Contemporary Romance, New Release

New Release

NOW LIVE!

From New York Times Bestselling Author Ruth Cardello

comes another hot Corisi romance about a bet, a love story, and the secrets that ruin relationships.

He Said Always (The Lost Corisis Book 1) OUT NOW.

When billionaire and tech start-up capitalist Gian Romano strikes a bet with his niece Judy—the daughter of Dominic Corisi—to find even more of the Corisi family, his search leads him to the Boston area. But when he pops into a store, the woman who runs it becomes an instant distraction from his mission. Teagan is beautiful, strong, and too smart not to see through him.

What started as a friendly family bet quickly becomes complicated when sparks fly between Gian and Teagan. Nothing is as simple as it appears, and together they discover the past still has the power to hurt the ones they both love. Teagan won’t settle for less than the truth from Gian, but when it comes to her own secret aspirations, she holds back. If they learn to trust each other, they just might discover that some secrets are better when shared.

They’ll have to trust each other completely, or else their love, along with Gian’s lead on Judy, will be doomed.

ONE-CLICK

Amazon Kindle https://amzn.to/33dDCdw

Amazon Kindle Universal http://getbook.at/HeSaidAlwaysKindle

Amazon AudioBook Universal http://getbook.at/HeSaidAlwaysAudioBook

Amazon Paperback https://amzn.to/2QMpeqh

Amazon Paperback Universal http://getbook.at/HeSaidAlwaysPaperback

Amazon Audio CD Universal http://getbook.at/HeSaidAlwaysAudioCD

http://bit.ly/HeSaidAlwaysGR

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Add to your Billionaire Goodreads bookshelf

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MC Romance, New Release

New Release

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ƝЄƜ ƦЄԼЄƛƧЄ

💚𝕀𝔾𝔾𝕊💚

☠ӇЄԼԼƁƠƲƝƊ ԼƠƔЄƦƧ MƇ #3 ☠

Author: Crimson Syn 

Model: Maverick Willett- Online Fitness and Nutrition Coach  

Photographer: Eric McKinney 

Cover Designer: Lou Gray 

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🔥Now Available on Amazon & Kindle Unlimited🔥

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08SLJCFB2

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08SLJCFB2

AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B08SLJCFB2

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08SLJCFB2

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♦️ᏒᎥᎶᎶᏕ♦️

I’m a sick obsessive fool.

I want to ruin the only innocent thing that exists in this godforsaken place.

Luna is as pure as they come, eighteen, untouched, and beautiful.

But I can’t have her.

It’s not right.

A woman like Luna deserves someone better than me.

But the hunger that grows inside of me, seeks for control,

And I don’t know if I’ll be able to hold back much longer.

♦️ᒪᑌᑎᗩ♦️

Jason Riggs is as dangerous as they come.

Yet he saved me from one of the vilest men I’ve ever known.

Now he has become my savior.

My world.

He’s everything I yearn for in this empty life of mine.

Hiding away in Ravenous is my only hope for a future, and I want Riggs to be a part of it.

But he’s hiding something, something wicked.

I won’t stop until I find out his secrets.

And when I do, he’ll be all mine.

This biker daddy is a sweet bundle of alpha goodness.

This is a New Second Edition of the third book in the HLMC Series.

Grab Book 1: WOLF here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XKJV5PM/

Grab Book 2: GRAYSON here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08SKND62V/

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MM Romance, New Release, Release Blitz

🏳️‍🌈New Release

Release Blitz, Somebody 2 Love by Author Maria Vickers

Available 2 download now for only 99c

Amazon https://amzn.to/3qtmQQZ

Amazon UK http://bit.ly/Somebody2LoveUK

Amazon CA http://bit.ly/Somebody2LoveCA

Amazon AU http://bit.ly/Somebody2LoveAU

Amazon FR http://bit.ly/Somebody2LoveFR

Amazon DE http://bit.ly/Somebody2LoveDE

Will the past come back to destroy everything they are building? Two strangers meeting by chance, searching for somebody to love, and finding each other.

Rhys had it all…for the most part. He didn’t mind leaving people or dreams in the past because he was determined to carve out a new future with his fiancé, Nick. But like a house of cards, it all came crashing down around him. Nick found someone else to love, and Rhys suddenly found himself with nothing. Will Rhys open his heart again or keep it sealed shut?

Declan experienced a lot as an Army doctor, but once he was able, he got out, tired of war and suffering. When he meets Rhys, Declan sees a brokenness in the other man’s eyes and wants to do anything he can to drive away Rhys’s ghosts. Even if it means risking his own heart.

Click ‘I Want 2 Read’ on Goodreads

http://bit.ly/Somebody2LoveGR

Save 2 your Wishlist on BookBub

http://bit.ly/Somebody2LoveBB

Maria Vickers is a bestselling and award-winning author who currently resides in St. Louis, MO with her pug, Spencer Tracy. She has always had a passion for writing and after she became disabled in 2010, she decided to use writing as her escape. Life is about what you make of it, you have to live it to the fullest no matter the circumstances.

From a young age, she has always loved books and even dreamed of being an author when she was younger. Growing up in the Navy, she used to weave tales for her siblings and her friends about anything and everything. And when she wasn’t creating her own stories, she had a book in her hand. They transported her to another world. She hopes that her readers will have the same experience when reading her stories, and that, in some way, they can relate to her characters. 

Getting sick changed her life forever, but it also opened doors for her that she thought would always be out of reach. 

Follow Maria

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mariavickersbooks/

IG https://www.instagram.com/authormariavickers/

Twitter https://twitter.com/mvauthor

Amazon https://amzn.to/3t4l9uT

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/mariavickers_author 

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maria-vickers

Newsletter http://eepurl.com/cvH8tX

Website https://authormariavickers.blogspot.com

Join her reader group Maria’s Love Seekers

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1362108480474447/

Thank you for touring with Love Has No Gender the brighter side of  Jo&IsaBooks Promotions

New Release, Romantic Comedy

New Release

Title: Forever Never

Author: Lucy Score

Release: March 4, 2021

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57118988-forever-never

 

Blurb: 

You don’t fall for your brother’s high school sweetheart, your boss’s daughter, or your ex-wife’s best friend. Especially when they’re all the same woman.

 

Under Brick Callan’s mile-wide chest beats a loyal heart with a few cracks in it. He’s the steadfast, overprotective type. Especially when it comes to the one woman he can never have. It’s a long, complicated history punctuated by fights, friendship, family, and an attraction that strains his iron willpower.

 

When Remi Ford returns to Mackinac Island in the dead of winter with a secret, Brick makes it his mission to find out what put the shadows in those green eyes. Even if it means breaking down the walls he’s built between them. Even if it means falling for the one girl he’ll never get over.

 

The free-spirited artist just needs to lay low for a few weeks so she can figure a way out of this nightmare. She’s definitely not staying. Not when the man who broke her teenage heart into splinters keeps showing up at her parents’ dinner table. Remi doesn’t need broody, bearded Brick riding to her rescue…again. Not when it will put them both in danger, costing them much more than their hearts.

 

Author’s Note: Frenemies-to-lovers. Opposites attract. Slow burn. Girl in danger. Glorious, glorious banter. Fighting as foreplay. Small-town shenanigans. Big, grumpy, pining, overprotective hero. Wild-child, trouble-finding heroine who keeps on pushing the hero’s buttons. Steam Level: Lava. Suspense: Nail-biting. Feels: Big time.

 

Buy Links (Kindle Unlimited):

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3kDCYhi

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3kH6oLI

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/302V5nz

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/3sG02Pk

 

 

Author Bio:

Lucy Score is a Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author. Small town contemporary rom-coms are her lady jam and she enjoys delivering the feels with a huge side of happily ever after. 

 

Her books have been translated into several languages, making readers around the world snort laugh, swoon, and sob. Lucy lives in Pennsylvania with the devastatingly handsome Mr. Lucy and their horrible cat.

 

In her spare time she enjoys sleeping, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and reading all the romance novels in the universe.

 

Social Media Links:

https://www.facebook.com/lucyscorewrites/

https://www.instagram.com/scorelucy/

https://twitter.com/LucyScore1

https://www.lucyscore.net/

 

 

Dark Romance, New Release

New Release

Title: Miscreants
Series: Badlands: Next Generation
Author: Natalie Bennett
Genre: Dark Romance
Release Date: February 24, 2021
Love is madness.

Love is anguish.
Ours was ill-fated from the beginning
Crazier than crazy.
Sicker than sick.
Samael was the epitome of a beautiful nightmare.
Together, we were poetry–the kind that bled and wept, a mess of euphoric bliss and heartbreak.
I promised I’d be by his side until the bitter end, but after far too long I needed to be free of him.
Leaving would be one of the hardest things I’d ever done. 
He’d come after me, of that I was sure. Many would lose their lives, becoming casualties in our war.
When this was all said and done our story would be whispered in darkened corners for years to come.
A tale of a wolf pursuing a lamb, but with a masochistic twist.
For even lambs have teeth, and this one bites back.
*T-WARNING*
Miscreants is an enemies-to-lovers standalone full of explicit savagery and an OTT anti-hero. Some readers may find the content within objective. Discretion is highly advised!



 


With a penchant for (writing) villainous immoral men, and a tendency to deviate away from traditional happily ever afters, Natalie Bennett is an international bestselling author of twisted and unconventional love stories.
When she’s not slaying words she’s somewhere in the sunshine state, happily taking life one curve-ball at a time.


HOSTED BY:

Anthology, FF, Multi-Author, New Release

🏳️‍🌈New Release/Anthology/FF

Title: Girls Night Anthology

 

Authors: Yolanda Olson A.A. Davies Dee Garcia Petra J. Knox Jason Hes Ally Vance  Honey Chanel
Genre: Dark F/F Anthology 
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Cover Design: Pink Elephant Designs
A romantic and steamy collection of stories about women who love women.

Seven authors bring you unputdownable dark and devious delights.

From the ends of the earth and back again, each story will take you on a wild ride sure to ignite a roaring fire.

Sinister perfectly mixed with sweet, these vixens are playing for keeps.

Prepare for stories unlike any other because these GIRLS own the NIGHT.


Excerpt, Giveaways, MC Romance, New Release

New Release/Giveaway/Excerpt

Title: Dirty Desires
Series: Devils Kings MC #3
Author: Nicole James
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: September 30, 2020
BLURB
A twist of fate threw us together…

Gypsy—

I’m a Devil King; loyal to no one but my club, until she comes along and tests everything I thought I believed in.

When I do a favor for my imprisoned ex-president’s ol’ lady, I come face to face with the one-night stand that’s haunted me for three years. She pulled a disappearing
Cinderella act on me, vanishing with the dawn. I searched high and low for her,
and now that I’ve found her—she’s the definition of off-limits. She’s an MC
princess—my MC’s princess. And even if her father no longer runs
things, she’s still forbidden with a capital F.

Tell that to my traitorous body that reacts every damn time she gets within sight of me.They say no good deed goes unpunished, and I’m learning this golden haired beauty could be the death of me.

Though our chemistry blazes, every second I spend with her risks the brotherhood we’ve just repaired.

Tess—

I’ve never wanted anything to do with my father’s filthy MC, The Devil Kings. With daddy dearest in prison, my mother is
falling apart. Her struggle with anxiety, drugs and money problems drag me back
from the independence I crave. She needs my help and my father holds the
key—literally.

But when he insists I get him information on the Devil Kings in exchange, I’m thrust into a world I want no part of. My father may be their EX-president, but I’m still
considered an MC princess.

When my mother pulls in a favor and arranges an escort for me down to the prison, he walks in—a patched member of the Devil Kings MC—and a memory from a one-night stand we had three years ago.

But there’s a reason I ditched him the next morning; I want nothing to do with men like my father. Gypsy is everything I need to steer clear of—he’s an outlaw, a Devil
King, dangerously sexy and loyal to his club.

As my mother’s world falls apart, my choice becomes clear.

But how do I choose between saving her and betraying the man I love?

PURCHASE LINKS
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
EXCERPT
Tess— 
I wake up and glance around. Nope, it wasn’t a dream. A clock by the bed says six a.m. I blink against the morning sun and stare over at the man in bed with me. He’s on his stomach, the sheet just barely covering his ass. The cute little dimples at the base of his spine are revealed. I go up on an arm to get a better view now that there’s light in the room, and that’s when my eyes hit the full back tattoo— the one I couldn’t see in the dark last night. 
I don’t need to read the words; the exact replica of the Devil Kings MC’s center patch tells me everything. 
Oh. My. God. What have I done? He’s turned away from me, and all I can see is his profile. Goddamn it, he can’t be one of them. No. I scream on the inside but keep still as a statue on the outside. My heart races, and I feel light headed. This can’t be happening. Lord, please tell me I did not just sleep with one of my father’s MC brothers. 
I scan the room, my gaze furtive. That’s when I spot the black leather cut hanging over the back of a desk chair, its colors on full display. Devil Kings MC, Georgia. 

Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity-fuck! 
How could I have been so stupid? 
The last thing on this earth I want is to go down the same road my mother did. I worked too hard getting my associates degree in business administration and working my ass off at my job, fighting tooth and nail to be considered for the promotion to events planner to throw it all away for some biker, even if he is the best sex I’ve ever had. 
Panic sets in, and I know I have to get the hell out of this room, out of this house. Now. 
I slip from the bed, scoop up by clothes, and grab my little cross body bag that barely holds my phone and wallet. 
I tiptoe across the room and pause in the doorway. I can’t resist taking one last look at the man. He was amazing last night. We clicked sexually in a way I’ve never experienced. 
I sigh at the unfairness of it all and slip out. 
I move down the hall and stop in the kitchen to scramble into my clothes. It’s as neat as the rest of the house, and I wonder if there’s a girlfriend he’s cheating on who comes over and cleans his place. Asshole. I want to believe it because I want to wash away all the good from last night and replace it with a different painting—one of a jerk who’d cheat on his woman. It’ll be easier to walk away, and I know I have to walk away. There is no way in hell I’m getting involved with one of those bastards from my father’s MC. No fucking way. 
I quietly move through the garage and into the cool morning air. I jog half a block away before I pull my phone out and call Hayley. 
On the third ring, she picks up, sounding groggy as hell. “…’lo?” 
“It’s me,” I hiss. 
Her voice immediately perks up. “Tess? Where are you?” 
“I just walked away from his house. Can you come get me?” 
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” 
“I’m fine. But you aren’t going to believe who this guy is.”
ALSO AVAILABLE
FREE for a limited time!
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Always free in Kindle Unlimited
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
AUTHOR BIO
Nicole James is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal
bestselling author who loves writing about hot alpha men who’ll do anything for
the women they love! Her stories are filled with struggle, conflict and real
human emotion. She is the author of the Evil Dead MC series, the Brothers Ink
Tattoo series and more.
Nicole loves to hear from her readers! You can contact her via e-mail, her
website contact form or on her social media accounts.
AUTHOR LINKS
MM Romance, New Release

🏳️‍🌈New Release

#NewRelease #FriendstoLovers #MMRomance ADORING KEATON by #SiobhanDavis #Free on #kindleunlimited.


A friends-to-lovers new adult MM romance from #USAToday bestseller Siobhan Davis. Stand-alone with #HEA and no cliff-hanger.


Keaton

Moving to California was supposed to be my fresh start. A clean slate. An opportunity to drop the façade, escape the lies, find a focus, and just be myself.But I should have realized it wouldn’t be easy, especially when my last name is Kennedy.I’m not ready to be a gay icon or some celebrity role model. I still haven’t admitted the truth to my family or the girl I professed to love, so there’s no way I want the public to know I’m into dudes.Falling for my hot, straight, football-player roomie wasn’t part of the game plan.Neither was backing myself into a corner because I trusted the wrong guy.Now everything is on the line, and it’s time to stop pretending.


Austen

From the time I was a little kid, all I wanted is to play football in college and play in the NFL. As wide receiver for the Golden Bears, I am on track to achieve my goals, but it comes at a heavy price.Denying who I am—for the sake of my career—goes against everything I believe.I should never have listened to my high school coach, because all the lies are suffocating me.Until Keaton Kennedy enters my life, turning it upside down.Now, there is even more reason to tell the truth, because I’m falling for the famous one and I want the entire world to know.
This heartwarming, emotional romance has a dash of angst and drama, a sprinkling of humor, and cameos from some of your favorite characters from the series. It is a 100k-word full-length novel, and the second to last book in the Kennedy Boys series. This can be read as a #standalone novel as it focuses on a new couple; however, it is recommended you start at the beginning of the series for maximum reading enjoyment.

#AdoringKeaton

Amazon US: www.amazon.com/dp/B07YBH2RGB

Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07YBH2RGB

Amazon CA: www.amazon.ca/dp/B07YBH2RGB

Amazon AU: www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07YBH2RGB

Excerpt, New Release, Romance, Suspense, Uncategorized

New Release/Giveaway/Excerpt

 

Title: Dirty Deals
Series: Devils Kings MC #2
Author: Nicole James
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: July 9, 2020

Blurb
Rusty—
I’m the president
of the Devil Kings Atlanta MC. With a fractious club to rebuild and a revolving
door on my bedroom, the last thing I need is 5’4” of sex-on-a-stick trouble.
When a
mysterious beauty shows up with her playmate’s body, dark soulful eyes and a
bagful of cash, I’m willing to make an exception.
I don’t
fully trust her, but she needs my help.
Ashlynn—
Things are
finally good. I am one of the best high-roller hostesses on the strip. But I’ve
lived in Las Vegas two years and have yet to unpack my bags. Why? Because shit
always goes sideways.
I should
have known this time would be no different.
When I’m
asked to hostess a private poker game at a mega exclusive hotel penthouse, I
end up in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time.
I’m the
soul witness to a double murder and I’m suddenly on the run again, but this
time I’m running for my life.
I get as
far as Atlanta before my Porsche blows a tire.
That’s when
he shows up. Dangerous. Drop-dead gorgeous. Scary badass biker. One I can’t
take my eyes off. Maybe this town is as good as any to lay low.
When
trouble tracks me down, I want to run again. But he has other plans.
He’ll
protect me—for a price.
My willing
body in his big bed—all night, every night.
That’s the
dirty deal he offers.
Dare I accept?
Where the
President of the Devil Kings is involved, there are no rules.
But I’ll
stand toe-to-toe with him and make it out of this bargain with my heart intact.
Because in the end, running is what I do best.

 

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Free in Kindle Unlimited

Excerpt
He locks
the door and prowls toward me.
“That’s a
real pretty dress, Hot Rod.” His eyes sweep over me. “You want to keep it in
one piece, you better take it off quickly. If I do it, it’s gonna be in
tattered shreds on the floor. That’s how badly I want you.”
His eyes
promise all kinds of things—dark things, dangerous things. He’s seducing me,
and he hasn’t even touched me yet.
I take a
step back, then another, enjoying the hunt, disobeying his demand. His eyes
fall on the pulse I can feel beating in my throat. He stalks me across the room
until I come up against the dresser. He stops two feet away. He reaches out,
and his callused fingertips glide along my collarbone. My skin tingles in
response, heat flames through my body like wildfire, and I tremble.
“I really
want to see what’s under this dress,” he murmurs, his voice a seductive lure as
he dips his head closer to mine.
“Does every
girl you bring in here fall at your feet?” I whisper, wondering just how
special I am.
Those
hypnotic eyes of his drift along my throat, and his finger brushes where my
rapid pulse beats. He moves closer, inching forward, crowding my space as his
head inclines toward mine. He dips down, his nose brushing along mine and his
voice goes rough. “Want to know what I think?”
“What?” I
breathe.
“I think
you look beautiful at my feet, staring up at me with those dark eyes I could
drown in. Makes my dick hard thinking of the last time you were on your knees,
taking me deep down your pretty throat.” He skates his hand up my neck,
encircling it, cuffing it, bringing my jaw up until our mouths are a breath
apart. “And I think you’re absolutely dying for another taste.”
I lick my
lips. I can’t deny it, any of it.
“Let me see
what’s under that dress, beautiful.” He drags his fingertips along the
neckline, and I’m powerless to resist. I pull the dress off my shoulders, and
it flutters over my body to pool on the floor.
His eyes
drag over every inch of me, and they light up with liquid desire. He sucks in a
breath and steps back to take it all in.
My breasts
are bare, my nipples tight with arousal. I’m wearing a tiny G-string panty
under the garter belt and lace-topped stockings, all in a golden glimmer.
The gold
stiletto heels with their sexy straps finish it off.
“Fucking
hell, woman. You’re a walking wet dream. Every man’s fantasy.
I stand,
slightly at a disadvantage, as he’s still fully clothed. It tilts the power
balance in his favor. Although, seeing the need in his eyes, I may have the
power over him right now. He wants me badly. I up the ante and whisper in a
throaty seductive voice, “I bought it for you, baby.”
His eyes
flare at my words, and he reaches for me.
He threads
his fingers into my hair, fisting it, and tugs, tilting my head until I have no
choice but to meet his eyes. His fingers curl around the back of my neck,
commanding and possessive and my insides melt.
Also Available
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Coming Soon
Releasing September 30
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Author Bio
Nicole James is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal
bestselling author who loves writing about hot alpha men who’ll do anything for
the women they love! Her stories are filled with struggle, conflict and real
human emotion. She is the author of the Evil Dead MC series, the Brothers Ink
Tattoo series and more.
Nicole loves to hear from her readers! You can contact her via e-mail, her
website contact form or on her social media accounts.

Author Links

 

Excerpt, Free Love, New Release, Romance

New Release/Excerpt


Title: Lotus Empowered
Author: Clairissa Sinclair
Genre: Romance
Release Date: June 20, 2020

The lights went out.

 

 
It wasn’t your run of the mill blackout. It was the final step in a series of carefully orchestrated occurrences that crashed communication satellites, GPS, internet connections and anything containing a computer chip. In just a few days all of the conveniences that modern society relied upon to get through life were gone and the world was thrust backward in time inciting a power struggle of epic proportions.
 
Lotus McClean found herself stranded in the mountains of Virginia when the world went black. When everyone around her panicked, Lotus knew what needed to be done. After all, she grew up completely off the grid, on the family farm where free-love was the norm and marajuana was the cash crop.
 
Standing strong on her own, loneliness and vulnerability keep her away from people and in the safety of the old Mountain Inn that she calls home. Three very different men from different walks of life seek refuge in the motel and in her bed.
 
Can they survive and thrive in a harsh new world?
 
Warning: This book is intended for mature readers over the age of 18. It includes intense sexual situations, including MMFM and MM relations, adult language and violence.
 

I was truly alone. 

 

 

 

Day after day, I worked my ass from sun up until sundown, at almost a frantic pace, making sure I had the supplies in that I would need to survive another winter. Slowing down wasn’t an option. In the rare moments that I did sit down to relax and just breathe, it was too quiet. I found my thoughts wandering back to the farm and the flutter of activity, especially when we were preparing for winter. I had a tribe then. I had friends and family that I could rely on when I needed them. Now I just have me.
 
Night after night, I curled up, alone, under Shirlee’s patchwork quilt. Alone. All alone. It was eating me alive. I’ve read every book in the house and played hundreds of games of solitaire with the dog-eared Bicycle playing cards. I have given every animal on the property a name and a cartoon character-ish voice, and I talk to them while I’m feeding and cleaning up their pens. I spend my nights twisting cord and weaving baskets by candlelight, but the silence is deafening. I long for human contact. Some nights my skin aches for the touch of a man.
 

 

Four weeks into my solo life on the mountain, the need for human contact got the best of me. Despite the dangers, I found myself going into town for Swap Meet Sunday out of pure loneliness more than the need for anything in particular. I swapped one of Ozzy and Harriet’s kids for six more chickens and some heirloom tomato seeds and half a jar of instant coffee. I traded water filtration drops for a big bunch of sweet red beets and a pair of night-vision goggles for a bushel of peaches. The woman who made delicious goat cheese was always willing to swap for wine.

 

 
The atmosphere in town has changed somewhat for the better. The Sheriff and his men have things under control, at least by the light of day. The laws are upheld with an iron fist now, and violators are subject to pay the ultimate price for their crimes. Thieves and looters are shot on sight, and their names posted on the old community bulletin board at the entrance to the park, along with “missing person” notices. The board has also become a place for drifters to pin notes and letters that they’ve carried from other towns since there is no other organized mail system. I find nothing there with my name on it, which plunges me just a wee bit deeper into depression. I was hoping to at least hear that Pete and Shirlee had made it safely to Pasco.
 
There’s a curfew now. No one is allowed on the streets after dark except for Sunday nights, where the church hosts bible study and a barn dance. Violators are shot, Monday through Saturday, but the law in these parts are a religious crew, I suppose, and they make the one-night a week exception in the Lord’s name.
 
Pete and Shirlee had been gone for another six weeks or so when I broke down and made the long walk towards town again. I swore I wouldn’t, I told myself that I was safer on my own, but the loneliness was overwhelming. I was hoping for news of my friends and desperate for companionship. Again, there was no news on the community bulletin board. I checked and rechecked three times. The only new information was the names of eight more citizens that killed in the process of committing crimes on the shame wall.
 
Today, I finally let the nice church ladies talk me into sticking around for the sundown barn dance. “You need to meet a nice young man, Miss Lotus.” The sweet grey-haired granny declared. 
 
“It’s not safe to be up there on the mountain by yourself.” Her equally ancient friend insisted. I smile and nod, but I doubt it will measure up to dancing naked around a blazing fire like in my youth, but at least I won’t be alone tonight.
 
I cleaned myself up in the powder room of the church hall. Removing my plaid flannel shirt and stuffing it into my backpack, I left on a black wife beater with my jeans and combat boots. I washed the dust and sweat from my face in the basin and combed out my hair. Braiding it tightly, I pulled a few strands loose and let them fall on the sides of my face. A quick whore bath and fresh deodorant completed my dance look. 
 
The celebratory atmosphere reminded me just a bit of the ranch, minus the constant presence of marijuana smoke and, of course, the nudity. It didn’t take long for me to relax and enjoy the night. A classic country band was composed of half a dozen guys from age eighteen to about eighty that played a variety of string instruments, drums, spoons, and a washboard. They took turns singing lead and were off-key more than on, but the music was still a welcome relief from silence. It was wonderful to be around other people. I struck up a few conversations with the cheese lady and some of the locals. Mostly we talked about canning recipes, gardening, and edible plants.
 
There were more men than women present, perhaps as many as three to one. The ladies got quite a heavy work out on the dance floor. It was probably about eight o’clock, and I’d already received two marriage proposals and more cheesy pickup lines than I could handle. The preacher had a flask of rum in his jacket and offered me a swig after a rollicking two-step to a Garth Brooks song. It didn’t escape my attention that he was looking down my shirt when he gave me a few more. I’m not much of a drinker. Just a few little sips and I was feeling no pain.
 
Even the sheriff was starting to look good. He looked dignified and sexy in his khaki uniform, hat, and gold six point star pinned to his muscular chest, while pacing the room, on the prowl for trouble makers. Unfortunately, he’s married. She’s very pregnant and hovers next to him the entire night, scowling at any ladies that get too close to her man. That and the fact that he’s an enormous douchebag took him off of my list of possible partners.
 
My current dance partner is a twenty-something-year-old farmer with a dimple in his chin. He’s young and handsome and virile and has enormous calloused working man’s hands, and he’s wearing skin-tight faded Levis that make me want to sink my teeth into his tight little ass. It’s such a shame when he opens his mouth because he was perfect until he spoke, “I’ve seen you at the swap meet, you know.” 
 
“Oh, really?” I respond, curious to see where this conversation is going. 
 
“Yup. I told my friend Bobby over there.” He pointed to his similarly dressed friend who smiled and winked at us before he continued, “That I’d eat you good. You seem like a woman that knows how to take care of her pussy. Nothing worse than dirty pussy. I bet you still shave.” He leaned in and whispered conspiratorially, “Most women stopped shaving their poontang when the lights went out.” Fuck. Ew. Revolting! Not happening. Hottie McFarmer has successfully obliterated any sexual fantasy from my dirty mind. I need a good man and not a horny boy. 
 
“I need to use the ladies’ room.” I excuse myself leaving the good looking redneck in the middle of the dance floor, all alone.
 
I don’t even know how to respond to that comment. On the bright side, I suppose that it’s a good thing that I present myself in a manner that clearly says, “I wash my crotch.” The entire conversation cracks me up, and I’m still giggling to myself when I slam the door of the wooden outhouse behind the hall and head back inside towards the music. 
 
“Hey, pretty lady. How about a dance.” 
 
There were three of them. All older men, maybe in their forties and up with greasy hair and tobacco-stained teeth. They could have been younger and just aged by hard-living and homemade crystal meth. It’s tough to say for sure. Regardless, they were all wearing jackets with rebel flags on them like some kind of semi-geriatric street gang. I have no idea where they came from because I completely let my guard down. Fear, I found out, sobered me up faster than a pot of Maxwell House.
 
“Maybe later.” I said calmly, trying my best to sound braver than I was feeling, “I left my friend on the dance floor. I need to get back inside.” I tried to slip between them, but they blocked me in between their sweaty bodies and the outhouse. 
 
“Nah baby, you don’t need to go back in there with the Jesus crew. We can have our own little party out here. You can be the guest of honor.” He ran his fingers up my arm and grabbed my braid, bringing the tip of it to his nose and inhaling deeply. 
 
The one that I assumed to be the senior member by his grey hair and deep wrinkles grabbed a handful of my ass and squeezed hard enough to take my breath away. Bile rose in my throat. “Be nice to us, and we’ll be nice to you, lady.” He hissed in my ear. He planted a wet, slurpy kiss to my neck that made my skin crawl. The smell of tooth rot and tobacco filled my nose, and his fingers dug into my arms, leaving hand-shaped bruises. 
 
Panicking, I twisted and fought with everything inside of me. My black hiking boot made contact with the older man’s kneecap, which only succeeded in pissing him off even more. He wrapped one arm around my neck, capturing my throat in the crook of his arm. “Keep fighting, girl. It makes it all the sweeter.” He growled. Gasping for air, I wasn’t able to push enough from my lungs to form a scream. My nails clawed at his forearms, drawing blood and leaving long red lines. Another pair of hands grabbed a handful of my breasts and twisted them painfully, while yet more hands gripped my ankles and tried to subdue me from any further counter-attack. 
 
I sank my teeth into the hand closest to my mouth and clamped down, which earned me a sharp backhand and a dirty bandana stuffed in my mouth, “This one has a little too much sass. Get her pants down, boys. I’m gonna teach this little cunt some manners.” Slightly dazed from the bitch smack, and completely under their control, I felt a cold rush of air on my thighs and the scrape of denim over my bottom. I heard the jingle of his belt buckle, and I knew what was coming next. My blood ran ice cold through my veins.
 
A fresh wave of adrenaline surged through my body and twisted my wrists free. I wasn’t going to lie there and let it happen. I was going down fighting. Growling with pure hatred, I swung my fist with every ounce of strength I had, but the younger man quickly caught my hand before my knuckles made contact with his grinning face. The leader of the pack laughed at my feeble attempt to fight them off and dropped his pants to the ground. Standing over me, he hocks up a loogie into his mouth and spits into the palm of his hand. Grinning like a Cheshire cat, he rubbed his semi flaccid penis, “Hold her open for me, Clint. Gotta make sure the pussy isn’t diseased.” 
 
His friend cackled, “You’d fuck it if you had to chip off the scabs.” I closed my eyes and squeezed them tight, like it would keep out the horror that was coming my way, and swallowed down the bile that was rising in my esophagus.
 
My attacker dropped to his knees, which pressed into my thighs, holding them open for his assault. The brown juice from the gob of chew in his mouth dribbled down his beard and landed on my face. I wanted to shut my brain off from everything that was happening to my body. I tried to block out my rape by visualizing the ranch and pretending I was there.
 
The heavy metallic click of a bullet being chambered in a very large caliber handgun brought me back into the here and now, “I don’t think the lady is interested. Hands off boys.” 
 
It wasn’t the sheriff, but one of his sworn deputies that had instantly become my hero. All three men put their hands up, and I darted out of their grip and hid behind the officer’s legs, spitting out the dirty bandana and struggling to fill my lungs with clean fresh air. “Are you ok?” He asked me, looking down on me. I nodded quickly because I was still shaking uncontrollably and too stunned to use my words. My heart was threatening to hammer it’s way out of my chest, and I struggled for control.
 
“Run along now, boys. And stay away from the lady, or I’ll shoot you myself.” They grumbled and bitched under their breath while they walked away in the direction of Main Street. I know I heard, “asshole cop” and, “motherfucker ruined our fun”. 
 
When words finally formed, I was outraged. “Aren’t you going to arrest them?” I panted, “They were about to rape me.” I realized that I still had a death grip on the pantleg of his neatly pressed uniform and forced myself to let go. My jeans were tangled and twisted. Brushing the grass and twigs out of them, I pulled them up over my ass with shaking hands. Deep breaths. I kept telling myself. Just take deep breaths and get a grip. I struggled to calm myself as the adrenaline wore off. 
 
“Can’t. I’m Emory, by the way. Deputy Emory Lang.” 
 
“Lotus McClean. You’re not going to arrest them?” Anger, shock and disbelief, or some lethal combination of all three surged through my system. 
 
Even more annoying is Deputy Lang’s blase attitude, “Ha, well, I would, but there’s no room at the jail right now. Can’t arrest anyone on an, “attempted” anything anymore. Sheriff’s rule. Has to be an actual crime. You don’t live in town, do you?” I still can’t stop my hands from trembling enough to button and zip my fucking jeans but at least my ass is covered. I take a few more deep breaths and try to pull myself together. 
 
Emory offers me a hand, which I take and he pulls me to my feet. Eye to eye, I get a good look at him. He’s not a bad looking man. A little skinny for my taste but not hard on the eyes. He has a weak chin. I never really knew what that meant before, but now I understand completely. I’m still pissed off. Maybe even more pissed off that those assholes are just going to walk away. “Un-fucking-believeable. So if you were a minute later, and one of them stuck their dick inside of me, then they would be arrested? And no, I don’t live in town!”,I intentionally answer vaguely. 
 
He picked a dried up leaf out of my hair, “I know it sounds bad, but we only have three cells and they are full. If it makes you feel any better, I probably would have just shot him if he stuck his dick in you.” He winked at me, like it was our little secret joke or something. He fucking winked! I’m sure he would have shot the guy. Law Enforcement has certainly changed since the lights went out. “We do a damn fine job of keeping the peace, under the circumstances. We’ve got the looting under control at least and we do what we can to protect the law abiding citizens. What brought you into town today, Miss McClean? It is Miss, isn’t it?” He hadn’t yet released my hand from where he helped me stand, so I pulled it away from his grasp under the pretense of brushing dust and gravel off my backside.
 
I know what he means when he explains that the Sheriff got the looting under control. The “Looting or stealing equals a bullet to the head” policy is posted all over town and strictly enforced. 
 
I’m too stunned that a law enforcement officer would minimize the fact that I was physically assaulted and almost raped for it to register in my mind that he’s flirting with me. Awkwardly, but still flirting with a victim. “Um, yes. I came to town for the swap meet and the church ladies talked me into staying for the dance.” My heartbeat is slowly returning to a normal rhythm and my knees aren’t knocking together anymore.
 
The deputy grins, “Probably Gilda and Ida. There’s an over abundance of single men in town now and not enough beautiful women to go around.” 
 
“I noticed.” He led me back towards the lantern light of the church recreation center but my feet won’t move any further than the door. I can’t go back in there. Not now. I can’t listen to bad pick up lines and half-hearted marriage proposals from men who are just as lonely as I am. The truth is that I’m too fucking scared to walk home in the dark, all alone right now. I’m simply in need of comfort in the form of strong masculine arms wrapped around my shaking body. “So, Deputy Lang.” I stop in my tracks and turn towards him, close enough so that I can smell his powerfully strong aftershave. Blinking back the tears that are threatening to fall, I force a tight smile to my bruised lips, “I’m finished with dancing for tonight. How about we go over there behind the church rectory, and I’ll show you just how much I appreciate your intervention during my bad situation with the boys from Deliverance?” 
 
Emory wasn’t hard to convince. “Well Miss McClean, I do believe you’re trying to seduce me.” He leaned into me and brushed the hair that escaped my braid in the tussle securely behind my ear. 
 
“Is it working?” I ask him, already knowing the answer to my question by the growing tent in the front of his chinos. 
 
“Definitely.”
 
I wish I could say that the encounter was gratifying. It might have been, had it lasted more than two minutes and I didn’t have tears rolling down my face. Emory was a soft kisser, with a tongue that seemed to explore every tooth in my mouth. Still reeling from the assault, I wanted to be held and cuddled more than I wanted the sex, but that wasn’t to be. I wanted more and settled for much less.
 
Bending me over the cement steps to the back door of the minister’s residence, I let him take me. Sadly, Deputy Lang finished the race and I was barely out of the starting gate. I’ll give him credit where credit is due, he did provide nearly five minutes of spectacular post-coital cuddling, before he pulled up his pants and buckled his tactical belt. “I’ve gotta get back to my patrol. I hope we can get together again Miss McClean. Sometime soon.” 
 
I let him kiss me goodbye, before he tipped his hat and disappeared into the dark streets. I walked home in the darkness crying silent tears and with my loaded pistol cocked in my hand. My heart skipped a beat at every little sound in the night for the entire three hour walk up the mountain. The lonely Inn was my safe haven. I curled up on the sofa and hid underneath the patchwork quilt that Shirlee made and sobbed until the morning light illuminated the great room. In the safety of the light of day, I slept.
 
That’s the first and last barn dance I’ll be attending.
 
I’d made my peace with being lonely and turned my focus back towards winter prep. I was doing my best to keep Pete’s traps and lines set, but with hunting, caring for the livestock, canning, gardening and foraging, there was barely enough daylight to get all of the work done. I kept hoping and praying to whatever deity would listen for Pete and Shirlee to make it home, but as the summer wore on with no word from them, my hopes diminished. 
 
Resolved. That’s what I was. I resolved to survive the winter on my own.

 

Clairissa Sinclair was born in upstate New York but calls sunny Tampa Florida home. She lives with her boyfriend and two very spoiled teacup Chihuahuas. By day she works at the local police department as a Code Enforcement Officer, at night she writes “Sin-fully Delicious” stories filled with imperfect people who find their own strength in the end. When she’s not working or writing, she can be found in the Gulf of Mexico, swimming, fishing or snorkeling, or at the closest thrift store, hunting for treasure.
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