-face about it—because of the sensitive nature of what happened. But what I can tell you is that some information might’ve been stolen from at least one guest while they were staying at his resort. Bernard has several security guards employed there, but he wanted to hire someone from the outside, in case it was an inside job.”
“What resort?”
“Paradise Springs Resort.”
“It’s in Huntington Beach,” Liza chimes in.
Granny nods. “That’s right. You and Jayden would be staying there. You’ll love the place. The five-star resort is supposed to be incredible.” She’s positively beaming as she tells me this.
“Jayden and the rest of the team are away on a mission,” I inform her. “But I’ll call Bernard, and he and I can discuss what he needs from us.”
“He doesn’t want to talk about it on the phone. He has kind of grown paranoid in his old age. He wants to talk to the two of you in person about the case. He’s willing to fly you both down for the weekend. If not this weekend, then I’m sure he will be happy to wait until Jayden returns home.”
“Jayden’s pretty busy for the next while.” As the firm’s office manager and Jayden’s best friend, I am more than familiar with his schedule. “But I can easily fly down and meet with Bernard.”
She shakes her head. “That won’t do. If you two agree to help him, you will need to go undercover as guests at his resort.”
“Okay, I can do that. And I don’t need Jayden to join me for that.”
Henri chuckles. Liza giggles. “Buttercup, Paradise Springs Resort isn’t the kind of place a single woman goes to, hoping to find her soul mate. It’s a place where married couples go. Together.”
“That’s right. You and Jayden will go undercover as a happily married couple.” For some reason, Granny looks almost pleased by this.
But I can’t imagine why.
“Why Jayden? The other men I work with are just as good at their jobs as he is.” However, like Jayden, they’re also busy with other cases for a while.
“Yes, but from what you’ve told me, Jayden doesn’t want you to advance in your career at the firm. This would be the ideal way to demonstrate to him that you’re more than capable of doing the job. Just think about it. But I really do think you’ll agree that you don’t want to miss out on this golden opportunity to prove yourself to your boss.”
She has a point there.
“But what if Jayden doesn’t want to come with me?” Which is likely the case if he believes the mission is too dangerous—for me.
Liza giggles again, for a reason only she’s privy to.
Or maybe it’s just me who’s clueless about the cause. The other two appear to be in on the joke, their lips pressed together as though stifling laughter.
“I’m sure, Buttercup, you can persuade him,” Henri says with a wink.

AUTHOR BIO

Born in Brighton England, Stina Lindenblatt has lived in a number of countries, including England, the US, Finland, and Canada. This would explain her mixed up accent. She has a kinesiology degree and a MSc in sports biological sciences. In addition to writing fiction, she loves photography, especially the close-up variety, and currently lives in Calgary, Canada, with her husband and three kids.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website: https://stinalindenblattauthor.com
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Chapter Reveal – The Second We Met by Maya Hughes

CHAPTER REVEAL

Title: The Second We Met
Series: Fulton U #2
Author: Maya Hughes
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs
Photo: Wander Aguiar
Release Date: October 17, 2019

BLURB

Dear Jerk Across the Street, sorry for accidentally walking in on you and catching an eyeful of your—equipment. And hard pass on the open invitation to join you in the shower “anytime”, A-hole.

That’s the note I should’ve written. Instead I sent a pleasant and apologetic version.

Had I known Phoenix “Nix” Russo would’ve been the neighbor from hell, I’d have told him right where he could shove my words.

Nix is the big man on campus with everyone lined up at his games to make sure he knows it. Sure, he’s got piercing blue eyes, abs that don’t quit and a smile that could set fire to a set of panties from a hundred yards away, but he’s also the biggest pain in my ass.

Dear Pink-Haired Menace, learn how to take a joke and stop being such a kill-joy…

Elle Masterson called the cops on one of my parties—again. My sweet talking usually gets me out of trouble, but this time it got me into a nice pair of silver handcuffs. Now I’m on a reputation rehab tour with a stop at a spring break community service project.

Guess who’s my new boss?

Now we’re shoulder to shoulder, sweaty, tired and…she’s not anything like I expected. There might just be a heart under that hardass exterior. She’s invading my dreams and I can’t shake the feeling she’s the key to unlocking a piece of me that I’ve hidden away.

It’s only a matter of time until she finds out why I’m really here.

Maybe I can break through her walls and into her heart before that happens…one screw at a time.

45022943. sy475

Read CHAPTER ONE on Maya Hughes Blog:

https://www.mayahughes.com/blog/2019/10/10/twsmchapterreveal

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45022943-the-second-we-met

ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE FULTON U SERIES

#1 The Perfect First

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Free in Kindle Unlimited

 

AUTHOR BIO

Maya Hughes can often be found sneaking in another chapter while hiding in the bathroom from her kids! 🙂 I’m a romance writer who loves taking inspiration from everyday life, namely my husband and biggest fan. Inspiration also strikes when I hear a song, meet someone new or daydream while at soccer practice.

I’m the mom of three little ones, the wife to an amazing husband and also work full time. Some of my favorite things are cinnamon rolls, white wine, laughing until I can’t breathe and traveling with my family.

AUTHOR LINKS

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Chapter Reveal – Handle With Care by Helena Hunting

Handle With Care, an all-new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is coming August 27th, and we have a sneak peek!

12_13_Handle With Care (1)

HE WANTS TO LOSE CONTROL.

Between his parents’ messed up marriage and his narcissistic younger brother, Lincoln Moorehead has spent the majority of his life avoiding his family. After the death of his father, Lincoln finds himself in the middle of the drama. To top it all off, he’s been named CEO of Moorehead Media, much to his brother’s chagrin. But Lincoln’s bad attitude softens when he meets the no-nonsense, gorgeous woman who has been given the task of transforming him from the gruff, wilderness guy to a suave businessman

SHE’S TRYING TO HOLD IT TOGETHER.

Wren Sterling has been working double time to keep the indiscretions at Moorehead Media at bay, so when she’s presented with a new contract, with new responsibilities and additional incentives, she agrees. Working with the reclusive oldest son of a ridiculously entitled family is worth the hassle if it means she’s that much closer to pursuing her own dreams. What Wren doesn’t expect is to find herself attracted to him, or for it to be mutual. And she certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Lincoln. But when a shocking new Moorehead scandal comes to light, she’s forced to choose between her own family and the broody, cynical CEO.

Other Books in the Series:

Shacking Up →http://helenahunting.com/books/shacking-up/
Getting Down (novella)
http://helenahunting.com/books/getting-down/
Hooking Up →
http://helenahunting.com/hooking-up/
I Flipping Love You →
http://helenahunting.com/i-flipping-love-you/
Making Up (coming July 16th) →
 http://helenahunting.com/books/making-up/

HWC - PO.jpg

Pre-order your copy today!

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Excerpt from Chapter One

Chapter One

What Have I Gotten Myself into?

Wren

I slip onto the empty bar stool beside the lumberjack mountain man who looks like he tried to squeeze himself into a suit two sizes too small. He’s intimidatingly broad and thick, with long dark hair that’s been pulled up into a haphazard man bun thing. His beard is a hipster’s wet dream. His scowl, however, makes him about as approachable as a rabid porcupine. And yet, here I am, sidling up next to him.

He glances at me, eyes bleary and not really tracking. He quickly focuses on his half-empty glass again. Based on the slump of his shoulders and the uncoordinated way he picks up his glass and tips it toward his mouth, I’m guessing he’s pretty hammered. I order a sparkling water with a dash of cranberry juice and a lime.

What I could really use is a cup of lavender-mint tea and my bed, but instead, I’m sitting next to a drunk man in his thirties. My life is extra glamorous, obviously. And no, I’m not an escort, but at the moment I feel like my morals are on the same kind of slippery slope.

“Rough day?” I ask, nodding to the bottle that’s missing more than half its contents. It was full when he sat down at the bar an hour ago. Yes, I’ve been watching him the entire time, waiting for an opportunity to make my move. While he’s been sitting here, he’s turned down two women, one in a dress that could’ve doubled as a disco ball and the other in a top so low-cut, I could almost see her navel.

“You could say that,” he slurs. He props his cheek on his fist, eyes almost slits. I can still make out the vibrant blue hue despite them being nearly closed. They move over me, assessing. I’m wearing a conservative black dress with a high neckline and a hem that falls below my knees. Definitely not nearly as provocative as Disco Ball or Navel Lady.

“That solving your problems?” I give him a wry grin and tip my chin in the direction of his bottle of Johnnie.

His gaze swings slowly to the bottle. It gives me a chance to really look at him. Or what I can see of his face under his beard, anyway.

“Nah, but it helps quiet down all the noise up here.” He taps his temple and blurts, “My dad died.”

I put a hand on his forearm. It feels awkward, and creepy on my part since its half-genuine, half-contrived comfort. “I’m so sorry.”

He glances at my hand, which I quickly remove, and refocuses on his drink. “I should be sorry too, but I think he was mostly an asshole, so the world might be better off without him.” He attempts to fill his glass again, but his aim is off, and he pours it on the bar instead. I rush to lift my purse and grab a handful of napkins to mop up the mess.

“I’m drunk,” he mumbles.

“Well, I’m thinking that might’ve been the plan, considering the way you’re sucking that bottle back. I’m actually surprised you didn’t ask for a straw in the first place. Might be a good idea to throw a spacer [CD3] in there if you want tomorrow morning to suck less.” I push my drink toward him, hoping he doesn’t send me packing like he did the other women who approached him earlier.

He narrows his eyes at my glass, suspicious, maybe. “What is that?”

“Cranberry and soda.”

“No booze?”

“No booze. Go ahead. You’ll thank me in the morning.”

He picks up the glass and pauses when it’s an inch from his mouth. His eyes crinkle, telling me he’s smiling under that beard. “Does that mean Imma wake up with you beside me?”

I cock a brow. “Are you propositioning me?”

“Shit, sorry.” He chugs the contents of my glass. “I was joking. Besides, I’m so wasted, I can barely remember my name. Pretty sure I’d be useless in bed tonight. I should stop talkin’.” He scrubs a hand over his face and then motions to me. “I wouldn’t proposition you.”

I’m not sure how to respond. I go with semi-affronted, since it seems like somewhat of an insult. “Good to know.”

“Dammit. I mean, I think you might be hot. You look hot. I mean attractive. I think you’re pretty.” He tips his head to the side and blinks a few times. “You have nice eyes, all four of them are lovely.”

This time I laugh—for real—and point to the bottle. “I think you might want to tell your date you’re done for the night.”

He blows out a breath and nods. “You might be right.” He makes an attempt to stand, but as soon as his feet hit the floor, he stumbles into me and grabs my shoulders to steady himself. “Whoa. Sorry. Yup, I’m definitely drunk.” His face is inches from mine, breath smelling strongly of alcohol. Beyond that, I get a whiff of fresh soap and a hint of aftershave. He lets go of my shoulders and takes an unsteady step back. “I don’t usually do this.” He motions sloppily to the bottle. “Mostly I’m a three drink max guy.”

“I think losing your father makes this condonable.” I slide off my stool. Despite being tall for a woman, and wearing heels, he still manages to be close to a head taller than me.

“Yeah, maybe, but I still think I might regret it tomorrow.” He’s incredibly unsteady, swaying while standing in place. I take the opportunity for what it is and thread my arm through his, leading him away from the bar. “Come on, let’s get you to the elevator before you pass out right here.”

He nods, then wobbles a bit, like moving his head has set him off balance. “That’s probably a good idea.”

He leans into me as we weave through the bar and stumbles on the two stairs leading to the foyer. There’s no way I’ll be able to stop him if he goes down, but I drape one of his huge arms over my shoulder anyway, and slip my own around his waist, guiding him in a mostly straight line to the elevators.

“Which floor are you on?” I ask.

“Penthouse.” He drops his arm from my shoulder and flings it out, pointing to the black doors at the end of the hall. “Jesus, I feel like I’m on a boat.”

“It’s probably all the alcohol sloshing around in your brain.” I take his elbow again, helping him stagger the last twenty feet to the dedicated penthouse elevator.

He stares at the keypad for a few seconds, brow pulling into a furrow. “I can’t remember the code. It’s thumbprint activated though too.” He stumbles forward and presses his forehead against the wall, then tries to line up his thumb with the sensor, but his aim is horrendous and he keeps missing.

I settle a hand on his very firm forearm. This man is built like a tank. Or a superhero. For a moment, I reconsider what I’m about to do, but he seems pretty harmless and ridiculously hammered, so he shouldn’t pose a threat. I’m also trained in self-defense, which would fall under the by any means necessary umbrella. “Can I help?”

Read the rest of Chapter One: http://bit.ly/2ZBt0RL

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

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Excerpt/Teaser Share, New Releases, RomCom

Chapter Reveal: MAKING UP by Helena Hunting

Making Up, an all-new laugh-out-loud romantic comedy standalone from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is coming July 16th and we have a sneak peek!

Making Up_ebook.jpg

Cosy Felton is great at her job—she knows just how to handle the awkwardness that comes with working at an adult toy store. So when the hottest guy she’s ever seen walks into the shop looking completely overwhelmed, she’s more than happy to turn on the charm and help him purchase all of the items on his list.

Griffin Mills is using his business trip in Las Vegas as a chance to escape the broken pieces of his life in New York City. The last thing he wants is to be put in charge of buying gag gifts for his friend’s bachelor party. Despite being totally out of his element, and mortified by the whole experience, Griffin is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself attracted to the sales girl that helped him.

As skeptical as Cosy may be of Griffin’s motivations, there’s something about him that intrigues her. But sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas and when real life gets in the way, all bets are off. Filled with hilariously awkward situations and enough sexual chemistry to power Sin City, Making Up is the next standalone in the Shacking Up world.

Other Books in the Series:

Shacking Up →http://helenahunting.com/books/shacking-up/
Getting Down (novella) →
http://helenahunting.com/books/getting-down/
Hooking Up →
http://helenahunting.com/hooking-up/
I Flipping Love You →
http://helenahunting.com/i-flipping-love-you/
Handle With Care (coming August 27th)  →
 http://helenahunting.com/books/handle-with-care/

MU - PO.jpg

Pre-order your copy today!

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Excerpt from Chapter One

Sexy Suit

Cosy

Working in an adult toy store is the opposite of glamorous. Sure, I get a fifty-percent discount, which is a real perk, but it doesn’t offset some of the weirdness I have to deal with. Such as Eugene, one of the locals who frequents the shop on a regular basis. He came in this morning and handled all the display toys. He’s mostly harmless, but the silicone fondling is pretty high on the creepy factor. Eventually I told him I had to close up for a few minutes so I could grab lunch. The deli across the street has the best daily specials.

While I wait for my chicken shawarma, I make a mental list of all the things I need to do this afternoon: check the magazines to make sure the pages aren’t stuck together, restock the flavored lube, and wipe down everything Eugene molested with toy cleaner. Once I’ve tackled those less-than-fun chores, I can work on my assignment for my hospitality class, provided I don’t have real customers.

I glance out the window, checking to make sure Eugene isn’t loitering around in front of the store, waiting to be let back in. Sometimes he’ll stop by more than once during my shift. He’s not there—thank God—but there’s a black sports car parked in the lot. It looks nice and possibly expensive, which might mean an actual customer who will spend money.

Loki, the cashier at the deli, hands me my drinks and shawarma.

“Thanks! Have a great day!”

“You too,” Loki says to my chest.

As I leave the store, I see a man in a suit reading the sign I taped to the door. I don’t want to miss a potential customer, so I take a deep breath and mentally shift gears, putting on my best sales-person mask. I have to pretend to be a completely different person when I deal with customers, so I can get through what would otherwise be a fairly embarrassing event. Discussing the ins and outs of sex toys with strangers is not something I particularly enjoy, but it’s a paycheck, so I’ve learned to roll with it.

My root beer foams and drips down the straw while my coffee sloshes onto my hand—the lids never fit right—and my chicken shawarma dangles perilously between my pinkie and ring finger as I cross the street.

The suit doesn’t look creepy like Eugene, but then, suits can be deceiving. Half the time they think they can proposition me like a sex worker. Or they pretend the weird stuff they’re buying is a gift and not for them. Pfft. I know better.

Suit turns and heads for his car, so I call out, “Hey! You in the suit, hold on!”

His shoulders hunch, as if he’s trying to be smaller, which is physically impossible. Based on the size of him, he probably played college football. Or he has Marvel comic hero blood relatives. Either way, he’s a big dude.

He stops walking, though, which is good. I could use some sales today. The commission boost is always a plus to the shitty minimum wage. Rent is due next week, and judging by his car, he has money to burn.

My heels are skyscrapers, and everything I’m wearing is either too short or too tight to facilitate running—the Sex Toy Warehouse uniform is supposed to be sexy, aka revealing—so I awkwardly jog the rest of the way while trying to get the key to the shop out of my pocket and not drop my shawarma. The manager gave me my own set since I frequently open the store.

“Sorry to keep you waiting; plastic dicks don’t quite cut it for lunch.” Inwardly I cringe, because seriously, why did I say that?

“I would imagine they’re not all that satisfying,” he replies in a deep voice that would probably sound good whispering naughty things in my ear.

I’m not sure if he meant that suggestively or not. Regardless, I walked right into that one.

I finally look up. Dear sweet Jesus on a cloud of marshmallows, this is my lucky day. The suit is gorgeous. Like the kind of hotness that sucks the breath right out of your lungs and sends all the blood in your body rushing between your legs. It’s a good thing clits don’t react like penises, otherwise mine would be hanging out of the bottom of my shorts with excitement. I’m thankful my physical reaction is limited to damp underwear and tingles.

His dark hair is straight and cut short, parted at the side and neatly styled. He’s a cross between a mobster, and a fifties movie star. Capone and Ward Cleaver rolled together and dipped in lust. His nose is straight, lips are full, and he’s got a chin that looks like it could cut glass. His features are strong, but he somehow manages to be boyish even though everything about him screams pure, undiluted masculinity.

His tongue drags across his pillowy bottom lip and his throat bobs. I lift my gaze and meet his eyes. They’re a strange color. Not brown, not green, but some kind of honey-lemon color, ringed in emerald. Like a cat maybe.

Read the rest of Chapter One: http://bit.ly/2KO3Mf6

 

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

 

Connect with Helena

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Excerpt/Teaser Share, New Releases

Chapter Reveal – Satisfaction Guaranteed by Lauren Blakely

SATISFACTION GUARANTEED by Lauren Blakely
Release Date: June 10th

Add to Goodreads:
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(TWO winners will be chosen!!)
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Blurb:
Look, she started it.

She issued me a challenge I couldn’t back down from. Make her purr like no man has done before.

Fine, she’s my business partner’s daughter. All right, I’m also working in the same damn practice with her. Yes, she happens to be my ex-fling. But that was seven years ago, and it was barely a week-long thing.

Except, Sloane is still the one I can’t stop thinking of — brilliant, sexy, captivating Sloane. Maybe a week of taking her to new heights will get her out of my head.

So what if we spend a few nights on the town too? So what if I romance her across Manhattan? It’s all in the name of scientific pursuit of more magnificent Os.

Until the rules change…

Chapter Reveal:
“It’s been telling me that you and I are becoming friends,” I say, but my tone isn’t entirely friendly.

Her lips curve up. “Is that so? We’re friends?”

“Feels that way.” But it actually feels like we’re in Tahiti again. And tonight is its own separate night, apart from time and space and reason.

“It does feel that way,” she agrees softly. “Do you think we found that alternate universe you mentioned?”

I inch closer. “I’d like to spend a night in that alternate universe.”

She licks her lips. “Everything’s different there.”

“Nothing’s off-limits there.”

“Maybe that’s where we are.” The words come out a little husky, a lot sexy, and I know what’s changing.

The reminder of who she is, how we’re connected, isn’t keeping me away.

The barrier isn’t strong enough tonight.

No matter how much we talk.

No matter how hard we try to be friends or colleagues or business partners.

The wall can’t hold.

The kind of chemistry we have doesn’t disappear with the snap of your fingers or the flip of a switch.

Yes, I want this newfangled friendship. Yes, I want all our various business arrangements to go swimmingly. And tangoing with someone I work with in close quarters is all kinds of risky.

But hell, this woman and I, we have a lot of unfinished business.

And I want to finish it.

Tonight.

I set a hand on her leg, spreading my palm over the fabric covering her thigh. She trembles under my touch. “There’s something I’ve been wondering,” I say, my fingers playing with her dress.

Her voice is a feather. “What’s that?”

I don’t take my eyes off her. Traveling along her body, I wrap my hand around her hip, tightening my grip. The feel of her is intoxicating.

I’ve definitely had more than one drink. I’ve had a whole bottle.

And I want another.

I move my hand to her face, cupping her cheek, sliding my thumb over her lip. “I can’t stop wondering if you taste like champagne.”

Her eyes are etched with desire, blazing with heat. “Why don’t you find out?”

A voice says Do it.

It’s not a little voice. It’s not Truly’s voice.

It’s in my head, and it’s all mine.

And, honestly, it’s probably connected straight to my libido, since that voice has the tendency to override everything else in moments like this.

Like, for instance, good judgment.

Like warnings from business partners too.

I dip my face to hers, savoring every sliver of a second. Her glossy pink lips part the slightest bit, an invitation.

I take my time, because I want to experience every moment of kissing her again. I dust my thumb over the corner of her lips and seal my mouth to hers, capturing her kiss.

Seven long years unfurl. The moment on the street the other week was a mere snapshot. A five-second trailer to tease the audience, to leave them wanting more. This is the opening credits. The start of the whole story, unfolding on screen.

Her lips part, welcoming me. Roping her arms around my neck, she brings herself closer as I sweep my lips over hers.

Our mouths explore. Touching. Discovering. Tasting.

My brain goes hazy, and as I deepen the kiss, I’m nothing but sensations that overwhelm all else.

It’s sparklers waving, lighting up the darkened sky on a hot summer night.

It’s the exhilarating first dip of a sixty-mile-per-hour roller coaster.

It’s the first sip of a vintage Scotch. A taste that makes you moan. That makes your mouth water and crave so much more.

Kissing Sloane is everything good in the world. She tastes like champagne, and it goes to my head. Her hair smells like vanilla, and it floods my senses. I want to kiss her breathless. Yanking her closer, I grind against her, needing her to feel how much I want her. She groans as she clearly gets my message.

Then she sends her own message, wrapping her hands tighter around my neck. She’s fierce, kissing me harder, rougher.

It’s like past times and it’s like present times, because there’s a brand-new urgency between us.

My pulse spikes and my blood heats. It’s as if a clock is ticking. Hell, time’s speeding up, spinning faster.

I’m vaguely aware we’re in public.

But I don’t care because the woman I’ve wanted for years is rubbing against the outline of my cock. Her fingers dart to my hair, tugging. “Harder, more,” she pants.

Damn, those are two of my favorite words.

I give her a rough, demanding kiss, but soon she breaks it, taking a moment to breathe, to smooth her hair.

“So how are we doing as friends?” she asks, a naughty glint in her lovely brown eyes.

I need a second to recalibrate, since we just went from racing around the track to a leisurely drive.

“I’d say we’re great friends in our alternate universe.” I lower my face and kiss her neck, whispering, “If friends do this . . .”

 

About the Author:
A #1 New York Times Bestselling, #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling, and #1 Audible Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s sweet, sexy and witty. Her heroines are strong and smart and her heroes have hearts of gold and fantastic funny bones. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than 100 times, and she’s sold more than 3 million books.

In June she’ll release SATISFACTION GUARANTEED and in September INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

She’d love to give you a free book today! Check out her web site to grab your free read: laurenblakely.com/one-free-book/

Connect w/Lauren:
Website: http://www.laurenblakely.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenBlakelyBooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaurenBlakely3
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurenblakelybooks/
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Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6860216.Lauren_Blakely

Excerpt/Teaser Share, New Releases

Chapter Reveal – The Perfect First by Maya Hughes

Title: The Perfect First

Author: Maya Hughes

Genre: New Adult Romance

Cover Design: Najla Qamber, Qamber Designs

Release Date: April 25, 2019

 

Chapter Reveal Sneak Peek! And giveaway down below!

“Very nice to meet you, Reece. I’m Persephone Alexander. I have a few questions we can get started with, if you don’t mind.”

“The quicker we get started, the quicker we can finish.” He looked around like he would have rather been anywhere but there.

Those giddy bubbles soured in my stomach. A server came by with the bottled waters I’d ordered. I arranged them in a neat pyramid at the end of the table.

“Would you like a water?” I held one out to him.

He eyed me like I was offering him an illicit substance but then reached out. His fingers brushed against the backs of mine and shooting sparks of excitement rushed through me. Pulling the bottle out of my grasp, he cracked it open and took a gulp.

My cheeks heated and I glanced down at my cards, flipping the ones at the front to the back.

“I have a notecard with some information for you to fill out.”

Sliding it across the table, I held out a pen for him. He took it from me, careful that our fingers didn’t touch this time. I’d have been lying if I’d said I didn’t want another touch, just to test whether or not that first one had been something more than static electricity. He filled out the biographical data on the card and handed it back to me.

“Let’s get started.” Just rip the Band-Aid off. Clearing my throat, I tapped the cards on the table. A few heads turned in our direction at the sharp, rapping sound. “When were you last tested for STDs?”

Read the rest of the Chapter Reveal!

Author Bio

Maya Hughes can often be found sneaking in another chapter while hiding in the bathroom from her kids! 🙂 I’m a romance writer who loves taking inspiration from everyday life, namely my husband and biggest fan. Inspiration also strikes when I hear a song, meet someone new or daydream while at soccer practice.

I’m the mom of three little ones, the wife to an amazing husband and also work full time. Some of my favorite things are cinnamon rolls, white wine, laughing until I can’t breathe and traveling with my family.

 

Author Links

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Excerpt/Teaser Share, New Releases

Chapter Reveal – Cain by Alexis Noelle

CHAPTER REVEAL
Title: Cain
Series: Deathstalkers 2nd Generation #1
Author: Alexis Noelle
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: May 6, 2019

BLURB

When I found her that night I had no idea what I was getting into.
She’d been hurt, destroyed.
I couldn’t walk away from her.
Little did I know that helping her would change my entire life.
Now she’s in danger, someone is after her and I need to protect her.
The only problem is that once I make her mine who will protect her from me?

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44000817-cain

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Prologue
Emma
Three Months ago

“Bad dreams bad dreams go away, good dreams good dreams come to stay. Close your eyes my little one, tomorrow will be lots of fun.” Amy giggles as I lean down to give her a hug and a kiss. “Love you princess girl.”
“I love you momma.” She smiles up at me and it makes all of the stressful moments worth it.
I quietly shut her door and walk out into the living room. Looking at the couch I think about grabbing a glass of wine and enjoying some time to myself.
Who are you kidding? You’ll be asleep after the second sip.
I decide against the wine, grab a bottle of water and head to my room. Sometimes I want to go get Amy and just pull her into my bed with me. I hate the loneliness that comes at night. Most nights I sleep with the TV on just so I’m not jumping at every noise I hear when the apartment is quiet. I turn on the TV and a movie I’ve seen a dozen times before is on, knowing I’ll be passed out soon I don’t even bother changing it.
Laying down my hand trails over the large empty space next to me. I’ve been so closed off since Amy’s dad screwed us over. I never wanted to put myself in that position again. Giving someone the power to hurt me was not going to happen. I still wonder how it would feel to have someone in our lives, a role model for Amy to see how a man should treat a woman. I’m thankful that she was young enough when everything happened with her dad that she probably doesn’t remember any of it.
We haven’t heard from him in two years since he came clean about his affair and walked out on us. I had been a stay at home mom, and had to scramble just to find a job to support us. I was just digging myself out of debt now because for two months we lived off of the credit cards I had. Some days I felt like I was drowning and others I thought I had my shit together. I wasn’t close with my family so I had no one to lean on but myself.
When your back is against the wall you really find out what you’re made of. I was able to see that I was so much stronger than I ever thought I was. I started out working at one of the local daycare centers and the director took me under her wing. I was now running the four-year-old classroom and also had just been giving the responsibilities of assistant director. I catch myself falling asleep even though I’m trying to stay awake and enjoy the little bit of alone time I have.
The bed dips beside me and I jolt from the movement. Amy must have had another bad dream. “Climb under the covers and close your eyes princess.”
When there is no response I open my eyes seeing a man hovering over me with one of my kitchen knives in his hand. I open my mouth to scream but he covers it. “You scream and your little princess might wake up. I’d hate to have to hurt her because her mother made a stupid choice. Understand?”
I nod and he takes his hand off of my mouth.
“You are so goddamn beautiful.” He uses the knife to pull the sheets down the tip dragging over my body. “I have been dreaming about this.” His fingers roughly pinch my nipple and I yelp. “Ah, ah, ah. Remember what I said about being loud Emma.”
He knows my name. Who is he? The ski mask on his face shows me nothing except for the small holes cut out for his eyes and mouth.
The knife slides under my shirt and he jerks it up quickly slicing through the thin fabric. Tears start to fall from my eyes but I make sure to stay quiet. He does the same thing with my pants and panties cutting them off until I am lying bare underneath him.
“Don’t cry, you’re ruining it for me. You don’t want me to be unsatisfied after this and go looking for more right?” His eyes move to the door. He wouldn’t, but even as I think that I know he would. “You will moan, tell me how good I feel, and how much you like this dick. Understand?” I nod, but I have no idea how I am going to get through this. His hands move down my body as he forces his fingers inside of me I bite down on my lip to keep from crying out. He pulls out of me and raises his finger to his mouth. “You are too sweet to just have once. I am going to enjoy you tonight and then I’ll be back once a month on this date. You make sure that you’re home or I’ll be back and I won’t be happy. If you think I’m a monster now, you don’t want to see what I’ll be like then. Understand?”
My stomach rolls and I have to fight the urge to throw up. He plans to come back.
“If you go to the cops, or you tell anyone. I will pay a visit to your little princess and you don’t want to know how that will end. Maybe I’ll even pick her up from Wee Care.”
My eyes widen he knows where I work, where Amy goes to school.
“Do you understand me Emma?”
I nod and silent tears fall down my face as he lowers his mouth to me.

Chapter One
Cain

“I get where you’re coming from, just make sure we cover our ass through all this shit.” I look over at Logan as he nods his head.
Growing up in the club everyone knew we would end up officers someday. For Logan everyone assumed it would be his older brother Carter, but when the time came for their dad to step down Carter didn’t want it. Logan jumped at the chance and named me his Sergeant At Arms. Our dad’s still try to give us shit like we’re kids but we have the club running like a well oiled fucking machine.
“I’m going to head home, the early run this morning fucking killed me. See you tomorrow brother.” I walk out of the office and through the main room. There is a party tonight, but hell there is a party every night here.
“Hey, Cain.” Trixie says as her hand grasps my wrist. “How about we head up to your room?”
“Not tonight. Go find someone else.” I pull my wrist from her and keep walking toward the door. She’s a good time when I’m bored but lately she’s been to fucking clingy. All the officer’s have rooms upstairs away from the brothers rooms, but I also have an apartment. Sometimes it’s nice to just to get out of here for a little. Plus the more I hang around the more the club girls are going to swarm. They all have this diluted fucking idea that one of us will fall in love with them and make them an old lady.
Fuck. That. Shit.
Not only do I not want an old lady but when I get one, she sure as fuck wouldn’t have ridden every other dick in the club.
I hop onto my bike and give the prospect a nod as I pull out of the compound. My apartment building is only about ten minutes away, close enough in case I need to get to the club in a hurry, far enough that I can get away when I want to. Walking into the building I check my mailbox but it’s empty as usual. I take the elevator up to my floor when I step out something catches my eye. A guy in a black hoodie is closing the door to the apartment near the stairs. His hood is pulled up and it seems like something might be covering his face.
I know the woman in that apartment. Quiet, pretty, always smiling and she has a little girl who is always bopping around with some doll in her arms.
I should go to my apartment and mind my own goddamn business. For some reason I can’t get my feet to turn around. I start walking toward the door and when I go to knock the door opens a little. Before I can even say anything I hear the muffled sound of crying.
Fuck.
“Hey, just checking to make sure—“my voice catches in my throat when I see her.
The happy woman who always greets me with a smile is on the floor huddled against the couch completely naked. Her knees are drawn up to her chest, her face is tear stained and red like she’s been hit. Even from fifteen feet away I can see her entire body shaking.
I close the door and grab a blanket off of the couch, placing it over her I kneel down in front of her. “Are you okay? I’m going to call 911.”
“No!” she screams and her face twists in fear.
“What do you mean no? Whoever the asshole is that did something to you needs to fucking pay.” I reach into my pocket for my phone but her hand grabs me tight.
“You can’t. I can’t” She is crying so hard each word seems forced. “He’ll…”
“Mommy?” a tiny voice fills the large room and I see her daughter standing there. She’s rubbing her eyes and gripping a raggedy looking teddy bear.
I look at the terrified woman in front of me. I can’t let her daughter see her like this. “Well hey there beautiful. What are you doing up?”
“I thought I heard something. Is mommy okay?” She starts to walk toward us but I stand up and move to where she is before she can get far.
“She’s okay, she just stubbed her toe really hard and yelled when it happened. Thinking that’s what you heard.” The little girl looks from me to where her mom is in front of the couch. “Hey, how about we get you a drink of water and you can show me your room?”
A huge smile breaks out across her face. “I’m Amelia, my friends call me Amy.”
I grab a bottle of water off the case that is on the table. “Well, my name is Cain. Can I call you Amy?”
She arches an eyebrow at me like she’s considering my request. “I haven’t decided yet.” Amy laughs before running down the hallway.
I follow her knowing I need her to get back to bed and stay away from her mom right now. Walking into the bedroom it looks like every little girls dream room. There are unicorn, rainbows, and princesses everywhere. “Well this has to be one of the coolest bedrooms ever.”
Amy laugh as she climbs into bed. “Goodnight Cain.”
“Goodnight Miss Amelia.” I close her door and walk out into the living room.
Walking over to the couch I look down at her. “Your little girl is back in bed and I doubt she had any idea anything was wrong. If you expect me not to call the cops you need to start talking. Let’s start with your name, if you didn’t catch mine it’s Cain.” I notice her clothes on the floor and pick them up to hand them to her, except their cut in half.
Fuck.
I walk back into the hallway and go into the room on the other end. Heading over to the dresser I grab the first pair of pants and t-shirt I can find. When I walk back out she’s managed to wrap the blanket around her body and she is standing up.
“Grabbed these for you.” I hand them to her and turn my back. To give her some privacy.
“Thank you.” I turn around and she is sitting on the couch. Her gaze is fixed on nothing and the color is drained from her face. I walk over and sit in front of her. “My name is Emma.”
She looks me in the eye and I can’t look away. Her eyes are a deep green and even though they look so fucking sad, they’re beautiful. I wait for her to say something but she has her eyes are trained on the tiny hands wringing in her lap. “I know you don’t know me for shit, but I need to know what happened. Especially if you’re saying to me that you aren’t going to the cops. I could help you more than you know.” Like castrating that asshole and making sure he never breathes again.
“I…I can’t tell anyone.” Her eyes don’t meet mine but I follow her gaze to the hallway where Amy’s room is.
“He threaten you?” She doesn’t answer. I dip my head down so my eyes catch hers. “Tell me.”
She nods as a few tears fall down her cheek.
She’s in no place that I’m going to get anything out of her right now. “Tell you what. Go to bed and we can talk this shit over in the morning. I’m gonna stay here on the couch.”
Her breath catches like my offer surprises her. “No, it’s okay. We’ll be fine. He never comes back.”
My head snaps up at that sentence. “What does that mean? This shit’s happened before?” No answer. “Emma, that’s the only question you need to answer tonight from me. After that go lay down and get some much needed rest but I need that answer.”
“Twice before.” He voice is so quiet I almost don’t catch the response.
What the fuck? He’s done this to her three times?
“I know what you must think of me, but you don’t understand.” Tears fall freely each one making small drops on her gray pants.
I take her hands and at first she jumps before looking up at me. “I think that you have an amazing kid back there. I think that whenever I see you, you’re always smiling. I think that whoever is doing this will regret the very day they were born when I’m done.”
“You can’t do anything. No one can.” She stands up and walks toward the hallway. I want to go after her. I want to tell her that somehow I am going to make this shit right. I let her go though, she needs to rest and I need time to figure out what my next move is.
I text Dom asking him to pull camera feeds from anywhere he can find, and let him know what he’s looking for. Anytime the club needs something tech wise we go to him. Best part is that he isn’t the kind to ask questions.
My hands scrub over my face.
Dom: What is her last name?
Me: Don’t know it
Dom: How do you know her?
Me: She lives in the building.
Dom: Watch where you choose to stick your nose brother.
Me: Yep.
I know he’s right. With all the shit the club gets into we don’t need any added attention. There is no way in hell I can just walk away from this situation though.
I need to help her.
To make sure that she’s safe.
And I don’t even know that I really understand why.

Chapter Two
Emma

The sound of Amy yelling jolts me from my sleep. Throwing the covers off of me I run out into the living room to find her hitting Cain with a pillow. I’m about to tell her to stop when he shoots up yelling “boo” and scaring her. Amy starts to laugh and then runs over to me hiding behind my legs.
Cain’s eyes meet mine and I freeze. I know he said last night that he was staying, but I didn’t think he actually would. I have seen him a handful of times in the building but we have never spoken more than a ‘hi’ to each other. His eyes seem to scan my body like he’s making sure everything is intact.
“Mornin’” he says as he stands up. The hat he had on last night is laying on the couch, his buzz cut is a little bit long and his beard is a bit disheveled. I can’t help but stare as he seems to be stretching after being scrunched up on my tiny couch all night. His blue eyes meet mine and its almost like I can’t move under his gaze. “Hey Amelia, how about some breakfast?”
“Yes! I’m so hungry I could eat a cow!” Amy runs over to him jumping up and down in excitement.
“Well I don’t have a cow, but how about a pig? I have bacon and eggs. You can even help.” He winks at her and starts walking toward the kitchen with Amy hot on his heels.
“I actually don’t think I have any of that.” I usually grocery shopped on weekends so come Friday we are down to the bare bones.
“You didn’t.” Cain looks back at me and smiles. “I had it taken care of.”
What is that even supposed to mean? “Oh I didn’t realize you went out this morning already.”
He pulls a kitchen chair up to the table for Emma then walks over closer to me. “I didn’t. I told you last night I wasn’t leaving and I meant it. I had it taken care of. No big deal.” His hand rubs my arm and my skin immediately heats under his touch. “Now I’m going to make breakfast with Amelia, then after that we are going to talk about everything. Relax until then.”
He walks away from me and whispers something in Amy’s ear that makes her laugh. The two of them start cracking the eggs and getting pans out of the cabinet. Walking over to the counter I grab a cup of coffee and then sit at the table, just watching.
Cain interacts with Emma like he’s known her for her whole life. Looking at him I would have never assumed he would be like this. He looks so intimidating and serious. I watch them make breakfast enjoying a site I never expected I’d see, at least not any time soon. When Amy walks over with the plate for me she has such a proud smile on her face. “This looks amazing princess, thank you.”
She wiggles a finger at me and I bend my head down to her. “Cain did most of it, but he said I could take credit.”
I look over at him mouthing the words ‘thank you’. He smiles back at me and I swear it hits me right in my chest. We eat breakfast with easy conversation and lots of laughs. I look over at the man sitting across from me who as of last night was a total stranger to me. For some reason he’s taken an interest in us. He slept on my couch last night knowing I was scared. He helped me with Amy knowing I was in no place to last night. I’m trying not to be suspicious, and skeptical but I can’t help wonder what his motives are. Why would he want to help us the way he is?
“Mommy, I’m done. Can I go play?” Amy looks over at me and I nod my head. “Cain, do you want to play? I have lots of extra princess dresses and crowns.”
Cain chokes on the bite of food he had been chewing. “I need to talk to your mom for a little but maybe after that.”
“Okay!” she runs off toward the hallway.
I look across the table at Cain not ready to have the conversation that he wants from me. Do I owe him an explanation? He has put in so much effort, making me feel safer last night, the way he’s been with Amy “Thank you for everything.”
“It’s no problem.” He grabs our dishes off the table and puts them in the sink. I move to the couch and start fidgeting with one of the throw pillows. The couch dips when Cain sits down next to me. I glance up at him and meet his eyes that feel like they can see right through me. “I know you don’t know me but you can trust me and I can help you.”
“You can’t.” I want to believe he can, that anyone could. The things this asshole has done are straight out of my nightmares.
“I need you to just trust me.” His voice sounds so sincere.
This secret has been killing me. I’ve wanted to let someone in, confide in someone for so long. Am I really willing to confide in a stranger though? I look up at him and when our eyes meet I feel pulled to him. Like there are magnets drawing us together. “Last night was the third time. He comes on the same day every month. The first time he told me that he would be back every month, he warned me that I needed to make sure I was home.” My hands fist the pillow as the memories start to come back. “He said if I told anyone, went to the cops, or I wasn’t home that he would come after Amy. He mentioned the name of the school she goes to, and that I work at. Even after the first time I was contemplating going to the cops but the first week after I got notes from him every day. Some mentioned certain clothing I was wearing, or a place I had gone that day. He made it clear he was watching and I—“ a sob wracks my chest and I can’t finish the sentence.
His hands take my arms and pull me against him. I let myself sink against his chest needing the comfort he’s providing. After keeping everything in for so long it’s like I’ve opened up the floodgates. I let myself cry as Cain just holds me silently. His arms around me almost feel like a shield, like nothing can touch me when I’m there.
I don’t know how long passes but once my crying has slowed down I feel his arms tighten around me. I sit up some breaking his hold and noticing that his t-shirt is now completely soaked where my face was. “I’m sorry…” my voice trails off realizing how little I know him and how vulnerable I just let myself be.
“Don’t be. I couldn’t care less about my shirt.” His thumb swipes a stray tear from my cheek. “I am going to help you. This asshole will never lay a hand on you again.”
I shake my head. “I told you, you can’t. I won’t put Amy at risk. I’d rather deal with that monster every day then chance him coming near her.”
His fingers grip my chin to bring my gaze to his. “He won’t touch her, or you ever again. I will make sure of that. I know shit seems impossible but as long as you trust me you’ll see. This shit ends now.”
I take a deep breath trying to take in everything he is saying to me. “Why?”
A look of confusion crosses his face, “why what?”
“Why are you doing this? Why do you care?” I just can’t wrap my head around him being here.
“If I’m honest, I’m not completely sure why.” He takes my hand, “when I walked in here last night I would have done anything to fix what happened, to take away the pain that I saw inside of you. “
I just look at him not really knowing how to react to what he said or the fact that he is trying to be my knight in shining armor.
He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. “I will be here every night, me or one of my brothers will also be with you wherever you go. You will not be alone.”
“Brothers? How many do you have? I don’t want a lot of people knowing about this.”
He laughs, “not those kind of brothers. I guess I should back up a minute and really introduce myself.”
I look at him so confused as to what he could be talking about.
“My name in Cain Marshall and I’m the current Sargent At Arms for the Deathstalkers MC.
Holy crap.

AUTHOR BIO

I love reading romance books! I feel like being able to lose yourself in a book in one of the more exciting aspects. The books I love to read and write will be ones that make you feel for the characters. You should have an opinion on every character in a book. Whether you love them, hate them, or think they are up to something.

I live in Levittown Pennsylvania, with my two kids, and two dogs. On top of starting a writing career I am a full time teacher, and a full time mom. I love spending time with my kids, although I have to hide the computer from them when I am writing! I love being active and being able to do any activity outdoors.

I have always thought as an author the most important critic is your reader, so I would love to hear from you. If you read the book and loved it or hated it, tell me. As long as it is in a constructive way I will always answer and interact with you. I want fans to feel free to tell me what they want for the characters in the story and what they want to see happen.

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Chapter Reveal – Ruthless King by Maya Hughes


Title: Ruthless King

Author: Maya Hughes

Genre: New Adult Romance

Cover Design: Najla Qamber, Qamber Designs

Release Date: January 10, 2019

 

BLURB

 

My dick never got me in half as much trouble as my heart…

 

We were high school sweethearts. I was head over heels for her and no one could tell me we weren’t going to last forever. College? Going pro? My family’s money? None of it mattered. She was all I needed.

 

Then she ripped my heart out. But I’m not going to let that happen again.

 

She’s back. Invading my life and acting like she was the wronged one. The pain is still there, but I can’t keep my eyes off her. I can’t stop thinking about her and how much was left unsaid between us. Being this close is making me question everything I thought I knew about her.

 

This time everything will be on my terms. Everything…

 

ADD TO GOODREADS

 

Author Bio

Maya Hughes can often be found sneaking in another chapter while hiding in the bathroom from her kids! 🙂 I’m a romance writer who loves taking inspiration from everyday life, namely my husband and biggest fan. Inspiration also strikes when I hear a song, meet someone new or daydream while at soccer practice.

I’m the mom of three little ones, the wife to an amazing husband and also work full time. Some of my favorite things are cinnamon rolls, white wine, laughing until I can’t breathe and traveling with my family.

READ AN EXCLUSIVE CHAPTER TODAY!

 

Author Links

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Chapter Reveal – Long Shot

🏀 LONG SHOT releases so soon! Next Thursday, March 22!🏀

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New Releases

Inked Memories-Chapter Reveal

We’re less than a week away from the release of INKED MEMORIES – but you don’t have to wait to read the first chapter! Check it out and preorder your copy below. You don’t want to miss meeting the dirtiest Montgomery yet.

INKED MEMORIES releases October 31 st – preorder your copy now:
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ABOUT INKED MEMORIES
The Montgomery Ink series by NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan continues when the final Denver Montgomery sibling refuses to fall for his brother’s former flame—the company’s new plumber.

Wes Montgomery watched his entire family fall in love, and now finds himself ready to settle down. Except the one person he seems to find chemistry with is not only his twin’s ex, she also works for Montgomery Inc. But when the two find themselves in
one compromising situation after another, Wes realizes he’s having second thoughts about the dynamic woman who’s burst her way into his life. Sure she sets off his temper, but she also makes him hot in every other way possible.

Jillian Reid never loved her best friend like everyone thought she should, so she pushed him away so he could have his future. Now, despite fighting it, she finds herself attracted to the one man she shouldn’t. When her father’s health takes a turn
for the worse, and a danger no one saw coming show its face, she’s forced to turn to Wes for help. The two of them have fought off their attraction long enough, and each cave to the desire. But this enemies-to- lovers tale might have an ending no one ever
dreamed of.

Read the first chapter of INKED MEMORIES:

Wes Montgomery was ready for a cold beer and a willing woman. Okay, maybe just the cold beer since he didn’t exactly have a woman to go home to like the other men in his family and inner circle. But he had damn good beer at home.

He rubbed the back of his neck and squinted down at his agenda for the rest of the afternoon. He probably should have written it down in a notebook to carry with him down to the jobsite, but he lived and breathed through his tablet. It connected to his phone, laptop, and computer and was constantly backed up in two places. Why would he risk his very detailed organization with something that could blow away on a windy day when they were in the middle of tearing down walls and putting in plumbing?

As soon as he thought about the wind, a hard breeze slid across his skin, and he looked up at the nearly clear-blue sky. Since they were in Denver, the weather could shift at any moment, but for now, there were only a few white and fluffy clouds in the sky, and most of them surrounded the tall and jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains. He couldn’t help but smile at the grand scenery that not only reminded him how small some of his worries were in the grand scheme of things but also told him what direction west was at all times. Seriously, he had no idea how people outside the area ever knew where to drive without a GPS if they didn’t have the long line of mountains and foothills telling them where to go.

“So, you’re daydreaming in the middle of the day now? Did you put that in your planner?”

Wes lowered his head and flipped off his twin as Storm strolled in. He narrowed his eyes though once he saw that the other man was in work boots and his usual threadbare flannel shirt—as if Storm were planning to work onsite today. Considering that he’d just recovered from a near fatal accident, Wes hoped that wasn’t the case.

He didn’t want to have to beat his brother’s ass for stupidity.

The two of them weren’t identical, but of the eight Montgomery kids in their immediate family, they looked the most alike, at least according to everyone else. They each had the same shade of chestnut brown hair that the rest of the family had, along with their bright blue eyes. But what made them look the most alike was probably their square jawlines and smiles—though Storm hadn’t smiled much before he finally gave in and fell in love.

The two of them were Montgomerys through and through, though. Most of the guys had big beards—though Wes tended to shave his when meeting with clients these days— and all of them had ink. Even his sisters had tons of ink, with Maya having more than almost anyone in the family. But considering she and their eldest brother Austin owned a tattoo shop called Montgomery Ink, that only made sense.

And while Wes and Storm had the ink and even some of the piercings his family tended to lean toward, they didn’t work in the family tattoo shop. Instead, they owned and operated Montgomery Inc., a construction company that their parents had started before handing the reins over. Wes ran the books and was pretty much the lead in charge at all times. Storm was their architect and a god at figuring out how to make things work in a renovation or a new build.

Over time, others had come into the company that their parents had created and slaved over. Now that he was in charge, the weight of that responsibility was never lost on Wes.

“What the hell are you doing onsite in what looks to be your gear?” Wes demanded once Storm came closer. He didn’t want to yell too loudly in case any of their workers were around. Never good to act like a toddler instead of the boss, as his mother would say. And his father for that matter. “You’re supposed to be in bed while Everly and the boys comfort you.”

Storm raised a brow. “We’re in my fiancée’s bookstore, dumbass, of course I’m going to be here.”

“And he’s not going to lift a thing,” Everly said as she made her way to them. Storm’s woman mock glared before coming to stand beside them. Her long, ash-blond hair was up in a loose bun on the top of her head with tendrils spiraling down. He knew she’d probably thrown it up like that during her busy morning of dealing with twin toddlers, a puppy, and a grumpy Storm, yet Wes couldn’t help but think that Storm was one lucky man.

Not that Wes wanted Everly in that way, but having someone, anyone to come home to might be a nice thing once in a while. Jesus, he was starting to sound morose.

“I’m not going to lift anything,” Storm repeated. “I promise. I’m just here to oversee and answer questions. These are just my comfy clothes for any work.” He slowly wrapped an arm around Everly’s shoulders, and she leaned into him, though Wes noted she was careful not to put any weight on him. Storm had hurt his back pretty severely and was lucky to even be walking right then, but he was allowed and encouraged to get exercise and stretch out.

“We’ll find you a chair and a station to set up, then,” Wes said. “We’re not taking any unnecessary chances.”

Storm sighed, but the corner of his mouth lifted up into a smile. “No worries. I’m not about to start dancing a jig or lift even a single box. I promised the boys I’d watch them play in the pool that we set up in the backyard this afternoon, and I’m not about to break that vow.”

Everly’s boys were from her previous marriage, but Storm had been in their lives from day one since he’d been friends with Everly and her late husband. Now, Storm was in the process of adopting the twins and marrying Everly.

Wes couldn’t believe how quickly things had changed, but hell, in the past few years, everything had changed so much he could barely keep up.

His eldest brother, Austin, had married the girl next door, Sierra, and they now had two children—though the eldest was from a previous relationship. Leif was a teenager now, God help them all. Wes’s youngest sister, Miranda, was married to their friend Decker, who also happened to work with Storm and Wes at Montgomery Inc. and Decker and Miranda also had a child. How his younger sister had grown up so quickly, he didn’t know. One minute, he was putting a princess bandage on her knee; and the next, she was holding her own child in her arms. Meghan, the oldest of the Montgomery girls though still younger than Wes, had married her best friend, Luc, and they were raising their three  kids. The two of them even worked with Wes every day with Meghan operating the landscaping arm of the company and Luc as their lead electrician.

Their company was a family business through and through, and it seemed it kept growing with each passing month—just like the family itself.

His younger brother, Griffin, had married his personal assistant, though Wes wasn’t sure she filled that role any longer and he didn’t intend to ask. Autumn always blushed like crazy whenever Wes mentioned it, and he really didn’t want to know what she and his brother did together once the office door was shut.

Maya, the middle Montgomery girl, had not only married her best friend but his ex- boyfriend, as well. Legally, she was only married to one of them, but to everyone close to the family, they knew the truth. Maya, Jake, and Border had had a baby the same time as Meghan and Miranda had theirs, and the three sisters were now raising their kids together. So, like Wes and his siblings, they’d have a huge family to grow up with even though they were cousins and not brothers or sisters. Though for all Wes knew, everyone was gearing up for the next additions to their broods. For a while there, everywhere he turned, someone was turning up pregnant. Thankfully—since he wasn’t in a serious relationship and hadn’t been since he and Sophia broke up—it wasn’t him.

And, finally, there was Alex. Wes rubbed his chest just thinking about his youngest brother. Alex had been through hell and back, and Wes was only now learning the details. But in the end, Alex had come out stronger and was in love with Wes’s admin, Tabby. For a while there, most of the family thought that Wes and Tabby would end up together, but Wes couldn’t help but cringe at that thought. She was like one of his little sisters, nothing more, and he knew Tabby felt the same way about him. Just because the two of them shared a love of planners and organization didn’t mean they were meant for each other. Clearly, she’d been made for his brother. Not him.

And that left him all by himself these days. Alone. Womanless. And if that wasn’t a depressing thought, he didn’t know what was. “You’re daydreaming again,” Storm said softly. “You okay, Wes? You seem off today.” Wes shook himself out of his thoughts and gave his brother a grin that he actually felt. He might not have a woman in his life, but he wasn’t unhappy. He had a job he loved, and a family that cared for him. And for once, everyone seemed healthy. That was saying something, considering they had been in hospital waiting areas far more than any family should, especially recently. They should just name the damn emergency room the Montgomery Wing at this point.

“I’m fine. Just thinking about how big the Montgomerys have gotten.” That was the truth, or at least part of it, so he went with it.

“We’re doubling each month it seems.” Storm wrapped his arm around Everly’s shoulder. “But I don’t mind.”

Everly rolled her eyes. “Considering the boys and I took over your house? I would hope not.”

“Well, Randy had already tried taking over, and I think the twins are helping their puppy along with that.”

Wes just looked between the couple and shook his head as they bantered. The two of them had been good friends before Everly’s husband passed away. Then, for some reason, they’d pushed each other away though they’d stayed in touch for the boys’ sake.

Now, they were engaged and ready to build their new family as well as rebuild Everly’s bookshop.

Wes wanted that, damn it. He’d come close once, and it had gone to shit for many reasons, one being that he’d known Sophia wasn’t the one for him. Now, he didn’t have any prospects.

He ignored the needling thought in his mind telling him that there was a person he was beyond attracted to, but he’d be damned if he gave in to that particular urge.

And as if the gods themselves had called the siren with her own song, she walked into the building.

Jillian Reid. Storm’s ex friends-with-benefits, and Montgomery Inc.’s current lead plumber.

She strolled in wearing her normal cargo pants and a cotton shirt bearing the Montgomery Inc. logo—the MI iris that was a circle enclosing the letters with a flower on the side. Each of the adult Montgomerys—including those that had married in—had one tattooed on them. It was a rite of passage for their family, and he knew Everly was getting hers soon.

His thoughts went back to the woman walking toward them as Jillian set down her tool kit and stretched her back. The action pressed her breasts right up to the thin cotton of her shirt. He swallowed hard and pulled his gaze up to the blue of her eyes. She worked for him, damn it. He needed to get his act together and not be a freaking lecher.

Of course, it helped to remember that the two of them actively hated each other.

Regardless of how hard he got whenever she was near, he always, always fought with her. And he had no idea why they’d started out fighting, only that they kept irritating the hell out of each other.

“Hey, boss,” Jillian said with a sigh. She glanced at Wes and raised a brow. “Make that bosses. I checked out the bathroom on the first floor, and it’s going to have to be completely gutted. There’s no way I can save the pipes or anything there.” She gave Everly a small smile. “I’m sorry, hon. I know that sucks, but insurance will cover it for sure. The thing is, with these old buildings in downtown Denver, you’d have had to get them replaced sooner or later anyway.”

Everly shrugged before pulling away from Storm to give Jillian a one-armed hug. It would have boggled Wes’s mind that the two women could become so close in such a short amount of time, but Everly was a sweet and open woman who cared about those close to her with a fierce intensity.

“Thanks for looking,” Everly said with a smile. “And I’d hug you more, but since you just came from digging around toilets…”

Jillian batted her eyelashes. “That’s me. Toilets and clogs. It’s no wonder the men are chasing after me.”

Storm snorted and gently tugged Everly back to his side. “Sounds about right. If they only knew what covered your boots right now.”

Wes narrowed his eyes and looked down at the work boots she wore. “What is on your boots that you’re tracking through my jobsite?” He held back a wince at the harshness of his tone. He never meant to sound like an ass, but Jillian brought out the worst in him.

Storm sighed under his breath, and Everly muttered something he didn’t quite catch. Jillian, however, just raised that brow of hers and snorted.

“Don’t worry, Wesley, I wore booties when I was in there. I wouldn’t demean myself by daring to dirty your precious floors.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Storm pull Everly away toward the back of the building. His twin was probably getting sick and tired of being the middle of Jillian’s and Wes’s tiffs. Frankly, Wes was tired of it too, but there was just something about her that got under his skin and made him lash out like a man half his age.

“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”

“Whatever.” She brushed him off. “I’m just doing my job. Something you pay me to do, right? I need to head over to the Anderson house, by the way, to do the final check on my end of things so you can sign off. Is there anything you need me here for today?” She sounded so professional, but beneath the words, he heard the annoyance in her tone.

“There’s some plumbing I’d like her to check, if you know what I mean,” one of the guys working on the demo muttered under his breath as he walked by.

Jillian froze for an instant, her face paling before she tightened her jaw and dashes of red covered her cheekbones—from anger or embarrassment, Wes didn’t know.

Either way, he was pissed.

Jillian reached out and grabbed his arm as he turned to yell at the guy. “Don’t. It’s not worth it,” she whispered under her breath. “Just let it go.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. “This isn’t the first time he’s said something. Is it?” She raised her chin. “It doesn’t matter. Just let it go,” she repeated. “Sorry, no can do.” He pulled away from her, annoyed that her touch left a heated trail on his skin. He went to Jeff’s side and tapped him on the shoulder. The guy looked surprised for a moment before scowling.

Jeff turned around and frowned before setting down his stuff. The man was around Wes’s age but looked far older since he drank and partied hard when he wasn’t working. He sneered over at Jillian before seeming to think better of it and turning again to Wes. They were out of earshot of others, but Wes had a feeling if the man started yelling, there was no way to hide it.

“Yeah?”

“First, apologize for that sexist and poor comment. You’re opening yourself—and our company—up to sexual harassment lawsuits because you’re an asshole. Second, pack your bags and get off our site. You’re fired.”

“You’re fucking kidding me, right? For this bitch? I’ve been working for this company for years. Hell, your daddy is the one who hired me. You have no right.”

Wes’s hand tightened on his tablet, and he blew out a breath so he wouldn’t hit the man. “I have every right. You never treat anyone like you just did. You hear me?”

“Fuck this shit. And fuck you. Must be great having that nice ass to bang when you’re not living in your high castle.”

He stormed off, and Wes stood there, his chest heaving. There was no way the others hadn’t heard that, even though he’d tried to keep the conversation private. But there was no damn way he was going to let that man work for Montgomery Inc. if he treated his coworkers—or hell, any woman—like that.

Wes stepped around the corner, and the others got back to work quickly, acting as if they hadn’t been listening. Storm and Everly were nowhere to be seen, but he knew they’d hear about it soon.

Jillian, however, stood exactly where she’d been, her arms folded across her chest and her face red.

“Jillian—”

“Thanks for that. I guess. But from now on, I can handle things myself.”

He clenched his jaw, anger spilling out with his words. “No. This is my company. My family’s company. No one gets to treat you like that. Or anyone else for that matter. If you have a problem with the way I run things, then you can get the hell out of here, too.” He didn’t mean the last part, but he was pissed off that anyone would say shit like that to her. And, apparently, this wasn’t the first time.

She raised her chin once more, her nostrils flaring. “Whatever, Wesley.” And with that, she picked up her things and walked out of the building, leaving him standing there like an idiot.

“My name’s not fucking Wesley,” he growled, knowing no one was listening to him. Or, at least, that’s what he thought.

“Just fucking ask her out already,” Decker mumbled as he passed by. “Seriously.”

“He’s right, you know,” Meghan singsonged. Apparently, the two of them hadn’t heard what had happened with Jeff yet or they’d be singing another tune.

“Just shut up,” Wes snarled and turned on his heel. He had things to do today, and none of them included growling over a woman he didn’t want to want.

He didn’t know much about what his future would bring, but he did know one thing for sure—Jillian Reid was not for him. Ever.

See the INKED MEMORIES trailer:

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About Carrie Ann Ryan

Carrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 2.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since.

Carrie Ann has written over fifty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.

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