Dream by Carly Phillips ~ Excerpt Reveal

Dream an all-new emotional and romantic standalone from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Carly Phillips is coming October 16th!

She was his best friend, his first love. And she broke his heart. Now she’s back. Will they find a second chance?

As a little girl, Andrea Harmon wanted to marry a prince, and Kyle Davenport hoped it would be him. But he never told her how he felt, and lost her as a result. Because sometimes the bad guy gets the girl. And Kyle left town to get over her.

Andi made the wrong choice years ago, choosing the bad boy over the best friend she trusted and she paid for it every day since.

Coming face to face with his former best friend was bound to happen once he moved back to Rosewood Bay, but for Kyle, becoming her son’s new teacher is a painful reminder of what they never had. But this time around, Kyle is determined to change their ending. Prince Charming is determined to break down her walls.

Except that no happily-ever-after is won without a fight—and her ex-husband doesn’t like to lose.

***  PREORDER NOW ~ RELEASES OCTOBER 16  ***
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“I didn’t mean to drag you away from Kimberly. You two seemed to be hitting it off.”

He didn’t pull his hand away from her face, struck by the tinge of something in her voice. Jealousy? And if so, why did it please him that she cared?

“Kimberly was like a leech who wouldn’t let go. She even used her sick brother’s story to hang on to me. I wasn’t doing anything more than offering sympathy,” he said, opting for the truth.

Andi blinked, unmistakable relief in her pretty brown eyes. “Really?”

“Did it bother you when you thought I was into her?” he heard himself asking, knowing he hadn’t planned to go down this road, but the attraction between them was a real, tangible thing.

His fingers itched to run through her thick, wavy hair, and he couldn’t tear his gaze from her glossed lips as she ran her tongue nervously over them. Not to mention the energy it took not to look down at her full breasts beneath the jersey.

“Would it upset you if I said it did? That watching you with her stirred up feelings that took me by surprise?”

“I shouldn’t want you, Andi. You hurt me. Took a fucking knife to my heart. But that was in the past. And what’s going on now between us is the present.”

Her eyes shimmered with unshed tears, the past alive despite them both wanting to put it behind them. But everything inside him was pulled toward her now, drawn to her fragile strength and beauty.

He dipped his head and pressed his mouth to hers. Warm and giving, her soft lips moved beneath his. His hand slid around her jaw, tilting her head, giving him better access as his tongue delved into her mouth and tangled with hers. Finally, finally, finally, finally. His heart beat out the word in rapid rhythm, a long-held desire coming true as her kiss turned him inside out.

He explored the deep recesses of her mouth, tasting her essence, aware of his body’s reaction, the swell of his cock behind his jeans, the spike in adrenaline, the racing of his pulse.

Despite the pain, the anger, the hurt, this was the girl of his dreams and she was in his arms, eagerly accepting his kiss. He slid his hand into her hair, grasping the thick strands between his fingers and tugging as the kiss turned hotter and he backed her against the vanity, his waist flush against hers, his hard erection cradled between her thighs. His cock throbbed with unappeased need, desire flowing between them.

Until a hard knock sounded on the door, startling them into breaking apart. She looked at him, wide-eyed, the surprise etched in her face as strong as the shock rippling through him.

“Be right out,” he called to the person on the other side of the door.

He glanced at Andi, her face now flushed a bright red. “There’s no way to avoid walking out together, is there?” she asked.

“Whether you go first or last, whoever it is heard my voice.” Her blush deepened.

“Well, then here’s to giving them something more to talk about.”

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Carly Phillips is the NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels, including the Indie published, Dare to Love Series. She is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.

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After the End by Natasha Preston ~ Blog Tour & Excerpt

One fatal mistake changes Tilly and Linc’s lives forever. 

After the tragedy, Linc and his family fled a town they were no longer welcome in. 

Still grieving the death of her brother, Tilly’s world is rocked again when, three years later, Lincoln Reid has to come home. 

Linc tries to stay away from Tilly, but once he sees her fighting feelings for him, he can’t stay in the shadows. 

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“Tilly,” I groan as she leans flush against my chest. 

The alcohol has given her permission to let go of the reservations she has over us being something. 

The beach has now cleared completely, everyone has gone, and I’m supposed to take Tilly to Hanna and Jack’s, but she’s making it very difficult.

I want to take her back to mine.

She looks up at me, and her amber eyes lose focus. “It’s you, isn’t it?” Her voice is barely a whisper, but I feel the fear in each word.

“What’s me, Tilly? You really should have stopped drinking about an hour ago.”

“I couldn’t stop.”

“Drinking? Why not?”

“Because I know this is the only way that I won’t feel immediately guilty for being this close to you.” Her eyes flit closed. “I want so badly to be this close to you.”

My breath catches. I want to pull away because her words are gutting me, but my body needs to be closer to her, too. My fingers dig further into her flesh, holding her closer, tighter, never wanting to let go.

“Tilly, there is no need for you to feel guilty. Robbie would have been okay with this.”

“I know. It’s not him I’m worried about.” She leans forward and lays her head against my chest. “My parents are having a hard time with you being here.”

I rest my chin on her head. She’s tucked so closely into me. “Have they told you that?”

“They don’t need to.” Her arms wrap around my back like she’s scared I’ll walk away after hearing this. 

There is nothing she could ever say to scare me off. I love her unconditionally. 

“I don’t want to hurt them, but I don’t want to hurt you either. It’s such a mess, Linc. I wish we were just two normal people without a past.”

“Everyone has a past.”

“Not everyone’s past is all mixed together,” she replies. Her voice is a little slurred, but our conversation seems to be sobering her quickly. “Ours is messy.”

“Yeah, it’s messy.” 

But she is admitting she wants me!

With raw emotion clogging her throat, she breathes, “I don’t want our families to fight.”

I bend my head and whisper in her ear, “I’m not giving up on us. It’s worth the fight, Tilly.”

“Then, fight hard, Linc, because I don’t know how to stay.”

UK native Natasha Preston grew up in small villages and towns. She discovered her love of writing when she stumbled across an amateur writing site and uploaded her first story and hasn’t looked back since.

She enjoys writing contemporary romance, gritty Young Adult thrillers and, of course, the occasional serial killer.

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NEW RELEASE!! Strong by Kylie Scott ~ Sarah A’s Review

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kylie Scott comes a new story in her Stage Dive series…

When the girl of your dreams is kind of a nightmare.

As head of security to Stage Dive, one of the biggest rock bands in the world, Sam Knowles has plenty of experience dealing with trouble. But spoilt brat Martha Nicholson just might be the worst thing he’s ever encountered. The beautiful troublemaker claims to have reformed, but Sam knows better than to think with what’s in his pants. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to make his heart fall into line.

Martha’s had her sights on the seriously built bodyguard for years. Quiet and conservative, he’s not even remotely her type. So why the hell can’t she get him out of her mind? There’s more to her than the Louboutin wearing party-girl of previous years, however. Maybe it’s time to let him in on that fact and deal with this thing between them. 

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

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The best part of this book was how much it made me want to go back and revisit all the boys of Stage Dive; it’s been YEARS since I’ve read their stories and I realized I missed them. Strong was a short, sweet little read, perfect for finding the world of Stage Dive or re-whetting your appetite for an old favorite.

Honestly, I scarcely remembered what had happened in this series when I started reading Strong, I’ve read hundreds of books since I finished the series, and while reading there were moments that tickled my memory and brought the familiar threads of a world I’d experienced before to light.

Strong hit all those spots that make me love a romance novel. The protective man who will do whatever it takes to love and protect his lover, the strong, independent woman who is afraid to let her soft side show lest she be hurt, and a little tension that isn’t a threat to the relationship but still adds a layer of interest to the overall mood of the book.

My only wish for this book, as is usual for me when I read novellas, is that it be full-length. I loved the little bit of Sam and Martha’s relationship that we got, but I would have loved to have seen more of it. Novellas, by definition, are short and as a consequence often feel rushed, and that was definitely the case with Strong. It was still a complete story, but I would have loved more of it, which maybe isn’t a criticism at all because what author doesn’t want to keep their readers wanting more?

Strong is the fifth (listed as 4.5) in Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series. The books in this series are all interconnected standalones and can be read independently, but I would highly suggest reading them in order for the best experience. Strong is written in first-person perspective, narrated by Martha.

“I don’t believe this,” I bitched. “My Valentino boots are actually sticking to the floor. That’s how gross this place is.”

Lizzy just smiled. “Told you to dress casual.”

“I am.”

The smile widened.

“Jeans and a tee is casual.”

“A tee? It’s velvet, Martha.” She held a bottle of beer up to her lips, taking a sip. “I said we were going to a dive bar. You have only yourself to blame for the fashion faux pas.”

“But velvet is in!”

“Would you two quit talking? I’m trying to listen,” said my brother, Ben. The big hairy idiot was slouched back in his chair, bopping his head in time to the music.

Lizzy shuffled closer all conspiratorial-like. “I know why you’re all dressed up.”

I said nothing. There was nothing to be said.

Next her gaze went to the man standing at the end of the bar across from us. No, no, I would not turn my head. I would not fall prey to her bullshit. After all, I’d managed to successfully avoid him for the forty-eight or so hours since my not so triumphant surprise return to the West Coast. Even with us both being in the same house. A very big sprawling house, but still.

On the other hand, it should probably be mentioned that he looked awfully good tonight in jeans and a white T-shirt with a leather jacket. Samuel Rhodes, otherwise known as Sam. Not a pretty man with his harsh features and bull-like neck, but something about him appealed to me. As always, his head was shaved and his body was built and my idiot fingers itched to explore.

Okay. So I guess at some point I must have turned my head. And shit, he caught me looking.

The corner of his lips rose just a little, just enough to mess with me, before he returned to doing his job by casually surveying the packed room. My heart did not speed up due to anything done by him. Clearly, I hadn’t totally caught my breath from when we’d walked in half an hour ago or something. That was all. Interesting to note, he did none of the checking me out typical of a heterosexual male who might have been into me. In fact, he didn’t really give me any signals at all. Ever.

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/

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Perversion by TM Frazier ~ Excerpt Reveal

USA Today best-selling author of the King series, TM Frazier, brings you an all-new trilogy with an anti-hero you’re going to love to hate and a ballsy heroine with tricks up her sleeve.

PERVERSION, book one in the all-new Perversion trilogy is coming September 25th and we have the first sneak peek for you!

Love is supposed to be magical.

Ours is suicidal.

The first time I met Emma Jean Parish,

she conned me into taking her p*ssy.

Her 𝑐𝑎𝑡

When she was sixteen,

she manipulated me into giving her

her very first kiss.

At eighteen she gave me 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔.

She’s a con artist.

I’m a criminal.

I use her.

She manipulates me.

The attraction between us is explosive.

When it detonates

we could both wind up dead.

PERVERSION IS BOOK ONE IN THE PERVERSION TRILOGY
BOOK TWO: POSSESSION

***  PREORDER NOW ~ RELEASES SEPTEMBER 25  ***
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Emma Jean

When I was younger, I fell in love with magic. I learned every card trick there was from library books and unmasking magic TV specials. I used to put on shows for Gabby that included escaping from complicated knots and trick handcuffs. But what’s magic besides a sleight of hand?

It’s a lie.

And lying is what I’m damn good at.

My ability to spin a tall tale or two lead to stealing wallets and conning people into taking stray pets for the thrill of it. Now, I’m using it to earn for Marco. The thrill is there, but it’s muted, hindered, lost under his pile of mounting threats.

The inside of the casino smells like stale cigarettes, spilled beer, and burnt coffee. We’re not supposed to be in here. It’s Bedlam territory. But that’s also why it’s perfect.

It isn’t like anyone would recognize us here.

We’ve made friends with a few of the cocktail waitresses by giving them a small cut, and they don’t ask questions or ring any alarms when they see us working. I’ve also been straightening my hair over the last few years since my crazy curls stand out like a reflector on a dark highway. I’ve dyed it a few shades darker than my normal honey blonde to help blend in.  

Tonight is starting off well. Gabby and I are working a con we’ve run a few times before.

Gabby walks away, her long dark hair swooshing behind her. She gives me a nod as she passes me by on the slot machine I’m pretending to play. She’s just faked losing an expensive engagement ring at another slot machine. I watched out of the corner of my eye as she frantically looked around for it, then loudly announced a thousand-dollar reward would be waiting at the casino cage for whoever returned it.

She is flawless. She should be an actress. And in another life, she would be.

But we don’t live in another life.

We live in Lacking and belong to Los Muertos.

Our lives are not our own.

A few people casually look around the area, then return to their machines when they don’t find the ring Gabby was ranting about. They won’t either. Because it’s not there.

Yet.  

It’s go time.

I strut over to the area Gabby just left and put a dollar in the machine. While the wheels spin, I pretend to pick up the dime store ring I already have in my hand. By the time the machine dings to tell me I’ve lost my dollar, I’m turning the ring over, inspecting it like I don’t have half a dozen more just like it in my drawer back at the apartment.

“Would you look at that?” I mutter to myself loud enough so others around me can hear.  

A man in an Adidas jumpsuit with a potbelly taps me on the shoulder. “I’ll take that. I saw the woman who dropped it. I’ll go return it to her.”

Liar. You just want the reward.

“That’s so nice of you,” I say. I hold it out, about to drop it into his hand when I pull it back. “I bet there’s a reward for something this valuable.” I start to walk around the man. “I’ll take it up to management. Maybe, they know…”

“Here,” the man says, holding up a hundred-dollar bill. “Take this. I’ll take it to her. I just…you know, as I said, I want to make sure it gets back to the right person.”

You’re not even a good liar.

Sometimes, it’s just too freaking easy. And this scam wasn’t even an Emma Jean and Gabby original. We saw it a long time ago in a movie starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. Doesn’t anyone else watch movies?

I shrug and pass him the ring. Plucking the bill from his hand, I tuck it into my bra. “Thanks,” I say before quickly making my way toward the large glass front doors. It’s Thursday. Marco’s money is due in two days, and we’re short this week.

Really short.

I walk slowly and wave goodbye to the valets with a smile on my face. “Any luck, tonight?” One asks me.

“I think so,” I answer with a smile. Once I’m down the sidewalk and out of view, I scramble to the side of the casino where I kick off my heels and change from the sequined dress I’d stolen from a dry-cleaner into a pair of cut-off shorts and my yellow Keds.

Now, all I have to do is wait for Gabby.  

I don’t have to wait long.

“Run!” Gabby yells, darting from the doors of the casino with two large men wearing tight black security t-shirts close behind. Running from security is terrifying enough, knowing that we’re running from members of the Bedlam Brotherhood kicks it up a notch.

I grab my backpack and sling it across my shoulders. I move as fast as I can until I’m running right alongside her. We race through the gates, cross the street, narrowly avoiding being hit by two cars. We duck into a hole in a fence and run through one backyard after the other.

“One of those cunt waitresses must have tipped them off!” Gabby says, through shallow breaths. She’s barefoot in a black mini-dress hiked up to her ass to give her long legs room to run. Her long thick hair is wrapped around her face, sticking to her mouth.

We hit the sixth backyard. Without another word, we separate behind a clothesline. We’ve mapped out this escape plan a thousand times, but this is the first time we’ve ever had to use it.

When I make it into the central part of town, to the Los Muertos/Bedlam border, I can no longer hear the shouts of the security guards. I lost them.

Hopefully, Gabby did, too.

I use a tower of stacked-up wooden pallets on the sidewalk like a ladder to scale a concrete wall, then drop down into the alley.

I grow more panic-stricken the longer I wait for Gabby. I bite the inside of my lip, pacing back and forth along the high wall. The Bedlam Brotherhood runs the security at the casino. If they catch her and find out who she is? Or worse? Who her brother is? They’ll… I shake the thought from my mind. She’ll be fine.

She HAS to be fine.

Please be okay, Gabby. Please.

I’m trying to catch my breath and pull myself together when I hear a clink echo through the alley as if someone dropped some spare change, followed by the sound of something heavy dropping to the asphalt.

“Gabby?” I ask into the darkness. Thinking it’s her, relief washes over me like rain on a barren desert.  

My only answer is the flickering of a fluorescent light mounted high on the roof’s edge of the adjoining building. And the hiss of what sounds like a cat behind a dumpster.

I walk over and peer around it.  “Gabby? Are you hurt? Say something!” I whisper-shout.

Someone moves from within the shadow.  “Get out here, Gabby. We’ve got to go before Mar…”

The light flickers again, for just a second. That second is all I need to see that the someone slowly stalking toward me is not Gabby.  

It’s a man…twice my size.

“Who are you?” I ask, shuffling backward as the man cloaked in a black leather hood emerges from the shadows. The front of his jacket is open. Underneath, he’s shirtless, covered in a sheen of sweat, and more tattoos than visible skin all the way up the front of his throat. His muscled chest and abs flex with each step he takes. The hood shadows most of his face, but when the lights flicker again, yellow eyes glow from within.

And they’re locked on me.

My ‘save your ass’ mode kicks in.

The man is blocking the only exit. My only other chance of escape is to scale the same wall I used to drop into the alley.

I keep moving backward as he approaches until my back hits the wall. I look left and right for something to use to climb on.

There’s nothing but emptiness.

My stomach sinks, but surrender is not an option.

I swallow hard as the alarm bells scream in my head for me to run. Somewhere. Anywhere.

There’s nowhere to go!

My legs tremble. Fear crawls like a million spiders along the backs of my legs. I push myself further against the wall as if I can squish the feeling away, but it’s useless.

Fear consumes me. Swallows me whole.

He continues toward me. As he gets closer, I realize it’s not just sweat glistening on his skin. There’s something else splattered across the tattoos on his chest and on his stubbled jaw.  

It almost looks like wet paint.

My breathing stops when he’s close enough that I can make out the tattoo on the front of his throat.

A bleeding black rose.

The symbol of the Bedlam Brotherhood.

I’ve heard stories about Grim. The man in the hood. The executioner for Bedlam. They were all terrifying, but not nearly as terrifying as the reality of coming face to face with the man himself.

“We didn’t do anything,” I blurt. “I mean, we did, but it wasn’t a big deal. I’ll…I’ll give the money back. Just tell your men not to hurt my friend. It was all my idea. Let her go, and you can take me.”  

“Who the fuck are you?” he asks. His voice is so thick and deep I feel it more than hear it. Shivers erupt all over my body.

He raises his arm, revealing a long curved blade.

For the first time in my life, I can’t seem to be able to hide my fear with my wit or sarcasm. My throat tightens. I can’t swallow, never mind speak. I’ve lost my words completely, along with my nerve.

The man’s blade drips red onto the pavement from the serrated tip.

Every fear response I didn’t even know I had runs rampant. I’m holding my breath. My muscles tense as if running was still an option. The hairs on my arms and the back of my neck prickle my skin as they stand on end. I raise up to my tip-toes and push back, trying to make myself disappear into the wall.

I glance from the knife back to his chest, then back again. The splatters across his skin?

It’s not fucking paint.

Before I can process what the hell is happening, he switches from slow-stalking mode into hyper-speed, pinning my wrists above my head. His hard, bloodied chest pushes against me, smearing blood across my white tank top, forcing the back of my head to connect roughly with the wall.  

“I’ll only ask you this one more time. Who the fuck are you?” His low guttural growl rattles my bones.

His unblinking, angry, golden eyes lock onto mine. Without the fluorescent light, they’re more golden brown than a glowing yellow. As much as I want to, I can’t look away. He could be the last person I ever see.

The thought is just the spike of adrenaline I need.

“Let me go,” I say, finally finding my words. I try and jerk my wrists from his grip with no luck. I’m trapped. My fear and anger rise to the surface, but I shove it back down. Fear won’t get me out of this situation, so it will have to wait for its damned turn.

He digs his rough fingers into my skin. “Answer me. Who the fuck are you?”

The bite of pain only makes me angrier. I throw his question back at him. “Who the fuck are you?”   

He glances down at my rapidly rising and falling chest before pinning me with his stare. The corner of his mouth tugs up in a half-smirk.

“So much confidence for someone who’s trembling,” he says with an amused glint shining in his demonic eyes.

I shrug. “Maybe, I’m just not a fan of enclosed spaces,” I say through gritted teeth.

“You didn’t answer me,” he says.

“Why do you have blood all over you?” I answer him with yet another question. “You know, if you were committing some kind of crime back there, you should be more careful. I recommend a bleach bath and death by fire for your clothes the first chance you get. If it’s self-harm, I’m sure there’s a helpline you can call.”

He cocks his head to the side. His nostrils flare. His face is only inches away. I can feel the heat from his body against mine. His cool breath flutters against my neck.

I’ve never been this close to a man before. My trembling grows. My inner thighs shake sending a rippling wave of something very unfamiliar coursing through the center my body.  I try and press my legs together to stop it from happening again, but when he uses his knee to wedge my legs apart, caging me in even further, it only grows, uncoiling from within like a slinky being pulled apart at the ends.  

I swallow hard as the stubble of his jaw presses against my neck.

“Name,” he demands, his voice raspier than before.

I shut my eyes tight for a beat, trying to gain composure, control, something that will help me as I try and reason my way out of this. “Listen, I didn’t see anything,” I blurt. “That is if you did anything. I’m not going to call the police if that’s what you’re worried about. I wouldn’t anyway, even if I saw something, which I didn’t.”

His brows knit together in a harsh line. “Why?”

His question confuses me.

“Why what?”

“Why wouldn’t you tell the police?”

Because Marco owns them.

“Let’s just say that I haven’t exactly been a model citizen myself tonight. Let’s face it. If the police around here weren’t being paid not to do their jobs, half this town would be locked up.” I take a deep, shaky breath. “Especially people like us.”  

He stills. There’s no more talking. Only heavy breathing and a battle of wills. He releases one of my hands. I think he’s reaching for his knife. My blood turns cold. I can feel my face pale as my heart starts beating as faster and faster as if it wants to get in as many as possible before the end.

I’m surprised when he doesn’t go for his knife. Instead, his hand travels slowly down my chest into my cleavage.

“No, don’t!” I say, but it’s too late, he’s already yanked on my locket.

“Please just give it back, and let me go,” I plead. Feeling like it’s my real heart he’s torn from my chest. “It’s the only thing in this world that means anything to me. Besides my best friend, it’s all I have.”

I hate the desperation in my voice, but it’s the truth.

He’s silent for a moment. He raises his arms. I flinch, raising my arms over my face defensively. But when nothing happens, I lower them, just in time to see him push back his hood, revealing his face.  

“Why?” I ask, closing my eyes knowing full well that the only time a criminal reveals himself to a witness is right before they take them out.

“Look at me,” he demands, holding my face in his hand.  

“No!” I say, shutting my eyes tighter.

“Look at me!” he bellows. He’s on me again. This time, he holds my head in his large rough hands. “Open your fucking eyes so you can see me.”

With no other choice than to get my head squished like a turtle under a car tire, I do as he demands. Opening my eyes, I blink through the haze, and when it clears, I’m met with tousled, medium-length, light brown hair, slicked back on the top, shorn close to head on the sides. His nose is slightly crooked like it’s been broken a few times before. The stubble on his square, defined jaw is a few days over needing a shave. A jagged scar runs through his chin like an angry white lightning bolt.

He’s the most fucking beautifully terrifying man I’ve ever seen.

He’s searching my eyes for something, but I don’t know what.

“Why?” I ask in a whisper.   

His hands release mine, but he doesn’t step back. He leans in closer, speaking against my cheek in a rumble of a whisper. The strange feeling from earlier comes back as a zap of electricity bouncing around my insides looking for somewhere to ground.

I’m breathing heavy. Our lips are so close, almost touching. He slides one hand off my face, snaking it around my neck, pulling me closer. He starts to answer in a rumble of a whisper, causing goosebumps to rise on my already prickled skin. “Because I want you to see the face of the man who’s just—”    

“Where the fuck are you?” calls Gabby from the other side of the wall. “I lost them!”

The moment, whatever it is, is now broken. The man releases me so suddenly I brace myself against the wall to keep from falling. I turn my head toward her voice.

“Gabby!” I shout back.

My heart is beating out of control. Out of habit, I raise my hand to my chest, seeking familiar comfort.

I look up.  The man in the hood is gone.

And so is my locket.

T.M. (Tracey Marie) Frazier never dreamed that a single person would ever read a word she wrote when she published her first book. Now, she is a five-time USA Today bestselling author and her books have been translated into numerous languages and published all around the world.

T.M. enjoys writing what she calls sexy‘wrongside of the tracks romance’ with morally corrupt anti-heroes and ballsy heroines.

Her books have been described as raw, dark and gritty. Basically, what that means, is while some authors are great at describing a flower as it blooms, T.M. is better at describing it in the final stages of decay.

She loves meeting her readers, but if you see her at an event please don’t pinch her because she’s not ready to wake up from this amazing dream.

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NOW LIVE!! If We Fly by Nina Lane

The past won’t let her go.

When Josie Mays returned to her hometown of Castille, Maine, she wanted to say goodbye to the past and start a new future. Then the “past” loomed up in the form of Cole Danforth, Josie’s former love who has now turned into a ruthless CEO out for revenge on the town that failed him.

Though Josie is convinced her ocean-loving boy still exists behind Cole’s toughened veneer, Cole is determined to shut her out. But not even this cold tycoon can resist the cherry-sweet, talented artist he once loved with his whole heart.

Just as Josie and Cole are starting to find their way back to each other, the tragedy that tore them apart years ago returns to threaten everything they are. And when Josie discovers the secret Cole has been keeping, his worst nightmare comes true.

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While I’ll take Josie wherever I can get her, I’d rather be with her at the cottage than anywhere else. Reminds me of our cramped apartment where we were always bumping into each other and never had enough room.

As both a girl and an artist, Josie came with stuff. Hair bands. Fuzzy socks. Premium pastels. A thousand tubes of lip balm. I loved her stuff because I loved her. But I’d also been baffled by her inability to hang up a sweatshirt.

Her cottage isn’t any neater, which is just one reason I like it there. She doesn’t answer my knock. I unlock the door and let myself in.

She’s sprawled on the bed in the sunroom, her body moving with quick, shallow breaths indicating a restless sleep. One shapely legs rests over a pillow, and her T-shirt is pulled up far enough to reveal the curve of her ass encased in panties printed with purple butterflies.

Much as I love the sight of her, I dislike like her insomnia, the way she sleeps in fits and starts. Though I haven’t seen evidence of a nightmare, that doesn’t mean she’s not still having them. And going back to the accident site…

My chest tightens. I sit in a chair by the window and rub a hand over the back of my neck.

Two weeks. That’s it. Then she’s gone. After that…hell, you don’t have to think about after. You just need to make sure the truth stays locked down. That means keeping her away from Peterson and any reminders.

Or taking her away.

A roll of half-opened Lifesavers rests on the windowsill. Peeling it open, I find a red one and stick it in my mouth. Sugar and cherry spill over my tongue.

“You’re going to pay for that.” Her sleep-husky voice draws my attention.

She’s watching me, her arms around a pillow.

“I’ll share.” I push to my feet.

“You’d better.”

After crossing the room in three strides, I sink onto the bed beside her and lower my mouth to hers. Though I had every intention of talking to her first, her kiss fires me with heat. The tension in my chest loosens. I brush her silky hair back from her face and slide my hand over her cheek. Breathe in her strawberry smell. My unease slides away, overpowered by her soft sweetness.

She flicks her tongue into my mouth and over the cherry candy. After passing it to her, I lower her back onto the bed. My dick is already getting hard. I cup her breasts and rub my thumbs over her nipples, urging them to tighten. Josie sighs and shifts, hooking her legs around my thighs and wiggling her hips against me.

“You need to stop wearing jeans when you’re here.” She pushes me away and rises up to unbutton my jeans and shove them off. “Makes it hard for this spontaneous sex thing we’ve got going on.”

“I’m always hard for this spontaneous sex thing.” I shed my clothes before climbing on top of her again. Nuzzling my nose into her neck, I lick the hot hollow of her throat. I fucking love that tender little spot where her pulse beats so fast.

I inch my hand up her shirt, pulling it up far enough to expose her breasts, her pink nipples sticking straight up. The sight of her naked body jerks my cock into full hardness. Josie breathes out a moan and grasps my dick.

“God, Cole.” She shifts, urging me closer and parting her cherry-red lips. “Put it in my mouth.”

“Not this time.” With effort, I detach her hand from me and bend to kiss her breasts, pulling her nipple into my mouth. Her groan of satisfaction fires my lust hotter. I slide my hand between her thigh and into her pussy. Ah, fuck, my girl is already wet and primed, like she’s been waiting for me.

Moving lower on the bed, I push her thighs open. She rises to her elbows, her eyes widening. “Cole…”

When we first got together, it had taken her a long time to let me go down on her. No matter how aroused she was or how careful I was, she’d tense up and get self-conscious about being so exposed. But we’d both persisted, and I’d started with gentle licks of my tongue that soon had her panting and pumping her hips. And when she came…more than once, I’d been unable to hold back and ended up shooting my load all over the bedsheets.

That’s not happening this time.

What If duet PREQUEL

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We fell in love. Then our world fell apart. 

I wished so hard for Cole Danforth. And one day, he came true. He was my first boyfriend, my first lover, my first and only love. He should also have been my last. 

But in a split-second, we were ripped apart, our lives broken, my heart shattered. After ten years, I’ve returned to my hometown, the place of my greatest joy and darkest pain. 

Cole is still here, but the beautiful boy I’d loved is gone. Now he’s a ruthless, unforgiving man determined to feed both my resentment and my lust. 

Then our torturous past encroaches again, trapping us in a violent storm. 

But this time, there is no escape.

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New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Nina Lane writes hot, sexy romances about professors, bad boys, candy makers, and protective alpha males who find themselves consumed with love for one woman alone. Originally from California, Nina holds a PhD in Art History and an MA in Library and Information Studies, which means she loves both research and organization. She also enjoys traveling and thinks St. Petersburg, Russia is a city everyone should visit at least once. Although Nina would go back to college for another degree because she’s that much of a bookworm and a perpetual student, she now lives the happy life of a full-time writer.

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P.S. I Miss You by Winter Renshaw ~ Chapter Reveal

Melrose,

The first time I met you, you were a stranger. The second time, you were my roommate. The third time, you made it clear you were about to become the biggest thorn my side had ever known.

You sing way too loud in the shower and use all the hot water.

You’re bossy as hell.

You make my life all kinds of complicated.

But no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop thinking about you.

And truthfully … I can’t stop wanting you.

I was going to tell you this. I was going to sit you down, swallow my pride, hang up my noncommittal ways and show you a side of me you nor anyone else has ever seen before … but then you dropped a game-changing bombshell; a confession so nuclear it stopped me in my tracks.

How I didn’t see this coming, I’ll never know.

Sutter

P.S. I miss you.

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Melrose

I’ve been a dog-walker on an episode of Will & Grace.
A bakery shop owner in a Lifetime movie.
Ryan Gosling’s kid sister in an indie flick that never saw the light of day.
Victim #2 in a season eighteen episode of Law & Order: SVU.
But today I’m faced with my most challenging role yet; a camera-less reality show called Girl with Lifelong Crush on Best Guy Friend starring Melrose Claiborne as … Melrose Claiborne.

Standing outside Nick Camden’s Studio City bungalow, I straighten my shoulders, smooth my blonde waves into place, and press my index finger against the doorbell. The heavy thump of my heart suggests it’s going to fall to the floor the second he opens the door—but I’m hopeful the butterflies in my stomach will catch it first.

He has this effect on me.

Every. Single. Time.

And that’s saying something because it takes a lot to make me nervous, to throw me off my game. But my crush on him has only intensified over the years, growing stronger with each unrequited year that passes.

But last night, out of nowhere, Nick called me—which was strange because Nick never calls. He only ever texts. He’s so against calling, in fact, that he has his ringer permanently set to “off’ and his voicemail box has been full for the last six and a half years.

“Mel, I need to talk to you tomorrow,” he’d said, breathless almost. There was a hint of a smile in his tone, giddiness. “It’s really important.”

“Nick, you’re scaring me,” I told him, half wondering if someone slipped something into his drink and he was drugged out of his mind. “Just tell me now.”

“I have to tell you in person. And I have something to ask you, something crazy important,” he said. “Oh my god. This is insane. I’m so damn nervous, Mel. But as soon as you get here tomorrow, I’ll tell you. I’ve been wanting to tell you about this for a long time, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t until now. But now I can. And I can’t fucking wait. This is huge, Mel. This is … oh, God.”

“Nick …” I paced my bedroom floor, my left palm clasped across my forehead. In nearly two decades of friendship, I’d never heard Nick so worked up before. “Can’t you just tell me now?”

“Come over tomorrow. Around three,” he’d said. “This is something that needs to be done in person.”

I ring his doorbell again before checking the time on my phone. Stifling a yawn, I rise on my toes and try to peek inside the glass sidelights of his front door. Knowing Nick, he probably got sidetracked or ran out for burritos and got caught up in conversation with someone he knows.

Then again … he was pretty insistent about talking to me in person at three o’clock about this “major” thing. I can’t imagine he’d space this off.

All night, I tossed and turned, trying to wrap my head around what this could possibly be, how I could know someone for so long and fail miserably trying to get a read on them.

Growing up, Nick lived next door, and the two of us were inseparable from the day he first moved into the neighborhood and I found him by the creek trying to capture bullfrogs—which I promptly forced him to set free. By the end of the day, we both realized our bedroom windows aligned on the second floors of our houses, and by the end of the week, he gave me a walkie-talkie and told me I was his best friend.

When we were ten, he gave me a friendship necklace—like the kind girls usually give to other girls. He gave me the half that said “best” and wore the “friend” half but always tucked it under his shirt so no one would give him any shit—not that anyone would.

Everyone loved Nick.

It wasn’t until the summer after seventh grade that Nick hit a growth spurt and everything changed.
His voice got deeper.
His legs got longer.
Even his features became more chiseled and defined.

It was like he aged several years over the course of a couple of months, and I found myself looking at him in ways I never had before. And when I closed my eyes at night, I found myself thinking about what it’d be like if he kissed me.

Almost overnight, I’d gone from running next door with a messy ponytail to see if he wanted to ride bikes … to slicking on an extra coat of Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers and running a brush through my hair any time I knew I was going to see him.

Suddenly I couldn’t look at him without blushing.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who noticed Nick’s head-turning transformation.

Nick’s door swings open with a quick creak and I don’t have time to realize what’s happening before he sweeps me into his arms and swings me around the front porch of his rented bungalow.

“Melly!” He buries his face into my shoulder, squeezing me so hard I can’t breathe, nearly suffocating the swarm of butterflies in my middle.

I breathe in that perpetual Nick scent, the one that always feels like home. Like the faintest hint of bar smoke and cheap fabric softener and Irish Spring soap.

Growing up in Brentwood, the son of a successful screenwriter and composer, Nick could’ve had it all—materially and professionally. His parents had connections that would put Steven Spielberg to shame.

But all he ever wanted was to be a regular guy who got by on merit, and I adored that about him.

“Look at you,” he says when he puts me down. His hands are threaded in mine as his ocean gaze scans me from head to toe. “I haven’t seen you in months.”

Three months, two weeks, and five days—but who’s counting?

The last time we hung out was on my birthday, and there were so many people at the bar, I barely had a chance to say more than two sentences to him all night. We’d made plans to get together the following weekend, but his band booked a gig in Vegas and I was leaving to film a Lifetime movie in Vancouver the day before he was coming back.

Life’s been consistent that way, always pulling us in separate directions at the most inconvenient of times.

“You find the place all right?” he asks as he leads me inside. The scent of Windex and clean laundry fills my lungs, and a folded blanket rests over the back of a leather chair in the living room.

I chuckle at the thought of Nick tidying up before I got here. He was always a slob growing up. Case in point? One year I tripped over a pair of his Chucks as I entered his bedroom and almost knocked my front teeth out on a messy stack of vinyl records. His empty guitar case caught my fall, but the next day he bought a shoe organizer.

“I did,” I say, glancing around his new digs. Last time I saw him, he was living in some apartment with four roommates in Toluca Lake. The time before that he was shacking up with a fuck buddy-slash-Instagram model named Kadence St. Kilda, but that was short-lived because the girl ultimately wanted exclusivity, and that’s something Nick’s never been able to offer anyone—that I know of. “When did you move here?”

“Last month,” he says. “I’m subletting from my drummer’s cousin.”

The sound of pots and pans clinking in the kitchen tells me we’re not alone, but I’m not surprised. Nick has always had roommates. He’s painfully extroverted. Guy can’t stand to be alone for more than five minutes but not in the clingy, obnoxious sort of way. More in the charismatic, life-of-the-party, always-down-for-a-good-time sort of way.

I follow Nick to the living room, and he points to the middle cushion of a cognac leather sofa before slicking his palms together and pacing the small space.

“Nick.” I laugh. “You’re acting like a crazy person … you know that, right?”

His ocean gaze lands on mine and he stops pacing for a moment. “I’m so fucking nervous.”

“You don’t have to be nervous around me. Ever.”

“This is different.” He stops pacing for a second. “This is something I’ve never told you before.”

Oh god.

My heart flutters, and some long-buried hope makes its way out in the form of a smile on my face, but I bite it away.

I’d never admit this out loud, but last night a very real part of me believed this entire thing centered around Nick wanting to tell me he has feelings for me, that he wants to date me.

The idea is absurd, I know.

Things like this don’t happen out of nowhere.

I’m not naïve and I’m not an idiot. I know the odds of my best friend going months without seeing me and suddenly professing his love for me are slim to none, but I’ve tried to come up with alternate theories, and none of them made sense because Nick’s never been nervous around me for any reason.

Ever.

What else could possibly make him nervous around me other than a heartfelt confession?

Crossing my legs and sitting up straight, I say, “Come on. Spit it out. I don’t have all day.”

He cups his hands over his nose and mouth, releasing a hard breath, and when he lets them fall, I find the dopiest grin on his face.

His eyes water like a teenage girl with a backstage pass to a Harry Styles concert.

Nick tries to speak but he can’t.

Oh my god.

He’s doing it.

He’s actually telling me he likes me …

“Melrose,” he says, pulling in a hard breath before dropping to his knees in front of me. He takes my hands in his, and I swear my vision fades out for a second. “You know when we were kids and we used to tell each other everything?”

“Yeah …”

“There was something I never told you,” he says, eyes locked with mine. “I guess … I guess I was afraid to say it out loud. I was afraid this thing I wanted so bad, this thing I wanted more than anything I’d ever wanted in my life, wasn’t going to come true. And I thought that by admitting it, I was only going to jinx myself. So I kept it to myself, but I can’t anymore. It’s too big. It’s eating away at me and it has been for years. But it’s time. I have to tell you.”

He’s rambling.

Nick never rambles.

His trembling hands squeeze mine and then he rises, taking the spot on the couch beside me. Cupping my face in his hands, he offers a tepid smile that’s soon eaten away by his own anxiety. “This is insane, Melrose. I can’t believe I’m about to tell you this.”

My mouth parts and I’m milliseconds from blurting out something along the lines of “I’ve liked you since we were kids, too …” but I bite my tongue and let him go first.

“You know how I have my band, right?” he asks, referring to Melrose Nights, the band he founded in high school and named after me.

I nod, heart sinking. No … plummeting.

“What about it?” I ask, blinking away the embarrassed burn in my eyes.

“My dream, Mel, was always to hit it big,” he said. “Like, commercially big.”

My brows lift. This is news to me.

He was always about the indie scene, always so against the big music corporations that controlled every song the American people were played on the radio.

“Really?” I tuck my chin against my chest. “Because you always said—”

“I know what I always said,” he cuts me off. “But the more I got to thinking about it, the more I thought … I just want my songs to be in the ears of as many people as possible. And it’s not even about becoming famous or having money, you know I’m not about any of that. I just want people to know my songs. That’s all.”

I swallow the lump in my throat and glance toward a wood-burning fireplace in the corner where a crushed, empty can of Old Milwaukee—Nick’s signature beverage of choice—rests on the mantel next to what appears to be a crumpled lace bra.

Guess he forgot a few things when he was straightening up …

“Okay, so what are you trying to tell me?” I ask, squinting.

“We got signed …” his mouth pulled so wide, he looks like a bona fide crazy person right now, “… and not only that, but we’re going on tour with Maroon 5.”

I try not to let my rampant disbelief show on my face, but something tells me I’m failing miserably. He reads my expression, searching my eyes, and his silly grin fades.
“You hate Maroon 5,” I say.

“I used to hate Maroon 5,” he corrects me. “Anyway, the act they had fell through last minute, so they got us. We leave next week.”

“Next week? For how long?”

“Six months.” His callused hands smack together. “Six months on the road with one of the biggest music acts in North America.”

He says that last part out loud, like he’s still in disbelief over this entire thing.

Which makes two of us.

“Wow, Nick … that’s … this is huge. You were right. This is some big news,” I say. Everything is sinking. My voice. My heart. My hope. “I’m so happy for you.”

I throw my arms around him, inhale his musky scent, and squeeze him tight. There’s a pang in my chest, a tightness in my middle, like that indescribable sensation that washes over you when you know something’s about to change and things will never be the same again.

But I meant what I said. I am happy for him. I had no idea this was what he wanted, but now that he’s shared this with me, I am thrilled for him. He’s my best friend, my oldest friend, and all I want is for him to be happy.

Plus, he deserves this.

Nick is insanely talented.
Music.
Lyrics.
Singing.
Playing.
Producing.
Mixing.
It all comes natural to him. Keeping it under wraps on some lowdown indie scene would be doing a disservice to the rest of the world.

“I get that this is huge, Nick, but I’m curious … why couldn’t you tell me this over the phone?” I ask. “Why’d you make me drive all the way out here just so you could tell me in person?”

Nick leans back, studying my face as he rakes his palm along his five o’clock shadow. “Because I have a favor to ask you …”

Lifting one brow, I study him right back. He’s never asked me a single favor as long as I’ve known him (excluding those times he wanted me to talk to girls for him in middle school or steal him an extra Italian Ice at lunch).

“See, I’m taking over this guy’s lease,” he says. “I pay fifteen hundred a month for my half of the rent. Plus utilities. You know what a cheap bastard I am, right? I just don’t want to throw that money away over the next several months, and I don’t want to stick Sutter with my half of the rent and everything because that’s just shitty.”

“Sutter?” I ask.

“Sutter Alcott. My roommate,” he says. “Cool guy. Electrician. Owns his own company. You’ll like him. Anyway, I know you’re living in your Gram’s guesthouse, but you’re the only person I know who’s not locked under a lease, so I thought mayyyyybe you might want to help me out for a few months? As a favor? And in return, I’ll … I don’t know. I’ll do something for you. What do you want? You want a backstage pass to a Maroon 5 concert? You want to meet Adam?”

“You’re already on a first name basis with Adam Levine?” I ask, head cocked.

Nick smirks. “Not yet. But I will be.”

“I don’t know …” I pull in a long, slow breath. “What about Murphy?”

“We’ve got a fenced-in yard,” he says, pointing toward the back of the house. “He’ll love it here.”

“What about your roommate? Would he be cool living with a stranger?” I ask.

“Totally.”

“And you’re sure he’s not a serial killer?” I keep my voice low, leaning in.

Nick chokes on his spit. “Uh, yeah, no. He’s not a serial killer. Lady killer? Sure. Serial killer? No way.”

Our eyes hold and I silently straddle the line between staying put and saying yes to this little favor.

My cousin-slash-roommate, Maritza, recently moved out and got a place with her boyfriend, Isaiah, so it’s just Murphy and I in the guesthouse now. It gets quiet sometimes. Lonely too. And Gram’s on this travel-the-world kick lately. One week she’s home, the next week she’s in Bali for twelve days with her best friend Constance or one of the Kennedys.

A change of scenery might be nice …

“I’ll do anything, Mel. Anything.” He clasps his hands together and sticks out his bottom lip, brows raised.

Dork.

“Begging’s not a good look for you. FYI,” I say.

“Okay, then what’s it going to take for you to say yes?” His hands drop to his lap.

I try to speak, but I don’t know what to say.

“See,” Nick says. “You don’t even have a good reason to turn me down.”

He’s right.

I can’t blame it on the location because it isn’t out of the way. I can’t blame it on my dog. I can’t blame it on a lease. I can’t blame it on money because fifteen hundred a month is exactly what Gram charges me for rent, because free rides aren’t a thing in the Claiborne family.

But aside from all of that, I know Nick would do this for me if I ever needed him to.

Shrugging, I look him in the eyes and smile. “Fine.”

A second later, I’m captured in his embrace and he’s squeezing me and bouncing like a hyper child. With one word, I’ve unearthed a side of Nick I never knew existed.

“I freaking love you, Mel,” he says, hugging me tighter. “I love you so much.”

I expected to hear those words today … just didn’t think I’d hear them in this context.

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Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

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On Dublin Street by Samantha Young ~ COVER RE-REVEAL

Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare …

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well – until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street, where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her . . . down to the very soul.

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Chapter 1 – from Braden’s POV

Sighing, Braden shrugged his shoulders back and looked up at the sky, squinting against the sunlight. Decked out in a three-piece suit on a hot day like this didn’t ease his growing frustration with his plan to sell La Cour. No one knew he was thinking of selling La Cour except Thomas Prendergast, a fellow restaurateur. A successful one. If any of his business associates knew Braden was selling La Cour they’d think he was nuts. The restaurant had a world-class chef and a stellar reputation. And it made money.

In truth, Braden was just stretched too thin and not interested in La Cour. All his concentration and focus was going into making his nightclub Fire a success, developing properties that turned profits, and of course he still had his father’s estate agency to keep up with, as well as a successful Scottish seasonal restaurant he co-owned with the chef, Frazier Allie, down on the Shore.

La Cour as it stood was a nuisance, a nuisance Braden felt obligated to attend to since his father worked so hard to make it the success it was. But his father had always told him that when business became a nuisance rather than a challenge, and was no longer satisfying, it was time to move on to greener pastures.

Thomas was dragging his feet with an answer.

He glanced back at the restaurant. Come on, Thomas, make up your mind, man.

Braden’s phone beeped in his pocket. He pulled it out and glanced at the digital reminder informing him he had a meeting in twenty minutes with one of his managers at Douglas Carmichael & Co, the estate agency his grandfather built up from the ground up to become one of the primary agencies in the Lothians.

Shit. He’d spent longer with Thomas Prendergast than he’d meant to. Scowling, Braden walked toward Bruntsfield Church, his pale blue eyes trained on the road ahead, willing a cab to make an appearance. Only seconds later one turned around the corner and he stepped out onto the curb with his arm raised. To his relief the taxi pulled up to him. He’d make his meeting.

Reaching for the handle on the passenger side, a clean, fruity smell drifted towards him seconds before a warm, small and very feminine hand collided with his.

Braden dipped his head and looked down into the face of a woman, her skin bright from the sunlight, her eyes narrowed to slits as she squinted against the sun behind his head. There was a surprised disgruntlement in her expression. Clearly she assumed this was her black cab. Braden prepared to disabuse her of the notion but stopped. His father taught him that reading people, and by that he meant all the things they didn’t say with their mouths but did with their bodies and eyes, was the key to success in business. Braden read stubbornness in her features he could make out and in the obstinate tension she held in her shoulders. He was in no mood for stubbornness or fighting over a bloody cab after his meeting with Thomas had come to no satisfactory conclusion.

For the sake of expedience Braden asked, “Which way are you headed?”

He heard the words ‘Dublin Street’ and did what he always did: maneuvered things to his liking. “Good.” He pulled the cab door open. “I’m heading in that direction, and since I’m already running late, might I suggest we share the taxi instead of wasting ten minutes deciding who needs it more.” He placed a hand on the small of her back and nudged her into the cab.

Relieved she didn’t stall them, Braden got in after her and immediately gave the cab driver their first destination. His sister, Ellie, lived on Dublin Street in a flat he’d renovated and then gifted to her. Ellie was his half-sister—they shared the same father. She’d never had it particularly easy from their dad. That was putting it politely. Douglas Carmichael was a negligent bastard and despite the fact that he and Braden had finally become friends of a sort before he died, Braden had never forgiven him for his treatment of Ellie. The guilt Douglas should have felt transferred to Braden, and he’d done everything he could to make sure her life was easier, and that she knew he cared. Giving her the flat meant she could concentrate on that PhD she was studying for. Braden might think the PhD impractical, but it made her happy, and in the end that was all that mattered. He also liked having her close to the estate agency which was on Dundas Street. Anytime he was in the area, which was more often than not, he could drop by to see Els. Braden was lucky to call Ellie not only his sister, but one of his closest friends, and it was nice to escape the stress of his business life at least for ten minutes when he stopped by for a coffee with her.

Braden decided he’d get the cab driver to stop at the top of Dublin Street, burl around and come back toward Dundas Street. It would be easier to drop him off first but it was ingrained in him to never let a woman pay for anything, so he’d drop off the unexpected passenger so he could pay the fare.

“Thanks I guess,” the woman answered from his left, the words sardonic. It wasn’t the tone that drew his attention. It was the husky, sexy voice and the American accent.

Glancing in interest at her, Braden almost did a double take. She was attractive. Very. So busy checking her out he asked somewhat stupidly, “You’re an American?”

She turned to him and as soon as their eyes met Braden felt his blood heat with the impact. Jesus fucking Christ. Intelligent, exotic, feline gray eyes appraised him as she tucked a loose strand of dark-blonde hair behind her ear. Her hair was long and pulled back in a pony-tail, giving him an unhindered view of a graceful neck and an arresting face. For some reason he couldn’t look away.

Watching her eyes drop to his body, drinking him in, Braden was intrigued. He was used to women looking at him. He was a big guy and he worked out and he’d had no complaints from women. He wasn’t, however, used to a woman appearing so consternated by the fact that she was checking him out. He raised an eyebrow, curious about her.

“Yeah, I’m American.”

That voice. He shifted in his seat. She really did have the sexiest voice he’d ever heard. He wanted to hear it again. “Just visiting?” Braden murmured.

“Nope.”

“Then you’re a student?”

Whatever she heard in his tone it made her tense. Braden envied her casual, light clothing in this heat and thanked God for throwing her in his path on a day so hot in Scotland it had caused the American to wear those tiny shorts.

True, she wasn’t his usual type. Most of his girlfriends, including his current girlfriend Holly, and his ex-wife Analise, were tall, slender platinum blondes. The American was the opposite of every woman he’d ever dated.

And yet… she was beyond appealing.

She had surprisingly large breasts for such a delicately built woman—big boobs, wee waist, and another surprise were those gorgeous legs of hers. They were shapely and long despite her small stature. Hot blood rushed southwards.

Bloody Nora.

When Braden finally dragged his eyes up to her expressive face he noted the raised eyebrow. He’d been caught eating her up and she did not look impressed. Amused, he grinned at her. Usually this would incur a responding grin. Instead the brat rolled her eyes at him.

“I was a student,” she answered, and Braden’s ears warmed to the purr of her dulcet voice. “I live here. Dual citizenship.”

“You’re part Scottish?”

She gave him a barely-there nod and seemed intent to not look at him. He smiled inwardly, feeling anticipation he hadn’t felt in a while, and definitely not over a woman. It was the anticipation of a challenge. Women came quite easily to him and it certainly made life less difficult. Life was stressful enough in business. But he couldn’t argue with what this strange, inexplicable feeling toward the American.

He’d never felt instant attraction like it.

Braden eyed her and grew even more dangerously hot at the idea of turning that willful glint in her stunning eyes soft with need as he explored every inch of her.

He shifted in his seat again, disappointment settling over him when he belatedly remembered he was seeing someone else. Since he wasn’t the kind of man to ask for another woman’s number while he was in a relationship that meant he’d have to ignore whatever was between him and the American.

Bugger.

The timing was fucked.

He couldn’t have her. Eyeing her mouth, despite knowing that conversation—or anything—was pointless, he found himself asking, “What do you do now that you’ve graduated?”

She shot him a look out of the corner of her eyes and it seemed to hold more than a hint of disdain. “What do you do? I mean, when you’re not manhandling women into cabs?”

It occurred to Braden that a man knew he was really bored with life when he got a kick out of a woman’s condescension. “What do you think I do?”

“I’m thinking lawyer. Answering questions with questions, manhandling…”

“I’m not a lawyer. But you could be. I seemed to recall a question answered with a question. And that,” he gestured to her full mouth, wondering how she’d taste, “That’s a definite smirk.” His voice was thick with want and he knew she heard it in the way her eyes flared as their gazes met.

Yeah, she felt the heat too.

The air in the cab was suddenly heavy with sexual tension. An undeniable, incredible electricity that Braden really fucking wanted to explore.

As awful as it was, he was cursing the existence of Holly, his current girlfriend, to hell in that moment. What he had with Holly wasn’t special. It was just fun. But it was exclusive.

Shit.

The American not only looked away but seemed to deliberately lean her whole body away from him as she stared out at the passing traffic. As he watched her attempt to create a distance between them with silence, his eyes caressed the sharp sweep of her jawline and the smoothness of her olive skin. She had great skin. Skin that told of her age, and it suddenly occurred to him that the American was quite young, probably ages with Ellie. He hadn’t realized at first because she had seemed attractively self-possessed.

Now she seemed uncomfortable… perhaps inexperienced?

It should have put him off.

It didn’t.

Whoever she was, however she was, Braden was intrigued.

He wanted to work her out.

“Are you shy?” He asked trying not to sound like a condescending prick.

She turned to him with a bemused smile. “Excuse me?”

Not shy then. He eyed her carefully. She wasn’t as easy to read as he’d first thought. He liked that. “Are you shy?” he repeated to be polite, already knowing the answer to that question was no. She was something, but it wasn’t shy.

“Why would you think that?”

He decided to see just how self-possessed she really was. “Most women would be taking advantage of my imprisonment in the taxi with them—chew my ear off, shove their phone number in my face…as well as other things.” His eyes instantly lowered to her lush breasts, letting her know he thought they were well worthy of the attention.

Anticipating either a blush or a scowl when he drew his eyes back to her face, Braden was taken aback to find her grinning at him. Fuck. Her smile hit him with more of an impact than her sexy body. She had one helluva sweet smile. “Wow, you really think a lot of yourself.”

He grinned back. “I’m just speaking from experience.”

“Well, I’m not the kind of girl who hands out her number to a guy she just met.”

Even though he couldn’t ask for her number he was immediately disappointed by her answer. He’d begun building an idea of who she was in his head and prudish girl next door was definitely not it. “Ahh,” he looked away. “You’re a no-sex-until-the-third-date, marriage-and-babies kind of woman.” Not exactly his type.

“No, no, and no,” she answered, seeming affronted by the idea. So affronted in fact that he suddenly wondered if the opposite was true. Was he in the presence of that rare creature? A woman afraid of commitment?

“Interesting,” he murmured.

“I’m not giving you my number.”

Unfortunately Braden couldn’t seduce her number out of her. “I didn’t ask for it. And even if I wanted it, I wouldn’t ask for it.” Fucking lie. “I have a girlfriend.” Unfortunately, true. Braden mentally slapped himself across the head for that ungentlemanly thought. Holly was a good girl and deserved better than that.

“Then stop looking at me like that.”

“I have a girlfriend, but I’m not blind. Just because I can’t do anything doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to look.” A crying shame if you asked him. He wanted to look. He wanted to look past the cynical eyes and through the sweet smile and find out which one of them was her. Maybe she was both. Maybe she was neither. He didn’t know. At all. And he wanted to. Jesus—

“Here’s good, thanks.”

What? His fascination with her mystery was suddenly brought to an abrupt halt by her direction to the driver. They weren’t at Dublin Street yet. They still had… Braden looked outside. They were at Queen Street Gardens, only seconds from her destination. And why was he panicking? She was off limits.

The driver pulled up to the curb and she handed him fare and reached for the door.

“Wait,” Braden found himself saying.

She turned to him, her expression impatient. “What?”

Braden sensed he had seconds here. He could either tell her to take her money back and offer to pay for the entire cab fare as he intended. Or he could ask her the one thing that had been itching at him since they met.

“Do you have a name?”

She smiled and Braden automatically found himself smiling with her. “Actually, I have two.”

What?

She jumped out of the cab and despite the loss of her he found myself chuckling at her cool reply.

It was his own fault. He’d asked a smart woman the wrong question.

Just as abruptly as she’d left him, Braden’s amusement fled. He realized he’d probably never see her again. Now that really was a crying shame. His father was right. His intuition was what made him a successful businessman, and his intuition was telling him he’d just let a great opportunity pass him by.

Swallowing his disappointment, Braden directed the cabbie to turnabout and head toward his meeting… in an even worse fucking mood than he’d started out in.

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Samantha Young is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of adult contemporary romances, including the On Dublin Street series and Hero, as well as the New Adult duology Into the Deep and Out of the Shallows.  Every Little Thing, the second book in her new Hart’s Boardwalk series, will be published by Berkley in March 2017. Before turning to contemporary fiction, she wrote several young adult paranormal and fantasy series, including the amazon bestselling Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy. Samantha’s debut YA contemporary novel The Impossible Vastness of Us will be published by Harlequin TEEN in ebook & hardback June 2017

Samantha has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for On Dublin Street, Best Romance 2014 for Before Jamaica Lane, and Best Romance 2015 for Hero. On Dublin Street, a #1 bestseller in Germany, was the Bronze Award Winner in the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2013, Before Jamaica Lane the Gold Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2014 and Echoes of Scotland Street the Bronze Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2015.

Samantha is currently published in 30 countries and is a #1 international bestselling author.

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NEW RELEASE!! If We Fall by Nina Lane

We fell in love. Then our world fell apart. 

I wished so hard for Cole Danforth. And one day, he came true. He was my first boyfriend, my first lover, my first and only love. He should also have been my last. 

But in a split-second, we were ripped apart, our lives broken, my heart shattered. After ten years, I’ve returned to my hometown, the place of my greatest joy and darkest pain. 

Cole is still here, but the beautiful boy I’d loved is gone. Now he’s a ruthless, unforgiving man determined to feed both my resentment and my lust. 

Then our torturous past encroaches again, trapping us in a violent storm. 

But this time, there is no escape.

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“Sir?” The security guard phones in from downstairs. “There’s a woman here insisting she needs to speak with you.”

“Name?”

“Josephine Mays.”

“Let her in.”

I turn off the intercom and unlock my office door. A few minutes pass before the door flies open. Josie barges in, her hands fisted and an angry light in her eyes.

“You are an asshole,” she snaps.

“I’ve been told.”

“How dare you pull that kind of stunt?”

“It’s the truth.”

“And we both know damned well you brought it up only because I’m involved.” She tosses her backpack and art portfolio onto a chair. She’s trembling with anger. “I don’t care what you think about me, but bringing the people of this town into our personal shit is low, even for you.”

My shoulders tense. “Even for me? What do you know about me?”

“Nothing anymore.” She slams her hands to her hips, her features twisting. “But I used to know everything about you. Do you remember that? Then you walked out on me right when I needed you the most, proving you were never the man I thought you were. Now I find out that you run this company like a dictator, you’re crushing independent businesses and putting people out of work, and you’re publicly trying to stop me from creating a mural that’s intended for both this town and my parents. What the hell happened to you?”

You happened to me.”

The words fly out of my mouth before I can stop them. The pencil I’m holding breaks in two with the force of my grip.

Josie steps back, her eyes widening. Her dark hair is windblown, her cheeks flushed, her chest heaving under her old army jacket. I’d once had the right to comb her hair back from her forehead, slide my palm over her neck before edging my fingers into her V-necked T-shirt…

Anger crushes my chest. I shove away from my desk and stride toward her. Fear flashes in her green eyes, which pisses me off even more. When the fuck was she ever afraid of me?

I grab the lapels of her jacket, yanking her closer. Our lower bodies collide. She gasps, a little catching noise in the back of her throat that used to get me hot in a second.

It still does. My blood starts to boil. She tilts her head back, her eyes flashing. I lower my head to look at her, fighting to ignore her scent—goddamned summer leaves and cherry candy.

“I once would have done anything for you.” The words grate roughly from my throat. “And then I failed you in the worst possible way. I failed you, I failed Teddy, and I failed your parents.”

She stares at me, her eyes widening. “Cole, I—”

“When you left, I hoped with everything I was that you’d have a chance at a normal life.” I pull her closer, anger warring with the undeniable flare of lust. “That you could be happy again if you weren’t constantly surrounded by reminders of everything you lost. Everything I took from you.”

“Goddamn you, Cole Danforth.” Fire flames over her expression. She plants her hands on my chest and shoves herself away. “The only thing you took from me was you.

What If duet PREQUEL

***  FREE  ***
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The conclusion to the What If Duet

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New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Nina Lane writes hot, sexy romances about professors, bad boys, candy makers, and protective alpha males who find themselves consumed with love for one woman alone. Originally from California, Nina holds a PhD in Art History and an MA in Library and Information Studies, which means she loves both research and organization. She also enjoys traveling and thinks St. Petersburg, Russia is a city everyone should visit at least once. Although Nina would go back to college for another degree because she’s that much of a bookworm and a perpetual student, she now lives the happy life of a full-time writer.

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Flirting with Forever by Kendall Ryan ~ EXCERPT REVEAL

𝗡𝗼 𝘄𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻.

𝗡𝗼 𝘀𝗲𝘅.

𝗡𝗼 𝗵𝗼𝗼𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘂𝗽.

This is the oath I took in solidarity with my best friend after a particularly heinous breakup left him shattered.

No problem, right?

𝘞𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨.

Because lately, I’ve begun developing big, messy feelings for our best female friend who we both swore was off-limits since we were sixteen years old.

I shouldn’t notice the way her hair turns golden when it catches the light, I shouldn’t make it a goal to see her dimples when she laughs, I shouldn’t find her knowledge on current affairs so sexy.

I’m pretty sure she’s oblivious, which is a good thing, I try to convince myself.
Until one night after too many cocktails when we fall into bed together.

I’m left with an awkward morning-after, and one of the hardest choices I’ve ever had to make.

Confess how I feel, and potentially lose both of my best friends in the process, or bury my feelings and watch her move on?

How can something so wrong feel so right?

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I look up at Cam and meet his eyes, brimming with secrets. I need answers, and I need them now.

No more secrets, Cam.

“What’s going on?”

The man in my arms doesn’t answer with his words. Instead, he takes hold of the edge of my towel and pulls it from my body. I gasp at the sensation of our skin pressing intimately together. I brace myself against his chiseled arms, digging my fingers into his biceps for purchase.

He isn’t done. He lifts his hands, one to my hip, one to my cheek. His thumb draws a small circle on my exposed hip bone. With the side of his knuckle, he traces the outline of my lower lip. I stay very, very still so he won’t notice the slight shudder racing down my spine.

“I can’t tell you,” he says so softly that it breaks my heart.

“Yes, you can.” I barely recognize my own voice. Cam’s eyes, dark and hurting, are locked on my lips. I want to ease that pain.

And I think I know how.

I lean in closer, pulling myself up to his level with my hands on his chest. Our breaths mingle and everything is warm, the air between us aflame.

“You’re killing me.” These are the words that fall from Cam’s lips before they meet mine.

God.

My lips are locked against his in the softest of kisses. I catch his lower lip with my own, pressing every ounce of my feelings into him. Every thank you for being there for me. Every you’re perfect for being exactly what I need.

Can he feel how much I care for him?

He’s still for a whole Mississippi second—a second too long for me to bear.

Oh God. What have I done?

But the moment I pull away, Cam leans in. His hands are on my face, holding my lips against his. He tilts my head, digs his fingers into my hair, and opens his mouth to mine.

“Natalie . . .”

The sound of my name slipping so lustfully from the back of his throat sends a jolt all the way down. All the way down.

I pull myself even higher on my toes, clinging to him with my arms around his neck. He returns the favor, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me tight against him. Our mouths are magnetic, unable to separate, unwilling to stop.

My God. I’m kissing Cam.

I’m kissing my best friend.

I’m kissing him and I can’t stop.

I dart my tongue between his lips, caressing the underside of his upper lip. He growls, maddened by my bold move. His fingers blaze fiery trails down my neck and shoulders. His hands explore me, memorizing the slope of my back and the curve of my hips. Each touch is so soft, yet so electric.

Soon it’s all frantic kisses and eager moans that I’m pretty sure are coming from me. I press into his shoulders, leaving handprints on his chest. My fingers draw lines down his abdomen, then finally trace along the bulge beneath his towel.

Cam jerks back, his eyes full of questions.

But there’s no more time for questions. We’ve wasted far too much of it.

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She’s a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she’s appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

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Hold You Close by Corinne Michaels & Melanie Harlow ~ Sarah A’s Review

Hold You Close, an all-new second chance standalone romance by New York Times bestselling author Corinne Michaels and USA Today bestselling author Melanie Harlow, is available now!

From NYT Bestseller Corinne Michaels & USA Today Bestseller Melanie Harlow, comes a second chance standalone romance.

Ian Chase broke my heart at seventeen, and I’ve spent the last eighteen years hating him for it.

He makes it easy, with his smart mouth and playboy lifestyle—which I unfortunately have to observe since he lives behind me. Every time I see him climbing out of his pool, practically naked and unreasonably sexy, my blood boils.

I’ve always loved to loathe him.

I never planned to need him.

***

London Parish is my little sister’s best friend, not that it stopped me from falling for her.

Our history is complicated. The only thing we have in common is being godparents to my sister’s three adorable kids—until our lives are changed in one tragic moment.

Now we’re trying to raise the children we love, mourn an unthinkable loss, and fight an undeniable attraction.

My life is already upside-down, and the last thing I need is for old feelings to resurface.

Because I’ll never be able to keep her, no matter how hard I try to hold her close.

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I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book, as I devour everything Corinne Michaels writes as soon as it’s published. I don’t know if I built Hold You Close up too much in my mind and it didn’t meet my lofty expectations or what, but it just didn’t do it for me. It was an okay story, but I found it overly predictable and lacking the depth of emotion I expect from Ms. Michaels, I can’t comment on the quality of the story regarding Ms. Harlow’s body of work as I haven’t read anything by her before this.

The first few chapters of Hold You Close were the high point of the story, for me. It was breathtaking and emotions ran high, as I anticipated from Corinne Michaels, but then we never reached that emotional high again in the book. Having the emotional crescendo that early in the novel felt like a mistake because there was no way to make the climax of the book compare to it.

I had a ton of issues with the main characters. Neither of them was very sympathetic. I wanted to love both of them for different reasons, but both London and Ian kept acting like insolent teenagers rather than thirty-something, successful adults. They couldn’t have a conversation about anything without resorting to insults and name-calling, they continually belittled one another, and I had a hard time seeing how they were putting the kids before their own issues. When they finally did connect in a meaningful way there was no transition from adversaries to lovers; it felt abrupt and unlikely at that point in their relationship.

Mostly, I felt like this book was missing huge chunks of story. We got several scenes of London and Ian at each other’s throats, a handful of sex scenes, some scenes where they seemed to really love one another, but NOTHING that showed them healing from the pains and mistakes of their past, the loss of Ian’s sister, or all the hatred they’d spewed at each other for years. I’m a person who needs to see the healing journey of the characters, not just have everything glossed over with a few pretty words, and I missed that in Hold You Close.

I felt like Hold You Close had a ton of potential but just missed the mark. Had the authors focused more on bringing the characters together and giving them a rewarding healing arc, I would have absolutely loved this book. Instead, we got too much fighting for me to see them having a healthy relationship. I get that this book was a second-chance, enemies-to-lovers romance, but there was too much focus on them being enemies for me to buy into their becoming lovers.

I am usually there for every single writing duo I can get my hands on but judging from this book I’m unsure if the pair of Corinne Michaels and Melanie Harlow is going to work for me. The story felt watered down from what I’ve come to expect from Ms. Michaels, and I’m unsure if it was because of the collaboration or if it was just that the concept itself didn’t work for me. I will likely try more of their work, should I have the opportunity, because I love Ms. Michaels’ work so much to see if this was a fluke.

“Ian,” my bartender, Toby, calls with his hand out.

“What’s up?”

“You have a call.” He pushes the phone toward me.

No one calls the club for me other than vendors, and it’s eleven-thirty at night, so whoever it is can wait.

“I have to deal with something now, send them to my voicemail.”

He shakes his head. “She’s called three times.” The annoyance in his voice is clear, even over the music.

She?

The only woman that would resort to calling the club is my ex-wife. God only knows what bullshit she wants now. For all I know she broke a nail, it’s my fault, and she thinks I should pay for her new manicure or a hand replacement. She’s like the gift you’ve tried to return but can’t find the receipt for, so you’re stuck with it. I hate unwanted presents, and I hate Jolene.

“Send the devil to my voicemail,” I say and walk away.

I head out to the sidewalk. Drea wasn’t kidding, the line is nuts. “Hello, Officer,” I say to the pudgy cop standing next to the bouncer.

“Mr. Chase, we’re getting complaints,” he says, looking down the sidewalk at the line.

“I can’t help that we’re popular.” I shrug. “I’m at capacity, and can’t kick out the paying customers to take care of the line.”

“You’re obstructing the entrances of other businesses because of the way your overflow lines are set up.”

How the hell would they like me to handle it? We’re not inside the casino, there’s no way to control the line. I’m not about to turn away people when we hit the number ten. This is a business, and part of the free marketing I get is thanks to the line.

“All right, I’ll figure something out.” I grip the back of my neck.

I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. If this is Jolene, I swear to God, I might lose my fucking mind.

The name flashes across the screen, London Parish. For fuck’s sake. Like I need to deal with my sister’s uptight, irritating best friend right now. London would be incredibly hot if she wasn’t such a raging bitch. I look at my call log and see this is the third time she’s called.

I walk down the strip a little, and after a few deep breaths, I call her back.

“Ian, you need to come to my house.”

I smirk. “Well, this is a first. Did you have the stick removed from your ass?”

“Don’t. Not today, please. Just come here.” I hear her sniff and my protectiveness kicks in. Someone made her cry. We don’t get along at all—partly because we’re polar opposites and partly because of our history—but no one gets to make her cry.

“Are you hurt?” I ask.

“Not in the way you think.” Her voice hitches.

I’ve known London for twenty-five years. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen or heard her cry—I was the reason one of those times.

“What’s wrong? Is it an emergency? Because I’m at work and the club—”

“Now, Ian. You need to come here now.”

She also doesn’t play games.

Fuck.

I look at my watch and blow a deep breath through my nose. It’ll take me at least thirty minutes to get there. This is seriously a shitty night. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Just . . . hurry,” London says and hangs up.

Dread pulls at my stomach, telling me there’s something going on. I don’t know what, but I know I need to get there.

“Get rid of the line, no more get in,” I tell the bouncer, and then head inside.

Drea is at the bar, and my anxiety is starting to grow. London needs me there, why? What happened? Did someone break into her house? Mine? Maybe it has to do with an ex, if she even has one, or it could be nothing like that. Regardless, her voice was shaky and I can’t waste time wondering.

“I have to go,” I tell Drea.

Her eyes widen. “Go? Go where? It’s a packed house.”

“I’m aware of that, but something came up. I need you to handle things tonight.” I turn to Toby. “Stay until Drea is done closing and I want you to escort her to her car at the end of the night.”

He nods.

I never let her walk out of here alone. Even if I have someone coming home with me, Drea’s not going to be unescorted. Too many men get the wrong impression because she’s nice to them. Over my dead body will she be hurt as a result of working at my club.

After I get in the car, my mind is racing. I drive faster than I should, telling myself that London is just being dramatic.

And then I remember . . . she has my nephew and nieces at her house.

My foot pushes down on the pedal of my Jaguar, making the engine howl with each mile. I turn into the development where we both live, pass my house, and head to hers. I still hate that our backyards touch. Every damn day I see her sitting out on her deck, reading her books, looking down at me with her disapproving attitude.

When I get there, the flashing lights of a police car brighten the road. I don’t think. I don’t know if I even put the car in park before I’m out of the vehicle.

“London!” I yell as I rush through the door. “Christopher? Morgan? Ruby?” I call out for the kids, praying it’s not one of them.

When I get to the living room, I release a heavy sigh—they’re all there, not hurt.

Then I see the tears streaming down Morgan’s face. London gets to her feet. Her eyes are red, puffy, and black mascara runs down her cheeks. “Ian.” She chokes on my name.

“What’s wrong? What happened?”

The girls start to cry again, and my nephew pulls them into his arms.

London moves toward me, placing her hand on my chest. “They’re gone.”

“Who?” I ask, confused.

“Sabrina and David,” she whispers.

Yeah, they went on a trip. Why the hell are they crying? “This is what you called me for? They’ll be home in a few days. Why are you crying too?” I ask.

Her green eyes meet mine and her lips part. “No.” She shakes her head. “They won’t.”

I look over at the kids again, and then to the muted television. My feet move closer, because I have to be sure the words flashing across the screen say what I think they say. “Flight 1184 crashes off the coast of Hawaii. Three hundred missing and presumed dead.”

My sister was going to Hawaii.

My sister is gone.

I sink to my knees in front of the kids, unsure what to say. They just lost their parents, and my heart is breaking. My sister was my best friend. She was the one who pushed me to open Veil and do what I wanted. I’ve always had her support, and now she’s gone.

Christopher lifts his head, his brown eyes filled with unshed tears. “They’ll find them,” he says with conviction.

“Okay,” I reply. We both know it’s a lie, but it’s one he has to tell himself. I remember being fifteen; there was no telling me I was wrong.

“Dad wouldn’t . . .” he starts, and then stops as his lip quivers.

My own tears start to fall, as Morgan grabs my hand. “What do we do now?”

I have no fucking clue. How do I tell these kids how to survive? I’m the last person in the world equipped to give this advice. I look to London. Her hand touches my shoulder and she wipes the tears that fall silently down her cheeks.

“We hold each other close,” she says.

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Corinne Michaels is the author of nine romance novels. She’s an emotional, witty, sarcastic, and fun loving mom of two beautiful children. Corinne is happily married to the man of her dreams and is a former Navy wife.

After spending months away from her husband while he was deployed, reading and writing was her escape from the loneliness. She enjoys putting her characters through intense heartbreak and finding a way to heal them through their struggles. Her stories are chock full of emotion, humor, and unrelenting love.

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USA Today Bestselling Author Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she’s not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like VEEP, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Homeland. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak.

Melanie is the author of the AFTER WE FALL series, the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.

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