Audible Release/Excerpt

Title: The Five
Author: Lily White
Genre: Dark Romance/Romantic Suspense
Narrators: Rose Dioro and Jason Clarke
This is not your average love story….
Every man who meets Rainey wants her. Having lived a life of sex, drugs, and manipulation, she is a temptation with far too many secrets.
 
When psychologist, Justin Redding, is assigned to Rainey’s case, he has no way of knowing the tale of debauchery he will encounter.
On a twisted path of love, loss, and murder, Rainey leads Justin through the events of her life.
Death follows Rainey…. Justin fights to discover her secrets….
But will he discover the secret of The Five in time to resist Rainey’s ultimate seduction?
 
Warning: This book deals with sensitive subject matters that may be upsetting for some listeners.

“No, Rainey. Let me look at you. I love looking at you. Even when I close my eyes, all I see is you.”
I dropped my arms, my legs trembling. This was Rowan, the sweet, kindhearted boy I loved. Yet, in that moment I feared him. The adrenaline was wearing off and I was suddenly so cold.
His lips parted as he stared at me, those blue eyes I knew so well slowly taking in my body as heat blazed behind them. He’d grown so large, twice my size at least, and it had never occurred to me how strong he was until now. Nobody would pick on him anymore. Not without getting their asses handed to them in a fight.
“Can I touch you, Rainey?” His eyes lifted to mine. “Is that all right? For me to touch you?”
“Always,” I whispered, unable to put any strength in my voice. “You can always touch me.”
He stepped forward and I stepped back out of instinct. He would never hurt me. Not Rowan. But what I saw in him now was the predator that had always lingered just beneath the surface. He wasn’t a monster like his family or David. Not him. He was something else entirely.
Pain shot through his eyes when I moved, his hands fisting at his sides. “Do I scare you now?”
Shaking my head, I forced my mouth to move. “No. It’s just -“
“Just what?”
“You’re different, Rowan. A man, I guess. You’ve grown.”
Blue eyes held mine, the darkness in them seeping away, but not entirely. His lips pulled into a tight smile. “You need a man. I’ve become exactly what you need. For you, Rainey. Not anybody else. Just for you.”
I drew in a rattling breath. “Touch me.”
Rowan moved forward and I held my ground, craning my neck to look up at him. He was shaking, his skin so cold that I knew I had to fix him somehow. “Rowan?”
“Yeah?”

 

“Will you kiss me?”

 

Lily White is a romance writer who likes to dabble on the taboo side of eroticism. She is most known for her Masters Series, Target This, Wishing Well, and Asylum. In addition to dark romance Lily writes contemporary romance, taboo romance, and psychological thrillers. Lily enjoys stretching her writing muscles by continuing to challenge herself with each book she publishes.

 

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New Release/Excerpt

Title: Valentine’s with the Single Dad
Series: Single Dad’s of Seattle Book 7
Author: Whitley Cox
Genre: Steamy, Contemporary Romance; Rom-Com; Single Dad; Holiday
Release Date: January 18, 2020
When a business arrangement takes a personal turn …
 
Welcome to Seattle, the Emerald City and home to The Single Dads of Seattle. Ten sexy single fathers who play poker every Saturday night, have each other’s backs, love their children without quarter, and hope to one day find love again.
This is Mason’s story …
 
Single Dad of Seattle Mason Whitfield made some big changes in his life five years ago, starting with quitting his Fortune 500 job and moving away. Now he’s back in Seattle, he bought a bar and is finally a father—life is good. But when a beautiful mystery woman keeps coming to his bar interviewing men night after night, Mason’s curiosity is piqued and he just has to know more.
Five years ago, cancer nearly killed Lowenna Chambers. Then her husband left her—for her sister. Now in remission, she just opened up her own chocolate shop and is determined to live the best life possible. Until she’s asked to do the impossible: design an enormous chocolate center piece and give a speech for her sister and ex-husband’s wedding, on Valentine’s day of all days. A perfect opportunity to show them she’s moved on. But first, she needs a date. A drool-worthy hunk who will steal the show. Cue, Mason who is tall, dark, dangerous and with two sleeves of tattoos to boot.
But as the wedding approaches it’s no longer a simple business arrangement between Mason and Lowenna. She likes him and he wants her, but love is never that simple and a future together begins to look unattainable.
Can Lowenna get over her pain and heartache and spend Valentine’s with the single dad, or will she let yesterday haunt her today, ruining any chance of a beautiful tomorrow?
**Note: This book can be read as a standalone. It includes lots of steamy scenes, cursing, and of course as with all my books, this has an HEA and no cliffhanger or cheating. If you like single dads who take charge, this book is for you.

He handed her the water bottle, and she took a sip, pulling her dress down over her knees and tucking her breasts back into the top of her dress at the same time. Even though he told her she wasn’t allowed to be shy, she was having a hard time looking at him. 
She located her G-string, but it was too far away on the floor, and for some reason she didn’t think he’d be too pleased with her if she stood up and retrieved it. So instead, she simply sat there, staring at her knitted hands, her stomach churning, her pulse thundering in her ears and her thighs slick. 
“Lowenna.” His deep, calm voice drew her to look at him. How could she not? His gaze was kind but avid, almost concerned. Heat still flickered behind the intense blue, but there was also a wariness there now too. “You okay?”
She nodded for what she felt like was the millionth time. “Yeah.” She exhaled. “I’m more than okay.”
That earned her a big smile. 
“Good. Me too.” He reached over and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, his hand lingering and then cupping her cheek, his pinky finger resting along her neck, undoubtedly feeling her rapid pulse. “I’ve wanted this for so long, Lowenna. Wanted you. Since the moment you came into my bar and sat there with your little notebook and pen, interviewing man after man … ” He shook his head and huffed a laugh, glancing down at his lap. “Even if you weren’t interviewing gigolos or, I dunno … if you were a madam of some kind, I wanted you. Wanted to get to know you, everything about you.” 
She blew out a breath and leaned into his hand, closing her eyes. “Mason … I … ” She blinked rapidly a few times as she took a moment to process everything he’d just said. When she lifted her head to his meet his gaze once again, the look that greeted her was no longer worrisome or wary. It was intense and heated, and it made her entire body tremble instantly. 
He ran his free hand through his hair, exhaling another shaky laugh. “Hell, I didn’t even know you yet, had the opportunity to kiss half a dozen women on New Year’s Eve, and I didn’t, because all I could think about was you. I’m falling for you.” His lips twisted. “Or maybe I’ve already fallen, I don’t know. But I don’t want this to be a business arrangement anymore. I want us to be real. I want us to be together. I don’t want to just give you the boyfriend experience, I want to be your boyfriend.”
Holy shit. 

 

Desire … and something else rolled through her in big, lazy waves, touching every inch of her until her entire body burned like the surface of the sun for the man whose soulful blue eyes were at that moment looking at her like no man had ever looked at her before.
  
  
A Canadian West Coast baby born and raised, Whitley is married to her high school sweetheart, and together they have two beautiful daughters and a fluffy dog. She spends her days making food that gets thrown on the floor, vacuuming Cheerios out from under the couch and making sure that the dog food doesn’t end up in the air conditioner. But when nap time comes, and it’s not quite wine o’clock, Whitley sits down, avoids the pile of laundry on the couch, and writes.
 
A lover of all things decadent; wine, cheese, chocolate and spicy erotic romance, Whitley brings the humorous side of sex, the ridiculous side of relationships and the suspense of everyday life into her stories. With single dads, firefighters, Navy SEALs, mommy wars, body issues, threesomes, bondage and role-playing, these books have everything we need to satisfy the curious kink in all of us.

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New Release/Giveaway/Excerpt

Title: Andorra Sector: An X-Clan Novel
Collection: Zombie Year 2099
Author: Lexi C. Foss
Genre: Shifter Romance
Release Date: January 14, 2020

 

Katriana Cardona
 
My life ended the moment the X-Clan found me.
 
Bitten.
Turned.
And claimed by him.
 
My genetic markers label me as a rare omega. But inside, I’m all female alpha. And I will not heel. Not even to the Alpha of Andorra Sector.
 
Ander Cain promises me protection.
A new world of pleasure and pain.
But he wants all of me in return.
Even if it means taking me by force.
 
I’ll be damned if I give up my inner fight. I spent the last twenty years battling the walking dead. These wolves won’t know what hit them when I’m through.
 
Ander Cain
 
My life began the moment I found her, my darling little mate. She’s the force of nature Andorra Sector needs to give us hope for a future. A reason to keep going and to protect our lands from the zombie infestation beyond.
 
Yet she refuses to play by our rules.
 
Born in a time where humans will do anything to survive, she’s not used to the pack hierarchy or the laws our kind abides by. Oh, but she’ll learn. And I’ll thoroughly enjoy being the one to train her.
 
Katriana Cardona can fight me all she wants, but in the end, she will be mine. Whether she submits or not.
 
Note: This is a standalone shifter romance with omegaverse and dystopian elements. There will be three books in the X-Clan series, all featuring different couples.
 

Katriana froze, her petite hands gripping the comforter on either side of her hips. “Ander, please—”

“Oh, we’re past the point of begging,” I told her, sliding my belt through the loops. “Spread your legs, Omega.”

She didn’t, her instinct to rebel too strong.

Breaking her of that habit was going to take time.

Fortunately for us both, patience came naturally to me.

I dropped the leather to the ground and flicked open the button on my pants. “You’ll find that I do not enjoy repeating myself, Katriana.” Her eyes followed my movements as I slid the zipper down. “You’re also about to learn what happens when an Omega misbehaves.”

Wolves maintained a hierarchy for a reason. Alphas at the top, Betas in the middle, and Omegas at the bottom, though they were cherished treasures owned and protected by their Alpha mates.

Katriana was mine.

To punish.

To fuck.

To impregnate.

To protect.

And I couldn’t proceed with the latter if she was hell-bent on ignoring my commands.

I toed off my boots and socks, followed by my pants, leaving me clad in a pair of boxers that were far too tight for my growing arousal.

Katriana’s eyes grew wide. “No,” she breathed.

“It’ll fit,” I promised her. Despite their petite forms, Omegas were built to accommodate Alpha cock.

But she shook her head in the negative and pulled her knees up to her chest. “No,” she repeated on a snarl.

My lips twitched.

She wasn’t the only one who could make those sounds.

I returned her rumble with one of my own. However, mine held special properties. A call of sorts that an Omega couldn’t deny.

She convulsed violently in response, the hairs along her arms dancing in appreciation. “Oh God.”

 

USA Today Bestselling Author Lexi C. Foss loves to play in dark worlds, especially the ones that bite. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and their furry children. When not writing, she’s busy crossing items off her travel bucket list, or chasing eclipses around the globe. She’s quirky, consumes way too much coffee, and loves to swim.

New Release/Excerpt

Title: Shadow of Angels
Series: Halfway Between
Author: Kathryn Ann Kingsley
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 6, 2020
The first time I died was November 1st, 1945. That might’ve been the first time, but it certainly wasn’t the last.
 
My name is Veil, and my life has been far from normal. Everything I thought I knew about myself had been a lie. Every single thing. Turns out, I had been in the care of a cult dedicated to a King in Hell and fallen archangel.
 
But after learning the truth of who—or what—I am, I devoted my life to stopping them and everyone like them.
 
Which is why when I learned that Boston was under siege from an occult society who was slaughtering innocents, I had no choice but to come and stop them. Even if it meant it would take me piece by piece through that past I’d spent seventy years trying to avoid—and right into the presence of the archdemon I’d been running from for so very long. Asmodeus.
 
Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, I realized once more that I had no clue what was coming next…

 

“Raise your hands if you love villain romance! **Thrusts her hand in the air.** Kathryn is back with a new series! Shadow of Angels was a great beginning, and I can’t wait to read more.” – USA Today Best Selling Author, Tiffany Roberts

“Throw out everything you thought you knew about angels and demons and get ready to be swept off your feet with a kickass heroine in Shadow Of Angels!” – Julia from Red Hatter Book Blog

Veil was dying.

Again.

At this point, she was on a first-name basis with the sensation of her body shutting down. All her organs were struggling valiantly to soldier on, even though things were entirely out of place and had gone very much awry. A golf-ball-sized hole had been punched straight through her chest. But her body only had one job, keeping her alive, and it was trying so very hard to do just that.

She was lying on the floor. A bullet had been what put her there. A particularly large caliber one, judging by the pain. The gun the man had used packed a damn good punch.

It was also likely enchanted and holy.

She figured it went with the territory.

Now she found herself examining the ceiling tiles of a charming little coffee shop. It was trying to make the vintage thing work at all costs, even if it meant putting up fake stamped copper tiles. I bet they’re plastic from Home Depot or something.

It’s amazing what came to mind when the brain was struggling for oxygen and blood. The thoughts were always the most random, trivial things. Never anything salient or prophetic. Never anything interesting.

The bullet might have nicked her heart. It had definitely punctured her lung. She knew this, because when she went to breathe, it felt as though she had liquid in her chest. It gurgled like trying to suck air through a snorkel with too much seawater in it. The sensation was just as unpleasant.

It’d be over soon enough, she knew. It wasn’t the first time this’d happened. It wouldn’t be the last. While every kind of death carried its own unique form of pain, she likened it to flavors of ice cream. Sure, it all tasted different, but down at the core it was the same thing. How she got there might be new and interesting, might be double-fudge or salted caramel, but it all got her to the same place.

Man, I could seriously go for some ice cream right about now.

Lifting her hand, she touched it to the wound in her ribcage. It was sticky and wet. And big. She picked her hand up to look at the blood dripping off her fingers. More out of morbid curiosity than anything else. It was painful to breathe, so she opted not to. It would just get it over with easier that way. The darkness that was creeping at the edges of her vision would come faster. The quicker that happened, the quicker she could get on with her day.

Death obeyed, and she felt the darkness at the edges of her vision rush in closer. The bullet had punched its way easily through bone, flesh, and sinew. The man was also an excellent shot, she’d give him that.

Y’know, Yul Brenner made a weird villain in West World. Again, with the random-ass thoughts. It almost made her laugh. She would have, if she had the air and the lungs to do it. Just another weird thought popping up out of nowhere as her brain struggled to survive.

Veil knew the telltale signs that the end was coming soon. She shut her eyes as her lungs burned and willed her body to just give up the ghost and let it end. When a hand grasped hers and clutched it, she blinked in confusion and looked up at the man kneeling over her.

He had long, chestnut hair in a ponytail and sharp hazel eyes. He wore all black, save for a white clerical collar that only made him look tan by comparison. He held her hand gently, and with his other one with two fingers aloft, gestured in the shape of a cross in the air in front of him. Earnestly, he began to pray in Latin.

It almost made her laugh again.

“Don’t bother,” a familiar voice said from the table nearby.

“What?” the priest kneeling over her looked up, appalled and offended.

“Give her a minute.”



***



Two days prior.

Boston.

Once, not very long ago, the city had been Veil’s home. Well, it was the only place she had spent enough time in to qualify for the title, anyway. And for exactly those reasons, she avoided it as best she could.

Every street seemed to dredge up bad memories and feelings she didn’t want to experience again. She hadn’t been back in…oh, fifteen years, give or take, and another twenty before that. Once and a while she had to pass through, but never long enough to really let the cloud settle over her.

But her work had called her here. There were only a few things that could drag her back here, nearly kicking and screaming. Death on a large scale was one of them.

Death in the city of Boston was something she was familiar with.

This was where she had been raised. This was where she had spent time in the only semblance of a family she had ever known.

And this is where she had killed them all. This is where she had abandoned him to rot.

Veil shuddered. It had nothing to do with the overly-dry, overly-chill hotel room air. It had everything to do with the image that flashed into her mind. The glint of candlelight off a silver blade that was poised to drive into her chest and into her heart.

That had been the first time she had died and the exact moment everything had gone wrong. The moment she had learned everything had been a lie. She shoved the miserable memory to the back of her mind for the millionth time. It came back to her enough without having to dwell on it.

One foot in front of the other. Always. Immortality was going to drag her down the pavement anyway, she might as well stand up and walk. Besides, there was work to do. There were probably demons to hunt, and more importantly, the humans who brought them here.

She was standing by the window, looking down at the street and busy intersection below. They were staying at the Omni-Parker House Hotel. It was supposed to be one of the nicest hotels in the city. It was the oldest, anyway. It showed, if she were honest. It wasn’t a bad hotel, but it wasn’t her favorite. Namely, she wished she could open the window. She’d much prefer the heavy air of the city and the constant honking, shouting, and shrill whistle of the valet driver below, over the rush of the fan and the stifling feeling of the over-recycled air.

But, there was no use trying to get the windows open. They were screwed shut. Any jumpers might mess up traffic more than usual, and the city might not survive that. It was School Street down below her, and it was bumper-to-bumper in the evening rush hour traffic. That one-lane example an utter failure in city planning was already a majestic cluster-fuck on a good day without somebody turning themselves into street pizza adding to the mess.

Boston was a place built not on top of the old, but around it like a bad jigsaw puzzle. It was trying to do its best to cling to the old streets and old buildings that defined it. Unlike New York or Chicago, that hadn’t minded blasting down a few streets to fix problems, Boston was proud to let it linger.

New York and Chicago also had taken advantage of having mostly burned down at some point or another and used that opportunity to build streets in such novel concepts as “straight lines” and “grids.”

Not in Boston.

Major city improvements also never did quite go as planned. The Big Dig was testament to that. It made the populace a little less eager to take on new ones.

This intersection was a perfect example of Boston’s problem. Three lanes of road meeting two lanes meeting one. A seventeenth-century church, a nineteenth-century hotel, and two large glass structures of two very different styles all met at the same point.

School Street, meets Tremont, meets Beacon. Really, School Street should have been bulldozed a long time ago, if it weren’t for the string of historic buildings. Although, one of them seemed to have been turned into a Chipotle somewhere along the way, so there was that.

Old and new, woven around each other to try and make a cohesive whole.

She resembled the city. Maybe a little too much for comfort. Maybe that’s another reason she hated it so much.

Her thoughts strayed and tried to lock onto her opinions of the city below. Anything to keep them from the matter at hand. Anything to keep away from dwelling on what brought her to her former home.

But like a bad yo-yo, her thoughts spun out, ran dry, and let her dangling on the end of the string without anywhere to go. She had to wind it all back up and face the facts. The TV behind her was buzzing away, the local news personalities yammering pointless observations and speculations about one very undeniable thing—this was a city gripped in fear.

People were afraid to go out. They were afraid to leave their houses and apartments after dark. They had a perfectly good reason, by her estimation.

There had been murders.

Messy murders.

One person getting beheaded in an alleyway was awful, but not international news. Two people being dismembered, blood streaking the walls like it had been caused by a piece of rogue farm equipment, and people began to take notice.

But it didn’t stop. Every night, people went entirely missing…or were found in pieces. The sickest part was that the more apt description would be “pieces were found.” The dismembered bodies were never whole. Bits were being taken, but not just any bits. The important ones you’d notice, like the head or the whole torso. They only ever left the limbs behind, if anything other than just the blood.

Nobody had caught sight of what was causing the mayhem. At first, Veil had ignored the news, chocking it up to human, non-magic using crazies, until the blood left behind by one was scrawled onto the wall in a symbol. It was a circle, with angled triangles and pentagons inside of it. It bore all the hallmarks of a kind of ceremonial magic that she was all too familiar with.

It was dribbly, dripping down the cement surface, put there by hand by whoever—or whatever—had murdered the man left crumpled in a heap of torn up parts nearby. The writing was sloppy, the Enochian was mangled, but it had been clear enough.

After that, no matter her hatred for the city and her desire to never come back to Boston, she had to do something to stop whatever was transpiring. She couldn’t look the other way.

Neither could her friend, who was currently tapping away at his laptop like a madman. They were a team. He found her the jobs, she went out and did them. They had the same goal—to make sure as few people in this world suffered the same fate that they both had.

Veil’s job?

Cult hunter.

Not like she carried a card, or anything. She called it a job, but it wasn’t like you go off to get certified in it. She had enough background in the topic to be an “expert.” Both in the creatures that stalked the shadows, and the kind of crazies who worshipped them.

Demons were real. Angels could be worse. Even worse than them, were the humans who dedicated themselves in service to them, who prayed and knelt in devotion to one or more of the ancient creatures.

The ones who had their silly little altars and lit their candles and drew their symbols in chalk on the floors weren’t so bad. They were harmless, and she let them slide by. It was the ones who then etched those symbols in human flesh that were the bigger problem.

She hunted them down, one by one, and did what she needed to do to make sure they wouldn’t hurt anyone again. That was her bad excuse for “work.” It didn’t even come with a paycheck. Not really. Once and a while she’d take a gig here and there that came with a dollar sign attached. Missing persons, mostly. It was lame, but they paid extremely well.

She looked back at her friend. Richard was in his forties now, gray at the temples, glasses having grown thicker over the years, as he peered over them and typed away. She had met him when he was eight years old. He had been huddled in a cage in the corner, his head buried in his hands. He had listened to the screams of his mother and six-year-old sister as they were diced to pieces, dissected alive all in the name of glorious Belphegor.

The joke was on them. Belphegor had retired years ago.

She had “dispatched” the cult in the best way she knew how. She murdered them all. She hated taking lives, but they had given up their right to live when they had started chopping up innocent people. She had taken the boy outside and hugged him and stayed by his side until she had to make her exit as the cops arrived. Veil didn’t do well with the police. Too many very good questions that she had entirely unacceptable answers to, like “how did you get through the locked door?” and “does any of the blood you’re wearing belong to you?”

It usually didn’t. That tended to be the wrong answer. Cops got huffy at that kind of thing, go figure.

She’d kept an eye on Richard as he grew up. His family was gone, his dad having been shot by the cultists when he had tried to protect his family from being taken. The poor kid had been put right into child services. He was adopted at around ten years old by a nice family who cared for him. She had made sure he had everything he’d needed. When he went to college—and went on to get his doctorate—she had quietly paid for his tuition and made it look like a miraculous scholarship award.

She’d done her best to stay out of his life and to stay away from him. She only brought trouble, and any association he had with her was going to end poorly. That worked right up until the invention of the internet. Then, Richard had found her. He tracked her down by finding the occult bastards she was after right before she did.

The first few times he pulled that stunt she walked away from him and told him to go away and leave her alone. She insisted that she was dangerous. But the man was brutally stubborn, and he kept at her for years. Finding her targets before she would, texting her the locations—she still didn’t know how he had gotten her phone number—and meeting her at the scene before she went to work.

Finally, she had given up. He was better at hunting down her quarry than she was, that was for damn sure. And, once she’d given up and let him help, they had become fast friends. It was Richard’s digging and connections that had turned up the classified image of the circle painted in blood on the alley wall in Boston.

If it had been any ol’ ceremonial magic circle, she would have come to stop the sect and it wouldn’t have been anything out of the ordinary. It wouldn’t have bothered her or brought up the memories that were pulling at the back of her mind and ruining her mood.

But it hadn’t been just any circle. Ceremonial circles have rules. They work in certain ways, using lines and the right words to draw power. They tap into energies and pull from them. One wrong line, and it’s as useful as a lead balloon. This one…had invented a whole new set of rules. But, much like looking at the first cubist painting by Picasso, she knew it still worked. Even if it defied everything she knew.

The other problem is whose power it was tapping into. Whose name was scrawled in sloppy but legible Enochian. It was one that made her skin crawl. One that she knew quiet well.

Asmodeus.

The sun was going down, and that meant that it was almost time to get going. All the recent murders and disappearances all happened at night. Cliché, but not unexpected. She walked away from the window and slumped down at the opposite side of the table from Richard. Their hotel rooms had a little adjoining living room-ish kind of thing with a kitchenette, and while it was tiny, it worked. Hopefully they wouldn’t be in town for long.

The doctor in philosophical history—she thought that’s what it was, she could never get it right—had quickly taken over the table that was supposed to be used for eating, and had covered it in scraps of paper, notebooks, leather bound volumes, manuscripts, and his laptop. Research.

He didn’t acknowledge her she had sat down. He probably hadn’t noticed. Veil began to absently spin a piece of paper on the table in front of her underneath her fingers. “Any leads yet?”

“No,” he replied after a long pause and without looking up from his screen. “No one’s seen anything like the circle they drew on the wall. It’s…based in the lesser key, but it’s a new alteration. I have a few friends working on it, but nothing’s turned up yet. I still think we should contact the Church and see if they know anything. I’ve heard reports they’re already in the city, and—”

“No. Absolutely not. I haven’t hidden from them for this long only to screw it up now.”

“But—”

“We can solve it ourselves. We can. We always have before.”

He sighed. “Fine. I’ll keep trying. But I can’t make heads or tails of it. It’s entirely new. I can’t figure what they’re after.”

“Well, they need to be stopped. I don’t really care what they’re after.”

“Are they trying to bring him back?” That was the first time Richard looked up over the top of his glasses and screen at her, gray eyes worried.

“They can’t. Not from where I put him. Nobody can. Either they’re too stupid to know that, or they’re after something else.” At least, she was pretty sure of that. She at least sounded confident.

Richard shook his head, and sighed, at a loss. “If you manage not to knock one of their heads off in the process, perhaps we can question them.”

She snickered. “I’ll do my best, but I make no promises.” She stood again and stretched, cracking her back. She walked into her hotel room and grabbed her weapons. Two metal rods, about two feet long each, and otherwise nondescript. They weren’t flashy, but they were more than effective. Flashy got you noticed—flashy drew questions. Two metal rods earned you some squinty-eyed looks from the cops and the locals but could be mistaken for the weirdest new sporting craze, like those people who speed-walk with weights or something.

She slipped them into the holsters she wore on her legs, one on each side, tied her long hair back into a ponytail, grabbed her coat, and headed for the door.

“Be careful, Veil.”

“It’s just some losers collecting hearts because they read somewhere they could cast fireballs with them,” she grinned as she wiggled her fingers at him as if she were casting a cartoonish spell. “Just another day on the job, Richie. I’ll be fine.”

“Yes, yes,” he laughed. “But something feels odd about this one. The public attacks in a major city? And it’s his name they wrote…”

“I know. Trust me, I know.”

“And here, of all places, to have his name appear?”

She gritted her teeth and did her best not to yell at him that she was very much aware of the fact that this wasn’t a coincidence, no matter how you looked at it. “Just idiots in robes Richie. Like it always is.”



***



Veil walked down the street, humming to herself, slurping happily on her frappa-mocha-something from the coffee shop. She loved coffee. Adored it. And this was a frilly, far-too-sweet concoction loaded with more sugar and whipped cream than any of the actual caffeinated substance.

Fine by her.

It was seven o’clock, and it was already growing dark in mid-October fall. It was gorgeous in Boston that time of year. Even if it didn’t have a whole lot of trees to turn color, it was worth it. Halloween season was a special time in New England. The whole region seemed to just appreciate the holiday more—you could almost feel it tap into the earth. She used to spend a lot of time up on the north shore in Ipswich in her early years, and she remembered how inherently creepy that whole region was. She had loved it at the time and eaten up every volume of Lovecraft any of her so-called family would bring her. That, along with any scrap of anything spooky or morbid she could get her hands on.

The memories made her smile even as they dug a dagger into her heart. It was a painful kind of hate and fondness that mixed together as she took another slurp from the sugary mess she had purchased. It chased away her melancholy. Hard not to, when it even had little chocolate sprinkles on top.

No self-respecting adult had the right to buy something this stupid with a straight face. And she hadn’t, to be fair. She’d been grinning the whole time.

Focus, you moron. Focus. All the murders and disappearances had centered in and around the center of the city. And so, she started there. Worked her way out in slowly-widening circles. Which, really, were probably squiggly lines knowing the stupid street layout.

But she didn’t plan on walking around all night just hoping to trip over a bunch of assholes trying to summon whoever-or-whatever they were intent on calling. She had a plan. She was just trying to find the right place. It’s surprisingly hard to find a dark and deserted alley when you need one. Maybe they all went out of fashion. Not to mention, a dark and deserted alley that felt right.

Magical hoo-ha and all that stupidity. She didn’t understand it. But she felt it like the weather. People didn’t need to understand why it rained to know it was wet.

Finally, after an hour or two—and long after her sugary monstrosity had run out—she found the right spot. Glancing left and right, making sure she was alone, shed pulled a piece of white chalk out of her coat pocket. Humming and half-singing, murmuring the lyrics to “Black Hole Sun” to herself, she drew on the side of the Mexican restaurant the symbols she needed.

It took her three attempts of one line to get it right, and she had to use the melting ice from her coffee cup to wipe it clean. “Damn it,” she grumbled.



“Penmanship, dear. Penmanship is key.” The hand that settled on the back of hers was warm and gentle. Even if the voice was cold and trying to sound stern, it was clear it was for show. His emerald eyes seemed to catch her in them and hold her. They always had, and they always would.

“Start again, this time, try it with straight lines for a change.”

“A novel concept,” she teased back. “And here I was trying to be artistic.” No, really, she was just awful at drawing straight lines. He could do it with perfect and practiced ease, like it wasn’t even difficult. “Nobody appreciates my talent.”

“There is a time and place for all things.” He chuckled at her sarcastic joke. “Try again.”



Veil bit back the memory and swallowed it hard into the back of her throat. That, or the smell of the rotting dumpster nearby, was making her nauseous. Probably both. But finally, the work was done. She took a step back and eyed her work. It was a little crooked. She could almost hear his voice haunting her, pointing out over her shoulder the bits she had screwed up. He had been a perfectionist in all things.

The worst part was that he had never been wrong. It was hard to argue when he was right, but it hadn’t ever stopped her from trying.

Biting back the melancholy again, she sighed. It wasn’t flawless, but it’d work just fine. She tossed her plastic coffee cup into the offensive dumpster and walked back up to the symbol and put her palm flat against the center.

It was like popping a bottle of champagne. She had created the bottle, the cork, and the fizzy substance that wanted nothing more than to explode. If she didn’t pop it right, she’d take the cork to the face, shatter something, and otherwise just make a massive mess of things.

She shut her eyes and let herself focus on the feeling of it beneath her palm. Like a racing river beneath a smooth, frozen surface.

Some people had to chant to do magic. Some people used symbols. Some people gestured. Most did all three. They were all tools. They were guns, knives, swords, or tanks. They all existed for the same purpose—getting the job done. Magic was about will. Sheer, unadulterated force of will over the world around them.

Veil was shit at magic.

Well, no, that wasn’t true. She was better than the cultists she was always hunting. They sucked at magic. She had always just been surrounded by people far better at it than she was. She had always felt like the child playing adults at poker. And for all intents and purposes, she had been.

At least she didn’t have to chant or flail around like a moron. Her weapon of choice was drawing symbols and using those to tap into the world around her. She felt the lines she had drawn and used it like a fork. Just plunked it into the power around her and willed it to do what she wanted.

And right now, she wanted a compass. Something to show her the way to the fuckers that decided to make murder the new fall fashion statement.

She really had to learn to be more specific.

“Command me, Mistress!”

Oh, no.

Oh, fucking Hell.

Veil jumped back from the wall and watched in horror as an…imp pushed itself forward from the wall. Oozed out of the concrete as it borrowed molecules and substance from the building itself to create its body.

It flapped its little purple bat wings, and it landed on a trashcan nearby with a loud thunk. It was a chubby little bastard, and it looked like its little leathery wings wouldn’t hold up its girth on a good day. It petted its stomach with a toothy grin, tipped its stumpy, piggish face back and snuffed loudly in the direction of the dumpster. “What smells good?”

Veil groaned.

She hated imps.

It stood itself up and flapped its wings, and then landed on her shoulder like a fat, leathery cat. “What is our mission, Mistress?”

She tried to keep the disgust off her face. She was pretty sure she failed. Well, this is what she got for not being very specific in what kind of compass she wanted to create. “We’re hunting cultists. Murderers. They’re out somewhere and the city and I need to find them.”

“Oooh! Yes, yes! I can do these things! Yes!” It pointed a stubby, clawed finger out of the alley. “We should go that way!”

“That’s the only way out.”

“I know!” It grinned toothily. “Exactly! Then it is the right choice!”

She really hated imps.

“Just make yourself invisible. The last thing I need is to cause a panic.”

“I…cannot do this thing.” The imp pouted as he shoved a finger inside his ear and wiggled it, as if trying to get out some wax. She wanted to chuck it off her shoulder, but, she had summoned it, and that’d be rude. “Ah! I know! The humans have a beast for this kind of deed!”

It flew from her shoulder to the ground, and as it landed, its body flashed brightly and changed. She had to turn her head away, and when she looked back, the worlds weirdest looking dog was sitting at her feet, tongue hanging out the side of its mouth, panting happily.

Reaching down to pick up the leash it had the presence of mind to summon with its change, she sighed. “All right. Let’s go.”

It bounced up to its feet eagerly and bounded toward the entrance to the alleyway. But not before stopping to lift a leg and take a piss on a few boxes and empty kegs.

She really, really hated imps.
Kat has always been a storyteller. With ten years in script-writing for performances on both the stage and for tourism, she has always been writing in one form or another. When she isn’t penning down fiction, she works as Creative Director for a company that designs and builds large-scale interactive adventure games. There, she is the lead concept designer, handling everything from game and set design, to audio and lighting, to illustration and script writing. Also on her list of skills are artistic direction, scenic painting and props, special effects, and electronics. A graduate of Boston University with a BFA in Theatre Design, she has a passion for unique, creative, and unconventional experiences. In her spare time, she builds animatronics and takes trapeze classes.
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Audio Tour/Excerpt

Title: Packaged Love
Series: Love at First Sight
Author: Loni Ree
Genre: Romance
Audible Release Date: December 13, 2019
Ebook Release Date: September 8, 2019

 

All I wanted to do was make a simple package exchange, then the next thing I know, Mr. Tall, Dark, Handsome, and Jerk-Face is slamming me to the ground and threatening me with jail and other real pleasant experiences. Yep, my day certainly could be better.

 

Who knew a delivery guy’s screw-up could lead to finding “the one”?
Ethan Wescott instantly falls for the gorgeous, little thief he catches stealing his package. Once he realizes it’s all a misunderstanding, he’s left trying to convince Emma even a caveman jerk deserves the chance to redeem himself. He’s going to have his work cut out for him, because so far, she isn’t too impressed.

 

 

After today, I can make the rest of the party favors and get my aunt off of my back, if the package ever arrives. While waiting and scrolling through the available movies, I hear the box drop on my front step and run to grab it. To my absolute horror, it’s not my box. The package is addressed to E. L. Wescott, 1216 Oak Lane Drive. I’m E. L. Wolcott, 1216 Oak Land Drive.

Oh my God! E. L. Wescott probably has my ceramic babies. After running to find my phone, I frantically look up Oak Land Drive in my maps app. To my surprise, it’s only a few roads away, so I decide to take the wrong package and hopefully make a hostage exchange.

Oh, wow, a couple of roads makes a huge difference. After turning onto the quiet subdivision road, the beautifully manicured lawns and gorgeous modern homes are a pleasant surprise. When I arrive at 1216, I notice a box sitting in front of the impressive two-story house. I park and take the package hoping to make the trade. 

A glance at the box by the door confirms my suspicion that my package was delivered here by mistake. Since I don’t want to just switch and run, I ring the doorbell several times, but no one answers the door. I figure it’s not stealing since I’m leaving their box and taking mine, so I exchange the two packages and head back for my car.

Two steps from my car, my body is slammed to the ground, and my box goes flying. I hear the sound of shattering babies, and my heart drops.

“You little fucker, I bet Bubba’s gonna love your soft ass in jail. You shoulda stolen from some other sucker,” is grunted in my ear as my head is shoved into the manicured grass.
 

 

Loni Ree, a very busy mom of six, loves to read because she finds that reading helps her escape the chaos of everyday life. She loves quick, red-hot reads that are on the excessive side. Writing is a passion of hers, so Loni decided to share the stories floating around in her mind. Her short, steamy stories are a little over the top because she believes reading should be an escape from real life. She writes about love at first sight that always leads to a Happily Ever After!

 

 
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New Release/Giveaway/Excerpt

Title: Under the Mistletoe: A Reverse Harem Christmas Novel
Author: J.C. Valentine
Genre: Romance (Reverse Harem)
Release Date: December 27, 2019
It all started with a Christmas party. How was I supposed to know an innocent game of “Spin the Bottle” would change the course of my entire life?
He’s the office shy guy. Lacking in classic good looks, I never noticed Niles Prescott until a twisted office game has us kissing under the mistletoe. That’s all it takes, and now I’m hooked. When Niles proposes a hookup with us and his roommates, I figure it can’t hurt. I’m always down to try new things, but this time, I might be biting off more than I can chew.
 
When a snowstorm traps me in a house with three sexy bachelors on Christmas, I have no choice but to play the hand that is dealt. But these guys aren’t saints, and when I find out they’ve been keeping a secret, one that could destroy what should be one of the happiest days of the year, I have to decide between keeping them and running for the hills.
 
But choosing is going to be damn near impossible because, now that I’ve had all three of them, one man will never be enough again.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Seven Minutes in Heaven. That was the game kids used to play for a poor excuse to kiss their crush—if they were lucky. The adult version is Under the Mistletoe, and it’s a hyped-up adult version of the same. Same rules apply, but with different props. Instead of hiding in a closet, two unfortunate souls are peer-pressured into standing under a stupid, dangling piece of mistletoe nailed to an archway to share a kiss.

It’s me. I’m the unfortunate soul tonight. I can’t say the same for Niles. He seems pretty damn happy about the whole thing. And why wouldn’t he? He’s been the underdog for as long as I’ve known him, which is in the ballpark of five months, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s the office nerd. No dates, no history of torrid affairs, no drunken stories to tell. The guy is as straightlaced as they come, right down to his pressed slacks and combed back hair.

I have to admit, though, he does have some killer green eyes. One of the lucky two percent of the world’s population, the bastard.

I look up into those eyes now, wondering how in the world I got myself into this mess. Then I remember it happened somewhere between the RumChata and Marisa’s mixed cocktails that were more like fireballs tearing out the lining of my throat as they clawed their way down my esophagus.

Office parties are the shit. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. And if they aren’t, then you’re not working in the right one.

Five years ago, I was lucky enough to find the perfect fit in terms of workplaces and people. Then I got fired for making a pass at my boss, and just when I thought I’d never find another Cinderella shoe like that one, I stumbled upon the little diamond called Fairweather Corporation, and while I have no earthly clue what they do or how they do it beyond the paperwork I push, it became an unexpected second home away from home.

So the whole point of this brief walk down memory lane is that there’s no way in hell I can shirk my responsibilities of kissing Mr. Niles Prescott tonight or any night, because at this early stage in my career with this company, I can’t afford not to be a team player. If that means swapping spit with a pasty version of Urkel, then so be it. Bring on the smooches!

Niles stands nervously in front of me, biting a thin lower lip, while our buddies watch on, jeering at us to “do it, do it,” and I know it’s now or never.

I waggle an eyebrow, take a step closer, and Niles takes an audible breath as I reach up to his lofty height and take his gentle face between my hands. “Kiss me like you mean it,” I tell him as I lift onto my toes and bring my mouth to his.
J.C. Valentine is the USA Today and International bestselling author of the Night Calls and Wayward Fighters Series and the Forbidden Trilogy. Her vivid imagination and love of words and romance had her penning her own romance stories from an early age, which, despite being poorly edited and written longhand, she forced friends and family members to read. No, she isn’t sorry.
Living in the Northwest, she has three amazing children and far too many pets. Among the many hats she wears, J.C. is an entrepreneur. Having graduated with honors, she holds a Bachelor’s in English and when she isn’t writing, you can find her editing for fellow authors. 

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New Release/Giveaway/Excerpt

Title: Joy
Series: Hell’s Handlers MC
Author: Lilly Atlas
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: December 10, 2019
 
Life, death, trauma, healing; the Hell’s Handlers have been through it all over the past year. They’ve conquered old enemies, acquired new ones, and struggled through devastating upheavals. So far, they’ve come out on top, knocking down challenges by focusing on one essential ideal: family above all. With Copper at the helm, the Handlers are a patchwork family of bikers who will fight to the death for what they’ve created. 
 
And after all they’ve survived over the past three hundred and sixty-five days, the Handlers are ready to lay down their weapons, pick up their drinks, and coast through the holidays with nothing but joy in mind. But as often happens with life in an MC, Christmas takes a back seat to club drama.
 
As the year rolls to a close, the men and women of the club will experience new life, new chapters in love, and plenty of new beginnings. But not everything is sparkly and bright as dangerous enemies threaten the tight-knit group of rough and rowdy bikers. Will twenty-nineteen end in tragedy, or will the club once again emerge victorious in time to find a little joy for the holidays?


 

“All right, I think we are pretty much set then, don’t you?” Shell asked as she gazed across the booth at two of the most important women in her life, Toni and Stephanie. As friends, they’d come a long way in the past year or so. At first, Shell hadn’t been thrilled by Stephanie’s involvement with Maverick, at least after it had been revealed the other woman worked for the FBI. Fear for the club, fear for Copper, kept her a little cold initially, but now? After experiencing first-hand Stephanie’s loyalty to both Maverick and the club, Steph considered her a treasured friend.

More than a friend, really. Each of the club’s ol’ ladies had become her chosen family. Sisters of the heart. And one of their sisters was about to add another little one to the next generation of Handlers. Hence the baby shower planning meeting.

“Yeah,” Toni said. She and Shell had become instant friends almost from the moment they’d met when Toni took over the diner she’d inherited from her parents. The diner Shell worked at. “I’ve got the food and drinks covered. Ernesto agreed to cater for us. Holly is on desserts, of course, and she’s going to be running the show, day of. Shell, you and Chloe have decorations covered. Jazz is bringing the mommy-to-be around two, and our dear brave Stephanie here has come up with some games to play.”

Steph rolled her eyes as Toni and Shell snickered. “I’m having a hard time picturing Izzy playing any game that doesn’t involve beating someone bloody, but I’m giving it my best shot. Actually, since her due date was yesterday, I’m really hoping she’ll just go into labor before the shower.”

Izzy was going to make a…interesting mother, to say the least. A kick-ass tattoo artist who also happened to be an underground MMA fighter—though not for the past nine months—Izzy wasn’t exactly the PTA-joining, minivan-driving type. In fact, the pregnancy had been an astounding shock in the first place. Despite her less than maternal ways, Izzy was truly a phenomenal friend and all-around amazing woman. Shell had a feeling boy or girl, Iz was going to raise one incredible kiddo.

“Um, excuse me, Miss Toni?”

All three women turned toward the timid voice coming from the slip of a girl who stood near their booth, staring at the ground.

Toni’s expression softened, and she shifted to face the young teen. Her ratty sweatshirt hung off her small frame, and she wore jeans with torn knees. Not the fashionable kind, the old and worn kind. “Lindsey, what did I tell you about dropping the Miss?”

The girl shrugged her slight shoulders. Hanging in straggly strands down her back, her long auburn hair would be gorgeous if it had a good scrubbing and someone to style it properly.

Shell’s heart squeezed at the sight of the girl. She’d appeared at the diner a few days ago asking for a job. Since she was only thirteen and under the legal working age in Tennessee, Toni’s hands were tied. But of course, Shell’s compassionate friend found a way to help the girl without officially hiring her. She’d given her small jobs, taking out the trash, wiping tables, refilling napkin holders, and after each task had been completed, Toni gave the girl a meal and a little bit of cash.

Shell’s first thought was that the girl was a runaway and the authorities should be contacted. Toni had been reluctant but eventually agreed to call the sheriff’s department. Before they’d had the chance to place that call, Lindsey had sworn up, down, and backward she did not run away from home. She claimed to just be from a poor family and had begged them not to call the police.

Toni seemed to believe that about as much as Shell did, but Lindsey’s insistence on having a home limited their options. Toni hadn’t wanted to call the police regardless of Lindsey’s wishes. If it turned out the girl wasn’t lying, the cops would most likely call in child protective services, which wasn’t always a good thing. They needed more information before they acted, but details about herself were not something Lindsey dished out.

“You all finished with the trash?” Toni asked softly when it became apparent the gun-shy girl wasn’t going to speak again. Due to a rough past of her own, Toni had a soft spot for all troubled teenagers, but this girl seemed to have wormed her way into Toni’s heart more than most.

“Yes, ma’am.” Lindsey still hadn’t glanced up from where her tattered sneaker rubbed at a small scuff on the tiled floor.

“Oh no, ma’am is even worse than miss. Just Toni. Please.”

Lindsey nodded without looking up. She seemed as taken with Toni as Toni was with her, but she shut down when in a group. Or around men. So far, Shell hadn’t seen any signs of physical abuse, but she certainly had the skittish nature of someone who’d been mistreated.

“Well, thank you for coming around again today, Lindsey. You really saved me a lot of time and made it so I could get some other work done.” Toni dug a few bills out of her pocket and held them out.

Finally, Lindsey peeked up at Toni with a small smile on her face and two pink cheeks. “Thank you, ma—uh, Toni,” she said, snatching the money and holding it in a tight fist as though someone might try to snatch it from her at any point. Would they? Was that this poor child’s reality? Clinging to the lifeline of five dollars?

Whatever the reality of her situation, Lindsey seemed to be struggling just to make it through each day. Hopefully, Toni would be able to break through the girl’s wary exterior soon and provide more help than a few hot meals and a couple dollar bills. If she had a family in need of assistance, Toni would most likely move heaven and earth to provide it. If it turned out Lindsey was a runaway, well, Toni would probably let the girl move into the diner.

“Will we see you again tomorrow?”

Back to focusing on the floor, Lindsey nodded.

“Great. And, Lindsey?”

The girl tensed but gave Toni her attention.

“You have my phone number if you need anything, right?”

She nodded.

“Anything. At any time. And I mean that. I hope you’ll use it if you need it.”

“Thank you,” she whispered, then scurried out the front door.

“Gosh, that poor child,” Stephanie said, a hand pressed to her chest.

With a sigh, Toni nodded, her brown eyes following the girl as she darted across the parking lot. “Tell me about it. I’m trying to get some more information out of her, but she’s pretty locked up. She swears she isn’t homeless, but I’m worried. Do you think she’s lying, Shell?”

“I don’t know. Something seems off. Just breaks my heart.” Shell said as she tried to envision how difficult life would have been as a young teen on her own. It’d been hard enough surviving without help in her early twenties.

Across the diner, Shell’s own daughter let out a squeal of laughter as she sent her Barbie doll diving over the edge of a table. Shell couldn’t imagine a future where she’d kick Beth out of the house or one where Beth felt the need to run away. No, that little girl knew just how loved and cherished she was, no matter who she became or what she did. Hopefully, there was someone out there who felt the same about Lindsey, and if not, she had no doubt Toni would work her magic on the girl.

Shell’s lips curled as she watched her child entertain herself. Without thinking, her hand automatically moved to rest on her stomach. Though Beth was conceived in a traumatic manner, she’d been a blessing in ways Shell never could have imagined. And now that they lived with Copper, her daughter finally had the father she’d been denied for the first four years of her life.

Since moving in with Copper near six months ago, Shell—and Beth, for that matter—had never been happier. The man was attentive, affectionate, protective, and sexy as all get out. Shell hadn’t known one woman could have so many orgasms and still function.

Life was great.

Perfect, really.

Well, it had been until yesterday…

“Hello? Shell? Earth to Shell, come in Shell.”

She blinked. Toni’s form morphed into view as she waved her hand in front of Shell’s face. Her face heated. Both Toni and Stephanie were staring at her with expectant gazes from across the booth. “Sorry, uh, what did you say?”

Steph laughed. “Well, we said a lot. First, we asked if you were bringing Beth to the shower. Then when you didn’t answer, we asked if you were listening. When you still didn’t answer, Toni said she saw Copper running around the parking lot naked. When that didn’t even get your attention, we gave up. You good, girl?”

“Sorry, got lost for a second thinking about Lindsey. No, Beth and Copper are going on a daddy-daughter date tomorrow afternoon. I think I heard something about Frozen II and a big tub of popcorn.”

Toni pressed a hand over her heart. “Aw, he’s the cutest. Who the hell would have thought that giant, gruff, beast of a man would be the best daddy in the world?”

Shell smiled. She’d known. Of course, she’d known. How else could she have fallen in love with the man?

“Speaking of daddies,” Stephanie began, which had Toni groaning up at the ceiling.

“Please, if this is some sex story about you calling Mav daddy, just stop now. We don’t want to hear it. There’s not enough bleach in the supply closet to scrub an image like that from my brain.”

Shell giggled as she nodded. “She’s right, Steph. We love you, we love Mav, and we love that you’re all out there with your sex life, but there’s a limit to what our ears can handle.”

Face red, Stephanie tried to scowl, but her mouth couldn’t turn down since she was laughing as well. “That’s not what this is.” She paused, tilting her head. “Though you give me ideas. Anyway, I was just gonna ask who you think will be next?”

“Next?” Shell asked as she glanced over at Beth again. Her daughter still happily played with her dolls while munching on the French fries Toni had made her.

“Yeah, next on the baby train. Next to get knocked up. Next to repopulate the earth.” Steph sipped her coffee.

“Okay, I think we get it,” Toni said as she shook her head. “Well, we all know it’s not gonna be you.” She shot a pointed look in Stephanie’s direction.

“Nope. Not me. I’m uber careful about that shit. Babies scare the tar outta me. They’re all tiny and vulnerable.” She shuddered.

Shell snorted. “They’re actually a lot harder to kill than you’d think.” She shot Steph a wink.

“Well,” Toni said as she waved her hand back and forth. “It’s a dumb question anyway because we all know it’s gonna be you, Shell.”

“What? Me?” she squeaked. “Why do you say that?”

“Uhh, because you’re an awesome mom, you love kids, and you’ve mentioned a few times that you want a sibling for Bethy.”

“Not to mention your ol’ man is an old man,” Steph said as she shoved a ripped off chunk of muffin in her mouth.

“Thanks,” Shell said in a droll tone as her stomach fluttered. This conversation hit a little too close to home.

Toni bumped Steph with her shoulder. “He’s not old, he’s just older than Shell. The man is still sexy AF and probably will be when he’s eighty.”

True. So true.

“Well, we’ll see,” Shell said, pasting a smile on her face. It felt forced, fake.

“Yeah, we’ll see all right,” Steph said with a laugh. “We’ll see you get all big when you grow a monster-sized mini-Copper inside you.”

Despite her unease, Shell managed to chuckle. “We haven’t talked about it much actually. I’m still taking the pill, so…” She shrugged, hating the lies.

But she wasn’t ready to voice the truth.

“You’re crazy. That man can’t wait to knock you up.” Steph shook her head. “I give it until March. If you’re not carrying prez junior by March, I’ll…”

“Ohh, this could be good. You’ll what?” Toni said, turning her interested gaze on Steph.

“Yeah, what are you gonna offer me, Steph?” Shell waggled her eyebrows.

“Well—”

The bell above the entrance jangled. Glancing at her phone, Toni said, “Who is that? Zach isn’t supposed to be here for another forty-five minutes.” She stuck her head out the side of the booth to get a better view of the door then stiffened. “Shit,” she whispered.

“What?” Shell asked.

Across the booth, both Toni and Steph grew rigid and tense. Who the hell could it be? Shell stood slightly and glanced over her shoulder to where three men dressed very similarly to their own men strode into the diner. MC cuts, biker boots, bandanas, chains.

But one very big difference—the Chrome Disciples patch on each of their cuts.
 
  
  
 
 
 
Lilly Atlas is a contemporary romance author, proud Navy wife, and mother of two spunky girls. By day she works as a physical therapist for a hospital in Virginia. Lilly is an avid romance reader, and expects her Kindle to beg for mercy every time she downloads a new eBook. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened yet, and she can often be found absorbed in a good book.

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