Cover Reveal/Giveaway/Excerpt

Title: Under a Different Sky
Series: Hand Over My Heart Duet Book One
Author: Lindsey Iler
Genre: New Adult Romance
Release Date: June 10, 2019

My life is a mess.

I’m walking around with a black eye. My position on the hockey team is questionable at best, and if that’s not bad enough, I think I’m falling for my dead girlfriend’s best friend.

Every day, it’s a fight to feel alive, and yet, I drink to numb the pain. Everyone is standing back, watching me fall apart.

Everyone except Hannah. No matter how many times I push, she’s there to pull me back. She refuses to let me spiral any deeper. And after one kiss—she’s impossible to ignore.

Unfortunately, it seems she and I aren’t the only thing being kept a secret.

“Hannah Barnes, are you jealous?” A part of me, the tiniest segment of my brain, hopes she is. That isn’t something I’m ready to unload or try to begin to understand, though. She’s Mia’s best friend, but it’s hard to ignore the smile she seems to always sport when I’m around.
“Not even the slightest.” She gazes around the room. “I just feel sorry for girls who feel the need to be so obvious.”
“Unlike you, right?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You know exactly what I mean. You think you go unnoticed, only coming up for attention when you want it. In reality, you just walking into a room makes some of these guys pant like– what was it? — dogs in heat?” I laugh, leaning back in my chair to get comfortable.
Everything I’ve just said is true. Hannah doesn’t date. At least not openly. She’s definitely not a virgin. When we were sophomores, a senior made sure of that, too happy to announce he hooked up with Coach’s daughter. One thing though about Hannah is that she doesn’t realize how much power she has in her tiny little body. Even the strongest willed person would crack under one of her knowing glances.
“What’s your point?” She shrugs, unmoved by my words.
“It was meant as a compliment, if you didn’t catch that.”
“No, I caught it, Nick. You think I’m pretty.” Her smirk grows slow, like a sunrise. “What I don’t understand is why you’re saying it.”
I laugh uncomfortably under her watch. “That makes two of us.”

Lindsey Iler is the author of the Our Worlds series. She’s had her feet planted in the state of Michigan since she was born and she still lives there with her husband and four kids.

When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with family and friends, listening to music, and reading.

Lindsey writes mature young adult/new adult romance. She falls in love with every character that pops into her head and is notorious for writing long chapters in her notes on her iPhone.

She finds inspiration from music and the people around her.

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Promo Tour/Giveaway/Free Download

Titles: Tempt the Beauty & Tempt the Wolf
Series: Fairy Tale Billionaire Romance
Author: Alexandra Banks
Genre: Short Contemporary Romance
(can be standalone)
Cover Design: Mayhem Cover Creations
It was love at first hump—for my dog. 

Rosey
The little guy went at his leg like Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome was God’s gift to womankind. Me, not so convinced. Except, Mr. Sexy Surprise promised he could make me scream “oh God.” It was my birthday, so…why not? One fake engagement later, I’ll tell you why not. 

Wade
Some people call me arrogant—cocky. I call me determined. I get what I want and I want Rosey. For me, it was love at first sight. She may think she can’t have it all. But, I’m here to convince her we can. 
Spoiler: This book is full of laugh out loud goodness, steamy love, and two people who are meant to be. This book is approximately 30,000 words. One to two hours of super-duper, steamy hot, sweet reading pleasure. That’s right, it’s quick. Because sometimes, quickies are best
The Wolfe. Motocross racing legend. The ultimate bad boy. My mind says run, but my body says stay…and I can’t say no.

I have three ironclad rules in my life – no motorcycles, no racing, and especially no motoracing – and the Wolfe is about to make me to break all three.

All my life I’ve avoided bad boys and motorcycles. Now, I have a choice – lose my job or work with the Wolfe. Call me crazy, but I don’t want to lose my job. So, here I am, in a whole lot of trouble. Because, ironclad rules or not, I’m falling for the kind of man I swore I never would.

Spoiler: This book is full of sweet, virgin goodness. A heroine video game designer with a penchant for nintendo puns and a motoracing hero who will do anything to win her heart. Jump into this Little Red Riding Hood remake where the wolf is a sweet virgin bad boy determined to have his way.
This book is approximately 30,000 words. Two hours of super-duper, steamy hot, sweet reading pleasure. That’s right, it’s quick. Because sometimes, quickies are best!

“You think you can make me call out ‘oh god’?” she asks. She shakes her head and tsks. The tsks send little shots down my length and it strains in response. He’s ready.
I have never, ever joked about sex with a stranger, but it feels right. She’s still quirking an expectant brow at me.
I point to myself. “God complex—I’m omniscient, remember? I know I can make you scream ‘oh god’ while you cum.”
She blushes, and I imagine just that. Her pink sex, my mouth licking at her sassy pussy her screaming “oh god” while I drink her down.
Then she starts to giggle, although she’s trying hard to hold back. She points down. I feel something on my leg. I don’t want to look, but I do. She’s laughing out loud now.
My jaw drops. Her ever-loving horny hellion of a dog is clamped to my leg like I’m the jelly to its donut—humping harder than I’ve ever seen anything hump before.
“Off,” I say. The dog’s bug eyes stare up at me, its tongue rolls out of its mouth. I shake my leg to dislodge it.
“Don’t shake,” she laughs. “He likes that. He’ll just hump harder.”
Too late. Her dog is going warp speed on my leg. His little claws are digging into my calf and his eyes have a glazed look of ecstasy. This is more action than I’ve had in a long time.
“Should I be worried?” I ask.
“No, he’ll stop.” Her eyes are big and full of laughter. “Eventually.”
Her dog has started gumming my pant leg like it’s red jello day in the geriatric ward. He’s making little doggie grunting sounds while he gums and humps.
“Well, at least someone liked what I had to say.”
She lets out a full belly laugh and rolls to the ground. I snort and drop next to her. Somehow, the little hellion is still going at it.
I lie next to her on the grass and we look up at the blue sky. I move my shoulder so that it touches hers.

“How much longer?” I ask. “Oh, two or three minutes,” she muses. “Once, he went for fifteen, but that was on a really fuzzy teddy bear.” Suddenly, I wish that I were a really fuzzy teddy bear, because then she’d have to stay here next to me for another fifteen minutes.
Alexandra Banks is the pen name of two feisty friends who love to hang out and dream up steamy love stories. After graduate degrees, global managerial positions and the nine to five grind, they decided it was more fun to bring joy to the world through happily ever afters. They deliver smart, strong heroines, and heroes who love them. You’ll get that romance read afterglow…every single time. Better yet, their books are short and sweet – because let’s be honest, sometimes quickies are best. They love their families, their golden retrievers, and bingeing on ice cream. If you want happiness, sweet fun, and steamy romance then Alexandra Banks is for you!

 
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New Release/Excerpt

Title: Blood and Vows (Twisted Duet #2)
Author: Bella J.
Genre: Dark Mafia Romance
Release Date: May 21, 2019
Publisher: Crave Publishing
He still owns me.
His wicked touch ruins me, corrupts me into wanting things I shouldn’t. Now I’m no longer an unwilling prisoner, but rather an eager participant.
The need for ecstasy, and the burn to be consumed by my captor makes it impossible for me to hate him. I know I should, but I can’t. Not when my body obeys him so willingly.
But the tables have turned, and a strong family now stands divided. Castello’s determination to keep me for himself started a war.
The war of brothers.
The war of blood.

In the end, only one will survive.

10 DARK AND DELICIOUSLY DEPRAVED STARS! BLOOD & VOWS officially solidifies A Twisted Duet as my FAVORITE DARK MAFIA SERIES. ~ Epic Romance Reviews


It was truly one of the best dark romances I have ever read. Bella J. is simply the best author of dark romance. ~ Spunky & Sassy

This book pushes you to your limits, even blasts past some hard limits. It’s not for the faint at heart. It’s for those of us that are dark and twisted!! ~ Book Addicts Reviews

Prologue
CASTELLO


This all started with a well thought out plan for revenge. For months I plotted against the Linscotts, and I vowed to avenge my twin brother and father’s death. I had Tatum Linscott kidnapped, and held her prisoner in a room with nothing but an old bed, and a cold cement floor to piss on.
The plan was simple—kidnap the golden girl of the Linscott family, then lure her father straight down to the hell I had specially prepared for both of them. And once I had my fun, extracted every last drop of revenge I craved from them, they would pay the ultimate price with their lives.
I wanted to watch them bleed on the tiled floor of my dining hall, witness the life drain out of their bodies. I wanted to slice the blade of my knife through Tatum’s skin, to see her body weep tears of crimson. But little did I know that her blood would feed the monster inside me. That her innocence marred with desires for the darkness would make me want her in ways that were completely forbidden.
She was the daughter of my enemy, and the blood my family demanded flowed through her veins. Yet, I couldn’t stop myself from being captivated by the blue eyes that seemed to plead with me to set her free from the prison society had put her in.
Her body called out to me.
The scars on her skin seduced me.
And ultimately…Tatum Linscott ruined me.
TATUM
A few weeks ago I was kidnapped by an enemy I didn’t even know I had.
I was beaten.
I was starved.
I was humiliated.
My life held no value to my enemy, and death was promised with venomous threats of hate. Every minute that went by was a minute spared. I knew it was only a matter of time before a knife got driven through my heart.
But then something happened, and it changed everything. Somehow the line between captor and prisoner had been crossed, and I found myself in a world I never knew existed. A world where family and loyalty were everything, yet lies and deception were used as weapons against blood.
The Fattores built their hate, and their war against me and my family based on lies told by a man that I trusted once. A man I welcomed into my life, and into my bed. In the end it almost cost me my life.
While I was held captive I never could have predicted the outcome. What I never expected to find within the walls of lies that surrounded me was freedom. That was why I had to run…because Castello Fattore freed me.


Author’s Note:


Blood & Vows is the second and final book in my Twisted Duet series,
and should be read after Blood and Lies.
I’m sad to let Castello and Tatum go, but I loved every minute I spent with these characters. Telling their story has been the best part of my writing career so far.
Please be aware that this novel contains scenes of violence, and sexual situations that may be triggers, and make some readers uncomfortable. For some readers there may be scenes that are just downright disturbing. But you’ve been warned.
To all the readers who have fallen in love with the dark and twisted romance between Castello and Tatum, thank you for loving these characters as much I do.

All the way from Cape Town, South Africa, Bella J lives for the days when she’s able to retreat to her writer’s cave where she can get lost in her little pretend world of romance, love, and insanely hot bad boys.

Bella J is a Hybrid Author with both Self-Published and Traditional Published work. Even though her novels range from drama, to comedy, to suspense, it’s the dark, twisted side of romance she loves the most.

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Release Tour/Excerpt/Pre-Order/Giveaway

Title: Cry Mercy
Series: Blood Legion MC Book 1
Author: Rie Warren
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date:
Gritty star-crossed lovers? You have no idea . . . 
ANGEL
I thought I knew bad times. The worst times. My dad murdered, the MC that’s rightfully mine ripped apart by corrupt rule. I didn’t know anything about true horror until I met a Tennessean girl named Mercy. 
Angel and Mercy, frigging ironic, right? You don’t know the half of it. Blood Legion MC is my legacy, and revenge against me is Mercy’s. If you’re looking for gritty star-crossed lovers in the Crescent City, you’ve found it. Because there’s a damn good chance one of us won’t make it out of here alive. 
MERCY
I’m at the mercy of my menfolk. Mercy . . . ironic, isn’t it? Because my cousin and my uncle show no mercy to me, despite my name. I’m used against my will. I’m beaten and worse when I don’t behave. I have no freedom, only one friend, and no chance of escape even though New Orleans is so vibrant I feel like I could touch the colors. 
I fled the compound for just one night. I shouldn’t have. I met a biker called Angel—Angel. He’s blond as a seraph, but big and tall and full of sweet talk I’ve never heard before. Except he’s my family’s enemy. 
Angel can’t be my only hope because my kin have vowed to take out him and the rest of the Blood Legion MC in one big Tenn-tucky blaze of glory.

“Hey, Angel! You got a live one there?” A man with tons of chunky silver rings on his fingers yelled over to our quiet corner.

“Fuck. Off. Saint,” Angel replied, swiping him the middle finger without even looking.

“Saint?” I asked, lips curling together. “And Angel.”

Angel winked. “And don’t forget Mercy. Must be destined, oui?”I smothered a smile, taking another long drink of my beer. “Well, I don’t think he’s a saint or you’re an angel. Not by the way those pretty ladies looked like they were competing for your company earlier.”

“You saw that?” Groaning, he rubbed a hand down his cheek. Then his face lit up from the inside. “So you were watching me just as much as I was watching you.”

I couldn’t help but laugh as he gloated.

Then I pressed my palm against his chest and lifted up to the toes of my boots to whisper against his jaw, “I was waiting to see if you’d get your eyes gouged out.”

He laughed loudly, tipping his head back so his gold curls shimmered.

I snickered, draining the rest of my beer.

“Buy you another?” His arm ringed around my waist.

And alarm bells went off.

I wrestled free, quickly checking the time on my watch.

Almost midnight.

“I have to go.” I slammed my bottle onto the nearest table.

“Didn’t mean to scare you off, Mercy.” Angel stepped in front of me as I waded to the door.

He held his hands raised in front of him.

I dodged around him, fleeing like I should have done an hour ago.

Running down the sidewalk, I tripped on the uneven pavement in my over-sized boots.

A strong arm banded around my waist, drawing me up and steadying me.

“Got you, beb.”

Puffs of breath pelted against my ear, and then Angel released me from his grasp.

He spun me gently around, his hair like a halo lit by the streetlight. “At least let me give you a ride. Where you headed?”

I shook my head. “I just need to go. Please.”

I got the feeling Angel L’Esperance didn’t chase just anyone. But I couldn’t let him get close to me. I didn’t want him knowing where I lived.

Shame and embarrassment bled into one big ball of regret.

His fingers came up to tenderly caress my cheek.

The first touch on my skin from a male that didn’t make me flinch or quake or want to crawl away in fear.

“Can I at least get a kiss?”

My heart leaped.

Angel didn’t pose a threat. How could he, with a name like that and sincerity shining in his clear blue eyes?

Even more, he’d easily tunneled beneath years of distrust and hurt . . . in mere minutes.

“Yes,” I whispered.

He closed his eyes. He hummed a deep rumbling sound. He bent his burnished head over mine, and seconds later the softest, most pleasurable sensation melted against my mouth. His tongue took a trip across the seam of my lips, sailing to a stop before he plucked my bottom lip between both of his.

When he drew back, I swore I could read dreams in his eyes.

It wasn’t a kiss. It was a promise. It tasted like hope.

Hope I couldn’t afford.

Oh lord.

“How about your number, Miss Mercy?”

Hope became cinders in my mouth. “I don’t think so.”

Threading his fingers through his hair, he tousled the strands even more. “At least let me put my number in your phone.”

“I don’t have a cell phone.” Another thing I wasn’t allowed.

He frowned heavily at me before grasping my hand and squeezing it. “Wait here.”

He raced back to the bar, and I knew I should leave while I could.

But my lips tingled. I pressed my fingers against my mouth, remembering the firm warm pressure.

I wasn’t going to make it back to the Lair in time.

Half a minute later, Angel ran back to me. His grin didn’t make it to his eyes that time. He stuffed a napkin in my pocket.

“My number. Call me.”

“Why?”

He laughed curtly. “Whaddya mean why? I wanna see you again, Mercy.” Gathering my hands in his, he asked, “You sure I can’t give you a ride?”

“I have to go. I have to go now.”

“Okay.” He released me. “Okay.”

I turned away from him, pulling the napkin out to crush it in my hand. To hold it in my hand.

Dashing away tears that came from the deep hidden well within, I sprinted. I looked back once, and Angel still watched. He watched until I was out of sight.

I tried to keep my bearings. I hoped I got home before my kinfolk. Because something bad would happen if they found me missing.

SAVE GRACE RELEASING JUNE 10, 2019


Badass, sassafras Rie Warren is an OG Amazon All Star author of Bad Boy books and MC romance. She delivers five star sex, suspense, and the best banter around. Her stories are one hundred percent original, do not contain fluffy plots or virgin brides, and wring every last emotion from readers to leave them with a satisfied smile. Rie’s tough alpha males are never brought to heel, but are instead healed by the feisty femme fatale of their perfect match.


She grew up in Maine, went to college in Iowa (Iowa, what?), lived in Scotland, and married in Englishman. In true roundabout fashion, they came back to the States, settled in South Carolina’s lowcountry, putting down southern roots and pursuing their arty endeavors. Tale spinner and character diviner, Rie is a lover of sleep, wine, and rude memes often involving either Disney characters or Winnie the Pooh. She is raising two teen daughters along with an entire brain full of unruly characters.

Rough-talking alpha men? Rie has that on tap.
Stubborn sassy heroines? You bet.
Smoldering sex scenes that’ll set your Kindle on fire? Check, check, check.
Keep a fan handy, you’ll need it.

Follow the signup link below to her romance newsletter for sneak peeks, new releases, first looks, and her quirky sense of humor.

And, as always, happy sexy reading to you!

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Release Tour/Excerpt

Title: The Devil Has a British Accent
Series: The White Carpet Series Book II: Cary
Author: Z.N. Willett
Genre: NA Paranormal Romance
Release Date: May 19, 2019
Cover Design: Jada D’Lee Designs


For Lauren Moreau, the truth trapped her, the lies and deceit ensnared her.


What she knew to be goodness and love, now a fairytale of despair and hopelessness. 

The love of her life, Cary Baine, was an Angel. 

Her boyfriend, Jackson Cruz, a demon groomed by Hollywood.

Everything she believed in wasn’t real. 

Blending in, in a city as large as Paris, was Lauren’s only sanctuary. A sanctuary built out of glass with the illusion of strength, protection, and sanity she wore around her. However, when Jackson surprises her, her simple Parisian life is over with a snap of a lens. Hollywood had found her, and the glass she safely looked out into the world now feels like a cage. Old rumors surface, and as Lauren fled her new life, she failed to see the crack in the glass. 

Lauren is forced to accept the assistance of Cary Bain and struggles with her feelings toward him. The love that was buried deep inside her begins to stir the closer they become. She starts to feel hopeful about their possibility. Hope for a maybe or a someday until Cary introduces her to his new girlfriend, and the crack in the glass grows bigger.

Brokenhearted, Lauren begins down a darker path. Once driven by love, faith, and hope, now the innocence of her youth will be tossed aside. New friendships, desires, lusts, and gratifications will awaken.

Yet when the crack breaks the fragile sanctuary she created, Lauren will have to decide to accept fate or bleed as it all crashes down.

When I opened the door, Jackson pushed it shut, pinning me between him and the door.
Everything became a blur when he placed light kisses up my neck, inhaling deeply when he circled my ear with wet lips. I placed my hands on his chest to push him away, but my hands weren’t

following orders. My mind was screaming stop, but my body told it to shut up.

His hands slowly coming up my thighs, one laid hold of my ass as the other found refuge on a breast. He nuzzled his way to my lips and hovered over them.

“I miss you.” He kissed softly. “So much, Baby.” Then harder. “I want you,” he moaned.
What the hell.
I grabbed his head, pulling hard and kissed him like never before. It was all lips, teeth, and tongue.
I wanted him.
My body was painfully on fire, kissing him harder to quench the flames that grew hotter.
But the harder I kissed, the more painful it got.
I clawed into Jackson’s chest, and his hands gripped me so tight, it hurt. Then I saw his face in my mind again.
Cary.
It jolted me out of the lust-induced fog. I pushed Jackson back while we both caught our breath. His eyes burned fire, and I could imagine what mine mirrored. He pushed forward to continue, but I stopped him.

“This is wrong.”
“Why are you fighting this?”
Our eyes stayed locked as the lust-filled air around us calmed down.

“Jackson, I can’t do this.”
His expression turned to anger. “Why do you play these games, Lauren!”
“It’s not a game. I’m sorry, Jackson. I just saw you and—.”
“I always wanted to see you! It was you who prevented it.”

 

Bestselling author ZN Willett first started sharing her contemporary romance The Trouble with Dating a Movie Star online. Receiving an overwhelming response of over two million reads, she created the Red Carpet Series. The Red Carpet Series showcases a unique perspective spotlighting Hollywood from the inside and Hollywood continues to be a focal point for her novels.

ZN enjoys creating heroines who are strong, intelligent and true to themselves. Alpha male heroes who are flawed, yet desired. 

Her passion for all things romance first led to a career as a wedding and event coordinator, organizing high-profile and celebrity events. Currently she has added her love of travel and writing to her career path.

ZN is a northern girl, but a southerner at heart, with a deep love for all things shoes. She will happily admit that she’s a sappy romantic who still believes that love can truly conquer all.


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New Release/Excerpt

Title: Wedding Bell Blues
Series: Dunlin Shores Series #2
Author: Ann Roth
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 15, 2019
Every detail of the wedding was planned… Except romance

When events planner Cammie Yarnell agrees to do a wedding at the Oceanside Bed and Breakfast, she knows the tough part will be keeping a smile on her face. Not too long ago she’d planned a walk down the aisle at the sumptuous B and B herself—and called it off. Worse, she’s working this event with Finn Brannigan, the photographer who knew all about her fiancé’s cheating and kept it a secret, betraying her trust as a friend.

Yet her anger starts to fade once the showers and dinner parties bring her closer to Finn. Now his misguided belief that he’s bad for her is standing in the way of Cammie’s trip to the altar—with him. 

“You’re not gonna like this.” Kelly fiddled with her coffee mug, then dropped her bomb. “Daddy has hired Finn Brannigan to photograph everything.” Finn Brannigan. The very name grated against Cammie’s nerves, and under the table her foot tapped rapidly on the black-and-white linoleum. The despicable man, whom she’d once considered a close friend and had often worked with, was responsible for introducing her to Todd. Finn had watched her fall in love, never once bothering to mention that Todd was a liar and a cheat. She’d discovered the ugly fact herself, the morning after the bachelor party. Some friend Finn Brannigan had turned out to be. She narrowed her eyes. “I don’t work with him anymore.” “I know, and I tried to change Daddy’s mind, but he says Finn’s the best and he won’t settle for anyone else. He also says you two were the best event planner– photographer team on the west coast, and it’s time you moved past your personal problems and worked together again.” “Well, your daddy is wrong.” Cammie relied on other photographers now. She avoided Finn and limited what she said to him when they ran into each other. Which, given that the population of Dunlin Shores was only 2,274, happened regularly. Kelly’s face fell. “Then you won’t plan my wedding?” She looked up to Cammie, and Cammie considered her family. She couldn’t let her down. Besides, she and Finn were both professionals able to separate business from their personal lives. As long as she remembered that, she could survive working with him again. Just this once. “If you were anyone else… But I love you dearly. I’ll do it.” Kelly exhaled a loud breath. “Thank you.” That settled, Cammie uncapped the Waterman’s. “Let’s do some planning.”

COMING SOON
Falling For Mr. Wrong – May 22, 2019
A Special Kind of Love – May 29, 2019
Award-winning author Ann Roth writes small town contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She has published over 35 novels, as well as several short stories and novellas, both through New York publishers and independently.

A true believer in love and happy endings, Ann enjoys watching her characters learn and grow as they face challenges and hurdles, and ultimately find love.

Ann has lived in the greater Seattle area since she headed for the University of Washington and fell in love with Seattle… and her future husband.
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Cover Reveal/Excerpt

Title: True Gold
Author: Michelle Pace
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Cover Design: Michelle Preast

Growing up in True, Alaska, the only truth I knew was that Delilah Campbell was an arrogant pain in my ass. She was also my everything, and still haunts my every waking moment. 


I don’t have a single memory that doesn’t include Lie, and I can still taste her, even though Alaska’s no longer big enough for the both of us. After our savage breakup, I fled, chasing my dream and becoming a decorated Green Beret. Ten years later, one bad jump propelled me straight from Special Forces back home, guiding rich idiots into the wilderness, where I struggle to keep them from getting themselves killed. It’s not the life I planned, but at least I’m not behind a desk somewhere. 
Then one night, my cell rings, shattering my peaceful existence.
“Connor,” I’d recognize her voice anywhere, and it’s like I’m sixteen again, crazy in love and cocky as hell after finding all those gold bars everyone’s been searching for since before we were even born.
I want to tell her to go to hell and throw my phone in the river, but it seems Delilah’s visceral grip on me is permanent.
“It’s mom. She’s missing. I need your help….”
As if on cue, the knee pain comes, and more scotch vanishes from my glass. I’ve just wrapped up a ten-day hunting trip with some skinny-jean-wearing assholes from Portland, who drove me to drink more than my bum knee does. I tolerated their cloying cigar smoke, not to mention their juvenile questions about how Eskimo pussy stood up against the “garden variety.” Their shoddy attempts at hunter safety were another matter, and after three days, I’d been ready to ditch them like the Donner party and let Mother Nature sort it out. Somehow, I mustered up the discipline not to smother them all in their sleep, and they left grinning behind their handlebar mustaches and already planning another trip back to the last frontier.

I shake my head with a soul-rattling sigh. Suppressing the urge to shoot people who were a danger to themselves and everyone around them is taxing, but better than a nine to five in some factory. I earn a hefty paycheck keeping idiots alive so they can brag to their fellow craft-beer-guzzling hipsters how they’ve “conquered” Alaska. Lucky for them, I’m compensated very, very well.

My phone rings, and the interruption pisses me off. I need time off like other people need sleep. I haven’t broken a barstool over anyone’s head lately and I’d kind of like to keep it that way.
After every hunt, I religiously schedule myself seven days of blissful solitude. Just me, a fridge full of beer, and my nightly date with Pornhub. Resolute about preserving my downtime, I let the call go to voicemail.

My ringtone starts up again, and I roll my eyes. Glutton for punishment that I am, I look at the screen.

An unfamiliar area code. A number I don’t recognize.

An inexplicable chill runs through me, and I try to shake it off, but my gut tells me to answer, and my gut is never wrong.

I swipe the screen hurriedly, ready to chew someone’s ass.

“Who is this and how did you get this number?”

A pause follows, and I hear her inhale. The intake of air against her vocal cords gives her identity away, and I go numb as I realize who’s on the other end of the line.

“Connor?” My name from Lilah’s lips wakes my slumbering temper, along with my dormant libido. Ages have passed since I heard her smoky voice, but I’d recognize it anywhere. My heart lurches and my knuckles crack as my hand clenches into a painful fist.

Delilah Fucking Campbell.

Fucking isn’t actually her middle name, but it should be.

“Hello?” She sounds nervous, which is as rare as the birth of a white buffalo. Lilah’s the cockiest person I’ve ever met, and after my time in Special Ops, that’s saying something. My pulse thunders in my ears when I remember the way she strutted into every room like she owned the place. I realize I’m on my feet and pacing, and I blush. A simple greeting from her has me at the ready. Just like the old malamute resting beside my chair, I’m a well-trained dog responding obediently to her dinner bell.

Delilah had been my first friend. My first kiss. My first time. Vivid flashbacks of that particular night cause cracks in my icy reserve. Lilah’s the only girl I’ve ever loved, and our disastrous breakup whipped my ass ten times worse than my piece of shit father ever had.

I hear Lilah release a frustrated breath through the tiny speaker in my phone, and I swear I can taste her as if we’ve just kissed. My temples throb in time with my pounding heart. “Connor? Are you there?”

“I’m listening.” I fight to sound cool and detached. She has a lot of nerve calling me, but then she’s always had balls of steel.

“It’s Lilah.” Her unnecessary introduction makes me twice as furious.

“No shit.” I’m tempted to hang up on her then and there. So much for keeping my cool. I hear her sigh, and flashes of her inundate me. The candy she always snuck into the movies, and how it tasted on her tongue as we made out in the back row. The way the guys in school gathered to watch her stretch at cross-country practice like frat boys at a strip club. How they thought she was playing hard to get, when she was just balls to the wall, so good at the things she deemed worth doing that she didn’t get how average people could live with their mediocrity.

All this comes rushing back with stinging clarity. Once upon a time, Delilah was my everything. We used to be inseparable, a package deal…Lie and me against the world. I knew her better than I knew myself back then. Or at least I thought I did.

“I need your help.” This isn’t a request, and her audacity makes me laugh. After all the blood shed between us, she thinks she can just appear out of the blue and I’ll do her bidding. If she’s going to rip open this scab, I’m going to make it hurt.

“With what? That pretty boy you married needs another trophy?”

Score one for me.

I lean back in my chair and wait for her to tell me to kiss her ass.

The silence on the other end makes me wonder if she hung up. I pull the phone from my ear to look at the screen when she speaks again.

“I’m not calling to talk about Josh.”

“Why the fuck are you calling me?” I snarl into the phone, sitting forward so suddenly that Runt flinches in surprise.

“You haven’t heard…” Lilah’s desperation is palpable and it brings a smile to my lips.

“Spit it out, Delilah. It’s late and I have shit to do.” Her name tastes sweet and the thought makes me want to punch myself in the face.

“I would if you’d shut up for five seconds!” Her confrontational tone causes a familiar stirring below the belt. Ignoring my dick, I take a pull from my glass to stall as I decide on a reply.

She sniffles, and my stomach plummets. I’ve been so caught up in my rage that I’d missed the grief woven in her voice. She sounds shaken, un-Lilah-like. “It’s Mom. She’s…missing.”

I choke on the liquid I’m swallowing and cough to clear it. Lilah’s mom, LuAnn, is my godmother, though Lu doesn’t put much stock in God. She and my mom had been lifelong friends. They used to put Lilah and me in the bathtub together as babies, that’s how far back this incestuous shit of ours goes. LuAnn is a living reminder of my mom, who passed three years ago, and she’s also the only Campbell who’ll still have anything to do with me.

“Wait. What? What happened?” Sympathy leaks out before I can contain it. To say that I’m conflicted is putting it mildly. I don’t want to be kind to Lilah. The idea is so distasteful it makes my stomach churn. I want her to suffer, like she’s made me suffer. I want her to ache. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I can still feel my hand around her throat.

Raised in small town Iowa, Michelle Pace is an international best-selling, multi-genre author. After studying theater and vocal music and directing and performing in numerous productions, Michelle went on to earn degrees in both liberal arts and nursing. 

Determined to avoid shoveling snow, she relocated to the Lone Star State with her husband, author L.G. Pace III. Michelle is a mother of three, and she enjoys traveling, live music, and is an enthusiastic amateur beer connoisseur. 


Still most at home while entertaining an audience, her mission is to write gripping fiction, not fairy tales.

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