Gunner Bishop’s Snowy Leap Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

It would take Hodge time to get used to Gunner’s family. She’d used a little magic to help Raven deliver her twins without any pain. The Bishops were crowding her, wanting answers Hodge wasn’t ready to give. She was a loner, and all these people around her would take some getting used to. Gunner felt the same way and told his family to just go home. His mom wasn’t too happy about that.

To the world, Gunner was retired from his service with the military, but he was too good at his job to just stop. Someone had placed a price on Gunner’s head. He just had to figure out who. They’d come close once, but Hodge had sensed the threat and took care of it. But more attempts were inevitable. Would Hodge be able to intervene the next time?

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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.


Sasha Harvard had returned to the small town in Ohio because Hailey Riddle, a ghost, had led her there. Sasha had been speaking to the dead for as long as she could remember. In working with the police, Sasha had been in the field, helping to look for Melinda’s spirit when Melinda Havard had found her. Melinda told her that they were sisters, and the man that had killed her thought that she was Sasha. Melinda had done the best she could to deliver the child she was carrying before she succumbed to her wounds. The child was marked like Sasha, and the dead would find her when she was older. Melinda wanted Sasha to raise her child, and she warned Sasha that the man who had killed her would come after both her and the child because of what they could do. Sasha pulled out the business card of Sawyer Bishop, the officer in charge on the field, and told him that she’d like to meet him at his house and to send someone to pick her up.

Chandler Bishop knocked on Sasha’s door to pick her up. He heard a scuffle inside and broke down the door. A man was standing over Sasha with a baseball bat, and she had been beaten. When Chandler yelled at the man, he just disappeared. Sasha was shocked that he’d seen the man. Chandler thought the man was a vampire, Sasha told him the man was dead.

Chandler had found his mate and could see the dead now too apparently. And the little girl, Pip, her niece, would be theirs as well. A ready-made family and he couldn’t be happier. But would he and his tiger be able to keep them safe from both the living and the dead?

the living and the dead?

 

Wesley Bishop was helping out a friend by letting Emmie stay with him. He knew she wasn’t his mate, but she was good company. Emmie was hiding from her abusive brothers. When she asked Wesley to take her to the bank, she was meeting her best friend Penny and Penny’s grandfather, Joe, to go over their accounts, Wesley readily agreed.

Wesley thought Penny was about the prettiest woman he’d ever seen—feisty too, and when her scent hit him like a freight train, he was the happiest tiger shifter on the planet.

Penny, not so much. Like Emmie, Penny’s family had a way of getting their point across with a heavy fist. Trusting a man wasn’t easy for her.

Wesley was no quitter; he’d convince his new mate to trust him if it was the last thing he did. And keeping her safe was proving to be more difficult by the day.

 

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Gunner https://amzn.to/3i8cUK6

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Spink  Signed Cup
Suzanne Roberts Signed Coloring Book
Meghan Kinch Signed Paperback

Your prize  will be  mailed on Monday, Dec 21st, 2020

Please allow 7 to 10 days for delivery

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A   Signed Mystery Paperback Or Signed CupOr Coloring Book

 

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Congratulations to the first winners of the year

Renee, Wendy, and Sue your prizes will be on

Thursday morning Jan 13th, 2021

Please allow 7 to 10 days for delivery

 

Renee Johnston  Signed Coloring Book
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If you have not gotten your prize please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com  

Happy Reading,

Dressed in her blues, Hodge looked over at Gunner. He, too, was dressed in his dress blues, what the service considered dressing up. His, however, were covered in medals and ribbons all over his blouse or jacket. Plus, his arms were decorated with patches and other items that she was sure no one, but he and a few other people had ever obtained. Hodge did know that if he were promoted again, he’d be in a whole new level of medals. He looked over at her while the funeral that she’d been brought to today proceeded. His wink, something that he did quite well, didn’t deter her from thinking this was a colossal mistake in them coming together. Tuning out the minister, she wondered what anyone would say if they knew she didn’t know this man any more than she had the other three that had died over the few days since she’d been rescued from the vets’ hospital. But, as a vet, she wouldn’t know how to do anything else but to honor his death the way he’d deserved. The same with Gunner. The man’s family, a young wife and three children needed to know that someone from the veteran’s administration would be there for her.

No one had since her husband had been brought into the States and treated for wounds he’d acquired while serving abroad—treated poorly, as it turned out. Hodge knew all too well what kind of treatment they and herself had received there. Captain Penhall had been killed by an enemy, not on foreign soil but right here at home. Also, the man that had taken his life was a friendly. A doctor that should have been helping him and the others instead of hurrying their deaths along, as he had “better things to do than cater to losers.” His words rang through every newspaper in the world when they were leaked from his military trial. The doctor did not have a friend in the world, it seemed, after that. Today was the fifth day she’d been out of the hospital. She wasn’t any happier than she had been while there, but at least she wasn’t hurting, nor did she feel she was going to be killed off every second—just a few times a day rather than all the time, as it turned out. She was, however, still very weak. Her body had had an infection so bad that it was a wonder she made it through Gunner changing her. Hodge looked over at Gunner when he touched her arm. It was time, he told her. The folding of the flag was something she’d seen done a hundred times, much more than she thought should have been necessary. But this was the first time she’d been one of the few that were helping at taking the draped flag from the casket and preparing it to be given to the wife of the fallen. Not only that, but it was going to be her duty to hand the flag over to Mrs. Shirley Penhall. It was an honor all within itself to do something so profound. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Mrs. Penhall nodded, her face red from the tears she shed in her sorrow. “If you need anything, please make sure you let me know. I’m here for you.” “Thank you so much, Captain.”

Nodding once, she moved back to stand with Gunner. Nothing could have prepared her for the overwhelming need to have him hold her. It was crippling, this need, and it took everything in her power to remain stiff and ready when the guns were fired for the man’s funeral. She’d not realized that the entire Bishop family had attended this funeral. Hodge didn’t know why she was surprised—they’d attended each of them so far. They all dressed for the part too. Sawyer was in his police uniform, and the others in nice suits that looked as if they’d been made with them in mind. When the family was leaving, she made her way to the car, leaning heavily on the cane that she’d been given. “I could help you with that if you’d let me.” She told Gunner that he’d helped her enough, she was already a cat. “I meant that I could carry you. You don’t weigh all that much, so it wouldn’t be that hard to pick you up.” “Such a charmer you are. No, I don’t want you to pick me up. I’m fine walking. Besides, wasn’t it you who told me I needed to get up and moving more?” He told her not to the point of exhaustion. “I couldn’t not attend this funeral. It’s not right that anyone within a mile shouldn’t attend this one because the man gave up so much to fight for us.” “He did. So did his family.” She was at the car by then and leaned against it while looking at Gunner. “Are you looking for a place to stick a knife? It won’t work, you know. We’re both immortal. I believe you were told that.” He grinned like he was off his meds or something. “I know that, but you can’t fault me for thinking about it. Don’t you have someplace to be?

Like, I don’t know, overseas or something?” He said he was retired. “Sure, you are. Like I’m retired. I doubt very much either of us would be able to retire after all we’ve been through. I know for a fact that you’ve seen shit that no person should.” “And how do you know this?” She said that her bedroom was just down the hall from his. “You hear me cry out? I’m sorry for that. I’ll sleep in another room from now on. Or outside. I don’t mind if—” Hodge punched him in the gut. When he stood up again, she drew back to hit him again. Before she could, Raven told her to stop. Glaring at her, she asked her why the fuck it was any of her business. “I don’t know, but people are watching us, and I didn’t want you to be slapped all over the front page of the paper. They’re just waiting for something like that to happen.” Raven looked at Gunner. “Behave yourself, Gunner. Wait until she’s fully recovered before you start driving her to beating the shit out of you.” Raven just stood there, rubbing her belly. There was a stiffness in her stance, more so than there normally was. Hodge moved closer to her and put her hand on her large belly. When Raven knocked it away, Hodge put it back and told her to fucking standstill. “You’re in labor.” Nodding, she saw the first bit of fear on her face. “How long? Do you have them timed?”

“They just started while we were standing there. But they went from little twinges to something powerful.” Hodge asked her if she realized that shifter labors were different than human labors. “I was told they’d be quicker, but not too much else. I’ve been putting off getting things ready.” “Ready or not, here it comes.” Hodge helped her to the other side of the limo they’d been standing next to. “Breathe. And don’t give me any shit about what I’m about to do.” “What can I do?” She told Gunner to make sure that Sawyer or the others didn’t come here. “All right. I can do that.” He kissed her on the mouth, then took off. She was still staring at him when she realized what she’d been doing. When Gunner disappeared over the hill, she looked down at Raven, who was lying on the back seat of the limo. It was good, she supposed, that they didn’t go for little cars. Not that she thought any of them would fit in one. The limo was going to be perfect. However, this was going to cause some shit to hit the fan. But this was an emergency. “Look. I can do this thing. I want you to just do what I tell you, and it’ll be over in no time. All right?” Raven asked her if she was going to be all right. “You’re an immortal, moron, what do you think?” “Snarky. Just what I need. All right, you do your thing. But I’d like Sawyer here at some point. He’s the father.” She nodded and looked up over the hill again to tell Gunner to bring Sawyer and his brother Quincey. They might need him. This link thing was kinda nice when things like this shit was happening. “What is it you want me to do?” “I want you to listen to my voice.

The timber of it, the calmness of it. Do you hear it? The way that I’m calm? That I’m not upset?” Raven said she did. “Close your eyes for me. Close them and think of something that is calming to you. No matter what it is, it calms you to the point of relaxation.” “Do I need to tell you what it is?” Hodge told Raven that she could see it, but to tell her calmly what it was, describing it in detail. “I’m sitting at my desk. There is no clutter on it. The board in front of me is cleared. I’m going to make it home on time today, and I’m excited about that.” “Good. Now, put it in a bubble above your head. I want you to be able to open your eyes and see the bubble there with you doing just what relaxes you. Do you see it?” She said she did. Hodge saw Sawyer coming down the hill and reached out to him to tell him to keep his fucking mouth shut, or she would shut it. “Reach your hand up to the bubble now, Raven, and touch it. It will attach itself to your finger, and I want you to bring it closer to your head. Like you’re able to see into a building from all levels.” What can I do? She told Sawyer to wait for her to tell him. That’s my wife there, and if you hurt her— You finish that, and I will hurt you to the point where you wished you weren’t immortal. Now just stand there while I finish this for her. Talking to Raven, she told her to bring the bubble over her head. It would be safe, she could breathe, but she could make adjustments in her work environment to get ready for the next day. Hodge kept up the magic she used to calm someone while she delivered the baby.

“All right, Raven, I want you to stay where you are and tell me what it is you see now. Look out the window from your office. Below you, there are others. Family that has come to bring you home to them to have dinner.” “Yes, I see them. Sawyer is there. And Molly. Even my grandma Holly.” Hodge handed the baby to Quincey and waited for Raven to speak again. “They’re waving at me. I can see them. Oh, Andi, this is the most wonderful way to relax. I have to have you do this for me again.” “You have no pain, do you?” She said she didn’t, and Hodge stuck her tongue out at Sawyer. “All right, Raven. You’re going to go to sleep now. Close your eyes, and then I want you to take ten steps in relaxing the rest of your body. Start at your toes. Relax them so that they’re not stiff. Then your calves and knees.” As she worked her way up the other woman’s body, relaxing her as she went, Hodge delivered baby number two. She’d known all along that there were twins, but not what the sex was. A boy first, then the daughter. Both of them were healthy and looked wonderful. As soon as Raven was deep into her sleep, Hodge fell back against the door and slid to the ground. It wore her out something terrible to do this, and she also fell into a deep restorative sleep. ~*~ “If you ask me that one more time, Sawyer, I’m going to pound your head in so far that you’ll need to start talking from your fucking ass.

I don’t know. All right? I don’t know what she did or how she did it. I only know that your wife is fine and dandy. And so are your children. Now, I want you to back the fuck off before I really do test the theory about all of us being immortal.” Raven came into the living room where he and Sawyer were. “Don’t. Just don’t ask me.” “I wasn’t going to. But I noticed that you don’t have any juice in your house, so I had your cook order some. Is he really an army grunt?” Gunner nodded and said that they were in the same holes together. “Well, he’s a great cook. I had one of his cupcakes. He said that he bakes when he’s nervous. Sawyer, leave your brother alone and go see how your parents are doing with the babies. I can’t believe I feel this good after giving birth to two nine pound children.” When she went toward the kitchen and Sawyer to the living room, Gunner made his way up the stairs to the bedroom where he’d put Hodge when they’d gotten home. She was still in the bed, but she wasn’t sleeping like he thought she should have been. “How are the twins?” Gunner told her they were both doing fine and dandy, something that he’d caught himself saying a lot today. But he explained to her that their parents were going to die. “Yes, I heard you telling Sawyer you were going to hurt him. By the way, who else besides them knows what happened out there?” “My family. Was it supposed to be a secret?” She shrugged and sat up in the bed. He started to help her, but one glare in his direction had him standing back. “Would you tell me what you did? That way, I can get them off my back and on to their own homes. I’m not used to having this many people in here at one time. It’s too much.” “Why do you think I’m still up here? I’m not good around people either. In fact, you being in here is pushing it. Are you all this hulking?” Gunner laughed. “From

where I am, you look to be about seventy feet tall. Sit down, will you? You’re making me a nervous wreck.” He sat down but was up again when she staggered a little going to the bathroom. She allowed him to help her, and that made him think she really shouldn’t be up and around just yet. But he knew better than to point that out to her. If nothing else, she was a fighter. “My mom is directing the cook to make you something brothy. I don’t know what that means, but Grunt, as he likes to be called, knows and is currently making it. I think he’s afraid of her.” Hodge asked him if he was. “Of course, I am. She’s my mother, but she is also the one person that can make me feel about two inches tall when I get out of line. Which I do quite often, but not where she can see me.” “Good to know. So when you piss me off, again, I can just go and see her.” He helped her as far as the door, and Hodge grabbed the vanity before turning to him. “I have a little bit of magic given to me by an old witch. I don’t know if she gave me more, but that one spell is all I’ve ever used of it. As I’m sure you’re aware, sometimes there isn’t time for a doc to come around and pull a bullet from one of your men. Also, men cry like babies, and it would keep them quiet too. I’m going to pee, then I’m going to go back to bed. I suddenly feel like death warmed over.” “Do you think she gave you more?” It took her a few seconds, but she did nod. “All right. We can work on that if you want. Or not. The very fact that you delivered Raven and Sawyer’s children is putting you in good standing with the rest of the family.” “What about you? Am I in good standing with you?”

He leaned against the door frame and told her that she was his mate, his everything. “Didn’t really answer the question, now did it? Go away. I have to pee, and I can’t if you’re going to be lurking right outside the door. Go get me something to drink. Please? Don’t hurry back.” “I’ll go and get it for you if you promise not to try and do anything but go from the bathroom to the bed.” She promised him she couldn’t do anything else. “If you can’t make it back, Hodge, I’ll carry you. Don’t overdo it again. I can’t stand to see you this weak.” “I can’t either. I might be here when you come back.” The door shut, but she didn’t engage the lock. “I’m not locking it in the event you have to come carry me back. I don’t want you busting down a door just to find me laying on the floor with my nooks and crannies hanging out.” Gunner was still laughing when he entered the kitchen. His mom was there, as was Penny, Raven, and Quincey. They all turned to look at him as he moved to the refrigerator to get out something to drink for Hodge. Mom asked him what was going on. “Nothing. She’s up and in the bathroom now. Weak, but stubborn about it.” He looked at Raven when he continued. “She said that she got a little magic from a witch once and that she has been using that particular thing on her men when they’d been shot. It also kept them safe, as the person was no longer feeling the pain they might be in and crying like a wimpy baby in the field. Are you satisfied with that answer?”

“No. And I’m sure you’re not either. She delivered twins from me, and I didn’t know a thing was going on.” Gunner asked her if she was mad about that. “I’m not. But I would like to know where she got it. I know you said witch, but I’m also sure you know witches don’t go giving out magic to just anyone.” “That’s all I know. If she wants you to know more, I’m sure she won’t have any trouble telling you. I’m not trying to be rude here, but I’d really like it if you all left us alone. She’s not very good around a bunch of people, just as I’m not.” Raven pointed out that they were family, not strangers. “No, you’re right. But you’re still in the house of two people that have spent a better part of their adult lives with only the grunts around them. It’s a little noisy and disconcerting for both of us to have to share much space. I’m sorry about how that sounds, but you have to understand that we’re different than the rest of you are.” Raven stared at him, and he wasn’t worried. Gunner, too, had a few tricks up his sleeve. Raven could read minds—all of them could, but not one of them would get past the barrier he had in place. Not unless they wanted to hurt themselves. “Come on, everyone. Gunner is right. We’re only making the situation worse by hoping she’ll come down here.” Mom looked at him before leaving the kitchen. “You take care of her, Gunner. All right? I know you will without me telling you, but she isn’t as strong as she might think she is.” “I think she’s stronger than even me.” Mom asked him how he’d come to that. “She hasn’t had any trouble at all ordering me around.

Nor does she have any trouble telling me she needs help. I don’t ask for help unless I’m dangerously close to losing it all. That makes me dangerous. Her? Well, she is going to keep me sane, I believe, and that will take someone with a strong heart and strong will. Which I’m thinking she has by the bucket full.” “I worry for you, Gunner. I always have. You know that, don’t you? That I love you?” He kissed her on the cheek and told her he loved her as well. “I want you to be happy. Will you be, you think? The two of you holed up in here all the time without family around all the time?” “We both need to re-establish ourselves in the population, Mom. That’s all. Like I said, we’ve been alone for the most part, and it’ll take us a little bit to get used to having a social life again.” Mom smiled and told him that social would be good. “I think you’re right. Don’t worry about us, Mom. I’m sure that if Hodge needs help with me, she’ll call you. She’s going to make me a different man than I am. One that you can be proud of.” “I’m always proud of you, Gunner. Always know that. No matter what you do, how you do it, I will forever be proud of you.” She kissed him on the cheek, then slapped him none too gently. “Don’t run me off again, young man. I’m still your mother.” “You are. And I’m sorry.” She left him there, with not only his juices to take to Hodge but some soup that Grunt had made for her. Gunner wondered how this was going to go. Two people living in a huge fucking house with no one but a cook. He decided that he was going to

need staff too. Someone to come in and clean up. Now that he was in the house all the time with Hodge, he figured it could use a nice going over once in a while. You’re talking to yourself. Or something like that. He told Hodge he was making a list of things he needed to get done. I’m still in the bathroom, by the way. I don’t think I can make it to the bed again. I’m sorry to put you through all this. I promise you, it’s no problem. I have some juice and soup that Grunt made. She asked if his name really was Grunt. No. His name is Alexander Parkinson the Fourth, but in the service, everyone referred to him as Grunt. It sort of stuck, you might say. Gunner got her out of the bathroom after helping her wash up a little. By the time he got her into the bed, she was nearly asleep again. He asked her if she’d take a little of the soup. He fed it to her, as she wasn’t in any shape to feed herself. “I think I overdid it today. This entire week, as a matter of fact.” He told her how they’d been running since she’d been released. “I have been sick before, but nothing like this. I feel just so zapped all the time. That infection, it took a great deal out of me.” “When you were rushed to the hospital, Quincey was in the ambulance with you. He told me that you coded twice while on the way. He didn’t know what you’d had done to you, but he ran a lot of tests. I guess he’s still waiting on the results.” She asked him why his brother would even care. “You’re my mate, and in turn, his sister. You should have seen him when he came out of the emergency room when you were taken up to your room. He looked like he’d gone a couple of rounds with you and didn’t come out on top.”

After feeding her about half the soup, Gunner watched her as she drifted off to sleep. He could have sat there all day and watched her, but he wouldn’t get shit done. Reaching out to his mom, he told her that he needed some staff. I see. You do know they’re going to be in the same house with you and Andi, don’t you? I mean, if you hire them, they’re going to show up for work. He told her that he was sorry. Again. I know, Gunner. But I can worry about the two of you and tease you a bit. Is she resting? Yes. Hodge ate some soup and a few cookies that Grunt sent up to her. Right now, she’s sleeping. It’s worn her out going to these funerals while trying to heal too. I hope she sleeps for a couple of days. It might do her some good. Mom told him it couldn’t hurt, that was for sure. Then she asked him if he was going to call her Hodge. I think so. I guess it suits her more than Andi does. You can call her that as well, but I’m sticking to Hodge. Call it a pet name, if you will. I think it does suit her, but I’m still going to call her Andi. He told her that was fine by him. I’ll get you a staff. While I’m at it, I’m going to be looking for things to fill out your home. Why do you only have two rooms on the main floor filled? I was sleeping outside until Hodge came along. It just never seemed the right thing to do, filling up a house that no one was living in. Mom asked him if he still slept outdoors. Not much since I brought her here. Once or twice. Mom, I have terrible nightmares, and I felt safer where I had room. I’m working on them. See that you do. And Gunner, you stay safe. I don’t want to be reading the paper and find out my son has been hurt. I know you’re still going out—I see it in your eyes.

So whatever you’re doing, please make sure you’re doing it safely. He told her he would. I love you, Gunner. You’re the only son that I never worried about getting into trouble. Never doing one of those silly things that young boys and young men do. You’ve always shown that you have a good head on your shoulders, and you know how to use it. Thanks, Mom. She told him again that she loved him. And I love you with all my heart. Even with my mate here now, you’re still the number one woman in my heart. I hope someday you say that to Andi. A girl like her, I don’t think she’d get into pretty words or romance, but she’ll need to hear that you love her. He said that he’d tell her, daily. But only when she was ready to hear it. Good. I’m going to hold you to that. All right. I’m going to start making a list. I’ll talk to you later. Let us know if we can do anything for the two of you. Gunner kissed Hodge on the forehead and left the room. He’d done nothing the last few days but try and keep her safe. He should have realized this a couple of days ago, but she was more than likely being safer than he was. He’d even given her a gun to put under her pillow so she’d feel safe. Going out into the waning sun, he stretched every muscle in his body before shifting to his other half and taking off to the woods. It only took him an hour to make his body feel better. Running as his cat, he could do things with him that he could never do as a human.

When he reached the fake dead tree that he’d had been put in the woods for him, he pressed the keypad to allow him access to the rooms below the tree. When the tree moved back, he took the stairs down to his lair, locking the door behind him. Gunner would have to bring Hodge out here soon. He knew it was about the safest place to be when someone came calling that wanted him dead. There were enough factions that had his nickname high on their list, but no one that he knew of had his real name. If they did, they were dead before they could tell anyone. Ghost. That’s all the people he was after knew him by. Even the people he worked with only knew him as Gunner, and not the name that he was called. Someone that could slip in and out of a situation and never be seen. He had four messages from his handler and two messages from his attorney. Answering the ones from his attorney, he was glad that the man was going to fax him the information he needed to put Hodge on his accounts, as well as having her the beneficiary to his insurance. He’d never claim it, but no one knew that but him and his family. One of the messages from his handler told him that his money was in the account set up for payment. Making sure there were no viruses on the thing, he opened it up and transferred the money to one of his many accounts. Just as he answered the last email from handler number seven six-eight, he got another message from them. He read over the job description twice before he realized he wasn’t supposed to be getting this, and it wasn’t a joke. Printing out a copy of it, he was ready to answer it when the email simply disappeared. Looking at the printer while it geared up for the job, he hoped the fuck he’d gotten it. As soon as it started to print, he got another email from his handler that told him he’d been hacked.

There wasn’t any way Gunner’s computer had been hacked. Also, there wasn’t any way for them to tell if he’d been the one that had his computer fucked with. As soon as the printer was finished with its job, he took his phone out and took pictures of it. Then he set to work on where it had come from. After an hour, he knew that it had come from his handler. The IP address on the computer had been the same. Now all he had to do was figure out why someone had put a hit out on him and mistakenly sent it to him to be done. Something was really fucked up here. The third email he got from his handler, he ignored, as he had the first two he’d gotten from her when the email stated he’d been hacked. Something was wrong here. Something dangerously wrong. As he was shutting down his computer and turning on the tracker, he was ready to go back to the house. He was nearly to the stairs when he turned back and picked up the letter. He wouldn’t ask his family for help on this, nor would he tell them what he’d gotten. First of all, they’d want to help him out. Secondly, they’d be hurt if he told them, of that he was positive. Going back to the house, he was both surprised and pleased that not only had Hodge gotten up, but she’d made it to the kitchen with his friend and cook. “Everything all right?” He told her he wasn’t sure. “Well, that’s not terribly helpful.

I wanted to tell you that I got the strangest email while I was resting. I was going to show it to you, but you seem to be really stressed right now. I can help you by listening if that will take that scowl off your face.” “Tell me what you think is strange about an email.” She stared at him for several moments, and then he put out his hand, knowing somehow that she’d printed hers as well. “I’ll tell you about what is going on later. I need to think first.” “All right.” Handing over her email, she watched while he read what it said. It was the same email he’d gotten. However, he noticed something on hers that he’d not seen on his own. She’d printed it up with who it had been sent to. It looked to him as if it had been emailed to everyone on the sender’s list. Instead of telling her, he handed his to her. “I printed it out in your office. I hope you don’t mind. Why would someone send out a hit on you? Or, for that matter, why would they send it to you and I? I don’t know any of these people.” “I don’t know. But I intend to find out.” He looked over her email with all the names of the recipients on it. “Are any of these people here, are they people that you’ve worked with before?” “No. The only name I sort of recognize is the first one. The president. I mean, I can’t for sure say it’s him, but that’s what he goes by, correct?” He told her he thought so. “Perhaps this would be a good time for you and I to have a long talk about shit. You know, just airing out our dirty laundry. Like, you tell me what it is you do for a living with the special services, and I’ll tell you what I did.” “All right. But first I have to show you something.” She said she was game. “How are you feeling right now? I mean, up for a walk?”

“Yes. I think I was just stressing out over all this shit and had me a good nap. Then taking a chance, I took a long bath to soak. I feel tons better.” She watched him as he paced the room. “This is going to be bad, isn’t it? Something I’m betting your parents don’t even know about.” “No, they don’t. I’d like to keep it that way too.” She nodded. “Come on. I want you to see what I’ve been doing. But if you don’t want to know, or it’s too much, let me know now.” “I want to know. I want to help you.” Gunner wasn’t sure she could, so he just nodded. “All right. I’m ready. Let’s take a walk.”

 

Beckett Robinson Destruction Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

Allie Langley was upset about losing her job. It wasn’t the teaching job she wanted, but it helped pay the bills. It was just how her luck had been running since she’d moved to that town: first, she’d been kidnapped and tortured, now the job. What next?

Becket Robinson’s car had broken down, and he needed to use the phone. He hadn’t expected to find his mate when he knocked on the door, but now that he had, he couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. It didn’t matter how much she ranted and raved about it either. She would fit right in with the rest of the family.

But when Becket discovered her injuries and how infected they were, he called in Thatcher, one of his brothers, to help.

Allie collapsed in Beckett’s arms when her fever spiked. Allie’s brother begged Beckett to change Allie into a tiger to save her. Thatcher agreed that converting her would be the only way to save her. Beckett knew he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. But, he couldn’t let her die…. He knew he was going to have one pissed off mate when she finally woke up. If she woke up….

 


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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….

 

 

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 and 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.”

 

Trudy Justice was good at her job, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t vulnerable. Caught unaware by a fellow FBI agent, the gunshot wound to Tru’s gut nearly did her in. To the world, Tru was dead. Rogan was hiding her out until they could figure out who had marked her to be a target.

Houston Robinson, a tiger shifter, was preparing to shift and take a much-needed run when a strange woman’s voice interrupted him before he could remove his pants to shift. At first, he was irritated, but when he saw the blood, he wanted to help.

Hurting bad and suspicious of everyone, Tru was in no mood to listen to anyone, especially a shapeshifter claiming to be her mate. She didn’t care how nice he pretended to be….

 

Thatcher  https://amzn.to/2sxdJmK
Morgan  https://amzn.to/2kCfxKI
HOUSTON https://amzn.to/2Z6v0ob

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Houston finished up the paperwork that had been piling up on his desk while they’d been gone. Three of the most fabulous weeks skipping around the world, and he’d not wanted to come home. He didn’t think he could have stayed forever, but a few more weeks wouldn’t have been too bad. Looking up when he heard a noise, he smiled at Sam when he came into his office and flopped down on the chair. Looking up at him again, he nearly had a massive heart attack when he saw his face. Taking a deep breath before speaking, he asked him what had happened. “The school nurse said it was my fault. It wasn’t. I have to have a meeting with her and my grandpa tomorrow.” Houston asked him why he was stitched up. “This kid, he’s in a higher grade than I am. He said I was stupid. I’m not. But when I tried to prove to him that I was smart, that ticked him off something terrible, and he used his notebook to beat me up. Why? Why does everyone have to think that beating someone up is a good way to solve something?” “I don’t know. But I’d say you’re going to have to talk to your aunt about those bruises too. Did you know she’s here today?” He looked around like his aunt was going to jump out of the woodwork at any second.

“Who did the work, Sam? Was it the school nurse?” “Yes. She said it was too distracting for her to fill out paperwork on me while I had this gaping hole in my face. I wanted her to call Uncle Thatcher or Uncle Dawson, but she told me they more than likely had better things to do than to come down there and mess with me.” Sam looked upset. “They’d not think that, would they, Uncle Houston?” “Never. I’m going to contact them now and tell them they need to have a look at you. Are you hurt anywhere else?” When Sam stood up, Houston had a very difficult time holding onto his tiger. The kid looked like he’d been run over a couple of times, then once more just for the fun of it. “Did the school nurse see these as well, son?” “She didn’t let me show her. I told her I was hurting, but she said that since I’d started the fight, I’d have to deal with a little pain. Nurse Calendar sent me back to class after she fixed my face. Uncle Houston, do you think the aunts will have a hissy fit and kill her?” It was tempting for Houston to run out and do just that himself. “They sure do get powerful mad when they figure someone is getting the shaft, don’t they?” “They do at that. I’m assuming they didn’t notify your grandparents either, did they?”

Sam started to shake his head and put his hands to his temples. “Right. All right, we’re going to the hospital. And I’m calling the police as well as the family. There are some important laws being broken right now, and I want someone’s ass to be roasted for it.” Sam started to laugh but stopped. Houston was so pissed off right now he had to take in and let out several long breaths before he could speak. Yelling for Tru because it gave him a way to let off a little of the steam, he was glad to see her almost as soon as he finished saying her name.

While she fussed over Sam with him telling her what he’d told Houston, he reached out to his family. I’m going to take Sam to the hospital. Would someone please take his grandparents? I don’t want them thinking the worst. It is bad but not life-threatening. At least not his life. He told them what he’d heard from Sam. She didn’t notify anyone and put the worst looking stitches in his cheek and forehead that I’ve— She didn’t have permission to do that, did she? Houston told Thatcher that, as he was saying, he didn’t believe she’d even called anyone. I’ll meet you at the emergency room. I’d say bring him here to the clinic, but I think this needs to be done with the police involved. The police are going to have to question Sam. Is he going to be all right with that? I would think so. He didn’t have any trouble telling me. I think that with him having Tru there, he’s going to be a little better. She will also be able to make sure he’s not bullied. Thatch thought that was a great idea. He’s pretty beat up, guys. And the longer he sits here, the more the bruises are showing up. And his back. Christ, it looks to me like he was dragged through gravel. Or was beaten with a whip. I’ve not asked him which. I’m barely holding on here as it is. Tru sat in the back seat with Sam and Jacob. He could tell that Jacob was upset, but he was trying very hard to be brave for his brother and aunt. Every time Houston got a spare second, he would turn and speak to the younger one. Jacob was the most tender little guy he knew. Something occurred to him while he was sitting at a light, and he turned to ask him about it. “You’ve not had any trouble with the school, have you, buddy?” When he didn’t answer right away, Houston glanced at Tru. “Jacob, is there trouble with your teachers as well? We don’t want to have you suffering if you don’t have to.” “Tell them, Jake. You have to tell them too.” So, his brother knew as well. This was beginning to be serious now. Pulling over into the grocery store lot, he waited on Jacob to see what he had to say. “I told them. Now you have to do it. It’s not right like he said.”

“Some of the other kids knock me around when I’m going to my lunchroom or class.” Houston knew it was more than that, so he waited for him to get things in his head organized so he could tell him. “I don’t tell the teachers anymore. They said I’m lucky anyone wants to have me around them. That my dad is a womanizer and that my mom didn’t even want us. They were going to sell us off, so we’re nothing to anyone. I don’t know what that is, but I think it’s a bad word.” “It is the way they’re using it. Houston, please take us to the hospital. Please.” Tru touched his mind, and he could almost feel her anger. I’m not going to go to the school. I’m not going to go to the school and kill every last one of those fucking bitches. I know just what you mean. He pulled out into traffic again and told her what he’d done. I didn’t want your parents to freak out, so Beckett is going to pick them up so they don’t drive. It’s bad enough that they’ve hurt Sam, but Jacob is about the sweetest kid in the world. Why would anyone want to hurt him too? I’m so pissed right now. I don’t know how you’re driving so calmly. I’d be driving too fast and running every red light. He told her he was having a hard time of it as well, but he was concentrating hard on driving safely. Not me.

Those fuckers are going to pay for this. You wait and see. Both his brothers were at the hospital when they arrived. Thatcher took one look at Sam and ordered an entire set of X-rays, as well as a CAT scan. Dawson had to keep breathing deeply in and out to keep his cat under control. The Justices showed up just as his parents did. Hell was going to be paid if the looks on their faces were any indication. Then Andrew, chief of police, showed up with two deputies. “Don’t say a word.” He smiled at Tru when she got up in his face. “I want to do this by the books, and if I have to arrest you to keep you from telling my men what to do, you know I’ll do it. You have to lay low because everyone is going to say you’ve forced my hand in this. All right?” “Yes. I understand. I don’t have to like it, but I do understand. Wait until you see them, Andrew. They’re a fucking mess.” He said he’d sent two of his men to pick up not only the nurse at the grade school but also the principal and the lady that ran the desk in the office. “Thank you. I do appreciate you doing this.” When the other two women showed up, Andrew told them the same thing. Houston thought he was lucky to have been the one to tell them. He’d have not wanted to be anywhere near any of them right now. They were as pissed off as he’d ever seen them. A message came from Jacob to have him come and see him. “Hey, buddy. What’s wrong?”

He’d been crying, and it hurt Houston in ways he couldn’t explain to anyone if asked. “Your grandparents are out there. Do you want them to come and see you too?” “I’m not going to prison, am I? I don’t want to be there where the other parents are that gave birth to us.” They’d decided that even though Trudy and Blake had adopted their grandsons, they’d continue to call them their grandparents. “That kid that hits me all the time, he told me that if I told on him, I’d go to prison just like the other parents did. And the nurse, she told me I’d better be keeping my mouth zipped, or I’d be just another name in a book. I don’t know what that means, but I don’t think she meant it in a good way, do you? Don’t tell my grandparents. I don’t want them to have a stroke or something and leave us behind. We do worry about them all the time, Sam and me.” “That’s very good of you, but I think you need to keep them in the loop from now on. But no, I don’t think she meant that as anything but a bad word. But you’re not going anywhere except home when they release you. The police are here too. They’re going to ask you some questions about what happened. Jacob, you tell them the truth about all this, even if it embarrasses you or makes you feel bad. I swear to you, nothing is going to happen to you or Sam.” He asked if his aunt could be there with him. “Yes. She’ll like that. But don’t let her yell at the police too much. You and I both know she’s a little protective of the two of you.” “She sure is.” They both smiled. While he was telling him about the work he was doing at home, Tru and Andrew showed up. Houston stood up to leave. “Uncle Houston, can you make sure that my brother is all right? And tell Grandma and Grandpa that I’m all right?

I don’t want them to worry too much. They’ve been really good to me and Sam.” Houston said he would and had to leave the little area quickly. He was so close to sobbing about how much he loved these kids that he was sure he’d be a soggy mess before talking to the Justices. Finding them in one of the private rooms in the emergency room, Houston told them what he knew and what had been done about it. “Thatch was in here a few seconds ago. He’s going to find out what he can about Sam. I didn’t know any of this was going on.” Houston assured Blake that he’d not known either. “It does explain a lot, though. The last week or so, the two of them have been spending a lot of time in their rooms. I was thinking they were regretting that we took them. But now, I think they were nursing their wounds. Don’t you?” “Someone told Jacob that he’d end up in the same prison as his parents if he were to tell anyone.” Trudy started crying softly when he told them that. “Did Sam come and ask you if he could come to our house?” “We weren’t home when he got there. We told him so long as he gets his homework finished up, he could always go to one of your homes. I found his bookbag outside of the house like he’d never even gone in when your brother showed up to bring us here. I think he’d had enough and decided to get you and Tru involved. I hate to ask you this, but why didn’t the two of them come to us?”

Houston told him what the boys, both of them, had said to them. “They think that we’ll have a heart attack and leave them? I guess I can understand that. I went to the doctor the other day, and neither of them believes I got a clean bill of health. I’ve been sort of acting my age lately. You know, moaning and groaning about every little thing. I was doing it just to be funny. I won’t do that anymore.” “No, I don’t think you should. Not until the two of them are a little more secure with you and themselves.” Houston looked up when the elevator dinged for this floor. “When you see Sam, just know that he’s getting the best of care. Thatcher and Dawson are working together to make sure of that.” Sam was laying back on the gurney when he was brought out of the elevator. He thought that every time he saw him, he looked a little worse for wear. Neither Blake nor Trudy moved to follow him back to a room. He thought they were just as upset as Sam was right now. In pain too—a different sort of pain, but still hurting. Houston followed Dawson when he went by him. He didn’t pepper him with questions like he wanted to but just stayed with him. As soon as he entered the little room with Sam, he got word that Jacob was going up for X-rays as well. Dawson sat down on one of the little stools that he moved closer to Sam’s bed when he was ready to speak.

“Do you want this like a man, or do you want me to sugar coat it a little for you?” Sam looked at Houston, and he told him that Dawson was good at both ways. “I’m a sight better than your aunts would have been. You tell me, and I’ll tell you what I’ve found out. Thatcher is working with your brother if you’re going to ask me.” “I was. He’s hurt too.” Dawson said he’d found that out. “I want to be a man about it, but I’m still afraid. I didn’t start this fight, Uncle Dawson. I swear I didn’t.”
“I know that, son. We all know that. All right?” Sam nodded. “You have a fractured wrist and a couple of cracked ribs.” Houston had to sit or lean onto something, or he might well have fallen over. “Also, this is going to suck, but I’m going to have to redo the stitches that were put in. Do you know if she washed them out before she did it, Sam?” “No. She told me I was making a mess and distracting her, so she laid me down on the bed and put them in. It hurt too.” Dawson looked at him before Sam spoke again. “I don’t want to have to go back to that school. I don’t care if I have to be a deadbeat. I just don’t want to hurt anymore.” A nurse came in and gave Sam something to relax him. It was enough that it also knocked him out. Dawson had to leave the little room before he could work on Sam— he was that angry. Houston was close to hunting down the woman who had done this and tearing her apart. That wouldn’t be a figure of speech either.

~*~ Tru sat with the boys after they’d been admitted. They were both in the same bed in Sam’s room. She was glad for it. The two of them needed each other now more than ever. Sam was still out from earlier, and Jacob had been given something as well. The two of them were so stressed out having to deal with this on their own, Dawson said he didn’t think that either of them had gotten a good night’s sleep lately. She was still sitting there with the boys when her mom came into the room. “I feel like the worst kind of parent to these two,” Tru told her it had nothing at all to do with her and Dad. “I know that in my head, but my heart isn’t having any of it. Do you suppose this has been going on from the very beginning? Them being bullied, I mean?” “I don’t think so. They’ve been going there for a month and a half. What I think happened is that the kids were having their fun with them, and when the teachers didn’t say anything, they went for the big time. The kid that hurt Sam is going to be put in jail. I don’t know for how long, but long enough that he sees the error of his ways. Five boys had been hurting them, with the encouragement of their parents. I’m taking care of them.” She expected her mom to tell her not to kill them, but all she said was good.

“Mom, they didn’t want you and Dad to worry. They have it in their head that if anything happens to the two of you, they’re going to be taken to prison to live with their parents. I don’t know who told them that bunch of bullshit, but you can bet that I’m going to find out.” “I hope you make them see the error of their ways as well.” She put her hand on Jacob’s head as it rested on his brother’s pillow. “They look so tiny right now. I thought they were beginning to come out of their shells around us. Not that they’ve been terrible to us. In fact, they’ve been as good as gold. We couldn’t have asked for better children. But I always felt that they were holding back some part of themselves. I wish it had only been that they were not trusting us in some way. Holding back on being hurt like they have been makes me feel like I failed them.” “There is no telling what Shasta told them about the two of you. Or me, for that matter. She wouldn’t have been happy with anything that we supposedly did to her by not giving her money or anything else.”

Mom said she’d not thought of that. “Also, they would have heard her bitching with Mike about all of us, and you know as well as I do that kids hear more than anyone thinks they do. I can’t imagine how much shit we’re going to have to fix because of them.” “I should have thought of that myself. I used to tell Shasta that she shouldn’t say things like she did in front of them. That they’d hear her and take it to heart. When I think of all the things they heard about you when you were away, I could just scream. I’m so sorry, honey.” Tru told her she didn’t care that she had made her peace with Shasta hating her. “When you told me she said that she hated you, I could have just sobbed. My goodness, when I think of all the things I’m finding out now about her and Mike and what they did, I want to bury my head in the sand. You were right about telling us to never lie to the boys about anything that we find out. It’s difficult at times, but we do it. Simply because we want them to be able to handle anything that comes along.” There was a very timid knock at the door, and a little boy came into the room. He looked lost for a second, then saw the boys. Clark, she thought his name was, and she asked him if he was there to see the boys. “Yes, ma’am. I am. I didn’t know they was having trouble. I’m going to a different school now, and we don’t see each other as much. I’m doing my homework.” Tru told him that was wonderful and moved so he could sit next to the bed to see them. “I surely wish I’d known what was going on. I would have been in trouble for them. They’re my best friends, you know.”

Overnight, after one night of staying with the boys, Clark really had become a different child. He started studying his homework, paying attention in class, and was no longer a bully. In fact, Tru had heard that he was making a name for himself, telling others to straighten up their act. Tru stepped into the hallway while Clark talked quietly to her mom. She’d been missing the little boy too. Rogen was coming down the hallway, almost as if she knew she’d be standing there. “I have some news. Want to go and get something to drink with me so I can talk to you?” Tru asked her if she could tell her mom. “Yes. If she wants to come too, that’s fine with me.” Mom didn’t want to leave the boys. Plus, she and Clark were talking about his new school. Tru would bet anything that by the end of the day, not only would Sam and Jacob be pulled from the other school, but they’d be joining their best friend at his. “I’ve found the video of the nurse putting the stitches in his head. Christ, she didn’t even give him anything for the fucking pain. You can see him gripping the side of the bed hard enough to leave an impression on it. Fucker is going to pay.” She asked her if she’d been picked up yet. “Yes. Thankfully, or not so much, without any incident. The principal was telling the officers that picked her up that she had nothing to do with the failure to report. I didn’t know that was a state rule until then. Did you?” “Yes. I did a stint as a teacher once. They have all kinds of rules like that. Also, that a nurse cannot administer pain medications to any child unless an adult that is related to them is there. She gave Jacob an aspirin yesterday when he was in the office for his injuries.” Rogen asked her if she’d heard about what had happened to Jacob.

“Houston told me that he has a sprained wrist as well as some deep bruises. His back is torn up like his brother’s as well. Apparently, the teachers are using flyswatters and a smallish whip on them when they’re called upon in class. Not to answer questions, but to have them stand up and tell them about their parents. The boys wouldn’t do that, and it would make the teacher pissy enough that she took her frustrations out on them.” “I have had them arrested too. The entire school is closed down for a few weeks. Long enough for me to get the lowdown on all of them. I did hear from one of the kids that the custodian would hide the boys in his closet so they’d not have to go out on the playground. That is where most of this shit happened. I’m so sorry, Tru. I know you well enough by now to know that this is killing you inside.” “It is. But more than that, I want to hunt them down and take them out. Not even say a word to them, just kill and move on.” She looked around when she realized they weren’t alone in the cafeteria. “What have you figured out so far? I’m sure you didn’t bring me down here for a glass of the nastiest tea I’ve ever drank.” “No—not only that, anyway. And I’m sort of glad your mom decided not to come. I have two things to tell you that are going to make you madder than you already are. Jacob’s teacher is an ex-con—for child abuse. How she got by the background test is something else that I’m looking into. You can bet that heads are going to roll with that one.” Tru asked if she could take care of her. “Seriously, it might well come to that. I’m looking into things. The second thing I have to tell you is that your nephews aren’t the first to get treated this way. Not nearly as bad, but almost so. I have six grown men coming to me about the treatment they got while in school there.

It’s going to close this school up faster than anything when it gets out that they covered things up. Same principal, same nurse.” “What else?” Rogen told her she was working up to it. When Anna joined them, she turned a file that she had in her hand over to Tru. Tru opened the file and stared at the pictures she saw there before looking up at her friend. “Is this who I think it is?” “It is if you think that’s the president of these here United States. He was a child in one of the earlier schools that these two worked at early in their career of harming children. I put in a call to him about it, and I’m waiting for a callback. He’s running the country, I was told, and couldn’t be bothered. I’d like to hear what he has to say about that when he finds out what has happened here.” They both laughed, and Anna came back from getting a bag of chips and some juice. “I was bringing her up to date on the names of some of their victims. Especially our president. He still has a hard-on about having us work personally with him. I believe that’s just too much power to give to one person. If he keeps hounding me about it, I’m going to up and quit. See how he likes that. The fucking bastard isn’t taking no for an answer.” “Word has it that these two change their name and move on when things start to get hot. Someone warns them that there is going to be a police call, and they both skip town. They’re roomies, not lovers that I can find, but they do live in the same household most of the time. Not this time, for some reason that I’m looking into, but they do spend a great deal of time together. Anyway, have you tried this new brand of chips? They taste like horse hay.”

Tru was getting used to Anna’s way of drifting in a conversation if she had things that she didn’t think you’d be happy with. “I have seventeen people that are going to be given their summons to appear in the morning. Everyone at the school, including the cooks, is going to have to appear at some point when this hits the court system.” “Do you think they were all involved?” Anna told her they were and why. “So just knowing about the abuse is going to get them shit canned. Good. I’m betting that in a few weeks, there are going to be a lot of people demanding their money back. I think my parents are wishing they’d not put them in this private school now. I know I didn’t even look at anything about it when I should have. I take some of the blame for that.” “As I said, the school will close down, and then maybe—and that’s a big maybe—it will reopen when they have a new set of teachers. I was going to ask Morgan if he’d mind helping us with that for a few months. Not teaching, but just interviews.” Tru asked if she thought he’d do it. “I do now. Perhaps not before this happened, but he will now.” Nodding, the three of them were still talking when Houston joined them. Her dad was with him, and they seemed to be having a very serious conversation.

However, when they sat down, they talked about how the boys were holding up well and would more than likely be going home in the morning. “My parents are going to help with some of the care they’re both going to need. Not a great deal, but Thatcher wants them to have a good bit of fun for the next couple of weeks. After they heal up a little. Then they’re going to go to the pack school with their buddy Clark.” Tru had forgotten about that and was glad that Houston mentioned it. She knew that Clark was going to a different school and that his mom worked for the packhouse. Tru had simply forgotten. “There will be a lot of arrests over the next few days. Even some parents are going to be taken in concerning this. The two main people are in jail now. I’ve never been so glad of someone being arrested as I am the two of them.” Everyone agreed. When Tru made her way back to the room, she thought about what other things had been in the file. There were pictures of other abused children, each picture accompanied by all the information of the now adults. The one that bothered her the most was the one of the young boy that looked to be about seven. His death certificate said he’d committed suicide when he couldn’t handle what they were doing to him anymore. Tru was going to make sure that no matter what happened, the boys were going to be all right mentally. She might talk to her parents about having them see someone now before they got in any deeper. Making herself a note on it, she was happy to find the boys both awake and talking to Clark. Kids could bounce back from just about anything, she thought.

 

Theodore Xavier’s Hatchlings Release Blitz &Giveaway

 

Pembroke Black had always had a lot on her plate. As a child, she could not tolerate her father, and Pem had moved in with her grandparents when her mother died. When she was old enough to move out, she joined the Army and served the front lines as a doctor. Stitching people up was what she did best. Coping with her own emotions was another story—Pem found little joy in this world.

When Pem’s grandda passed away, Theo Manning was there to help Pem’s grandma any way he could. That included keeping grandma safe. He had no idea until he met Pem that she was his mate. Theo wanted to protect her, too, from what was to come. Pem only had to touch his hand to receive the magic coming to her, but neither had any idea how much magic would flow between them.

Pem had always had her emotions take her under at times, but this was nothing like that. She was happy. She felt better than she had in years. Pem only hoped that Theo would not rush her. There was just too much going on for her to deal with a pushy man.

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Finn Manning had so much on his plate, he wasn’t sure which end was up. He’d been there six months, and the pile of work on his desk hadn’t diminished by one sheet of paper. None of the construction projects the family had lent the money for had even been started. The foreman was a bully, and Finn had had enough.

Rachel Merkel had literally felt the earth move from beneath her feet. The plates she had been stacking at the restaurant crashed around her when she hit the floor. Her sister-in-law Sandra, instead of being concerned, threatened to fire her. Rachel was wondering how that worked, considering she owned the majority share in the restaurant, but instead of arguing with her, she clocked out and went home.

After a heated argument with her brother, Chad, about Sandra, Rachel quit to keep the peace. Then, Rachel felt the earth move again. This time she was sick with it.

Finn had felt it too through an unseen connection and came to Rachel’s rescue. He didn’t know the woman, but he had an overwhelming need to help her. As soon as he caught her scent, he knew what she was to him.

Rachel, not entirely human herself, could sense Finn was a dragon, and she felt the connection when he did. What she wasn’t sure about was what all came with it—the Mannings—all the parents, brothers, aunts, and uncles—it was overwhelming….

 

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Prologue

Long ago, at a time when all creatures roamed the earth as only their true self. Working with and helping humans in whatever way they could. Where magic was celebrated. And dragons darkened the skies every day. It was then man figured out there was magic in the dragons and hunted them almost to extinction.
“I’m afraid there is no hope for us.” No one made a sound as their leader continued. “Once the humans found out about us and what we can do for them dead, we were doomed. I’m so terribly sorry.” Coop looked around the room. There were so few of them now, he could easily count them. When he had been younger, thousands of years ago, there would not be enough room for all of them to share this cave. Now they were down to a quarter of them sharing the space because so many, his own wife included, had been murdered so needlessly. Coop was saddened by it all. Turning to leave the large cave, he was stopped by his brother, Xavier. “The boys, they are well?” He nodded and smiled. Coop felt it all the way to his heart, a place that had been dead for so long, it seemed. “You have the spell? You are going to use it on them? I so wish I had thought of this before my own family was taken from me, Coop. You are a brave dragon and a good father.” “Thank you. And I shall use it tonight. It is the only way to save them.” Xavier nodded his own heart heavy with the losses they had suffered. “You know I would have shared should I have had it sooner. I am so sorry, brother. All of my heart, it’s sorry for you.”

“I know that. I do. But they are all gone now. My other half, my children. Killed for things not fair to our kind.” Coop knew all too well. “Aria was a good woman, Coop. A good dragoness, and mother to your sons. She will be missed forever.” “Aye, in my heart and those of my sons.” Xavier stood there for several seconds, and Coop told him he must go. “They’re waiting for word on what is to happen with us all.” “One more thing, if you please. It will not take but a second. I have left them all I have. It is where you keep them hidden away, the boys. Deep within the cave, it’s all there.” Coop asked him what he meant. “I cannot go on, brother. I cannot. There is too much grief in my heart for me to live. I have left my things for them there. They might survive this with the magic you have to give to them. And if so, they’ll need more than you have to help them.” “Xavier, please, you mustn’t do this. They’ll miss you as much as I.” Xavier nodded and said it had begun. “You can come and stay with my family. You’ll live deep within the caves.” “Nay. I cannot. I must go. Just tell them I love them. With all of my heart.” There would be no stopping him once his heart was made up, Coop knew this, but it made his heart no less full for it.

“Goodbye, my brother. Take care you are not caught by the humans.” Coop made his way back to his hidden cave and sat before the fire. The boys, he knew, were resting, their bodies getting stronger daily with their age. Soon they would be as big as him, dragons of worth and size. When his eldest son came to him, his eyes full of fear, Coop knew it was well past time he did what he had been practicing. The magic would keep them safe. Gathering his sons, six of them of varying shades of blues and greens, he asked them to have a seat. He had a story to tell them. It was not a story, not truly, but a tale that would hopefully keep them safe. “A witch told me once of a great magic only few can do. It takes a loving heart and a strong dragon to make it work. I have asked her, and she has told me how to make it so. This magic, it will keep you all safe from the humans.” They nodded, each of them knowing it was a human blade that took the life of their dear mother. “I will perform this upon you, each of you at the same time, and give you some magic you will use when you need it. This magic, strong and powerful, will let you roam with the humans, and they’ll not know your true self is just below your flesh.” “You mean we’ll be humans as well?” He nodded, then shook his head at Cooper, his oldest. “I don’t understand, Father. Will you explain?” “Yes. The magic I will give you will let you change into your true self when you are alone. But when you are out in the world, you will need to be a human. A man.” Cooper looked at his brothers, then back at him as he continued.

“With this magic, I will also give you a gift. Something you will need to keep yourself safe should they find out. Stronger armor than any other dragon before you, as well as the same immortality you have now, as man or dragon.” Hudson stared at him for long moments. He was the thinker, and if he could think of a reason for this not to work, he would voice it loudly. He was much like his mother in that. She would be the first to say when she did or did not like something and the first to say the plan was perfect. He only hoped she would have approved of this. “I think you are very smart, Father, to try and keep us safe. But I can only think this will not work on you. Or is that your plan?” The boy was much too smart, Coop thought. “If you change us, who will change you?” “There will be no one to change me, son. I will…. It is my wish to join your mother in this earth.” He watched them, seeing if they understood the love he had lost when she was murdered. “Giving you this magic, it will be something I can tell her I’ve done for her sons. You know as well as I that she loved you more than anything on this earth, including herself.” “She died saving us.” Coop nodded at Lincoln. “I’m not happy you’re going to die, Father, but I understand wanting to be with Mother. I miss her more every day.” “As do I.” He looked at his sons, all of them growing into dragons of worth. “I must have an agreement from you all. Even if one of you does not want this, it will not work. I would say you should think on this hard. For once I have given this to you, there will be no going back.”

“I wish to have it.” He knew Cooper would be the first. Not that he did not love his father, but Cooper would see things in a way most would not. To not have this done would mean certain death for them all. Dragons were too valuable dead not to be hunted for all time. “I will do whatever it takes to make sure you are proud of me, as well.” “I am already, Cooper. Forever.” The others nodded too. They were as ready for this as he was dreading it. Because once he started the process to change his sons into men, he would begin to die. It would take all he was to change them. Standing up, spreading his wings out behind him, Coop told them about the things their uncle had left them. They knew where the family jewels were, the things their mother had left them as well. Once they were standing, their bodies strong and healthy, he felt his heart swell and break for what he was about to do. “I, Cooper Manning, of the Manning Dragons of the earth, give to my sons, Cooper, Hudson, Lincoln, Lucas, Tristan, and Xavier, all I am. Each of you will take a part of the earth with you when you are converted. The part of you that is unique in all ways will be strengthened and enhanced. You will be immortal, forever, and those you take to your heart will be as well.” His sons bowed before him when he told them to. He said the words over them that would change them to men. Coop could feel his body shutting down, his heart beating a little less.

But he had one more thing he wished to bless them with and held himself upright to give it from his own dying heart. “One day, true love will come to you, and you will have more than you have ever known. It will fill you in ways you cannot ever imagine. Love will be yours for all times. For only then will you become a true dragon, a Manning Dragon.” ~*~ Cooper sat with his brothers while their father lay dying. His heart was weak from what Coop had done, and it was tearing him apart. Father was weak, yes, but he continued to tell them tales of their mother, of their adventures when they were only small dragons. They were going to be alone soon; their father was so close to joining their mother; it hurt Cooper in ways he had not expected. “What shall we do with his body?” Cooper looked at Tristan and asked him what he meant. “He will not be able to lie here. If the humans were to find him, they would surely cut him up into pieces. I do not want that for him. We were never able to bury Mother in the proper way after what they did to her.” “We could burn his body.” Cooper wondered how it would work when Hudson continued. “His scales will be worthless to them should they come upon his body. The magic he held within him also will be useless to them. He will be nothing more than a carcass they’ll leave alone.” Burn his body. It was something to think about. But Coop did not want to, not while he was still breathing, his body still alive. When he laid his head upon his father’s chest, hearing his heart beating slower and slower, Cooper wondered what his father would think if he knew the magic he had given them had not worked. They were all still dragons.

“He gave his life to keep us safe. But it did not work.” No one said anything to him as they each watched their father. “Dragons such as we are, we’ll be hunted and killed by the humans. There is nothing we can do but wait for them.” “We will survive if we stay here.” Cooper told Xavier they would have to leave there eventually. “To feed and to fly, yes. But perhaps we could do it only at night. Keep to the skies and not let them see us.” “They know we are about and will have spies out looking for our lairs. We will have to kill any man should he come for us, and still, we will not be safe. We are, after all, dragons who have a great deal of magic.” Coop stopped breathing. Cooper did not hear his father’s heart and knew it was at an end. He was quiet for a bit longer, waiting, hoping for just one more beat, one more sound to show he was still alive. But there was nothing. Their father was dead. Sitting up, Cooper told them their father had passed from this world into the next. None of them had ever seen a dragon die before. Their mother had been dead when they found her. Each dragon they had come upon when they were out had been dead long before they found them, their bodies stripped of every part, so they did not resemble a dragon and were no more than a pile of bones.

Their scales were used for roofs for human homes and for shields. The very meat of them was roasted and stored away so it could be used for medicines and potions. Hearts were cut up and dried, then ground into a powder to use for other things the humans would use to keep them from sickness, as well as magic to have a grand garden and trees heavy with fruit. The only part that would be left was the bones, and sometimes even those were carried off and used for something. Cooper hated all humans. “We will do as suggested by Hudson. It is the only assured way we can—” Before he could finish, Cooper felt the stirring of the earth. It shook so hard it knocked each of them off their feet. As they lay there, terrified someone was coming for them, their father appeared before them. His body was still aground, but instead of being dark in death, he was brilliant in light. Faeries, thousands upon thousands of faeries, seemed to be covering him. Before Cooper could tell them to stop, to leave him alone, Father spoke. “I love you, my sons.” Each of them nodded—fear was almost something Cooper could touch. “I will now and forever join my true love, your mother. I must warn you when you find your other half, and you will, you will have to be careful of the slayers. They will know what you have found by the magic you both will share. My sons, you will leave this place and take your place among men. Becoming someone I will be proud of.” “Father, the magic didn’t work. We’re still dragons.” Cooper felt shameful to say this to his father. To tell him his sacrifice had not worked. “We will be hunted and killed.”

“Nay, you only need to think of being your other half. Becoming a man is simple. The same when you wish to be your true self.” Cooper was not sure what that meant, but his father continued before he could ask. “Go now, before men come here. The magic to hide me will draw them here. Be safe, my sons, and know I love you more than I do any other creature in this place.” Cooper stood then as the faeries were still working, taking the body of his father apart. But as he watched, he could see they were not doing anything but preserving his body. Faerie ropes were all around him, strings of magic wrapped around him like a cocoon. It made him invisible to all. As Cooper stood there, his brothers beside him, he knew that, like him, they mourned the loss of yet another parent. “You are the eldest.” He nodded to the faerie when she asked. “We have a gift for you. For all of you, but you will receive the most. Your father was a great man, your mother, a queen among her people. We wish to bestow upon you all your father had.” “My brothers, they will need it as well. I should like to share.” She smiled at him and bowed. “What have you done with his body?” “He is being prepared to be moved. We will make a grand garden upon him. Flowers will be there for all to see, but few will know a dragon is there with his other half, his love.” He nodded. It was as it should be. “You will take this gift? You will share, but as I said, you will get more than the others.” “I don’t care. Please, just do what you must so we can hide.” She nodded again and touched her fingers, small, tiny ones, to his forehead.

Then she did the same to the others before coming back to him. “It is done. You have shared it with us?” “I have, Lord Cooper. But you must leave here now. There are humans coming. The magic we used to do this thing has given them cause to come here.” He nodded and looked at the ground where their father had been. “He is safe. Just as your mother is now. Go, before they find you here and murder you as well.” He thanked her for her help and left. The exit from this part of the cave was hidden so well only they knew about it. As they made their way into the night, he thought of the human inside of him, and the pain of it took his breath away. In seconds he was down on his knees. Whatever was happening, he was surely going to die. “You’re a man.” He looked up at Hudson as they all began to transfer to men. “We’ll be safe now, all of us. We’ll be humans for them until we can find a place where we can be ourselves.” “I don’t think that’s ever going to happen again.” Hudson nodded and held his head tightly as he did so. “We will need to train ourselves in their ways. Become what they are. But never monsters.” “No, never.” They made their way to a building; any would do for now. Hudson, like him, was staggering a little, but they were getting stronger as they moved. Hudson turned to look at him as they were settling in the empty shell of a house. “We will need to buy things, houses and such.”

“Yes. But tomorrow. I am too tired to think beyond how much we have lost.” Hudson and the others agreed. “When the humans are gone from our cave, we’ll go and find what Father was telling us about earlier, about the wealth that will keep us safe.” “I only hope there is a great deal of it. I don’t know how to work.” Cooper told Xavier, the youngest brother, they would soon learn. “I hope so. I hope so.” Cooper did as well. It was going to be hard enough for them to learn to eat and dress like humans, much less get around. Cooper hoped this worked. For he was as afraid as he had ever been in his life. ~*~ After a time, thousands of years, each of the dragons turned into men, forging their way into a world so different from the one they had been born to it seemed a different planet. But survive they did. Having their mates come to them, children born to all of them gave them hope—a small and fragile thing after such hardships they were born to. Cooper became, as his father had been before him, the king of dragons—his mate, Carson, their queen. It had been and still was a time for celebration. To this day, they commemorated often and hard at each new birth of the dragons turned men and women. The others, his brothers, prospered too, finding their other halves, making their magic stronger for having their love. They worked hard in keeping everyone safe and well-fed, humans or other dragons. No one, not anyone in need, would ever be turned away from their help. The Manning dragons, true to their father and mother, became the most powerful dragons ever born. Of the six sons, Xavier’s sons, four hatchlings, and two humans moved far away to be the next generation of Manning dragons that would open their hearts and doors for all creatures. Even the sons of their hearts, the two human born men, carried powerful magic. They used it, with their brothers, to help as many people as possible, humans and dragons alike, to live in the ever-changing world. To help them not only succeed but to perhaps help someone else when they needed it. These boys, now men, have stories to tell.

 

Cole House Of Wilkshire Release Blitz and Giveaways

Cole was the last of the unmated dragons. He was pretty sure one of the injured twins Rylie and Ryan, was his mate, but which one it was, was a mystery. Identical, they were both beautiful beyond compare, but their injuries ran deep. He would make sure they were both healed and protected, but some things could only be healed by love. Trust had to be earned, and trust was the one thing his new mate was having the most trouble with.

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18+ Erotic Shapeshifter Romance, fantasy romance, paranormal fantasy

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…

House of Wilkshire Series1.Devon2.Noah3.Jackson 4.Connor (Coming 8/5/19)5.Matthew (Coming Soon)6. Cole (Coming Soon)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 fairies 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?

 

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.

 

Matthew St. James was the Earl of Green Gables, and Lord of Lilac Castle. A dragon of great title and magic, but little wealth. Only one other knew what his true dragon was, and Devon, King of the Dragons, wasn’t telling anyone.

Aisling was a rare white warrior dragon. She had been in slumber several hundred years, healing from a near-fatal blow in a great war. She felt betrayed when, Dak, her personal faerie, had been sharing information about her with Lord Connor. Now, she had to go talk to him to determine what kind of payment he would extract from her for his protection while she slept. She had no coin. Not knowing what type of payment he would demand from her had her heart twisted in torment.

Aisling didn’t trust anyone. Too many had betrayed her. And when she refused to speak with the king, Devon ordered her to go to his castle. He would make her listen to reason.

Matt arrived at the castle before Devon, but what he wasn’t expecting to find was his mate. And because of his title, he couldn’t get her to rise from groveling on the ground at his feet to even talk to her. When his dragon realized his mate was in front of him, the Earth dragon bypassed the man and bonded with the white dragon. The joining was both painful and spectacular. In pain, Aisling’s dragon, no longer white, took flight.

When Matt finally found her, Aisling was no longer timid. She was mad as hell and out for blood.

 

 

 

 

Cole was the last of the unmated dragons. He was pretty sure one of the injured twins Rylie and Ryan, was his mate, but which one it was, was a mystery. Identical, they were both beautiful beyond compare, but their injuries ran deep. He would make sure they were both healed and protected, but some things could only be healed by love. Trust had to be earned, and trust was the one thing his new mate was having the most trouble with.

 

House of Wilkshire Series

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Jackson https://amzn.to/2J1jjI7

4.Connor https://amzn.to/2m6a3Iw

5.Matthew https://amzn.to/39Huw9N

6. Cole

 

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Cole had an idea of why he was sent on this trip. It was two women, and he was going to figure out which one was his mate. Or whether or not either one of them was. He wasn’t making any predictions on this. If one of them were, then that would be all right with him. Either way, really, Cole didn’t care. Well, he did care, he supposed. Having a mate like the others would be a good thing. Not so much for him, but for whoever she was. The others would eat her alive if she was faint of heart. Laughing to himself as the plane landed on the tarmac, he wondered if any woman would be considered faint of heart. They all, as far as he could see, werebears when it came to fighting for something they believed in. “Are you ready for this?” Noah had come along with him on this trip in the event they had any trouble. Cole was glad for the company but other than having witchy powers, he wasn’t sure what sort of trouble he could get into that his dragon couldn’t handle. “The faeries we brought with us are going to fix the back of the plane up for the one that is hurt.” “Ryan. Why do you suppose someone would call their daughter Ryan?” Noah told him what he knew. “So her name is Ryland. You do know that isn’t that much better for a girl’s name. Unless, of course, their father was named that.” “To be honest, I don’t think anyone mentioned their names. Their parents, I mean. They’re both gone, I guess. Killed in an automobile accident not long ago.

I don’t know what they do for a living, but Bryce told me that they were having trouble that the kids were left to deal with. I’m to look into why they didn’t sue the drunk driver.” Cole knew that, as well. Hopefully, he’d be able to figure it out while they were here. He didn’t care for long plane rides when he could be flying as his dragon. “I just heard from Bryce. The brother is there with them. She said to bring him along too, but if we can help it, not to bring the wife. I guess she’s a nightmare.” “Of course she is.” They were told they could disembark now, and both of them got off the plane. “We’re ahead of schedule. Would you like to get something to eat first? I’m starving. I missed dinner last night.” “Yes, I could eat. However, you’re going to be the one to tell Kelly that we’ve not checked on her friends yet. When we boarded last night, she was telling me that they’ve had a really rough time of life. They not only lost their parents in an accident that took both their lives, but I guess some bills were left unpaid by them.” Cole asked him if he thought they would win a suit against the driver. “I’d say that is a good possibility. I do know that the hospital bill for Ryan is being paid by the city.” Cole decided he’d grab something to eat at the airport. There were all kinds of places to eat, so he just got something from each of them that were open this time of the morning. He was munching down on the last breakfast sandwich when they pulled up in front of the hospital. Noah handed him a mint as they were let out of the limo. “What are the chances, do you suppose, that this is going to go as easily as we hope?” Cole told Noah he didn’t think it was going to go easily at all. “Yes, me either.

There is just too much to go wrong. I mean, from what Bryce told me, Ryan’s leg is not just broken but has some pretty deep bruising too. And some all over her body. The police that were at the bank just stood there and watched while he used a bat on her. Good thing he’s dead. I think Kelly would have come here to end his breathing capabilities.” The hospital was busy, and Cole tried his best not to make eye contact with anyone. He didn’t know why he did that when there were crowds of people around. He’d been doing it for so long now that he didn’t even think about it much. Hearing someone screaming startled his dragon, but they made it to the elevator without anyone noticing them. The floor the women were on was also busy, mostly with staff. Cole noticed that one of the rooms was being guarded, and he figured that was where they were. Instead of having to show them their identification, or anything for that matter, Noah told them they needed to take a break, and both of them left the door. That, Cole thought, was a very handy trick of magic. Entering the room after a short knock, they found two people in the room with a doctor. The woman was sobbing. The man, easily related to the crying woman, was holding her hand. The doctor looked at them when he cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. This is a private room.” Noah told him to go on speaking. The doctor looked confused for a second but then turned back to the two people. “As I was saying, Rylie, there was more damage done to your sister’s leg than we first thought. The bruising is going to take time to heal, but we’re going to have to go in and put braces around her fibula bone to ensure that it’s strong enough to even hold her weight. Then there is—”

“Stop.” The three people in the room just froze. Noah looked at Cole. “I can heal the woman if she’s not your mate. However, if they do it, there won’t be any healing her. With the metal in her body, she’ll have trouble for the rest of her life. Can you see if this sister is your mate? That way, we can go and find Ryan and see what we can do to help her along.” “You mean I’m going to go down the hall or wherever and sniff out the women on this floor to see if anyone fits the bill to be my mate. That’s ludicrous—you know that, don’t you? There isn’t any way that is going to work.” “Just sniff her so we can get on with what we came here for.” Cole walked over to the woman and leaned his head into her throat. He had a good mind to tell Noah he didn’t smell anything, but he stood up. Then he sniffed the man. “What is it? The guy? He’s your mate?” “No.” He leaned into both their throats again. “This one is very sick. I’d say she knows it too. Cancer, if I don’t miss my bet. The man here, I’m assuming he’s the brother, is also in pain. However, it’s not an illness with him, but he’s been hurt badly. To be honest with you, Noah, that’s all I can smell on either of them. Their pain.” “We need to find the sister. I don’t know anything more than that we’re supposed to bring them back with us. Kelly said to bring them all back healthy if we could. The only way to achieve that is to heal all three of them. Tell me what you know about Dillon.”

Cole moved his hand along his ribs and then the rest of his body. He looked at Noah. “Well? Is it bad?” “Yes. Can I not tell you right now?” He asked him if he would heal. “Yes and no. I can heal him, but he’s not going to be able to father children. Not after what was done to him.” “A doctor?” Cole only shook his head. “Christ. Don’t do anything for him right now. Perhaps someone has an idea about what we can do for this guy. Wait. You go and find the sister. I’m assuming she’s being prepped for surgery again. Try that. I’ll take care of the sister here.” “All right.” He started for the door, his heartbreaking for this family. Even if he wasn’t going to be mated into the family, he was going to do everything in his power to make sure they were healed, happy, and healthy. “I’m thinking that once she’s healed, we can get out of here. Also, be on the lookout for a woman named Sandra. Don’t let her anywhere near any of them if she shows up.” Walking down the hall, he found that he was on the wrong floor for the surgery ward. Taking the stairs up, hating elevators more than ever today, he was on the right floor when he realized he hadn’t thought about guards being up here. Telling Noah that he might be in trouble here, the two men there just simply walked away. He went into the room when he heard someone talking loudly. “What the fuck do you mean, it’s going to be a lot longer than you first told me about being under? Do you have any idea how that makes a person feel to wake up feeling like they’ve been on a fifty-day drunk? Why can’t you just, I don’t know, numb it and do it that way?”

The man standing by the gurney just sputtered about pain and manageability. “You took my gun away from me, or so help me, I’d show you what pain is like. Where is the fucking doctor?” “Perhaps I can help you.” Everyone in the room turned and looked at him. “I was sent here by her doctor to tell you that the surgery wasn’t necessary.” “Who the fuck are you?” She could only be the sister to the two downstairs. Identical twins always gave him the willies. Cole didn’t know why—they were just people—but this woman and the one downstairs were a perfect match. “Are you deaf? Who the hell sent you in here? They’re supposed to be prepping me for the big cut up. They’re going to slice open my leg from thigh to toes. Do you believe that shit?” “I can make it so that is not necessary.” He moved closer to the bed she was on. Looking around, he noticed that the two nurses were leaving, but the man, he thought he might be the anesthesiologist, was still standing there. “I was sent here by Kelly. My friend, Noah, he’s downstairs with your sister and brother. Did you know they were both hurting?” “What did you do to them?” He just stared at her. “Look, buddy. I don’t fucking want to be here. I have shit going on that you’d not believe. My parents just died, I had to fucking kill a man yesterday, and now they’re telling me I may not be able to walk without the assistance of a walker. That fucking sucks if you ask me.” “It does. But I’m afraid it’s much worse than even they know. I can see your wounds, you see. They’re going to cut you open, then they’re going to see that not only is your fibula broken in two, but it’s cracked in several places.

Enough so that you’ll need to have the bone replaced by metal rods. That I can’t fix. I can fix broken, even shattered, but I can’t put things back after they’ve been removed.” Ryan stared at him. She didn’t ask him questions, like how did he know, or how could he see her wounds. Nor did she ask him how he could fix her. Instead, he watched her as she stared around the room and then at her leg. Cole didn’t move closer. He waited for her to come to terms with whatever she was thinking. “You said my sister and brother are in pain. Can you fix that as well?” He told her that Noah, his friend, was doing that now. “Dillon was telling us before I was brought here that he is getting a divorce. Is it Sandra that hurt him?” “Yes. I can tell you how if you wish.” She said, not just yet. “All right. Your sister is a little more tricky. She has cancer on the brain, as well as in her bloodstream. I don’t believe she had much more than a few weeks, less than a month to live. I’m sorry about that. But as I said, Noah is fixing her.” “Thank you.” She looked at him. “There are about fifty things going on in my mind at the moment. Nothing that I can say out loud without going into hysterics. And while you don’t know me at all, I can assure you that it’s not something I want to happen to me. I hate drama too.” “Good to know. I would very much like to heal you, Ryan. Also, before I get too close to you, I would also like to rule out whether or not you’re my mate.” She asked him what that would entail. “Just a smell of your neck. I might not be able to. I couldn’t smell anything on your sister but her cancer. She smells of chemicals as well. If you are my mate or your sister is, there will be perks that all three of you will get. Immortality, for one thing. Never getting sick or hurt either.”

“Are you setting me up for something scary? I don’t scare easily. Rarely, as a matter of fact. I, for now at least, don’t want to know what you are. I have a feeling you’re not the run of the mill shifter.” He told her he wasn’t. “So, how does it work with you healing me? I’m assuming that either way, mate or not, you have plans to make it so that I won’t have to walk with a cane for the rest of my life?” “No. You won’t. What it entails is that I give you a few drops of my blood. It won’t hurt you—it will enhance you. However, I have no idea in what way. You see, there are six of us, all with mates except me. When they found their mates, things were shared with all of them.” She asked if Kelly was enhanced. “She is. Very much so.” Ryan laid back and stared at him. He didn’t squirm. There was a lot going on, and he was sure she had questions. But instead of voicing them, she told him something he’d bet few knew about her. “I’m afraid. Not just of you. However, I am enough to wonder what I might be getting myself into, also of what will happen if I allow you to heal me. There will be a connection, even should we not be mates. Correct?” He nodded. “I thought so. I want to be able to walk, so please, do what you have to do to heal me. However, don’t tell me yet if you’re my mate or not. I’m sure you’ll know, right?” “Yes. As soon as I touch you.” He didn’t move forward. He was waiting for her to tell him it would be all right. While he was waiting, he heard from Noah.

We’re all finished down here. Dillon is…the poor guy. Anyway, now that they’re both up and about, they’re packing up Ryan’s things. Also, I need to make sure you know this—Sandra is in jail right now. I think we should be long gone before she’s released. Is she your mate? He told him she was working up to allowing him to heal her. Yes. Rylie said she never jumps in with both feet. I’ve told her nothing other than that she’s healed. Also, I made sure she knows to talk to Ryan. I’ve told her they’re both ill and that her sister has cancer. Noah thanked him. I’m waiting for her to decide what she wants to do. I’m not rushing her. However, just so you know, I don’t think I could even if I wanted. What about paperwork and such? Is that taken care of too? Since it was in the paper, I’m only saying that Ryan has been released. There won’t be any way to trace her once she leaves with us. Cole told Ryan what he and Noah were talking about. I’m calling for a ride to the airport. If you could at least get on with something there, we can be on our way. “If you could heal me, then I’m ready. As I said, don’t tell me the mate thing just yet. I need to think.” After taking the final steps toward her, Cole let his finger morph into a sharp claw and cut into his finger. “I’m thankful for you taking your time with me, but don’t get used to it. I’m not easy.” “I never thought you would be.” As soon as Ryan opened her mouth, he let several drops touch her tongue. He could tell it was working as soon as she moaned. Stepping back from her, he watched it go through her system. In minutes, they were both on their way to the elevator that would take them to the lower floors and to the car. Cole didn’t bother with sniffing her. He knew all he needed to know as soon as he helped her from the bed. ~*~ Rylie hadn’t ever flown before. However, she had a feeling that flying in this plane was nothing like anything she’d ever fly in going commercial.

The luxury in this sucker was nicer than any home she’d ever been in. Glancing at her brother, she wondered what he was thinking right now. “You should know that I can feel your questions without you voicing them. Let it go, Rylie. I don’t want to talk about it right now.” She asked him if he’d ever be able to talk about it. “I don’t know. I’m no longer hurting, and there isn’t any reason for you to question me about it. Besides, having you know that I was hurt is bad enough.” “Can you at least tell me if Sandra is going to follow us?” He said not if he could help it. “Are you really going to divorce her?” “I’ve already started the process.” Dillon looked over at her. “I don’t want to hear you say you told me so either.” “I’ll fucking say it.” They both looked at Ryan, who was sitting in the recliner with her leg up and resting. “I told you not to marry her. She’s a fucking cunt. What was the straw that broke your back, Dillion? I think we should at least be privy to that much.” “If I tell you, will you fucking leave it alone?” Dillon rarely cursed. So when he did, it was funny to her. “I’m serious when I tell you that you’re driving me crazy right now.”

“I’ll try to leave it alone, Dillon. But you should cut us some slack. If we didn’t care, you’d be pissed about that as well.” He said they never gave him a chance at that. “Fuck off. Tell us.” “This was just the start of things falling apart. Well, not the start, but what got me thinking I’m finished with her. When we got back home after the funeral, I was unpacking some of my things. I knew I was going to have to go back to help clear out our parents’ home, so I left the things in there that I didn’t need right away. But I found so much more.” Dillon bowed his head as if he were ashamed of something. “She’d been taking things from Mom and Dad’s home and putting them in our luggage. The framed picture that you couldn’t find of their wedding day? It was there too. Along with all the silverware that we couldn’t find, and some of Mom’s jewelry.” “Why, that fucking bitch. Did she tell you why she’d done it?” Dillon nodded at Ryan and told them. “What does that mean, she wasn’t going to have you lose out? Lose out of what? Their bills? I don’t want to sell any of the treasures, but divide it up between the three of us before we sell the rest. Her deciding to take those things made us all think that Mom and Dad had sold them off for cash. Now we know where they’d gone. What else did she take?” “Two insurance policies that I have with me. There are some smaller items that I’ve also brought back. Some of their medications as well.”

Ryan asked him what he’d said to her. “I never got the chance. She…well, Sandra was pissed off about me saying I was bringing it back with me and attacked me. Then later, when I was asleep, she put me in the hospital. I’ve only just gotten out when Rylie called to say you were hurt. I took that opportunity to get away and hide out for a little while.” “Do you think she’ll follow you to Kelly’s home? I have to tell you, there won’t be a better place to be safe than where we are headed.” Rylie asked Cole why he thought that. With a glance at Ryan, he told her that it just was. “Not to mention, there are things you’re going to find out when you get there that are going to be difficult to believe. Trust me when I tell you, we will not ever lie to you about things.” “That’s a bold statement.” Rylie knew that everyone lied. She didn’t want either of these men telling them things that were simply untrue. “This trip, Kelly said she hoped that we’d stay. I’m assuming you all have money. Am I correct on that?” “You are.” If he was going to say anything more, his phone interrupted him, and he stood up to answer it. When he came back, he laid the phone on the table between them. “Kelly, you’re on speakerphone now. Introduce the others to the people here.” “I’m Kelly, as you know. Here with me is Bryce, Nicole, Aisling, and… You know what, it doesn’t matter. I’ll just have them say who they are when they speak. I wanted to tell you a few things that you’re not going to be happy about. Not that I care how unhappy you are with me; I love the three of you very much and want only the best for you.” Ryan asked her what she’d done. “The bills your parents had are all paid off as of this morning. In addition to that, so is their funeral, as well as the cemetery plot they were buried in. Just so you know, that idiot at the funeral home is on my shit list. The house has the taxes caught up as well. My husband—he’s a great guy, by the way—is looking into the accident to see why no one suggested that you sue the driver’s insurance company.

Unless, of course, you can tell me.” “I actually wondered that as well. We’ve been looking for an attorney that wouldn’t take payment unless we won. It was pretty obvious that the driver ran the stop sign and hit them broadside.” Kelly asked Ryan if she was aware that he was also stoned. “No. Drunk is all we were told. Our mom died on impact, and we were making funeral arrangements for her when Dad took a bad turn. We think it was because someone told him that Mom had died. Three days later, Dad passed away too. Not that his injuries weren’t bad, but he might well have pulled through if he’d had it in his heart to do so.” “Devon, my husband, said he’ll work with you on this.” Ryan started to make a no doubt rude comment, but Rylie told her to hush. “I think you’ve just saved me a tongue lashing, Rylie. I so missed you guys.” “I’ve also some news on Sandra Cord. Christ, she’s a nightmare.” The woman speaking said that she was Bryce and was sorry. “I mean, you’re going to divorce her, Dillon, so I’m assuming you know what sort of person she is.” “I do now. It’s taken so many things going on to make me realize how right my sisters were in telling me not to marry her.” Dillon laughed a little. “I’m assuming she’s not all that thrilled about being in jail. The police officers that arrested her told me they’d never heard some of the words she’d strung together about me. What is it you found out?”

“Before I get to that, I want you to know that I’ve changed all the locks on your house and put someone there to keep an eye on it—also your home, Rylie. The only place I could find for you, Ryan, is an apartment you’ve not lived in for some time. I can have your place watched too if you want.” Ryan told her she’d just sold her home before Mom and Dad had died. She’d been doing hotels since then. “All right. That explains a great deal. About Sandra. She’s got herself an attorney. Her parents are paying for it. I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but they’re as loony as she is.” “I thought they were both dead.” Dillon looked at Ryan and her. “I had no idea that they were still alive. Sandra told me they had died when she was younger.” “They’re both alive and kicking. Also, she has a brother that isn’t anything like the others. A nice guy by all accounts. Stays away from the other three as much as he can. But back to Sandra. The attorney she has is going to find out that you’re not one to fuck with, Dillon. At least since you became a part of this family.” He asked why he was part of her family. “Once you were healed, as well as the others, you became a part of all of us. There will be more details when you arrive, but you’re not going to have to worry about Sandra winning the suit she’s bringing up toward you. She said that her little slice and dice of your nut sack is something that you did. Blaming her was just, and I’m quoting here, ‘something that that dyke of a sister Ryan would have made you do.’ Also, your wife thinks you’re dumber than the dogs across the street. Which after looking into them, I can attest that they’re nothing you want to be compared to in this.” No one said anything more about Dillon’s wound, but Rylie had to wonder why Sandra would do such a thing to him. Rylie realized that another one of the women was talking. Paying attention to what was going on around her, she was sorry she’d missed it.

“I know that. Don’t you think I’d be fucking aware that the president was looking for me? Christ, is there nothing you don’t look into?” Ryan was all riled up again, and Rylie wondered who had done it this time. “He said that once I come back, he’s going to talk me into taking the job. I am not now, nor have I ever considered being, in charge of a bunch of overpaid testosterone-filled assholes. Even the women, and there a lot of them, are on the take. I’m not going to mess with them. Fuck them. He made the mess. Let him fucking figure it out on his own.” “Oh, we’re going to get along just fine, I think.” Whoever was talking was laughing as she continued. “All right, people. Get some rest, and we’ll talk when you arrive. Cole, if you’d pick up the phone now, I have a few things I need to tell you before you arrive.” When he picked up the phone and walked away, Rylie looked at her sister. She was glaring at no one in particular. Wondering what she was so upset about, she asked her to explain. Rylie didn’t think she’d answer her, but when she finally did, she was just as shocked as she was to hear that the president’s personal phone number was in Ryan’s phone. “One of us could be the mate to Cole.” Rylie looked at the handsome man, then back at her sister.

“I don’t want to know right now. I have so much shit going on that having to deal with something more is going to make my head explode.” “What if I want to know?” Ryan nodded her head toward the man. “You ask him. Whatever happens, Ryan, at least we’ll all be safe for a while. At least until we go back home. Is that what you’re thinking? That you’ll deal with it when you get home? You know as well as I do that it doesn’t work like that. You know what we were told about shifters and mates.” “Don’t you get it, Rylie? He’s going to be into all of our lives. More than they are now.” Rylie thought about that. Then she told her sister that so far, their being in their lives was working out pretty good. “Don’t be an ass. Besides, I’m sure it’s you. I mean, it would be great for you to have a nice handsome man that would be able to take care of you.” “You don’t want the same for yourself?” She shook her head. “Why not? I mean, it might be nice to be pampered by someone for a change. Not that it matters, but they seem to have more money than sense.” She looked at Cole as he closed his phone. Having someone like him to wake up to daily would be nice, she thought. But the more she sat there thinking about it, all the things that she’d heard about mates, she decided it wasn’t worth it. Having a man around would be nice some of the time. But someone around all the time? Well, she wasn’t cut out for sharing her things any more than her sister was. No, it might be better off if neither of them knew who he might be mated to.

Piper Queen’s Birds Of Prey Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

Piper and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia. Their time of fighting wars and conquering kingdoms was 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.

Piper wasn’t really happy with the way her job was going and how much travel that would be required of her in the near future. She liked the art that she made, but she wanted to do whatever she wanted, not fill specific orders. She wasn’t feeling the inspiration for that.

Grant had lived in Queen Dante’s kingdom since before the old king had died. He and his mother were fae and, therefore, immortal. He had done many things over his lifetime. Being fae and their unity with the earth, Grant and his mother were the healers for their community.

When Grant and his mother were invited to King Dante’s new castle for dinner, he was excited to see what the new king had done with the place. What he didn’t expect was the charge of magic he’d receive when he met Piper. It knocked them both on their asses. Neither knew what to expect from the other, nor what magic they had exchanged. Although Piper was wary, Grant couldn’t wait to find out.

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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….

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judith 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 graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality.

With two of their sisters mated, Jude and Piper were finding themselves a little envious of the large homes they had. Jude and Piper both were on the hunt for nicer accommodations. Christmas was just around the corner, and neither was sure if they wanted to attend the big gala that had been arranged this year in the old castle where they had all once lived.

Duncan was his mother’s son, thru and thru. He had inherited the gift of foresight as well as immortality and a few other magical traits. Jude being his mate, had been foreseen by his mother, Queen Dante, several millennia ago, and Queen Dante had kept Duncan’s identity a secret from them all.

When Duncan approached her, Jude didn’t know whether to stay put or flee. Being a warrior, she wasn’t afraid of any man, it’s what being with him represented, being a queen, Jude wasn’t sure she was ready for that. She wasn’t sure she would ever be ready for that.

 

 

Mercy  https://amzn.to/2snmIHb

BLAZE  https://amzn.to/33Vued

Judith https://amzn.to/33VuedT

 


 

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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. Turning her mount, she headed back to the encampment to ready herself for the long ride home. The birds joined her not half an 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 the people were headed west. In a few months, probably 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 people in her own keep. No one would attack her keep. If they tried, she knew them to be stupid or 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 it would have given you a great deal of belly pains.” The hawk told her she was lucky he had died the way he had. No one would come for her if she had killed him. “Yes, that is very true. But I suffered greatly when he was living. No children either to give me comfort in my olden 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 anything 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 have another man take her to bed by force. All would be well—no one would threaten to come and take over her home. That was a certainty. The hawk used her beak to put delicate things upon the backs of the others. There was aplenty this time. Barrels and 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 Dante was returning simply by showing up. They would have a feast this night. The food upon her back would feed them for many days. The barrels of spices, 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 become anew, each time getting stronger, 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 there would be nothing left of his body. She loaded the last of her things onto the back of the owl. She might be small, Dante had always thought, but she could carry more than her own weight. And she would pick up her horse, used to flying through the sky like a bird himself, and take him back to the castle. He would be fed and groomed before she 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 threw them off their duty. In no time at all, the vulture snapped both of them up and swallowed them down. A gruesome sight, but one that filled her heart with joy. She was safe again. The vulture took off once she was loaded up. “Well, my falcon, it is just you and I left.” She told her 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 fitted with a seat, one that Dante rode on. Scouring the area, Dante always made sure the places she camped were as neat and clean as she’d found them—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 have been someone around to hear it, might have given the impression that she was insane. “Homeward, my love, and we shall eat well tonight.” She took no one with her on her fights, except the birds. That was why she believed, her people were so loyal to her. She protected them, fed them better than herself, and made sure there was plenty for them to trade for things she did not provide for them. The soil was rich and would give forth a bounty like no other gardens. Flowers woven into pretty things were traded as well. There was a smithy as well as a doctor, who doubled as a dentist. They had even acquired a gravedigger, who also doubled as a man who made markers. A single merchant came by on occasion. His wagon, filled when he arrived, would be near empty when he left. He brought the latest news with him and any posts he had been asked to bring. He would also, for a small coin, take outposts 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 she had hoped never to hear from again—the king of the land, the only man she answered to, though it wasn’t with any kind of happiness on her part. After the others were settled down, 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 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 the land, he has decided my castle is the best there is, and he will marry me himself.” The falcon asked about his castle. “He says it will be his son’s, which he has none of as yet. His last five wives only gave him daughters, from what I have heard, and they did not last long afterwards.” 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 now, and he would be better with a younger bride. One that could birth him the sons 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.” She thought of several plans and threw them out. It was in her head that if she were to die, then she would do so on her own terms. “I will need a day to think on this. In the meantime, he says he will be here in the new year. That will give us a month to provide for the people and make sure 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 men and women that toiled with her. There was much to be done in the little time they’d been allotted. Today they were drying all the beef and goat meat they had.

It would last them for several months, and 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 and already on its way to the new home. Shall we put what is left in a bag to go tonight?” She shook her head. “There are no more barrels until the morn. The copper is working as fast as he can, making more. 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 you all died off from lack of planning, and that will keep you safe for a longer time. Leave it for them, so 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. Things were in motion that would make sure that everything here was gone well before the lands were walked upon again. Dante looked to the sky when a dark shadow fell over her. Her hawk was making her way to the village Dante had set up. Long ago, Dante had purchased the 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 she’d not be 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 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 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 gentlest 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 right, but it was safe now, and that was all she wanted. There were only a few short weeks left to get the people gone from here with all that would keep them safe. Now all she had to do was make sure the birds didn’t know the last of her plans. The platform had been made from several drawbridges from castles 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 thought to put them together and have her fishermen weave a netting to carry it with. After several tries and failures, the carrier worked. Loading up the men on the first run of people, she noticed 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 took so little of the wine to do that to him. But they didn’t know 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 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 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 nothing 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 you were good to get them started on this. ‘Tis only early 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 and the other birds. 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 they will need, 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’d had such good people working for her. They asked nothing as to why they were doing this but just did it. When in reality, it was all for them and her birds. Dante knew the king would never make it here. His ship and all his bounty would be deep in the waters he crossed to kill her and take her castle. The man was a fool to think she would easily do what he wanted. It would not be her that killed him—it would be her bird. But in the event that it didn’t go the way she’d seen it, the plan to move her people was the best way to keep them safe. Wiping at a tear, she looked around the keep she’d worked so hard to keep everyone safe in. It was then she saw her son. Duncan was everything 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, just the way it should be. She was glad now that she’d told him 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 nothing of any value was left behind. The only thing she could see in the great room was the painting of herself. Dante wished so many times that she could have put her son there with her, but it was not to be. It would have been foolhardy to think she’d be able to keep him safe if she was to put out there that he’d been born.

Other kingdoms would have done a great many things to capture him to bring her to heel. Dante would do anything to keep him safe, including submitting to a man again. A thing that she would never 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 she will love.” “You have seen this?” Duncan said 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 the last person being 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 was so tender of late that she would burst into tears at all that would be gone in so short of time. Hugging him to her, she felt the strength in his body, which 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 I have known for some time. It will replenish the riches I have put aside for you. Also, tell you how to keep the birds safe should they need it.” He nodded. “I will give it to Mary on the day you travel. I do not want the others to know you are my son, even after all is finished here.”

“They will only know me as a man 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 I will take care that they are as safe as you made them here, don’t you?” “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 she will only love you if you give her your heart. It’s important you do that for her.” He said he would. “Let her strength help you when you know 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 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 anyone can do for their mate, my child.” He hugged her, something that neither of them was 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.” ~*~ New Town, what they had begun to call the new place they were living, looked like any other town in the country. The only difference was, this one was only several weeks old.

To Dante, it looked as if it had been established long ago. She was pleased with the work her people had given the place she’d moved them to. “My lady? There is a problem in one of the homes we’ve put up. I know how to fix it, but the man living in it, he said he will be fine with it. To have his own home was more than he could have hoped for.” The queen of the people asked Barron what was the issue. “He has five daughters, my lady, and we’ve somehow put him in a house with only one bedroom. There are ones he could use, but he insists it be used for the other families.” “I shall speak to him. Is it Donald, the mule man?” Barron nodded, his face nearly touching the ground; he was bent so low. “Stand up, man. I believe I have pointed out this is not a time for formality. We must all work together for the greater good of the people. I shall speak to him now. Then I must, as you know, return to the castle for the final loading.” Along the way to speak to Donald, she was stopped no less than twenty times to be thanked for the things she’d provided for the people here. Without making the great move, Dante knew all of them would be killed. Because of their loyalty to her as queen of the castle, the king of these realms, a tyrant of a man, would have ordered them all butchered as soon as he killed her on their wedding night. Not that she was assured of him coming here. This was her plan, a way to keep them safe if she had read her dreams incorrectly. “My lady? I have yet to put on a pot for tea, but you must join us in it.” Dante was not one to hold back when she had something to say. She told Donald she wanted him to take a larger home. “Oh, my lady.

Barron should never have bothered you with this. We are quite happy with where we are.” “But you have six people in a single man’s home, Donald. What, I ask you, will the man who was supposed to be in this house do with a home with many bedrooms? He will be overwhelmed, trying to keep them clean while you are smashed up in this one bedroom chamber with your little girls.” Donald looked at his daughters, beautiful little ones that were his pride and joy. “There is a home just over the road that you shall be moved to. I insist. Your daughters will share two bedrooms, and you will have your own. I know for a fact, sir, that your snore is legendary. For your daughters to have a good sleep, you will need to be far from them. Do you not agree?” “Yes, my lady.” He moved just a little closer, and in a low voice, spoke to her. “I did not wish to cause you any undue trouble. You have given all of us a chance to survive this, and I wanted to be sure you knew I was ever so grateful for it. I’m as happy here with you and yours as I ever was in the castle keep, my lady. Incredibly happy.” “I’m glad you’re happy here, Donald. You are a good man and a man that cares well for his daughters. I shall have the men move you to the new home. It will give me a good feeling knowing you have plenty of room for yourself and your family.” He thanked her. “Your daughters, sir, they will be safe here. You need anything, you make sure you contact Barron.” “Thank you, my lady. If there is ever anything I can do for you, you need only to ask. I am and will be indebted to you for the rest of my days.” Dante felt her eyes water up with the man’s word. Her life, she knew, was only a short time away from ending. “Thank you very much.”

The little girls curtsied at her, and she had to move on. It broke her heart every time she saw small children. She so wanted to hold her own. Telling Donald she’d have the men move him once again, she moved toward the long house that would serve as a church for the people and a meeting place for them to gather should they need to. Her eagle was awaiting her when she returned to the now all but abandoned castle. “You have done well, my heart. You of all the birds I have are the one I worry most about.” The eagle asked her why. “You are so much like me. Hard when you’re needed to be, too soft when it comes to our people. I fear someday it will harm you in ways that not even I could fix.” Her eagle, like the other birds, had been a huge part of getting the people moved. If not for them, there would be no way she could have done this. It would have meant certain death for all of them, including her own son. Going to the throne room, she sat upon the floor. Dante had moved her chair to the caves for the others to sell off should no one want it. But because she could see into the future, just bits and pieces, she knew at least one of them would want such a monstrosity. “When this is finished, soon now, I will give you and the others magic to keep you safe from others who would try and capture you.” Her eagle asked what sort of magic. “You will be able to blend into situations you wouldn’t normally consider a problem.

There will be those situations, too. For the things I have seen, you all will have trouble from those around you.” She laid back on the cold stone. The castle had been forged so long ago, Dante could not remember who had been the person who erected it. Now, as she looked up into the night sky, the roof here long since removed, she thought of what was going to happen in the coming days. “He has set sail and is nearly here. The king of all the lands is coming to claim not just my castle and my wealth, but my birds as well. There are many people on the vessel that carts his bottom here who have no desire to be his servants. If only I could have saved them as well.” The eagle, standing upon her perch built just for her, reminded Dante she could not save them all. “In this, I wish it was wrong to have thought that. They will suffer these people. They are suffering, for there is nothing to do to appease the king to find favor with him. There are so few that he has not made suffer by lashing them on their backsides. Too many of them have died in his foolishness to make me his wife for such a short time.” Listening to her eagle squawk at her about the king and idiocy, Dante thought of her impending death. It would be a sad affair to her son and the birds he would one day claim as his own. However, just knowing all would be safe from the king’s tyranny made all the other things so worthwhile. “If I had to do again, I would do nothing differently. I would still do what I am doing now so that all would live and live on. Even with you birds, I would do just what I have done to keep my kingdom here.”

The eagle asked her if she’d been happy. “Happy? I don’t know that I have had that much in my lifetime. I have been content. Not the same, I suppose, but I have been content with my lot in life. If only I could have kept living the way we have, I do believe I could have made such a difference in things here and in the future. Before I forget this again, I have taken the time to write out the things t’will keep the new town with coin in their coffers. I know it will be aplenty, but I will worry until my last breath if it will be enough.” Her last breath—it was only a few days away. Much too soon for her, but Dante knew it would be well worth the pain of dying. Sitting up, she looked at the birds, all six of them on their perches watching over her and the emptied lands they could see. They were the sole reason she was able to do this. This she knew more than anyone could have guessed. “I shall retire, I think. I have no bed to speak of now, so I will only lie upon the ticking. On the morrow, we shall have a feast. A great amount of food, as well as drink. ‘Tis fitting, I think, to celebrate this new way of life for so many.” Her beautiful phoenix asked her why she seemed so sad. “Sad? Aye, I am that and more. Things are moving at a pace I wish didn’t exist. But it is for the wellbeing of all that have called this place home. In that, I suppose I am sad that we shall never be able to return here in my lifetime.” But they would. All six of them and more would return someday and see the castle as it should have been, a lovely home to her son and his mate. The one, she herself, had hand-picked for her beloved child. Oh, to be able to see them grow into love.

But it was not to be. Getting up before she made a fool of herself by crying over something she had no control over, Dante did indeed head to her bed. For tomorrow and the next day would be the hardest of anything she’d ever done. ~*~ Dante didn’t sleep. She’d not closed her eyes to rest in more years than she could count on both her hands and then her toes. It was all right, she supposed. Dante was able to get more done this way. But she did pace herself. She’d never survive these last days if she were to fall apart now. “Mistress, there are two men here to see you. They wish to know who has carved your turrets. I did not tell him the birds atop the castle are as real as he.” Mary shook her head at the folly of some men. “I should have called them down to talk to him about how they were made. I think he might well have soiled his britches.” “Mary, please tell them the lady of the castle is busy and does not have time to tell him of the art he is looking at. What manner of person would ask such a thing? As if I didn’t have the sense of that turtle caught in the drain last week. Nay, tell them to move on before I toss them into the sea.” Mary went to tell them just what she had said. Dante was smiling when she heard Mary laughing. She’d no doubt make the way she’d told her to move them on to extremes. It would serve the men right if she really would call down one of her birds to take care they didn’t bother her again. Dante made her way to the drying room at the back of the kitchen. She had been brewing a brew for several days now. “You’re not going to be going with us, are you, my lady?”

She turned to look at her great phoenix. “If you do not explain to me what your plan is, I think to tell your falcon what I have figured out. She will not allow you to die. Nor will I be all right with your death.” “I must die, my beautiful friend. For if the king were to find that this castle and all that was here when he set sail were gone, what do you think he’d say to his men? That it was a good thing she left? That now he didn’t have to kill her? Nay, he would send them to find me and my people. I do not wish anyone else to be harmed for what he wants from me.” The phoenix, Piper, would be her name someday, asked her if she expected her birds to do the killing of Dante. “In a way. I have this brew here. It is nearly set for me to drink down. The castle and its walls, they must come down, or it will be all for naught. I might have misjudged something in my dream, so I wish to make sure that all is taken care of, including my people. This, what I have made—it will have me dead before you drop the first stone upon the only home I have ever had. You as well, my dear bird, must be gone should he arrive.” “Mercy will not be willing to help,” Dante told her she would because she’d know what Dante said now was the truth. “Aye, you say that, but I think her to be most upset with the turn of events, my lady. It will break all our hearts to know you have left us behind.”

“I shall never leave any of you behind. I will be forever in your hearts, and you in mine as I take my last breath.” The phoenix nodded but didn’t say anything more for some time. “He will die before he gets to the land. This king who thinks to murder me in my own bed. And those that he brought with him, they too will perish. ‘Tis a folly on his part to think I’d just do as he wants as if I have no mind of my own. I know Mercy will kill him and all that have been forced to come here with him. It’s not such a bad thing, these deaths, Phoenix. It will be merciful to all that have ridden the seas to make their way here.” After the bird left her, she pulled the large cauldron off the hot flames and covered it with a lid. Even though there were no children about nor anyone working in the kitchens, she would feel terrible if any harm would come to anything right now. Making her way back to the throne room, or what was left of it, she laid on the floor to look up at the sky. Dante hated heights. While she forever knew she’d never see the time when there would be airplanes in her sky, she knew they were set to come. She was content, for now, to bask in the beautiful view she’d miss more than she thought she might. Getting up, Dante made her way to the side of the castle that faced the sea. “Oh, to see the waterways filled with my own ships again. To see them sailing off to find new things to bring back to us.” There were ships out there—she could just make out their flags. None of these were her tormentor, she knew. He would be visible in two days. Still a long way out to sea. He would be nothing more than a small speck in the open waters, but she’d still be able to see him. “Why now? Why have you made your plans to include me at this time?

I wish more and more I’d been born a male. Then no one would dare to come here. I might well have been the king of all the lands had it been so.” Her ships had been taken to the coves not far from here. By the time they were remembered, they would be nothing more than rotted wood and material. Dante wouldn’t want them to be seaworthy again. It might well be the thing that got her people killed. Even in the future, the bits and pieces she could see, the ships would only cause people to look harder for her remains and perhaps run into New Town, where her people lived. That, she knew, would be a danger to all. “Mother? Are you here?” She turned to look at her son. Duncan had been coming to her of late to get more lessons and her thoughts on things, as well as how to manage a vast kingdom such as the one she was leaving him. “I thought for sure you’d be here. I have a favor to ask of you. ‘Tis a small one, but one I think you can give me. I should like to spend the night here, within these walls, once with you. I have spoken to Mary about it, and she thinks you will grant me this one wish. It will be the first and last time the two of us will be able to be under the same roof since I was born.” “I should like that. Very much.” He nodded and smiled at her. “There is so much to tell you, and so much more, I think I have forgotten to pass on to you. But for this night, I shall not speak of the king coming here. Nor of my life-ending. You are aware of it, my child. This, I know. But to have you here with me this last night? It is more than I could have asked for.”

They made their plans to sleep on the same ticking she’d been resting on since her bed had been taken away. As they curled up under a thick blanket, the two of them talked more than they rested. Tears were shed, of course. There was no way to avoid such a thing. But there was laughter too, much more of it than tears. “I shan’t be here tomorrow when you are set. I cannot be of sound mind when I know what is to happen to you. I will tell you, Mother, that there couldn’t have been a better person to raise me. Nor one that has loved me as well as you have.” She kissed him on the forehead as he spoke again. “For so long as I live, Mother dear, I will keep you in my heart, along with the birds that will be mine as well. I love you—much more than I think any child could their parent. You are the best there is. I shall kill anyone that says differently.” She had no words to give him after that. Her heart, already tender, was breaking more. It might well have done her better not to have spent the night with her son. But it would have been harder on her, she thought, to not have this time with him with no others around. Finally, when she could speak without tearing up, even more, Dante told her son that she loved him. That he’d be a better king than she had been a queen. After saying that, they both settled into their thoughts until the sun came rising up from the seas that surrounded them. Today, she knew, would be her last day to breathe in the air and take in food for her belly, and the very last time she’d order her birds to do something she knew they’d hate her for.

 

 

 

 

Sean Sons Of Crosby Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

Rachel Daniels was in over her head, and it didn’t take a genius to see it either. Her niece and nephew had been through a lot, and it was up to her to take over where their mother had failed them. Now finding out that she was Sean Crosby’s mate had her head spinning. She was just getting used to the idea of being a mother. Taking on the role of being a mate to a vampire was another daunting matter.

Sean Crosby had always been considered a loner. Now finding himself with a readymade family, Sean couldn’t be happier.

Sandy Farley didn’t really want her kids back. She only wanted the benefits of having the kids gave her. And if it took ruining Rachel’s good name to make things go her way, she was all for that too. What did it matter if her lies sent Rachel to jail? She killed Rachel’s brother. She would kill her too.

 

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SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1049234
KOBO  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sean-19
ITUNES https://books.apple.com/us/book/sean/id1536480063
PAPERBACK  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1953271286/ref=sr_1_7?keywords=kathi+s+barton&qid=1603103246&sr=8-7

 

 

 

 

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 roundhouse 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
5.Ryan https://amzn.to/2T9sVTl
6.Sean https://amzn.to/357xyUE

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Prologue

Sandy waited to talk with her attorney. He didn’t cost anything, and her experience on that seemed to be a person got what they paid for. But he seemed to have his shit together, for which she was very glad. Of course, he didn’t know the whole truth about anything that she’d done. Especially when it came to her past and the life she’d had with her children. Sandy didn’t think that Rachel would say anything different, not if it kept her from going to jail again. “You told me that your sister forged your name to legal documents, correct?” Another lie she’d told him, but he believed her. “You’d think that someone that works for the government would know better than to do something like that. I mean, that’s serious jail time for her.” Sandy felt a little guilt for that, but let it go. Again, Rachel would want her to be with her kids, wouldn’t she? That’s all she ever talked about was how they needed their mom out of prison. Not that she wanted to hang around them much either, but it was either Rachel claimed that she was a wonderful mom or Sandy would end up in jail forever.

The third time, she knew, was not a charm. “Did you go and talk to her about it?” He said that no one was home. “It’s Wednesday, right? That’s pizza night at the house. That’s probably where they are.” “I don’t think so. According to the landlord, Rachel had him pick up her mail for a week and to make sure that no one got into their place. She even said not to allow you in. What’s she hiding from you?” Rachel had taken her kids on a trip? Sandy wondered if there would be gifts for her when they returned. Then she remembered that she’d turned her kids over to Rachel. “Do you know where she might have taken them? I mean, if she forged your name to those documents, then she isn’t allowed to take someone else’s children across state lines. Did you know that?” “No, I didn’t.” She didn’t either. But now that Sandy thought on it, it would be like her sister to take the kids someplace special, to probably break the news of what she’d done. “You think she would have told them about the paperwork? I mean, not that she forged my name, but that she believes what she did is right?”

“If she did forge your name to those papers, then she’d be in trouble more if she took them across the state lines. We can attach kidnapping to what she’s doing.” Nodding, Sandy wondered if her sister would ever forgive her for this and decided that she would. Rachel had a soft heart. A soft head too, but it was her heart that she was playing around with. “I’ll have someone check the airports for a ticket in their name. Maybe she’s only taking them to an amusement park or something. But what we have to work on now is this shoplifting charge against you.” “I was so depressed about not seeing my kids.” The attorney nodded. Sandy supposed that it helped her, too, that the man was a new dad. “I knew as soon as I did it that it was wrong, but you have no idea how it feels when you’re not able to get a hug when you can.”

Hugs. Sandy hated hugs more than she did nasty noses and dirty diapers. Her kids were well past that now, of course, and had been for some time. That was why she’d moved in with Rachel and the kids again because she figured that she’d be able to handle all their shit now. But it had been one thing after another with them. Always with their hands out for something they needed for school. They needed a coat or boots before winter. Finally, she told them to see Rachel for that shit, cutting out the middle man, so to speak. Not that she didn’t have the money, Sandy thought. Rachel had all kinds of money. Sandy had tried her best to figure out how to take cash from her sister’s accounts, or even to get a check to write out to cash. But Rachel was very careful of that, never leaving anything out where she could find it. Sandy was sure that Rachel was well aware that she’d been looking. Rachel had always been stingy with her money. It was always like she was saving for something big. So far as Sandy could see, she’d not spent any of her money on anything bigger than a car, and even that was older than dirt. It didn’t even have air conditioning. “Did you hear me?” Apparently, she’d been daydreaming again and told the attorney that she was sorry, just thinking about her children.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Farley. We’ll get them back for you. But, we just found out that Rachel has gone to Ohio. Do you know anyone there?” “No, I don’t think so. But her job, they send her all over the place when they need her.” He asked her what she did for the FBI. “I don’t really know, to be honest. I know that she’s been doing her job since she was just out of college.” “Well, it won’t get her anywhere for much longer. I have someone from this office going there now to see what is what. If you hear from her, not that I think you will, being in jail right now, you give her my name and tell her that I wish to speak to her.” It was then that Sandy realized that she didn’t know the man’s name. Not even a hint of it. Then he laid his card in front of her. “That’s my direct number. You have one of the officers call me no matter when you hear from your sister.” “Is it important for you to know that she’s not really my sister?

Rachel is my sister-in-law by my dead husband.” He said that it was important. “I knew Rachel long before I met her brother. Jonathon and I were married for about a year when he was killed.” “I’ll make a note of that.” Sandy nodded and was glad that he’d not asked her how Jonathon had been killed. She’d done it while stoned out of her mind one night. Sandy didn’t even know what the argument had been about. That was when her children had been taken from her the first time. Rachel had gotten them just before they’d been put in the system because she’d been put in jail for his murder. Not that anyone believed that she would actually kill her own loving husband. Rachel had helped her out with that as well. When she was taken back to her cell, Sandy laid down on her cot. It wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be when in jail. She kind of loved it. Three meals a day that she didn’t have to cook or clean up after. A nice cozy bed that had as many pillows and covers as she wanted.

The best part was she didn’t have her kids around whining about this or that. And no sister nagging at her to get a fucking job, either. ~*~ Sean got off the phone with Ben Shore and looked across his desk to Rachel. She’d not said much since they moved into his home. It had made him laugh when she asked for a key to the room she was in. While he could have broken down any door that she put between them, he had Conner, his butler, call someone to put the lock on her door. She didn’t seem to be any happier about that than she was anything else. “Do you want it easy or hard? I can do either one for you.” She told him that she wanted him to never lie to her. “I would never do that. Besides, I can’t anyway. However, I can be gentle about the information that I have if you’d like.” “How is that not lying?” He told her that he’d tell her the truth but be nice and ease her into things. “I’m not my niece and nephew. Just tell me what you’ve found out.” “Your sister is in jail for shoplifting. To play on the sympathy of the courts, she’s telling them that you forged her name to the documents you filed. Also, you took them out of the state without her permission.” She asked him how that would have been gentler. “I might have started off saying that your sister is full of shit and that if she touches one of those kids or you, that she’ll live to regret it.” “I don’t think you fully understand the meaning of gentle.”

Sean laughed and saw her smile too. “What happens now? I mean, I’m sure that someone somewhere is going to want to speak to me about my side. If they do, what happens to Becky and Jon? I don’t want anything else to happen to them.” “I don’t either. I’m going to talk with my brother, Ryan. He’s an attorney and has been one for a long time. Longer than any sitting judge has. He’ll have answers. Between him and Misty, my sister-in-law, they’ll have something that we can work with.” Rachel got up and started walking around his office. He didn’t say anything to her, letting her roam around while she thought. They were having dinner with his entire family tomorrow night, and he was sure she wasn’t too thrilled about that either. “Those men that hurt Becky have you found them yet?” He nodded when she looked at him. “And they’ve been dealt with? Legally?” “No. Not legally, no. But they won’t hurt anyone ever again.” She just nodded, and he let out a long breath. “You’ll meet Emerald tomorrow night. She’s sort of our go-to person in finding people. When she caught up with them, they were doing the same thing. But this time, they didn’t get far enough to hurt the young girl. She was eight. Emerald made them suffer a bit before—” “I want you to tell me things gently from now on. Or better yet, I’d rather you said to me, ‘You don’t want to know.’ I will know then that I really fucking don’t want to know.” He said that he could do that for her. “I don’t know what’s going on here with you and I. I know that you’re not going to hurt me. I have a friend that I spoke to when we got here. She told me that you were one of the nicest men that she knew. Your whole family was people that could be depended on when the shit hit the fan.”

“That’s very true.” Rachel sat back down in the chair. “Do you have questions? Or too many to ask?” “Both. You said that you were old and powerful—what does that mean exactly?” Sean wanted to tell her that she didn’t want to know but thought that perhaps she did need to know just what she had at her beck and call. “I’m thousands of years old. My family was powerful before we were given the gifts from Killian. With what she gave us, we were more than likely the most powerful beings in the world, with the exception of the queen. But since then, we’ve merged with a great many other creatures. Emerald is the queen of dragons. Protector of them, too, with the help of my brother.” Rachel asked him if there really were dragons. “There are. Unicorns, as well as a few other creatures that people think aren’t real. I can introduce you to them when this is all done if you’d like.” “I don’t know. What else is in our corner?” He told her. “So there are faeries and brownies that we can call on, as well as an army of wolves. You do know that this is a lot for me to take in, don’t you?”

“I do. But you’re doing just fine so far.” She got up to pace again. “I wanted to make you aware of something that your friend might not have known if she’s not a vampire. I can no longer drink from anyone else but you. Ever again. In an emergency, I can drink from my brothers, but no one else.” “No, she didn’t mention that.” Sean nodded but didn’t say anything more, waiting for Rachel to ask whatever she wanted. “You’re wealthy, she told me. Beyond any wealth that anyone has ever been able to calculate.” “That’s partly true. You’re very wealthy too, now that you’re my mate. The children too are wealthy, and I will do whatever you wish regarding them.” She asked him what he meant. “If you’d marry me, which is no big deal to think about now, then everything that I own will be put in your name. That’s to keep people, mostly people that aren’t aware of what we are, from becoming suspicious of us being around so long. Then after a while, it will come back to my name. But I will forever think that whatever I have is yours, and whatever is yours is yours.

In several lifetimes, Rachel, you could not spend all the money we have so that we’d have nothing. There is always money to be had. Legally.” “I need to think about this.” He told her that he had no doubt that she did. “Where do I go when I have questions? To you? I don’t want to take up your time.” “You can come to me whenever you wish. Or to any member of my family. They’ll answer everything and anything you wish. But, like me, you’ll have to tell them how you want your information. Also, the women in this family are very strong, like you are. And they’ll be almost too much. But I have no doubt at all that you can stand up to them.” When she left to see to the children, he leaned back in his chair. He was nervous as fuck around her, and he thought she might know it. Sean was as excited as he’d ever been about having anyone in his life. He just hoped that he didn’t have to kill anyone around her to keep her safe.

 

Stanley Dalton’s Kiss Release Blitz & Giveaway

Elizabeth Strickland, Lizzy, to her friends, found herself in a predicament. The last thing she remembered was attending her own bachelorette party, then waking up in a cave with six other women. They all had wounds, just like hers, only they were dead. Lizzy had awakened as a newborn vampire. She had no idea why they died, and she had lived, but she had wished every day that she had died with them.

Stanley Remy, better known as just Remy, was an old vampire and close friends with Bancroft, their leader. He had his own issues. He was being falsely charged with making baby vamps and leaving them to fend for themselves.

Lizzy just wanted the bodies of the other women found. Once they were, she had every intention of meeting the sun. What she didn’t need were two overbearing old vampires dictating to her what she could and couldn’t do. She had killed her maker, she wouldn’t hesitate to take them out if they didn’t let her be.

But then Remy gifted her with something she never thought she’d have again. To feel the sun without burning. She could have her life back. Maybe this mate thing wouldn’t be so bad after all.

If only it were that simple….

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Kelly Roman was good at her job. As a forensic anthropologist, she could help the dead and help the families find closure. The one thing she hated about her job was her boss, Shamus Van. That man was out to sabotage everything she did. And when he brought in the new chief of police, Bancroft Dalton, to make her look bad, that was the last straw. She’d quit before they had a chance to fire her.

When Bancroft showed up at her front door, he asked to be invited in, and when he told her he couldn’t lie to her, it set off all kinds of bells and whistles in Kelly’s suspicions. It wasn’t the fact that he was a vampire that bothered her, it was the part about him not being able to lie to her. She knew shifters couldn’t lie to their mates. There was no way in hell she was letting a man barge into her life and take over….

 

 

 

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Wesley Bishop’s Snowy Leap Release Blitz &Giveaway

Wesley Bishop was helping out a friend by letting Emmie stay with him. He knew she wasn’t his mate, but she was good company. Emmie was hiding from her abusive brothers. When she asked Wesley to take her to the bank, she was meeting her best friend Penny and Penny’s grandfather, Joe, to go over their accounts, Wesley readily agreed.

Wesley thought Penny was about the prettiest woman he’d ever seen—feisty too, and when her scent hit him like a freight train, he was the happiest tiger shifter on the planet.

Penny, not so much. Like Emmie, Penny’s family had a way of getting their point across with a heavy fist. Trusting a man wasn’t easy for her.

Wesley was no quitter; he’d convince his new mate to trust him if it was the last thing he did. And keeping her safe was proving to be more difficult by the day.

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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.


Sasha Harvard had returned to the small town in Ohio because Hailey Riddle, a ghost, had led her there. Sasha had been speaking to the dead for as long as she could remember. In working with the police, Sasha had been in the field, helping to look for Melinda’s spirit when Melinda Havard had found her. Melinda told her that they were sisters, and the man that had killed her thought that she was Sasha. Melinda had done the best she could to deliver the child she was carrying before she succumbed to her wounds. The child was marked like Sasha, and the dead would find her when she was older. Melinda wanted Sasha to raise her child, and she warned Sasha that the man who had killed her would come after both her and the child because of what they could do. Sasha pulled out the business card of Sawyer Bishop, the officer in charge on the field, and told him that she’d like to meet him at his house and to send someone to pick her up.

Chandler Bishop knocked on Sasha’s door to pick her up. He heard a scuffle inside and broke down the door. A man was standing over Sasha with a baseball bat, and she had been beaten. When Chandler yelled at the man, he just disappeared. Sasha was shocked that he’d seen the man. Chandler thought the man was a vampire, Sasha told him the man was dead.

Chandler had found his mate and could see the dead now too apparently. And the little girl, Pip, her niece, would be theirs as well. A readymade family and he couldn’t be happier. But would he and his tiger be able to keep them safe from both the living and the dead?

the living and the dead?

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The equipment was larger than life. It didn’t so much scare her, but it did intimidate her something terrible. Emmie waited at the end of the row that Wesley was putting in for pea planting. He’d told her just this morning he’d never realized what real anticipation was until he had to wait months and months for something so simple as peas. Waving at him when he looked in her direction, she wondered how hard it would be to run over one of her brothers with the sucker. “You all right?” She nodded at him and thanked him again for allowing her to hide out in his house while her brothers were around. “It’s not a problem. You keep cooking for me like you are, and I might just keep you around.” “You’d not like having me beaten up all the time if anyone of my brothers shows up. You’re a good man, Wesley.” He was embarrassed, and she had to laugh. “I’ve been called into the bank for a little bit. While I know Dutch is in jail, I’m still afraid to head into town. I don’t suppose you can call one of your brothers to take me in, can you?” “I can do you one better. Raven, I think you know her?” She said she knew of her. “She’s scarier than your brothers. Smarter too. But then that’s not all that hard. Anyway, she’s on her way here to get some information on the tractors I’ve been using for her grandma. I know you might not be too thrilled to have your brothers arrested, but they’ve been—” “If anyone can get them off the streets and out of my life, I’m all for it. Penny and her grandda are going to meet me at the bank. They have some clothing for me from Mr. Joe’s house.” He said that was good.

“You’ve been a real hero for me, Wesley. I don’t think anyone else would have just taken in a stranger like you did. I can’t thank you enough.” “It wasn’t anything. As I told you this morning, you’ve been really nice having around. Stems off some of the loneliness I didn’t realize I was having.” When he got down off the tractor, Emmie was again surprised by his height. She wasn’t a little person at five-eleven, but he seemed to tower over her. “Am I making you uncomfortable?” “At first, you did. But for whatever reason, I feel safe around you. Since we both know we’re not mates or whatever white tigers call their other half, I’m assuming you’re just a nice guy.” He threw back his head and laughed, and Emmie couldn’t help it, she joined him. “I’ve only been here for three days, and I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in all my life.” “The same with me. All right. I’m finished helping the neighbors with their fields, and I have about an hour before I have to meet my dad and his cronies over at Mom’s again with the tractor, so how about I just run you in? You’ve been great for helping me get my stuff packed up to move, so I’m going to treat you to something you don’t have to cook.” She thought she could fix something the house, but being waited on sounded too good to pass up. “I just need to take a quick shower and change. Even with air in that sucker, it still gets mighty hot when I’m working.” He did take a quick shower and was ready to go in less than twenty minutes. By the time they’d pulled into the bank parking lot, she was just nervous enough that she felt slightly ill. Wesley didn’t say anything to her or even tease her as she sat there.

When she told him she was ready, he still hadn’t made fun of her, nor had he hit her. Emmie thought she could get used to this. Mr. Joe was sitting on one of the many benches in the bank. After he shook hands with Wesley and thanked him, Mr. Joe hugged her like he’d not seen her in years. Letting him hold her while he seemed to gather himself, she took him into her office so they could wait for Penny to return from the store across the street, Mr. Joe told her. “I think being thirsty all the time is making me a little nervous. Penny too. She’s taking me by the doc’s office after we leave here. I’m not even gonna argue with her about it. I think she gets enough of that from our stupid family.” Mr. Joe was sitting in one of the most comfortable chairs in her office, which wasn’t really saying much. They were all about as comfortable as sitting on a slab of concrete. “You’d think for as much business as you’re bringing into this little bank, they’d be happy to spring for new chairs. This one is worse than my old mattress at home.” Penny entered the room and kissed them both. She sat down beside Mr. Joe. While she didn’t have any idea what they were going to need, Emmie closed her office door and locked it, a habit she’d gotten into when she lived at home. Locking her door always afforded her just enough time to know someone was about to enter her room. “You doing all right out there with Wesley, child?” She told him she was doing great. He was a wonderful man. “He is at that. All them Bishop boys are as good as gold. Their parents, they did a great job of passing down their kindness to them. I’m here to fix some things that I’ve been meaning to do for some time now. First and foremost, honey, I’d like for you to make sure the account Wendy had is closed up from her kids.” “It is. As soon as I heard about her death, I locked hers and your accounts. I hope I didn’t cause you any trouble with that.” He said he’d not noticed.

“Good. I figured you’d have your hands full with the other two around, and I didn’t want them coming in and trying to cash out your account. Also, I did put a reminder out to the people who work here that your account could be touched by you and only you, Penny. I figured that would save you a great deal of heartache as well.” “Thank you so much. I would never have thought of that.” Emmie told her she’d do the same for her if they were in the same situation. “I owe you so much, Emmie. Had you not talked to me about your brothers, I might well have been six feet under by now. They’re already pissed because I’m not allowing them to sponge off Grandpa Joe. The police have been really good about having someone watch his house. They had to run in my dad and his brother earlier today. They were in Grandma’s house, moving their crap in. She’s not even in the ground, and they’re already shoving her things to the side of the road.” After they were finished with all the changes Mr. Joe wanted, they set up a reading of the will with an attorney. A friend of the family, Mr. Brooks Hall, wasn’t the attorney that had handled Wendy’s will in the first place, but he said he’d be happy to come to them anytime to read the will. Apparently, everyone mentioned in the will was right there in the room. Her sons weren’t even named in it.

“That’s going to cause a fuss, I think. Well, it’ll be more than a fuss, but you understand.” Mr. Joe laughed and said he’d been the one to write out what the will was to say, and since Wendy couldn’t read all that well, she was more than happy to have him take care of things. “I figured what little money she had should go to the one that helped her the most. Them boys of hers, they were jerks all their life to their mother. And it’s doubtful to me that her brother or sister will come around. They didn’t have too much to do with her after she moved into that house. Not that she ever noticed it.” Grandpa shook his head. “I’m telling you right now that my will is simple. What I have goes to the two of you.” “I’m not really your granddaughter, Mr. Joe. I mean, I love that you think of me that way, but all I’ve ever been is a very close friend to Penny.” Mr. Joe said that was good enough for him. “Thank you so much. I don’t know what to say. Only that you’d better not be thinking of leaving us anytime soon. I need you as much as your flesh and blood does.” “And I need you, two girls, around too. Why, just the other day, I was thinking that a parent shouldn’t have to outlive a child. But then I got to thinking about how much drama I was going to be out of. I loved my Wendy—more than I should have, I think—but she gave me you, Penny, then, in turn, Emmie here. A great-granddaughter and a little girl that I’ve loved more than anything.” Emmie was just finishing up when one of the tellers knocked and was let in. She looked upset, and it took her five minutes to let her know that James Harold was in the bank demanding to have his mother’s money. “He threatened me with harm, Miss Emmie. I mean, he said that not only would he ruin my body so not even dental records would be helpful in identifying me, but that he’d kill my entire family. I can’t work that way.” Emmie told her to have a seat, and she’d take care of him.

“You should know I’ve buzzed the police too. I never would have thought we’d use those security buttons until today.” The police plus Sawyer came in just as she was headed to the slot Shelly had been at. She asked James what she could do for him. After a short round of cursing, he finally told her what he’d been trying to do. “I want all my mom’s money in my hand right now.” She told him no and asked if he needed anything else. “What the hell do you mean, no? It’s not your money, it’s mine now that she’s dead. Give it over, Emmie, or so help me, I’m going to kill you. I need it.” “I’m sure you do since you’ve not had a job in— I was going to say in a long time, but I don’t think I’ve never known you to have one. But you’re not getting anything from the account because the will hasn’t been read.” James told her to fuck the will. “While that is tempting, I don’t think it’s physically possible. Now, you go about your day and try very hard not to piss anyone else off, or so help me, James, I will have these nice men behind you keep you in the cell right beside Dutch. You’re not going to get into her account.” He turned when Sawyer laughed and asked him what the fuck he was doing there. James told him he thought he’d been fired. “Nah. I’m still a cop. I help the police out when they ask, especially when they have to go collect an idiot from the banks. You should really leave here now, James. Because if she has to tell you again, you’re not getting the money, I’m going to have one of these fine officers blow your head off”.

It was then Emmie noticed that every other customer in the bank was leaving. This might not end well, and the home office was going to be pissy about it, but she didn’t want anyone harmed by James. Or anyone for that matter. Sawyer put his hand on James’s shoulder, and it was over before James was able to pull the trigger on his gun. While James lay screaming on the floor about his right to the money, with the other man’s boot at his neck, Sawyer asked her if she was all right. Emmie didn’t think she’d been all right in a long time, but told him she was fine. Then he asked her if she wanted to press charges. “I do, as does Shelly Crabapple, one of the tellers that works here. She told me he threatened her as well. I know you’re more than likely aware of it, but James here isn’t supposed to have a weapon. He’s been convicted of a crime, and only just got out of prison a month ago.” Sawyer told her he’d not known but thanked her. “Anytime. Wesley is outside. Would you mind asking him if he’d escort us home? I have Penny as well as Mr. Joe in my office right now.” “Good idea. Wesley might look all relaxed like he’d not hurt a fly, but we all know better.” She thanked him. “It’s fine, Emmie. Also, Raven, my wife, she might come by the house later to talk to you about some of the other things she has on her list from yours and Penny’s family.” “I don’t know where we’re going to be after today. I don’t want to wear out my welcome with Wesley. You should also know, my brothers are on the same warpath as this one is. I’ve been staying at Wesley’s home for a couple of days now.”

He said he knew that. “I figured as much. Thanks for keeping an eye on them for us.” “Mr. Joe is a good friend to our family. And by extension, you are as well.” Again, she thanked him. Wesley came in and told her he was going to lock up and sit out there to wait for her to be finished. For her to take her time. “I’m going to keep an eye out for those brothers of yours too, Emmie. They’ll regret any kind of move they make to hurt any of you.” James was still under Sawyer’s foot, and his threats were becoming more violent and creative. Emmie had to think that when he was let go, he’d be up and trying something stupid with Sawyer. As soon as she thought that, one of the officers with Sawyer cuffed James by his wrists. “You’re fucking going to pay for this, bitch.” She pointed out she’d done nothing more than tell him no. “You think that’s all? Well, I got news for you. You’re not going to be telling me no again.” “That doesn’t even make sense.” He lunged at her, and she was glad she didn’t even flinch when he did it. “Get out of here, James, before I think of another thing to bring up about you. Stupidity, sadly, isn’t cause for an arrest, or you’d have been jailed a long time before now.” Wesley joined her in the office as soon as she locked down the bank. The police would take the footage of today, and she’d send a copy of it to the home office. Today was turning out better than she could have planned it to be.

~*~ Wesley tried his best not to stare at the other woman. He knew he was making her uncomfortable, but he just couldn’t believe she was the granddaughter of Wendy Harold. Not only that, but her uncle was one of the worst kinds of people in the world. Tony wasn’t too bad, not really, but he was an odd noodle at times. “Are you going to take a picture or something?” Wesley just smiled at her when Mr. Joe laughed. “The way you’re eyeing me, I feel like I have something in my hair. I know for a fact I don’t.” “You don’t. I’m sorry for staring, but I was just thinking about your relatives. I can’t believe you are part of the same gene pool.” Her face told him she didn’t believe a word he’d just said to her. “Honestly. First, there is Wendy. I’ve known her all my life. You? I didn’t even know Tony was married, much less had a daughter that looks like a goddess. I’m assuming you look like your mother. You certainly don’t look like your dad.” “You look just like your father. You could almost be his twin.” He thanked her. “I don’t know who my mother is. I never knew, as a matter of fact. So I think you might be right on that. I’m sorry for giving you a hard time. Things just haven’t been going right for the last few days. Well, that’s not true. Not going right for most of my life.” “I know your uncle and dad as well. You and Emmie are the opposite of your family in just about any way you wish to compare yourself to them.” She thanked him for this time. “No worries. I was coming into town anyway. Emmie and I are having lunch together.” He could tell she was disappointed, but when Emmie invited her friend and Mr. Joe to come with them, he was glad for it. It would be fun to get to know this woman a lot better. He picked up the book he’d gotten at the library earlier today and started reading it. Wesley realized he’d read the same page six times or more while he was waiting on the group to be finished up. It wasn’t normal for him to do that, not be able to tune things out around him while he read. But today, with this group and especially Penny, he just couldn’t concentrate.

He stood up when they said they were finished, and they headed to the pizza shop across the street. Going to the door first, he held it open for the other three, who went in ahead of him. Penny’s scent nearly took him to his knees. Standing in the doorway so that his mind could catch up with what his nose just told him, it was Mr. Joe that came to get him. “Are you all right, son?” He nodded at him, and couldn’t have stopped the smile on his face with a gun to his head. “Son, you’re scaring this old man. What’s wrong? You can tell me anything, and I’d not say a word to anyone.” “Penny is your great-granddaughter.” It wasn’t a question, but he nodded anyway. “She’s my mate, Mr. Joe. I didn’t expect to find her at all, much less in a pizza joint.” Mr. Joe laughed. “Well, I guess this is about the best news I’ve heard in a while. Congratulations. But I think you should close the door there. People are beginning to wonder if you have all your marbles. It’s chilly out.” Wesley laughed and let the door swing shut. “You going to tell her? I’d like to be right there when you do. I don’t rightly know how she’ll take it, but you have to tell her. She’ll be safer with you than anywhere else she can hideout.”

They both sat down, and he picked up the menu to think. He was never so glad to have a big house to go to than he was right now. Putting the menu in the middle of the table when the waitstaff came to take their order, he looked at Mr. Joe first. “Raven purchased all of us brothers of Sawyer a home. Mom and Dad are having one built that they’re excited about. I’m moving into mine tomorrow. It’s been repainted, as well as the carpets cleaned. There are about ten bedrooms in the place.” Mr. Joe told him he was lucky to have such a generous person in his family. “Yes, I think so too. I was wondering if the three of you would like to come and live there with me. It’ll have plenty of room for us all. Not to mention, it has an indoor pool I’m excited about playing around in. My mate will be there too, so it wouldn’t be anything but family around.” “That’s a very nice thing, both the house and inviting us to stay. However, I can’t imagine your mate would be all that keen on you having an elderly man and two single women in your home.” He told Penny that only one of them was single. “I don’t understand. You said your mate will be there too.” “She will be. If she wishes. I just think you guys will be safer in a big house that your other family doesn’t know about than the ones you live in now.” Penny looked at Emmie, then back at him. Then she asked him if Emmie was his mate. “No.” It took her several seconds to figure out what he was saying. She stood up and sat down a total of three times before she glared at him. He thought her adorable when she told him he wasn’t funny but wisely kept that to himself. “You could have just said that when we were at the bank.” He said he’d not figured it out until they came in here.

“Why the roundabout way of telling me? Is this your way of doing everything? I will tell you right now, I don’t think you’re the least bit funny.” “You’d not be the first person to tell me that. However, I was working up to telling you. I didn’t want to just blurt it out and have you toss your salad in my face.” Penny glared harder. “You really should stop that now, Penny. You’re even more beautiful when you’re pissed at me. Not that I don’t blame you, but you are my mate, and the offer of you three staying with me stands. Things are going to get nastier as the next few days go by.” “I, for one, would love to live with you, Wesley.” He thanked Mr. Joe without taking his eyes off Penny. “Those boys of Wendy’s aren’t going to take too kindly to the reading of the will. Scratch that. I think the only one that will care is James. And you know as well as I do, Penny, that when James is pissed off, so are the Donnelly boys. They feed off each other.” “I don’t want to. I will, but I really don’t want to.” Wesley nodded at Penny. “I mean, I really don’t want to live with you, but I’m thinking you’re right. We’d all be safer in a house rather than an apartment, or even Grandpa Joe’s home. It’s not very big either, and we’d be falling all over each other in no time. I’ll live there, but I’m not going to sleep with you.” “All right. I can understand that. We barely know one another, and I won’t take advantage of you. I have some furniture in the house. Holly, Raven’s grandma, sold her house to my brother, and she had a great many things still in storage.

After Chandler got what he wanted, the rest of us took what was left. I gladly took the other bedroom suites to be in my home. The others, my brothers, took the things for the living room, feeling they’d be in there more than they would in any of the other rooms.” Their subs were brought to the table, and he dug into his as he continued. “I have a live-in cook as well. Her name is Caroline. She’s a member of my brother Sawyer’s leap and needed to have a place she could call her own. Her family was all gone, moving away to have better-paying jobs. I was lucky enough to have a place for her to live in on the property.” Wesley answered all the questions put to him. Most of them were from Mr. Joe, about his planting in the spring, as well as his helping the others around town. He told them about the tractor and the attachments he had been trying out and loved. “They just gave you a tractor worth more than a house for nothing?” He told Penny what had happened that he ended up owning it. “Okay, I guess I can see a company doing that. Having a farmer that no one knows trying it out and then telling others would make for a good cover. Congratulations on that. I have to admit, I do miss having fresh vegetables all the time. Grandma always had fresh food from her little garden. What she didn’t eat, she’d put up. Do people still do that?” “My mom does. Jellies and jams mostly. Here in the last couple of years, she’s been donating what she can’t put up to different people around the town. You’d be surprised how far a couple of rows of green beans can go when you’re as good as we are about taking care of our gardens.” He realized then that just the other day, he’d been bitching about having a mate to his brothers and him only being a lowly farmer.

However, right now, he thought he had the best job of all. His mate was into fresh things as much as he was. “Today I was going to put the tractor and the implements away until early spring. I was even able to put in a garden for my mom this year, and decided to grow some fresh peas in the early spring.” They talked all through their meal. When they brought the check, he was more than happy to pick it up and pay. He noticed that all three of his lunch guests put down money for a tip. Being glad they’d not put too little on the table, he still added more to the bill when he paid. “Where is your home? I have a feeling it’s close to your parents’ place.” He told Penny it was, but it also had a large barn and a place for him to play around in. “I’m not sleeping with you, Wesley. I’m not easy, and I won’t put out just because you’re keeping my family safe.” “I wouldn’t have it any other way, Penny.” She cocked a brow at him. “I’m serious. I don’t know you anymore than you do me. I’d like to take our time, get to know each other before we go right to the making love part.” She said she might not ever want to have sex with him. “So long as you’re happy, then I will be too.” She snorted at him when she walked away. They walked to the new home, his first time seeing it in the daylight, and he was glad now that he carried around the keys to the place. Wesley handed the second set to Penny, so she could come and go when she wanted while here, he told her. Wesley was thrilled when she didn’t toss them back in his face.

The house looked beautiful with the new walls and the hardwood floors all shiny from their treatment. Every room they explored, he was just as pleased with it as they seemed to be. The kitchen, where Ms. Caroline was making a list, had been updated recently, and a pantry had been put in. Penny seemed to be more impressed with the kitchen area than she had been about the indoor pool. “I love to bake. Would that be a problem for you, Ms. Caroline?” When the older woman looked at him, Penny answered her unspoken concern. “He claims I’m his mate and that we’ll be living here with him. No hanky panky, but we’ll be safer here, I think.” “If Wesley says you’re his mate, then you can count on it being true. You couldn’t find you a better family to be getting into either.” Penny thanked her. “Now then. Yes, you come on in here and bake all you want, mistress. I’ve never been known to bake all that much, but I’d surely like to have the smells coming from here. You just give me a list of what you need, and I’ll order it with the rest of the kitchen stock-up.” While they worked on the list, he moved into the living room and looked around. There was a great deal of open space in this area, and he hadn’t a clue how to fill it. While he didn’t watch all that much television, he would like to have a nice sized one for this room. He thought it might be necessary for the sheer size of the room so you could see it. “I don’t have to move in here with you, Wesley.” He turned to look at Emmie and asked her why not. “Well, you have a new mate, for which I’m so happy for you both, and Grandpa Joe living here. I’m not related to either of them, as you know. Also, I have been hiding out on my own for a very long time.” “There isn’t a single reason I can think of that would make me want to have you not move in here with us. And you are family. I know Mr. Joe thinks of you as his great-granddaughter as much as he does Penny.” He smiled at her then.

“You know my parents. If they found out I was shoving you out to live someplace in the woods as you wanted that first day, Mom would take me to the woodshed in a minute and make me change my mind about being too old for that particular punishment.” “I don’t want to be a bother to any of you.” He assured her she wouldn’t be. “All right then. You will tell me if I’ve overstayed my welcome. Right?” “I promise you, Emmie, I don’t have a doubt in the world that you’re going to be as much a part of my family as you are to Mr. Joe and Penny. Besides, I think with you here, Penny will feel more comfortable. And believe it or not, I want her happy no matter what.” She mentioned her brothers. “Don’t you worry about any of them. I’m going to have the police, as well as my family, making sure you’re all safe and sound. I just ask that when you do go out, don’t do it alone. Nor to go out without telling us where you’re going and when you’ll be back. I don’t want to have to worry that they might have hurt you when you’re in my care.” “You’re a good man, Wesley. And a good friend. I hope you can make sure they’re not going to harm any of us. I have a feeling they won’t just hurt us the next time but will try and kill us. Especially Grandpa Joe.” He asked her why. “Because Grandpa Joe is a very wealthy man. More so than anyone in this world gives him credit for.” “I’ll keep that in mind when we’re out.” He hugged her back when she hugged him. “Thank you, Emmie. Without you being the bank manager, it might have been years before I met Penny. I owe you a great deal.” “Pay me back by making sure she’s safe. And happy. I know you will, so I’m not worried about it, but I don’t want her to be hurt or sad.” He said he could do that. “See that you do. I love both those people more than I do anyone else.”

Oakley Marshall’s Shadow Release Blitz&Giveaway

Lachlan Russell had been rushed into emergency surgery. Her boss’s daughter took exception to Lach, telling her no, and went ballistic, throwing anything and everything she could at Lach until Lach finally collapsed from her injuries. Lach was also pregnant at the time, tricked into being a surrogate to carry her sister’s child.

Harris Marshall, Shep’s wife, was called in on the case. Lach’s boss and daughter were now both in jail, but Lach’s family was another matter—they were worse. Harris would make sure this woman pulled through if she had to kill Lach’s family to see to it. Calling in reinforcements, her brother-in-law, Oakley, was the first to arrive at the hospital.

Oakley was thrilled to have found his mate. As far as he was concerned, Lach was perfect. But her sister and brother-in-law were both insane. Would he and his family be enough to protect her from their madness?

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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?

 

Isabella Booth was tired of all the sexist crap handed to her on a daily basis.  When her father wouldn’t even consider her as an heir to his lawn care business because she wasn’t a man, and left it to her brother Hunter instead, she had done the next logical thing. She opened her own lawn care business, and it thrived.

Dean Marshall was renovating his family home. As far as the landscaping was concerned, he was told to go big or go home. When Shep invited the owner of the landscaping company to his home for dinner, Dean wanted to be there to see about getting some things done for his place. He didn’t mean for his jaguar to knock the woman to the ground.

Bella was thoroughly pissed when the big cat ruined her jeans and favorite shoes, and when he announced that they were mates, Bella was seeing red. No way, no how, was she having another sexist, overbearing man in her life. Not if she could help it….

 

Marshall’s Shadow

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Harris walked the hallway while she waited on someone from the police department to come and give her a hand. The locals had their hands full with this one and were more than happy to let her not only take over but to make sure that things were done correctly. So far, all Harris had been able to figure out was that Allison Gray had hit the cook, Lachlan Russell. It had taken her only a minute after finding a nurse by the name of Dutch Jasper. He and Harris had known each other for a while. A couple of times when she’d been in this very hospital taking care of someone, she’d been able to depend on him to make sure she’d gotten out of the hospital without being seen. Harris didn’t know why she trusted the man, but she did. With her life, as it turned out. “I have copies of all the recordings of the conversation with her boss, a jerk by the name of Lance Gray. He’s currently sitting his pretty butt in jail, right alongside his daughter, Allie.” Harris asked him for a recap of what had gone down. “Her boss was pissy that Lach had his daughter arrested. He told her—point-blank, mind you—that he wasn’t paying any of her bills.

I have the name of the cop that arrested him. Officer Hamilton heard what he said as well.” “Is there anything else?” Dutch told her about the baby Lach was carrying and that it was her sister’s child. “That was very generous of her. Or was it?” “Not from what I’ve heard. They bullied Lach into it. You have to meet them only once to know they’re not the kind of people who tolerate those they think are lower than them. To me, that isn’t a far drop, but then I don’t give two hoots about them.” Harris laughed. “Lach told me right before they took her into surgery that her sister had told her she wasn’t able to carry a baby to term. That’s not right. I went to talk to someone about it, on the sly, and they’re saying that Rita—that’s her sister—didn’t want to have to carry a child, but she really wanted one. They’re paying half of Lach’s medical for her carrying the baby. Half? Like she wanted to carry it. I’m telling you now, Harris, if you were still working, I’d hire you.” She thought about that for the rest of the morning. Dutch was one of the nicest people she had ever encountered on her jobs.

For him to want to make these people gone was very telling. Pacing the long hallway on the surgery floor, Harris thought about everything she’d found out about Lach. All of it good news until she found out about the rest of her family. Her parents were divorced. Frank Russell had taken off about the time Lach had turned four. He’d had enough, apparently, and didn’t care to be around people he just couldn’t make himself love. Harris didn’t know the family as yet, but even hearing about them made her think she didn’t blame him. Frank had also tried to get custody of Lach, but Rebecca, his ex-wife, had hired a shark of an attorney and had won the case. Harris wondered if she’d thought she could make Lach into someone like her and Rita. Apparently, it hadn’t stuck, because Lach was her own woman and didn’t hang around her sister and mother unless necessary.

“Mrs. Marshall? There’s a phone call for you. He said it was urgent.” She nodded and followed the nurse to the front desk. “I think it’s Dutch. He didn’t tell me his name, but I think it’s him.” “Hello?” It was Dutch, and she had to tell him to calm down three times before she was able to get a word out. “Just take a deep breath and let it out slowly. In and out, Dutch, so I can figure out what the fuck is wrong.” “Did you see today’s paper?” She reached for it as it laid on the nurse’s station counter. “Frontpage too. I have to tell you, Harris, I never in all my wildest dreams would have thought someone could do this to one of the sweetest people I know. I love you too, girl, but you’re not sweet. You’re hard.” “Thank you.” She asked him to hold on while she opened the paper. “Mother fuck. How the hell did they get this out so quickly? Not to mention, how did the person putting this in the paper get this printed without all the facts? Or any, from what I’m seeing.” Harris told Dutch she’d talk to him later as she stood there reading the article. It was about Lach and her having to be in the hospital.

It said she’d tried to kill Allie Gray by throwing a hot dinner at her, and when she’d retaliated, Lach had faked an injury in order to get out of going to jail. It went on to say she’d been feeding the entire staff dinners every night instead of the patrons of the restaurant. There were accusations about her stealing money from the cash drawer, taking money from the waitstaff in the form of tips, as well as taking home some of the products that the restaurant had ordered. Taking out her cell phone, Harris called her office. She had three people working on this for her. A lot of shit was going on, and since the locals had turned it over to her, she was free to do whatever was needed. Turned out, when she called her office, she found there were more than the three she had assigned to this, as the things they were finding out were too much for the first men to work on. “I have a man going to the newspaper office as we speak. He’s taking one of the local jurisdictions with him. The article was out before we knew about it. Sorry about that, sir.” She told him it wasn’t his fault, as she’d been blindsided by it as well.

“You should also be aware that we’ve found Frank Russell. He’s remarried. A background on him didn’t show anything other than one parking ticket. How would you like us to work this?” “Call him. Tell him his daughter has been hurt. Don’t give him any details until he asks for them. I’m not keeping them from him, but if he’s broken all contact with them, he might not care.” Agent Gunn told her he could do that. She could hear the pen scratching across the paper. “I want you to do a complete background on Lachlan Russell. I have some personal information, but not much more. I want to know the last time she had a shit; that’s how thorough I want it. Also, on her mother, Rebecca Russell, and her sister and brother-in-law, Rita and Roger Underwood. Make sure you find out what you can about her ability to have children.” “Got it.” He paused a moment. “I know Rita Underwood.” She asked him how. “We were upperclassmen together. I didn’t realize that when I started helping you with this. To say she’s a bitch doesn’t even come close to painting a picture of this woman.

I think she’d murder her own family if she would be able to make some cash off it.” “Do you know Dutch Jasper?” He said he did, but only by name. He was younger than him. “He’s a good friend and ally of Lach. Also, the one that called me. See what you can find out about him, too, while we’re looking. Also, what his debt to income ratio is.” She didn’t have to explain herself to this man, but she told him he’d helped Lach out and had helped Harris a few times as well. Harris just wanted to know if he was being paid off to make the family look bad. But really, she was going to help the nurse out if he needed it. Harris owed the man a great deal. “Sir, did you know what Lachlan means? It means warlike. The Vikings called their land of lakes Lachlan too.” Harris told him she’d not known, but was glad for the information. “I hope this girl is warlike. Having a sister like Rita, she’d need it.” The more she found out about this family, the more she wanted to bundle up Lach and take her home with her. She wasn’t prone to taking adults home with her, but in this, she thought her and the other woman could be tight as in friends. Harris didn’t know why, but she thought this Lach might be more badass than she was. Not by much, though.

When Lach came out of surgery, Harris was able to go and see her. The doctor told her what had happened in the operating room, and the concerns he had about what he’d had to do to remove the large shard of glass from her head. “It was deep and pierced her skull. I could see the damage to her brain—it has a deep cut in it. The brain surgeon with me said she thought that having it cut in her frontal lobe might cause her some memory issues, as well as a change to her personality.” Harris asked the doctor how they’d figure it out. “We’ll have to wait until she’s awake. Which isn’t going to be for a few more hours. I’d like her to remain still for at least that long.” Pulling out her cell phone, Harris looked up what she could about frontal lobe injuries. There was a lot, she could see, that was all speculation about the brain. It would be difficult, she supposed, to have someone test your working brain before you were finished with it. In her field, Harris was sure there were a lot of people out there that didn’t have a brain. Or, in fact, they didn’t use it all that much. She was smiling when she made her way to recovery to sit with Lach for some quiet time. Opening her laptop, she pulled up the information she had been sent from her office.

It was about the recording that had been generated from here, as well as from the restaurant. Allie was going to be in deep shit when this thing went to trial. Having admitted that she wanted to kill the other woman was right there for anyone to hear. Harris looked at the other recording and cringed when she saw the mother and sister. Typical rich women that wouldn’t do a thing for anyone in need, she thought. The fact that the mom was more concerned about her shower and going home told her a great deal. Closing those down, she pulled up the first report. Allison Gray had been in trouble like this before. As she read over the three counts of abuse and battery from the police, Harris had to wonder how she’d even been able to be out and around others.

Her violent nature was one that should have been recognized and monitored before now. Then she got to the records that told the outcome of each of the crimes. Daddy was paying the people off. Charges were brought against his daughter, but after Lance paid the people a great sum of money, Allison was set free. The amounts were staggering too. Two of them were upwards of a million dollars. The last one was nearly two mill. Harris read the reports on what had happened and noticed that with each arrest, Allison was getting more and more violent. Harris did wonder how much he’d pay Lach to shut her up. She also wondered if she’d take it. Hoping she wouldn’t, Harris looked at the woman laying in the bed next to her. She knew from the report that her left arm had been burnt badly. She could see that it had been wrapped up but was seeping. The one at her back had been the worst the doctor had seen on someone. It was about two feet wide and almost that long. The pain while it healed would be horrendous. Harris couldn’t see much of her face. From the top of her head to her nose, just peeking out of the bandage, she could see that there were bloodstains on the gauze. She was being monitored and had several IV’s running to keep her quiet, as the doctor had said.

When a nurse came in to take Lach’s blood pressure, she told Harris what she knew. “They had to remove nineteen pieces of glass from her head. Some of them were so tiny, I was told that they had to be found with a microscope.” She asked about the one that had caused the skull injury. “Doctor Sampson is the best brain surgeon around. She’s a ballbuster, but good at her job. She was telling us the piece that had done the most damage was about an inch wide, and sharp like a razor on the end that hit her. She’s lucky that none of the flying glass hit her in the eye.” “I’m sure she’s just glad to be alive. Did anyone mention the baby?” The nurse told her the OBGyn would be in later to examine her. “But they didn’t say anything about it? I mean, to even tell if the meds might hurt it?” “No.” The nurse came closer to her. “She’ll be lucky to keep the baby once she’s awake. I’ve seen what this sort of stress can do to a mother. Lach is going to be in a great deal of pain when she wakes up. Being with child, she won’t be able to take the good medication that will keep the pain at bay.

I feel sorry for her. And for the unborn child. This will be hard for her to handle on top of being hurt like this.” After the nurse left, Harris watched Lach breathing. Her thoughts were centered on a single thing right now, but executing them might cause more trouble than Lach might want. Harris didn’t want her to lose the child. Even if it weren’t hers, she thought that the pain of that would put her into a deep depression. She’d seen enough of that for several lifetimes and wanted to keep Lach from having that weight on her as well. Harris nodded at her thoughts and put out an all-call to her new family. I need Rodney and the other three unmated Marshalls to come to the hospital for me. I have a woman here that is going to be in a great deal of pain, and I don’t want her to suffer. There is also an unborn child that I’m thinking of. She told them what was going on with the baby, as well as her reasons for asking them to come here. Harris also warned them about her mother and sister’s troubles.

She might well be one of your mates. In fact, I’m hoping she is. You could make her life a great deal better than it is at the present time. Harris smiled when Grandpa spoke first. I’m coming too. If she ain’t one of these knuckleheads’ mate, I might can heal her myself. Poor things. To think that— Hey, is this the girl I was reading about in the paper here? Where she tried to kill off the owner’s daughter? Harris told him she was having that retracted. I don’t blame you. It sure didn’t paint her in a good light for all the things they were saying about her. I’ll be riding up with the others—no point in me sitting here waiting on someone to tell me what’s going on with her. I’m going to drive up. Anyone want to ride with me? The other three and Grandpa said they would ride up with Oakley. Just so you know, I’m not going to be happy if she is my mate. It’s not fair that you get to meet her before I do. What things could you be telling her, I wonder? She’s in a coma right now, medical. They want her to remain stable for as long as she can. Oakley said he was kidding. I know that. I just wanted to give you all a rundown on what we might be dealing with. I’ll keep you updated as I find out more about her. Oh, if you hear about someone being murdered, don’t worry about it. I might have saved you the trouble of meeting your in-laws. They were still laughing when she closed the connection. Harris was glad now that she’d contacted them.

If nothing else, they’d keep her entertained. Pulling out her computer again, she read the other reports that had come in with the first one. This was a family that needed to be beaten, Harris thought. ~*~ Frank made his way up to the fourth floor of the imposing hospital. It wasn’t as if he’d not been in a hospital before, but this one was much larger than he’d thought, even with different buildings attached to one another with complicated walkways and bridges. He finally made it to the correct floor twenty minutes after arriving. Frank made his way to the nurse’s station to ask where he needed to go. “Mr. Russell, my name is Harris Marshall with the FBI.” He took the younger woman’s hand while his mind pinged all over the place about what his ex-wife had done now. “They’re setting your daughter up in a room right now. My family is in there helping. I’ll take you to see your daughter in a moment. If you don’t mind, I have a few questions for you.” “Of course. But if you don’t mind me asking, what has Rebecca done now? Or is it Rita again?” Agent Marshall told him they were still looking into that. “They’re not the brightest tools in the shed if you want my opinion. Not only that, but they think they’re better than anyone. Not most, but anyone they come in contact with. How’s my daughter doing?” “Lach is doing as well as can be expected. She was burnt badly. But that’s nothing to what was done to her brain when a plate was thrown at her. They’re waiting to make any kind of prognosis until she’s in less pain. The medication she’s on is making sure she’s not hurting, but is also not harming the baby.”

“Baby? Lach is pregnant? No one told me— Well, I guess I never expected anyone to call me on that, but it would have been nice.” Agent Marshall told him what she knew. “That’s not true. When I was still living with them, Rita had gotten pregnant three times by the time she was seventeen. She carried one to term without any issues. That one was put up for adoption. I suppose there could have been problems starting after I left there, but I’m not aware of any issues she had.” “I’ve done some research on the family, and you’re right. There are no issues for Rita not to have been able to carry a child. Someone on my team thinks it’s because she doesn’t want to be pregnant.” Frank told the agent he didn’t believe that either. That Rita thrived on having all the attention focused on her. “Could it be that she is trying to hurt her sister in some way?” “I wouldn’t know. I do know Lach wasn’t anything like her sister or mother. I tried to have her come to live with me after the divorce, but Rebecca wouldn’t have it. I think, and this is just me, she thought she could turn her into a person like her and my other daughter. I never thought it would stick. Even as a child, Lach was more boy-like than any boy I knew at her age. And stubborn.” Frank thought about that.

“I guess things could have changed, as I said, but I don’t think it would have been easy on my wife or daughter. Lach is very stubborn.” He was talking with Harris, as he’d been asked to call her when a man came out of the room he thought his daughter was in. After kissing Harris on the mouth, the big man introduced himself to him as her husband. Good lord, he’d never seen a pair so perfectly matched before. Tall and muscled. It made him wish he’d used the gym membership he had more. Shep seemed like a good man. He had a dry wit and was so in love with his wife Frank could almost taste it. Other men came out of the room one at a time, all of them introducing themselves to him as a brother to the one before. Then an older man, who said he was their grandda, Sheppard, introduced himself to him.

This man he thought he could enjoy talking to. “My family here is trying to make sure nothing more happens to your little girl. Harris here, she’s told us what is going on, and who we should be looking out for. I don’t think there is much going on right now, but we got your back.” Frank thanked Sheppard. “You’re welcome. I do want to ask you something before much longer here. Do you believe in shifters? I mean, people having another self?” “My wife was a wolf,” Sheppard told him they were jaguars. “Jaguars are beautiful cats. I’m happy to meet all of you. You must have an enormous food bill to feed all these boys, as you call them. I’d hate to have to feed them all at one time.” “They’re good boys, Mr. Russell. The reason I said anything at all right now is that your little girl is the mate to one of my grandsons.” Frank wasn’t sure how to take that, so he said nothing. “My boys here, any one of them would save her from hurting so badly, as she’s gonna. But Harris here, she wanted them to come along and see if any of them were her mate before we doctored her up with a little of our blood.”

“You’re not going to help her now?” Sheppard told him they couldn’t, but Oakley could. “I don’t understand. How is he going to help her? And what does her being this man’s mate have to do with it?” “Cats are a jealous lot. Wolves too. Had any one of them tried to save her, Oakley would have killed them. He’d not want to, but it’s in his DNA to protect what he would consider his own.” Sheppard asked him if he was understanding. Frank told him to go on. “Oakley, he’s staying with her right now on account of you being here. He wants your permission, you see, to take care that she’s not hurt anymore.” The monitors went off down the hall. They were loud and scary. It occurred to him that they were saying that the room his daughter was in was the one the staff was rushing to. Standing up, he was asked to wait as all the staff gathered in the room. A tall, good looking man came out just as the door was closing. No one said anything for a long time. Then the man he assumed was Oakley came toward him with his hand out. After introductions were made, Frank found himself sizing the younger man up.

Whatever had happened in Lach’s room, it had affected the young man quite badly. “She was awake for about a minute before she said anything. As you can imagine, I was shocked to see her awake when they told us it would be a few more days before they started weaning her off the meds.” Sheppard asked him why the staff was in the room. “She told me to call them. That she thought she was losing the baby.” Frank sat down. He’d not seen his daughter in twenty years and knew he’d missed a great deal. But the child he remembered was now losing her child. It hurt him deeply that she was going through this. Especially, he thought, with so much going on right now in her life. “How about you and me, we go and get us some dinner, Frank?” He started to tell Sheppard no, that he wanted to stay close to see his daughter when Sheppard continued.

“You don’t want to go and see her like you’re looking right now. You’re hurting, I can see that. I am too, and I’ve not met her yet. But a good cup of tea or coffee with a piece of pie might do wonders for you. It’ll also give you time to figure out what to say to her when it’s time to talk.” “I suppose you might be right. I was wondering why the FBI was in on this. Seems like it would be a local thing.” As Sheppard explained it to him, Frank found himself not only going with Sheppard to the cafeteria but also ordering himself two pieces of pie and a cup of coffee. When he sat down with the other man, Harris and her husband joined them. He had a feeling he was going to learn a great deal about his other family. “All right, Frank. How do you want this? Rip the sucker right off, or do you want it in bits and pieces? I’m more of a rip it off sort of teller, but I’ll do what you need.” He said he wasn’t sure what he wanted, as he’d not been around for twenty years. “I’m here because a friend of mine called me in. Dutch Jasper, he’s not only a friend of mine but also your daughter. Do you remember him?” “Yes. I mean, I remember the name and a little about him. Dutch would come over when they were little and hang out with the family when his mom had to work late. My then-wife didn’t like him. I haven’t any idea why, but it didn’t stop him and Lach from being friends. He called you because she’d been hurt?”

Harris told him that was part of it. “Why then? I mean, if you can tell me.” “Have you seen the papers?” He said not since he left home last night. The paper was handed to him. After reading it, he looked at Harris. “None of that is true. Well, some of it is. Lach was burnt, but not how they describe it. We’re having a retraction put out tomorrow. Fact-checking is a biggy for me. Also, we’ve arrested Allison and her father, as well as a med student, for taking pictures and sending them to the father and daughter duo.” Harris told him of the other attempts of murder by Allison, as well as her father buying the victims off. His head was spinning when he thought of all the things going on surrounding this other family. Asking for a moment, Harris didn’t say anything more other than she was sorry. “Don’t be. I’m just thinking how very little I knew before coming here. So this, all this with my daughter being hurt, was over a fake order so Allison could have a steak dinner? What is this world coming to?” Harris said she asked the same question every day. “I bet you do. You more than likely see very little good come out of your job.” “I see the good when I have someone in jail for something. But this, it should never have been allowed to happen. Someone’s head is going to roll for this. Allison is a danger to people and has been for some time. I’m going to make sure justice is served for Lach.” Frank asked about the baby. “When I came down here, the staff was still in the room. Oakley went back in too. He’ll let me know when he knows anything.”

They told him what they knew, which wasn’t a small amount. Harris and her family not only knew what Rita had done to her sister to make her carry her unborn child but also how Rita was making sure she only paid half of what it was costing Lach to do this for her. “The contract I saw wasn’t signed by Lach. There is a signature in the line where she was supposed to sign, but your ex-wife signed it. Then she wrote that Lach wasn’t of sound mind. I find that hard to believe, but that’s what happened. Rita and her husband have been spending money like they’re drinking it, and they’re not planning to pay Lach for any of this. You’ll have to trust me on that one, Frank. I can’t tell you who told me that, but it’s straight from Rita’s mind.” Frank could believe that. Rebecca and Rita both hated when they were told no on something. “I can believe that too. The two of them are like two she-devils fighting over a tiny pea. I don’t think either of them are aware of what sort of shit is going to rain down on them now that I’ve had a look into their lives.” “Explain to me how it is you’re involved. You might say you came here for a friend to make sure my daughter wasn’t screwed, but I think it’s more than that. Something you’re not telling me.” Harris nodded. “Is it bad? Is it something I’m going to regret knowing?” “I doubt that last part. However, I am here for a friend. Once I got here, things changed a great deal, but that is why I came. So I could see that someone wasn’t getting shafted.” He said he still thought there was more. “There is. The fact that this girl tried to kill Lach pisses me off.

Then to find out she could have killed the mate to one of my brothers makes me want to see bloodshed.” “I have a feeling you’re good at making bloodshed anyway.” They all laughed, and Harris patted him on the back. “I want you to know this, Harris—I’m not going to piss you off in any way. I don’t want to be on the receiving end of your wrath.” “Smart man.” She pulled out a gun and laid it on the table. He didn’t think she was showing off but had put it there because, as she said, it was digging into her hip. For whatever reason, Frank didn’t think Harris had to show off. She was that good at what she did.

Fisher Prince Of Tigers

Piper James was at the funeral home doing the hardest thing she’d ever had to do—bury her mother. The last ten years had been difficult, with her dad’s illness then him ultimately dying, and then her mother being diagnosed with cancer. Her siblings, Mary and Louis, had been no help at all, financially or lending a hand with their care. Now that their mother was gone, those two were going to be a handful, Piper just knew it.
Fisher Prince, a rare black tiger shifter, had a gift. He was able to find people and things with little effort. When a judge called him and asked him to find Piper and keep her safe from her siblings, Fisher agreed to help him out, but he wasn’t expecting to find his mate in the process.
The bond between the two was nearly immediate, and when he gave her a ring gifted to him by Aurora, queen of the earth, neither were prepared for what happened next.
Mary and Louis were never going to stop pursuing Piper unless someone intervened. Would the Prince family be in time to stop the inevitable?

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Harper Wilson and all her siblings were relieved when they received the notice of their parents’ demise. No one deserved it more, and the only reason Harper agreed to go back to that little town in Ohio was to make sure they were truly dead.

Bryant Prince and his family were immortals and hadn’t aged since they’d reached the age of twenty-eight. He and his family had always lived next door to the Wilsons, but he never knew the Wilson children. The Wilsons had always kept to themselves, so no one had any idea what was going on in the little house of horrors. If they had, the Wilson parents would have been dead a long time ago.

There was nothing left of the Wilson house but one wall. The fire had taken the rest. The garage, however, was still intact, and this was where Harper wound up. Drawn in by dark, morbid memories from her childhood. Bryant watched her, knowing that he’d found his mate.

 

Allison Sheppard had come back to town to bury her siblings. Allie’s sister and two brothers had robbed the local bank. Samson Prince had killed two of them to protect the innocent people in the bank, her baby brother was sitting in a jail cell awaiting trial. Allie wanted to wash her hands of all of them.

It didn’t take Allie but a moment to realize that the entire town looked on her as a pariah, like she was responsible for what her siblings did. Not that she could blame them, but the silent accusations did hurt. The sooner she was finished with this mess, the better. She would leave this town and good riddance.

Samson only wanted to make the woman understand that they weren’t monsters, and he had no choice in the bank, but from the moment he was within two feet of her, her scent overwhelmed him. Allie was his mate, and this changed everything….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Ms. James, I’m so sorry, but we’re going to have to proceed. Have you heard from your family?” Smiling at the funeral director, she told him she’d not. “What would you like us to do?” “Let’s start. I should have known they would not be on time.” Standing up to tell her mom goodbye once more, she turned to sit back down as Mr. Edwards was closing the casket. The noise from the back had her temper flare. “I told you to be here yesterday, Louis.” “We’re here now, so shut up. Is he closing the casket already?” Piper told her brother that the service was over. Her sister Mary came in, making enough noise to wake the dead. “She is having him close up Mom’s casket before we even arrived.” “Piper, why do you persist in pissing me off all the time? I don’t know why you were in charge of the arrangements anyway. As the oldest, I should have been the one to have done this.” Mary huffed all the way to the casket. “You didn’t have them dye her hair? Christ, she looks terrible.” “Because she was old and sick and died. I didn’t make the arrangements, Mom did. If you have a problem with it, then I suggest taking it up with her.” Piper smiled. “Oh, that’s right. You didn’t know her plans because when she called to tell you both what she’d done, you were too busy to speak to her.” Piper sat down with her niece and nephew while her brother and sister went to the casket. Mr. Edwards wasn’t at all happy with the two of them. Neither was she. But soon, the funeral would be over, and she’d not have to deal with them anymore. They weren’t bad people. It wasn’t as if they were terrible to her.

They were just indifferent to anyone or anything that didn’t involve them, always wanting people to cater to them—in everything. Today was no different. When they sat in the front row, she stayed where she was. She much preferred the company of their children than her brother and sister any day. The eulogy was up to her according to what her mom had requested. When she was asked to say something about her mom, Mary pushed her out of the way and stood by the podium. When she started speaking, telling the few of them how much her mother had meant to her, Piper just let her. Instead of paying attention to her, Piper thought of the last conversation she’d had with her mom. “You know they’re going to demand you sell the house for the estate, don’t you?” Mom had been in the hospital then, her last time there as it turned out. The cancer was taking her. “Don’t let them bully you, Piper. You’re not that shy child you were when your pop died.” “No, I’m not. But it’s doubtful they’ll ever see me as an adult no matter how old I am.” Mom laughed. “As for the house? Well, they’ll figure that out when the will is read, I suppose. I don’t have to explain anything to them. Nor do you.” “I’m ready to die, baby girl. I’m tired of fighting this war. But you gave me the best ten years an old woman like me could ask for. The camping trips. The vacations we took.

You surely made this as good as I could have ever hoped for.” Piper told her she’d had just as much fun. “You’re going to take off as soon as the will is read, aren’t you? Don’t sit around being a sad mushroom about me dying. I’ll surely come back to haunt you if you do.” “I made you a promise, and I will keep it.” Mom nodded and closed her eyes. Piper knew what it was costing her mom to speak to her. “Mom, I’m ready when you are. I don’t want you to die, but you sticking around here talking to me is costing you more than you have, I think. We’ve had all the fun we could, and now it’s time for you to go tell Pop what you’ve been up to with me.” Mom nodded but didn’t open her eyes. The monitor measuring her heartbeat was slowing. As per her mom’s request, nothing would be done to try and bring her back. Piper let her tears flow unheeded. Her mom was dying, and it hurt her own heart with every pause of her mom’s. “Piper? Did you hear me?” Piper looked at her brother, jerked from her thoughts about mom. “For the love of Christ. Are you on drugs again? This isn’t the time for you to be stoned out of—” “I’ve never taken so much as an aspirin. Why would you even say that to me?” Standing up, Piper straightened up her dress and made her way to the podium. “Mom asked me to read this today. When the doctor told us there wasn’t much time left, she wrote her own eulogy. Mom got sassy in her later years, so laugh if you wish. But don’t be offended, please.” Looking at her mom’s handwriting made her smile. She’d had the most beautiful script Piper had ever seen. Knowing she’d treasure this letter, Piper had made copies of it to read from today, and in case the others wanted a copy. Which Piper doubted. “If Piper is doing her job and not grieving over me, I’m fucking dead.”

She looked up when Louis asked her to not curse. “I’m going to read just what she wrote. Word for word. Deal with it.” She looked back at the writing, needing a moment until the tears dried up a little. “I’ve lived a great life. But now I’m going to be worm meat. I don’t care. I’m more excited for this phase of my life anyway. To get to see my only love and tell him of all the adventures I’ve had with Piper. In my final years, we did so much together. Things that would wear me out, but it was so well worth it. Every fucking minute.” “Wait just a minute. Wait right there. What does she mean, adventures with you? We had adventures.” Piper didn’t comment to her sister. Her mom knew they’d not let it go on how much time she and Piper had together. “We did lunch all the time when we were in town. Remember those times, Louis?” Peter, Mary’s son, cleared his throat and stood up. “What are you talking about? Didn’t you just say on the way here that you’d not been here in ten years? That you’d not even recognize Grandma or Piper if they were in a lineup? I think you said you’d not been here since Grandpop died.” Piper could have hugged Peter, Mary’s oldest. “Go on, Aunt Piper. Read her note to us and give us a good laugh.” “Thank you, Peter.” She looked down at the letter again. “Let me see. The camping trips made me laugh so much. Figuring it all out took ten years off my life. However, Piper’s driving put it right back on me.

I’m sorry we couldn’t do more towards the end there, but you of all people know why we couldn’t.” Mom talked about the camper being renovated and how much nicer it was to be able to make coffee and brush her teeth at the same time. The Christmases they had at the shelter. Piper looked up when she got to the part about the house being sold to her. “You took her house from me?” Folding up the letter and putting it away, Piper ignored her sister in favor of telling Mr. Edwards it was time to go. It didn’t matter really what the rest of the letter said. They’d only hear what they wanted anyway. “What did she mean, she sold the house to you? You know it’s going to be mine. I’m the oldest.” “You were notified of the sale nine years ago, Mary. Both you and Louis were. Not that I have to explain anything to you, but she sold it to me first, so I’d be able to use it as collateral to finish my education.” Mary asked her why she thought the house should have been hers. “I’ve spent the last fifteen years of my life, more than half of it, caring for first Pop, then Mom, while the two of you went on with whatever you wanted to do. Without one hour of help from you two. All your promises of coming here to give me some time of my own.

All the money you said you’d send, which again you never sent. She sold the house to me when it was obvious neither of you were going to come to help her. Then when it got to the point where neither of us could afford it, I sold it to use the money for other things.” “That’s not fair at all. We had lives. Families to care for. You don’t know how difficult it was for us to find servants to help us. And don’t get me started on nannies and the like. You just don’t know what it’s like, Piper. Mom should never have singled you out in that letter, either. She did that to be mean.” Piper moved past her brother to the front doors of the chapel. “Piper, this isn’t finished. You’re not going to rip us off now that my parents are both gone.” Piper made her way to the limo that had been hired to take her to the cemetery. She wasn’t surprised at all when Mary got in with her son, then Louis did the same with his daughter, Rachel. When it was obvious there wasn’t enough room, Peter and Rachel said they’d take the cars. That, of course, pissed Mary and Louis off, that she’d not made better arrangements. The graveside service was beautiful. She and Mom had picked out the marker that Mom would share with Pop when she’d been making the arrangements. It was a testimony of their love for each other, with a carved picture of them on their wedding day under their names. Mom had made sure it was also covered with the stickers of each camping spot they’d gone to, so she’d be able to remember them when she told Pop about them. Of course, Mary and Louis thought it was tacky and demanded they be removed. “You touch even one of them, and I’ll have you arrested, Louis. That is what Mom wanted, and that is what she gets.” He asked her when she’d gotten so touchy about things. “The day my mom passed away with her other children too busy to make their way to be with her.”

The service was quick. They were headed to their cars within minutes afterward. Piper had brought her car here yesterday so that she could leave when she wanted too. The limo was gone, with her sister and brother arguing about how they wanted to be alone when she sat on the ground to watch the deep hole being filled in. Piper told both her parents that she loved them and would think of them often. “I’m leaving tomorrow morning. Or tonight if Mary or Louis stick around too long.” Piper thought about talking about the letter Mom had written. She knew that Mom had known what the reactions would be. It was why she’d written it, after all. “Give Pop a hug for me. Pop, I love you so much. Take care of Mom.” The drive back to the funeral home was her time to grieve. Being strong for her mom had been difficult. But the ride gave her a much-needed outlet. She’d not get much of quiet time once she arrived to take care of the last few things at the funeral home. Getting out of the car, she made her way inside just in time to hear Louis arguing with Mr. Edwards. Putting her fingers in her mouth, she whistled loud and long. Everyone turned to her, and she smiled. “While I have an idea what this is about, you will not harass Mr. Edwards about it. He’s just the person who was nice enough to allow Mom and I to make payments on the billing until some money came in.” Louis asked her for the bill. “For what?”

“The bill to this second rate funeral. Mary and I are going to pay for it. As soon as we have the billing turned over to us.” Mr. Edwards moved away while she waited on Louis to continue. “We’ve decided to take the burden off you on this. This way, you can pay us back from the proceeds from when you sold the house. I don’t think you should have gotten a thing from the estate of either of them. It’s not like you paid rent or had any other bills while you were living the life of a freeloader with first Dad, then Mom. We’ve decided we’ll split the money five ways. You’ll get one fifth, and as we’re married and you’re not, it’s only fair that we get a portion for our spouses, as we have to support them as well. It’s the least we can do for you.” “Yes, I’m sure this is the least you can do. However, the house was sold too long ago for you to be coming back on me to get anything from it. There were bills that we had that had to be covered.” Louis asked her what she was talking about. “I sold the house and the contents several years ago when the bills were too much for Mom to handle after Pop died. You do know she had cancer, don’t you? I mean, that was what eventually killed her. Then, just before she died, the doctor explained that this was the end and that the hospital would be a good place for her to be comfortable. So that’s where she was when she passed.” “You had no right to do that. None at all.” She said that since she owned the house, she could do what she wanted. “We’ll just see about that.” When he walked away, Piper found Mr. Edwards. Apologizing to the man for her family, he smiled at her.

When he told her he’d not worry about it if she didn’t, Piper assured him that she wouldn’t. The two of them finished up the paperwork, then made arrangements for the flowers. They were going to be donated to the local nursing homes. There were quite a few of them from her clients, so it didn’t bother her that she was able to make the decision about them. Most had sent small arrangements and donated to the charity that Mom had helped when they’d been able to donate. “The donations were ample, Ms. James, well over ten thousand dollars. The children at the hospital will have nice things for their stay now.” Mom had wanted to have readers with games on them for the kids in the cancer ward. “I’ve made sure the attorney for the estate is aware of it.” “Thank you. Mom would have been incredibly pleased.” Signing off on the bill that had been paid over the years, Piper stood up to leave. “I’m not sure what happens next with my sister and brother, but don’t hesitate to call the police if they become too much of a nuisance to you.” “They don’t bother me. It’s you I worry about. You aren’t sticking around for the reading of the will, are you?” She told him she had what Mom had given her. “Well, child, you have—” The knock at the door had her turning toward it. The officer standing there seemed as confused as she felt. He told her he was sorry about this. Rocky and her had dated a couple of times before he’d found and married Janine.

“The man out there said you had stolen from him. He said you took his inheritance. Then that woman—please tell me she’s not really your sister—said the same thing.” She told him, sadly, that they were both related to her. “I’m sorry, Piper, I’m gonna have to take you in until in the morning. Judge Parkerson is having a look at all the paperwork you gave to Mr. Jackson. I guess you figured this would happen.” “I did. I had hoped it would be after I left town.” She put out her wrists to be cuffed, and he told her to just go with him. “They want the works, Rocky. Also, for me to be humiliated. You’d better cuff me up. Otherwise, they’ll say you didn’t do your job.” She was walked past her family. Peter was pissed at his dad, and his cousin Rachel walked away when she saw what was happening. Piper would bet there was going to be trouble tonight. Winking at Peter, she got in the back of the cruiser. ~*~ Judge Homer Parkerson looked at the paperwork, and his heart broke once again for Mrs. James and Piper. Up until Piper had gotten out of college, they’d been living in a very tight way. Little Piper had started working from home, and just like that, things started turning around. Then Mrs. James had been diagnosed with cancer. It was all over her body by the time they’d found it.

“Need some help?” Homer looked at his wife of forty-four years, Penny, who was sitting at the dining room table with him. “I’m assuming this has to do with that hullabaloo at the funeral home today.” “It does. The brother and sister of Piper had her arrested, telling the police she took their inheritance. What a crock of shit, pardon my language. But where were they when the two of them, one being their mother, had to decide whether to buy food or make a house payment? Why, if I had my way, I’d make a list of every bill Piper and her mother paid, including the funerals of both of their parents, and have them pay her back.”
“Why don’t you?” Homer asked her what she meant. “Add up all the cost the two of them had to pay, and then divide it by the three of them. I’m sure Piper could use the money. Even selling off their home didn’t pay off as much as they had hoped. Mary Margaret told me if it hadn’t been for Piper having a good job, they might well have been homeless.” They both worked most of the night. Homer was sure that had Piper not kept meticulous records all along, they’d never have gotten it figured out in time. As it was, he’d gone up to take a nap when Penny made copies of it.

There had been more red than black balances. Even with the total income from Piper’s job, they’d still end up in the red at the end of the month, mostly because of hospital stays and medication for Mary Margaret. Piper paid every bill incurred by her mom without any complaints. Nor had she ever left her mom to deal with things herself, as Louis and Mary had done. He was looking forward to this, perhaps a little more than he should have. But he’d liked Mary Margaret, and thought of Piper as one of his girls. He thought Piper would have been a better daughter than the three he had. Closing his eyes, working hard at making his body relax, Homer finally gave up and went to the kitchen. Penny was there waiting on him with scrambled eggs and bacon. Homer called the jail at six-thirty to tell them to have Piper at the courthouse at eight. He even told them to take her by her trailer so she could clean up and get fresh clothes on. Homer felt so good about what he was about to do that he said he’d spring for breakfast for the officer and Piper. Leaving word at the little hotel, the only working hotel in town, for the family to be at the courthouse at eight, Homer said to tell them if they were late, he’d find them in contempt and put their asses in jail. Mentally rubbing his hands together, he was as excited as he’d been in decades. Homer had everything ready to go at seven forty-five. Piper arrived at ten till the hour. Her family showed up at eight right on the dot. Homer made a point of looking at the clock when they started bickering about the time. “You’re the ones that had Piper arrested. When I’m involved in such a thing, you can bet I’m going to make things convenient for myself instead of the fools that waste my time.”

He banged his gavel on his dais and told them to sit down and shut up. “Now, do the two of you have an attorney?” “I wasn’t aware that we’d need one,” Homer asked them if they thought they knew what they were doing, suing their sister for the inheritance from their mom. “She took our mother’s home right out from under us. Then she told us she’d already sold it. We weren’t informed of any of that. Not to mention, she sold all the household items. Where does she get off doing something like that?’ Homer asked Piper if she’d notified them. “I did, Your Honor. If you have all my receipts, you’ll find where I sent them each a certified letter two weeks before I put it on the market. Also, three months prior to Mom signing the house over to me, I sent them another certified letter telling them not only why she’d done it, but also offering them the opportunity to purchase the house from her for us.”

“See? She just took it from us.” Homer pulled up the receipts he’d found in the file that held all the receipts. “I didn’t sign for anything from her either.” “According to the receipts here in my hand, you both signed the attached receipts. The courier not only wrote on here who had scrawled their names, but also what you were wearing when you did.” He looked at the two siblings. “Are you still going to tell me you didn’t get notified? It also says he has a recording of the two of you if there is still any question about you not receiving it. Shall I call the company and have them bring us over the video of you?” “That won’t be necessary.” Louis glared at his little sister. “This doesn’t negate the fact that she took our home from us. My sister Mary and I had plans for our two fifths each of that money.” Homer asked Piper why they were thinking they got two fifths. “Their thinking is that, as they’re married and I’m not, they should get a larger portion than I do.” Homer burst out laughing before he could stop himself. “I’m not entirely sure about their math myself, but that’s what I was told.” “I see.” He didn’t really, but looked at his notes and laughed a little while recalculating the totals to reflect their two-fifths. “Give me one moment here, if you please. I’m going to figure out how much things should have come to. Piper, did you also care for your dad when he fell ill? I believe you did. Didn’t you, child?” “Yes, sir. I was fourteen when he had a stroke. My sister and brother had already left home by then. I had to finish high school online, as I couldn’t leave them alone.

Dad was a handful on his best days. After the stroke, he was meaner than a rattlesnake.” The little bit of laughter was sad coming from Piper. “Your Honor, I only asked for help from them when Dad was sick. Mom wouldn’t allow me to bother them anymore when they didn’t help with Dad.” “She was already living there, Your Honor. It would have been a waste of our time and money to have a nursemaid come in our home when she was already there. Don’t you agree?” Homer told Mary he did not agree. “Well, it’s too late now. They’re both dead and gone, so it’s nothing we can worry about now. We just want our share of what she got.” “Oh, but there is something you can worry about, young lady. I’m going to give you a running total of where the money went from Piper working, the social security that your parents received, as well as the sale of the house.” He had his deputy hand the three of them what he and his wife had come up with last night. “Now, let me go over these numbers for the three of you.” Homer had all the income written on the first page he’d given them. At first look, it seemed that there should have been more than enough money for a small family to live on. Piper did make good money. There was also the addition of the sale of not just the home, but the sale of the family car and the furniture that had filled the home. The car that the two of them, Piper and Mary Margaret, had depended on was forty years old and ran like it. He was glad to know that at some point, Piper had purchased a truck and paid it off to pull the camper they’d been living in for the last several years. Homer put the old car in the assets column as valued at twenty-five dollars.

He was probably padding it too much, but in the end, it wouldn’t matter. “You see right here, Your Honor? She no more needed to sell the house than she did the furniture. She is going to owe us a great deal more than I thought.” Homer told Louis to hold his water. “Hey, I don’t mind at all now that I know she’s going to have to pay us more than we thought. This is so worth the extra night in the hotel for her bullshit. Hell, I won’t even charge her for what that cost us now.” Almost giddy now, Homer had the debt part given to them. Once they were looking at it, he started telling them the numbers he’d come up with. He’d made a call last night to find the going rate for full-time live-in care for someone. He knew that Piper would never have calculated that as something to charge her family for, but damn it, they’d started this. “Now, the way I see it, this young lady here is entitled to reimbursement for her time, as well as the nursemaid service she did for the two of you. And since you’ve decided you wish for two-fifths of the estate….” He laughed at their expressions. “The way I have it figured out, you—you and your spouses, I mean—owe Piper nearly a hundred thousand each. Now we can take care of that here, or I can put you in a cell until such time you can pay—” “What the hell are you talking about? I am not paying her shit.” Homer told Mary to watch her mouth. “You old fool. She’s supposed to be paying us, not the other way around. It’s her that stole our mother’s house and sold it.” “Yes, she sold it because there was no other choice but to do so. It was that or your mother wouldn’t have lived as long as she did. Part of that money paid for her to have the medicine to help her day to day. The money from the sale paid for her to have treatments when it was needed.

” He looked at Piper, realizing he’d hurt her in doing this. “I’m sorry it’s come to this, child. I truly am.” “I did the best I could under the circumstances. Mom and I had each other. I was able to be at her side when she took her last breath. We got to laugh and cry. If I had to do it all over again the same way, I’d do it. Simply because I was there when she needed me.” Homer hurt because Piper was sobbing now. “She was my world and I hers. We had to do what we needed and never let it take us apart.” “What would you like to do about the rest, honey?” She said that if the other two wanted to pay her, she’d not take it. It would be too little too late. Homer looked at the other two. “What do you have to say for yourself? I think you should be ashamed of yourself for the way you’ve treated your sister. “Nothing. She’s lucky she lives here in this little town, or we’d be the ones in the right.” Telling Rocky to get Piper out of here, he was happy that she hugged her niece and nephew before leaving. “So, she gets off scot-free, does she?” Homer dismissed the case and left the two idiots there to figure out their own crap. Once in his office, he sat down and shook his head. No one would believe what he’d just witnessed. He didn’t much either.