Dominic: Winchester Brothers Release Blitz

Dominic Winchester had been surprised when his Uncle O’Reilly had appeared before him with a proposition. O’Reilly would supply Dominic with a pot of gold if he repaired the children’s home so the leprechauns could thrive once again. O’Reilly was the king of the leprechauns, and Dominic’s aunt had become queen when she married him.

Dominic was thankful for the help. The camps he had been putting together for disabled children and adults had about come to a standstill because he had run out of money. The gold would go a long way into seeing his dream happen.

Charlie, a leprechaun herself, didn’t much care for people in general, most of the leprechauns feared her temper. When she was a babe, a witch had saved her from certain death, but in the process, the witch had lost her own life. Before dying, the witch gifted Charlie with her powers. Charlie was to receive them in increments when she was old enough to handle them.

When Dominic was pulled into the leprechaun realm, he was ecstatic to discover that this beautiful creature was his mate. He found her hot temper amusing and just what his wolf needed. Charlie thought the man was daft, but he was growing on her.

Now, there was a plot to overthrow O’Reilly. If that happened, the realm of the leprechaun would fall apart. Would the Winchesters be able to stop the threat and save the realm?

 

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Caleb Winchester didn’t care for his boss, in fact he despised him. He hadn’t meant to quit that day—the words ‘I quit’ spilled from his mouth without thinking—but once said he had no regrets. He was a good ad executive, he could find another job.

Quinn Dorsey and her father, Alexander, had seen Caleb’s work and that was the artist they needed for their dog food labels. When the agency couldn’t deliver the ad campaign they ordered, and then lied about Caleb working on the project, they went looking for the man himself.

Caleb hadn’t expected his customers to seek him out, but when Alexander shows up at Caleb’s house with his daughter, Quinn, Caleb is floored—she’s his mate and she’s been marked by another alpha.

Caleb’s not going to let an alpha beat him out of his mate. This lunatic has been marking females left and right, but if Caleb claims her, he risks not only his life, but the life of his mate and family as well….

Gabriel Winchester was finally opening his own practice. After finishing the final details, and meeting his first patient, he sat back in his unfinished office and closed his eyes, just to rest them, he told himself. When he opened them, a burly stranger was there, and he wasn’t that friendly. The man was looking for a Rayne McFarland and “I don’t know who she is” wasn’t an acceptable answer, so Gabriel called his brothers through their link for help.

Rayne was on the run from her father, and knew when he caught up with her she’d be dead. Rayne could speak to the deceased and they warned her every time her father’s henchmen were near. What she didn’t count on was falling in the woods and injuring herself.

When his brother, Owen, brought the unconscious woman into his office, Gabriel’s wolf knew immediately who she was to them. Ready or not, Gabriel had a mate, and while he knew he could handle the threat to her, he wasn’t sure he could live with her ability to talk to the dead.

Clare Macintosh didn’t know what was going on. Her brother, Conrad, had been called in for a meeting and they’d already been waiting over an hour. They were leaving, they had waited long enough.

Owen Winchester had called for the meeting with Conrad. He had no idea the young man was handicapped, but what he had to show him would make his life easier, or at least he hoped so. The trunks Owen had found in the barn of his new home belonged to him. Conrad was the only living relative he could find of the previous owner. Owen was a bit surprised to find Conrad had a sister and she was his mate to boot.

All Clare wanted to do was take her brother and hide. Her parents, Con and Ava Macintosh, weren’t nice people, and neither were the people they stole from. Even though Clare had distanced herself from them, it wouldn’t stop their associates from seeking revenge. She didn’t need the handsome stranger pushing his way into her life.

Addie’s mission had been sabotaged and she’d been shot multiple times. She wouldn’t die from her wounds because she was an immortal, but she did hurt, and she needed time to heal. The Winchesters had taken her into their home while she was passed out from her injuries. Now that she was awake, she needed to leave. She was being hunted and they would all be in danger if she stayed.

Xander Winchester had just received the best news. The publisher loved his book so much that they were not only publishing his book, they were offering a movie deal to boot. He couldn’t wait to tell his family at dinner tonight.

The scent from the woman hit Xander hard. Her beauty was something that he’d never seen before. Even as he took a step toward her, his mind was telling him to tread carefully, while his body and wolf were telling him to go forth and conquer. He had a feeling that listening to that part of him would get him killed quicker than stepping in front of a bus. Or an entire line of them.

Xander should have known better. Should have taken to heart what his mind was telling him….

Jazzie Scott had been having a bad run on her luck ever since she had gotten mixed up with Ryan Scott. The only thing good to come out of that short marriage was her son Joey. Ryan died right after Joey was born which left her nearly broke and working a thankless job just to survive. Now someone was out to get her. They blew up her house and sent another bomb to the school where she worked. The police were now trying to pin the bombings on her, and she had had about all she could stand when her Uncle Lloyd stepped in to help.

Tyler Winchester had properties all over the world and had recently hired a staff of people to handle them for him. He had to fly to France to take care of a problem when he received a call from one of his employees, Lloyd, that Lloyd’s niece was in trouble. Lloyd was a good worker and Tyler offered to help.

Tyler arrived home, in the wee hours of the morning. He had a bad case of jetlag and all he wanted to do was sleep. When he entered his bedroom, the sounds of a baby fussing immediately drew his attention, and when he picked the little guy up, he knew immediately that the babe’s mom was his mate. Her scent had his head spinning.

Jazzie wasn’t too keen on having another man in her life. The last one was enough to make her swear off men for the rest of her life.

 

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Dominic wasn’t sure how he’d gotten here, nor, for that matter, where here was. All he’d been doing was looking into his refrigerator, and was pulled into this realm by who he supposed might be called by the most beautiful, hard-assed woman he’d ever met. What he did know, and was completely happy about, was that the beauty here with him was his mate. But then she didn’t seem to be happy about it. Actually, she didn’t seem to be thrilled about a great many things. Especially when it came to him. “What is it you be doing now?” Dominic grinned at her just to get her steamed up again. He loved the way she got all pissy and her accent would bloom. “You’re daft. You be as daft a man as I’ve ever known. Are you gonna chop up that wood, or do you expect me to be doing it? I can and will, but I’ll hurt you over it.” “No. I have it. But you can’t blame a man for wanting to stare at such a lovely creature as yourself, can you?”

She growled at him and Dominic laughed. “I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but that only makes you more lovely to me. Right now I’m having a hard time not thinking of what you might be wearing under that men’s clothing you have on.” “‘Tis no concern of yours, Dominic Winchester. You behave yourself, or I’ll be sending you back where I found you. What do you think will come of ye then, should you have to go back to the biggers’ world? You canna even chop a fine cord of wood without resting a bit. Sham Burt, he’s near about ten times your age, and he doesn’t need to rest about as much as you do. If’n you wish to eat tonight, you’ll be getting yourself busy.” When she turned her back to him Dominic couldn’t help but admire the view. When she turned and looked at him, he didn’t even pretend to be doing anything else but looking at her. “What is it you’re doing?” “Wondering.” She asked him what he was wondering about. “If your lovely bottom is as firm as it looks. Whether, if I were to snake my hands down your jeans, I would find you pantyless or wearing something sexy and silky.

Do you wear panties, Charlie? I know that you’re not wearing a bra. I can see that your nipples are as hard as I am.” “You canna be saying those things to me.” He asked her why not. “Because you’re not going to be taking me. No matter how much you try and butter me up.” When she stormed away, he barely caught himself to keep from laughing. That would rile her up in ways that that would make her leave him again. Once was enough, to find himself all alone in the great forest that they were in after dark. Smiling, he took his shirt off in favor of the heat. He was actually enjoying the physical labor of being here. It had been too long since he’d been able to just do something because he wanted to. Dominic and Charlie had been together for four days now. Twice she’d threatened to send him back, and twice more she’d stomped away from him, only to return an hour or so later to threaten him about something she thought he should be doing. He’d never had so much fun baiting and flirting with a woman before.

He didn’t even mind that he hadn’t been able to touch her in all this time. Charlie was his, and he thought that this courtship, or whatever it was, could last a bit longer for all he cared. Getting to know her was certainly more fun than reading contracts and hanging on the phone with people that he had to deal with. Dominic was appreciating the sound of the ax hitting the wood. There were other sounds that he liked as well, quiet things. Like the sound of the night, the snap of their fire, and the birds speaking to each other. Things that were the same on the other side of wherever he was, but things that he’d missed when he’d been living his life. A life that, he’d come to realize, was as boring as he’d been. He heard Bear before he saw him, a monstrous great being that was as childlike as the kids that came to his camp. He and Charlie would chase each other through the trees, then play in the fast-moving stream like a playful teddy. But Bear was more deadly than him when he was protecting the two of them. Especially Charlie. Once, when a sound had come from upstream when he was bathing some of the sweat off him, Dominic had been startled. Not only had Bear come out of nowhere, but he had also stood up on his hind legs and growled with the ferocity of a mad monster.

It wasn’t until a group of unicorns came tumbling out of the mountains’ opening that he seemed to relax. He hung out with him until Dominic was finished with his bath. Bear growled with his mouth wide open this time. Not sure what was wrong, Dominic made his way to the bear to see if he’d been hurt. Finding him to be all right, he asked him where his mistress was. Bear laid down and rested his head on his paws. “She sent me to find out if you were all right.” Dominic fell back on his ass and tried to get his head on straight after Bear spoke to him. Not only did he speak, but Dominic was able to understand him as well. “I could have sooner, but my mistress wanted you to get used to being here. I thought that the next time you asked me something, I’d answer you.” “I can understand you.” Bear said that he could any animal, and that of other creatures of the earth too. “What other creatures? And why can I understand you?” “Charlie. You being mates is the real reason. Also the fact that you’re going to be helping us. Did you know that you were chosen to be my mistress’s mate long before you were born?” Dominic could only shake his head at this point. “Charlie is over yonder, taking a bath. If’n you were to hurry, you could mayhap join her. You don’t smell all that good either.” Dominic was nearly to the top of the mountain when he realized that he’d been spoken to by a bear again Looking down the mountain’s other side, he wasn’t at all surprised to find a waterfall tumbling over the mountain he was on, nor that it had a breathtaking view from where he was. Getting as close as he could to the place where Charlie was indeed taking a bath, Dominic sat down to watch her. There were glimpses of her breasts now and then.

Her hair being wet showed him that it was more than simply red. It was like a setting sun in the summer, the colors so vivid that he was sure he’d never be able to see them all. But it was the paleness of her skin that stood out to him, the way it seemed much softer in the blue of the water.

When she saw him, he did laugh when she dunked herself under the water to hide from him. “What do ye think you’re about? Go away. I’ve no use for you.” That hurt, but only a little. Dominic decided that he’d do as bear suggested and join her. Taking off his boots, he didn’t say a word. “Did ye hear me? I don’t want you here whilst I’m trying to bathe myself.” “When were you going to tell me that I could speak to animals? By the way, Bear said that I smell bad and should join you.” Taking off his other boot, he put it by the first one. “I think there is a great deal that you’re not telling me. Isn’t there?” “Aye, there is. But I canna speak to you like this. Get yourself back to the camp— What do you think you’re about now? Put your britches back on.” When she turned her back to him, Dominic laughed. She was wonderfully pig-headed and willful, but as shy as a little girl on her first outing. “I’ll not have you be treating me thusly, Dominic Winchester. You had better be dressed when I turn around, or so help me, I’ll hurt you.” “Do you have any soap left? I noticed that you make yours from things of the earth. And since I have none of my own, I would love to use yours.” She handed it over her shoulder to him. “Thanks, love. About what I can do. Why is that? We’ve not mated— not yet, anyway.” “Aye. We’ve not, and if’n I have any say in it, that won’t be happening either.” Dominic laughed. “You’ll not be thinking this is so funny when I hurt you. I don’t want a mate.” “I didn’t think that I did either, to be honest with you. I didn’t think that I’d have time for one. I wanted one, don’t get me wrong.

But with all the extra work that’s been put on me with the king, I didn’t think I’d have any time to get to know one before I was too busy with summer.” Charlie asked him what had changed his mind. “You. Not just you, though that’s a large part of it. But just being able to be a part of the earth, like I think we were meant to be, has been wonderful. Sleeping under the stars too. Did you know that you snore?” When she turned, he had to brace himself and her before they both fell in the fast moving water. Holding her like he was, her body nearly touching his, he could see that he’d been wrong about her skin. She wasn’t just soft like he’d thought, but as soft as a summer breeze. Much softer than a rose petal that had only just opened to the sun. Charlie was warm too. Pulling her closer, he held her tightly until she looked up at him. “I dinna snore.” Her voice was soft, sexy sounding. Not wanting to break the almost perfect way he was holding her, he only moved the hair that was on her cheek. “I’m cursed, did they tell you that?” “No. They told me that you could curse, but nothing about you being cursed. Why would you think such a thing?” She started to pull away when he heard the birds being startled from their perch. “I think someone is coming here. Would you know who?” “Aye. It’ll be my family. The ones that took me in when my parents meant to murder me. Sham and his lady wife Hannah. They’ll be happy to find us as such, I think. Trickery is what they thought of when they wished me mated to you.” When she

started to pull away, Dominic pulled her back. “Did ye know about this? That they wished us to be as one?” “Some. I would guess as much as you did since you took off to this realm. But Charlie, I’ll never take from you what isn’t freely given. Never.” She stared at him for several seconds and Dominic let her. When she nodded then kissed him quickly on the mouth, he let her go-to dress. She swam upstream, against the hard current. He needed to find out what was going on, and why she had no trust of him. If there really was trickery, then he could understand the lack of trust. But he’d never harm her. Not so long as there was breath in his body. ~*~ Sham thought of the conversation that he and Hannah had with the Winchesters. They’d been mighty mad at him about Dominic, about him knowing where he be, and that he’d been working. He’d not told them the whole story yet, so he was thinking that as mad at him as they’d been, it was nothing compared to what Charlie or her mate would do to him. He’d been keeping this secret for much too long now. He watched the big man come out of the water. Sham felt his chest swell in an effort to match Dominic’s physic but knew deep inside that he’d never compare to such a creature. It was as if he’d been carved from the stone of yonder mountain. “Sham. Hannah. What do we owe this honor to? I mean, I thought for sure you’d be plotting and planning more trouble.” Sham felt his face warm up when Dominic hit the nose right on the nail. “It’s nail on the nose. Don’t think things that you don’t want me to know, Sham.

Even without being able to read your mind, I can see it on your face that I’m right. What do you want?” “I’ve come to talk to ye both. Where is Charlie? I don’t suppose she’s gone hunting or something that will keep her away, has she?” Sham saw her then. Charlie didn’t look like she was in any better of a mood than Dominic. “I’ve something to confess.” “What? That my mother and father are living in the biggers’ world?” Sham was so shocked that he nodded before he could think how close she was to him. The smack to his head knocked him to the ground. “Or are you here to tell me how I was only an offering to the demons that they worshiped? That I had myself sisters that died the way that I was supposed to? Is that it, you culus? I should slay you where you stand.” If Dominic hadn’t held Charlie back, Sham was sure that she’d have done just what she’d told him. Charlie was scary when she lashed out at a person. But she looked to mean business today. And what the heck fire was a culus? “It’s Latin for asshole. I think perhaps you have a great deal to explain. Since you’ve interrupted us, I think you’ll help me gather food for lunch, and then tell us why you’ve traveled all this way to tell her something that she seems to know already.” Nodding, not sure that he’d been asked to do this or ordered to, he turned to ask Dominic if he remembered that he was the messenger of the king. “Don’t. Just…don’t out that you’re the messenger of anyone right now, when we both know that she’ll gladly murder you right now. As pissed off as I am too, I’d gladly bury you or leave you lay where you die, without a single thought to where I leave your carcass to let the animals tear into.”

Sham believed him, more so than he did any threat that had been said to him in all his life—the calmness of his voice, the way he said each word as if he were telling him the weather. Dominic had so sword or knife, but the words had cut Sham just as deeply. Nary a word passed between them for the rest of the time together. They gathered food from the bushes and plants. Dominic even managed to get a dozen fresh fish from the water. Oh, to have such talents, Sham thought. The man was going to make a great leader someday soon. The fire was hot and low when they got back to the encampment. Hannah had been crying but shook her head at him when he looked at her. Whatever had happened, he would surely find out about it later. After eating a most splendid meal of trout and greens, he tossed his leaf into the flames as his way of cleaning up their dish. He did have a few berries as well as some wine, but all in all, he was stuffed. Leaning back, thinking that a nice nap wouldn’t be out of the question, he was kicked in his feet. Charlie just glared at him, and that was when he remembered why he’d made this trip in the first place. “When do they arrive?” He looked at Dominic, thankful that he was a man that didn’t run around the bush when he was in need of something. “You know, don’t you? I’m sure that you didn’t make this trip for your health. Though, if you ask me, you could use it.” “What a way to speak to your friend. Not to mention, I’m your uncle’s best friend. Well, most of the time. Unless he’s having me do his dirty work. And let me tell you, it’s not digging in the good earth. No sir. Dominic, I’m sorely disappointed in you. I thought you a kind and generous man. Why it’s why I picked you over all the others in the—” Hannah cleared her throat, and nodded at Charlie. She was holding a knife in her hand that was as big as his head. “They should be here in a day or two. Not here, but in this realm.

The realm of the littles.” “Why?” That was a good question. One that he’d been thinking on since the day that they’d found out that Will and Dorcus were coming back. Charlie didn’t like, he supposed, that he took too long to answer her, and kicked his foot again. “They’re here to kill me. Aren’t they?” “Aye. That’s about it. We don’t know a lot about their needs. Will, he was an odd man when he was here before you were birthed. Then when Dorcus, the oddest duck in the bunch, came along, she seemed to be able to bring him right out of his shell. Not a good one either. They both had them a few too many cracks in their noddle to suit any of us. To be honest with you, we was thrilled when they left.” “Was this before or after they tried to kill Charlie?” Sham said that was the very night. “Perhaps you should start at the beginning. I think there is more to this tale than just a couple of nutballs trying to murder their only child.” “But she’s not—I mean, not their only child. Just the only living one, as Charlie said.” He glared at his wife, then smiled at her. She had that look on her face that told him that he was in for a good popping to the back of his head, sure enough. “There were other children. All girls, as best we can reckon. Let me count for a moment. Earth,

wind, fire, and I do believe, on account ‘a where we found her, Charlie was to be given to the demon of water.” This wasn’t helping. Sham could tell by the look on their faces that they were ready to pounce on him and his lady wife. Who would have ever thought that his mild-mannered Dominic would turn into such a person? Why Sham thought he was just like Charlie. That just wasn’t going to do. The two of them would be fighting all the time instead of running his home. “What do you mean?” He looked at Dominic and he felt his bright red whiskers—a leprechaun’s best feature, he was told—shrivel right up. “Is this why you came to me? You think that I’m going to run this realm? You said that it was for the littles. The children would see you and believe in you again. This entire thing has been a fucking lie?” “I’d never lie to you about the children.” When Dominic stood, so did he and Charlie. But Sham was too hurt to let her be bothering him at this moment. “We need the children. They need us. Why, I can’t believe that ye’d think me a fibber, after all, we’ve done for each other. You have to save us, Dominic. And you and Charlie, that may well have been too much, but I can fix that for ye. Don’t you worry that noddle about—” “Touch her and you will die.” He looked at Charlie when she drew her sword from the air and said the same about Dominic. Then Dominic did the strangest thing he’d ever seen anyone do, at least involving Charlie. Dominic pulled her into his arms and laid a big kiss on her mouth. The strangest thing was that Charlie didn’t seem to mind all that much. There’d be nobody that would have believed it either. These two were all ready to lay claim on the other. Who would have figured that it would have taken a bigger to claim the heart of Charlie O’Farrell, the meanest woman to have ever been born? Also the strongest and prettiest. Not counting his own lady wife, he realized he should be thinking.

Looking over at her, she didn’t look none too pleased with him again. Dominic ran them off. He told them that should they need anything from them they’d come calling. He was sort of pleased with that notion. To have a bigger, especially Dominic, in his house would be a great thing for him. It wasn’t until they were near home that something occurred to him. “The king, O’Reilly, he’ll be so pleased with what we’ve done that he’ll have us over for dinner. The expense of it all will be on his head.” Hannah asked him what he was going on about. “Did you see what he ate today? Aye, you did. You was sitting right there with them. He eats a great deal. Even for a wolf, I think. He’ll be hungry too.” “You mean like you are all the time? Sham, I haven’t a clue what it is you’re speaking about.” Hannah went into their home. She’d be cross with him for a bit and a minute, so he decided to head over to see the king, to tell him of all that he’d been able to do today. He’d be so pleased.

Sham had it all worked out in his head by the time he was shown to the biggest room in the castle. At least he’d been told it was. Since no one would allow him any deeper into the place, he hadn’t a clue what the rest of the place looked like. Perhaps, and he’d always thought this, he was in the smallest room in the palace. There were bathrooms, of course, he realized. Small little rooms with only a place to relieve himself and to wash up. That room was even bigger than his bedroom at his home. The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to have a walk around the place. “Sham? Did you hear a word that I said to you?” He asked O’Reilly when he’d spoken. “Just this minute. Did you hear me?” “I heard you. I don’t know why you think I’m not paying you any mind. I do, so’s you know. I’m very up on everything you say to me.” O’Reilly nodded. “What is it you wanted to talk to me about?” “I didn’t want to speak to you. I was told you were here and wanted to speak to me.” Sham said that he must have summoned him. “I did no such thing. You’re addled, I tell you. They told me that you wished to speak to me.” “I think you’ve been mistold on that. I was just telling Hannah that you will want to have a dinner in my honor because you— Holy jingle bells, they’re mated.” O’Reilly told him that of course he and Hannah were mated. He’d married them. “And a lovely service it was too.

Did I tell you that Hannah loved all the flowers? That was right nice of you do have them all bunched up for us. Even though we’ve been married for right near a hundred years now, I can still smell them blossoms. I surely can.” “I’m so glad that you told me that.” Sham told him it was that nice. “Thank you. Now, if you’ve nothing else to tell me, then you should be going. I was about ready to take a little snooze. You should too, Sham. Nothing better than a nice nap.” Sham was near about home when he realized that he’d forgotten something. It’d been important too. At least he thought it had been. He picked up some pretty flowers for Hannah, thinking that if he had forgotten something to do, then she’d be so overwhelmed by the pretties that he’d brung her that she’d not give a tinker’s whistle about it. She was a good woman, his Hannah. He’d not take a golden coin for her. No sir. She was his forever. “Well? Did you tell him?” He said that they’d had a nice talking to. “That is no more an answer than you thinking that pretty flowers would soften my boinking you on the head. Did you tell the king that Charlie and Dominic are together or not?” He didn’t have a good answer—not even a bad one. Instead of answering her at all, he shoved the pretties in her hands. Sham never saw the spoon move—never saw Hannah move. He just found himself on the floor with a hurting head and flowers all over his body. Then a bee went and stung him on his nose. “Durn woman.” Sham looked around to make sure he was alone. He didn’t think his poor head could take another hit to it today.

Easton Forbidden Series Release Blitz & Giveaway

The death of his sister and niece brought Easton back into town. He carried the guilt of not protecting her from that monster she was married to. Now she was dead, and that monster was in jail where he belonged. Easton would take his infant nephew Alex to raise as his own.

Wayne and Cara had come from the same wolf pack and had both lost their families when the new alpha took over. For years they had only had each other and loved each other like brother and sister. Wayne was gay, but he wanted a child. Cara agreed to be a surrogate and grant him his wish.

Easton had been waiting for the elevator when the doors opened. Cara was in labor and Wayne was doing his best to keep her calm as he pushed her off the elevator. When the wheelchair rolled past, Cara grabbed Easton’s hand like a lifeline when a pain hit her. In the confusion, Easton and Wayne touched hands and the connection was instant.

Easton had found his mate. Both men knew it as soon as they touched, but the past had a way of sneaking upon them. Both men had past baggage and Wayne had a secret he feared would tear them apart….

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Jake Winslow’s marriage to the money-grubbing shrew is over. Cutting off her funds, and the simple use of the word “no” sends her packing. When he comes home from work and finds his house empty of everything, including food, he feels—liberated.

Jake’s grandmother, Jenna, calls her friend and attorney, Forrest Stout, to handle Jake’s messy divorce. She can’t stand Jake’s soon-to-be ex-wife and is leaving nothing to chance. Only the best for her grandson and the best is Forrest.

Forrest is a Were Tiger, and he knows “who” he is. He is an oddity in his paranormal world because he is gay. His kind mate for life, and after a recent disastrous attempt to find companionship, he has given up hope of ever finding his life mate.

From the moment Forrest meets Jake for the first time, he knows that Jake is his lifemate, and he wants to run in the opposite direction because Jake isn’t gay. To claim and lose a mate would spell disaster for him. How can he ask a straight man—that he wants with every fiber of his being—to conform to his way of life? He can’t….

Ex-lovers and ex-wives can be a dangerous combination. Especially when neither are right in the head….

Henry Myers never kept his gender preferences a secret. His mother supported his choices and stood by his side even when his acting career tanked because of it. Now she was gone, and so was his career. Henry was at a loss.

Patrick Garrett, Paddy, was now in a bad place. He had worked at the precinct since he was in his early twenties, and now he could trust no one. Not his captain nor his partner it seemed. He was shot and bleeding, and it seemed the whole precinct was on the take.

Henry had been able to talk to ghosts since a near-death experience he had as a child. They had been following him around ever since. Now it seemed Paddy could see them as well. But when Wally, Henry’s ghostly companion referred to Paddy as Henry’s mate. Neither man was sure how to take that news.

Henry couldn’t deny the attraction to the rugged cop, and if the man didn’t put back on his shirt, he wasn’t so sure he’d be able to control himself.

Cameron knew it was a setup before he and his sister Caitlynn got there. It was supposed to be a hit to take Cattie out. Cam being there was just a bonus. Had they been entirely human, the explosion would have killed them both. With them both being critically injured, they were taken to a private clinic owned by Jake and Forrest. To the world they would appear to be dead, at least until Cattie could put together who was out to get them.

Rick wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be doing here. He’d been asked by his buddy and longtime friend, Forrest, to come by his house—he had a gig for him. Rick hadn’t had a gig of any kind for years now and getting a call from Forrest out of the blue, like it had been, couldn’t have come at a better time.

Cam had many abilities. One he felt was somewhat of a curse. He was so in tune to everyone else, like an empath he felt what they felt, so much so that he couldn’t separate his own feelings from theirs. Because of this, he avoided ever having a relationship.

Being an elite shifter, Rick wasn’t confused. As soon as his fingers brushed Cam’s at the kitchen table, he knew they were mates, and he was about the rock Cam’s world.

 

 

Dr. Brody Downs was ready for a fresh start for him and Jordan both. Filing for a divorce from Rachel was the most prudent thing to do under the circumstances. He had known Jordan wasn’t his son when he was born, but he couldn’t love the little guy more if he had been. Rachel wasn’t fit to raise the boy, and he’d fight her for custody if it came to that. Until that time, he was offered a new job in a small town in Ohio, he and Jordan would settle there and try to start anew.

Aaron Wright was aware of the kind doctor at the airport that helped his sister. Emmi had been at the airport to pick him up from his flight when security tackled her to the ground for being with the little boy. It was all a mistake, she was just trying to help the boy find his dad, but they discovered how severely beaten Emmi truly was. Now that Emmi was safe, Aaron was very aware of Dr. Downs, and that had him worried. Aaron wouldn’t consider himself gay. That thought had never crossed his mind—until now.

Brody was too focused on the woman and her injuries to notice the man with her. But now that things were settled, he noticed, and he was confused. Brody wasn’t gay or he didn’t think he was. But when Aaron took his hand, he didn’t want to let go….

 

 Forbidden Series 

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Henry  http://amzn.to/2E0yWcK
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Easton watched the football game without really seeing it. Once in a while when the others would shout he’d tune into it, but for the most part, he wasn’t enjoying himself. He had a feeling that neither were the rest of them. Because he was there, Easton felt that he was stifling their fun. Getting up, Jake asked him if he was all right. “I’m going to take a little walk.” Jake then asked him if he wanted company. “No, thanks. I’m just going to take a walk and clear my head. I won’t be long.” He was just navigating the house to find the outside deck when he heard a familiar sound. Peeking into the room, he saw Jorden playing a video game. He didn’t look to be enjoying it either. Just as he tossed the controller to the floor, Easton asked him what the name of the game was. “I don’t know. Dad found it for me and said that it was for my age.” He looked at him and Easton smiled at him. “I don’t think Dad gets out much. I’m not a baby.” “How about I see if I can help you out with that?” Jorden told him that he wasn’t allowed to play violent games, nor ones with curse words in them yet. “That’s a good idea. Grow up a little before you start hearing that crap.” “I heard cursing all the time when my mom was alive. She sure had a mouth on her. Her boyfriend used to cuff me in the head too.” Easton sat down on the floor, pulling out his phone. “Whatcha doing there?” “I have my phone connected to my computer back at my home. This way when I have time I can work on projects that I have going. When I’m not coming up with programs for the company that I own, I dabble in making games for gaming systems.” Easton pulled up the game he’d been working on when the call came in about his sister. “This one is still in the works. You could help me out a lot by telling me what you think of it. Usually, I have to put it on the market to have people try it. This will be great.” “Wow, look at those cool looking monsters.”

Easton explained to Jorden that the way the game worked was, he’d have to find parts to the monsters by figuring out clues. “I’m pretty smart.” “I know you are.” Starting at the beginning of the game, Easton handed him the controller that he’d attached to his phone as well. “Okay, it doesn’t have a name, but I do have a place where you can make your own character. See him?” Easton noticed that a couple of people came into the room. But he and Jorden were having so much fun that he didn’t pay them any mind. He was getting something that he rarely got—firsthand information about a game while he was still developing it. “Dinner is ready, guys. Are you ready to eat?” Easton looked at his watch and couldn’t believe that hours had passed since he’d come into the media room to hang out with Jorden. Easton told Cameron how sorry he was. “For what? You were having fun, and Jorden looks like he was as well. I’m glad to see him having so much fun. I bet that Jake is glad too.”

He and Jorden talked about the game and the improvements that had yet to be made on it. The kid really was smart, and the fact that he’d been having so much fun made Easton feel much better about being there. Thanksgiving wasn’t anything that he normally celebrated. There hadn’t been anyone in his life but Todd, his deceased partner, for a very long time. Todd had family that he rarely saw, and the pack that they both belonged to wasn’t really all that friendly, so they didn’t go there often enough to get close with them. He hadn’t been able to see his sister. When he had, Wendell had made it hard on her, even when he’d been there when Peaches was born. Wendell had beaten Mary nearly to death a couple of days later. She had called him a week or so later, while still in the hospital, and begged him not to visit again, telling him that she was afraid Wendell would hurt her baby next. Easton hadn’t liked it, but he did stay away. He had stopped sending her money too, when all the envelopes that he’d sent with cash inside were returned to him. And now she was dead. He looked to his left when someone poked him. It was Cattie. “You’re going to be fine, Easton.” He nodded, and then passed the bowl that he’d been holding to her. “With all of us around you, you can’t help but be fine. We’ll make sure that justice is served, as well as have a lovely funeral for your sister and niece.” “She was only a baby too.” Cattie handed off the bowl and hugged him. He couldn’t help it, Easton cried on her shoulder as she held him tightly. When he was in control again, he told her that he was so sorry.

“I’ve only just realized how much I’ve missed by staying away.” “There isn’t much you can do about that now, young man.” He liked Willey and his new wife Ann. He was a direct speaker, and didn’t pull any punches. “You just let your heart hurt for a time. It’s the only way. People, they’ll tell you that this pain, it’ll fade. But it doesn’t. What it does is take up less of your heart and lets you live again. I know that pain. I’m sure just about anyone at this here table will tell you that they know it too.” Nodding, he tried to enjoy the rest of his meal without making too much of a fool of himself. Easton did find it difficult to wallow in his misery. There was so much going on at the table that he had a difficult time keeping up with the conversations. They not only talked over each other but when they had a point to make, usually nothing more than what kind of ice cream was the best, they were loud as well as loving about it. When he was ready to admit that he was as full as he’d ever been, Brody asked him what it was he did for a living. “I was just telling Jorden that I usually work on security systems for large companies. It’s not too hard for me, as I love working with computers and such. But in my spare time—once I can get a program up and running, I have a bit—I design video games. For all the systems.” Brody asked if the one that he and his son were playing was one. “It is. It’s still in the working stages, but it’s getting there, thanks a great deal to Jorden. He’s given me input that I rarely get from a focus group. I think it’s because we’ve been using the wrong sort of players.

I need kids that are just a little younger to show me what I can improve on. It really is amazing how much I got from him.” “You said security systems, correct?” He passed the pie plate that had several slices of different pies on it to Cattie. She simply set it down in front of her. Easton looked around the table and realized that was what they were all doing. Brody asked him again about the systems he developed. “Yes, that’s right. Well, not entirely right. There is security for the companies that I work with, but a lot of them are going lower-tech on some other things I can incorporate into the workings.” Cam asked him what that might be. “One company that I was just working with wanted to be able to shut down the parking garage at certain times of the evening. He wanted to make it so that his employees didn’t come back into work when they should have been enjoying their time off. He was very big on that. Another company wanted to make certain days for the vending machines to be free. That took some time, as I also had to add in that each badge only get one free thing a day. That made him a huge hit if you ask me.” “So you can pretty much program anything.” He nodded at Cattie when she asked, then shook his head. “You can’t or you won’t?”

“Won’t. There are things that I won’t mess with. Not much, but like patented things. That, I know, will land me in jail. Then there are times where the person who wants my help can’t—or again, won’t—explain to me what they actually want my work for.” Jake asked him what that might entail. “There are all kinds of monsters around, as you well know. I had this person who wanted me to come up with a device to open a door easier. It wasn’t until I was nearly finished with the door lock that I figured out that it would not only unlock doors that had electronic locks on them, but also ATM machines.” “Do you have that happen a lot?” He told Willey that he didn’t really because he didn’t do much in the way of outside work anymore. “Are you willing to work on a project for me?” Willey was about the nicest man he knew. Not only did he make him feel comfortable being a homosexual around him, he was accepting toward him. He also talked to him like he was one of his own grandchildren. Telling Willey that he’d do whatever he wanted was exactly what Easton meant—anything. “Tell me what you have in mind.” While he explained what he was thinking about, Easton was already working on a program in his mind to make it work. It wasn’t too terribly complicated either. “How many pounds to you think you might have to move with this thing?” It was based on the lift that was at most pools now, where a person in a wheelchair could be put into the water with a harness around them. It would not only keep them afloat, but it would also give them a good deal of movement, and they wouldn’t need someone keeping an eye on them so that they’d not slip under the water. He wanted something that would lift a person out of their bed and into their awaiting chair or even a bathtub that was a part of the wheelchair.

“I don’t know what that would entail. Is that important?” Easton said that he could work around that. “I know about counterweights and stuff like that. I’m thinking that something that could lift, say, a two or three hundred pound person would have to have stabilizers on it as well. Correct?” “The most trouble would be with the weight of the chair once the person is out of it. There would have to be weights under the wheelchair itself so that it wouldn’t topple. Yet light enough that it wouldn’t be too heavy for things like elevators, or even floorboards. It’s a great idea, however.” Willey explained how he had a friend that just wanted to be more independent. “I can understand that. Let me work on it a couple of days and I’ll see what I can come up with. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get things to balance out for it.” Easton was excited to have something that would keep his mind off what he was there for. He couldn’t bring Alex home for another few days. While he was healthy, Brody told him, he was still worried about the trauma of his birth. After dinner was over, he with the rest of them cleaned up the dining room and the kitchen. He loved to wash up pots and pans, and no one objected when he said that he’d help. Easton hadn’t any idea that they’d had things nearly finished up before he brought the first stack of plates in from the dining room. Everything was catered, so there weren’t any pans to wash up.

Sitting back in the really nice living room, he was happy to see that they were all settling down for a nap. He wanted one as well. Even as a wolf now, he knew that he could eat more and not gain any weight. But turkey and all the trimmings still had the same effect on him as it did as a human. He was exhausted. ~*~ Wendell wasn’t happy about the eating arrangements around here. Jail wasn’t a place that you were supposed to get a good meal anyway, but on Thanksgiving, he thought that there should have been just a little something special. Not even a cupcake or anything like that had graced his tray. When the man came back to get it, Wendell asked him if he could have a bit more. “Nope. You’re to have a meal three times a day. We don’t have the funds or the previsions to make everyone that comes in here extra.” Wendell pointed out that it was Thanksgiving. “I know. My wife, she brought us all in some leftovers so that we’d not have to miss a single bite of her cooking. Even brought us in some cider and pie. It sure is nice to have someone that loves you enough to care.” “Are you giving me shit about Mary? You know that I’d never kill her. You know that.” Picking up Wendell’s tray, the officer just looked at him. “She was going on about shit when I was trying my best to watch my show. Jesus H. Christ, she was bitching so much that I had to get her to shut up.” “Did you kill her?” Wendell wasn’t as stupid as they might think he was, so he just played dumb, telling the officer that he didn’t know what he was talking about. “Someone slit her throat and then wrapped her up on a rug. Then—I’m assuming after whoever was finished watching their show—someone took her out to County Road 40 and dumped her body there. Did you know that she was having a baby?”

“Nope.” He didn’t ask what the kid had been. When he’d dumped her into the ravine, obviously not far enough off the road, Mary had still been expecting. Hell, he knew it was impossible to have a kid while you were dead. “What the hell does that have to do with Thanksgiving anyway?” “To you? Nothing, I guess. They’re having a funeral for your wife and little girl in a few days.” Wendell settled back down on his little cot. Of course Mary would have birthed another fucking girl. That other one was always underfoot as it was. Until he’d put her in a cage, that was. Never had a kid whined so much about being hungry and cold all the time either. Once he found the dog cage out by the dump, he’d thought of the perfect plan to keep the kid from bothering him too much. Then he told Mary if she so much as touched that cage he’d put her in one too. Wendell had to stop eating at home after that. Stop doing anything at home, as a matter of fact. He knew that with the kid not able to get out of the cage, her taking a shit would smell up the house. But it got to be so bad that he wasn’t even able to sleep there without it gagging him.

Wendell did wonder how Mary had stood it, but he’d ended up locking her in the storage shed a couple of days after putting the kid in the cage and forgetting about them both for a couple of weeks while he was out with his buddies. When the cop came back a bit later, he asked him where the kids were. As soon as he turned to answer him, Wendell backed up from the doors. Christ, he looked pissed enough to come right through the bars and get to him. “I told you earlier that the little girl was gone.” Wendell said that he’d figured that it’d not survive after her momma was dead. “I don’t understand—the little girl that you had, Margaret, she was starved to death at your hand. The other child is a boy and he survived, no thanks to you, when his mom was murdered. Did you do it, Wendell? Kill his momma?” “I got me a son? Well, how do you like that? A little boy. I’d sure like to see him. Where is he? You bring him here and I’ll just be as quiet as a mouse for the rest of the night.” The officer asked him if he thought he was getting out soon. “Sure. I mean, you got really no reason to hold me here. I can understand overnight. I was a bit loud at the bar, but I’m not having any more issues with that. A little boy. Can you believe that?”

“You’re not in here for drunken behavior, Wendell. You’re in here for murder. Double murder. And I hope they hang you for it.” Wendell asked him what the hell he was talking about. “We got you on murdering your wife and little girl. I guess Doc Brody could see what you had done, and we found enough evidence around to charge you with—” “Murder? I didn’t do no such a thing. Whatever you’re thinking, you get that out of your head right now. I’m not no murderer.” The guard asked about his daughter Margaret. “Is that her name? Whatever it was, she was acting up and shit, and all I did was keep her out from under my feet. How the hell does that come to murdering her?” “She was found in the cage that you locked her in, starved to death, laying in her own fecal matter. Doc Brody seems to think she’d been put in there a lot over her tiny lifetime.” Wendell said he didn’t know what he was talking about. “Yeah, you go on thinking like that, Wendell, and see where it gets you. In the meantime, you’re going to be staying here until your trial.

After that, I’m hoping that you end up in the big house and someone takes exception to you killing a little girl and her momma.” After the cop left, Wendell sat down on his cot again. Did they really think that he’d killed his daughter? All he’d done was want some peace and quiet. What man in his own home wouldn’t have wanted the same thing? It was bad enough that his wife was forever complaining about shit that didn’t concern her. Like paying bills. Wendell hadn’t thought it was his problem to pay bills. Because his parents had left him the house, he figured that they should have made provisions for the bills to be paid for. A house wasn’t free if you had to keep paying on it month after month. Then there were the taxes. Why did he have to pay taxes on his house when he owned it? It wasn’t like he’d gone down to the store and picked his house up at the local Walmart so they could tax him. No, the government wanted him to pay to own his own home all the fucking time. For something that was none of their beeswax. He hated government people and their rules. He hated rules all around, Wendell figured. There were plenty of them too. You had to wear a shirt and shoes to go into most places. There were rules on when you could park on the main street of any town. His personal non-favorite was having to pay for doctor’s appointments. Again, because he owned his home. The government didn’t help those that had a house, nary a bit. His buddies tried to tell him not to take the house, to sell it off. But then he’d found out that they’d take that as some money coming in, and he’d not get anything that way either.

He just didn’t understand why they’d not just let him have one of them cards to get himself some steaks and shit like that. Thinking about the girl, Wendell had wondered off and on where it had gotten to. When he’d remember that she was in the basement in a cage, he always thought that he’d get back to it. He’d only think about her when he wanted her to fetch him a beer or something. But by the time he’d think about her again, the need for her to be helping her old man out had passed. But kill her? Nah, that couldn’t be right. Could it? Well, he thought, he supposed that he had. In an indirect way. Not that he’d meant to—no, not that. But she was just a girl, and he doubted very much that anyone was overly concerned about it. Besides, he thought she was addled too. Thinking on that, Wendell wondered whether if he’d have turned her in, the government would have given him some kind of kickback or something. Whatever, it was too late now. Killing Mary hadn’t been an accident—he’d wanted her to shut her trap. But all she’d been talking about all day was taking her someplace. Now that he thought on that a little, he remembered her saying that she was in labor. But he was too busy watching his game when she was complaining. Just as his team was starting to win, she’d come into the room and told him something about water. Telling her that he was busy didn’t seem to do much good. So finally, having enough of her shit, he smacked her a good one. Two minutes later he heard his car start up and she was pulling out of the drive, after he’d told her to drive herself to the hospital if she was in such a fired up need to go. But he’d not meant it.

And when he saw her back into one of the trashcans on her way out, Wendell grabbed up the first thing he could touch and went out to teach her a lesson in taking things that didn’t belong to her. He’d cut her throat right there in their yard. Without thinking about anything but getting her out of sight, he’d gone to the front porch, where she’d made her some kind of place of her own, and grabbed up the rug that was cleaner than the one in the house, he remembered thinking. Knocking over her flowers that weren’t nothing but weeds, Wendell even managed to break a couple of her ugly assed treasures, as she’d called them. Then after wrapping her up, he put her in the backseat and took her to the next town over. Christ, it had been a mess. Now he was caught. If they made it out to his house, he’d hang for sure. There was enough blood on the yard that he was sure it looked like he’d slaughtered a hog. Now that he had time to think on it, he should have done something about that. But it was too late now. Having plenty of time, thinking of a reason that she was dead and for all the blood was something that he needed to work on, Wendell told himself. But as he sat there, feeling full for the first time in a while, and warm, another thing that he’d missed at home with the power off, he took himself a nap. A man like him, he deserved naps when he wanted them. Cuddling down on the bed with the blankets that smelled fresh as the sunshine, he closed his eyes. Wendell had a son. The world could go to hell now for all he cared—he had him a son. And he was gonna name him. Wendell James Bennet, Junior would be just exactly like him.

 

 

Morgan Robinson Destruction Release Day & Giveaway

Anna didn’t know what to do with the man who acted like he was attached to
her hip. Every time she moved, just to get up and move to the bathroom,
he’d be right there with her, helping her into a panic attack. Not really,
but that was what it felt like to her.

Morgan wasn’t sure what he’d have to do to convince Anna that he wouldn’t
just up an leave her. She was a tiger too, and she knew they were mates
just as well as he did. But for some reason, he couldn’t get her to trust
him.

“I don’t think that I’d offer you my hand. You’d more than likely bite
it off.”

She growled at him.

“I’m not sure if you feel the same way I do about me growling at you,
but all it does when you do it is making me want to spread you out before
me and lick every square inch of you.”

 

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KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/morgan-27

 

A fresh start was what Rogan Hall needed. A small town, out of the way, where no one knew her or her brother was where they’d start over. She worked from home, and they kept to themselves. The only thing Rogan couldn’t give up was her early morning run.

Like clockwork, she ran every morning, and again, like clockwork, the same family would pass her on the country road heading to who knew where. The little boy in the back seat would wave at her with such enthusiasm, it made her heart melt. However, that morning, everything would change. Only moments after the car passed her and drove around the bend, she heard a loud commotion. Another car barreled past her, and she found the quaint family’s car overturned and on fire. Rogan did the only thing she could do, she saved them.

Thatcher Robinson was on duty at the hospital when his parents contacted him through their link and told him about the accident and what to expect when the ambulance arrived. Thatch, his dad, told him they had to save the woman by changing her, but her burns were severe, and his dad wasn’t sure that the new tiger would survive.

When Rogan regained consciousness, she was unsure where she was, but she knew she was different. She could feel the tiger move just beneath her skin. Rogan knew very little about shifters, but what she did know had her cringing. Why someone would take it upon themselves to change her, she didn’t know, but when the young doctor, Dawson, said his brother was her mate, she was furious. If the big, bad, Thatcher thought he was going to order her around, he had another thing coming….

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Anna didn’t know what to do with the man who acted like he was fucking attached to her hip. Every time she moved, just to get up and move to the bathroom, he’d be right there with her, helping her into a panic attack. Not really, but that was what it felt like to her. Finally having enough, she stopped and turned to look at him. “Don’t you have anything else that you can be doing? I don’t even care if you go outside and play with yourself. Just leave me alone.” He grinned at her. “You’re not all that charming if that is what you’re going for. I have crushed bigger bugs than you.” “What is it about me that has you on edge?” She asked him how long he had to listen to her answer. “Okay, that was mean, but I’m thinking that’s your normal way of talking to people. By the way, I’ve got you an extension on your classes you’re taking. I don’t want you to be missing out on anything while you’re here.” “What I’d really like to do is gather up my shit and get the hell out of town.” He told her that he’d be going with her. “I don’t want you around at all, much less you going with me someplace. Did you read over that report that I got from Rogen? It tells you all the reasons that you should be running from me. Not spending all your time here with me. I’m a grown assed woman, and I don’t need you here holding my hand.”

“I don’t think that I’d offer you my hand. You’d more than likely bite it off.” She growled at him. “I’m not sure if you feel the same way I do about me growling at you, but all it does when you do it is making me want to spread you out before me and lick every square inch of you.” “You’re not helping.” He nodded and sat down after helping her to the bed again. “Why are you here? Really? There isn’t any reason at all for you to be sitting around like a puppy with your tongue handing out.” “Your brother Noah, or I guess you call him Junior, is out of prison.” That nearly had her falling to the floor. Had Morgan not been there to catch her, she would have ended up spread out anyway, without anything at all sexual about it. “I’m here until we can figure out where he’s headed. Well, I say that like I have any idea what I’d have to do to find him. But Rogen is doing it. She’s also trying to figure out how he got released.” “I call him that because he absolutely hates being called Junior, now that he has a record. So, he’s been hating it since he was about seventeen, I guess. Was Junior released or did he escape?

Is that what you’re telling me?” Morgan said that was one of the things that Rogen was working on. “I guess I should have figured that he’d be out soon. I’d forgotten to keep up with his prison term. My father is who I’ve been the most worried about. Him and my brothers David and Bud.” “Junior has a watchdog on him right now. As soon as Rogen was made aware of Junior being released, she put someone on all three of them. Your father, he’s bitching about his health and that the jail is making him lose weight. He needs it, but that’s beside the point for him, I think. He needs to lose weight, but not because of anything that they’re doing. He’s eating himself into a stupor. I think Rogen said that he weighs nearly four hundred pounds now.”

Anna asked him how she’d know shit like that. “It’s her job to know all kinds of shit. And some shit that I don’t even question her about.” “She didn’t strike me as the type that would be a coffee girl to anyone.” Morgan laughed and said that she’d be the one demanding the coffee. If she drank it. “My father, does she think that he’ll be getting out anytime soon?” “She didn’t say, but I’d not count on it. Now that he’s on her fucking list—her words, not mine—he’s not going to fart unless she knows about it before he does. I didn’t ask her what that was supposed to mean. Rogen scares me in ways that I had to tell you about. She’s a real ball-buster. Much, I’m sure, as you are.” Anna told him that she wasn’t that, but someone that had been knocked around more than most. “I believe you. Rogen also pulled up your records for hospital visits, as well as other things.” “What does it matter anyway?” Morgan asked her what she meant. “You’ve already decided that I’m not mate material for you. Just look at you. You’re sitting here in a pair of jeans that cost more than I make at my job. Or the job that I did have. He told me that if I missed a single day, he’d fire me. Then there are your shoes. What did you pay for them? More than two hundred bucks, I’m sure.” “Not that I understand what the price of my clothing has to do with you not being mate material, but I’ll tell you. My parents bought me the jeans for Christmas last year. I’ve not had a chance to wear them as yet, because I’ve been working harder than I should have taken over another man’s classes at the college. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy them, but it was taking up a great deal of my time.

The shoes? I have no idea who gave them to me. I’m thinking that it was Jonas, as he and I have the same sized feet. But as they were still in the box and had the tags on them, I can only assume that he didn’t like the fit of them and gave them to me.” She looked away. “Don’t do that, Anna. Just let me explain some things to you. I have money. A good deal of it, as a matter of fact. I’m a dean at the college, and I’ve never been one to spend a great deal of money on anything unless I really need it. Even then it had better have several uses, as well as last me long enough that I feel I got my money’s worth.” “I don’t have shit.” He said that he knew that. “Rogen again, I’m assuming. Why is she so hot on finding out what there is to know about me? As I’ve mentioned to you before, I’m not mate material to you.” Before she could think that he was going to move, he was over her, his legs on either side of her own. His hands held hers above her head, and he was looking down at her with such hunger that the need to look away from him was overwhelming. But she couldn’t do it. “Every time I look at you, all I can think about is seeing you large with our child. I have no idea why that thought keeps occupying my mind, but it does. To imagine you naked in my arms, another thought that I keep having is almost more than I can take and still not touch you.” He put both her hands into his one larger one and brushed his hand over her cheek. “You feel as soft as you look. The kiss from yesterday only makes me want more of you. To taste all that you have to offer. However, I won’t take unless you consent. As for not being mate material, I can only hope that I’m a better mate to you than you think you will be for me.”

He got off her then, her body suddenly feeling bereft of his warmth. Without saying a word, he sat down in the chair he’d been in and watched her. Anna had never wanted to cry so badly in her life. Looking at him, she let the tears flow while she told him off. “You’re a big man, aren’t you? Did you think to scare me into submission? Well, it won’t work. I’m made of stronger shit than you are, buster, and if you try that again, they’ll be wiping up your body for the next twenty years or so.” He asked her if she felt better. “Better? Hell no, I don’t feel better. I fucking hurt. And I’m terrified that I’m going to fucking fall in love with you and you’ll leave me to the wolves, so to speak, when you’ve had your fill. I know nothing about you other than what you’ve deemed it necessary for me to know. But you know everything there is to know about me, including, I’m sure, how much money I owe on my rent, which is overdue, as well as my college loans.” He didn’t say anything as he sat there for a few minutes. But he did stand up and tell her that Rogen was coming to see her. As he went to the door, he paused for a moment and looked at her. She could see his anger, and wanted to shield herself from it. Instead, she lifted her chin up to show him that she didn’t care what he did to her. “Your student loans were paid off as of this morning. As my mate and with me being the dean at the college, they waived those from their books. I didn’t do that. Someone in the offices found out and did it for you. Rogen paid up your rent so that your place would be there should you’d rather live there than in the home that I have for us both. I had nothing to do with that either.” Anna started to tell him to not do anything for her. “I’m leaving now. Not because I want to, but because you’re upset and saying things that you might regret later, though I highly doubt it.” The door closed behind him and Anna laid there.

If she’d been able to get up and go after him, she would have. Anna didn’t like that he’d had the last word. Sitting up in the bed a little more, she looked around the room. It just occurred to her that she had a better room here than she did at home. Not to mention anytime she pulled the nurse call cord, someone was in there almost as soon as she put the handheld call thing down. “Hello.” She looked at Rogen and asked her what the hell she was doing there. “Still in a shitty mood, I see. Morgan asked me to come by and give you this.” The thick file was tossed in her lap. It might well have hurt, it was that heavy, but she’d been healing more every day. Picking it up, she asked Rogen what it was. Instead of telling her what was in it, Rogen told her to open it and read it. Opening the file cover, there was a picture of Morgan. She’d bet anything that it was his license picture. The man even took great license pictures. Anna would bet that anything he did, he’d be perfect at it. “You mentioned to him that you knew nothing about him. So he had me do a thorough check on him, then print it up and hand it over. Some of the things in there, I’m sure even he’s not aware of. Or, more than likely, doesn’t care about.” Anna laid it down. “You can read it or not. I could care less. But you pissed off one of the nicest men that I’ve ever known. I don’t know whether I should punch you in the face for it or congratulate you for getting under his skin. I’m leaning toward the punch just so you know.”

“Why?” Rogen asked her what she meant. “Why did he have you gather this up? I didn’t mean for him to give me a whole rundown on his life.” “Didn’t you? I don’t know you that well, mostly because you’ve been pushing us all away since the moment you opened your eyes. But you don’t strike me as being one that trusts easily. Nor do you seem to think you have much reason to say you’re sorry, or to thank someone. Am I right?” She nodded at Rogen. “Yeah, I thought so. In addition to having this all gathered for you, Morgan also had me add you to all his accounts. To put your name on the deed to his home, as well as the beneficiary line to his life insurance policy. Including the one that the university takes out on him.” “Again, why would he do that?” Rogen shrugged. “You know. Don’t give me that bull shit. You know everything there is to know about someone before you even allow them to breach that little bit of an opening you allow others into. You protect this family like you would a newborn child of yours.” “Thatcher is my husband. As of a few days ago, we became parents. No one knows that as yet. With you coming into the family, I wanted to make sure that my son, Jimmy, was safe. I’ve checked you out, and other than a jaywalking ticket that you had your first day on campus, you’ve been as clean as whistle.” Anna said that she knew that. “What you don’t know, or I’m assuming you don’t, is that you have a warrant out for your arrest. Your brother Junior has said that you injured him last night. While I know that it’s not possible, I’d like for you to tell me why he’d do such a stupid thing.” “Junior is a lazy fuck. If he’d have to look for me for whatever reason he has in his tiny mind, then it would take too much effort. This way he can have me found with little effort from himself, and he can get, what I’m assuming, is the money I may or may not have on me. But he’ll still take his pound of flesh while he’s at it.”

Rogen said that Anna had turned him in, and that had gotten him in prison this time. “I did. I’m not going to deny that to him or you. He was a jackass, and killed that man as surely as you’re breathing.” “The man that he killed. How much do you know about that?” Anna looked away. “I thought so. You were in love with him, Bart Hodges. He killed him over a dispute that you were going to marry him and Junior didn’t want that to happen. Why?” “Because, as sick as this sounds, he wanted me for himself. But I wasn’t in love with Bart so much as he was in love with me. He was, I guess you could call him, safe for me.” Rogen asked if what Junior wanted was sexual. “No. Just as his domestic. He wanted me under his rule so that I could work, bring home the bacon, cook it for him, then clean up after him. And as wonderful as that might sound, I didn’t want to spend my life taking care of my brothers and father.” ~*~ Morgan was grading tests when someone knocked on his door. Seeing his father there, he put down his pen and waited for him to yell at him. He hadn’t any idea what he’d done, but his father had worn that same look on his face when he was upset about disciplining them as children. Since Anna had been nearly raped just down the hall from him, he’d been keeping his door open most of the time. Today was the first day that he’d shut it to get some work done. And honestly, he wanted to hide from the world a little.

It helped that Professor Long was dead, but he did worry he’d be caught up in something. “Rogen said that your mate will be released today. Did you know that?” He said that he didn’t, that she’d kicked him out three days ago. “Yeah, that’s what I’d been told she’d done to you. What are you going to do about her living arrangements?” “Nothing. Why?” Dad said that he didn’t think her being out there alone was a good thing. “Well, I think she’s a good deal stronger than you think, and can take care of her brother with one hand tied behind her back. She sure didn’t have any trouble taking care of me.” “You let her,” Morgan asked him what that had to do with anything. “I don’t rightly know. But it’s not setting well for me with you just abandoning her.” “I didn’t. I have a guard on her at all times. There are as many as five wolf pack members with her every place she goes. The car that has been lent to her in the guise of Rogen letting her use hers has a tracker on it, as well as a panic button. That was Rogen, in the event you thought that I was smart enough to do that.” Dad said that he didn’t have any doubt that he could do whatever he set his mind to. “Thank you for that. But about Anna. She’s pissed off. And me being around her isn’t making her any less so.” “What happened between the two of you?” Morgan leaned back in his chair, not even sure what he could say to his dad about all this. “You have no idea, do you, son?” “No. I mean, I never have rushed her. But she has it in her head that I’m going to take over her life and then make her do things like her brothers did. Also, I’ve been, through Rogen, keeping an eye out for her brother that’s been released. She’s working on trying to figure out what happened at the prison to have gotten him out.

Junior’s name isn’t on any kind of record as having good behavior, nor did he get an early release. But he’s on his way here.” Dad asked him what he’d want. “Her. And it’s not what you’re thinking. I thought the same thing. But he wants her to be his housemaid. Cooking, cleaning, and anything else that needs to be done. Also, she’s to work so that he won’t have to. Nice family she has there.” “We’ve dealt with worse, I’m sorry to say. Rogen, she’s got a handle on all them boys too?” Morgan said that she was looking into different areas, that all of them had been in jail until recently when Junior got out. “That has anything to do with why she’s shoving you away?” “Yes. All of it, as a matter of fact. She has it in her head that she’s only a half breed, and not fit for me. Also, she has this insane thing about money, and how she doesn’t have any.” Dad told him that he could understand that. “I can too. But I don’t have to like it. I’m giving her space. For now. As soon as I get information from Rogen, I’m going to go and see her. I’m going to tell her everything that I know.” “Rogen, she told me that you had her do a background check on you.” He nodded. “Did you read it?” “No. It’s not something that I can change now anyway. I know that there is nothing serious in it, or I’d have not made it into the position that I’m in now. The reason I gave it to her is that she mentioned that I knew everything about her and she knew nothing of me.” Dad asked him what he knew about her. “Not all that much, really. I know that she was working two jobs to put herself through college.

She’s smart in that too, not overwhelming herself by taking on too many at once. Her grades are great. Anna would have been on the dean’s list if not for the fact that she’s only taking classes part-time. There was only twenty-four dollars in her account until yesterday.” “You think she’s going to be upset with you for doing that without asking. I’m assuming that you didn’t ask.” Morgan just smiled at his dad. “I see. So you’re trying your best to make her upset with you, is that it?” “Pretty much. She is so beautiful when she’s mad. I don’t tell her that, of course. I don’t have a death wish. Besides, in order to ask me about it, she’ll have to contact me. And that is going to bring me to her. At least that’s my plan.” Dad laughed, asking him if he thought that was going to work. “I can hope, can’t I? Besides, Dad, she really is going to be in deep trouble if her brother finds out where she is. They think she’ll come to heel, I think, and she won’t.” “No, it’s doubtful that she ever did. Do you suppose she’s going to be hurt by them?” Morgan said if they did harm her in any way, they’d never live to tell about it. “No, I don’t think they will. And it’d not be just you doing the killing either. Your mom, she sure does like her. Oh, did you hear about having to meet up at Thatcher and Rogen’s house tonight for some surprise? Everyone is supposed to show up. I tell you, I hate surprises more than anybody does.” “I do as well. But think of it this way—they might have an announcement to make or something.” Dad perked right up. “I have no idea if that’s true, Dad. I was making a joke.

It probably isn’t that at all.” “Well, a man could hope, couldn’t he? They have been sort of hiding away in that house of theirs. I ain’t seen hide nor hair of them very much over the last week. What do you suppose they’re doing?” Morgan said that he didn’t have any idea. “Well, I’ll see you tonight then. And if you want me to, I’ll sweet talk that mate into coming over too. She likes me.” “Everyone likes you, Dad. You’re a charmer. And the biggest bullshitter I’ve ever met.” Dad just glared, but didn’t deny it. “I have to get to work here if I’m planning on meeting you at Thatcher’s house. After I grade these papers I have to find someone to come in and repaint this room. I don’t think the sucker has been redone since before I was born.” Dad looked around. “Yeah, I think you might be right on that one. It looks to me like it’s been puked on a couple of times too. Is that blood over there in the corner?” Morgan looked and wasn’t surprised to see something that did indeed look like blood. “If you want my opinion, I’d take out all these old windows and put in ones that are tighter, as well as something that will keep the wind out. I’d sure hate to come here some morning and find you a Popsicle or something.” “I’ve put in a request to find out if I can do that. This building is pretty old. I’m betting that they tell me that it’ll ruin the way the whole thing looks to have windows put in that are more efficient than the ones that are in the rest of the building.” Dad told him that he needed to put in something. “I agree. Tomorrow, while classes are about over for the summer break, I’m going to have my desk brought in here.

That way it’ll free up some room for me from this monster.” “That desk is older than you are, I’d say. You might want to ask one of your brothers if they want it if you can get rid of it. It’s a fine desk, but much too big for this room.” Dad looked around. “In fact, son, I’d take out some of these here shelves too. There is no cause for you to have all of them in here when you really don’t need them, do you?” “No. I don’t. That’s on my list too. I can redecorate anyway that I wish so long as it doesn’t harm the structure of the building. I think a bomb could explode in here and it’d not hurt anything within a mile of my office.” Morgan jotted down another note on his to-do list. “This room is supposed to be an upgrade to the one I had. It is, sort of, but not by much.” The door behind his dad opened and Anna walked in. Morgan stood up and Dad practically ran from the room, closing the door behind him. Morgan could tell without asking that she was spitting mad about something. Whatever she was pissed about, he was sure that he was the one that she was going to take it out on.

Connor House Of Wilkshire & Giveaway

Connor James was having a blast remodeling the old mansion, but he didn’t care for curtains, and his friends’ mates were giving him hell for it. Connor loved every minute of it.

Since acquiring the mansion, Connor was having a time dealing with the ghosts remaining in the home. He was able to see and speak with spirits and made it so anyone who entered his home could do so as well.

Roxanna Hornsby, also known as Rocky, was alone in the world and living in near poverty. Dealing with the dead was her burden to bear and she wasn’t known for being pleasant about it.

Roxanna knew some of her magical heritage, but most of the memory had been blocked from her to keep her safe. And when her grandmother came to her in her dream, the memories came flooding back. Roxanna was so much more than any of them thought.

 

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Kelly Dalton, was packed and ready to go on the trip of a lifetime. She was excited to spend a month in Europe sightseeing. Her budget would be tight, and she’d have to make the trip alone because her sister drained her checking account, but despite the lack of funds, Kelly was ready for the new adventure—anything to get away from her family.

Devon Wakefield was the tenth Marquess to the house of Wilkshire and a dragon shifter. Since the death of his father, he had been lord of the castle since he was ten. His life lacked only one thing—a mate—but he was in no hurry to find one.

Kelly was sorry to see her vacation end. One more stroll around the beautiful countryside then she’d have to go back home—to what she didn’t know. Her sister, Rachel, was so angry that Kelly didn’t pay for her trip that she set fire to Kelly’s apartment. There was nothing really to go back to, but she’d deal with that when she returned. In the meantime, she would enjoy her last couple of days in England. However, Kelly was unprepared for the sudden rain shower, and in the rushing water she lost her footing. Everything went black…

Distraught because Kelly was missing, the innkeeper called Devon to find her. When Devon found the injured young woman, he realized that he’d found his mate, and in an effort to ease her recovery he wanted to do something nice for her—he brought her family to England….

Noah Farley had been living in the States for a long time, and he was homesick. When Devon invited him to come home for a visit, he packed up everything he had and wasn’t planning on returning to his home in the city anytime soon, if ever. His dragon needed room to roam, and the city left his options too limited.

Bea Frost had made the buy of a lifetime, a castle in the country, and she made plans with her granddaughter Bryce, and daughter-in-law Laura, to move into it. Both Bea and Bryce were witches, and moving away from their current location, away from the Witches Council, would be like a breath of fresh air.

Noah’s family had lost the castle to back taxes before they had died. Its loss didn’t leave him much to go home to, but he was curious as to who had purchased the property. When he met Bryce, he was both surprised and pleased to find out that she was his mate. Bryce, however, didn’t care for dragons and wasn’t shy about letting him know that either.

The Witches Council consisted of three warlocks, Black, White, and Gray. When appointed, the mix was supposed to balance them out, but instead, the men had become evil and corrupt. Bryce had become too powerful, more powerful than the council combined, and the WC considered her a threat. Killing her human mother or new mate would be just the ticket to bring her to heal…

Jackson William hadn’t seen his father in centuries. Now his father was dead, he was now king, and the dragon council wanted to hold him responsible for his father’s crimes? And there had been many. The truth would be his salvation.

Nicole needed a job. A job that would put a roof over her head as well. She hadn’t had a decent meal in a week. But the ad didn’t say there were faeries and witches. Where there were faeries, there were dragons and Nicole was petrified of them. And with good reason.

The poison from the dragon bites flowing through Nicole’s veins left her weak and in a lot of pain. She was a mere human, and her body’s inability to heal from the bites left her vulnerable to new dragon attacks. Now this dragon, Jackson, was claiming to be her mate? Would this nightmare never end?

 

House of Wilkshire Series

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Connor knew that it would take Aisling a few weeks to get there. She was moving slowly across the United States. The pull was there for her to pay homage to the new king, but, like he would more than likely do if he didn’t know Devon was a great king, she was dragging her feet. Which, Connor thought, was a good thing. Things needed to be in place for her before she arrived. As yet he didn’t know what was going to happen when she got there. Nothing about her seemed to be out there for him to touch on, not even whether she was a nice person or bad. But being a dragon, he thought it was his duty to make sure that she was all right on her way there. Nothing terrible was going to happen with the dragon. She was—and this was all he knew about her—a dragon who had been hurt long ago. She’d been in a healing sleep for centuries, much too many for her to just be thrown into the modern world that they had now.

He could almost feel sorry for her. Dak, Aisling’s faerie companion, joined him in the house just as the men that were working on it left for the day. After explaining what was going on, they sat at the farmhouse table and Connor asked him a few questions. Dak, like most faeries, usually got things mixed up in his mind, and it rarely made sense when he was nervous. And Dak was very nervous. “I have done as you asked,” Connor asked him what had put him in a tizzy. “Sir. I am not in a tizzy. But I am nervous that we are going to be caught using a magical credit card that no one is getting paid from.” “Ah. Well, the one I gave you is attached to my account. They’re getting paid, Dak. I promise you.” The little creature looked so relieved that Connor nearly laughed at him.

“Did you get an apartment for the two of you? If she comes here, she’ll be expected to stay. Not having to deal with the selling of a house would be better for everyone all the way around.” “We have one. It’s much too big, I think, but she is happy. I don’t understand this, sir. Why not have her just come here now to protect her? She is a good dragon. I mean, she’s had trouble before, but she was younger then.” Connor said that he knew that about her too. But things were not ready for her. “You keep telling me that. I don’t understand.” “I don’t either, to be honest, Dak. But I know that there are pieces to her life that have to be finished before she can come here. Why? I’m not sure yet. I can only see a little of her future. No more than a few weeks in advance. She must come here when the snow is on the ground to stay.” Dak said that might still be a month away. “I know. And again, I don’t know why. Sometimes I do, most of the time I don’t. But I do what my dreams tell me, and in this, she’s not to come here until the snow is on the ground for a while.” “I’ll slow her down a bit, sire. But she’s worried a bit about the king. What should I tell her about that?” Connor told him to tell Aisling that the king was a new father and was not in the office.

“Aye, I like that one. Yes, I’ll tell her that. She already felt the newborn being brought into the world.” “Yes. He’s the king’s firstborn, so he’ll be too focused on that to worry about her right now. Just tell her that you’ve seen the activity around the place, and know it to be true.” Dak said that he could do that. “Remember, Dak, there are beings out there that would wish to kill her. Keep her safe. And if she is in trouble that she cannot get out of, or if you can’t help her, you call to me and I’ll be there.” “I know that. But she’s very careful, so you know. I don’t think she wants to be caught unawares either.” Connor told him to be careful too. “Oh, I am. I been scouting around the towns that we’re in and eating up a storm, I tell you. I surely hope we don’t take all that you have, sire. I’d surely hate if that happened.” “You don’t worry about me, Dak. I have all I need and more. You just keep her well-fed and do what you’ve been doing about other places to eat. That’s the best way to keep people from recognizing her.” Dak told him how she’d taken a liking to pasta with chicken. “That’s good. I like it very much as well.” “You told me before; she’s not your mate. Are you sure?” Connor told him that he was positive. “There are a lot of dragons around.

Is she by chance one of theirs? That would surely save her. Being a white dragon, she could be claimed by a dragon that isn’t her mate. Are you by chance looking to claim her?” “No. I’m sorry, Dak, but I am not. I have one out there. I just have to wait. As for her being one of the others’ mates, I don’t know that yet. I wish I could tell you that, but I just don’t know.” Dak said that was fine. His face was so disappointed looking that Connor nearly laughed at him once again. “You just keep watching over her, Dak, and we’ll know for sure when the time is right.” After the little man flew away, having found the answers to a few things that were bothering him, Connor went back to work. The house was completed, inside and out, but he loved to tinker around with the garden he was planning for the spring. As well as looking online for the perfect comforter and curtains for a few of the bedrooms. The faeries had done a great job on helping him with the house. They’d put it together the way it would have looked back when the original house was built. But since he wasn’t a huge fan of curtains in the first place, he’d not had any certain look in mind. It had taken Devon’s mate, Kelly, to explain to him that anyone staying in the rooms might not be as free with their nudeness as he was. Connor had a laugh about that every time he thought about it. Being caught one time swimming in the nude as a man when she’d come to visit had gotten him labeled as a man who went around naked all the time. Devon came into his home about an hour after Connor had placed an order. The Internet had been the biggest change in how they did things. It was wonderful to order just about anything you wanted under the sun, and have it delivered to you the very next day. Sometimes it would take more than one day, but it was great to have it quickly.

“Do you know this woman that is staying with us?” Connor said that he only knew her name, nothing more. “She’s a liar. And we’re pretty sure that she killed Davidson, Grandma’s friend.” “What’s his name? Full, if you have it?” Devon looked confused, then smiled. “Yes, I can send someone to look, as you well know.” “I forgot. Honestly, when I came over here it was just to bitch about her. Now that I remember you talk to ghosts, perhaps you can figure this out for me.” After hearing Davidson’s full name, Connor called for Newt. Newt was the oldest of the ghosts. He’d been there since the house was nothing more than a few timbers leaning together to form a wall. He’d been beaten to death one day when his master’s wife had gotten mud on the heel of her boot. It hadn’t been Newt’s fault, but as he’d been the closest to the man and his wife, he’d been the fall guy. Newt had been all of nine years old at the time. “I need for you to go to the ghost world and see if you can find me a man by the name of Richard Marion Davidson. He’s a warlock, and the grand lady at the king’s house is his friend.” Newt asked if he could have a go at the book again. “Yes, we’ll work on that tonight. I want you to read as much as you want to, Newt. Find out what you can about the man. Even if he’s not dead if someone knows anything about him.” Newt simply disappeared, and Connor turned to talk to Devon again. The smile on his face made Connor a little nervous. Then the woman upstairs, April, started wailing again. As Connor stood up, so did Devon. “You can hear her, of course, but you have no idea what it’s like for those of us that live here with her all the time. She is screaming and telling anyone that will listen that she’s been done wrong.

While I’m not certain what her crime was that had her ending up dead, she’s surely pissed off about it.” Devon asked what had happened to her. “Best I can tell? Burnt, then beaten. Duncan, the man that lived here for a while, said that she was caught doing something while watching her master’s children. The missus back then, she burnt April to show him that she’d fallen asleep while caring for the children. Which I don’t think is the entire story. I have yet to be able to get anything from her other than that she’s been done wrong.” “You made it so that anyone that comes here can see the people living here with you, didn’t you?” Connor said he thought that was easier than having to explain to people why he was talking to himself. “Yes, I can see that. Why don’t you let me try? I mean, it couldn’t hurt, could it?” “No. Go right ahead. I’m done dealing with her, and about ready to send her on her way.” Devon was the only one of his friends that knew he could do that. Sending ghosts on their way was something that he’d learned before he realized that he could use them if necessary. Or, like in this case, figure out why they’d not gone on when their time here was up. “Just be careful with her. She’s angry. And angry ghost have the power to shove things when they’re really pissed off.” “All right.” When Devon paused outside the door where she’d been staying, Connor thought that he was bothered by her screams. But all he did was straighten himself up a little more.

Then he yanked the door open so hard it was pulled from the frame. Connor stood back and let him have his way with the young dead woman. “What the hell is wrong with you? You’ll stop that caterwauling right now and answer me.” Caterwauling? Connor had to step back more from the door opening. His laughter would not help the situation one bit. But he was going to tease the big king by asking him who the hell he’d been hanging out with. ~*~ Devon was surprised when the noise simply cut off. Not only did the silence around them sound loud in the otherwise empty room, but the woman came out of the wall like she’d been hiding from him. When she came closer, he could understand why. “You’ve been burnt.” She bowed her head and brought what was left of her hair to cover the entire left side of her face. “Don’t do that. I wasn’t meaning to harm you with my words, but to see the destruction on one so pretty.” “They called me a liar and then burned me.” Devon just glanced at Connor, but didn’t point out that he was there. “I didn’t fall asleep and let the candle burn me. I was awake when the mistress came in to check on me.” “Did she usually check up on you at night?” April told him that she and the master had been out, and April had been surprised by the late visit.

“Tell me what happened that would cause your face to be burnt so badly. And you must know that the man here, the owner of this home, could have helped you in any way had you simply asked him to do so.” “I am ashamed of myself. I might well have asked him, but he is a big man, like you. But so was my master.” Devon asked her what else had kept her hidden away. “My master, his name was Connor as well.” “I see.” Devon could understand that. He lumped all teas, hot or cold, as nasty, simply because he didn’t care for the drink. But Kelly had shown him just recently that not all teas were the same. “Connor, Lord Connor James, Prince to the Castle Hillcrest, Dragon of Hillcrest Castle, would never harm anyone without just cause.” Devon pulled Connor forward and moved around the opening to show her who he was. Not that she would have missed him each time he came up to scream at her to stop what she was doing. Bowing to her, Connor stood up. It was then that Devon noticed her body movements. She was terrified of them both. “Neither of us wants to harm you, April. But you aren’t making things easy on us when you scream and wail about your unjust treatment all the time. I have been up here several dozen times. Had you only spoken to me, perhaps I could have gotten you the answers that you wish.” She told Devon that she wanted her life back. “You know as well as I do that you’re never going to have that. And making yourself a pain in the ass about it will not allow you to live here with the rest of the household. Tell us what happened, and we can figure it out to give you some peace.” “I know what happened.” He didn’t comment on her shouting at them, but she seemed to understand that she was screeching at them. “The lady came in and found me reading a book. I was told that I could do as I wished so long as the child was well taken care of.

He had only just had his nappy changed when she found me with a candle burning, and the book.” “Where did the book come from?” Devon didn’t know what good knowing that would do, but Connor explained it to both him and April. “Perhaps she was upset that you’d taken a book from the master’s library? Or that you’d stolen the book?” “I never stole anything. The book was my grandma’s. She’s the one that taught me to read and write. No, sir. She was mad because I could read. When she snatched the book from me, she told me not to try and be better than I was. It would get me tossed out if I did that. I told her that I could read well and that I could do some numbers too when I had the time to figure them out. No, she didn’t like me being able to read.” Devon was aware that this had happened a great many times over the centuries. His own sire had done the same thing when it came to his darkies, as he called them. Educating them, his sire would say, was the same as giving them a gun to kill you with. Devon had never been that sort of person. April was light-skinned, he knew, but she’d still have trouble from the master if she could read. “What happened that night?” April looked at them both but looked at Connor when he spoke the second time. “We’re not here to harm you, April. But we can certainly fix some parts of what might have happened to you. Not giving you your life back, however.” “I miss my family. I miss my husband and my own children. They didn’t even bury me when the master had the foreman kill me. They wrapped me in an old sheet with more holes in it than not and tossed me to the river. All I ever wanted was to work in the big house and have me some money for my kids. I didn’t even take any of their old things when I was told to toss them out. Never once.” Devon said that he was sorry. “Me too. I couldn’t see them anymore, because once I was killed off, they sent my family packing. I can’t see them anymore.” “I can maybe find them for you.” They both turned to look at Newt. “You just tell me their names, and I can do what I can to find them for you.

And if you ask Master Connor nice, and no more making him mad at you, maybe he’ll let you go to them too.” Hope. He could see it in her eyes and on her face. Hope was such a fragile thing, and this girl, this young woman, was placing all of hers on the word of a little boy who looked like he’d been nothing more than a servant at the house in a different time than April had been. “I’ll do that for you, but you must be more a part of this house than you have been. As Newt said, no more waking the household when you’ve got a mind to be depressed about your lot in life.” She said that she would behave. “Even if he can’t find anyone for you, you’ll have to abide by what he tells you. He’s good at what he does, April. So if you don’t care for his answer and revert to what you’ve been doing to all of us, then I will send you along. With or without him finding your family.” “I promise.” Newt took their names but didn’t leave right away. Devon had almost forgotten that he’d been doing him a favor first. Connor told him that he’d talk to him in the living room. After telling April that she could stay wherever she wished, the three of them went back to the living room.

The fire there was warm after spending time with the ghosts. Their bodies were like ice to be around, and their breath was often chilling too. “Mr. Davidson ain’t anywhere around that I can see him. Ain’t nobody seen him around either. If’n he was dead, someone would have seen the warlock, sir.” Devon asked him if he’d found his house. “I did. Right where you said it was. There was a scuffle there. Lots of broken stuff. Looked like someone was a looking for something too. The books are all over the floor and most of the drawers—the dresser kind, not the pants kind—was all pulled out.” “Thank you, Newt. You have taken a great deal of worry from me.” Newt didn’t leave like he thought he would, but looked at Connor. “Is there something else?” “Yes, sir. There be a bit more. There was a woman of the female kind that was bleeding there. I can tell that. She’s got her some magic too, but not like the man does.

Somebody’s been in the house since then too.” Connor asked Newt if he’d seen the man there. “No, I didn’t, but he’s been there. And just today, if my smeller ain’t broke. But he’s powerful hurt, he is. I can smell that on him too.” “But he’s not in the house. Do you think he’s close?” Newt said that he had a living friend that he could find to see that part. “You do that. And this living friend of yours— you contact him or her, and let me know what they want in exchange for doing this for me.” “I don’t know rightly if she’ll do much of anything, sir. She’s a bit on the stubborn side. And old to boot. My daddy would have called her a mule, but I don’t say such things like that to her. Roxanna, she’s a bit touchy about being called that.” Devon asked him who had started calling her that. “I think she told me once that the dummy wasn’t around to do it again, and that’s all I need to remember. I do. Every time I see her having a fit about something or somebody, I come back at a different time. She’s nasty mean.” Asking him to please ask her was about all that Devon could do. He was holding onto his laughter as hard as he could at the expression on the face of Newt. This elderly woman was someone that he might like to meet. But only on her good day.

After Newt left again to look for the family of April and to talk to his friend, Devon invited Connor to his home for dinner. The guy was too much of a recluse lately. Of course, he was just getting his house set up. “Nah. I think I’ll stay here tonight. The house is quiet for the first time since I moved in, and I think I might enjoy that for a while.” Devon laughed. “How’s Kelly? I meant to ask you that earlier.” “She’s wonderful.” Devon could feel his face warming. Just thinking about his wife made him feel all kinds of silly. Like a schoolboy’s first crush. “She’s taking the entire thing of waiting on the egg to open like she’s done it a million times. Jackson sent over a couple of the babies so she could watch the baby dragons interact. With the one that we kept and the other newborn, she’s learning a great deal. So am I, as a matter of fact.” They talked for a little while longer, mostly about the house and the ghosts that Connor had spoken to since coming back to town. They’d been friends for a great many years. And of all of his friends, he thought that Connor had had the least stable life in growing up.

His mother had lost her mind about the time that he and his sister had been born. Being an immortal and living so long could take its toll on a person. And since Lannie had been one of those proper wives to her dragon husband, she stayed quiet, out of his business, and kept his home perfect. Lannie had no contact with the outside world other than her husband. It had happened a great deal when someone didn’t go with the changes. Lannie hadn’t been able to. Then after the egg opened and Connor and his sister had been born, of the same egg, it had taken her over the edge of sanity quickly. Connor and Connie, Connor’s sister, had to raise themselves. Their father wouldn’t have a thing to do with them until they were old enough to have families of their own. But it had been much too late for making a family after that. Devon had always thought that was why Connor had enjoyed being around ghosts rather than people, even dragons. He’d been alone with them for far too long when he’d been younger. Devon asked about Connie then. “She’s doing well. Happiness seems to surround her all the time. She and her mate have two children now. All of them over the age of being called children, I guess. But I see Connie a few times a year. We keep in touch.

” Devon asked him where she was living now. “Her mate, Barron Spencer, was left a castle from an aunt or something. They’re very happy in England, and I’m very happy for them all.” “Maybe since you have a home now, you could invite them here for Christmas. I would love to see her again. I know Spencer. He’s a good man too. Someone that I might well have chosen for her.” Connor said that he’d ask, but not to expect too much. “They’re settled then.” “Yes. You have no idea. They have about the most picture-perfect life of anyone I have ever met.” Connor laughed. “Whenever I talk to her, she’s forever telling me how lucky she is, and that I need to find myself a mate too. I tease her by telling her that there are no women around that treat me as well as she did.” When Devon was on his way home, he wondered what to do about Sara. She was going to have to be dealt with, and soon. But Bryce wanted him to hold off. To find out what sort of things she was going to have to pay for. Knowing that Davidson was still alive would thrill his grandma.

Blaze Queen’s Birds Of Prey Release Day & Giveaway

Blaze and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia, their time of fighting in wars and conquering kingdoms now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she’d graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality.

Blaze, a hawk, had done many things in her immortal life. Now, making toys was a pastime she enjoyed. However, the owner of the print shop that made the blueprints for her designs had not only ripped her off but several other companies by giving them faulty blueprints and keeping the correct ones for himself to profit from. Blaze had caught the defect before she had put her project into production, the other firms hadn’t been so lucky and had lost millions. Given the opportunity, Blaze purchased the print shop.

Bryson had worked for the print shop for ten years. However, he had no knowledge of the owner’s dirty dealings. When the new owner stepped in, he was happy to still have a job and was eager to help in any way he could. What he hadn’t expected was the jolt he received when he shook the new owner’s hand. In that moment he knew two things, she wasn’t human, and she was his mate.

 

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Mercy and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia, their time of fighting in wars and conquering kingdoms now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she’d graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality. A gift that Mercy, to this day, was having difficulty coming to terms with. Living as a human was not what she was born to do, nor what she wanted to do. Being an immortal in a life she didn’t want left Mercy feeling angry at the world and turned her into a workaholic.

As an intervention, Blaze arranged an extended vacation and guilted her into taking it. She made all the arrangements and wouldn’t tell Mercy where she was going, just to be at the airport and do as she was told.

Joel Oliver needed this job. Finances were tight, and Blaze said all he had to do was chauffer a rich woman around town. What he would receive would catch him up on the mound of bills piling up and keep the roof over his—and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Miley’s—head for a few months longer. Miley was in a wheelchair—and as a result, had a lot of medical bills—but he loved her more than his own life. However, Joel was about to bite off more than he could chew.

The woman was gorgeous, and he found her snarky, hateful, attitude amusing until she interfered with how he was raising his daughter. Now, all bets were off.

Mercy would normally laugh in the man’s face for his hurtful remarks, but for some reason, her heart shattered instead. After a night of the most mind-blowing sex she could’ve imagined, he was treating her like it all meant nothing…. She had just realized he was her mate, and he hated her….

 

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Prologue
The castle was going down, thanks wholly to her birds. Queen Dante sat upon her horse and watched as stone after stone crumbled to the ground. In a matter of moments, not only were the walls to the fort destroyed, but the king inside his castle was dead as well. Turning her mount, she headed back to the encampment to ready herself for the long ride home. The birds joined her not a half-hour later, their large bodies covered in dust and blood. “You have done well, my darlings.” They could understand her and she them, but no one else could. She had made them what they were, and she would be the only one to control them. “Have you fed well on his dying cattle? How does it serve a man to have his food dying? His people, they were fed no better, I saw.” The falcon—she had never named them—told her that the people were headed west. In a few months, maybe less, they would all be dead too. It bothered them when the people suffered because of the king or queen of the castle, but it was to be. Dante could not care for any more in her own keep. No one would attack her keep. If they tried, she knew them to be too stupid or too drunk on their own mead. She had her birds, all of them bigger than life, made large by the magic that she gave them. Looking at them as they landed around her, forever keeping her safe, she wondered why she had not thought of it sooner when her king was still alive.

“I would have set you upon him. You could have eaten him for your dinner. Though I suspect that it would have given you a great deal of belly pains.” The hawk told her that she was lucky he had died the way he had. That she would have killed him the first time he’d drawn back. No one would harm her again. “Yes, I guess that you would have. But I suffered greatly when he was living. No children to give me comfort in my old age. Though they might have been just like him, and that would have been too much to bear.” She would never marry again. Love wasn’t something she searched for. Not that she didn’t have someone to warm her bed on occasion, but it was nice to be able to send them on their way when she had finished with them. Her heart belonged to no one, and she would not submit to another man taking to her bed by force. All would be well—no one would threaten to come and take over her home. It was a safe place for all. The hawk used her beak to put delicate things upon the backs of the others. There was aplenty this time—barrels of smoked meats; pottery that they would use like it wasn’t worth a king’s gold. They raided the castle each time they conquered. Hawk was the best at getting in and out before they took the place to the grounds.

The eagle took off toward home. She would let the people know that Dante was returning simply by showing up. They would have a feast this night. The food upon the eagle’s back would feed them for many days. The barrels of spices found hoarded in the lower levels of the castle, would go a long way toward helping them trade for what they did not grow.

The phoenix, by far the most deadly of her birds, shed her feathers in anticipation of getting new ones. After a battle she would begin anew, each time getting stronger, and her feathers, brilliant now, would be brighter still. She could flame a fire so hot that stone would crumble under a man’s feet. The ground would no longer hold a seed within its belly to produce food, and she could kill a man with a single breath so that there would be nothing left of his body. Dante loaded the last of her things onto the back of the owl. She might be small, she had always thought, but she could carry more than her own weight. And she could pick up her horse, used to flying through the sky like a bird himself, and take him back to the castle as well. He would be fed and groomed before Dante ever landed on the ground. The vulture squawked at her and she turned to look at the two men there. They looked as if they might have been about to kill her, but the sight of such large birds had thrown them off their duty. In no time at all the vulture snapped both of them up and ate them down. A gruesome sight, but one that filled her heart with joy. She was safe again. The vulture took off too once she was loaded up. “Well, my falcon, it is just you and I left.” She told her that she was still armed. “Yes, well, probably not too bad of an idea seeing that they nearly shot us.” The falcon laid her body to the ground. She was the only one that was fitted with a seat, one that Dante rode on. Scouring the area, Dante, as always, made sure that the place she’d camped in was as neat and clean as she’d found it—sometimes in better shape. As she climbed on the back of her bird, she held her breath. “I do hate the height. I should have thought this through when I turned you into my warriors.

” Her laughter, should there has been someone around to hear it, might have caused them to think her insane. “Homeward, my love, and we shall eat well tonight.” She took no one with her on her battles except the birds. That was why she believed, her people were so loyal to her—she protected them, fed them better than she did herself, and made sure that there was plenty for them to trade and share for things that she did not provide for them. The soil was rich and would give forth a bounty like no other gardens. Flowers grew that were woven into pretty things and traded. There was a smithy available, as well as a doctor who doubled as a dentist. They had even acquired a gravedigger, who also made markers. A single merchant came by often, and his wagon, filled when he arrived, would be nearly empty when he left. With him came the latest news, and any posts that he had been asked to bring to the people. He would also, for a small coin, take out letters for the next time he was in the keep of a relative or friend. And today, there was such a missive. But it was for her, from someone that she’d hoped never to hear from again— the king of all the lands, who ruled the area around the seas, including where she lived. He was the only man that she answered to, though it wasn’t with any kind of happiness on her part.

After the others were settled down and the food that had been brought put into storage, she sat down and wasn’t surprised that the falcon came to see her. The room that she was in—the throne room, for lack of a better term—had no roof, and six perches for the birds when they wished to see her. Otherwise, they sat upon the top of the castle turrets, watching for anything that might befall them. “I am to wed. The king of all the lands, he has decided that my castle is the best there is, and he will marry me himself.” The falcon asked about his castle. “He says that it will be his son’s, which he does not have as yet. His last five wives only gave him daughters, from what I have heard, and they did not last long afterward.” The falcon asked her what she would do. Dante knew what would happen to her should he come here—he would kill her. Being in her fortieth summer, she was much too old to bear any children, and he would do better with a younger bride. One that could birth him the sons that he wanted. “He will kill me. We both know that. And you six will kill him or be killed. I worry so much for the people here too.” Dante thought of several plans and threw them out. It was in her head that if she should die, then she would do so on her own terms. “I will need a day to think about this. In the meantime, he says that he will be here in the new year. That will give us a month to provide for the people and make sure that they are not harmed.” ~*~ Dante worked as hard as the rest of her people. With her hair up in a rag, she didn’t look any different than any of the other men and women that toiled with her.

There was much to be done in the little time that they’d been allotted. Today they were drying all the beef and goat meat they had. It would last them for several months—where she was sending them for safety, they’d need that extra time. Long enough for them to breed more of their cattle and goats so there would always be food for them to eat. “What of the dried herbs that are left, my lady? There are barrels of it packed away for the trip. Shall we put them in bags to go?” She shook her head. “There will be no more barrels to use until the morn. What shall we do?” “Leave them. There is very little, correct?” The man said that there wasn’t enough for a good strong stew. “Good. They will think that you all died off from lack of planning, and that will keep you safe for a longer time. Leave it for them so that when the keep and castle are in ruin, the king will understand why.” Not that anyone was going to be coming to the castle to live, she thought. There were things in motion that would make sure that everything here was gone well before the lands were walked upon again. She looked to the sky when a dark shadow fell over her. Her hawk was making her way to the village that Dante had set up. Long ago, Dante had purchased lands far from where she was now and put them in the name of Mercy Dante. She knew so much about all their futures that it made her so sad to know that she’d never been there to see it happen. “My lady?” She looked at her man of arms, a man that had very little work to do but was brave and true to her. “We have plenty of things to go on the next load if you have a desire to send it on. Do you still wish for some of the armed men to go with them this time?

I’m to understand that we’re to fell trees for homes.” “Yes, that would be good. How many men can you spare today?” He told her all that she had. “Then send them on. I know that some of you are frightened to ride the birds, but you should have no fear. They would no more harm you than they would me.” He nodded and looked at her hawk. “I shall send you all on her. She is the most gentle of the six of them.” The carrier had been fashioned a week ago. It had upset her that it had taken so long to get it right, but it was safe now, and that was all she wanted. There were only a few short weeks to get the people gone from here with all that would keep them safe. Now all she had to do was make sure that the birds didn’t know the last of her plans. The platform had been made from several drawbridges from castles that they’d taken over. She had known that saving them would be helpful, but it had taken a great deal more work than she’d expected to put them together and have her fishermen weave a netting to carry it with. After several trials and failures, the carrier worked. Loading up the men on the first run of people, she noticed that they had put the several men that were afraid of the ride in the middle. One of them, a hardy man otherwise, had been knocked out with much wine. It had been funny to all around that it had taken so little of the wine to do that to him. But they didn’t know that she’d given him a bit of magic to help him travel. All was well when her hawk took off with the several dozen men to start on the homes that would be needed. Barrels would be next.

They had been sealed by the magic that would keep them well preserved. The other birds, her warriors for all time, had been taking jewels and other items to a cave that she had also covered in magic. It would help the people of the new village for as long as they lived, well beyond her body being anything but dust. Dante watched as several more people were taken to the new village. She would allow them to name their new place, so long as it would never be attached to the name of the castle. That would be bad for them and would bring much trouble onto their heads. When her hawk landed, she went to ask how things were progressing. “Well, my lady. They were no more off the platform for seconds when they started to work. I believe that you were good to get them started on this. ‘Tis only late winter, so they should be able to have a few of the buildings up before the rest are moved.” Dante agreed with her. No one else could understand the birds but her. It had, she knew, kept everyone safe all these years. “I can only make two trips there and back, my lady. ‘Tis not a long way by the way we fly, but the pack is heavy. Please forgive me for that.” “You have nothing to be sorry for, my bird of prey. You have done one more than I had hoped for this day. And when the others have finished their tasks for me in carrying away the riches and other things that they will need, then it will take no time at all to move the rest. Nay, you have done well this day in taking the men, and then the food to feed them while there.” Her hawk, who would someday be called Blaze, bowed before her.

Stacking up the loads that would be going on the platforms, she could see that they’d be taking away the last of it only the day before the king was to arrive. Dante was glad now that she had such good people working for her. They had asked nothing as to why they were doing this but had done it for her when in reality, it was all for them and her birds. Dante knew that the king would never make it to her keep. His ship and all his bounty would be deep in the waters he would try to cross to kill her and take her castle. The man was a fool to think that she would easily do what he wanted. But her plan still needed to be carried out…there would be other kings who thought to claim her land. Wiping at a tear, she looked around the keep she’d worked so hard to keep everyone safe in. It was then that she saw her son. Duncan was everything that she was and more. Each time she saw her son she would give him a little more of herself, teach him something of running a castle. He knew what he was to her, and that Mary was doing her a great favor in keeping him safe. Duncan would be a greater king than she ever was a queen, which was how it should be. She was glad now that she’d told him that he was to be mated to one of her birds. Leaving him to his work, she entered the castle to see what else was there that she could easily live without. There was very little left as it was, but she moved from room to room to make sure that nothing was left behind of any value. The only thing that she could see in the great room was the painting of herself. Dante wished so many times that she could have put her son’s portrait there with hers, but it was not to be. It would have been foolhardy to think that she’d be able to keep him safe if she was to let it be known that he’d been born to her.

Other kingdoms would have done a great many things to have captured him to bring her to heel. Dante would do anything to keep him safe, including submitting to a man again—a thing that she never wanted to do again in her lifetime. “I shall give this to our falcon.” She turned her head enough to find Duncan behind her and the doors closed to anyone walking around. “She will be a great person, I think. Sour to many except the one that she will love.” “You have seen this?” Duncan said that he’d seen a great many things. “Well, you know as well as I that it might not turn out the way we see it. There can be changes, you know.” “This I am aware of. As well as you not living past when the last person is taken from here.” She turned to look at him then, trying to see just what he was seeing. “I shall forever miss you, Mother.” It was the first time he’d called her that. Her heart, so tender of late, felt like it would burst into tears at all that would be gone in so short a time. Hugging him to her, she could feel that his body was getting stronger daily. He knew how to work, and did it without complaint. “I have been writing a book. It is just for you, my son. You will know things that I have known for some time. It will replenish the riches that I have put aside for you. Also how to keep the birds safe should they need it.” He nodded. “I will give it to Mary on the day that you travel.. I do not want the others to know that you are my son, even after all is finished here.”

“They will only know me as a man that you trusted. But I will need to tell them at some point. This you know as well as I. I will be their king when they need me.” She nodded, tears flowing quickly now. “Mother, you do know that I will take care that they are as safe as you made them here?” “I do, my son. I know that better than you could. You are not anything like your father, a cruel and terrible man. When you marry, and you will, I want you to know that she will only love you if you give her your heart. It’s important that you do that for her.” He said that he would. “Let her strength help you when you know that you are not armed to do it on your own. She will love you more and respect you forever for that.” “Will she be stronger than me, Mother?” Dante told him that she was sure of it. “Then I will be for her what you have been for these people—a person of worth. I promise you I will also protect her forever.” “That is all that anyone can do for their mate, my child.” He hugged her, something that neither of them were able to do often. “I shall miss you, Duncan, much more than I could ever explain to you. Go forth, protect all the people of your kingdom, and do what I say. Love your mate more than anyone, including yourself, and the two of you will be able to move mountains.”

Ryan The Sons Of Crosby Release Day

 

Melody Harmony had had a rough start. Mel had lost her parents young, and she fell in love hard and fast only to lose both her new husband and her unborn child to a drunk driver. As a result, Mel didn’t have much use for many people.

Mel loved kayaking on the river. On her morning run, she found a floater and called it into her friend at the sheriff’s office. The mayor showed up instead and cut the body loose and proceeded to fire her and her friend for their troubles.

Ryan Crosby was one of the two remaining Crosby brothers who hadn’t found their mates. When good friend and family, Jamie Nash, told Ryan his friend Mel was in need of a good attorney, Ryan was more than happy to help.

But when Mel showed up for the meeting, expecting to get things underway with the attorney, she was floored when his handshake nearly took her to her knees. The man uttered several times that they were mates. She wasn’t entirely sure what that entailed, but she was sure she wanted no part of it.

With the mayor harassing her daily, and a new mate sniffing around, Mel had some decisions to make fast. The only problem was, it might be too late to do anything about either one of them….

 

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Spencer Graham had been trying to get a hold of Jason Crosby for weeks, but he didn’t seem to answer emails, mail or the telephone. She had an idea that would make them a great deal of money, but she needed him to invest in her project before it was too late. So, barging into his home at 4 a. m. was the only solution as far as she was concerned. She didn’t, however, expect him to answer the door naked and proposition her as soon as she walked in the door. Spencer did the only thing that came natural to her, she knocked him on his ass….

Jason Crosby was nearly two thousand years old, and in all his days as a vampire, he’d never seen anyone quite like her, not that he thought that was a good thing. He didn’t. She was his mate, and he was only going the tolerate her because he had to….

 

Chase Crosby didn’t know what he wanted right now. He was trying to get a grip on who his new mate was. He was told she was an ice dragon, but that wasn’t right either, she was a protector of the ice dragons. He had so many questions, and all he could do was sit there while she was locked away in his freezer to recover from her injuries.

Emerald was a warrior, and she had no idea what she was going to do with a mate. Even though the vampire appealed to her, she was worried the people chasing her would hurt him or his family to get to her, and she couldn’t allow that.

A Homeland Security Agent had gone rogue and he was after Emerald. He didn’t know exactly who or what she was, but he was going to prove she’d been around for centuries, and it didn’t matter who he had to go through to get to her.

 

Elliot knew the little boy, Cody, was in trouble. When he found the boy hiding out in his greenhouse, he could see that he was starving and battered. The boy’s little dog didn’t look like he was faring any better. When the boy’s father, Duncan, busted down the door of the greenhouse, Elliot had had enough.

Hannah didn’t have much use for her idiot brother, Duncan. And when she heard her brother had murdered his wife, and her nephew Cody was on the run from his father, she wasn’t surprised. She was surprised, however, and elated to find out her sister, Julia, was alive. Julia’s slimy ex-husband, Nathan, had Hannah believing Julia was dead.

Elliot was sent to bring Hannah back. Nathan had learned that Julia had left town and taking Hannah would be his leverage to make Julia do as he wanted. Elliot knew Nathan was on his way, and they had to hurry to keep Nathan from finding her. What he wasn’t expecting to find was his mate.

Hannah had had enough of men telling her what to do and finding out Elliot was a vampire didn’t make the situation any easier. He would take it slow and tread softly, or she would stake him, simple as that.

Finding out Nathan and Duncan had banned together spelled trouble for everyone. Even though Hannah was now immortal, Elliot still worried about her because she could still be hurt, and no one touched his mate if they wanted to live.

 

 

 

Misty Quartermain met Sean Crosby in college. One night, before they’d met, he’d saved her from a vicious vampire attack and after that they become close friends. He’d shared his family secrets with her and took a little of her blood so that they’d always share a connection. Sean knew Misty wasn’t his mate, but he’d always felt protective of her. A few years later, when Misty and her family were in trouble and on the run, Sean enlisted his family to come to their aid.

Grayson Crosby had always been somewhat of a loner. He mostly kept to himself but was there for the family when they needed him. Sean said he needed help to keep his college friend safe so Grayson was there for him, maybe not enthusiastically, but there. He heard Sean making the family introductions and came out of the kitchen. His beast suddenly had the poor woman backed into the wall.

“You said that she knows all about us?” Sean said that she did and that he was terrifying her. “Yeah, I know, but my beast, he won’t let me go enough to help her.”

“Well, let me help you then. I’m sick of men running over me.” Misty doubled up her fist and hit Grayson square in the nose. Then, when he was going back, she swung her leg around and did a round house slap with her foot to his head. He went to the floor in a thud, breaking the end table behind him.

 

Melody Harmony had had a rough start. Mel had lost her parents young, and she fell in love hard and fast only to lose both her new husband and her unborn child to a drunk driver. As a result, Mel didn’t have much use for many people.

Mel loved kayaking on the river. On her morning run, she found a floater and called it into her friend at the sheriff’s office. The mayor showed up instead and cut the body loose and proceeded to fire her and her friend for their troubles.

Ryan Crosby was one of the two remaining Crosby brothers who hadn’t found their mates. When good friend and family, Jamie Nash, told Ryan his friend Mel was in need of a good attorney, Ryan was more than happy to help.

But when Mel showed up for the meeting, expecting to get things underway with the attorney, she was floored when his handshake nearly took her to her knees. The man uttered several times that they were mates. She wasn’t entirely sure what that entailed, but she was sure she wanted no part of it.

With the mayor harassing her daily, and a new mate sniffing around, Mel had some decisions to make fast. The only problem was, it might be too late to do anything about either one of them….

 

 

 

The Sons of Crosby Series
1.Jason http://amzn.to/2rBDG5A
2.Chase  http://amzn.to/2BcTznZ
3.Elliot https://amzn.to/2y7mPMm
4.Grayson https://amzn.to/2zGRO0E

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teri Bellville

Joyce Mirabello

Kate Fetzer

Leigh Smoak

Ann Ivey

Donna Steppig

Heather Angalet

Anna Russell

Kris Queroz

Jessica Foufos

 

If you have not gotten your prize please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com  

Happy Reading,

 

Homer watched the young miss. He’d not learned her name on this journey and hadn’t asked her. She was a great deal stronger, not just physically but also mentally, than he’d been led to believe. She didn’t talk all that much either. That, he thought, was sad. Someone had hurt her badly. The walking wasn’t so bad. He’d have to give her a little strength towards the end of the day, but not overly much. Twice she’d fallen. He’d bent to help her up, but she was up and going again in no time. “Why am I going here? Do you know?” He told her that he didn’t. That he’d only been there to escort her to the Crosby family. “I have a feeling we’re close. The thing, this mark, it’s getting itchy. Like it’s doing something to my insides.” “May I see it?” She nodded and lifted up her shirt for him to see. Homer knew that she wasn’t able to see it well. He told her what he observed. “It’s bigger, my lady. And in full color. Before it was just a tree. Today it is the colorful tree that Queen Killian has on her own crown.” “I’ll not ask you again ‘why me.’ I’m guessing that your answer will be no different than it was before.”

He only smiled at her. “I’m on the run, as you probably have guessed. I knew why before I fell a while back, but no longer. I think I hurt my head. Do you know my name?” “I do not.” She nodded and continued walking. “Do you know anything about your past? How you were hurt that first day I saw you, miss?” “Nope. I have these little…I guess you could call them little thoughts on what happened, but they’re there and gone too fast for me to catch. My dreams, as you know, are bad ones. But almost as soon as I wake, they’re not there for me to analyze any longer.” He knew that too. Her screams of terror had awakened him and Sky every night since they’d started out. “Do you suppose that I’m a bad person and the police are after me?” “Nay, I do not. The mark on you shows that you have a good heart, or the lady Killian would never have given you such. You must believe that you have a good soul too.”

She didn’t say anything more, so he didn’t either. There were things about her that he could have told her, things that he’d figured out on his own. Homer considered himself a good judge of character, and he was sure that he wasn’t wrong on what he’d observed about the young woman. If he didn’t miss his bet, she was of faerie blood. Homer also thought that she was perhaps in a pretty high position as a faerie, like perhaps a child of royalty and something else. He’d not quite gotten what the other part of her might be, but he had a feeling that she was stronger than he even thought that she might be. He’d also noticed when she didn’t care for something that they’d cooked, it would change. Meat would be added to whatever they’d found while they were looking. Sky had noticed that she could bring things to her when she might need them.

Then there was the packet she wore around her waist. It was a great deal like his own pockets—putting things in it, no matter the size or the weight, would not slow him down. Also, he had the ability to put a great many things in his pocket that he could pull out when he needed them, such as the table they were using to have their meal on. She knew her herbs as well. Even when they might be buried deep in a thorn bush for protection, she’d be able to locate them with nary a nick to her hands. He’d also saw that she thanked the good earth for what it had given her. Homer thought that she might not even know that she did it, her voice lower than that of a cricket rubbing his legs. Setting up their little camp, he made sure he used the magic that he’d been gifted so long ago that he could not remember who had given it to him. Putting a spell around the three of them, he knew that they’d all be safe for the night. “Do you know much about the people in Ohio that I’m to go to? I mean, other than that they’re vampires?” He said that he’d heard only through Mother Earth that they’d be the nicest people. “One of them, I think, will come to mean something to me. A mate. I don’t know what to think about that.” “You don’t care much for vampires?” She said that she didn’t have any idea. “Then what makes you think that you’d not like to be mated to one of them?” “I think it’s the simple fact that I had no say in it.” She turned on her side and looked at him.

The ground around her seemed to glow in that moment, and he was a little feared about that. He didn’t know why, but her magic—or whatever it was— seemed to be gearing up for something. Or maybe she was coming in to her own. “Do you believe me?” “I was thinking of something a mite too long there, miss. Can you tell me what it is you were asking me about?” She told him again. “I don’t know about all that. The queen, she’d not be sending you there unless she knew you’d be safe. And I was just thinking on how, not only is your mark a good deal prettier, but you seem to be having a bit more magic surrounding you too. Can you do me a favor, miss? Can you dig your fingers into the ground and tell me what it is you feel?” Her fingers glowed as they were buried deeper in the nice warm dirt. As it— whatever the glow was—moved up her arm to her face, he could see that she was enjoying whatever she felt. Not only that, but she seemed to be getting brighter for doing it. “There’s a town nearby that is gearing up for a day of fun. Everyone is making something to take to the picnic. There is a fire too, a large one that is roasting a pig.

I can almost smell the meat as it sizzles and pops to get done.” He nodded, keeping his thoughts to himself while she searched. “I’m seeing the family now, the one that you said I was to find. The Crosbys. There are a good many of them, aren’t there? Some of them, however, are not vampires, but more.” “I don’t know who you might be seeing, but there are a few of them that are special, even to those of us that work and live in the woodlands. There is the king and queen of dragons. I know of her, Emerald Crosby. She is said to be as old as any stone or tree that lives around here. One of the couples is the leader of their kiss. His name, I think, is
Jason. He’s a powerful vampire, but one that deals out justice with a good hand.

He has a group of vampires that answer to them. Also, the prince and princess of the faeries. They are very strong.” She asked him why he knew so much about them. “Around these parts all the earth knows about them. And all the faeries and brownies about. The trees told me that they’ve never been so cared for before. Also, the princess of the woodland creatures, Fairaday, she lives there. Have you heard of her?” “I don’t think so, but there is something there.” He nodded. “I think that we’re about to get a visitor. One of the Crosbys, I think.” When the young miss looked in the direction they’d been headed these past days, she stood up. Homer could see deep into the woods because of what he was, regardless of the time of night, and could see no one as yet. It wasn’t until Sky, his best friend and faerie, came to stand on his shoulder that he could see the man as he came at them. “Hello.” Homer moved to stand next to the young miss. The man, he thought older than him by a few hundred years, looked at them all before he smiled. “I’m Franklin Crosby. You’ve made it.” “We’re on Crosby land?” He said that they had been for a couple of days now, but he had to make sure. “I can understand that. The miss here, she was to be brought here for you to protect. The ladies, are they around so that I can introduce her to them? Queen Emerald and Queen Killian, they’re expecting her.”

“We’re all expecting her now. There is a man about—his name eludes me at the moment, but it’ll come to me. He’s a man of worth, I’m told, but he is down on his luck.” Homer thanked him. “Jefferson. His name is Jefferson Quinn. Don’t know much more than what I told you. But Emerald, she wants you to watch out for him. He’s going to need help.” Most humans did in Homer’s opinion. Homer cleaned up their mess. He’d been taught that you leave a place cleaner than you found it. That was a motto to live by. Taking out a few seeds, he planted some trees and two flowers. They’d be growing up to be fine trees even before he got too far away. His magic was something that few had, the ability to grow a full tree in a matter of tics on the clock he had in his rooms. Lord Franklin talked a great deal. It was hard for him to keep up with the large vampire. But the young miss didn’t seem to be having any such difficulties. When Sky landed on his shoulder, he asked her if she was all right. “I am. The young woman, her name is Brook. I don’t know her last, but that is what the faerie Rain said. She is my sister. We were brought to the queen on the same day.” Homer was created the same way. However, because he’d fallen from his blossom, he’d become a brownie and not a faerie. He was bigger than any faerie because of that, and he didn’t fly all that much. “She is faerie as well, Lady Brook. But because her father was a leader of a tiger leap, and her mother a faerie female in the human world, Brook has powers that we’ve not seen before.” A tiger and a faerie were her parents?

With her father being a leader of his leap, he would have had special powers to begin with. Mated to a faerie, it would have only enhanced both their magic. The child before them, Brook, she would be even more powerful than her sires.
He was proud as could be to be able to watch over someone so great as this one would become. ~*~ Sean knew that she wasn’t his mate. That only left Ryan to be mated with her. He didn’t know if he was more disappointed than he was happy for his brother. As he helped Jason moving things around in the front of his house, Sean asked Jason what he thought about her. “I don’t know, to be honest. I was thinking more about how she might fit in with us. Homer said that she has a faerie mother with a leap leader tiger as her dad.” He’d heard that too. “Are you going to help me with this, or do you want me to leave you to it?” After getting the couch where he thought it should go, Sean looked around. He was glad now that he’d gotten three of the sofas rather than just one of them and a love seat. The room needed a great deal of furniture. “It looks good, don’t you think?” Jason said that he did, and asked what else they had to do.

“Just the dining room table and chairs. I have already had help getting it off the truck. You’ll be happy to know that it’s on the deck outside the room. Brandy picked it out, so if you think it’s not right for the room, don’t tell her.” “I won’t.” Even before they took it into the house, Jason said that he loved it. “I especially love that it has leaves to go in it even though it’s huge now. And having this nice hutch in here means that setting the table will be easier too.” “I do too. Brandy said that it would match well, yet not be too much.” They got the table and the fourteen chairs in quickly. There were other things to be brought in, but nothing like the furniture. Jason helped him bring in the boxes of dishware that he’d picked out, as well as the new kitchen appliances, including a coffee and tea maker. With the help bringing it in, he had more time to unpack the stuff. “Thanks, Jason. I didn’t know what I was going to do when Ryan bailed on me.” “He and Misty are doing well together as partners, don’t you think? I mean, even if they weren’t taking on the cases at the shelter, they’d still be busy. Did you know that we’re going to help expand the building and the other areas so that they can have more room? And a place just for children.” Sean said that was what Elliot had told him. “She’s not your mate, then?” “No. When she and Homer arrived I was in the yard with Dad. Dad wants to make sure that the fire doesn’t go out overnight with the hog we’re roasting for tomorrow.” Jason said that he’d hired some pack to come in and chop some wood for it. “Joey, their master, was asking me the other day if we had some extra work for his pack. I guess they’re trying to get some money gathered up for some of them to go to college. Did you know that?” “I didn’t. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll have to find them more things to do if that’s the case.” Jason would too. He had a big heart since he’d met and married Jewel. She’d had to knock him around a little, but Sean was sure that Jason had gotten the point. He was a better man for it. “They’re coming to the picnic too. I’ve also invited that guy that’s been around town. Do you know any more about him?”
“I have a little information, but not a great deal. I’m sure that Emerald told you all that I knew.”

He said that she had, but it wasn’t much. “No. Dad has talked to him a few times. He said that he doesn’t talk much. I think that it’s because Dad talks so much. His name is Quinn, by the way. First name is Jefferson. Last time I spoke to the women, they were doing a deep check on him. I don’t think that they’re going to find much. I have the feeling that whatever is going on with him, it’s not of his doing.” “I’ll let you know what I find out. I’m sure that you’re right about him. I just wish that he’d open up some about what it is that we can help him with.” Sean thought that was a good idea too, but he’d also learned over his life that there were some people that could not be rushed into anything. “I’ll expect you over to the house early tomorrow. I have to get those tables set up and all the chairs out. I don’t have any idea why she did it, but Jewel ordered two thousand chairs to be delivered today.” “Christ.” Jason laughed. Almost as soon as the last box was in the house, Jason said that he had to get going. It was great to have had the help with the furniture, but Sean was excited to get to set up the boxed stuff on his own. He started in the dining room to unbox the dinnerware set he’d purchased. Sean had had another home up until a week ago. He’d not gotten a very large one when he’d first bought a home. It had never occurred to him that he’d need a bigger one for a mate and children. Right now he had a lot of nieces and nephews, but his dad was forever telling them that the more he had in the way of grandchildren, the better. Sean wondered if Dad had been as mushy with their mom as he was his new wife Brandy. After Sean got the plates unwrapped from the bubble wrap, Ryan showed up with two large pizzas and a box knife.

Sean was glad to see him. He told Ryan that while it was fun unpacking in his home, he hadn’t thought of how much of a mess it would be. Together not only did they get the dishes in the cabinet where they belonged, but they managed to get the kitchen set up as well. Ryan spoke about what he’d done yesterday as they worked “I put a bid in on the Humphrey house yesterday. I don’t know if you bought this one in the hopes of having a big family, but that’s what I did with my new home.” Sean told him that was just what he’d done. “I wondered. Also, I did what you did. I had the pack go in to clean and paint my current house from top to bottom so that it can be sold quickly. If I get the other house, I’ll have them do the same. Jason was just telling us that we should help out the pack more. With all this going on, I think we should be able to generate a good deal of businesses with the lands that Jason was able to get for us.” “I was thinking that too. I did notice that he was having one of the two hotels that he bought from the bank renovated. He and Dad went over the place a few days ago, and it’s a solid building.”

He and Jason played around with the fridge and were trying to figure out how to hook up the water to make ice when Emerald entered the room. “Christ, don’t you ever knock?” In answer to his question, Emerald knocked her fist against his head. She was smiling when she did it, and Sean was thrilled when she didn’t knock his head off. He knew that she could, but perhaps she thought that he’d been frightened enough of her. He was too. All of them were afraid of all the women in the family. “I have something to tell you both. It’s to go no further than the two of you.” They both told her that she could trust them. “I know that, or you’d be shit out of luck. The woman, Brook, she’s not either of your mates. I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry too.” Sean was glad to hear that from Ryan. Even with the look of disappointment on his face, he smiled at Emerald. “If she’s not either of our mates, then won’t everyone be able to figure that out as soon as we’re in the room with her?” “Yes, but that’s not why I’m telling you this. I want you to keep a very close eye on her for me. Her magic—and there is a great deal of it—is yet untested, and might get out of hand.

She has been using it, but not very much. If you see her in a spot where you think she might need magic, you two are to help her out. I don’t want her blowing up the pack master.” Ryan asked if she was going to. “No, I was just using him as an example because I just left his home. Did you know that he is retiring soon from the police department? I only found out because the town is going to give him his retirement gift at the picnic.” “No. Do they have a replacement yet? I don’t want the job, but I would think that they’ve had plenty of time to find someone if they were able to get him a gift.” Emerald just stared at him. Sean smiled back at her. “All right. When you have your poker face on, I know that you know but are keeping it to yourself.” “That’s the plan. Will you keep an eye on her for me?” They both agreed that they would. “I don’t know if you’re aware of this as yet, but your house sold this morning, Ryan. The couple that bought it were in the agency when you called it in. After the agent showed them a couple of pictures that he had on hand, they bought it right away.

I guess that it only leaves Sean’s house now.” Sean told her what he had planned on doing with his old home. He was going to see if it could be used when businessmen came to town, or simply for visiting relatives as needed. Emerald asked him if he’d been able to empty it out yet. Nodding, Sean said that he’d take her through the old house later if she would meet him there. She told him that she might have someone to come in and have a look at it with them when they did. “There are several businessmen coming in from out of town on Monday. If you’re finished with it completely, I’ll have some of the pack go over to the warehouse and put some of those things in it for now, if that’s okay with you.” Sean asked Ryan if he might need some help. “I don’t think so, but I’ll keep that in mind. They won’t need much. I was going to put them in a hotel in Columbus, but this will be so much better. Thanks for doing this.” “My pleasure.” After she left, the two of them polished off the pizzas and sat around on the new furniture while watching television. Sean looked over at Ryan when he’d not spoken for a while. Asking him if he was all right, Ryan nodded, then shook his head. “I was actually looking forward to having a mate. I didn’t think that I’d be this disappointed about Brook not being her.” Sean said that he’d had the same feelings when he’d met her yesterday. “I wonder what she’s doing here then? I mean, we were both prepared for her to be with one of us.

But I have a feeling that she’s here for another man, don’t you?” “I guess so. I mean, why would Emerald go to all this trouble if…?” Sean thought of something else. “Do you suppose that she’s telling you that she’s not your mate to throw you off? I mean, that would be just like her, don’t you think? To get you all disappointed, only to surprise you with her being the one?” “Nah. I mean, she could, I guess, but for some reason I don’t think that’s it. Why would she make sure that we both watch over her? I mean, that would get one of us killed if she were our mate.” There was that, something that he’d forgotten about—the jealousy that would be between the six of them. “Also, I’ve been thinking about this guy Quinn. Do you suppose that he’d going to take over the job of police captain? We don’t know that much about him either.” They talked about the different people that could take over the job in the station house. He even brought up that Brook might be the one that took the position. It could happen. As they joked and kidded about it more, Sean ordered four more pizzas. It was very hard work putting a home together. Smiling, he was glad that the place would deliver. Neither of them were ready to move off their respective seats.

 

 

Josiah McCray Bruin Release Day & Giveaway

Meadow Springs had been locked away in a hospital for several years. At sixteen she was a victim and sole survivor of the mass murder of her family. The ordeal had left her semi-comatose for a long time. Since she was the only survivor and couldn’t talk, the police tried to pin the murders on her, but it didn’t stick.

Josiah McCray was there the day that Meadow was brought to their home to go into hiding. The beautiful blonde in the wheelchair was a shadow of the woman she should be. All Josiah saw was his mate, and he loved her no matter what.

The killer was still out there, and Meadow had his identity locked inside her mind and the killer knew it. Everyone previously in charge of her care was now dead. There was no way that was a coincidence.

Meadow was a loose end, the one that got away. There was no way the killer could let her live….

 

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Demi Morgan was good at keeping her identity hidden, so when an attorney found her at a restaurant she owned, she was more than a little angry. Very few people knew how to find her, and she took her privacy seriously. His news that her mother had passed, several months ago, did nothing for her. Her family had never wanted her, and in turn she didn’t want them either. He knew her family, and he understood her feelings, but the will had to be read.

Reluctantly, Demi made her arrangements to travel back to her hometown in Ohio. Her intentions were to either decide to stay, or to sell the home her grandmother had left her. Living in the same town as her brother and sister didn’t appeal to her at all. When her brother, Nathan, coldcocked her in the elevator, an unlikely savior came to her rescue, Madden McCray.

Demi wanted to hire Madden to be her bodyguard while she was in town. Madden said as much as he could use the money, he told her he already had a job, but his brother, Lucian could use the work.

Lucian wanted to meet Demi before he accepted the job, and when her scent hit him between the eyes, his bear rolled over him—she was his mate. But reality hit him like a freight train. She had money—a lot of money—and he and his family had always been dirt poor. He wanted his mate too—more than anything, but he’d have to get past his pride first….

 

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Prologue
Doctor Walker watched the young woman. She’d been in his care for nearly six years now, and there had been no improvement at all in her state of mind. He had to either send her to a nursing home soon or to a home that would keep her as unknown and as safe as he’d done. Judson was sure that someone somewhere would find her here, and that just wouldn’t do—not in a constant catatonic state like she had been in. The poor girl had suffered like no one else ever had. He remembered the day that she’d been brought to his facility. It had been a cold day in December—the day after Christmas, as a matter of fact. Meadow had been in the hospital before coming here, her wounds too great to think that she was even going to live. But she had, defying all odds against her. The police and everyone else that had had anything to do with her trial had said that she’d brutally murdered her entire family, the staff, as well as the family dog.

But Meadow had been found unfit to stand trial, her state of mind making it so that she couldn’t answer their questions or help figure out what exactly had happened that day if she wasn’t the one that had killed them all. According to teachers, as well as neighbors, Meadow had been a fun, loving sixteen-year-old. She’d just gotten her driver’s license the day before. She didn’t have anyone that disliked her, nor did she have any boyfriends. And certainly, no lovers. The police had gone to the home of the Springs, a very prominent family in their hometown, to see where the father was. He’d been scheduled to chair a meeting, one that would start the process of next year’s holiday celebration. When they found the door open, it was called in as a simple breaking and entering. But it was worse. So much worse. “Judson, it’s that newspaperman again. He is asking the delivery people if he can sneak in and get a picture of the young woman. I have had him run off several times, but he just won’t give up.” His nurse of nearly forty years, and his wife of just a little less—Margaret—looked in the direction that he’d been looking. “She’s such a delicate thing, isn’t she? I can’t imagine why anyone in the world would think that she had the ability to do such brutality to someone, especially her own family. Not like they said had happened.” Not everyone knew the entire story. He did. He had been the doctor on call that day for the police. Acting coroner as well. Going into the house, knowing that it was going to be messy, he wasn’t prepared for what he’d seen. No one was, apparently, as there were several hardened police officers in the bushes losing their breakfast. After telling his wife to run the newspaperman off then call the police, Judson headed to his office. There he reached into his lower drawer and pulled out the false bottom. Only his wife knew that it was there, the file that he’d put together just after Meadow had come to his facility. Along with the pictures that he’d taken the day of the murders.

The butler had answered the door, from what they could tell. His body had been mutilated beyond knowing if he was male or female, except for the uniform that he wore. Blood was sprayed from the front door all the way up ten of the stairs in the house. After whoever had killed him with a single bullet to the heart, they had finished up by taking an axe to his face and chest. Then they moved through the house to the kitchen. The rest of the staff was there, as it was still early yet. Both the upstairs maids, as well as the cook and gardener, had been murdered in the kitchen. Their bodies not as unrecognizable as the butler’s, but almost as bad. The murderer had taken his time with the butler but seemed rushed with the other staff. The dog, a new puppy for Meadow’s brother, had been found with his neck broken, and his head had been split by tearing his mouth open until bones were shattered. Flipping through the pictures of the man and his wife, he went to the ones of the children. Mostly he was focused on Meadow and her brother. She had tried to save the little boy.

To him, it was as obvious as the nose on his face. They were found in his bed. The six-year-old had been murdered too, his small body not large enough for the damage that had been done to it. There was nothing left of his face, nothing of his chest. And in her effort to save him, Meadow had been cut badly, almost fatally. Covered in her brother’s blood, the ax had nearly taken her hand off; her blood loss was what had nearly killed her. Her head had been cut like the others, but to this day, Judson believed that the murderer had been nearly caught. By someone coming to the door? The police, perhaps? It would be unknown until Meadow was able to tell them. Nothing was final until she was able to point her finger at someone and say they had done this horrific crime. For as long as he lived, Judson would never believe that a child-like Meadow had been would ever have been able to do such a thing. Right now, he had to work on getting Meadow to a facility to hide her away again. With that idiot news reporter coming around now, he would eventually find a way in. Or worse yet, take her out of here to question her himself. It had happened before. When Meadow had been in the hospital, a person came in saying that he was her uncle—some distant one that only had just heard about the deaths. He hadn’t been there—Judson might have been a little more on his toes by asking for identification. But as it was, the man got all the way to the front of the hospital, with her unconscious, before someone thought that he might not have been who he said he was.

They had transferred her to his facility almost a week later when Meadow could be moved without causing any wounds to open again. “Judson, come here please.” His wife’s voice sounded strained. He hurriedly put his things away and rushed to see what was happening. Margaret pointed in the direction of where Meadow was sitting. “See it?” “No, I’m sorry love, I don’t—” Then it hit him. She was sitting there with her head tilted back, smiling. “She is enjoying the sunlight. Have you ever seen her do that before?”

“No. I stared at her just like you did and knew there was something different about her, but not what it was until I saw the smile. She’s smiling, Judson.” For the last two years, they’d been keeping her progress unknown to anyone but the two of them. They had nursing staff, of course. But since they owned several of this sort of home for people, they continued to rotate them in and out so that no one knew too much about any one patient. That was the way the people who had hired them liked it. Privacy was a huge thing. But they had stopped giving information even to her attorney. Margaret was the first person to have grown a dislike to the man. She called him oily. He hadn’t had any feelings for him one way or the other. But then once, when he’d come to see them about some other matter, he asked if they had any naked pictures of Meadow. “Why would we have those? She wears clothing while she’s here.” He asked if she took a shower or not. “Of course she does. We don’t allow our patients to be unclean. What sort of question is that?” “I just asked. You don’t have to get your binders in a knot. Christ.” After that the attorney, Lee Shiloh, didn’t come by anymore. The checks that they were getting came in the mail now. But he did want progress reports, every week. And they’d been saying the same thing all along—no change. And would continue to say that even after today. “We’ll have to get her moved, and soon,” Margaret said that she agreed. “I’ll look around for an out of the way nursing home and arrange to have her sent there. The only person we have to contact is her doctor.”

Doctor of Behavioral Health Max Little had been by to see the young woman regularly. He also brought her a birthday card and gift each year, and made sure that she had chocolate, something they had discovered, soon after he started bringing the confection, that Meadow didn’t care for. Doctor Little had said to give it to the staff or other patients, as his wife was the one that had picked it out year after year. And even after Mrs. Little passed away, Doctor Little still brought the candy. It was a habit now, he supposed. Making a call to the doctor, he asked about the sunlight in her face. Then he questioned how she might make a trip so that no one knew it was her or even noticed a person leaving the building. Judson told him about both the newspaperman and the attorney. “I think she’d be all right with it. So long as she’s not tied down on a bed. That frightens her something terrible.” They both knew why. She’d been tied up when they’d brought her into the hospital, and she had only wanted her brother with her. “Also, if you know of a nice place that she could go, that would be good too. My wife and I will certainly miss her, but I think that in light of recent events, we have to get her out of here.” “Yes, I agree. And as a matter of fact, I do know of a place. It’s in Ohio where all this began, as you know. I just made a trip that way a couple of weeks ago for their grand reopening of their facility. Nice place, Judson. You might even travel with Meadow so that you can have a look around.

Take the missus and make a vacation of it for a few days. I’m sure that we can figure out a billing so that it’s all taken from the estate. Plus, she might need someone there that she knows. You never know about patients like Meadow, and what their reactions might be.” “Yes, I remember when she was brought here. It was a mess until we found her little stuffed dog.” She had outgrown the dog now, but he’d kept it. If she remembered something, it might help her to have something of her brother’s. That’s who they figured it belonged to. “I’ll start packing up her things now. If you could see if they have the room and if they can accommodate her things, that would be wonderful.” “You just pack her up. I’ll call them right now to see what sort of arrangements I can make with them. It’s a very lovely place. From my understanding, the entire town is getting a makeover.” They closed the connection and he went to see who was left on staff. Meadow would be moved in the darkness of night. Her things would be packed up by him and Margaret, and by the next shift change, there would be no trace of the young woman. That was the way it had to be done. There was still a great deal of— “Margaret, what’s the date?” She had to look on her cell phone. “Oh my. That’s why we’re having that reporter around. The anniversary is coming up soon. They’ll want to get pictures of her and make up some sort of story like they have spoken to her. I’ll have to remind Max of that when he calls us later.” He did call back later, and after talking about the home in Ohio, he said that tonight would be the best time. As much as he hated to sedate her, after her progress from today, they knew that would be the only way to slip her into a body bag—to look as if someone had died—and ship her out. It was the only way and the safest way for her to be moved. “Margaret, we’re going to go out tonight too. Head to Ohio to be with Meadow when she wakes up.

” She thought that was a good idea. “We don’t have anyone here but her at the moment, and all the staff is on to other places as of the end of the shift tonight at eleven. We won’t even be missed for a few days. The cleaning crew comes in tomorrow, and by then, the place will be empty. Of everything.” “All right. I’ll pack us up an overnight bag. Also, we should act a little teary for her leaving us if we want that newspaper jerk to believe that she has passed away.” He thought that a splendid idea. “I have them on occasion. We’ll take the flight out then?” “Yes, it’s being arranged for us.” She nodded, and after she left him to go pack, he started gathering everything up that was related to Meadow. There wouldn’t even be a scrap of paper left behind, and Max was going to see to Meadow being loaded himself. Judson just hoped that things went well for her—that she’d continue to want to have the sun on her face, and that she smiled once in a while. At this point in her life, it was more than they could have hoped for. ~*~ Josiah nearly fell back when he saw the woman getting out of the car. She was beautiful. Long blonde hair that was braided and hung down her back. Her hands and face, from what he could see, were as delicate looking as she looked. And when they started helping her into the house, carrying her up the stairs, he stared at her for several minutes before someone hit him in the face.

“We can’t get her in the house if you’re going to stand there with your tongue hanging out.” Demi glared harder when he didn’t move. “Did you hear me? Get the fuck out of my way.” “She’s afraid,” Demi told him that they all were. “No, of you. Not afraid really but scared all the same, and she’s my mate.” “No fucking shit?” He didn’t know how to answer that in an affirmative way, so just moved out of the way and then knelt in front of her wheelchair after the door was closed behind her. “Josiah, are you sure? I mean, I don’t know the how of it, but could this be just that you’re worried for her?” “No, she’s my mate.” He put his hand on hers and pulled his back when she did. “She doesn’t like to be touched, does she? Gonna make it kind of hard for us, don’t you think?” He was nervous too, and making jokes was his way of dealing with it. Or talking too much too fast. Putting out his hand, he wanted to tell her who she was to him, but he only waited, telling her what was going on instead of what was on his mind. “He told my brother that you saw him. Saw his face.” She turned and looked at him, and Josiah was startled speechless by the color of her eyes. “You’re very beautiful, and the color of your eyes reminds me of the coldest ice on the pond by our home.

They’re not blue, but not gray either. Just beautiful.” He wondered if she could understand him. No one had told him the extent of her injuries, only that she didn’t talk and that she wouldn’t walk, even though the muscles in her legs were worked every day. When she finally put her hand into his, Josiah felt like he’d won the grand prize at work. She didn’t smile or look at him, but Josiah was all right with this for now. “We’re going to protect you here. This is my brother and his wife’s home.” Demi said that she’d been here before. “Really? When? I mean, surely that will help, won’t it?” “I don’t know, Josiah. It was a long time ago. She came here for Christmas a few times with her parents. I wouldn’t have remembered her except for seeing the color of her eyes. I think her fathers were the same color.” Meadow looked at Demi and then back at him. It was the first time that he felt like they’d made a connection, their eyes locking in some sort of understanding of each other. Josiah told Meadow everything that he could remember from Lucian, and he didn’t try and sugar coat it. She was his mate, and while he couldn’t lie to her, he wasn’t going to have her not be aware of what was going on. Wheeling her into the living room, he sat on the floor in front of her, needing to be as close to her as he could. When Moses said that dinner was ready, he sat with Meadow in the living room. None of them knew what she ate or how she ate it. Was she able to get a shower alone? Dress herself? The only persons they could ask were dead.

“We’ll just have to learn this as we go, I guess. I’ve never taken care of anyone in a wheelchair before, so this will be a first for all of us.” She looked away from him, and his heart hurt a bit. But she was looking at his mom, who had a tray in her hands. “Are you hungry? I am too. Let’s see what my mom brought us.” “She’s a lovely little thing, isn’t she, Josiah? My goodness, and to have gone through too much to get to you.” He’d not thought of it that way and told his mom that. “Well, she has to be strong. I mean, someone tried to kill her, and did her entire family. She might need you to help her, but I’d stay out of her way if she has it in her head to take care of business.” Meadow watched him as he put the tray over her lap. He started to stand and help her get up in the chair better, but she did it on her own. That was when he saw the scars on her arm, the ones on her wrist as well. She was looking at him when he turned to look at her face. “I’m sorry that you were hurt like this.” She didn’t say anything but did continue to stare at him. “When I find this guy, I’m going to rip his head off and feed it to him. Just so we’re clear on that. Unless, of course, you want to do it. I’m all for that as well. You’ll see that our parents raised us to think that if someone involved can do the job, male or female, then they should be the ones put in charge.” She ate her mashed potatoes first.

The gravy she scooped off and set it aside. There were green beans, which she ate too, but not the broccoli nor the carrots. The sliced ham was eaten, but not with her fork. Instead, she picked it up with her fingers and ate it that way. Josiah was laughing when she pushed the corn onto her spoon and ate it with the gravy that she’d set aside. “I’ll have to remember that. No broccoli or carrots and you like gravy over your vegetables, not the potatoes.” Josiah handed her his ham sandwich to see if she would eat it too. It took her a moment to figure it out—her hand, the left one, didn’t work nearly as well as the right. Dad bought them in pie later, and a glass of juice for Meadow. She had to use a straw—again, her hand did not work well enough to hold up a heavy glass. Josiah thought about holding it for her but knew that she’d tell him to fuck off if she could. Josiah had a feeling that she’d been doing for herself for a long time now. He also figured out that she didn’t care for sweets, at least what was brought to them. No apple nor cherry pie, but she did eat the whipped cream off one of the slices. And when he set an orange on her tray, Meadow looked at it as if she hadn’t any idea what it was. “When we were little, there wasn’t much money at home. All our gifts were hand made by my mom, and we did the same for the two of them.” He started to peel the orange for her, just to give her a taste if he could. “At Christmas we each got an orange, a rare treat for us, and an apple in our stocking. Mom still does that to this day, an apple and an orange at Christmas. Can you smell it?” She didn’t answer him, of course, but she did take a small bite of the fruit. When she opened her mouth again, he put small pieces up for her to take from him. He didn’t want her to get it all over her. Sharing the fruit with her, he told her about himself, what he was doing, and the house that he’d just gotten.

“It’s being renovated now. I have to think if I want an elevator in it or not. If we don’t have one yet, we’ll have one put in. I’ll have to ask Demi and Lucian, of course— they’re helping us out with the work being done on the house.” He thought about his car too, and that it was much too small for a wheelchair. “We’ll go shopping for a bigger car when this is over. That guy, he’s going to get his ass kicked all over the place when he gets around to coming here.” “I’d like to show her a picture, Josiah. There are six pictures in her file, all of them men that were talked to after the murders. And since she couldn’t be asked, no one ever pointed the finger at anyone else but her.” Demi handed it to him. “She’s doing things with you that she hadn’t before. She would never let anyone help her, and she wasn’t to be touched. You’ve done both in the few minutes that you’ve been together. If you’d show her the picture, we’ll see who we might be dealing with. I’m only going to show her one at a time, however.” He looked at his mate. She was staring at Demi in a familiar way. Josiah had a feeling that’s what she did to everyone she first met, trying to place them in her mind until she either trusted them or didn’t. “This is a picture of one of the men that might be coming here, Meadow.” She looked at him. “I’m going to show you a picture of someone. I don’t know what you’ll do if this is the man you saw in your home that night, but it would help us to know who we’re dealing with, all right?”

Nothing. But it was no less than he expected. Slowly he raised the picture up from in front of him to let her see a little of it at a time. When he had it upright, she only stared at it then turned away again. Josiah thought that could mean anything. He looked at Demi, asking her about what sort of reaction she was expecting. “I have no idea. But I guess I thought that if it was him, she’d be afraid. Or at the very least show fear on her face.” Josiah said that might not happen either, even after showing her all of them. “No. It might not, but we have to try. With a name, we can certainly figure out what sort of person we’re dealing with. If he has a record or not. What his MO might be like on other murders. He was just too good at the murders. It was too planned for him to have never done this before. Right?” “I guess.” Meadow put out her hand and Demi handed her the picture again. But she looked at it and put it down before putting out her hand again. Demi put the next picture in her hand. Neither of them said a word. “I don’t think that’s him either. And I think that she understands us more than that doctor told us she did. He seemed to think she was sort of brain-damaged. I don’t think so.” “I think you’re right.” The third picture got a reaction, but not what they had expected. Demi told him that it was of the doctor, Doctor Judson Little. Meadow had smiled. Then the fourth and fifth picture got no reaction. “Last one. It doesn’t mean that it’s the last one I’ll show her, but the last one in her file. A Doctor Little gathered these up, the file said when the trial was over.”

Meadow screamed. It brought his entire family running when she did that. Her tears tore at Josiah, and he tried to hold her. But she wasn’t having any of it. He was ready to give up on trying when his dad said that he had to hold her, to show her that they would never harm her. So, fighting his way past her fists and hands, he put his arms around her, lifted her from the chair, and held her in his arms. Sitting with her on the couch, he held her until she calmed down. It hurt him to have done this to her, but at least it was over. Demi said that they had a name now, one that they could work with, and it would go a long way in catching the bastard. When he wrapped a coverlet over them both, Josiah talked softly to Meadow, telling her how sorry he was that he’d done that. He stopped when he heard her whisper. “Don’t move, you fucking cunt. I will kill you like the rest of them if you do.” Josiah called for Lucian via their link and told him what she was saying.

Demi and he came in with a recorder and handed it to Josiah. “You should have seen them bleeding. The blood will be on the walls for the rest of your very short life, do you hear me? When I’m finished here, I’m going to rob this house of everything here. Then set it on fire. You never know what sort of DNA I might have left behind.” “She’s talking about the murderer. He talked to her.” Demi said that it appeared so. “Do you think that he talked to the rest of the victims? That he didn’t care if he talked to them because he knew they were all going to die?” “He didn’t burn down the house.” He looked at Meadow when she spoke to him. “He didn’t burn down the house because someone knocked on the door. He was frightened off. Someone scared him into leaving me there to die. I wish that he’d killed me.” Meadow started crying, and he held her tightly in his arms. She was aware, his mind told him. Not only that, but she was remembering things since she was shown the picture. Or, she remembered all along and now trusted that she was going to get help. Either way, he wasn’t sure this was a good thing. Now she would be able to point the finger, as everyone had wanted her to do from the beginning. “I don’t want you to die, Meadow.

You’re my mate. Do you know what that means?” She shook her head and he smiled. “I’ll tell you, but you have to look at me.” She did, and he was slightly afraid. Meadow didn’t like to be told what to do. Laughing, he told her that he was only joking, but he did like looking at her. She laid her head back on his shoulder then and said nothing more. “You’re my other half. My wife, by our laws. I won’t make you do anything, ever, that you don’t want to do, but I will protect you with my life. All my family will.” She looked at him then and told him that her family hadn’t been able to protect her and her little brother. “No, and I’m profoundly sorry about that. But we’re bears, and we protect what is our family.” “I lost them all that night. Everyone that meant anything to me. But Danny, he was only six years old. He’d be fourteen now if that man hadn’t killed him.” Josiah said he wouldn’t wish for her to die. “I’m alone. No matter what you say, I’m all alone, and everyone believes that I killed them all.”

“I don’t.” Meadow looked at him, and Josiah could see that she wasn’t sure to believe him or not. “I know that you didn’t kill them, Meadow. My family believes that as well. And we’re going to make sure that the world knows it too.” “How?” Josiah told her that he didn’t know, hadn’t a clue, but he’d do it. “I don’t know why he did that to us. Why? Why would he kill my family? They were good to everyone.” “I don’t know, honey. But I will promise you this. When we find him, and we will, I’ll straight up ask him. Not that it matters.” She asked him why. “Because the fucker is going to die anyway. You’ll see.”

 

 

Tristan The Manning Dragons Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

Wynter Dawn had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. She had gone to the mall to get a well-deserved birthday present for her mother when all hell broke loose. She had taken four bullets herself, but too many others had died. Now, the police were trying to say she was an accomplice and pin the blame for the others’ deaths on her. They were going for the death penalty.

Tristan Manning had never met Wynter before, but when Xavier rescued her from the courthouse, Tristan was called to Cooper’s home. When he arrived, the dragon tattoo, the one he’d had since birth, came alive and was clawing his way forward. The pain was excruciating. When he entered the room, Wynter was screaming in pain as her dragon tattoo was doing the same. When the dragons came forth in a burst of magic, both Tristan and Wynter passed out.

Eric had been tasked centuries ago with killing any and all newborn dragons before the eggs could hatch. But somehow he’d missed one and he needed to rectify that there would be hell to pay….

 

 

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Cooper Manning and his five brothers were true dragons. Centuries ago, when the humans had turned on their kind, their father sacrificed himself to save his sons by casting a powerful spell which allowed them to walk among the humans. Even centuries later, Cooper couldn’t seem to let go of the past and despised most humans.

Carson Langley was exhausted. After being forced to work thirty-six hours straight, she unwittingly complained to the new plant owner, now she knew she was fired. There was nothing left to do but go home and cry about it later.

Cooper was sent by his brother to retrieve the helpful woman and bring her back to the plant, and he wasn’t happy about it either. It didn’t help that when she answered the door she shared his sour mood, and when he touched her hand, the magic that surged between them meant only one thing—she was his other half, and she was human…. Cooper was seeing red.

Winnie wasn’t happy with Cooper at all. She had only done as ordered and had spent five years in prison because of it. Cooper was supposed to protect her, but he didn’t. Now the dragon king wanted her to protect them all from the new slayers in town? How was that fair? The sooner she completed her mission, the sooner she could move on and leave it all behind her.

Hudson had been told that Cooper had hired a man by the name of Wendall. He just wanted to meet him so he could measure his worth, but when the door opened, the woman behind it was writhing in pain. He only meant to help her, but the moment he touched her, her pain became his as well.

Winnie had been appointed by the Dragon Board to be their protector long before last names were given. She had hunted her first, expecting to be paid by coin, but was rewarded instead with magic and a title. She didn’t have time to take a mate, much less a Manning. She had too much work to do.

The word “no” wasn’t in Hudson’s vocabulary. Winnie was his mate and he’d do whatever he had to claim her.

With slayers lurking in the shadows, Winnie has her hands full, and can’t let a new mate distract her. She had to remain on her toes or all would be lost….

Lincoln figured the new artist in town would be one of their mates. He’d heard she was a real ball buster and thought that maybe she would be Tristan’s mate because Tristan said he couldn’t handle that. But when Ginger introduced him to her sister, Grace, he knew from the moment he touched her she was meant for him.

Grace was in shock. Garrett had taken her into his office when the show was still going on and told her that she had all but one of her paintings sold, including the twelve that she’d given him permission to sell. Twice now she’d had to put her head between her knees, which wasn’t easy with the dress she had on, in order to not pass out. Sold all but one? How was that even possible?

Lincoln sat at her feet on the hem of her dress. His attempt to calm her shaky nerves had her about addled, and when Grace suddenly stood, the dress ripped from shoulder to hip. Standing there trying to get herself covered, she felt her temper snap. Now, what was she supposed to do? Grace didn’t know whether to kick him or beg him to help her.

 

 

 

Micky had been alone since her fiancé had taken his own life, just days before they were to be married. The note he’d left had put all the blame on her. It was in his handwriting, but she wasn’t so sure that it was a suicide. She had her suspicions that it was staged to look that way, but the police were in a hurry to close the case and that was the end of it. So, Micky had packed up and moved to a small town in Ohio, took employment as a cashier in a grocery store, and kept to herself. She liked it better that way. No one else would die because of her.

Lucas Manning hated hospitals. His dragon hated hospitals even more. Only days after becoming an immortal, during a bank robbery, he took a bullet to the chest. By all rights, he should have died. His doctor told him he was under too much stress as well and if he didn’t do something about it, immortal or not, he could be in some serious trouble.

Taking the doctor’s advice to heart, Lucas decided to make some serious changes in his life. Eating healthier was a smart change, so he went shopping.

When the man put his things on the line she was in, Micky told herself that she was going to quit at the end of her shift. There wasn’t any point in working much longer. And the sooner she got moved, the sooner— She realized that the man was staring at her oddly.

“I’m sorry. Did you say something to me?” He shook his head and she started ringing up his things. A health nut came to mind when she rang up salad makings, coconut milk, and vitamins. When she was finished and told him how much it came to, he stared at her as if he’d never seen a woman before. “Are you all right?”

“I am now. What’s your name?” She pointed to her name badge, thinking that he was off his noodle. “My name is Lucas Manning, and you’re my mate.”

Micky could have gone her entire life without those words.

The Manning Dragons
Cooper http://amzn.to/2wrHvtu
Hudson http://amzn.to/2xqqpiR
Lincoln https://amzn.to/2H2lHxN
Lucas  https://amzn.to/2NHk9Zz
Tristan https://amzn.to/2XyhEMZ

 

 

 

 

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“Okay. I don’t understand, but I guess that’s all right too.” Winnie told her that her mom would be there soon. “You couldn’t just pop there and pop back here like you did for me? Nice that, but scary as fuck too.” “No, she’s in the car with Xavier. If I were to pop in, they’d have an accident. Not that it would hurt Hudson—he’s an immortal—but your mom might be hurt. Probably. I’d say that there is a ninety-nine percent chance—” “Shut up.” Winnie was having a blast. This was the third time that Wynter had told her to shut up. Winnie didn’t even mind. “Christ, of all the people I have to get tangled up with— Did they tell you that this sucker came up off my leg? Like it was begging to be petted? Who the fuck in their right mind would want to pet a fucking dragon?” “You sure do have a potty mouth. Do you kiss your mother with that?” Wynter just glared. “You’re also very good at that. Glaring, I mean. You might even be better at it than Carson.

She’s not as good as me, but she’s close to you.” “What are you?” Winnie sat down on the bed and touched the device that Wynter had on her ankle. When it fell off, while Winnie had hoped to distract the other woman, she just thanked her. “Now, again, what the hell are you? Something, I’m betting, that has you popping in and out of trouble all the time.” “Actually, I rarely pop in and out of shit. I usually just face it head-on. Something like you do.” Wynter said that she didn’t face anything. “Really? Okay then, tell me what happened on the night that you were arrested. Not the night, I guess, but when all those people were shot at the mall.” “No.” Winnie knew, but she thought that if Wynter told her, she might be able to find out why she’d been arrested. Something, though not likely, that she’d missed. “Don’t think that I didn’t notice that you didn’t tell me what you are.” “I am all.” Wynter nodded. “That’s it? You’re satisfied with me just telling you that I’m all? I have a feeling that you have about ten million questions right now.” “You say that you’re all. That guy, the attorney, he told me he was a dragon.

Okay, I’m a little stressed out right now, so let me ask you this. Will you prove to me that you’re all bad assed?” Winnie stood up. She could almost taste the other woman’s fear. Asking her not to run, she shifted to her true form. “Holy shit. You’re beautiful. And I’m betting that’s the point too—beauty to distract someone before you…. What? Blow them out of the water?” “You’re stressed out, I can feel it, yet you sound as calm as I am right now. Why?” Wynter laid down on the bed, careful to cover up the dragon. “We all know that he’s there. We might not know why he’s there or what he is right now, but we know about him.” “I have known all my life, so good for you. I didn’t know that he could come up off me.” She didn’t move, and Winnie felt a little sorry for her. “When I was a small child, about the time I started school, the other kids, they’d make fun of me. Even when I wore long pants to cover him up, it had gotten around that I was a freak. So, Mom, she homeschooled me until I was old enough to get out on my own.

I was going to be an attorney.” “I’m sorry about that too. There isn’t any reason that you couldn’t finish your education now. People will just think you’ve gotten a really amazing tattoo.” Wynter looked at her. “Well, whatever they want to think, you can tell them to shut up. You’ve been really good at that with me.” “I’m a convict, in the event you didn’t remember that. I’m going to be in so much trouble when they find out where I am.” She heard someone coming up the stairs. “Is that my—? Oh my God, it’s fucking moving. Up my leg and over my body.” Winnie tore the cover off Wynter’s leg and watched it climb up her ribs. It was digging its nails into her skin like it was using her flesh to help it move. And when the door flew open and hit the wall behind it, Tristan cried out too, falling to his knees, tearing off his shirt. Winnie watched as Tristan crawled to the bed, his hand stretched out and his dragon, which had been on his back, moving down his arm. Glancing at Wynter, Winnie saw that she was doing the same; her dragon was at her hand, his nose over her fingertips like he had consumed a part of her. As soon as they touched fingers the room exploded, and suddenly the two dragons left their bodies and were standing in the room. No one moved. Winnie had stayed when she’d been asked to by Wynter, and the dragons, a pair of them, turned and looked at her. After bowing before them, she saw them glance down at her sword. Putting it away, she apologized to them. “I hadn’t realized that I had pulled it, my lord and lady dragon.” Tristan and Wynter both were passed out. “Will they be all right?”

“Yes.” Their voices were the same too, blending together like only one of them was speaking. “They are our masters. We are their dragons. We have waited a great many years for her to be born and to survive life. They will rule us.” Cooper entered the room and they bowed before him. He looked clueless and terrified at the same time. When he sat in one of the chairs, Winnie wanted to laugh at him. But if she was honest with herself, she was just as clueless and terrified as he was. “They’re here.” She nodded, not sure what else to say to him. “I’ve read over the book. Sadie said that there had been a girl dragon born, but she was put under a spell that would keep her safe until a time when she could be ready to receive her mate. I’m assuming from the looks of things that Tristan is her mate.” “It would appear so. At least, the dragons came from them.” Kicking Tristan in the foot, Cooper told him to get up. “Shall I wake the young miss? I’d not kick her if I were you. She’s a tad on the stressed the fuck outside.” “So am I.” Tristan sat up and looked at the woman on the bed. “I had no idea what was going to happen when I got here. My dragon, he spoke to me. Freaked me out for a little bit, then I felt the need to come here. I’ll pay for the door.” Cooper looked at Winnie before speaking. “Winnie, the dragons—can you speak to them?” The dragons, again as one being, told him that they could speak well. He wasn’t sure if they were one being or two. Then the female spoke to him.

“We have been awaiting a great king and for the female to be born. We knew that you had been created, Lord Cooper, but the female, we had to wait for her to be born and for her to live. This is the seventh time that we have had a female born so that we could come to you.” She looked at Tristan then. “You are a great man, Tristan Manning. A good man for your mate too. You will, unlike others, have children that will repopulate the world with dragons. But sadly, they will never be as great or as large as the six of you.” Wynter woke up and moved back off the bed away from all of them. The female dragon moved to sit on the bed with her, but Wynter wasn’t having it. Standing up on her knees in the bed, she pointed her finger at them. “You just stay the fuck away from me. I don’t fucking know why you’re suddenly here— I’m fucking stressed out. I’m going to prison and I didn’t do anything, and now I have…there are two of you now, and I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do. You came from my body, damn it. Does anyone else find that to be fucking weird?” Tristan stood up off the floor and put his hand out to Wynter. “No. I don’t need any more shit going on. I could almost think that I’d rather be in prison right now than all this. Where is my mom?”

“I’m here, honey,” Winnie asked if they’d give her some time. While Carla held her daughter, Tristan looked as out of it as Wynter did. Instead of leaving when she told him to, he sat in the chair that Cooper had been in. “I have to stay. I don’t know what’s going on either, but I need to be here.” The dragons nodded at him. “They seem to think so too. I promise, if I freak out again, which I’m still wondering if I’m over the first time, I’ll yell for you. Also, if any more dragons come from us, I’m going to have a fucking stroke.” “We are the only two, my lord.” Winnie laughed when Tristan just stared at them. “They will be safe with us, Wendell the dragon protector.” Leaving them wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be. They were safe; she knew that for some reason, and her staying there, it wouldn’t make them any safer. Instead, she went to get answers. And she was sure that at some point, she’d have to hurt one of the dragons to get them to tell it all. Smiling, she thought that she might just hurt one of them for the fun of it. She so loved this family. Carson was pacing and Cooper was bent over the book that Sadie had given them. Xavier was the only one of them that looked relaxed and like he was having fun. She asked him what he was thinking about. “She’s not my mate. I have a feeling from just speaking to her once that she’s going to be hard on Tristan. Not that Tristan couldn’t handle her if she’s like the others—I’m sure that he could. But I can’t.” She cocked a brow at him and asked him why he thought that. “I’m delicate.” She smacked him on the shoulder and sat at the table.

The book and the pad of paper were shoved at her. Winnie shoved it right back at Cooper. She asked him what he’d figured out. “Nothing more than that she’s like us. Sort of like us, I mean. She was born a dragon and changed into a human, but she’s much more powerful than she looks. Her mother gave up her life for her by changing her into what she is now.

Her dad died sometime before she took Wynter to the safe home.” Winnie said that explained the footsteps disappearing in the snow. “I would guess that too. But that’s it. We’ve not found any more about her. There is nothing about her uniting with one of us and making two dragons, either. Can Wynter shift? I don’t know, because she’s denying having any kind of dragon in her. Can she do anything other than scream at us? I don’t know that either. There is nothing more here.” “We should have asked the dragons.” Everyone turned to Xavier. “I’m just saying they should know why they’re here. Also, they did say that they’ve tried this several times, to have Tristan and a mate to come together. I’m betting that they know just why they’re here and what they can do for us as a family.” “He’s right.” They started forward, to no doubt talk to the dragons, and Carson stopped them. Cooper asked her what she was doing. They needed answers. “Do you need them so badly at this very moment that you’re willing to scare that poor woman more? She had a lot of shit handed to her today. I doubt very much if she could handle much more without her having a stroke. Just let them settle, and then we’ll bombard them later.” She glared at Cooper when he started to push her aside. “Did that at all sound like it was a request? Did you think that I was kidding when I said, ‘let’s do it later’? I was not if you’re wondering. Sit your ass down and enjoy your family, before I make it so that you all are never able to have sex again.” They sat. Carson smiled at her. “Winnie, could you do me a favor and make sure these idiots don’t leave the table? I’m going to see about my baby and dinner. I’m guessing we’ll all be hungry in a little while.” Pulling out her sword, Winnie grinned at them all.

“Anyone want to try and get past me? Come on. It’ll be fun.” No one took her up on her offer. “Spoilsports.” ~*~ Tristan watched the dragons. They would answer his questions, which weren’t all that helpful to anyone, but he had to do something. Finally, after Wynter and Carla talked to each other for a while, Carla looked at him and smiled. Tristan smiled back. “We’ve been having some issues, I guess you could say,” Tristan told her that he could see that. “Oh no, the dragons are the least of our worries. I mean, it’s not to say that we’re not worried but…oh bother. I’m mucking this up.” “What she’s trying to say is that I’ve been trouble for her for a while now,” Carla told Wynter that she had not. “Well, I seem to have this dark cloud over me since I turned eighteen, and I can’t seem to get enough umbrellas to keep the black shit off my head.” “Wynter, there is no reason to be rude to the man. He looks as confused as we are.” Tristan smiled. “What is your name, young man? If you don’t mind me asking you that—I don’t mean to be rude.” So they were going to ignore the large dragons in the room. For now, he supposed, it was the best course of action. Clearing his throat, he put out his hand to Carla. She took it into her smaller and calloused one.

“I’m Tristan Manning. This is my brother Cooper and his wife Carson’s home. I have four other brothers, all of whom I believe you’ve met.” Carla told him that they had. “Good. And they told you, I’m assuming, that we’re dragons. The men are anyway. I’m so sorry about this.” “What do you have to be sorry for? About me being tossed out of college? Or about me being arrested for the murder of eight people at a mall? Could it because a dragon that has been on my flesh since I was born rose up off my leg? That it let your other brother pet him? Or could it—?” Carla told Wynter to behave. “Yes, ma’am, but you have to realize that I’m in over my head here. I’m a good person. Or I try to be. Why is all this crap going on?” “I would imagine that it has a great deal to do with what you are.” He looked at the dragons. “They’re a matched pair. And from what I’ve been told from my brothers, when yours was on your leg, it looked just like the one on my back. We, I guess you could say, were meant to be together.” “That is right, my lord. Since the beginning of the end of dragons, you were meant to be with a female that would be your match and mate in all things.” The female dragon laid her head down on the floor and the male joined her. “We have been waiting for generations for you, Wynter Snow. I think we were ready to give up hope that you’d ever be born.” “Great, I was born to be a screw up.”

Tristan laughed. “What do you find so funny? If they’re right, and at the moment I can’t see anything wrong with their logic, then we’re together. But I’m going to be spending the rest of my life behind bars, if they don’t put me to death instead.” “There will be no sentencing for any of those. I’ve spoken to my brother, and he said that you’re going to be exonerated for the mall incident, as well as what happened at the hospital.” She asked him what had gone on there. “You disappeared.” “Oh, yes, well, your brother freaked us all out with the dragon. Did they tell you that he rose up from my flesh so that he could pet him? What sort of fucked up shit is that?” She looked at her mom. “I’m sorry, Mom, but you have to agree—it’s messed up.” “I do agree. But what happens now? I mean, other than that the dragon is no longer a part of her.” The male dragon stood up. “Do you know what happens now? I don’t even know what to call you.” “We have no names as yet, my lady. We are just male and female dragon.” Wynter asked if they were to name them. “If you wish to name us that would be fine. But it does not matter to us. We both belong to the two of you. We are mates as well.” “Does this mean that I can’t shift into my dragon anymore?” That had only just occurred to him. And it would piss him off if he weren’t able to fly anymore. Male told him that he could. So could the young miss. “She’s able to be a dragon?” “Wait, wait, and wait. I don’t want to be a dragon. No offense to you guys, but I’m happy being the plain old human that I am.” Tristan told her that she wasn’t human, never had been. “Oh, but you’re wrong about that. I’m a human, damn it, and you’d better not be fucking around with me to make me anything else.”

“You’re immortal too.” He had no idea—insanity, he supposed—why he was aggravating Wynter like he was. She sure had a fine temper, and she was very expressive with her hands. Like the way she doubled up her fist at him. “You can’t hurt me.” “Why not?” He told her. “I’m not going to be your mate. It has nothing to do with this shit…stuff going on with the dragons, but I’m bad luck. I don’t even like to be around my mom so much—I don’t want her to be dragged into my trouble.” “I’m sure that it was all because you were going to meet me this way.” He didn’t even glance at the dragons, fearful that they’d tell him that that wasn’t it. “We’re going to get this all cleared up, and once we do, then you and I will live happily ever after.” “You’re certifiable; you know that, don’t you?” He grinned at her. “You’re not charming either. No matter how many other women have told you that. As a matter of fact, why don’t you go out and find one of them now? I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to see you.” “I’m not leaving you. We have a lot to talk about.” She said that she was done talking to him.

“I’m sorry that you feel that way, Wynter. But there are a great many things going on that we have to figure out. Like, why were you created with a dragon on your leg and not your back? Who were you parents? Where were they for all those decades before you were born? There are a great many things that we have to figure out. Plus, keeping you safe needs to be a priority—I don’t want anything to happen to you. For some reason, and I don’t know why we’ve never thought of this before, someone wants you to be in prison. To get you alone, perhaps? I don’t know. But it bears talking about.” Clara stood and so did Tristan. “I need to use the restroom. I don’t know that I’ll return here, because I think that Lord Manning is correct. You both need to talk things out. In the meantime, I’ll be making arrangements for a hotel or someplace that we can stay until we get those answers.” “I have a large house that we can all live in together.” Clara told him that was all right, but she could find something. “I insist. I can keep an eye on you both, and if Wynter wants, she can become her dragon. There is plenty of room for that too.” Clara left and Tristan stayed where he was. Wynter was jumpy enough without him lying on the bed with her like he wanted. Instead of talking to her about anything serious, he started telling her about himself. “I’ve been around for a very long time. When we were born, we were dragons; the world was a much different place than it is now. We, the dragons, blackened the skies when we were around. Helping out our human friends was easy for us.

Then they realized that we were worth much more dead than alive.” Wynter told him she was sorry. “Thank you. My mother, she’d been killed some months before my father gave his life for us to be human. And since then, we’ve been trying our best to blend in with humanity so they’d not kill us.” “I don’t understand any of this.” He said that he understood. They both looked at the dragons. “Do you really think it’s possible that I could turn into a dragon? Being that size would make people back off from me a little, don’t you think?”

“You’ll be much larger than them.” She looked at him. “Wynter, I know this is a great deal to throw at you, but we really do need some answers. Mostly it has to do with why you’re a dragon that no one told us about. Why are we paired with matching dragons? My head is overwhelmed with all this. I can’t imagine what is going through yours right now.” “My wound is healed. I’m betting if they remove this cast that I’ll be all right there as well. Is that part of the magic?” He nodded. “I’m terrified out of my mind right now. And all I can think about is you wrapping me up in your arms and holding me. Not that I’m asking you to do that, but I just need one thing to go normally. I really could use a dose of normal about now.” “I’m afraid that went out the door with yesterday’s wash.” They both laughed. “Come on downstairs and we’ll have something to eat, and talk. I’m sure that Winnie or Carson has the others tied to a chair or something to keep them away.” “I don’t have anything to wear but this gown from the hospital.” She looked down at herself.

“What I wouldn’t give for a nice thick pair of socks and some warm pants and a too large sweatshirt.” Before he could tell her to watch what she wished for, she was dressed in what she’d said. He had to admit, he thought, she certainly looked more comfy. When he started to tell her that she could do that, to change out of her outfit too, Wynter put her hand up. “I don’t want to talk about it. Nothing happened, all right? Please?” He nodded at her. “Good. I got dressed, and now I’m going to eat. I’m sure nothing will pop out of the kitchen in front of me, will it?” “I have no idea anymore.” She nodded and took his hand. The dragons said that they’d see them downstairs, as they needed to stretch their wings. “Do you want to watch them fly? It’s beautiful, and perhaps—” “No. There are no dragons. I’m visiting an old friend and I had a frightful dream, that’s all.” Tristan laughed and she grabbed his balls in her hand. “Don’t make me have to test that theory of yours about hurting you, buster. I’m fucking stressed out.” “Yes, ma’am.” Tristan walked behind her, thinking that he might just be as nutty as she was feeling. But Christ, she was beautiful, and her temper made her cheeks flush pink. He wondered if her nipples did the same. But he was smart enough to know not to say a word. Not until later, of course.

 

Sawyer Bishop’s Snow Leap & Giveaway

Raven Addington was happy with her life the way it was. She and her daughter, Molly, were doing just fine on their own, despite what her mother had to say about it. Merriam, Raven’s mother, never had anything nice to say about anything, so why should now be any different.

Sawyer Bishop had turned in his notice at the police force. No matter how bad he needed the money, he wasn’t about to let a hot-headed partner make him a mark for an early grave. His parents needed his help on the farm, so he was happy to leave the force.

Sawyer was supposed to be on desk duty, but they were shorthanded, so he took the call that came in from the 911 dispatch. It would be his last, and then he would be a poor but free man.

When Sawyer arrived on the scene, it was bad. The poor woman had been beaten until she was unrecognizable and barely breathing. Although he didn’t know her personally, he knew Raven Addington was extremely wealthy, and that bothered him more than he cared to admit. Being a Bengal tiger, he knew from her scent that she was his mate. Her station in life was so far above his, he didn’t think it was going to work. But when she coded in the hospital, he had to make a quick decision and hope it wouldn’t come back to bite him in the ass later.

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“Bishop, you have a phone call on line one.” Sawyer lifted the phone up to connect when the guy at the other desk told him that he thought it was his mom. “She doesn’t sound upset either.” That really was a relief. His mom had been caring for his dad for the past two weeks. Dad had taken a nasty fall and had been found in the creek not far from their home. He was going to be okay, but he was very weak from getting a bad cold, something unusual but not unheard of for a tiger. Shifting didn’t fix a cold, unfortunately. “Mom, everything all right?” She laughed. “Well, that’s a good sign. How’s Dad? You know that I’ll be home this weekend, right?” “Yes, I wanted to tell you that your dad is feeling much better. Today he came into the kitchen and asked for a big breakfast. You know what that is, remember?” He did. Biscuits and gravy, fried eggs, bacon, and fresh sliced tomatoes. “He ate every bite of it too. Right now he’s sitting out on the swing enjoying the afternoon sun.”

“I’m so glad to hear that, Mom. Tell him not to overdo it. I’ll be down this weekend like I said to do the mowing and trimming. I think the rest of them are coming home too, right?” She said that she was fixing a large meal for them all. “That’ll be wonderful. I’m sick of fast food and things from the microwave.” “You’ll be all right once you move home. Have you given your notice yet? I don’t want to push you, son, but we sure could use you around here at times. Just having you here is a balm to my heart.” He said that he’d given it yesterday. “Good. No pressure, you know, but I’m so happy that you’ll be coming back home. Not that you’re far away, but it’s nice to know that you’ll only be a phone call and a short ride from home.”

After hanging up, Sawyer looked over the case notes that he’d taken. Yesterday, if nothing else, had made him want to be at home. He’d been on a domestic call, and the woman had shot her husband four times in the chest before turning the gun on herself. It had happened so quickly that he’d had no time to react. His partner had been shot too, when one of the bullets she fired first had gone astray and hit him. “You heard from Carl yet?” He shook his head at one of the cops in the squad room with him. “I still think he shot himself so that he could be home with the kids these first few weeks of summer vacation. If it had been me, I’d have been right here at work regardless of the wound in my leg. I love my kids, but hell, they can be worse than a call out in the middle of lunch if you ask me.” No one that he worked with, it seemed, liked their families. Well, they certainly didn’t want to be around them very long. One guy he worked with sent his kids to summer camp every year so that his wife could have some peace and quiet, even though he couldn’t afford it. Sawyer had his parents and his brothers. That was all he ever wanted in family. He’d seen too many households ripped apart in his line of work, and there was no way that he was going to have that kind of upset in his life. It was bad enough that he had to work with this crazy shit; there wasn’t any way that he was going to go home to it as well.

He wasn’t totally against marriage and children. Sawyer was just around too much domestic crap to think that every marriage was like his parents’. They had loved each other forever, it seemed to him. And they were kind to each other. Sure they argued, but not with guns or fists. At lunch he went to his favorite place and had his usual meal. He might miss this, people who seemed to know him when he came in, brought him his favorite drink of tea, and then set his lunch in front of him. He wondered if they had it ready before he got there, the service was so fast. But he didn’t care. It was hot, good, and cheap. He didn’t make much money as a cop. Sawyer used to think that was all right—he really loved his job. But lately, just over the last few months, he’d felt as if he could do better. That there was a job out there that would fulfill him in more ways than he could imagine. Finding it might be the issue, he thought. Sometime he’d have to start looking if he wanted to find it. Smiling, he dug into his lunch. Walking back to the station house, he was glad that he was going to be spending his last two weeks on desk duty. He’d never realized it, but when someone gave their notice here, they had to work on the desk. The department apparently didn’t want you killed in action just before you left. Christ, any way to save a buck or two was all anyone ever thought about. His desk was just the way he’d left it, messy with the reports that he’d been going over. He was the speller in the group of men and women, and they would often give him their reports so that he could find the misspelled words.

Usually, there weren’t that many, but Carl, his partner, had the worst kind of spelling ability. Like none. Carl was forever spelling aloud for allowed. Sawyer didn’t have any idea why he couldn’t get that one word right. Not that there weren’t a lot more that he’d misspell. Like thanks was tanks. Friends was forever fiends. Sawyer was glad that Carl would be out for a month—he’d not miss his work. At five he made his way home. It was just a small place, but he’d lived there for the last six years. Sawyer had spent a lot of time in his little home, and had made it look as homey as he could. His mom had crocheted him a blanket for the back of his couch, and he had pictures of all his family—five brothers and his parents—in frames all over the place. Sitting on the couch to relax before microwaving him something to eat, he closed his eyes for just a moment. The knock at the door startled him awake, and he went to see who it was. Not fully awake, he had to stare at Gunner a great deal before he knew who he was. His brother had lost some weight, it looked like, and he had on his greens. “You look as bad as I feel.” Telling his brother that he was sorry, he invited him in. When Gunner walked by him to go the couch, he smelled the fresh blood. “Are you all right? Why are you bleeding?” “I’ve been knifed. And before you run out the door and try to figure out who did it, it was completely my fault. I shouldn’t have stepped in where I wasn’t needed.” He asked him what had happened as he retrieved his first aid kit. “Two women fighting.

Like fists and hair pulling fighting. I thought I should help before someone got hurt. Well, it turned out they weren’t fighting. I have no idea what they thought they were doing when one of them had a bloody nose and the other looked like a rat had taken up a home in their hair.” “That doesn’t explain how you were knifed.” Sawyer hissed when he saw the long cut in his back. “You’re not stabbed, little brother, but you do have a nice slice across your back. You want me to stitch it, or do you want to shift to heal up?” “Shift. By the way, congratulations on moving home. I wish you the best of luck.” Sawyer asked him why he’d say that. “I don’t know if I could stay caged up in one place. It sounds too boring to me.” When Gunner went into the bathroom to shift and shower, Sawyer thought about what he was saying. Caged up would be a complaint from Gunner. He’d been in the service since he’d been eighteen. Ten years. Rarely did he seem to be home anymore. None of them knew what he did for a living in the service, but it must have been pretty dangerous. Every few months or so he’d be hurt somehow, and would be sent home to recuperate. Not that he needed it, being a tiger, but Gunner took it where he could, he’d told him once. “What is that smell?” He told Gunner it was his dinner. “That smells worse than the shit they give us in the mess hall. Let’s go get a steak. My treat. Oh, before I forget to tell you, I’ve got six more weeks and I’m finished.” “Seriously? What brought this on?” Gunner told him that he didn’t want to talk about it. “Okay, but you do know that I’m here if you ever want to. I bet Mom will be thrilled.” “No doubt, but don’t tell her I’m home. I have a mission that I have to get back to, and I don’t have a great deal of time to see her this trip.

You know how she is. She can be pretty persuasive when she needs to be.” Sawyer asked him if she’d try to keep him home. “No, but she will try and give me lots of food to take back with me. I don’t have anywhere to store it anymore. I’m on the ground more than I am anywhere else, and never in one place for all that long.” “I won’t tell her. I’m going home this weekend to help out around the house. Dad is feeling a lot better, Mom told me this morning.” Gunner told him that he’d forgotten to ask. “It’s all right. I know you’ve been busy. You’ve bled all over my couch.” He hadn’t, but it was funny to see his brother jump up and check the seat. He and Gunner hadn’t ever been close as children, but now that they were both older, they had really started to have fun together. Sawyer and Dwayne had always been close. Dinner was fun. True to his word, Gunner paid and Sawyer left the tip. Their service was really good—he supposed that had a lot to do with Gunner being in uniform. Also, he could flirt better than anyone he knew. Gunner left him about midnight. They had talked about everything, but really nothing at all. He was glad that he was leaving the service. Sawyer was worried that he had something bad to tell, and hoped that he’d let it go soon enough that it didn’t fester. Gunner wasn’t one to be vengeful, but he was harsh when he had to be.

Going to bed that night, he marked off his calendar that counted down how many more days he had to work. This weekend with his parents was going to be hard, because he knew that he’d only have a week to go. Some things, he told himself, were worth waiting for. And this was something that he’d waited for for a very long time. Being home all the time. ~*~ Raven counted to ten before she spoke to the woman across from her. Then she counted again. Her mother was going to drive her to drink, she knew it. When she felt like she could answer her without cursing, something that Raven did well and her mother hated, she finally spoke. “Look. We’ve been over this time and time again. I’m not going to marry anyone that you pick out for me. I’m not going to marry the first man that comes along, either. I’m happy with the way things are for me—single and a mom. If you don’t care for that, then we can stop having these combative lunches where you talk at me and not to me.” Her mom, Merriam, huffed and said she was getting too old not to have a husband. “I don’t need one. Molly and I are doing just fine.” “I’ll cut you off then. How well will you live when I do that?” Raven just laughed. “What is it you find so funny?” “I find you funny if you think that your money, which I haven’t gotten from you in ten years, will make squat of a difference to us.” She picked at her salad, and wished now that she’d ordered the hamburger that she’d wanted. “I have money. A good deal of it. If you’ll remember, Grandfather and Grandmother left me their estates and their holdings. Molly is in a good school that she loves.

The house, Grandmother’s, is perfect for us. We don’t need you cutting off something that we’ve never had.” “Why are you so obstinate? You have been since before you were born.” Here we go, Raven thought. The story of her birth. “I was in labor for two days with you. And you were six days late. Always stubborn. Then, if that wasn’t enough, you had to be the biggest baby the doctor had ever seen.” “You know, I looked that up. An eight pound baby is not all that big, Mother. Your story gets larger than life every time you tell it. Molly weighed in at nine pounds ten ounces, and I don’t ever plan to hold that over her head. Why don’t you come up with something different?” Mother huffed again. “Look, I’ve told you this before. I’m happy. Why do you think that having a husband will make me any more so? Is it because I have Molly? You don’t still think I should have married her father, do you? Christ Mother, he was married already. When I had the affair with him, I didn’t know, besides, you know as well as I do that he died before he even knew I was pregnant. I got Molly out of it, so it wasn’t all terrible.” “My friends at the club talk about you being an unwed mother. I just don’t care for it.” Raven ate two bites of her salad and shoved it away. She called for their waiter. “What are you doing? That is good for you. You need to eat better before you end up looking like the side of a cow.” “Thank you so much, Mother.” When the waiter nearly smiled, she winked at him. “I’ll have a cheeseburger with everything on it, well done. Fries, and please bring me a chocolate malt.

If I’m going to be a cow or the side of one, I should have more dairy.” “You’re embarrassing me, Raven Addington. I will not have it.” Raven told her mother that she didn’t care at the moment. “I’m going to tell your father what you did to me.” “I didn’t do anything to you, and I’m twenty-nine years old. The last time I looked, I was too old for my dad to care if I was eating a burger or not. In fact, I think he’d want to join me.” Her mother’s mouth looked pinched. Raven wanted to comment on it, but her grandma on her dad’s side sat down in the empty chair next to her. “I didn’t know you were coming, Grandma Holly. What brings you here?” “I saw you two in the window and thought that you might need rescuing from your mother. But I can see by the look on her face that you’re winning this round. Hello, Merriam. How’s life treating you? Still on that blasted diet?” Raven’s malt was set in front of her. “Oh my, I’d love one of those too. And if I know my granddaughter, she’s having something wonderful to go with it. Whatever she’s having, bring me one too.”

“She’s eating fatty foods, and it’s going to make her fat again, Holly. You mustn’t encourage her.” Grandma Holly waved Mother off. “Why do you equate me being pregnant with being fat? I bet you didn’t gain an ounce when you were pregnant, did you?” Mother told her that was a vulgar conversation. “Vulgar? Mother, just what century were you born in?” Mother got up and left her and Grandma Holly there. It was all right with Raven; she was tired of trying to appease her anyway. Grandma Holly asked about Molly. “She’s doing well. Today is her last day of school, so she’s home tomorrow. Margo is going to drop her off here when they’re finished up for the day. So if you stay with me, you’ll get to see her yourself.” She said that she was having lunch with her favorite people today. “Thank you. I haven’t any idea why Mother insists that we have these luncheons weekly. She never is satisfied with my life. Mother said I should be married. That I was embarrassing her at the club. I also am going to be cut off from her money if I don’t marry soon. I had to tell her once again that I don’t want a husband.” “Of course you don’t. I loved your grandda more than I did anyone. But after he died, I started having fun again. I didn’t realize what a fuddy-duddy he was.” They both laughed. Grandma had grieved hard for Grandda when he passed away. It took Molly being born to bring her out of it. “I would like to ask you a favor. I’m going on a trip next month, and I’d like to take you and Molly with me.” “I can’t, not next month. I have a lot of meetings about the merger that I’m doing. It’ll make you and I a great deal of money once it goes through.” Grandmother said that she had plenty. “Yes, I’m sure you do, but this will help a great many people. The company that I’m acquiring is coming apart at the seams. Last month they had to lay off about two hundred people. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to hire those people back and hire more before I’m finished. With the building and the people, I’ll have more people for sorting and sizing. It will make our clothing business larger than we had anticipated.” 

 

Molly joined them, hugging her like she’d not just seen her this morning. Grandmother got extra hugs because it had been three days since Molly had seen her. Grandmother asked if Molly could go with her. “It’s up to her. What do you say, Molly, my dear? Do you want to go with your old great grandmother on a trip? Where are you going anyway?” She told her. “Oh well, Paris and Scotland sounds very good. I can’t think that you’d want to go on a trip like that.” “Yes, of course I would.” Molly was the oldest eleven-year-old that Raven had ever seen. She worried like an old person, studied like she was never going to learn anything, and could speak four languages, thanks mostly to Raven having to travel all the time. “How long will we be gone? Misha is having a birthday party, and I’d very much like to miss it. Her mom is friends with Grandma Addington.” “Why do you want to miss that?” Molly just rolled her eyes at Raven. “I see. I should have known it merited eye rolling when you said that she was friends with Mother.” Molly laughed. “You’re going to still have to get her a gift. So don’t forget to go shopping with me.” “I’ll take her. She’s going to need new things for our trip. We’ll be gone for two weeks. I have some business deals that I have to take care of there, which won’t take that long, then you and I can have a bit of fun.” Molly, of course, was all for going with GGMa, she called her.

“Also, don’t worry about a thing, Raven. I don’t get her all to myself often, and I want to have a lot of fun.” After they left the restaurant, she went back to work and Molly and her GGMa went shopping. Raven did wish that she could go with them, but things were getting too heated up around her buying out this company, and she wanted to make sure that it went through for a great many people. Raven did miss male company. She’d not been on a date since before Molly had been born. And now that she could leave her daughter alone for a few hours, she didn’t remember how to find a date to go out with. She wasn’t into a long term or even a permanent relationship. In fact, she’d rather never have anything that was even semi long term. When seven o’clock rolled around, she was still at her desk going over paperwork. She wanted to go home, put her feet up, and enjoy a free night. It had been so long since she’d had one of those, Raven wasn’t sure that she remembered how it worked. At nine, she called it a day and gathered up her purse and her briefcase to go home. Of course she was the only one in the parking lot at that hour, and the lights were on half-light by then. It was to save money, she knew, but it was creepy in the garage when all the corners were dark. The flash of movement had her falling to the concrete flooring. Raven hit her head on the car door as she went down. Something hit her again, and Raven curled into a ball to try and keep from being hurt more. But whoever it was, they were determined to beat her to death, she thought. After what seemed like hours of someone hurting her with something hard, they began kicking her in the ribs and in the head. Raven was sick with pain—her body had to be broken.

When it stopped, Raven laid there waiting for it to start again. Hoping that it was finished, Raven pulled her cell phone. She knew that she only had to press three buttons to get help, but for the life of her, she didn’t remember which buttons it was. Her hand that was holding the cell phone was covered in blood. The use of her fingers was difficult too. Finally remembering what she needed to do, she got a dispatcher on the phone. “My name is Raven Addington. I work at the Addington Building on Tenth. I’ve been attacked. I’m bleeding.” The dispatcher asked her if the assailant was gone. “I think so. I can’t see very well either. I’m by my car. My car is blue. I hurt so badly. Can you please send someone to help me?” “Help is on the way, Miss Addington. Just stay on the line with me, all right?” Raven started crying. “We’ll help you, honey. You just hang on for a little while. I have four cars in the area, and they’ll be able to help you. An ambulance is on its way. Do you need me to call anyone?” Did she? Raven couldn’t think beyond how hard it was for her to breathe, how her head hurt so badly that even blinking hurt. She must have said this aloud, because the dispatcher told her she was sorry, and that she would be in a hospital soon. “My grandmother. She has my daughter. I can’t remember the number.” She asked if it was in her phone. “Yes, but I can’t see anything. I have been hurt in my head.”

“Raven, you should be able to hear the ambulance and police now. Can you?” She said she thought that she did. “Good girl. When they get there, ask one of the officers to call your grandma for you, all right? I’ll tell him as well, but you remind him when he gets there. His name is Sawyer. He’s one of the good guys.” “I hurt.” She said that she knew she did. Raven must have passed out for a bit, because when she woke up this time, she could hear the voices of three men talking over her. She could hear their different voices. Screaming and knocking out at them, she heard a calming voice from behind her saying they were there to help her. “I need someone to call my grandma. Please, will someone do— The dispatcher said that someone named Sawyer would do it.” “I’ve called her for you. She is going to meet you at the hospital. Mrs. Addington said to make sure that I told you that she’s not calling your mother until you’re there.” Thanking him, she heard someone ask her if she was allergic to anything. Almost the second that she said no, she felt the pinch of a needle, then nothing more.

 

Sheppard: Marshall’s Shadow Release Day & Giveaway

 

 

Harrison Parker had no family and no ties. She was invisible to be traced. Her job with the government was top secret. So secret that she only reported to two people. Now, she was the target and she had to figure out who wanted her dead. Hurt, and laying low, she reached out to the only man she trusted, an old man she had befriended in the cemetery, Sheppard Marshall.

Sheppard Marshall had been grieving the loss of his Millie for the last fifteen years. He would sit by her grave every day. He was an old man of ninety, and he looked forward to the visits he received from the sassy woman, Harrison Parker. Over time he had grown very fond of her, and when he received the message that she needed his help, Sheppard would help her or die trying.

His grandson, Sheppard or Shep, wasn’t letting the old man go alone. If he got hurt, Shep wouldn’t be able to live with himself. Even though the Marshall men were jaguars, that didn’t mean the old man couldn’t get into a situation that got him hurt or possibly killed.

The bullet had gone clear through, but the poison it had been laced with left Harrison with a high fever and near death. Shep didn’t know what this woman was into, but he knew two things—she was dangerous, and she was his mate. What kind of mess had the old man gotten him into now?

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Sheppard Marshall, with hat in hand, made his way to the front of the church. His ma, dead these three days, was awaiting her place in her Garden of Eden that she had talked about all the time. He hadn’t been home as much as he should have, all because of work. Shep figured he’d held up the pallbearers enough, so decided to get on with it. Kneeling down, he put large rough hands on the smooth oak casket. The beautiful spray of roses was lain over her like one of the quilts that she made every year. He knew that in the last few of them, she’d barely been able to walk to the table, much less sit at her quilter. Wiping at the tears that he’d shed more in the last three days than he had in his life, he started to speak to her as if she were sitting in her little rocker snapping beans for supper. “Ma, I’m surely sorry I didn’t make it like I thought I could. I talked to the other boys. They said you were in a car accident. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t be here for you.” There was plenty for Sheppard to be sorry for, he thought. A longer list than he thought that his ma knew about. He smiled then. For sure, she knew each and every one of his deeds. “I’m sure you and the good Lord know each thing I did, even if I thought to keep them from you.” His ma was gone.

His heart broke every time he thought about her not being there when he called home. He’d tried his best to make sure she had a good ending. Sending her money every payday had helped her, he knew that. Also having her put in one of them homes that she’d get round the clock care had kept her safe. But Shep knew he’d not been able to give her the one thing she wanted—a wife for him and a grandchild for her. When he was ready to face the cemetery, he got up and walked to the back of the big church. In his lifetime he thought he’d polished more of those pews than most people his age. All his fidgeting that had been done in the seats had made them shiny well beyond what polish could have done. Dean and his other brothers were there waiting for him when he stepped into the sunlight. “I thought for sure you weren’t going to make it.” Sheppard told his brother Oakley that he’d had to pull in a few favors to make it home. “Are you home for good this time, Shep? Dad is around. Grandda told me the other day that he was.” “Causing any trouble?” He didn’t answer the question about staying home this time. Shep thought he’d made it clear that he was—his boss was a shit hole and Sheppard wasn’t sure he was keen on working.

Shep had been doing his work and his boss’s for the last several years. Rodney told him that their dad hadn’t caused trouble so far. “I don’t know what I’m doing, to be honest with you.” The funeral director asked them to get into the limo. Shep eyed the machine and wondered if the man had gotten a good look at them. They were big men. The thought of crushing into that thing gave him the willies.

“Mr. Marshall, we have two limos for the family.” Nodding at the man, Trenton, Heath, and Rodney got into one limo. Shep, Dean, and Oakley got into the second one. “There is no one else, correct?” Dean said that it was just the six of them and the door was shut. Asking his brothers about their father, he settled back in the seat, trying his best to straighten his tie. Oakley turned toward him and fixed it for him as he spoke. “Dad has been around the farm a couple of times. Usually when no one is there. But since you had us put that surveillance shit around, we just have to call the cops when the thing goes off. Sure did scare the shit out of me the first time I heard it.” Shep leaned back in the seat when Oakley had the tie looking better. “Since they have an idea who he is and what sort of crap he might be doing, they’re out there before he can do any damage. The last time Dad fell and had to wait for someone to help him up. Drunk as hell and not sure how he ended up on his ass. Kept telling the police that one of them had done it.” “I bet that went over well.” Dean told him that they just stood him up, dusted him off, and warned him not to come around anymore. “Where are you guys staying while in town?” Dean looked at Oakley, and Sheppard had a feeling that he wasn’t going to like the answer. Or they were afraid of telling him. He asked what was going on. Dean spoke first. “About two years ago I had a house put on the back part of the farm. It’s a nice house, fits me well enough. I could have gone all out, but I didn’t want to.” Sheppard looked at Oakley as Dean continued.

“He has a house too, but a mite bigger than mine. Nothing too big, mind you, but like I said, it suits. The other three have been doing the same thing.” “Did you think I’d be pissed off or something? Why didn’t anyone tell me? It’s been two years, you said.” Dean leaned back and just looked at him. “Look. I’m exhausted, dirty, and I’ve not been on the grounds but a few times in the last sixteen years. Tell me or don’t—I don’t have it in me to care what you guys are doing out there.” “Ma signed the land off to the six of us. She did that about a month after she decided that she liked where she was staying. You did good with that, Sheppard. Ma surely did like it there.” He thanked Oakley. “Grandda, he’s not been in a good way since Grandma died. I know that it’s been a while, but you’d think that it was just yesterday. We’ve none of us told him about Ma dying yet. Dad complained that he had to take him out there every day for the last few months so he can sit with Grandma. It’s not doing Grandda a lick of good, but you know how stubborn he can be.” Sheppard did know how stubborn the old man could be. He was chasing the tail of being ninety years old, and having a good time with life—before Grandma had passed away, anyway. Sheppard—Sheppard James Cartwright Marshall the fourth—was named after him. Several other grandfathers farther back, too. All of them stubborn, each of them living to be well past a hundred and having a good long life. Then there was his father. Not so much stubborn, but an ass, a thief, as well as a drunk.

There wasn’t much at all that could be said that was nice about his father. No one tried. Not even their ma had. The cemetery was beautiful this time of year. The people that took care of it did a wonderful job of it. The trees were trimmed back. All the markers were upright and free of moss. Also, if there were plants put on any of the graves, they made sure they didn’t get too big. His ma’s parents had been buried out here, and that was why they’d made sure that she had a space next to them. Sheppard didn’t know where his father was going to end up. None of them wanted him anywhere close to where Ma was. After the service was over, the six of them decided to go into town and have some dinner. Sheppard had booked a hotel to stay in for the next week. He’d also rented a truck to drive around. He’d have to be careful of driving. It had been a while for that as well. Shep, as they called him on the rigger that he worked on, had started out on the lowest rung of the ladder working an oil rig. It paid good now that he was higher up on the ladder, but he’d grown sick of doing the job of two people for the pay of only one. Especially when the other man was like his father in so many ways. Hank Jones had been a drunk when they were on the same level. But through a great many lies being told and a great many asses being kissed, Hank had made it to the top level. That was ten years ago, but for the last several he’d been pushing his work off onto Shep. When the big bosses came around to see what was going on with the rigs, just their usual visits, Shep had heard Hank telling them all the ideas that he’d come up with.

Every last one of them was Shep’s. The call about his ma had come about the time he’d been ready to tear the man a new ass. But he’d only had a couple of days at most to make it home in time for her funeral. Shep had made it without any time to spare. On the plane home he’d put in his resignation. It was that or be fired for throwing his boss off the rig into shark infested waters. He wasn’t even sure that the sharks would have eaten the man. They’d be drunk after just one bite. He spent a good evening with his brothers. The six of them had been on their own for a long time, but they’d taken good care of their ma, sending money to her when she needed it, and even when she didn’t. Even though Shep was far away out in the middle of the ocean, he remembered to send her flowers and chocolates not only on her birthday, but Mother’s Day as well. Even when there wasn’t any sort of holiday he’d send her some, just because he loved her. His phone was ringing as soon as he got out of the elevator. Not answering it, he made his way to his room at the hotel and opened his door. Shep had dropped off his luggage at the front desk, and they’d assured him that they’d take care of it for him. They had. The first order of business was to get a shower. Just standing under the hot water felt like he’d gone to heaven. Washing his hair three times, he even used the little bottle of conditioner too, just because he could. By the time he dried off, Shep didn’t have enough energy to pull the blankets down, but fell onto the bed and was out before he could turn off his phone.

The ringing phone woke him and Shep reached for it. “This had fucking better be important, or so help me, I’ll hunt you down and tear you apart.” He felt his cat roll over him when he heard sobbing at the other end of the phone. “Who is this?” “Sally. You didn’t call me.” He didn’t know any Sally. He started to tell her that when she started talking again. “You got out of prison and you didn’t call me. After all I did for you, you just left me in the dirt.” “I don’t know who you’re calling, but I don’t know you. I’ve never been in prison either.” She asked him who it was. “I just told you I don’t know you. Why don’t you hang up and try again?” “He left me hanging.” Shep wasn’t going to get into this with anyone, especially someone that he didn’t know. “Did you hear me?” “I did. And now that you’ve woken me up from the first good sleep I’ve had in a while, I’m going to hang up. Lady, take my advice. Let him leave you hanging. You don’t want to get mixed up with some guy from prison.” She started cursing at him and he simply hung up. He didn’t have time for this shit. Shep was wide awake now, so he got up and took another shower. He wanted to go to the house and run for a few hours. Being on a rig didn’t afford him much time to run as his jaguar, much less shift when he needed it. Driving out to the farm, he was surprised to see Trenton there. He said that he was working on getting some of the things in the house fixed up. Shep, having nothing but time on his hands now, said that he’d help after he had himself a good run. Trenton decided to join him, and they stripped down and took off.

It had been too many years since he’d felt this free, Shep thought. Much too long, too, since he’d fixed something that didn’t leave oil running in his eyes. He might even ask if any of them cared if he stayed in the family house for a while. He could work on it and figure out what he wanted to do with himself. ~*~ Sheppard heard her coming before she got where he could see her. Harrison Parker. He would never tell anyone, but he was kind of sweet on her—like a man to a daughter, that was. She stopped for a minute and shook her head before speaking to him. It was usually something snide and full of curse words, but he thought he liked that about her. She didn’t care who he was. “You know that your wife has been gone for nearly fifteen years, right?” He said he missed her every day. “Yeah, I can see that. Yet here you sit, pining away for a woman that can no more offer you comfort than the stone that marks her passing. What do you plan to do, Mr. Marshall, sit here until they find your body all crippled up from sitting on that bench? Or a human popsicle that kids eat all day? Doesn’t sound to me like anything that wife of yours would have wanted.” “Now see here. You can’t talk to me that way. I had a good life. One that I miss with her.” Harrison nodded. “I don’t think I want you coming around me anymore. You’re not nice at all. And here I was thinking that I liked you a bit. Well, I’ve changed my mind.”

“Suit yourself, sir. But you told me that you have a beautiful daughter-in-law that you love like your own child. Six grandsons that you’ve had a part of raising. And a son…well, we won’t go into how you feel about him. I don’t know how you could be here, with the dead, when you have so much life at your fingertips.” He told her to mind her own business. “Yes, I can see that you’re as stubborn as all men are. I have to tell you, Mr. Marshall, you certainly are about the most stubborn man that I’ve ever met.” “I’m doing what I need to do to get by. What about you?” She didn’t answer him. Harrison usually didn’t when it was about her. He’d already figured out she was military, but what she was, he wasn’t sure. “You got you a family at home that you have pining away for you?” “Let me ask you something, Mr. Marshall. What do you want your grandkids to say about you? Is it that Grandda is finally with Grandma? Or do you want them to say ‘Grandda, he sure was a pistol, and I’m glad he knew how to have a good time.’” He looked at her. “Up to you. But I’d think that with six grandsons, you’d be able to find one or two of them to get into trouble with.” “And what about you? You run this path day after day. Who you out having fun with, young lady?” James, his worthless son, came out of the car whining about how long he was taking, and Sheppard waved him off. “You got someone out there who is going to say, ‘Gee, Harrison wasn’t one to hang out with.’” “They’re all dead.” She stretched her legs again, and he knew she was about ready to take off. “Mr. Marshall, I’m going out again in the morning. I don’t know each time I go if I’ll be back. But I swear to Christ, if I come home and you’re still sitting here day after day, I’m going to roll you over into a hole on the other side of your lovely wife and bury you. Understand? Because the way I see it right now, you’re already playing dead.” When she jogged off, he sat there for a few more moments. Sheppard looked at his wife’s marker, and realized that Harrison was right. He was playing dead. And he was going to do something about it right now.

Walking to the car wasn’t difficult, but the ground wasn’t as smooth as a floor. When he leaned against the car, James beeped the horn at him, nearly scaring him right into that grave Harrison was talking to him about. Flipping his son off, he was glad to see that he’d been able to shock him a little. As soon as he got in and buckled up, James started talking at him. Never to him, he just realized, but at him. “I’m going to need this car for a few days.” Sheppard said no, he had plans for it. “What are you going to do, old man? Drive it into a tree? I said I needed it, and you’re going to sit over there and not say shit about it when I drop you off at the nursing home.” “You take my car, James, and I’ll call the police and say that you stole it off me. They’ll believe me too, since you’ve done it before.” The car stopped so suddenly that he was glad for his belt over him. “You trying to kill me?” “Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. I told you not to argue with me. Now, get your skinny ass out of this car and leave me to it.”

Sheppard got out but he didn’t go far. Calling the police gave him the most satisfaction he’d gotten in some time. As soon as his son turned the corner after leaving him beside the road, Sheppard heard the sirens. That felt pretty good too. As soon as the officer brought him back his car, Sheppard showed him that he surely did have a license to drive, and he’d had nary an accident in nearly fifty years. By his estimation, that was about double how long the boy had been around. Getting in his car, he noticed that his boy had left behind his wallet and a few other things. Tossing them to the back seat where his son had been tossing trash for a while, Sheppard smiled. It was time to get with the living. Since he’d checked himself into the nursing home, the quality care place that he was in, he had no trouble checking himself out. Gathering up a big trash bag, he cleaned out his back seat and the floorboard, and put the wallet and notebook that James had under the seat. Not a clue what was in it, he thought he might take it by to him before he left. Then he set to packing his things. It was not that he hated the home he was in. They had all right food. The nurses were young little things that sure made a man smile. And it was a roof over his head. There was big enough yard out back with some trees where he could go out in the middle of the night and have a good run. As a jaguar, he figured that was why he’d been in such good health all these years. Packing was a little harder than he thought it would be. Not that he owned a thing that was heavy, but the memories would flood him so badly that he’d have to sit a spell and think on things. The quilt that laid on the bed when he and his Millie had been married.

There was the blanket that she’d made just for sitting that he used in the rocker in his room. Even the shirts that he had, most of them as checkered as his son’s past, were soft as cotton and warm as toast. His Millie had gotten him one for every birthday and Christmas. He’d teased her once that he had enough to open himself a department store. She didn’t stop buying them, and he didn’t care. It was wonderful to have a new one twice a year, and to know that she’d picked them out just for him. Sheppard missed that too. By the time he was finished packing up, he needed some food. Sheppard loved drive thru shopping, and got himself a big burger and a milk shake to go. Getting on the road, he thought about Harrison. He’d have to figure out how to tell her that he’d moved on, and remembered that she’d given him her number. Just in case. The thing went to voice mail when it connected. “Going to live with my pretty daughter-in-law and them grandboys of mine. Isn’t far from where I was staying, but you can find me. The name of the farm is Marshall’s Shadow. You come out for a visit sometime, and I’ll have my Jill Ann make you a fine meal for visiting me.” The thing beeped that he was done before he could think of anything else to say, so he pulled back onto the road, from the side where he’d stopped to make the call, and drove the few miles to the farmhouse. He was looking forward to staying there with the boys and Jill Ann. Yes, he thought, that was what he’d needed. A good talking to by someone that was strong enough to do it.

Pulling up in front of the big farmhouse, he could see that someone was doing some work on the place. There were roofing supplies there on the ground, some other things in boxes that he’d have to check out, as well as a ladder leaning against the house by the upper floor. Getting out, two men came around the side of the house, and Sheppard was embarrassed to say that it took him too long to recognize that it was his grandboys. If he didn’t miss his bet, it was Shep and Heath. Both of them hugged him up like he’d been gone forever. “Grandda, you still have that old caddy, I see.” He hugged Shep again when he commented on his car. “You staying? I’ve only just got the kitchen fixed up, and it’ll be nice having some company.” “Where is that momma of yours? Her cherry pie is all I could think about all the way here. We should make some homemade ice cream too.” When they didn’t laugh with him, Sheppard just knew that she’d gone and left him. “No. Please tell me that she’s not gone too. Why didn’t anyone tell me?” “You didn’t seem to be in a place that made us feel like you’d take it well.” That was true enough, he thought, but they still should have said something. “She didn’t want much, Grandda. Just a little service and no one there but family.

We didn’t even put it in the paper for fear of Dad coming along and making a scene.” He was taken into the house. Sheppard wasn’t sure if he’d been carried or he’d walked on his own, but there he was sitting in the parlor with a blanket over his legs. He’d forgotten how chilly this room could be. “She go fast, or did she have herself some trouble with it? I didn’t even know she was sick, to tell you the truth.” Heath said that she’d had a car accident, and that she’d died on the scene. “That woman never could drive. I loved her, you know. More than your daddy.” “She knew that too, Grandda. Ma talked to us about you daily. Even when you moved out there to that home, she thought of you daily.” He nodded at Heath, telling him that was nice of him to say. “When we were cleaning out the freezer, we found some of her pies. If you’re staying here tonight, we can thaw one out and have it with some steaks. Shep is living here for now. Maybe forever. He’s not decided.” “You home for good, boy?” Shep nodded. “Good. A man should be where his roots are. I never cottoned to you being so far away, but I do know that you needed to stretch your wings a bit. Being out there on the water all the time, I’m betting you had to get your earth legs back under you.”

“I did.” They all three laughed and Heath said that he had to go into town for a bit, but he’d bring back some steaks. Shep looked at him when he asked him if he was all right. “I’m not sure, Grandda. I’ve missed so much here. Not just the family, but everything. When I left here all those years ago, I had it in my head that it would only be for a little while. Then before I could think about it, nearly all my life was gone.” “Don’t say that, Shep. You got a long life ahead of you.” He nodded. “Something else is bothering you. You tell me what it is, and I’ll tell you it isn’t worth a hill of beans to be worrying over.”

“I couldn’t give Ma what she wanted.” Sheppard didn’t know what to say to that, so waited for his grandson to explain. “All she talked about was having a daughter-inlaw to go shopping and such with. She said she needed to have a balance in some way. And a grandbaby. I didn’t do any of those things.” “You think that is all she wanted out of you boys? To make you into breeding machines? Darn it, boy, she was as happy as a lark having you six around her all the time. I know for a fact that you protected her from that son of mine on more than one occasion. And it wasn’t you having a wife and a child that would have made her happy; it was having you happy to have a family of your own.” Shep said that they had all loved her. “Well, of course you did. She was a woman that you’d be hard pressed not to love. Jill Ann, she might have said she wanted those things from you, but you can be sure as rain making mud in the dirt that she was just as happy with you six being here with her and loving her.” “I did. We all did.” Sheppard stood up and asked where he would be staying. “You’re here for good? You’re not going to be cramping my love life, are you, Grandda?” “Just so long as you won’t be cramping mine, you whippersnapper.” Shep helped him bring his things into the house. He started to put him in the master bedroom, but Sheppard didn’t want it. He didn’t think it would be right for some reason. But he was just down the hall, and that suited him just fine and dandy.