Dr. Brody Downs was ready for a fresh start for him and Jordan both. Filing for a divorce from Rachel was the most prudent thing to do under the circumstances. He had known Jordan wasn’t his son when he was born, but he couldn’t love the little guy more if he had been. Rachel wasn’t fit to raise the boy, and he’d fight her for custody if it came to that. Until that time, he was offered a new job in a small town in Ohio, he and Jordan would settle there and try to start anew.
Aaron Wright was aware of the kind doctor at the airport that helped his sister. Emmi had been at the airport to pick him up from his flight when security tackled her to the ground for being with the little boy. It was all a mistake, she was just trying to help the boy find his dad, but they discovered how severely beaten Emmi truly was. Now that Emmi was safe, Aaron was very aware of Dr. Downs, and that had him worried. Aaron wouldn’t consider himself gay. That thought had never crossed his mind—until now.
Brody was too focused on the woman and her injuries to notice the man with her. But now that things were settled, he noticed, and he was confused. Brody wasn’t gay or he didn’t think he was. But when Aaron took his hand, he didn’t want to let go….
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I TUNES Coming Soon
Jake Winslow’s marriage to the money-grubbing shrew is over. Cutting off her funds, and the simple use of the word “no” sends her packing. When he comes home from work and finds his house empty of everything, including food, he feels—liberated.
Jake’s grandmother, Jenna, calls her friend and attorney, Forrest Stout, to handle Jake’s messy divorce. She can’t stand Jake’s soon-to-be ex-wife and is leaving nothing to chance. Only the best for her grandson and the best is Forrest.
Forrest is a Were-Tiger, and he knows “who” he is. He is an oddity in his paranormal world because he is gay. His kind mate for life, and after a recent disastrous attempt to find companionship, he has given up hope of ever finding his life mate.
From the moment Forrest meets Jake for the first time, he knows that Jake is his life mate, and he wants to run in the opposite direction because Jake isn’t gay. To claim and lose a mate would spell disaster for him. How can he ask a straight man—that he wants with every fiber of his being—to conform to his way of life? He can’t….
Ex-lovers and ex-wives can be a dangerous combination. Especially when neither are right in the head…
Henry Myers never kept his gender preferences a secret. His mother supported his choices and stood by his side even when his acting career tanked because of it. Now she was gone, and so was his career. Henry was at a loss.
Patrick Garrett, Paddy, was now in a bad place. He had worked at the precinct since he was in his early twenties, and now he could trust no one. Not his captain nor his partner it seemed. He was shot and bleeding, and it seemed the whole precinct was on the take.
Henry had been able to talk to ghosts since a near death experience he had as a child. They had been following him around ever since. Now it seemed Paddy could see them as well. But when Wally, Henry’s ghostly companion referred to Paddy as Henry’s mate. Neither man was sure how to take that news.
Henry couldn’t deny the attraction to the rugged cop, and if the man didn’t put back on his shirt, he wasn’t so sure he’d be able to control himself.
Cameron knew it was a setup before he and his sister Caitlynn got there. It was supposed to be a hit to take Cattie out. Cam being there was just a bonus. Had they been entirely human, the explosion would have killed them both. With them both being critically injured, they were taken to a private clinic owned by Jake and Forrest. To the world they would appear to be dead, at least until Cattie could put together who was out to get them.
Rick wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be doing here. He’d been asked by his buddy and longtime friend, Forrest, to come by his house—he had a gig for him. Rick hadn’t had a gig of any kind for years now and getting a call from Forrest out of the blue, like it had been, couldn’t have come at a better time.
Cam had many abilities. One he felt was somewhat of a curse. He was so in tune to everyone else, like an empath he felt what they felt, so much so that he couldn’t separate his own feelings from theirs. Because of this, he avoided ever having a relationship.
Being an elite shifter, Rick wasn’t confused. As soon as his fingers brushed Cam’s at the kitchen table, he knew they were mates, and he was about the rock Cam’s world.
Recommended for 18+
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Brody was ready for his own bed. Well, one where a five-year-old wasn’t sleeping with him. Jordan, he’d come to realize, was a bed hog. Looking over at him, Brody fell deeper in love with the little boy. He was going to be his. On the third day of their vacation, he’d realized that Jordan had never asked about his mom. Not once did he wake in the middle of the night calling for her. And he’d never, when buying gifts for Grandma and Howie, as his butler liked to be called now, did he even suggest that he get anything for his mom. That, to Brody, was just sad. Jordan would answer questions about her when asked, mostly by strangers, but nothing about her otherwise. This was their last day, and he needed to talk to his son. Jordan, as usual, beat him to the draw. Like he knew. “Dad, are we going home today? I sure miss my bed. And you not sleeping in it.” They both laughed. “I can’t wait to give my gifts to Grandma and Howie.
But…Dad, will Mom be there?” His question was quite like he was almost afraid to ask it. Or, Brody thought, it could have just been him thinking that’s what Jordan was doing. Sitting down at the small table they had in their room, he handed Jordan his glass of orange juice. “No. She won’t be there. But I told you, we’re not going home.” He nodded. “Jordan, would you be upset if she didn’t come with us to the new house?” “No.” He looked at his dad, then back at his now empty glass. “She’s not nice. And she yells at me all the time. She says awful things about you and Grandma. And when she has her friends over, I have to stay in the kitchen with Howie all the time.” More and more things were coming out about his wife. Rachel had made Jordan take swimming lessons, the beginner classes so she could be in the pool with the younger mothers. Jordan was an advanced swimmer and had hated the way his mom acted. He never got to go out to eat with her—it was drive through or nothing. And then he wasn’t allowed to eat in the car. Little things, yes, but they’d mounted up heavily on the little boy. “I’m sorry about that. I’m glad that you’ve told me all these things, but I’m very sorry that she treated you this way, Jordan. You believe me, don’t you?”
He nodded and Brody took a deep breath before speaking again. “We’re getting a divorce, your mom and I. We’re not going to be living together anymore.” The hopeful look in Jordan’s eyes was there and gone so quickly, Brody was sure that he had mistaken it again. When Jordan started playing with his bowl of cereal, Brody decided it was time to tell him the truth about everything. But Jordan spoke before he could. “Dad, will I have to go and live with her? I don’t want to. I don’t even like her.” Brody didn’t know what to say, so said nothing. “I know you’re not my daddy. I wish you were all the time. But if you keep me and not give me to Mom, I will be the best boy in the entire world.”
“Oh, Jordan.” He held him tightly, tears filling his eyes even as Jordan sobbed on his chest. But what broke Brody’s heart more was how Jordan kept begging him not to make him go back to his mom. Never. “You won’t. I promise. And Jordan, you are a good boy. So good that I’m jealous I wasn’t that good when I was small. Grandma is going to be living with us in our new place, as well as Howie.” “You promise I won’t have to go to her?” He said that he did, on his life. Brody only hoped that Jake was a good enough attorney to make it happen. “I love you, Dad. Forever.” The rest of the morning was spent packing up their things. They didn’t have to leave until later today, but they could take their luggage to the airport and then not have to mess with it later. They had taken two bags each, and now had four bags each. Most of it was things that Jordan wanted for his new room. The walk around the city was nice. Brody knew that as soon as he was with Jake and the rest of his group that he’d have to settle down and get busy on this divorce. Talking to his mom nightly had helped—both he and Jordan, as a matter of fact.
So he was up-to-date on things that were going on at home. Brody knew that Rachel hadn’t shown up for her court date. And he knew why. She’d been in a jail cell—for not paying her bill to the hotel—since the morning she was to appear. He had to laugh every time he thought about her being taken out in handcuffs while trying her very best to sell off some of the things in the room. Rachel’s mother, Becky Sharp, had cooperated with the police. What with her husband David being in jail too, Becky had no choice except to get out of the house nicely. And when searched, she’d not taken anything. So Brody, even though he didn’t care for her husband or her daughter, paid for two weeks in a hotel for her, with food and room service included—as long as she didn’t try and steal anything or harbor her daughter. “You should have seen it, Brody. I tell you, Howie and I laughed for nearly two hours watching Rachel being pulled from the hotel. And there she was, screaming that she was going to get you. I don’t know how she figured that was going to happen, but she was. Then I think she saw the television crew.” He asked his mom why they were there. “Not for her, though I think they did film her. That boy we hired, Jake, and his partner Forrest, they’re making a name for themselves. I think you got the best of the best. But they were there for the unveiling of the plans for the new library addition.
It’s going to be nice. I think your boys had something to do with that too.” He hoped they were doing a good job. He would hate like hell to have to turn his son over to that monster. Brody hadn’t realized how much he’d had riding on this. There was his practice, his homes, money. Of course, she’d signed a prenup, but he knew that she was slick and would do just about anything for some money. But today was for Jordan. The phone was ringing as soon as they entered the hotel room. Jake was on the line, and he sounded like a man who was either really pissed off or holding back on something. When he finally burst out laughing, Brody couldn’t help but smile.
“Your soon to be ex-wife is on the line. Not with us at the moment, but as soon as I tell you a couple of things.” Jake laughed again. “My God, Brody, I think she’s more of a bitch than my ex-wife was. Does she by chance have any decorating skill?” He had heard about Jake’s wife.
“I was afraid to give her the chance. The house decorating was off limits to her at all times. What does she want, do you know?” “Smart man. She said that she wasn’t going to tell me, so I hung up on her. The second time she called, an officer was on the line. He asked me, politely, to let her talk to you so they could have some peace and quiet. I guess she’s putting up a great big hullaballoo. I love that word. I might have to use it more often.” Brody hadn’t heard that word in a while either, and laughed. “Yeah, my grandma would say that a great deal. Anyway, I’ll be on the line with the two of you. And since she’s calling you from the police station, there will be someone listening in on that end and recording it. So, keep your cool and don’t tell her anything that you’d not normally tell her if she didn’t ask you. For instance, you can tell her about the tests, but only if she asks.” When the line opened up, the police officer said what Jake had told him. Apparently, Rachel was listening as well, but her end was muted. They told him they were recording the conversation, and that Brody’s attorney was on the line as well. “This is bullshit.” The phone was muted when Rachel spoke; the small humming sound was all the notice that they got to clue them in on that. Then when she came back on the line, she wasn’t any happier about having to behave, Brody would bet. “Brody, honey, I want you to get your rectum down here and bail me out. Give me a key to the house and stop this nonsense with our son. You know as well as I do that you’re not going to go through with this. You need me.”
“No.” She asked him what that meant. “No, I’m not going to go and bail you out. No, I’m not going to give you a key to my home, and I’m certainly not going to stop with the proceedings. I’m divorcing you, Rachel.” “And you think that just because you have all the money, you can do as you please? I’m your wife, you fucking dick shit—” The line went dead again, and Brody laughed. He wondered if Jake was laughing too when Rachel came back on the line. “I’m supposed to stop cursing. But I want you to know, Brody, that I’m calling you every name in the book in my head. Where is my son? I want you to make sure that when you go to court, or whatever the he…heck you think you’re doing, you know that you’re not going to raise him. He’s our son, and as his mother, I’m the one that should raise him. Everyone knows that the mother wins in this sort of thing. I’m thinking now about how much me having our son in my possession is going to cost you.” “He is your son. You have that right, Rachel. And you know as well as I do that he’s not my biological child. In fact, I found the list that you wrote on who could be his father.” Brody looked at Jordan as he continued. “But I could care less who he was fathered by. He’s my son, and I love him with all my heart.
And as for you raising him, that’s not going to happen either. You’re neither a good role model nor mother.” “You have never had a heart, and you’re abysmal in bed. Why is it you think I found other men to screw me? Because you might have a nice dick, but you hadn’t a clue how to use it.” Brody started to say that it might have been her, but he wasn’t lowering himself to her level.
“Don’t you have anything to say? I have plenty, but I have to be nice. You have no idea what you’re stepping into here by treating me this way. And tossing my parents out on their butts with nothing at all to fall back on.” “Perhaps you should have read the prenup better, Rachel. It stated that so long as we were married, I would provide your parents with a home to live in, as well as a car. The money allowance that I helped them out with was because, believe it or not, I’m a nice person.” She snorted. “Regardless. I’ve had enough. And since you’ve been stepping out on me since the day we married, I’m going to take back control of my life.” “Have you any idea how many men have fucked me in that big house of yours? Hundreds. Some days I’d take on two or three at the same time. It was so much fun, having men right under your nose.” Again, he could have said more, but he didn’t. “And with you all alone sleeping down the hall in your lonely little bed. Did you cry yourself to sleep, Brody? You pussy.” The line went dead, and Brody closed his phone when he heard a dial tone. It took everything that he had just to sit here and not hunt her down and strangle her. Then Jordan came to him and put his small arms around his neck. “Dad, she’s not worth it.” Brody told him he knew that. “She’s a mean person. And you are my dad. Can I tell you something?” “Yes, Jordan, anything.” Jordan walked to the little cabinet that held snacks. He’d never taken anything out, but he knew that Jordan had a small sweet tooth. When he took out a candy bar, Brody smiled at him as he ate it.
“I found my birth certificate in Mom’s purse when she took me to register for school a long time ago. I read it on the back too.” Brody asked him if he knew what it meant. “I didn’t. But I asked Clare, the girl next door. Dad, she has boobs and stuff. Anyway, she told me that my mom had been sleeping with other men, and you weren’t on the list. I had to ask Grandma what sleeping around meant. She told me. I don’t know why Mom would do that, do you? I just want you to know that I love you very much, Dad. And we’re going to be all right.” “I agree. Any reason you didn’t come to me with the question?” Jordan’s face turned red. “Are you afraid to talk to me about sex?” “Gosh no. I know you know about sex. Geeze, Dad.” They both laughed. “I wanted to ask someone that would tell me how it is. And boy oh boy, does Clare tell me like it is. But she said that I should ask you about it. I put my birth certificate in my baby book the day that we left the house. I wanted you to find it. I don’t know who those guys are, but Mom wrote their names on the back of it.” Brody thought of the things that his son was figuring out. Sex. Stepping out. He was going to have to talk to him about other things, he knew—and soon. But what he really wanted to do was let him know that he could come to him about anything. Even if it might embarrass them both. “Thank you.” Jordan threw the rest of the candy in the trash. Looking at his phone again when it rang, Brody realized that they had to get to the airport. It was Jake.
“We’re headed to the airport now, Jake. Do you think we can talk when I get there? I’m beat after that. And Jordan is as well.” “Yes, that’s a wonderful idea, Brody. I’m so sorry about all this. I know just what you’re going through.” He thanked him. “All right. I’ll see you, I guess, around seven tonight. Enjoy your flight, and remember, there will be a car at the airport for you when you arrive.” ~*~ Emmi watched the planes land and take off. Damn it, she wanted to go home and curl up on the couch, take some pain pills, and forget the world. Why Aaron had to come home right now was driving her nuts. But then, everything drove her nuts lately. Aaron had a good job, one that would take him all over the world one week then he’d be off for a while. And when he was off, if he could, he’d stay with her. Usually it wasn’t any trouble. But she knew as soon as he saw her body—because she knew that she wasn’t going to be able to hide her pain from him—he’d have a major shit fit, and then she’d have to explain things that she didn’t know. She saw that her brother’s plane was on time and would be landing in twenty minutes. Emmi sat back down in the chair, extremely careful of how she sat, and then leaned back. Then she began to think and wait again. Closing her eyes, she tried not to think of anything, to make the pain go away. Drawing—or painting, it mattered little to her. But she enjoyed it so much that sometimes she could forget about the world and the way that it had been shitting on her lately. Emmi remembered to check the flight times again and the gate where he’d be coming in. When she opened her eyes, however, a small boy was standing nearby. “Can you help me?” She was leery of the kid. Not just him, but all kids.
This was some sort of scam, she knew it. Looking around, she asked him where his parents were. “My mom is in jail and my dad and I are coming here to live.” Too real to be a lie, Emmi thought. But that didn’t mean she wholly trusted him yet. “Okay. And why are you not with him? I mean, you don’t look old enough to drive or anything yet. What gives?” He cocked his head and stared at her. “Kid, I don’t know what your deal is, but I don’t want to have to be dragged off to some sort of chamber and have someone kill me. Tell me what’s going on. And no lies. Okay? I’ve had a shitty day—well, month—and really, I just want to go home.” “My dad said that the car was going to be here to get us, but I had to go to the bathroom. Dad said that he did too, so we went inside.” He pointed to the men’s room right behind them. “Then when I was all done, I washed up my hands and came out to stand by the door. But he never came out. I think that my mom escaped and she’s killed him.” “Kid, you have a great imagination.” He told her his name. “All right, Jordan Downs.Let’s go see what we can find out. To be honest,Let’s go see what we can find out.
I got trapped in that bathroom crap too. It opens up on both ends. I came out on the wrong side and was lost for a bit. Come on, we’ll get this figured out.”
He took her hand into his and she froze up. Emmi didn’t care to be touched, especially when she was hurting as badly as she was at the moment. People terrified her, especially men. She supposed it was because of her husband when he found her. But knowing why she didn’t care for it didn’t make her any less unhappy about being touched. Emmi was married—or so she’d been led to believe. She didn’t remember the wedding, the man, or for that matter, what he looked like. But she was getting these summons—bills—that were apparently made by her husband that she had to pay. Not to mention, someone had changed her name on not just her mail box, but also her monthly bills, like rent and her utilities. No matter how much Emmi searched for some clue, she— “Are you all right, lady?” She told him she was fine and her name. “That’s a pretty name. I’m betting it’s short for something pretty too. Dad said he didn’t want me to have a nickname. He thought them to be confusing to little kids. People think sometimes I’m a girl. I’m not.”
“Yes, I can see that. There are all kinds of names that are gender neutral. You said that your dad had a car waiting for you? Do you know if it was a rental or a bigger car?” He told her. “I see. So, the person coming to get him might be at the gates with a sign for this limo. And if your dad is there, problem solved. If not, we’ll try out plan B, where we have to involve the airport security. And just between the two of us, I don’t think we’ll get too much help from them either.” She was hurting; trying to find the little boy’s dad was pulling on stitches and bruises that she had all over her body. The airport wasn’t that long, but there were a lot of people walking into them. Pay attention to your surroundings, she wanted to scream at people. But she— “You sure do walk fast.” Emmi slowed down. She had very long legs, and she’d forgotten for a few minutes that she was with a kid. “Thanks. Look over there. See those big signs?” “I do.” She was near to them when she was thrown to the floor and someone had her arms too far up her back. Airport security was screaming at her to get away from the boy. Emmi hadn’t a clue how that was to happen, as she had an elephant of a guard on her aching back. It was all she could do not to pass out. Not to puke where she lay. The man on her, because there was no doubt to her that it was a brute of a man, was telling her to not move, not to say a word. She was sick with the pain, and Jordan was screaming at them to let her go, that she was helping him. Before she could beg anyone for help, any kind of help, she was let go and yanked up to her feet. Emmi had to lean over until she not only caught her breath, but the pain was gone—which by her estimations, would be never. No longer able to hold onto the bile in her empty belly, she turned her head and dry heaved for a few minutes. The shoes in her view were expensive and polished. There was only one person that she knew who had shoes that shiny.
“Hello, Aaron. Don’t touch me yet.” Laughter had her peeking up at her brother. “I was only trying to help the kid. Now I have to go home. You’re on your own to get there. In fact, you should maybe go back to where you were for about ten years.” “I heard the kid. Christ, I think the entire place heard him telling them that you hadn’t done anything wrong. However, I did not know that you were in so much pain that you should have told your big brother.” She wanted to wipe at her nose and tears, but she hurt too much. “I’m going to find out what happened—you know that, don’t you? In the meantime, do you need something for the pain, Emmi?” “I’ll be all right. Just give me a minute. Could you help Jordan find his dad? He said he was getting a car.” Emmi couldn’t move, but she had to sit down. Trying to lower herself to a better position was making her sicker. “Aaron, I’m not going to be able to move without help. Can you sit me on the ground? There is a better place for me to die, I think.” “No dying, Emmi. I mean it. And so you know…. Well, that’s for later. Where can I touch you?”
Aaron’s voice was so strong that she wanted to lean into it, much like she had as a child when she’d be taken to task about something made up by her parents that she’d done. But Aaron’s shoes didn’t move when she felt someone at her waist. “Don’t touch her until she tells us where we can.” “She’s bleeding.” She heard Aaron cursing and the man behind her breathing hard. “Emmi, is it? I’m going to help you down to the floor. But you have to tell me where I can touch you. I think your brother is pissed.” “He’s always pissed.” Sobbing now, the pain was getting the better of her. “Find a gun. Shoot me between the eyes and I’ll feel much better.” She heard Jordan tell them no. “I was kidding, Jordan. I just hurt too much right now to think of anything other than not being in pain. Just leave me here. I’ll move when I’m able.” There was a pinch at her arm. Before she could turn, if she could have, to see what had happened, the man behind her came into focus. He was rubbing a place where she was sure that he’d drugged her. Then, amazingly, she started to float away. Emmi was never one to be able to just take a pain pill or shot and be able to be pain-free. She was a redhead and all that came with it—freckles, pale and sensitive skin. If she was out on a beach for ten minutes, she’d be burnt to a crisp. Like she’d ever been to a beach, she thought with a smile. Then she heard Aaron tell whoever had shot her up that she was indeed a redhead, and she felt another pinch to her skin, then absolutely nothing. There were glitches in the things that she saw when she woke.
A giant cat—a tiger, she realized. Then there was a man, telling her she was all right. Over and over Emmi thought that she’d died only to wake a little to more pain. When she was finally able to focus on her surroundings, there was a man in the room with her doing a crossword puzzle. As she watched him, he cursed at the clues. “What the hell is a steam engine scoop? You’d think a man my age would have heard it all. Stupid puzzle.” Clearing her throat twice, she told him the answer. “Bucket, huh? Let me look. Yes, that’s it. Thank you. I would have given up had I not been assigned to watch over you. Though I must tell you, it’s not a bit of hardship on my part.”
“You’re babbling, and I hurt. Where am I?” The man stood and stretched. Her mouth went dry as the shirt he had on pulled up from his pants. Looking away, Emmi saw that she had an IV, as well as that her body was layered in gauze. She was in the hospital someplace. “Where is Aaron? I’d like to go home now.” “If you mean your brother—who is very scary by the way, even for me—he and a couple of other guys went to the cafeteria for something to eat. Do you need for me to get you something for pain?” Shaking her head, she closed her eyes. “Yes, well, you might want to talk to the doctor before you start moving around too much. Brody said you were a bitch to put back together. Who did this to you?” His voice had gone hard, and she turned to look at him again. There was something about him, something that made her think she knew him, but her head hurt too much to be able to remember. “You never said where I was. And who the hell is Brody?” He sat down, picking up the puzzle that he’d been working on. “Okay. Be a shit. I’m getting out of here.” When she sat up, costing her everything that she had in her, he growled low. It took her a moment to realize that he was growling at her. But for some reason, she wasn’t afraid of him—more like pissed off. So Emmi did what she wished she’d done to her dad every time he’d drawn back to hit her. She doubled up her fist and socked him right in the nose.
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