Read chapter one of Fractured Silence by Carrie Ann Ryan before it release 4/18/17!

 fs-teaser1

Carrie Ann Ryan’s FRACTURED SILENCE releases April 18th…but we couldn’t wait that long! You can get a sneak peek at the first chapter of FRACTURED SILENCE below!

 

 

Fractured Silence (1)

 About FRACTURED SILENCE

The Talon Pack continues with a dark secret that could shatter the future of the Packs, or save them all.

Parker Jamenson is the son of three Packs, the sole mediator between every Pack in the United States and Europe, and…he’s dying. He knows he doesn’t have much left in him and is in desperate need of a mate. But with the new and unyielding changes thanks to the Moon Goddess, he might not have as much time as he thinks.

Brandon Brentwood is the Omega of the Talon Pack and the youngest of his family. He’s not only one of the famed triplets; he’s also the most secretive. There’s a good reason for that, however, and when a shocking revelation meshes the past and present in a very unexpected way, he’ll look to not only Parker but also a disgraced human to save them all.

Avery Montag knows she’s the daughter of a traitor and doesn’t have much to give the wolves in the way of atonement. But she’ll do everything she can to pay for her father’s sins and find a way to end the war between the humans and the wolves.

When the three turn to each other in a time of unrest and for vastly different reasons, temptation burns and seduction beckons. Only, the past, present, and future are never as solid as they seem, and the path the trio thought to travel may just vanish before they’re ready.

Add FRACTURED SILENCE to your Goodreads list here!

FRACTURED SILENCE releases April 18th – preorder your copy now!

✦ Amazon http://amzn.to/2j7vD99

✦ iBooks http://apple.co/24mk437

✦ Nook http://bit.ly/2e533YX

✦ Kobo http://bit.ly/2dXsxST

✦ Google Play http://bit.ly/2duYCmR

fs-teaser2

Get a Sneak Peek at the First Chapter of FRACTURED SILENCE

Chapter One

Before

 

Parker Jamenson woke with a start as someone knocked on the door to the small cabin he’d been staying in for the duration of his visit to this particular European Pack. Using his wolf’s senses, he inhaled deeply, noting that the person on the other side of the door was one of the younger wolves that had shown him around when he’d first gotten there. He hadn’t met most of the Pack, as the people of the den hadn’t been too keen on his presence. He’d only just fallen asleep in the armchair fully clothed, exhausted from the trip.

He’d already spoken to the Alpha about coming together with the Redwoods in times of war, but the damn man hadn’t been too eager to reveal his existence to the world. All Alphas were required to meet with Parker as the Voice of the Wolves because he was goddess-touched, but that didn’t mean they had to listen. Hell, most of them would rather bury their heads in the sand and ignore what was going on around them. And while his own Pack might be older than most in the United States, the European Packs were ancient and set in their ways. No one wanted to deal with the fact that the humans were aware of the shifters’ existence, but Parker knew that soon, no one would have a choice.

He opened the door after a moment and nodded at the young woman on the other side. “Tatiana.”

She smiled coyly at him before licking her lips. He could scent her wolf brushing up against her skin, wanting touch, but Parker wasn’t interested. He just wanted to get this meeting with the elders over with and head back home. Her long, honey-colored hair had been in a braid when he’d first met her, but now it looked as if she’d brushed it out over her shoulders and back so it cascaded over her curves. She’d also put on a long, white, flowing dress instead of the tan one she’d worn when he’d shown up.

And though she looked to be his same age and her power felt even younger, she dressed as if she were some maiden from a bygone era on the hunt for a knight.

Parker would not be that knight— no matter how much those eyes of hers flashed yearning.

“Parker,” she breathed. “I’m to take you to the elder circle for your last meeting before you go.” A pause. “It’s a shame we didn’t have more time to get to know one another while you were here. I understand you leave in the morning, but perhaps the meeting won’t take long, and I can show you more of the grounds. I’m sure your wolf could use some exercise.” She smiled. “And though it’s not a full moon, there’s just enough moonlight for the run to be… thrilling.”

He held back a chuckle that wanted to spill out since that would have been rude. She wasn’t hiding anything she wanted, and while he might have appreciated that on another day, he just wanted to go home. Besides, his wolf wasn’t interested in the woman in front of him, and while that might not matter for a quick night of heat, he didn’t have it in him to ignore his wolf tonight. Maybe I’m getting older, and in need of a mate, he thought. Or maybe he was just tired and missed his family. Either way, Tatiana wasn’t for him.

“I’m afraid I will have to get ready to head out after the elder circle.” He held back a frown at the crestfallen look on her face. They hadn’t said more than a few words before this, and though he was a new wolf to her, he wasn’t the only healthy adult male wolf around.

“I understand,” she said softly. “Follow me, then.” She turned without another word, but he didn’t miss the extra sway to her hips— an invitation if he were to change his mind.

Keeping his thoughts to himself so he wouldn’t inadvertently hurt her again if he were to change his mind— which he wouldn’t— he followed her through the winding, dirt paths of the den toward the oldest part at the edge of the center. It made sense that this was where the elders chose to live— just slightly outside the most used part of the den for privacy but not near the edge in case of an attack. As elders, they were to not only be respected but also protected.

Tatiana left Parker with a nod, and he bent to walk under a low-lying branch so he could make it to the elder’s circle. Encircling the firepit were seven older wolves of various sizes— three women and four men. At his entry, they all looked up as a unit and stared at him.

If he hadn’t seen his own elders do this before, he would have been creeped out. Elder wolves were those who had either lost their mates long ago or had never been mated, so they didn’t have a connection to the new world or the Pack except through their bonds to the Alpha and those in the hierarchy. After living for centuries, some wolves could no longer deal with the drastic changes of society and chose to cloister themselves. Many of the wolves held immense power on their own because of their age and used that strength to protect the Pack in any way they could.

Parker looked back at the elders respectfully. Though each of the wolves had at least two centuries on him, none of them looked a day over thirty-five. Wolf genetics never ceased to amaze him and he’d been born a wolf.

“Parker Jamenson, of the Redwoods,” the woman closest to him said after a moment. “Welcome. I am Aurora. We’re pleased you were able to take the time to meet with us before you head out on your journey home.”

Parker bowed his head in deference. “I will always meet with my elders, Aurora. To ignore those who have lived the past is to ignore what the future may bring.”

She smiled softly at his words and gestured for him to sit down before introducing him to the others. He kept their names in the back of his mind, but he knew that it was Aurora who led here, and she would be the one to speak.

“We’ve asked you to join us because we believe we have something that once belonged to your people. Your line.”

Parker’s eyes widened. “The Redwoods?” How did something of theirs find its way here?

“Not that line.” Aurora’s eyes went gold, her wolf rising to the surface. “The line of the first hunter. You are the son of the son of the son of the line of the first hunter, are you not?”

Parker froze. Not many people knew that his family came from that line. In fact, he’d only recently learned that his ancestor was the first human to be made into a wolf by the moon goddess as a punishment for what the man had done to defenseless prey. She’d forced the man to become the thing he killed for sport, compelled him to share a soul with that of a wolf. From there, new wolves were made, and shifters were born.

His uncle, Logan, had dealt with horrible side effects from that past, but other than his strength, Parker hadn’t really thought about what that meant. Logan had been far too aggressive even at a young age, and it had taken him years to learn how to fully control his wolf. He, like Parker, had also had to learn how to use their strength wisely when they’d been mere pups and still had to deal with some bursts of overextension some days. The family bloodline was diluted over time, and Parker had had more recent issues with it thanks to his birth father. His mother might be of the line of their honorable ancestors and campfire stories, but his birth father had been one of nightmares. He’d never truly met the man as he’d been young when Corbin died, but he knew the stories. Knew that the former Central Alpha had killed countless in his quest for power.

He pushed that thought out of his head, as he knew just letting it in would enrage him.

“I’m of that line, yes,” he answered after a moment. No need to lie as he had a feeling these wolves knew far more than this. “What did you find?” he asked.

Aurora nodded at one of the male wolves after Parker had spoken. The male stood up with shaky hands, a large box wrapped in cloth clasped between them.

Aurora took it gently from him. “This box is made of the woods of our people— Redwood, Aspen, Oak, and so forth. It is said those first Packs, along with the first ever, came together to make it.”

Parker frowned. “What’s in the box?”

“Open it and see.”

Though his wolf had stood at attention as soon as they’d mentioned the box, it wasn’t until Aurora unwrapped it— keeping her hands on the cloth rather than the wood— that his wolf howled.

He frowned. “I’m not going to open something I haven’t looked into with wolves I don’t know. I’m sorry if that’s disrespectful, but that just doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.”

Aurora’s eyes flashed, but he had a feeling it was more out of respect than anger. “It’s good you’re cautious. That will help.”

“Help what?”

“There is a prophecy,” she said after a moment. He blinked.

“A prophecy?” Why did he feel like he’d suddenly jumped into an old Indiana Jones movie?

Aurora’s eyes unfocused as she spoke in a deeper voice.

“A wolf of three Packs can break their will or unite them all.

“Once united, the Packs will reveal…

“If broken, the Packs will fall…”

Parker’s wolf rushed to the surface at her words, and he tried to blink, attempted to reach out and catch the woman as she fell forward after she’d finished speaking. Only he felt as if he were moving slower than usual, his mind not quite where it should be. His hand brushed the top of the box, and it slid to the ground, opening on impact.

He looked down, his head going fuzzy, his mouth dry.

An ancient dagger, or perhaps the tip of a spear, rolled out of the box amidst a dust cloud that slapped at his face.

“The weapon of the first hunter,” Aurora croaked before passing out completely. The others surrounded them, yet he could do nothing but try to keep himself upright.

Parker tried to speak but couldn’t force his mouth to work. Instead, his body broke out in a cold sweat, and he fell face-first to the ground.

The last thing he thought about before passing out was his family.

They weren’t here to help him.

No one was here to help him.

He was all alone.

And it was his fault.

Again.

 

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.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest

Read the 1st chapter of Katie McGarry’s upcoming release – Long Way Home! Releasing 1/31/17

longwayhome-chapterrevealbanner

 

 

The highly anticipated third book in Katie McGarry’s Thunder Road Series is being released on January 31st! LONG WAY HOME is a Young Adult Contemporary Romance being published by Harlequin Teen! Pre-order your copy of the next book in this emotionally charged series, and don’t miss Violet and Chevy’s story! Check out the first chapter below and be sure to pre-order your copy for the amazing bonus scenes!

 

 

CHAPTER ONE:

Chevy

 

The instructions of the English homework I didn’t do hang out from the top of my folder: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both.

Story of my life.

According to my football coach, I chose wrongly on the two crap paths I had to face last week. I just ran into Coach on the way to English, and he ripped into me for my sorry decision-making skills when it came to me choosing to stand up for the Reign of Terror Motorcycle Club instead of a member of my football team.

I didn’t just get my ass chewed out, his tirade made me late for English with no tardy note. Which is great since my English teacher hates late students like I hate riding my motorcycle in forty degree weather while it rains.

I round the corner, then peek through the small window on the door of my class. Ms. Whitlock stands in front of her desk in her patented white button-down shirt, gray pencil skirt and dark-rimmed glasses. From the back row, my best friend, Razor, meets my eyes and shakes his head. Damn. That means she’s in one of her moods where she’s refusing to let anyone in.

I’m not a tail-tucked-between-my-legs type of guy, but this lady is one of the few who can reduce me to begging. If she doesn’t let me in, then she’ll mark me as absent, the front office will think I skipped, and that means I won’t be able to play at tonight’s football game.

The window rattles when I knock. The entire class turns their heads in my direction, but Ms. Whitlock doesn’t. The muscles in my neck tighten. She is one of the hardest core people I know and my grandfather is the president of a motorcycle club. That says something.

She starts for the whiteboard and I knock on the door again. This time, Ms. Whitlock does look my way and she grants me the type of glare reserved for people who kick puppies. I got it. I’m late. I’m the scum of humanity, so let my ass in so I can play football.

There’s this guy in my club, Pigpen. He’s about the same age as Ms. Whitlock, late twenties, and he’s a walking hard-on for this woman even though she would never give him the time of day. He practically runs into walls when she’s around because he’s too focused on checking her out. I don’t see gorgeous—all I see is seriously pissed off and the person standing between me and playing.

Ms. Whitlock points at the clock over her desk. She’s telling me I can wait. If I’m lucky, she’ll open the door after the quiz that I’ll receive a zero on. If I’m not so lucky, she won’t open the door at all.

Two pathetic paths and I could only travel one. Nowhere in that stupid poem did it mention there was good and bad to both paths and that sometimes it’s best not to choose, but to set up camp at the fork and do nothing at all.

I slam my hand into the nearest locker, almost relishing the sting.

“Feel better?”

A glance across the hallway and I freeze. Doesn’t matter how many times I see her in a day, she still manages to take my breath away. Violet leans against the lockers as beautiful as ever. Red silky hair flowing over her shoulders, a pair of ripped jeans that look like they were tailored for her curves and enough bracelets around her wrists that they clank together when she moves.

Do I feel better? Not really, but I nod anyway as I try to judge if being alone with Violet causes more pain than having my balls ripped off. “Didn’t hurt.”

“Yes, I can see how slamming your hand against a locker didn’t hurt at all.”

My lips tilt up because she got me, and on top of that, Violet made a joke. Since she broke up with me last spring, things between us have been tense. On her side and on mine. Some people, like me and Violet, aren’t supposed to break up. Some people, like me and Violet, don’t know how to be near each other when we do part ways. “Are we talking now?”

“I’m locked out of class. You’re locked out of class. I could ignore you if that’s what you want.”

It’s not. Her ignoring me is never what I wanted. “Why are you late?”

Violet presses her lips together and looks away. A sixth sense within me stirs.Something’s wrong. I’ve known her my entire life. We were born only a few weeks apart and we learned to crawl on the sticky floor of the Reign of Terror clubhouse. We were friends, always friends, until one day, we weren’t just friends anymore. We became more until we lost it all.

“Late’s not your thing,” I say. Violet’s unconventional. Marches to her own drummer, but she’s not the type to be late to class. It’s a respect thing for her, something her dad taught her and Violet may never listen to another living soul, but she listened to her father. “What’s going on?”

She’s silent and frustration rumbles through me. Violet used to tell me everything. Used to see me as someone who could help solve her problems. She doesn’t see me like that anymore and it pisses me off. I’m angry at her for making us this way. Angry at myself for not figuring out how to fix us.

“You being late wouldn’t have anything to do with Stone, would it?” Stone’s her brother and the question’s a shot in the dark, but I don’t want to miss the chance to keep conversation with her going.

“Why are you late?” she replies as a nonanswer and my head snaps up. Guess sometimes blind shots do hit their mark. Violet was late because of Stone.

“What happened?” I push.

“I’m not talking about it.”

“Vi—”

She cuts me off. “I told you how to help me and my brother six months ago and you told me no.”

By running away? No again to that insane solution.

“Tell me why you’re late,” she says. “If you don’t, then you need to stop talking, because the last thing either of us needs right now beyond missing a quiz or possibly being marked as absent is detention for getting into a shouting match. At least it’s the last thing I need, okay?”

I back up to the lockers across from her and lightly hit my head against the metal. Yeah, I don’t want to talk about why I’m late either. I shove a hand into my pocket and try to think of a change in subject. Telling Violet I’m late because my football coach tore into me for hitting a guy who was causing problems for the Terror, a guy who had been causing problems for her, won’t help me and Violet stay civil. She’s mad at the club, which makes her mad at me.

Violet’s watching me, and her expression is a lot like someone trying to figure out a word problem for math. Unfortunately, she knows me as well as I know her.

“Being late is going to cost you, isn’t it?” she asks. “You can’t play tonight if she marks you absent, can you?”

I meet her blue eyes, and my chest hurts at the sympathy I find there. I’d willingly miss tonight’s game if I could rewind back to a time where I could talk to Violet with ease and that’s not the type of trade I’d normally make.

Football is my life. So is the motorcycle club. The Reign of Terror are my family—the blood kind and the bonds of brotherhood kind. I don’t know who I am without the Terror, but to be honest, I don’t know who I am without football either.

Lately, I’ve been torn between the two, just like that poem, and everyone in my life has chosen a side. Violet used to be the person I could talk to, but then she walked.

Six months ago, Violet asked me to run away with her.She was driven by grief, driven by something she wouldn’t tell me about. When I told her no, that we needed to stay home, to be near our family, to be near the club, Violet returned the next night and announced I was choosing the club over her and that we were done.

Being a running back, I’ve taken more than my fair share of hits over the years, but I’ve never been as blindsided as I was that night. Never experienced the type of pain her leaving me created.

The door to the classroom opens and a sense of relief washes over me. I’ll have to bust my ass to bring up my grade thanks to that zero on the quiz, but at least I’ll be able to play tonight.

Ms. Whitlock steps out and sizes me up, then Violet. “I’m only letting you in if you have a note, otherwise you can head to the office and hope they give you one.”

Screw me. There’s no way I’ll make it to the office, get a note and return in time. Right as I’m about to kick the hell out of the locker, Violet glides past me and hands in her note. “This is Chevy’s.”

My head whips in her direction. “It’s what?”

“Yours.” Violet meets my eyes. “Thanks for offering it to me, but it’s not right for me to take it. I’m the one who didn’t have a note, and I’m the one who needs to make it right.”

She begins walking backward, and my short-circuited brain sparks back to life. I can’t let her do this. “Violet—”

“Have a good game tonight,” she says, then disappears down the stairs.

“Are you joining us, Mr. McKinley, or not?” Ms. Whitlock demands. Never met a person I hate as much as this lady and it takes everything I have to force one foot in front of the other.

Everyone watches me as I stalk down the aisle then drop into the last seat in the row, the one next to Razor. He’s calm, cool, blond hair, blue eyes, and he’s watching me like an owl who’s considering whether it wants that unsuspecting mouse for a snack now or later.

Ms. Whitlock is lost in her own world as she continues babbling about poem interpretations and people who died too long ago. I can do little more than open my folder and stare at the top of my homework.

“Chevy,” Razor whispers, and I glance over at him. He points to the paper on his desk and in his messy handwriting is You okay?

Yes, because I get to play football tonight. No, because Violet sacrificed herself for it to happen. Hell no, because the world’s messed up and I don’t know how to fix it. Worse no, because I don’t know if I should read more into what Violet did—if it means somewhere deep inside she still thinks we have a chance.

I shake my head, Razor nods and the two of us stare at the whiteboard. Two roads. One path. Can’t take both. The guy who wrote it acts like the choice should be easy. It’s not. And he also didn’t mention what happens when people like Violet shove you onto a path regardless of your thoughts.

“So how many of you liked the poem?” Ms. Whitlock asks.

The entire class raises their hands. Almost everyone, except for me and Razor.

 

And don’t miss the next chapters of LONG WAY HOME!
January 12: YA Books Central
January 13: Vilma’s Book Blog

 

 

longwayhome-cover

LONG WAY HOME Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

LONG WAY HOME Pre-Order Links:

Amazon | Kobo | BAM | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

 

 

“An intoxicating and unforgettable story that kept me glued to the page.”

Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on Walk the Edge

 

Add it to your Goodreads Now!

 

 

long-way-home-_-chapter-reveal-teaser-1

 

Don’t Miss the First Two Titles in the Thunder Road Series! And WALK THE EDGE is just $1.99 in eBook for a limited time only! Grab your copies today!

NOWHERE BUT HERE

WALK THE EDGE

 

 

 

long-way-home-preorder-deal-graphic

Pre-order LONG WAY HOME by Katie McGarry, and fill out THIS FORM, to receive three previously unreleased bonus scenes featuring important “firsts” in the lives of your favorite characters from the world of Katie McGarry! Complete the form to register your pre-order at https://wyng.com/campaign/820152.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

katie-mcgarry-author-picKatie McGarry Bio:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, NOWHERE BUT HERE and WALK THE EDGE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads

 

inkslinger-pr-blogger-banner

Chapter Reveal! After We Fall by Melanie Harlow ~ coming November 28, 2016!

SBPR-AWF-ER.jpg

After We Fall by Melanie Harlow
Publication Date: November 28th, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

MHAfterWeFallBookCover5x8_BW_300.jpg

Synopsis:

Jack Valentini isn’t my type.

Sexy, brooding cowboys are fine in the movies, but in real life, I prefer a suit and tie. Proper manners. A close shave.

Jack might be gorgeous, but he’s also scruffy, rugged, and rude. He wants nothing to do with a “rich city girl” like me, and he isn’t afraid to say so.

But I’ve got a PR job to do for his family’s farm, so he’s stuck with me for ten days, and I’m stuck with him. His glares. His moods. His tight jeans. His muscles.

His huge, hard muscles.

Pretty soon there’s a whole different kind of tension between us, the kind that has me misbehaving in barns, trees, and pickup trucks. I’ve never done anything so out of character—but it feels too good to stop.

And the more I learn about the grieving ex-Army sergeant, the better I understand him. Losing his wife three years ago left him broken and bitter and blaming himself. He doesn’t think he deserves a second chance at happiness.

But he’s wrong.

I don’t need to be his first love. If only he’d let me be his last.

“Second chances are not given to make things right, but are given to prove that we could be even better after we fall.” —Unknown

Excerpt:

“Wow,” she said, shutting the screen door behind her. “That was close. Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome.” I crossed my arms, wishing I’d thought to grab a shirt. “Want to tell me what you were doing out there?”

Her cheeks colored. “Um, I was taking a run.”

“Up a tree?”

She laughed nervously. “No. Well, I didn’t start out in a tree. That happened later.”

I cocked my head, unable to resist giving her a hard time. Not so sure of yourself now, are you, Barbie? “Oh yeah?”

“Yes. See, I left the cottage I’m renting without using the bathroom by mistake,” she began, twisting her fingers together, “and I was planning on running a loop around the farm, but it’s bigger than I thought.”

“Ah. So you were looking for a bathroom in the woods?”

“Well, yes.” She swallowed. “Sort of. But then I heard a splash and saw you…” Her cheeks were practically purple now.

I played dumb. “Saw me what?”

“Saw you naked, OK?” she blurted, throwing her hands up. “I admit it—I saw you naked.”

I had no hangups about nudity, but I was damn serious about my privacy, and about people sneaking up on me. But her embarrassment was funny. The two times I’d seen her before, she’d been so polished and poised. It felt good to put her in her place a little. “So you climbed a tree for a better view, is that it?”

Bowing her head, she dragged the toe of one shoe across the wood planks of the porch floor. “Something like that.” Then she looked up at me. Took a breath. “I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. I was—I mean, I got—I couldn’t—” She sighed, briefly closing her eyes. “I have no excuse. Will you accept my apology?”

She was prettier without makeup, I decided. And the way she wore her hair off her face emphasized the wideness of her eyes, the angle of her cheekbones, the arch of her brows. Her lips didn’t need all that glossy crap, either. They were a perfect rosy pink, and I wondered if they’d feel as soft as they looked.

Fuck. I hadn’t kissed anyone in three years.

Clearing my throat, I took a step back. “Yeah. It’s fine.” Now get out of here.

She didn’t move. “So you’re not going to fire me?”

“I never hired you.”

“I know. But I really want this job. I think I can help, Jack. I know I can.”

“Suit yourself. I want nothing to do with it.” My name on her lips was trouble. Needing some distance from her, I started walking toward the dock to get my shoes and socks, but she followed me. God, she was a pest. It reminded me of the way Steph used to tag along after the boys when we were kids, wanting to get in our games.

“Are you going to be like this the entire time I’m here?” she asked.

“Like what?”

“Moody and uncooperative?”

“Probably.”

“Why? Do you hate me that much?”

“I don’t hate anybody. I just don’t see why we should pay some city girl who’s never set foot on a farm to advise us.” We reached the dock, and I leaned down to get my stuff.

“I’m not even asking to be paid, so piss off!” she shouted, her voice carrying on the water.

I straightened. “Oh, you’re working for free?”

“Yes!”

“Then you’re an idiot. Or so rich you don’t need the money.”

“I’m not an idiot,” she said through clenched teeth.

“So you’re rich, then.” I don’t know why I was being such an asshole. But for some reason, I did not want to let her see another side of me, or see another side to her. “I should have guessed.”

She crossed her arms. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means you look like you’ve led a charmed life. Like you’ve had everything you’ve ever wanted handed to you. Like you’ve never gotten your hands dirty.”

“So get them dirty.”

I almost fell off the dock. “What?”

“Get them dirty. Teach me about working this farm. I want to learn.”

Was she serious? The last thing I needed was to drag her ass around all day, explaining things. Or stare at her ass all day, imagining things. But one look at her defiant face and I shook my head. “Why do I feel like if I say no, you’ll just keep bothering me?”

She smiled and clasped her hands behind her back, rocking forward on her toes. “Because I will. I don’t like being told no.”

“Of course you don’t.” Jesus, she was trouble. A bad apple—smooth and shiny on the outside, spoiled rotten on the inside. But for no good reason, I found myself giving in. “Fine. Go change your clothes.”

Add to Goodreads

a07b63d7a33cfda64563b15403408216.png

Pre-Order Links:

iBooks: http://apple.co/2g8oepo
Nook: http://bit.ly/2gvsWRW
Sign up to get notified when it’s live on Amazon: http://bit.ly/1HY7Z75

About the 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 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.

Connect with Melanie:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelanieHarlow/?fref=ts
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NPkYKs
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1TkpDqF
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MelanieHarlow2
Website: http://www.melanieharlow.com
Newsletter: http://www.melanieharlow.com/contact/

Read the first chapter of Hail Mary by Nicola Rendell – coming November 28, 2016!

 

 
Coming November 28th
Exclusive iBooks pre order:
goodreads-badge.png
AP new - synopsis.jpg
At a boxing gym in Chicago, Mary Monahan accidentally knocks out the most handsome man she’s ever met. After she wakes him up with a few slaps and some smelling salts, the very first thing he does is ask her out for ribs and beer. His name is Jimmy. He looks like a Gillette model. And he’s just too hunky to resist.

Jimmy “The Falcon” Falconi is mystified that Mary has absolutely no idea who he is. Mystified and refreshed. He is, after all, not your everyday NFL quarterback. He shops at Costco, has a soft spot for Pinterest, and is in the midst of an epic losing streak.

Jimmy falls for Mary fast and hard, the way he does everything—balls out and like it’s fourth and long. And he realizes he’s finally met his match. That stamina he’s so proud of? Doesn’t stand a chance against her Kegels.

But what they don’t know is she’s also his new physical therapist, recently hired by the Bears to work on his rotator cuff…and groin injury. If she can’t help him, he’ll be traded faster than they can say “offensive penetration.”

In spite of the thousands of internet memes featuring Jimmy’s face with captions like: “HEY GIRL, WANT TO TOUCH MY BALLS?” Mary finds herself falling for him and his unrelenting desire to make her his.

Until a toddler shows up at Jimmy’s door.

And throws their lives into total chaos.

***

To the reader: Contents includes love, sweetness, naughtiness, honey, champagne, and an HEA. Safe.


Chapter 1
Jimmy


She’s got a hell of a left hook, and her jab is no joke either. It’s hard to tell what she really looks like, with the big blue rubber mouth guard between her teeth and the black padded headgear covering her jaw and cheeks. But I know this: I want to get my hands on that body. Her tight pink tee is low cut and skin tight, and across her breasts are the words: “NOBODY’S PUSSYCAT.”
A cold draft blows in from the window, making goosebumps ripple up her arms. A thin stream of sweat runs down into her cleavage, and then I watch her nipples tighten. Christ. With little bounces, she heads back to her corner and bends over for her water bottle. Stretchy black leggings and no panty line.
Fuuuuuck.
The buzzer dings and we square up. She holds her gloves up to her face, ready to go. They’re bubblegum pink with white cuffs; the girliest weapons I’ve ever seen.
But never mind the gloves. It’s those eyes that have me. Shit, those eyes. This crazy deep green. Packers’ green. Jets’ green. Green like cash. Green that could make a guy go right out of his mind.
Pow goes a jab into my stomach and I double over, tasting my Gatorade from an hour ago. Before I can breathe, before I can even get up my gloves to slow her down, she pelts me hard with a cross to my sternum that knocks the wind straight out of me. I gasp for air and stagger back into the ropes.
“Jesus Christ,” I moan. “Who are you?”
Her eyes light up in this smile. This beautiful fucking smile that I feel way down inside. Then she bounces on her toes and smacks her gloves together out in front of her. Whap, whap. “I’m Mary!” she says around her mouth guard. “And you’re slow!”
Cute. But, yeah…no. Nobody talks to me like that. Nobody. I hurl myself off the ropes, colliding with her in the center of the ring, skin against skin now. I press into her sexy shoulder with my bicep, feeling the sweat between us. She nails me in the gut again; a solid, low-slung straight, and I think, I can’ t hit a girl, can I?
No. Fuck, no.
So I stretch my arm between us, the padding of my glove holding her steady right below her collarbone. She swings for me but I’m a foot taller and she doesn’t stand a chance. “Jerk!”
Obviously.
But on the upside, now I can really get a good look at her the way I want to; close up, but not so close that she’s pummeling me. Her legs are solid and I can even see that little curve of her hipbones barely showing through her leggings. I let my eyes follow the line of sweat to her inner thighs, to that wet, hot place where everything comes together. Fuck. I want my hands on that place. I want to feel the softness and the strength. I want to know the taste of that sweat. The way that softness gives under my tongue.
Ding goes the buzzer. I push her away, padded knuckles to her shoulder. She spins and gets into her corner, so I do the same.
I grab my water bottle and squirt it into my mouth, watching her all the time. She’s fucking beautiful, this one. Fucking gorgeous. The woman of dreams. Of fantasies.
From a pink Nalgene, she takes one big gulp, two, and a little water dribbles down her lips, rolling in drops down her throat. Her eyes stay right on mine. Her chest heaves. Her eyes flash. Her lips tighten. And that’s when it happens. She peels off her T-shirt and tosses it to the floor so that the only word showing is PUSSY.
Ding.
Her body is fucking perfect. I mean perfect. I moan into my mouth guard and I look her up and down. Lean but not thin. Sexy and strong. A fighter’s body. A woman’s body. A body strong enough to take everything I want to give it. And then some.
She turns to set down her water bottle, bending at the waist. And that’s when I see it. The tattoo. It’s a ribbon of black lace that runs in a beautiful, feminine line down her back from right shoulder to left hip, curving down into her pants. Tough as hell, pretty as can be. And with the sexiest tattoo I’ve ever seen in my life.
Stick a motherfucking fork in me. I’m done.
“Nice ink,” I tell her as we square up again.
“Thanks,” she says, leaning in to my shoulder.
“I’ve never seen one like it.” I hook my arm around her again and pull her in. I smell something familiar. I can’t place it. She slips free and moves behind me. For one second, all I can hear is her shoes on the mats.
“I rebelled when I turned 30. It was either this or a tramp stamp.”
“Of what?” I pivot so my face is close against hers.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” She smiles tight around the mouth guard. Her glove comes through the air, cutting through the noise of the gym. Whooosh.
I get my right hand up just in time to block her with my glove. The impact rolls down my forearm like I’m nothing but Jell-O.
She lets another jab fly but misses me—barely—and I slip around behind her. The hair at the nape of her neck is curly and wet, and a long dark braid runs down her back. That strip of wet fabric at the top of her pants, dark with sweat. “Why are we fighting?” I growl as I get closer. “Why aren’t we out drinking? Making trouble? Fucking around? Let me take you out.”
She spins to face me, her eyes wide open, surprised. “You wanna drink with me?”
“Hell yes, I do. And a lot of other things.”
“You want me? Fight me.” She fires her bubblegum pink cannons at my stomach with a one-two combination that makes me feel like I’m nothing but a 283-pound heavy bag.
I try to get in a left cross, but she’s way faster than I am and comes up from under with a hook straight out of Manila.
That one got me in my brainpan, in my marrow. “Fuck that,” I snarl.
“Atta boy!”
No way. Nobody atta boys me. I’m Jimmy Goddamned Falconi. I’m nobody’s boy. Never.
“Atta girl.” I nudge her in the shoulder with my chest.
Around her guard, she says, “You fight like you’re in molasses. But you’re strong. You some kind of athlete?”
At first, I’m about to laugh. For about one second, I think I might be on Candid Camera or something. I mean, I can’t walk to the bathroom on an airplane without someone asking me to sign a cocktail napkin. I can’t get through Costco without someone asking me to sign their shopping list. Some kind of athlete?
I’m Jimmy “The Falcon” Falconi. Quarterback for the Chicago Goddamned Bears. I’m somebody.
But there’s zero recognition in her eyes. No flicker of the fangirl. No sign she’s playing it cool either. To her, I’m just a guy getting his ass kicked by a girl in pink gloves.
“Hello?” She presses into my chin with a slow uppercut from the right.
I snap out of it. I don’t even know how to answer her. I play quarterback for the Bears. Ever heard of them? Or maybe, Ever heard of football? America’s Game? Fuck. I wouldn’t even know how to start. I’ve never had to explain it. People just know. “Yeah, I like to work out.”
“Then act like it,” she says, all piss and vinegar, and puts her guard back in her mouth. Wham comes that jab into my gut. Pow goes the straight to my pecs. I loop one arm around her and pull her body in close, hooking the back of her neck with the crook of my elbow. I pull her closer, tighter, both arms around her, to get a feel for her…but also to give myself a goddamned break.
She struggles a little, trying to squirm free, but I see the smile on her face, the crinkle of the skin at her eyes.
I pull her head closer to mine. I must be twice her weight; no way is she going to get free now. We are the welterweight and the super heavyweight. Wrong class totally. But then she wedges her forehead in against my chest. I watch her wind up, her biceps flexing, and, boom-boom-boom.
Every time she connects, I lose a little more air and groan, “Fuck-fuck-fuck!”
“Atta boy!”
Fuck. That.
So I keep her pinned and she starts fighting harder, which makes me want to hang on to her more. I press my nose against her head. In her thick brown hair, I can smell her shampoo, her conditioner. Coconut.
While I’m distracted by that smell, thinking of sunscreen and ukulele music and drinks with umbrellas and her on a beach, she slips out from under my arms and pops up in my face.
Well, shit.
“What, you chicken? Gonna hit me back? Or do you want to dance around for an hour or two? Because I can totally do that. I just have to go home to feed the dog.” Whap-whap go her padded fists.
Oh no, no way. No way am I going to let a pretty little thing talk to me like that. I sniff hard and man up.
I give her a jab. A hook. A cross.
And she blocks me every damned time. Blocks me like she’s fought me before, or like
she’s known all along what I’ll do when it comes down to it.

Fucking wax-on-wax off, one-two-three.
Pow-pow go her gloves into my side, and fuck. I think I feel those it in my spleen. Enough. Enough. Anger boils up through me like cheap vodka after a long night.
I’m Jimmy Falconi. And I’m gonna make this girl know my name.
I crack my neck side to side and get serious. I suck air through the holes in my mouth guard and get my fists up. I edge her into the corner and those eyes flash at me. She’s sweating hard and her mascara is smudged. Her hair is mussed and her skin is slick. It makes her look dangerous. Angry. I’d like to smudge that mascara a little more. In bed. Immediately.
But first, I’m going to show her who’s boss.
The more she works herself up, the hotter she gets. That’s when something catches my eye. There’s something written on the white cuffs of her gloves. All fuzzy, written in black marker:
On the right glove: HERE COMES…
On the left:…TROUBLE!
Whomp.
She nails me in the jaw with a haymaker, and my molars shake. “Come the fuck on,” I growl back at her, with my glove pressed to the side of my face.
She smacks her gloves together, and lowers her chin. “Are we sparring or chatting? Hit me!” Bounce, bounce, bounce. Butterfly, bee. Whap, whap, whap. “I’m not going to break!”
I work my jaw open and closed a few times thinking, Okay. Fine. Fine. I didn’t think it was going to go like this, but I can roll with a hostile defense, sure. Wouldn’t be the first time. I give her the old elevator stare—up, down, up again—and get stuck on her belly button for a little too long. But then I get a game plan together. I figure I can hit her in the stomach. Not too hard, not hard enough to hurt her, but hard enough to let her know who’s in charge here.
Which would be me. Me, pussycat. Me.
Nudging the edge of her shoulder with my glove, I drive her backwards. Our eyes lock and I get this…this…prickle all through me.
This woman.
This one. Right here.
I want her. So fucking bad.
The fucking gym with its ten phones playing mariachi goes silent. The guys by the cooler egging her on go silent. It’s just her and me and the sweat dripping between us. Soft skin, sparkling eyes. She smells like a summer day and she’s looking at me in a way that no woman has ever looked at me. Ever.
Like she’s gonna own me and she knows it.
Which is bullshit.
She gives me a little lift of her chin and tightens her lips around the guard. She wipes her nose with her glove and then lowers her head. “Come on! You going to fight or are you just going to screw around?”
With my left hand, I jab her softly in the stomach. With the right, a play-hook to the jaw. I raise her chin on my glove so her eyes come up to mine. Then I pull her close, my arm around the back of her neck again. “You wanna screw around?” I say into her ear.
Bam, another hit to the stomach. “I haven’t even gotten started,” she answers.
Fuck it.
She wants to play? Fucking fine. I’ll play. I’ll play hard. I square up. But she gives me this eye. This champion eye. A winner’s eye. Cocky like no eyes I’ve ever seen before. Tom Brady doesn’t have anything on this kind of cocky right here. My luck, this girl’s some UFC champion. Christ.
But I can take her. Yeah, I sure fucking can.
Probably.
I decide on a straight jab; a no-fail straight jab that I plan just hard enough to send her reeling but not hurt her, not actually injure her. I know the punch. It works in bar fights and brawls on the field. An all-American move. As I wind up, everything slows down. I’m 6’6”, 283 pounds, and I throw a football for a living. When I wind up, I wind up. As I do, she ducks, fast as fucking lightning. Greased. Elegant. Lethal. So as my arm is powering through the air, as my momentum gets caught behind 12-ounce training gloves, she pops back up like a goddamned whack-a-mole.
Those eyes flash again and she smiles so hard I can see her dimples.
Dimples. Oh, fuck.
I watch her shoulder tighten, her tricep pucker, and that’s when she lets me have it for real.
The punch comes from left to right, blocking out my view of everything. I don’t see the Mexican flag on the wall. I don’t see the graffiti mural over the windows. Nope. The universe turns bubblegum pink.
It doesn’t hurt, not at first, and as I’m flying backwards, airborne, I have just enough time to think to myself, I wonder if this is what a knockout punch feels like…
Before everything flickers to black.
AP  new -about the author.jpg
Nicola Rendell writes dirty, funny, erotic romance. She likes a stiff drink and a well-frosted cake. She is at an unnamed Ivy and prefers to remain mostly anonymous for professional reasons. She has a PhD in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from schools that shall not be named here. She loves to cook, sew, and play the piano. She realizes that her hobbies might make her sound like an old lady and she’s totally okay with that. She lives with her husband and her dogs. She is from Taos, New Mexico.
Author Links
ArdentProse_LogoMain.jpg
 

Chapter Reveal: Fearless by B.B. Reid

 

 

Title: Fearless
Series: Broken Love #5
Author: B.B. Reid
Genre: New Adult & Romantic Suspense
 Release Date: April 5, 2016

 

Blurb

When faced with broken love…Have you ever had the feeling you were a stranger?

Out of reach, I watched and mourned me.
Nothing moved. Breathed. Nothing lived.
I was in an alternate universe.
No longer an innocent.
I had blood on my hands, and I wasn’t even sorry for it.
I was only afraid for Keiran.
Of his reaction when the shock wore off.
It would be an explosion.
Of hurt, anger, and mistrust.
He’d know I lied.
And to him…
The betrayal born of my good intentions is worse than the act of murder.…will you succumb to fear…

She was supposed to be my light.

The one who saved me from the monster.
But when I looked in her eyes that day, I didn’t see her.
I only saw my father’s killer.Her love saved me from the monster.

Mine turned her into one.…or will you be fearless?

 

Pre-order Links

 

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

 

 

Prologue

 

LAKEI never thought I’d find a new reason to not want summer to end. “Baby,” I moaned against his sucking lips once more before pulling away. “You have to let me go at some point, you know.”

“No.” And to make his point clear, he gripped my ass tighter, pulling me closer to him while I sat on his lap. I couldn’t help but smile against his chest.

“You’re being unreasonable.”

“You think I give a fuck?” His sharp tone was replaced with a softly worded plea. “Stay with me, Lake.”

Now how was I supposed to resist that? He so wasn’t playing fair and he knew it. To make it worse, he leaned down and rubbed his nose against mine. I could smell the sweet scent of his breath and feel it brush against my face.

Keiran had always been possessive, but this seemed different. He was clinging to me in a desperate attempt to delay or stop what was already happening.

Tomorrow, I would be leaving Six Forks behind for Nebraska. A few months ago, leaving this place and the unrelenting torment he unleashed on me had been all I wanted. I never thought he would be the reason I would want to stay. He and I would be attending separate schools thirteen hundred miles away.

It felt like our fairytale was ending. Uneasiness turned my body cold. Would he go to his school in Arizona and forget about me? What if he realized I wasn’t what he wanted? What if he found someone stronger, fiercer, and better equipped to handle him?

The answer to his weird behavior was an epiphany brought on by my fears. A tidal wave of unwanted emotions shattered the light bulb, and I found myself clutching him back. What if he felt as insecure as I did right now?

“Are you afraid?” I breathed evidence of our shared insecurities into the night air, letting it hang between us.

“Yes.”

I hadn’t expected honesty. Keiran had just admitted he was afraid. The idea that I could make him feel vulnerable made me both elated and afraid. We had been together for only a few months now, but I felt like I’d been his forever.

In a way I guess I have.

Before I could tell him I shared his fears, he emitted a sound between a growl and a grunt before he abruptly lifted me to my feet. “Fine. Go then.”

I had no idea what set him off. Without another word or backward glance, he was gone, and I was left standing by myself in the playground that had become our meeting place when we needed to be alone.

“What the fuck just happened?” I whispered aloud.

I stomped to the parking lot but already found his car gone. His behavior was unlike the possessiveness he’d shown since he claimed me for good. I hopped in my car, confused and feeling a little bit played.

The next day, I was pulling up to the airport with Willow and Aunt Carissa, angry and hurt. I hadn’t heard from Keiran since he left me alone at the playground.

I was getting ready to leave my home behind for the first time, and he was off somewhere pacing like an angry caged lion. I knew he wouldn’t be pouting. It just wasn’t his style, but it didn’t make him any less childish. I moved my suitcase and carry-on from the car with short angry movements. From the corner of my eye, I could see my aunt and best friend lift their eyebrows.

“Are you okay, honey?”

“Fine,” I barely pushed through my teeth. I didn’t want to be rude to my aunt, but Keiran’s absence had already consumed me. For each minute that stretched by, my anger rose. To avoid making eye contact, I stared at my shaking hand.

I heard Willow mumble something to my aunt and wished they would leave so I could have a moment alone. It was getting harder to get on that plane knowing how we had left things.

“Hey.”

I tore my attention from my twitching hand to find a worried green gaze staring back at me. “What did he do?” I could tell by her sharp tone that she wouldn’t leave it alone, so I looked around for my aunt, who seemed to have disappeared, before answering.

“What makes you think it wasn’t me?” I wasn’t going to take the blame for our fight, but I was sick of people treating me with kid gloves when it came to Keiran.

“It doesn’t matter, now does it? You’re here and he’s not. He should be here.”

“We got into a fight last night.”

“About?”

“I wish I knew.”

“I’m not following,” she said impatiently.

“Keiran doesn’t want me to leave. I guess it was too much for him.” As if he was the only one feeling it. My sudden awareness of how selfish he was acting did nothing to abate my anger.

“Are you sure you’re prepared for a long distance relationship?”

“I don’t know, Will. A few months ago, I was a target, not a girlfriend. I have no experience, but I always knew he’d be right there.”

For fuck sake… why was I talking as if we’d broken up instead of having a fight?

“He needs a stiff kick in the dick.”

I didn’t want to, but I did. I held my sides as I bent over from the hard laugh that shook my body. It wasn’t what she said but the level of frustration on her face as she said it. Her brow was pulled so tight that she could have had a unibrow.

“Girls?” my aunt called as she approached with a fresh bottle of water. “It’s time to board.”

I took one last look around the busy parking garage and gave up the hope that he would change his mind and rescue my breaking heart.

Ten minutes later, I was waving goodbye to my aunt. Willow and I found our seats. She immediately pulled out a sketchpad, and I leaned my head back and closed my eyes.

When a loud shout and even more wild commotion erupted from the front of the plane, I was saved from the shame of a major breakdown by one Keiran Masters.

“Sir! Sir, you cannot board this plane without a ticket. Sir!”

Willow turned wide eyes on me at the same moment as I had looked at her.

“No,” she groaned with disbelief and slammed her head against the headrest.

I swallowed hard and fought not to smile. She read my emotions immediately and shot me a look that said I was crazed. Maybe I was, but I knew in my gut who was the cause of such havoc.

My suspicions were confirmed when he rounded the corner at the exact moment my heavy heart picked up its beat again.

His hair was disheveled and his eyes crazed as he wildly searched the cabin with his gaze. His chest moved up and down as if he’d just ran a race. When his eyes were finally connected to mine, he froze. His expression quickly morphed from desperate to unsure to possessive. I never even realized he was moving until he was right in front of me on his knees.

“Lake.”

“The next word out of your mouth better be begging,” Willow grumbled next to me. Her eyes were closed and her face finally relaxed as if his presence was as much a healing balm for her as it was for me.

“If she’ll listen, then yes.” I searched his eyes as he held mine. “I want to beg, baby.”


* * *

 


ONE MONTH LATER
I bounced from one foot to the other as I waited for Willow to collect her colorful pens. Some things never change.

Since we were freshmen and taking general courses, we were able to take three out of five courses together. I didn’t know what I would do if I had to start my first year of college thirteen hundred miles away from my boyfriend and without my best friend, too.

“Willow, hurry will you?”

“Ugh. God, Lake. As if he wouldn’t wait or call you a million times if you’re even a minute late for your Skype date.”

“He’s not that bad.”

“Oh, yes, he is. But it’s kind of cute… I guess.”

Keiran had always been possessive, but the distance separating us had brought a vulnerable side to him that I never told her I’d seen.

Sheldon said it was normal for guys who think something or someone belongs to them. He had already marked his territory but was now unable to defend it, which was the reason he’d become so agitated before I left for college.

Those were her words.

I didn’t know whether to take her advice as the truth or as a result of pregnancy hormones talking. I still couldn’t believe she was going to have a baby and my crazy fuck of a boyfriend was the one to convince her to go through with it when she wanted to terminate.

If possible, I fell in love with him even more because he had. He’s grown up knowing only death. I never thought he would value life in any way other than living.

She finally finished packing her stuff and met me at the door.

“Sorry, I can’t do lunch today. I have a test next class, and I need all the studying I can get.”

“Nerd,” I teased.

“Whatever. You’d be the same if you weren’t so stuck up Keiran’s as—”

“Hey.”

Willow and I both jumped at the sudden sound of Keiran’s deep rumble. He stood across the expansive hallway with his hands shoved in his jeans wearing a pleased grin.

“Hi, Willow,” he taunted. It was evident he caught her remark.

She rolled her eyes and wiggled her fingers dismissively. He knew her well enough by now not to be offended by her pissy attitude. Willow was hurting. We all knew it and so did she.

His eyes finally shifted to me and instant heat assaulted me. We stood frozen on opposite sides of the hallway, content to drink one another in.

“Hey, you.”

It took me a few extra seconds too long to realize he’d spoken.

“Hi.” Breath. It was all the one syllable word managed to be, and yet I felt completely breathless.

My first romantic relationship.

My first boyfriend.

My first love.

What a sap I turned out to be.

“Turn down the sexual energy, will you? I feel pregnant just looking at you two.”

“Willow!”

I had no reason to be surprised. Willow usually said exactly what came to mind. Her attitude was as flamboyant as her dress code.

She rolled her eyes at my shock. “I’m off to the land of the nerds. I bought a fresh can of Lysol. Please be sure to clean every surface after use. You know… cause people gotta eat on them.”

Willow quickly retreated. Her laughter trailed behind her. I looked over to Keiran, who was noticeably holding in his own.

“Don’t encourage her.”

He regarded me with hooded eyes, letting the heat in them consume me. “Would you rather I didn’t fuck you on every surface?”

Oh. My. Fuck.

“Then stop staring at me like you want to be fucked.”

“So how should I look at you?”

He chuckled and finally moved to touch me. “As much as I want to,” he fingered my hair, “ a responsible man feeds his woman first.”

“Fine time for you to be chivalrous.”

His smile only widened at my quip. “Maybe I want to be better for you.” His hand lifted, palm up for mine to take. It took longer than necessary for me to oblige. I was lost in the sincere emotion in his eyes.

Hand in hand, he made me show him to the nearest dining facility. Unfortunately, Brady Hall was the closest. I didn’t like eating here because it was jock haven, but I figured Keiran would fit right in. The guys were always rambunctious and rude. Willow and I had been subjected to many catcalls and lewd suggestions.

On second thought…

“Babe?”

“Yeah?” He was pulling the door open and waiting for me to go in.

“I’m not very hungry.”

He looked at me suspiciously and then cracked a smile. “Nice try,” he said, thinking I was seeking a shortcut to sex. He pulled me inside by my wrist, and we made our way to the cashier where I swiped my meal card and Keiran paid cash. As we grabbed food, I prayed the jocks had already come and gone. We had a game tomorrow, which was when they were usually the rowdiest.

As we made our way to a table, I realized my prayers had gone unanswered. Why, why, why would I pick this stupid cafeteria? There were two more on campus, yet I had to pick this one.

“Baby, if I have to call your name again, you might just get my hands on your ass, but not in the way you imagined.”

“Huh? Oh… what?”

“What’s up? Why are you so tense?”

“Oh, nothing.”

His jaw clenched, and I knew my lie hadn’t gone unnoticed. He usually read me like an open book.

“You don’t lie to me. Ever. You keep looking around like you’re waiting for someone to jump out at you.” If possible, his jaw clenched even more. “Has someone been fucking with you?” It was his turn to look around as if he knew who the culprit would be. When his gaze landed on the tables full of football players, his eyes narrowed. I should have known he would know. “Have they?” His voice was full of grit and fire as he nodded at the table of players.

“I don’t understand your question.” It was another lie. I understood him. Just as I knew what would happen next if I confirmed his suspicions. Keiran was thousands of miles away from home and Arizona. He was alone, and there were too many of them for him to take. Jocks stuck together—right or wrong. I’m sure Keiran knew that considering he was a jock, but the way his chest heaved, I knew defending my honor would be more important.

“Lake, I would never let anyone hurt you. Do you believe me?”

“I do, Keiran, but that’s what scares me. It’s okay to walk away sometimes.”

As soon as the words left my lips, the school’s quarterback planted himself in the seat next to me.

“Hot girl.”

I rolled my eyes at his obnoxious greeting. Don’t get me wrong. He’s asked me for my name many times, but I’d always denied him. The last thing he needed was an encouragement to be an even bigger asshole.

“When are you going to let me have that date?”

“Would you like to take her out before or after I break your neck?”

Oh shit.

Oh shit.

Oh shit.

Panic replaced irritation when I saw the infamous vein that meant trouble appear near Keiran’s forehead. Sean never bothered to take his eyes off my breasts, and then he made the catastrophic mistake of groping me. It was the first time he’d ever been so bold and he picked now.

Keiran rose from his seat, and I thought he would make his way to the other side of the table, but he didn’t. He pulled Sean across the table with a grip on his throat.

I jumped from my seat at the same time the entire football team did. The cafeteria, including the staff, had gone quiet. Keiran was outnumbered, and now he had their star quarterback in his hands.

This would end badly for Keiran. I was sure of it.

I looked down and grabbed my fork. It was the best option, and if used in the right spots, it would do severe damage. I was prepared to protect Keiran as fiercely as he was determined to defend my honor.

“You’re making a big mistake, bro. I suggest you let him go or our entire defensive line will make this very painful for you.”

“Pain?” Keiran had transformed into his most sinister right in front of every eye in the cafeteria. Without warning, he kicked out, sending the quarterback to his knees. His grip transferred to Sean’s right arm, and with one motion, he forced it at an awkward angle just enough to make him cry out. I remembered another time, similar to this moment when Keiran had stopped Trevor from raping me in the girl’s locker room.

“Let me school you about pain. Pain for who I’m guessing is your star quarterback here is when I break this bitch’s throwing arm in two. Pain for you is when you lose your game tomorrow and break your winning streak because he doesn’t know when pussy belongs to someone else.”

“I don’t believe you.” The guy who I recognized as Jerald motioned to his team, and they moved to surround Keiran. My anxiety kicked into high gear as I held my weapon that seemed meager now, and I wondered if I could get across the table in time.

Keiran didn’t move or speak as he was surrounded.

One of the biggest players in the circle stepped forward. I started to warn Keiran because I didn’t think he would see him. Keiran jerked Sean’s arm back infinitesimally. His cry was loud, causing Jerald to unload a string of threats to Keiran. Judging by the angle of Sean’s arm, it wouldn’t be long before his arm broke. I wasn’t entirely sure his arm would even be useful tomorrow.

This was not going to end well.

Even if Keiran managed to get out of this unscathed, I would officially be the school pariah and target.

Again.

“His arm isn’t going to last much longer,” Keiran taunted, voicing my thoughts.

“Fuck!” Jerald’s face red with rage while Keiran stood calm and relaxed as if he weren’t threatening to break someone’s bones in a room full of witnesses.

“Please,” Sean yelled.

“You know what to do,” Keiran stated.

“Stand down! Stand down!” Jerald ordered.

Everyone moved at the same time. I watched them back away and only then began to breathe easier. We weren’t out of the woods yet.

Keiran had let him go, so what would stop them from pouncing now? Sean stumbled into the safety of his team

“Lake.” I forced my gaze back to Keiran. “Head for the door, baby.”

“No.”

“Lake.” His tone was no longer soft.

“I’m not leaving you.”

“This will end much worse if you get hurt. Now go.”

I let the distress I felt rip from me as a whimper.

What do I do? What do I do?

“What the hell is going on here?” The team’s coach thundered by me leaving behind a gust of wind. Along with him were two members of campus police. Everyone scattered, leaving us alone with a different kind of trouble.

Keiran’s arrest was imminent, and suddenly, I was no longer afraid for him. I was crazy mad and wanted nothing more than to drive the fork into his brain and dig out his common sense.

I knew for sure someone would snitch—and didn’t he deserve it? He did almost break a guy’s arm… for groping me. The reminder of that sleazeball’s hands on me made my skin crawl.

“Nothing, coach. Just goofing around,” Jerald spoke up though his glare never left Keiran.

“Why is my quarterback clutching his arm and who the fuck are you?” the coach bellowed between Jerald and Keiran.

“Misunderstanding,” Sean whimpered.

Keiran smirked, and I knew if he could reach him, he would offer a pat on his head.

“Boy, your arm better not be broken! Security! Get this piece of shit out of my cafeteria.”

Security moved forward to grab Keiran, but with one look, they backed away and reached for their sides. I prayed campus security didn’t carry guns.

Keiran ignored them and reached for my hand, leading me out of the cafeteria. I was still in shock by the time the building was out of sight.

“I have no idea where I”m going, baby. I need you to snap out of it.” His casual tone broke me out of my trance and I quickly snatched my hand away from his.

“I can’t believe you did that.”

“Are you defending him?”

“I’m defending me! I won’t be able to show my face anymore. He’s the star quarterback.”

“So I’m supposed to let him put his hands on you because he can throw a ball? That will never fucking happen, Lake.”

“You can be such an overbearing dick! Sean is harmless. You couldn’t just walk away?”

“I’d never walk away from protecting you.” His voice softened, and I willed myself not to break. Today could have ended badly. Keiran wouldn’t have been able to win against an entire team, and if they had decided to rat him out, he’d be in jail right now.

“You sure it wasn’t just your jealous ego?”

“That too.”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed. He was so adorably cute and proud about the wrong things. “What am I going do now, Keiran? I’ll be a pariah.”

Rather than answer, he pulled me close. I didn’t want to, but I wrapped my arms around his neck and inhaled his scent.

“Run away with me.”

“This is not the time to try to get into my pants. You lost that privilege when you were almost jumped and arrested.”

“I’m serious.”

“Why would we run away? Where are we going?”

“I want you to come to Arizona with me. I can’t do this anymore, Lake. I tried. Fuck me, I tried.”

“I can’t just leave. What about school?”

“I want you with me. I want you in my bed. I want to see you and touch you every day.

“What about school,” I repeated.

“Arizona has an outstanding education program.”

 

Available Now

 

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS

 

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS

 

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS

 

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

 

Author Bio
 
B.B., also known as Bebe, found her passion for romance when she read her first romance novel by Susan Johnson at a young age. She would sneak into her mother’s closet for books and even sometimes the attic. It soon became a hobby, and later an addiction, influencing her life in a positive way.

Bebe has always wondered about the existence of her talent. When she finally decided to pick up a metaphorical pen and start writing, she found a new way to embrace her passion.

She favors a romance that isn’t always easy on the eyes or heart, and loves to see characters grow–characters who are seemingly doomed from the start but find love anyway.

 

 
Author Links