Gavin Kingsley burst into my life in a sharp and unexpected twist of fate. You know his type—arrogant, dangerously handsome and impossible to ignore.
Something dark within him calls to the shadows inside me. I long for the kind of heart-wrenching passion I’ve only read about, and his tragic past reads like one of my favorite literary classics. Raw. Visceral. Captivating. Together, we’re a perfect mess.
The deeper I fall into his world, the more I crave him like a drug—he pushes every boundary I have, and challenges everything I thought I wanted. I want to unlock his heart. I want his dirty secrets.
But in the end, will he be the blade that cuts me … or the bond that makes my life complete?
Written in the same vein as Kendall Ryan’s New York Times bestselling and much loved international phenomenon, Filthy Beautiful Lies, Dirty Little Secret begins an erotic new series.
“Emma could be the perfect companion, don’t you think?” I turned to face his desk, where he still sat.
He rolled his eyes, and I swooped in for the kill. He’d had his chance. I’d given it to him on a silver platter. Which meant that the coast was clear. If he didn’t want her . . .
“So, you don’t mind if I take her to the Bennett Foundation gala?” I raised my eyebrows.
Gavin’s brow furrowed but his eyes went ice cold, his pause saying far more than his words. “Of course not. Why would I mind?”
Maybe this little push was just what he needed to get his head out of his ass.
I nodded. “Good.”
His mouth turned down a notch, and I could tell he was thinking. Processing.
For a moment, I didn’t think he was going to take the bait. But then, I knew my brother. I’d laid down a challenge, questioned why he was so adamantly against the idea of hiring her, and although he didn’t want to open up and share, this topic was far from over. Our calendars were slammed, and we both knew it. His assistant had joked just that morning that it would make her job a hell of a lot easier if we each just found a girlfriend. Gavin had scoffed so hard, I thought he was going to bust an artery.
Gavin heaved out a sharp exhale. “What makes you so interested in her, anyway? I thought they were all a number on a paycheck to you?”
I shrugged. “They are until they’re not. You, of all people, should know—”
“Enough,” Gavin barked.
“Right.” I shoved my hands in my pockets. “Shame, though. Seems like there’s something . . . interesting between you two.” Briefly, I wondered if they had a history. “Anything you want to tell me?”
“No, but I have a question for you,” he snapped back with a lethal smile that didn’t reach his narrowed eyes. “What the fuck are you still doing in my office?”
“Trying to find out whether you’re going to let me have this one, or if we’re going to be fighting for the same prize,” I answered honestly.
Gavin looked up from his screen. “Are you high?” His mouth thinned into a firm, chiseled line. “If you want her, take her. I’m not playing with her like she’s a chew toy.”
“Okay. But that doesn’t change the fact that you need a date to the charity auction. A girl like her on your arm? Imagine the business we could do. She’s like a walking commercial. And when you’re done rubbing elbows with all the fancy people, I’ll take her off your hands for a couple of events of my own. Use your head, man, she’s perfect. The girl every guy wants to be seen with. Sweet enough to bring home to Mother, hot enough to imagine her on her knees, with that mouth—”
“Got it,” Gavin snapped. He stared at a point on the ceiling, then blew out an annoyed sigh. “If I take her to the fucking auction, will you stop, already?”
“I’ll tell you right now, though, if this is business, neither of us are sleeping with her.”
I bit back a laugh but nodded anyway. If that was what Gavin wanted to tell himself, I wasn’t about to stop him. Fact was, though, if she would have either of us, we’d probably get our dicks caught in our zippers in the rush to get our pants off. Telling him that would only make him change his mind, and I’d gotten what I wanted.
If this girl had my big brother this riled up? She was something special. And no matter what he thought of himself, he deserved something special in his life again. If I had to agree to take her out as well just to get him to go along with it, so be it.
It wasn’t exactly a hardship, after all.
A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 2 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries 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. She lives in Texas with her husband and two sons.
“Tomorrow.” She paused. “I have an interview at The Scarlet Letter for a position as a bartender. I have to call my sitter.”
“You’d think, right? But no—Dahlia was very clear. I’m not being offered a job, merely an interview. She’s savvy and smart, I’ll give her that.”
I smiled, looking out as Zac cannonballed into the pool.
Perrie rolled her eyes for me. “Zac! No balls, okay?”
Zac looked back at her, wide-eyed.
“Yeah, Zac! No balls! I don’t want your balls in this pool!” Lola shouted.
Perrie slapped her hand against her face. “Goddamn it.”
I did all I could do—burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Zac asked.
“No cannonballs, Zacco!” I reiterated, forcing my laughter under control. He saluted me, and I snorted when he dived underwater. Judging by Lola’s shriek, he was going for her ankles.
Not a smart choice after the dinosaurs last night.
Lola screamed at the top of her lungs. “Dinosaurs!”
Zac sputtered with laughter as he broke the surface.
“Zac!” I said sharply. “Stop it.”
“’Kay, Dad!” He turned to Lola, and apologized loud enough that we could hear it.
Perrie sighed heavily. “Kids give me a headache.”
I laughed, leaning right back. The grill was smoking and I’d probably wasted the chance to cook, but fuck it. I’d order in. The kids were having fun and we were talking. Hell, I was learning things about her I never thought I would.
I’d buy fifty pizzas if we could carry on like this. Unraveling the mystery of Perrie Fox was priceless.
“Are you nervous about seeing Damien?” I asked her, looking at her. My eyes skirted her profile, from her button nose to the freckles that dotted it and the lashes that fanned against her skin to the lips that pursed in the perfect pout of her indecision.
“Yes. No. I don’t know. He’s my brother, but eight years is a long time.” She twirled a lock of hair around her finger. “I didn’t think I ever would again, so maybe that’s the thing I can’t accept. That I am going to see him.”
“I get that.”
“No. I was trying to be sympathetic.”
She laughed anyway. “I think the grill is screwed.”
I sighed. “I know, but when you talk, I listen.”
“That sounds like a line.”
I side-eyed her. “If it was, would it work?”
“To get my cock inside you again.”
She pursed her lips. “At least you’re honest.”
By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies—usually wine—and writes books.
Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.
She likes to be busy—unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.
“D’you mind if I sit?” I ask gently. I want her to feel like she has control. If she asked me to leave, I would. I need her to trust me enough to open up. I already assumed it’d be hard, but two seconds in her room is enough to tell it’s going to be a mountain of a task.
The girl gives one short, sharp bob of her head, and I scan the room for a safe place to sit. A lone chair set by her window has a white plastic seat and metal legs. It looks uncomfortable as hell for a piece of furniture in a hospital room, but it’ll do. Forcing myself to go slow, I cross the room and drop my ass into it. I drop my elbows to my knees and lean forward, clasping my hands together.
“I’m Niko.” She doesn’t respond. By her stare and the steady rise and fall of her shoulders, I’d guess she’s concentrating on breathing. “I thought we could talk. Is that okay with you?”
She nods again.
“Can I get you something to drink?” This time, she gives a punctuated shake. Okay, so she’s good with using nonverbal communication. That’s a start at least. I can work with yes-or- no questions.
“Do you know where you are?”
Her gaze flits to the open door and the hall beyond. Once again, I’m left staring at the state of disfigurement this woman has been left in. It’s obvious these are signs of abuse, but from who? Her pimp? Was she attacked for trying to leave that life? A victim of domestic violence? Could she be connected to the person who took Rebecca?
I don’t realize I’m staring until she shakes her head again, and the movement pulls me from my thoughts. I trail my eyes over her wounds again, and the sight makes me sick. I grind my back molars together to get ahold of myself. Once I feel calm, I ask another question.
“Do you know your name?”
She shakes her head. Damn. I try a different route. “Do you know how you got all these cuts?”
At my words, she glances down at her arms. She runs her right index finger over a spot of dried blood on her right thigh. “Yes,” she croaks in a quiet voice that startles me.
“Can you tell me how?”
“All of them.” She goes on as if I didn’t speak.
I try to keep my expression neutral but I’m confused. “All of them? What do you mean?”
“I know how I got all of them.” She faces me with a blank stare. “I remember them all.” The sound of her voice sends a shiver down my spine. Monotone and quiet, it reminds me of nothing. That void of hopelessness. Of no going back.
“Who did this to you?” I prod gently.
She shakes her head again, and my stomach sinks. “I can’t remember. I remember the shadow man and the screaming girl. And the pain,” she goes on in a hollow voice. “I remember being hurt, but not who did it. I think… I think I did it.”
About A.M. and Alex: Avid readers and writers of suspenseful romances, both A.M. and Alex enjoy torturing their readers with twisted tales and crazy dark scenarios.
We’re just a little under a week away from the release of DESTINY DISGRACED by Carrie Ann Ryan – are you ready to read the first chapteR? Read it below!
About DESTINY DISGRACED
The Talon Pack continues with a new twist to the Packs and a revelation no one was prepared for.
Mitchell Brentwood is aware that others think he’s the harsh taskmaster Beta trying to keep his Pack alive, but they only see what he wants them to know. He’d once thought he had his path laid out before him, but when his future was violently ripped away, he vowed he’d never let anyone close again—especially not a young wolf from a traitorous Pack.
Dawn Levin may be younger than the war that destroyed her people, but she knows she must still pay for their sins. She’s ready to find her way in this new world where wolves and humans blend as one, but first, she needs to fight her attraction to the dark wolf that stands in her way.
While the two struggle with their feelings and burning attraction for each other, they can’t ignore the world that shakes beneath their feet. There is a new enemy on the horizon, one with revenge and the unknown on their minds. An adversary that might be closer than they realize.
Death was but a whisper away, and yet Mitchell Brentwood couldn’t breathe. With a slow blink, he moved to the side as a fist came at him, his opponent struggling to keep up with Mitchell’s moves. As the youth was only a teenager and still learning while Mitchell was the Beta of the Talon Pack, he didn’t blame the pup for not being fast enough.
He’d just train the kid until he sweated and cursed Mitchell out and then maybe the teen would be ready for whatever came next.
That was how Packs worked— always ready for the next battle, the next fight.
An odd thought for a wolf without a war to face.
He’d spent his life preparing for conflict or fighting an unseen master he’d never thought to find his way out from under, and now here he was, training young wolves to help them control their beasts, yet… alone.
His cousin Kameron punched his shoulder and frowned at him. Well, if one could call it a frown considering the man rarely if ever showed any emotion— no anger, no disappointment, no sadness, and certainly not a smile. While some called Mitchell a hard-ass bastard, they called Kameron the cold-ass one.
“What?” Mitchell growled. The punch hadn’t hurt since Kameron hadn’t put any heat behind it, but he still wasn’t expecting it. And considering he and his brother, Max, had been raised with the rest of the cousins as if they were brothers, it was the principle of the thing.
“Your mind is wandering, and you’re not paying attention.” Kameron’s gaze was on the juveniles in front of them and their training and not on him, so he flipped his cousin off. “Saw that. I’m pretty sure the kids saw that, too. Good job, oh fearless leader.”
“Suck me,” Mitchell whispered so low that only Kameron could hear. Since the trainees in front of them were also wolves, they had exceptional hearing, so he had to be careful how loud he spoke when he didn’t want others to listen in.
“No, thanks, cousin. Why don’t you find yourself a woman to do that? Maybe if you finally get laid, you’ll wipe that perpetual scowl off your face.”
A familiar ache pulsated deep inside, and it took everything within him not to let the pain cascading through him show on his face. He’d spent years perfecting that ability, yet each time it seemed to grow, increasing in need and dread.
Mitchell lashed out, kicking Kameron on the back of his knee. And though Mitchell was one of the best fighters in the Pack, he wasn’t the best. That title belonged to their Enforcer— Kameron. While Mitchell was the Beta of the Talons and in charge of the day-to-day needs of the Pack, Kameron, as the Enforcer, was in charge of their defense. It only made sense that his cousin would be a slightly better fighter— it was genetic. So instead of his foot making contact, Kameron leapt out of the way so gracefully that he could have been a dancer in another life instead of a soldier.
Then, they fought.
Well, not really, as they weren’t landing their punches or kicks, but they’d spent decades learning each other’s moves and weaknesses. Even though neither of them was the Alpha or the strongest wolf in the Pack, they still fought like what they were— some of the best.
The younger wolves around them stopped what they were doing to watch the older wolves fight, and Mitchell didn’t fault them for that. There was a reason he and his family were the highest in the hierarchy of the Pack, and they were damn good at what they did to protect their people. After a few minutes, they were both sweaty, their shirts sticking to their skin. Kameron’s mouth twitched as if he were smiling. For his non-emotive cousin, that was big.
“Maybe you should think about your dick and get off mine,” Mitchell said with a sneer.
“Why does everything you’re saying today sound so dirty?” Kameron asked, wiping his face with the bottom of his shirt. A few sighs sounded from some of the women in their training group, and Mitchell held back a snort. There was always someone lusting after Kam, as if they wanted to be the one to melt his icy exterior.
Not too many panted after Mitchell, and he was just fine with that. He’d done his best to make his asshole persona permanent for a reason.
“You’re just a pervert,” Mitchell finally answered as he rolled his shoulders. “You can’t help it, though, you’re from that line of the Brentwoods.”
Kameron flipped him off and almost smiled again. Two times in one day, that had to be a record. “Like your line is any better.” He shook his head and turned to the others, watching them. “Okay, that’s a wrap for the day. Let’s cool down. Then you guys get to hear what your next assignment is.”
Mitchell nodded. “You guys did good. All of you are learning to not only use your bodies as tools, but you’re controlling your beasts more and more.” The same could not be said for some of the older wolves in the Pack. That was why tomorrow’s training sessions would be with some of the dominants, who were already on shifts around the den. Even though the Pack wasn’t at war, that didn’t mean they could slack off in their training.
It had been a year since the final battle with the rogue human factions that didn’t know if they wanted to control the wolves or wipe them from existence. The Talons and their allies, the Redwoods, had lost many and endured countless other horrors that left horrific memories that would never fade. But in the end, a great sacrifice had saved them all. Mitchell still wasn’t sure how he felt about the fact that he hadn’t been strong enough to protect his people. It was the sacrifice of the others— the pain of others, including his brother, Max— that had won the war. Mitchell had only been there to fight.
But there wasn’t a battle to be fought with claw and fang now. The humans came out on the good side in the end, and now they were in a time of peace. A calm where the wolves were no longer stuck within their wards inside the den, afraid to go out in public for fear that they’d be attacked by those anxious of what they didn’t know or understand. Now, his people could go out and do what they’d done for hundreds of years before the Unveiling, before the wolves were forced out into the open, revealing their secrets.
Almost all of his Packmates had jobs outside the den. Hell, most of them had lived on the outside before everything crumbled down around them. When they’d been at war, things were a little tight within the wards, but they’d made it work because there hadn’t been another option. So, while many of the wolves had shifts within the den depending on their strengths, they also had jobs and lives outside the Pack’s domain.
It was how it should have been all along, and his people were just now getting used to the fact that this was how it would be again. Only this time, many of them weren’t hiding in plain sight. There wasn’t a national register for the shifters, as Washington had nixed that idea after the asshole senator, McMaster, was killed, but there were still some non-government sanctioned websites out there that had lists of names and information on shifters. His cousin and Alpha, Gideon, growled daily about the mere existence of it, but there was nothing they could do about it. In this age of technology, even humans had all of that information since it was out in the public for anyone to see. The wolves could only control so much.
So, yes, Mitchell’s people could go out and have jobs like they had in the past, but now they had to deal with the added pressure of being a wolf in human’s clothing. At least, that’s what others called them. Mitchell knew he was more than that. He was both— a wolf and a human, not just one or the other. That was how all shifters were, and they struggled with that balance every day. Hence the training sessions for juveniles and young adults like they just had. Adding hormones to the mix usually just made keeping control of one’s wolf that much harder.
And yet, with all the talk of peace, Mitchell had a feeling there was something else coming. He’d spent most of his life either at war or fighting battles within his own Pack, yet he felt his sense of knowing wasn’t because he missed the tension and anxiety. He just knew there was no way that things could suddenly be perfect and harmonious after everything that happened.
Something was going to change their peace, and Mitchell would be ready for it.
No matter what it took.
“You headed over to Gideon’s?” Kameron asked, rubbing the back of his neck. “I have to go help one of the soldiers with a problem on the outer perimeter, but Gideon said he wanted to see us at some point.”
Mitchell nodded. “I planned to stop by.” Plus, it would give him a chance to see his new niece. Though Gideon and the others weren’t technically his brothers, making the newest additions to the Brentwoods second cousins or something like that, everyone had taken to calling Max and Mitchell uncles anyway.
Max didn’t have a mate, and after the attack that had scarred his brother in more ways than one, Mitchell wasn’t sure that Max wanted a mate. And as for Mitchell… well… he knew for a fact that he wouldn’t find his mate. Ever.
There were just some things set in stone, and Mitchell being alone for the rest of his unnaturally long life was one of them. “Let him and Brie know I’ll stop by before dinner,” Kameron said before lifting his chin and heading to wherever he needed to be.
Mitchell sighed and made his way over to Gideon’s since he didn’t have any other plans for a few hours. He figured he might as well see what his Alpha needed instead of sitting alone in his house, wondering what the hell to do. And, damn, he needed to stop sounding so depressing. It had been easier when he had battles and strategy to plan, or when the den was bursting at the seams with people. Since it was his job to ensure that every Pack member had a roof over their heads and was situated enough for their wolves to remain calm, he had plenty to do when everyone was forced within the den under their failing wards.
Now, the wards were rebuilt thanks to his cousin Brandon and his two mates, and people had started moving back into their homes outside the den. That meant there was less for Mitchell to do. And he hated it.
As he made his way to the front of Gideon’s house, he heard the giggle of a sweet one-year-old and pushed all those thoughts to the side. Gideon and Brie’s daughter, Fallon, toddled over to him, though she almost tripped a few times. He bent down to pick her up, brushing his lips over the top of her head when he pulled her close. She patted his mouth with her tiny hands and babbled incoherently. He was pretty sure a few of the things she said were actually words, but he couldn’t make sense of them.
Only Gideon and Brie could understand their daughter, the same as how his cousin Ryder and his wife Leah could understand their son, Bryson Roland. In the past year, there’d been three new Brentwoods born into the world— well, two Brentwoods and a Jamenson since his cousin Brynn mated a Redwood wolf named Finn. They’d had their daughter Mackenzie a couple of months ago, around the same time that Bryson was born. Still, the fact that there was three more was a whole hell of a lot, considering there hadn’t been an addition to their family in over a century. They were wolves after all, and lived ages longer than humans. They could spend lifetimes alone before eventually finding their mates, and some even waited longer to have children, preferring to spend time as a mated couple before adding to their family. The fact that the Brentwoods kept finding their mates in such quick succession would have worried Mitchell, but it wasn’t as if he would find his mate. Not with everything he’d been through in the past.
“I see,” Mitchell said solemnly, nodding his head as Fallon continued her conversation. He thought he heard something about a puppy, but that could have been any number of people in their wolf form, so he honestly didn’t know.
“You’re good with her,” Brie, his Alpha’s mate, said with a small smile. He hated the way she always seemed to see too much of him. She was a submissive wolf mated to the Alpha of their Pack. And while it might not make sense to outsiders, it made all the sense in the world to those inside the wards. She protected the Pack in her own way, her worth and contribution to the Pack’s needs something none of them even knew they were missing until she showed up and took care of them.
If he weren’t such a jerk, he might have been nicer to her, but he needed to keep her at a distance. He needed to keep everyone at arm’s length.
“She’s easy,” he said with a shrug before handing Fallon over to her mother. “Gideon said he wanted to talk to me,” he added instead of saying hello.
Brie ran her hand down Fallon’s back as the little girl started to doze off. It must have been near her naptime, or the little girl wouldn’t have started to fall asleep so easily. She was usually a burst of energy and babbles.
“He had to go meet with Kade, but he told me he texted you.” She rocked back and forth as Fallon fell fully asleep in her mother’s arms. The little girl would one day be Alpha— a first for the Talons, and maybe even all the Packs as Mitchell hadn’t heard of a female Alpha before. It wasn’t that they weren’t strong or capable because, hell, female dominants were tougher than most men he knew. No, it was because becoming the Alpha, Heir, Beta, Enforcer, Omega, or Healer wasn’t something someone could fight for or try to attain. Those titles were bestowed— he held back a mental cringe at that word— upon them by the moon goddess. The goddess had made the first wolf, the first shifter, and also determined the hierarchies needed for a Pack. Mitchell hadn’t learned until recently that those first goddess-touched were Talons. In fact, the first wolves who made the Pack were actually reincarnated as the triplets— Kameron, Walker, and Brandon.
Mitchell still wasn’t sure he quite believed that and, hell, didn’t know if he wanted to, but it wasn’t his business, so he chose not to think about it.
He shook himself out of those thoughts and held back a curse as he pulled out his phone and saw that he had indeed missed a text from Gideon. “I didn’t feel it vibrate and didn’t have the ringer on since we were training. Sorry to bother you at naptime.”
Brie just smiled and shook her head. “You’re never a bother. Do you want to come in for something to drink? I’m headed to the maternal council meeting in a bit, but I have an hour or so.”
Mitchell was shaking his head before she’d finished her sentence. He preferred being alone to having Brie so close where she saw too much of him. And it always hurt him when he remembered exactly who she reminded him of.
He quickly pushed those thoughts from his brain and did his best not to rub at the three jagged scars on his chest. He’d been too in his head today and needed to do something different, or he’d end up drowning himself in a bottle of tequila later and be of no use to anyone.
“I need to pick up a few things from town. I should get on that. Do you need anything?” The den was pretty self-sufficient and had enough land to remain that way for years, but they’d been trying to do more outside the den walls since the end of the war. Mitchell was only doing his part, he reminded himself. He wasn’t running away. Not again.
“Can you pick up a bag of coffee beans from that shop down on First?” she asked with a bright smile. “I know I can get beans in bulk online or even at another store, but now that I’m allowed caffeine again, I seemed to have found myself a new craving. If it’s out of your way, though, I can pick some up later.”
Mitchell nodded even as he went through his memory to see if he’d ever actually been inside that shop. He knew that Brynn loved that place and still went there with her mate, but he didn’t venture into coffee shops much. Too many people, and way too many scents for his wolf nose.
“Just tell me what kind you want and how much, and I’ll pick them up.” He made a note in his phone when she told him the name then gave her a nod and walked away.
His wolf had begun prowling inside him, and he wasn’t sure if it was about Brie or what she represented. Either way, he needed to get far enough away that he could calm his wolf and forget about the pain that he lived with every day.
Because the one thing they didn’t talk about when it came to mating was that if a bond broke, a wolf could still feel it. Mitchell felt the echo of what had been, the life he’d been promised, with every breath.
But he’d lost all that, and had learned to live like he was now. His mate was dead.
And wolves like him didn’t get second chances.
See the DESTINY DISGRACED trailer!
About Carrie Ann Ryan
Carrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 2.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over fifty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.
After a major loss, Brody Carter found a home with the London office of McKay-Taggart. A former soldier, he believes his job is to take the bullets and follow orders. He’s happy to take on the job of protecting Dr. Stephanie Gibson while the team uses her clinic in Sierra Leone to bring down an international criminal. What he never expected was that the young doctor would prove to be the woman of his dreams. She’s beautiful, smart, and reckless. Over and over he watches her risk her life to save others. One night of pure passion leads him to realize that he can’t risk his heart again. When the mission ends, Brody walks away, unwilling to lose another person he loves.
A woman driven to heal
Stephanie’s tragic past taught her to live for today. Everything she’s done in the last fifteen years has been to make up for her mistakes. Offering medical care in war-torn regions gives her the purpose she needs to carry on. When she meets her gorgeous Aussie protector, she knows she’s in too deep, but nothing can stop her from falling head over heels in love. But after one amazing night together, Brody walks away and never looks back. Stephanie is left behind…but not alone.
A secret that will change both their lives
A year later, Stephanie runs afoul of an evil mercenary who vows to kill her for failing to save his son. She runs to the only people she trusts, Liam and Avery O’Donnell. She hasn’t come alone and her secret will bring her former lover across the world to protect her. From Liberia to Dallas to Australia’s outback, Brody will do whatever it takes to protect Stephanie from the man who wants to kill her, but it might be her own personal demons that could destroy them both.
The door slammed and she suddenly found herself with her back against it. Brody crowded in, taking up all the space and staring down at her. His body brushed hers and she found both her wrists captured in one of his. He dragged them over her head, forcing her chest to come out, breasts skimming along his body. “I shouldn’t do this.”
Tough chick was winning. Steph let her take over. It was surely better than the desperate girl who lived inside her. She kept asking for love and affection and getting swatted away. This was the next best thing, possibly the only thing she would ever get. “Then don’t. Let me go and I won’t bother you again.”
“No, you’ll go find Ezra Fain and bother him,” Brody said on a growl.
“Somehow, I don’t think he’ll find me a bother.” She’d barely spoken two words to the man, but she wasn’t going to admit it. It was better to let Brody think she wasn’t a love-starved girl.
“He won’t fucking find you anything at all. If you’re determined to not sleep alone tonight, you can damn well do it with me.” His mouth came down on hers and every inch of her skin came alive. His kiss was overwhelming, hungry. There was no slow meshing of mouths. He took her, his tongue surging inside and dominating her own. He let go of her hands and started to explore her body. His hands were on her hips when he came up for air. “I’m leaving in the morning. I’m going back to London and I can’t come back.”
She’d known that would probably be his answer. She’d known he wouldn’t want to stay and she couldn’t leave.
“One night. That’s all I want.” It was all she could have. It had been foolish to think it could be any different.
His mouth came down on hers again and she let herself get swept away. One night and her life would go back to normal. One night and then she would be alone again. His hands started to roam over her and she tried to forget all the reasons why this was a bad idea.
He stepped back, his entire body set in hard lines. He strode over to the bed and sat down. “Take off the gown. It’s pretty, but I want to see you.”
She hesitated, all her insecurities coming to the forefront. Somehow, she’d thought he would simply take her. “Let me get the lights.”
He was back in her space again, his hand wrapping around her wrist. “I didn’t say turn off the lights. I said take off the gown. How am I going to see you if you turn off the lights?”
“Brody,” she began.
He was having none of it. “You got on your knees in front of me and you said you knew what you were offering me. The first thing you were offering me was obedience. The second was your body. You’re giving me neither right now.”
His voice had gone midnight dark and something about the tone made her soften. He was right. She did know what she’d offered him and now she was trying to have it all her way.
There was nothing wrong with her body. It was feminine and she was healthy. What was she afraid of? “All right.”
He let go of her wrist and sat back down, looking like a damn king waiting on his concubine’s performance. For all his “I’m nothing but a grunt” talk, the man could be incredibly arrogant, and damn if she didn’t find it sexy as hell.
Something about that voice let her know that everything was going to be fine. He was past the point of rejection. He was in and that meant he would play her Dom for the night. He would take care of her. She was as safe with him in the bedroom as she’d been in the field.
At least she was safe for the night. In the morning she would be in a world of hurt, but she wasn’t thinking past tonight.
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog int eh world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.
Toying with Her by Prescott Lane Release Date: August 17th Genre: Contemporary Romance
Toying with Her, an all-new standalone from Prescott Lane is coming August 17th!!!
No one said finding love was easy, but when you invented the world’s best selling vibrator, it’s near impossible. Yep, that’s right. That little toy hidden in your bedside table is my brain child. It’s aptly named Woman on Top. And you know what they say . . . it’s lonely at the top.
So I’m headed home to my Southern roots. It’s supposed to be an extended Summer vacation — nothing more. But Rorke Weston has other plans for me. Plans that not only involve me being on top, but also underneath him.
It’s been said you never forget your first. For me, that’s definitely true. No night has ever lived up to the one I spent with Rorke.
He’s turned into quite a man. Tan from the Southern sun, and stubborn as the day is long. And there’s nothing sweeter than the swipe of his tongue.
Rorke wants his chance. The one we never had. But that was a long time ago. When I still believed in Prince Charming and Happily Ever Afters. Even ten years later, I feel a pull. And it’s not simply Rorke yanking down my panties.
Do second chances really happen? Or is my heart simply toying with me?
Hammering the nail with one hard pound, I mutter, “Friends?”
That should be a cuss word, especially coming out of her full, pink lips. I toss the hammer aside, scanning the mostly-converted barn. Yep, I live in a barn. Well, not any barn. The barn where Sterling and I lost our virginity. I know just the spot. It’s the spot where my bed is now.
I didn’t plan it that way. In fact, I didn’t even really think about it until she showed up in town the other day. I came home, walked in, and realized I’ve designed this place around her. Crazy, but true. That woman has burned herself into the deepest parts of my soul. Deeper than even I realized. She was my first, a memory. I thought it was over. I thought we’d only ever get that one night. She had her life, and I had mine. I didn’t see this coming.
This old barn sits on the edge of my parents’ property. It sucks to be almost thirty and still living on my parents’ land. Technically, I’m not living at home, but sometimes it feels like it. Unfortunately, buying my own house on my teaching salary isn’t in the cards, so a few years ago, I started converting one of the old barns.
Every nail, every piece of wood in here has been touched by me. And it’s almost done. It’s wide open, designed that way mostly because it’s less work than putting up a bunch of walls. The only room with any privacy is the bathroom. I left the distressed rafters from the ceiling exposed and just refinished them. The original sliding barn doors have been replaced with new ones. Almost one whole wall houses my personal library. The only thing left to finish is the kitchen. The upper cabinets are in, but my only appliances are a refrigerator and microwave. So any real meals I eat come from the main house — my parents’ house. My plan is to use part of my summer vacation to finish it up.
I look over at the bed. My subconscious must have taken over with that decision. Sterling is etched into the fiber of this place. Maybe that’s the reason I haven’t ever brought a woman to see this place before? Who knows? The subconscious is a tricky bitch.
But the memories of that day and night are so vivid. It’s all flooding back now that she’s back.
I remember a buddy of mine had rushed me home my freshman year of college, making the two-and-a-half-hour drive from New Orleans in just under two. But I was too late. I wasn’t here when Levi took his last breath. Those few days are a blur. Everything is a blur until the moment I stood up at his funeral to speak; her green eyes were the only thing I saw, her whimpers the only ones I heard. I hadn’t expected her to be there. I hadn’t expected her to fly home from college to say goodbye to my brother, but she had. And I didn’t expect her to find me at my parents’ house after the funeral. I swear, there were hundreds of people there, and it was the loneliest day of my life. I had to get out of there and started walking. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but when I need to think, I tend to walk.That day, Sterling was by my side.We didn’t talk, roaming around the fields until we ended up at this old barn. It was the place that Levi and I escaped to. As little kids, we’d used it as a fort, a clubhouse. Later, it held our bikes and four wheelers.
I remember being embarrassed bringing Sterling inside. It was old and filled with our junk. The only place to even sit was an old, beat up sofa. We made good use of it, though.
I’ve never been as unprepared for something as I was that day. Unprepared to put my brother in the ground, unprepared to lose my virginity, unprepared to let her walk away.
I chuckle remembering exactly how unprepared I was when our naked bodies first touched. My brain thought “condom.” But I didn’t have one. My dick promised it’d pull out. But I had no idea the kind of willpower that would take. I swear to God, I had every intention of pulling out.
I thought for sure that she’d kill me, and quickly launched into the lamest apology in the history of the universe. Just thinking about it makes me cringe. I was never so thankful for anything in my whole life as when she kissed me to shut me up, whispering she was on the pill.
Some might think it’s a dick move to be banging a girl the day you bury your twin brother. But it wasn’t like that at all. It wasn’t cheap. I didn’t think of it as a one-night stand, even though technically it was. It’s impossible to explain. It was us clinging onto life, onto each other. Emily Brontë wrote, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” And after that night, our souls have been forever linked.
Every single second of that night is burned into my mind, my heart, my skin.
After that night, we stayed in touch for a long time — email, phone calls. But we were thousands of miles apart. And our paths never crossed again. If I was at home on break, she wasn’t. It just seemed like it wasn’t meant to be. She is the one that got away. We never got our chance.
Now she’s back, and she thinks we can be friends? I spent my entire childhood and teenage years being “friends” with her.
She wants to be friends? That’s fine. I’ll be her friend. But I’ll be damned if that’s all I am.
About the Author:
Prescott Lane is the Amazon best-selling author of Stripped Raw. She’s got seven other books under her belt including: First Position, Perfectly Broken, Quiet Angel, Wrapped in Lace, Layers of Her, The Reason for Me, and The Sex Bucket List. She is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and holds a degree in sociology and a MSW from Tulane University. She married her college sweetheart, and they currently live in New Orleans with their two children and two crazy dogs. Prescott started writing at the age of five, and sold her first story about a talking turtle to her father for a quarter. She later turned to writing romance novels because there aren’t enough happily ever afters in real life.
So much so that they plastered my ugly mug all over campus, in bold printed letters:
Are you the lucky lady who’s going to break our roommate’s cherry?
Him: socially awkward man with average-sized penis looking for willing sexual partner. You: must have pulse. Text him at: 555-254-5551
The morons can’t even spell. And the texts I’ve been receiving are what wet dreams are made of. But I’m not like these douchebags, no matter how hard they try to turn me into one.
THIS ISN’T THE KIND OF ATTENTION I WANT.
One text stands out from hundreds. One number I can’t bring myself to block. She seems different. Hotter, even in black and white.
However, after seeing her in person, I know she’s not the girl for me. But my friends won’t let up—they just don’t get it. Douchebags or not, there’s one thing they’ll never understand: GIRLS DON’T WANT ME.
He’s seated at a table in the far corner when I spot him from the door. He’s not hard to miss—not with his purple t-shirt in a sea of black and yellow, and wavy mussed hair.
He’s slouching, hunched over his table.
My stomach rolls with nerves, nerves that have me rooted to the spot in the doorway, watching him.
For the entire four minutes I stand here, he sits immobile, studying his laptop, eyes moving along the screen, completely transfixed by whatever he’s reading.
“Just go over there,” I whisper to myself, blowing out a puff of pent-up air.
I put one foot in front of the other and begin toward him, spine ramrod straight, steeling myself, prepared for another argument.
“Do you mind if I sit here?” I lay my hand on the back of the wooden chair across from him, intending to pull it out.
He stiffens but doesn’t lift his head. “Yes I mind.”
“Would you mind if I sat at the table next to you?” I’m pushing his buttons, looking for a reaction, but he only spares me a brief glance.
Shrugs. “Free country.”
I bite my lip to hide a smile, glad he didn’t tell me to take a hike…
Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.
She lives with her husband, children, and her ridiculously large dog.
He’s loved Tiff since high school–but tragedy has blockaded her heart.
Tyee University football player Riley Black has adored Tiff since high school, but she’s never felt the same way. As Riley enters his senior year of college, he’s finally moving on and enjoying the perks of being a star athlete. Until one glimpse of Tiff unearths all those old feelings of longing and desire, not to mention the trauma of their shared past.
Tiffani Vernon has been running from her demons for seven years. When she’s forced to return to Seattle for financial reasons and attend the same college as Riley, she’s confronted with the traumatic event which has shaped her future and scarred her memories of Riley. Tiff struggles to avoid her secret high school crush, but he’s not having any of it. He’s pursuing her with a relentless determination to prove once and for all, they were meant to be together.
Can love finally heal their wounds or will they succumb to the pain and forever wonder what could have been?
* Riley *
Life-changing moments can be as obvious as a guy holding a gun to your forehead or as subtle as glimpsing a face in a crowd.
That gun and that face haunted my nights and often my days.
I hadn’t laid eyes on Tiffani Vernon since the night of our high school graduation over three years ago. She couldn’t leave Seattle fast enough, while I’d never considered going anywhere else. Seattle was the only real home I’d ever known, and I wanted to stay here and make things better. Face my fears head on. You know, crap like that.
Tiff ran from her fears, and our last night together had been epic, unforgettable, and scary as shit. She sped out of town and never looked back—especially not at me.
I knew why. It wasn’t personal, but that didn’t make me feel any better.
I reminded her of that horrible, awful day when our lives hung in the balance, the world shifted in a matter of minutes, and nothing would ever be the same again.
And there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.
Except move on.
And I had.
Or I thought I had, until I saw her standing across that proverbial crowded room. Our eyes met. Her brown ones to my blue ones. Recognition flashed in her eyes, then panic. Her mouth opened as if she were going to say something. Her expression went soft with regret. Shaking her head, she turned and ran, weaving through the crowd faster than a running back angling for the end zone. Her little pink skirt swished back and forth, calling attention to her fine ass and shapely legs. She was so smoking hot, heads swiveled as she passed.
Pain stabbed deep in my gut. Memories flooded back and slammed me to the turf, leaving me stuck to the beer-soaked floor. Graduation night. Her skin glowed in the moonlight as she gave herself to me, body and soul. I lost myself inside her, certain we’d be together forever. She left town the next morning, and I never saw her again.
Squelching that memory, I stood alone in a crowd of people, hearing nothing, sensing nothing, seeing nothing but the place where she’d stood a second ago. People elbowed me in their haste to get to the keg of beer I was blocking.
I shook my head, attempting to clear it.
She couldn’t be here.
She should be at USC starting her senior year, just as I was starting mine at the Ty, what us locals call Tyee University on Lake Union in Seattle.
She’d traded the rain and mud for sun and sand, and she’d traded me for surfer dudes and Hollywood wannabes.
But now she was back.
My feet refused to follow my orders. All I could do was gape open-mouthed like some creep with a stalker crush. There’d been other times I’d sworn I’d seen her, only to race after her and embarrass the hell out of myself when I found out the poor girl I’d dogged wasn’t Tiffani.
But we’d locked gazes this time, and there wasn’t any doubt in my mind. She was here. I tried to swallow, clear my throat, gulp in some oxygen. I swear my organs were either shutting down or going into overload. My heart slammed in my chest as if building to detonation, and my head pounded to the beat of the music in the room.
Oblivious to my disinterest, the blonde who’d been hustling me all night leaned in closer and gripped my arm. She slipped her tongue in my ear while her hand migrated to my crotch. I gave her a gentle shove, not giving one shit how rude my behavior was, even though I usually prided myself on being a nice guy.
“Later,” I told her and pushed through the throng of frat-house party-goers.
Almost frantic, I shoved my way to where I’d last seen her and caught a flash of blonde hair as she slipped out the door. I dashed after her down the sidewalk into the street and glanced left and right. She was gone, vanished into thin air as if she’d never existed. I waited five, then ten minutes, she never reappeared.
With a sigh, I trudged back to the party, ignoring the curious stares of the guys. I sank onto the couch in the living room, next to a couple of teammates, and faked interest in a football game on TV. My heart thudded wildly, and my hand shook as I lifted a pizza slice to my lips.
My eyes met the concerned blue gaze of my best friend, Gage Harmon, the team quarterback, campus man slut, and proud of both titles. He was chewing slowly and staring at me as if he expected me to strip naked and dance on the table while stone-cold sober.
“You okay, Ry man?”
“Yeah, fine. Thought I saw someone. I was wrong.”
One brow crept upward, disappearing under his messy blond hair. “Female?”
I nodded, refusing to meet his gaze on the off-chance he’d see the pathetic truth and peg me for the idiot I was. What kind of loser pines after a girl this long when he has the world at his feet?
Tiff was the only girl I’d ever truly loved.
And I’d never stopped loving her, as fucked up as that was.
* Tiff *
Running into Riley Black was inevitable. The Tyee campus was big, but obviously not big enough. Even so, I hadn’t expected to see him during my first week of classes. I’d carefully avoided the areas where he might be hanging out, such as Greek Row, and opted for an off-campus apartment. I planned my classes to avoid being near the football field and gym in the afternoons when he’d most likely be practicing. I timed everything with careful attention to detail and avoidance. Lot of good that did me.
Coming to this party had been a lapse in judgment. I should’ve known he’d be here. Maybe I secretly hoped to run into him, just to torture myself. Maybe I was all kinds of screwed up.
Okay, well, that’s stating the obvious. Ask my family. Ask my counselor. Ask my horse. They’d all agree. I, Tiffani Grace Vernon, was one fucked-up girl, and years of therapy had barely put a dent in my tormented past. Through no fault of his own, Riley brought back every traumatic memory of that fateful day when my charmed life became a living nightmare. He was a victim as much as I was.
Now, here we were. At the same frat party. I shouldn’t have come.
Our eyes met, and recognition instantly lit up his gaze. Those same cobalt blue eyes had studied me intently from across the room in our high school biology class. They’d watched me ride my horse in endless circles at the arena near his aunt’s house. Those same eyes had opened wide in horror as my ex-boyfriend, also his teammate, pointed a gun at each of us, aimed, and pulled the trigger. The loud bang had deafened me, and the smell of iron had filled my nostrils, followed by the wrenching pain of being slammed to the ground.
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.
Seeing him brought it all back as if it had happened six minutes ago instead of almost seven years.
Maybe seeing me did the same for him, too? He’d gaped at me like he’d seen a ghost. Momentarily frozen in shock, his mouth opened and closed as if he were trying to say something but couldn’t. Not that I would have heard him over the sea of drunken partygoers and the roar in my ears.
My brain clawed at the last shred of sanity as wave after wave of dizziness sucked me deeper into a swirling abyss of darkness. My lungs begged for oxygen until I had to be blue in the face. My legs wobbled, and I stuck out a hand to steady myself. Swaying like a drunken sailor, I accidentally buried my fingers in some sorority girl’s cleavage. She raised her hand to take a swing at me but was too wasted to come close.
“You stupid, perverted bitch.”
Whatever. She was the least of my worries.
The music was so loud, no one paid attention to us. I wasn’t a fighter, and the time had come to get my ass out of here, not so much to run from her—I could handle her—but to get away from him and the demons nipping at my heels
I abandoned my beer on a windowsill and shoved my way through the crowd, desperate to exit as quickly as possible. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw Riley dodging people in the crowd with deft footwork that would do any running back proud. Only he wasn’t a running back. He was a tight end. The starting tight end for Tyee University. A big man on campus with an NHL star uncle.
And I was—
And I planned on keeping it that way. I didn’t have any interest in being in the spotlight or even in a flashlight.
It’d been a mistake to enroll here, but I hadn’t had a choice. My parents’ divorce had been costly, leaving no money for out-of-state tuition. So here was I was. Back in the area I both loved and despised among the best of memories drowned out by the worst of tragedies with the one person who played a part in both.
I ran out the door and down the front steps, knowing he was only seconds behind. Glancing around desperately, I dived into some bushes in front of the apartment building next to the frat house and huddled in the darkness.
I waited what seemed like hours.
Finally, I peeked through the branches of the bush. Riley stood there, several feet away, gazing down the street with such profound sadness, you’d think he’d lost his best friend. His big hands hung loosely at his sides. He still had that one lock of dark hard that refused to stay in place. He looked the same, but different. A familiar face, yet a stranger.
Shaking his head, Riley trudged back inside, his shoulders slumped and his feet dragging.
I almost ran after him—almost—but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t invite the one person back into my life who could destroy every bit of progress I’d made since high school. Even worse, I couldn’t drag him down with me.
I waited long after he’d gone inside before creeping along the side of the building, and around the corner. I ran the several blocks home and collapsed on my bed. Only then did the wrenching sobs shake my body and wring every bit of emotion from my soul until nothing was left but bone-deep weariness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
USA Today Bestselling Author Jami Davenport writes sexy contemporary, sports, and new adult romances, including her two new indie endeavors: the Game On in Seattle series and the Men of Tyee series. Jami lives on a small farm near Puget Sound with her Green Beret-turned-plumber husband, a Newfoundland dog with a tennis-ball fetish, and a prince disguised as an orange tabby cat. She works in computer support in her day job and juggles too many balls, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Connect with Jami!
Subscribe to my newsletter to receive a free novel and be notified of new releases, special sales, and contests: http://eepurl.com/LpfaL
The strong and sexy Blake Bennett is downright irresistible. And Clara Abernathy is doing everything she can to resist his charm.
After spending her life in group homes, Clara yearns for the love and warmth of a true family. With the Bennetts treating her like their own, she can’t possibly fall for Blake. That would be crossing a line…
But when Clara needs a temporary place to live, and she accepts Blake’s offer to move next door to him, things escalate. Suddenly, she’s not only supposed to resist the man who’s hell-bent on having her, but the TV station she works for is determined to dig up some dirt on the Bennett family.
Blake knows family friends are off-limits, and Clara is more off-limits than anyone. But Clara’s sweetness and sass fill a hole in him he wasn’t even aware of. Soon, he finds himself gravitating toward her, willing to do anything to make her happy.
Blake enjoys bending the rules—much more than following them, but will bending this one be taking it too far?
YOUR FIERCE LOVE is the seventh book in Layla Hagen’s Bennett Family series, but all books stand alone.
She almost shrinks into herself, and I instantly see red at the thought that others made her feel small or wish she’d be invisible. My first instinct is to ask who made her feel that way and make them pay, but I don’t see how that would make this any better. So I follow my second instinct—reassuring her I won’t ever make her feel small.
I close the distance to her, placing my hands on her shoulders, pressing one thumb at the base of her neck. Her pulse is erratic.
“I want you here, Clara. I wouldn’t have offered this place otherwise.”
I value my privacy, which is why I didn’t rent out this apartment, not even to friends.
For the longest time, I had zero hesitation about letting people in my life. I’m a very sociable person; I like being surrounded by a crowd. The more, the merrier. Making friends has always come easy for me. It took me a long while to realize some people just hung around because I provided them with luxuries—free vacations, free everything. I was young when my family came into money, which had positives and negatives. I had everything I needed and wanted, but I also didn’t learn the value of caution or mistrust. It took many mishaps for me to realize some people only stuck around for what I gave them, and when that wasn’t enough, they showed their ugly side.
So now I’m more cautious, but Clara is one of the few people I feel comfortable around. I can be myself with her, just like with my family. She’s fun, smart, and no one who openly admits what she wants most is a family can have a mean or traitorous bone in their body.
There’s that small detail of me being unable to stop touching her, especially since she’s so responsive. The pad of my thumb is still at the base of her neck. Her pulse is, if possible, even more frantic.
“Any general house rules?” she asks, her voice uneven.
“None that I can think of. Except… I usually go to sleep very late and then wake up late in the mornings.”
“Makes sense, since the bar and the restaurants open and close late.”
“Yeah. I’m a light sleeper in the morning, so if you sing in the shower—”
An image of Clara in the shower pops in my mind. Christ, what I wouldn’t give to see that, to join her. Not going there. Not going there.
Lowering my hand, I skim it down her arm. Her skin turns to goose bumps under my touch, and she sucks in a breath. Her reaction to me is intoxicating, makes it hard to keep my thoughts in line, even harder not to touch her more, see what other reactions I can provoke.
Jesus, this is escalating far too easily. We’ve spent time with each other before, so why is this spinning out of control so fast?
Want to win?
Layla Hagen has a $100 gift card giveaway running on her facebook page to celebrate the release – head on over to check it out!
Want to catch up on the Bennett Family series? Grab them now!
Your Irresistible Love (The Bennett Family Series, Book 1):
Twisted Twosome, an all new sexy, laugh out loud romantic comedy from Meghan Quinn is coming August 3rd!
Twisted Twosome by Meghan Quinn
Publication Date: August 3, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Racer McKay is a broody bastard.
From the moment I met him, he’s been rude, irritable, and unbearable.
A contractor working to remodel my parents pool house for extra cash, he stomps around in those clunky construction boots with his tool belt wrapped around his narrow waist, and a chip on his shoulder.
Racer McKay is also infuriatingly . . . sexy as hell. I want to take that pencil tucked behind his ear, and draw lazy lines slowly up and down his body all the while wanting to strangle him at the same time.
We try to stay out of each other’s way . . . that is until I have no other option but to ask for his help.
But what I don’t realize is he needs me just as much as I need him. I have money he’s desperate for, and he holds the key to making my dreams come true.
Our pranks turn from sarcastic banter, to sexual tension and lust-filled glances. Bickering matches quickly morph into slow burn moments. We’re hot, we’re cold. We push and pull. I need him, I don’t want him. We’re on the verge of combusting with an agreement dangling dangerously between us. Neither one of us can afford to lose one another and yet, we’re finding it quite hard to decipher the line that rests between love and hate.
Why is it so goddamn drafty in here? I grip my hammer in my hand, my tool belt riding low on my hips, and my stereotypical construction hat rests on my head as I finish up the project I was hired to do.
Taking a quick look around, I search the bedroom looking for an open window or AC vent that’s blowing a cold breeze right against my dick and sac, making it almost impossible to look semi-decent in this scrap of fabric.
“Mmm, I think you forgot a nail on the ground over there,” says the throaty, smoke-filled voice of Mrs. Sage, who is lying across her chase lounge wearing a silky pink robe that is barely tied around her waist. She makes it her mission to show me as much skin as possible, and as we’re talking about skin showing . . .
I bend down to pick up the nail she’s pointing at as the thin strip of man thong material rides higher up my ass crack than I care to admit.
Let’s pause for a second.
Are you wondering to yourself, is Racer really wearing a man-thong as he finishes building a solid oak shelf?
The answer is yes. Yes, I am.
I’m Racer McKay and I wear man thongs for older, rich women while I work on simple projects around their houses. Excuse me, I mean mansions.
Don’t worry. Yes, I’m also very much ashamed to admit the level I’ve stooped to in order to make some cash. I have my pride, but right now, when I’m offered three hundred dollars more to build a shelf in a man thong, I’m choosing to seize the opportunity.
Self-respect was thrown out the window two years ago when a pile of bills and responsibilities were thrust in my direction without any preparation or warning. Making money is as vital as breathing to me, so I will take it any way I can get it.
Cue the man thong.
“Oh, you’re right. Here it is,” I say, holding up the nail. “Thanks for the help, Mrs. Sage. I would hate to see you hurt yourself from my lack of attention to detail.”
She waves me off and puffs her chest toward me, her robe slipping farther apart, showing the cleavage of a very saggy pair of breasts. I’ve seen my fair share of boobs and even though I don’t mingle sex with work, I can’t help but want Mrs. Sage to remove the robe just so I can see what she has hidden under the silky fabric.
How saggy are we talking here?
I’m interested for exploratory reasons, for knowledge of every kind of breast out there. Because right now, Mrs. Sage looks like she’s rocking a pair of pancakes that have been flattened by a steamroller.
“You would just have to nurse me back to health if that happened.” Her finger trails up her varicose vein-covered leg to her geriatric hip. I hold back the shiver that wants to spin up my spine.
All I can say is . . . can’t unsee that.
I nervously laugh and tuck my hammer into its holster. “Not much of a nurse, Mrs. Sage. I might hurt you even more.”
“I don’t mind getting hurt.” She starts to spread her legs and that’s when I call it a day.
I turn around quickly, snag my jeans and slip them up and over my legs, struggling with my tool belt getting in the way. Once things are in place, I remove my hat, put on my shirt, and then cover my hair with a backwards baseball cap. The peep show is over.
Once dressed, I gather my tools, tuck my construction hat under my arm, and turn to Mrs. Sage. This is my least favorite part, getting the old bird to pay up.
“Leaving already?” She pouts, lipstick on her teeth.
“Unfortunately, I have another engagement I’m running late for.” A lie, but it’s the only way I know to get out of here.
“That’s a shame. I really should book you for a whole day. That way you can’t skirt out of here earlier than I’m ready for.”
She walks out of the den and into the entryway where she opens her purse and pulls out a wad of one-hundred-dollar bills. My brain explodes from the amount of cash in her purse, as if it’s chump change she’s ready to throw around at a parade dedicated to her and her riches.
“What do I owe you? Six hundred?”
Fuck, it’s five hundred and if I wasn’t a nice guy, I wouldn’t correct her, but I believe in good karma. Especially considering where my bad luck has gotten me—trying to climb my way out of a large debt. I try to put as many good vibes out in the world as possible.
“We actually agreed upon five hundred, Mrs. Sage.”
“Such a bargain.” She flips through her cash, pulls out five bills—damn—and hands them over to me. “Shall I call for my next project?”
I pocket the cash. “Email is best, Mrs. Sage. I always feel awkward taking phone calls at work.”
“Such a hard worker.” She pats my face and leans forward, lips puckered, but I step to the side avoiding an attack from her old-lady lips.
As I depart, I wave my hand in the air and say, “Thanks, Mrs. Sage. I look forward to your next email.”
Out of her reach, I toss my tools in the back of my truck, enter the cab, and place my hands on the steering wheel as I exhale a long pent-up breath.
Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.
Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.
Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!