Jenson Strong Manor Release Blitz & Giveaway

Jade Anderson would miss the restaurant where she had worked her way through school. The closing was bittersweet, but she was happy that Ms. B was getting to retire. It wasn’t the money. She had more lucrative endeavors than waiting on the tables. It was the regulars that came in she’d miss the most. Especially the elderly Strong couple that used to come in all the time before they passed away.

Jenson Strong was told to invite the pretty waitress to a get-together for his deceased grandmother, but instead, he insulted her for being a waitress and said that she better dress appropriately for the event too.

When Jade tried to politely decline the invitation, Jenson wouldn’t take no for an answer and pushed her back down in her chair. Jade didn’t just punch him in the face but knocked him back on his ass. There was going to be hell to pay.

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Happy Reading,


Jade sat down at one of the empty booths and looked at the album that had been given to her just this morning when she’d shown up to work. It was her last day here at the restaurant that she’d spent more than half her life working at. She looked up when someone sat across from her. It was Ms. Bruce, Ms. B for short, the restaurant owner—up until last month and a better mother to her than her own.
“You’re going to miss this old place,” Jade said that she would. “Don’t you be looking for another job waiting tables, young lady. You get out there and see the world, then you go on and find yourself a job that is more suited to that education that you got.”


Ms. B was the nicest person in the world. She’d not only taken good care of her, but she’d also been there when she needed her. Her husband of sixty-three years had passed away ten years ago, and it had hurt her as much as it had Ms. B. He was sorely missed by both.
“Mom called me yesterday, well, yesterday morning, but I didn’t call her back until later. She said that she was going to come here to see me about something. I told her that I wasn’t going to be around after today. That upset her. She said that I was ungrateful.” Ms. B. looked thoughtful and then asked her if she thought that she was going to want some money. “More than likely. I don’t give her anything anymore. While she’s not been as horrible of a mother to me as she might have been had I stuck around, she’s just not anyone that I want in my life anymore.”


“No, you’d not need that around you anymore.” Ms. B opened the album to the first page, to the day that she’d started working for her place. “I wish – I’d have known about how she was with you back then. I might well have taken you to my home.” She clasped Jade’s hand for a gentle squeeze. “But you were, as you are now, very closed mouth about your personal life.”
“I don’t have a personal life that you don’t know about.” They both laughed. “I can’t believe I’ve worked here for the last twelve years. I mean, it doesn’t seem possible. I’ve met so many people in all these years. And now you’re going to be moving away, and I’ll only see you once in a while instead of all the time now. I will miss this place and you.”


As they were looking through the photo album, they talked about the pictures that were in it. The Strong family, a huge part of the community, were in a lot of them. Jade had waited on the elderly couple every Sunday for the last ten or so years. She thought they were a nice couple.
“The couple had been coming into my place since my mom first opened. Bringing in their child to eat with them, then as he grew older, they’d bring in a couple of his friends. After he married his wife, years later, they would begin to bring in their child to eat with their grandparents. They were the nicest family I’ve ever known. Then Bar got married himself, and they never came around anymore. Just Mr. and Mrs. Strong.”


“When her husband passed away, I thought for sure that she’d not come in anymore. They were such a wonderful couple. I’m sure that there wasn’t another couple that loved each other as much as the two of them did.” Mrs. Strong, the elder, had passed away not long after Jade had graduated from high school at fourteen. Jade smiled as she remembered the woman. “She gave me a thousand dollars for my graduation gift. I tried to tell her that it was too much, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Then a few days later, she had a stroke that took her life. I miss them.”


“I do as well.” When one of the Strong men came into the diner, Jade just watched him as Ms. B. got up to wait on him.
Jade didn’t know them by name; however, she knew the names that they’d been given. Just not who was who. There were six of them, all men of worth. They would come in once a week, on Sundays, to have a piece of pie like their grandmother did to commemorate her passing. She often wondered how they had any idea what she had liked to eat as they had only started coming around after she had passed away.
Jenson was the oldest son. He was a big man, and she thought that he was some sort of politician. It wasn’t in her to keep track of who was who in the political world, so she didn’t know for sure what it was he did.


Clay was the next oldest. She knew that he was a teacher of something but was not sure what he taught. Ms. B told her once that he was head of a science department that landed rovers on other planets. Again, it wasn’t something that she had had time to look at because of her education, as well as working full time.
The next two, she didn’t know all that well. Only that Barkley and Barton were twins who didn’t look the least bit alike. At least to her. And that women fawned all over them, hoping for a piece of the action that would eventually end up with them knocked up with one of their kids to be a part of the very wealthy Strong family. Christ, women like those gold-diggers gave other women bad names.


Maverick was next. He was a financial advisor that kept the Strong family in money. She wasn’t sure, but she had heard that they had all the money in the world, so his job seemed, to her anyway, kind of stupid. But then, people thought that hers was as well.
Trevor, someone that she had known a little, had gone to college when she had. At fourteen, it had been difficult for her to get around campus. She couldn’t drive yet and couldn’t afford a new bike at the time, but he had been nice to her when she’d been stranded in the snow with Mr. B’s old bike that had been broken and taken her to her building. Even after her class, he’d been outside waiting in his wonderfully warm car to take her home. She’d only seen him since then in here at the restaurant having pie with his brothers. He had never really acknowledged her again. She didn’t have a clue what it was that he did but didn’t care either. They were all so far out of her league that she was sure they were on a different planet.


Jade had managed to graduate first in her class with her bachelor’s degree as well as second in her class with a doctorate as a medical engineer. Being only seventeen, when she finished her doctorate, Jade finished up her medical degree to be in the hospital to get more education as a physician. She’d had to work from the diner the first
year of her job because they couldn’t allow her in the building until she was eighteen. Even then, they had been accommodating to her, setting up a good computer as well as a laptop so that she could do the work she was very good at, as it turned out. She worked in a lab environment most of the time, developing medical solutions and was involved in research as well as developing and testing medical devices. While she could be counted on to fix such testing machines, she rarely did that anymore as she was good at her other job.


“Are you Miss Anderson?” Looking up at Jenson, she said that she was. Right off the bat, she didn’t care for him or his tone in asking her who she was. “I know you know who my grandmother is. And I’m sure you know she passed away a few years ago. My family and I are having a get-together to remember her by. Grandma asked if you could be there too. It won’t be a big celebration but just a couple of hundred people.” As he straightened his tie, Jade inwardly seethed. “We’ll expect you there on time and with a nice dress on. I’m not kidding you when I tell you not to embarrass the family with whatever you think you might be wearing. So be respectable and nice looking.” She decided to ignore his comment about her clothing and smiled instead.


“I thought you said it wouldn’t be a big celebration. That’s a lot of people.” He looked pissed for a second time, and she asked him when it was. After he told her, she shook her head. “I have to work that day. But I do thank you for so politely asking me to attend.”
“You’re not coming?” He looked as if he couldn’t believe she’d rejected his invitation. She said no, not even if she didn’t have to work. She took some satisfaction at the anger that flashed in his eyes. “Why not? Are you too good for us? My grandmother wanted you there, and you’ll have to make other arrangements for someone else to wait on your tables before I allow you to turn her only request down.”


“Allow? I’ve got news for you, mister. Last time I checked, you didn’t sign my paycheck, nor are you my daddy. I guess it sucks to be you. I’m not going. I have to work. Some of us have to make a living as we’re not handed everything on a silver platter.” He looked at the others that had been sitting with him before glaring back at her. She knew she’d pissed him off, but she didn’t care. Good. It served him right, but she still needed to keep her own temper in check. “I’ve been a waitress for the last twelve years, Mr. Strong. You don’t frighten me in the least little bit. I’m busy. I’m not going.”


She stood up, and he pushed her back in the seat. So much for keeping her temper in check. The sound of scraping chairs had her up and hitting the man square in the face before she could think that the others might be coming to his rescue. If the others were going to come and hurt her, she was going to take care of this asshole first and foremost.


Jade didn’t just punch him in the face but knocked him back on his ass, where he broke one of the few tables in the middle of the diner when one of the spindly legs shattered. The splintered table leg had not only broken off but entered his leg from the back of his thigh and came out through the top. She immediately went into physician mode.
“Call an ambulance. Also, the police.” Ms. B was right there with his brothers, and she had her get everything she’d need to make sure that the man didn’t bleed out. Jenson shoved her away from his bleeding leg, and she’d had about enough of his shit. “Listen, you mother fucker. You either let me help you, or you die right here. Then your brothers can live a stress-free life without you, and I have no doubt that you stress everyone out by your ordering them around. Lay back. Shut the fuck up and let me do my job.”


While waiting on the ambulance to come for the dumbass, she had tied off his leg wound and wrapped the wound with the wood still inside of it. Explaining, mostly for her calmness, she said everything she was doing and why. By the time the ambulance was pulling up out in front of the diner, she was ready to call it a day. Instead, she was asked to go in the ambulance with him to the hospital so that she could tell them what was going on.
“I can’t.” One of the medics, Peter, told her that she’d done a great job at keeping him calm and she snorted. “He’s a prick.”
One of the brothers laughed and agreed with her. She didn’t want to engage in talking to him, so when they were going to follow his brother into the hospital, Trevor stayed behind to talk to her. He asked her if she was all right.


“I am. Thank you for asking. You should go see what he needs.” Trevor said that he’d let him know if he needed anything. “Of that, I have no doubt. He touched me first. Not to mention he was very rude to me. Ordering me around like I’m a simpleton. He even told me that I was going to his grandmother’s memorial and that I was to clean up and wear nice clothing.”
“I’d like to say that this is unusual for him, but it’s not. Lately, we all avoid him. Are you going to come to the memorial?” She said that she did have to work. “It was my understanding that this place and the acres around it have been sold, and this place is closing up.”
“It is. This isn’t what I do for a living. Although it did put me through college, I have other resources that I depend on. Besides, I don’t think that even after what your brother said to me, I’d have all that much in common with anyone there. I do have to work, however.”

He nodded, and she began cleaning up the mess that she’d made. Trevor helped. “I can do this, Mr. Strong. Just, well, I don’t want to be rude, but you should get to the hospital to see your brother. If you could perhaps give me a heads up if he plans on suing me, I’d like that very much.”


“He won’t sue you.” He sounded so firm on the idea that she almost believed him. Almost. She didn’t think that Jenson would have any trouble suing her for him being a jackass to her. “May I call you Jade? I remember you in college. I gave you a ride once, if I remember. You were a kid back then.”


“I was.” He just nodded when she didn’t have anything else to say to him. “Mr. Strong—” He told her to call him Trevor. “Since I doubt that we’ll see each other after this, Mr. Strong, I’d like to thank your family for the invitation to your grandmother’s celebration. I did love her and her husband, but I do have to work, so if you’d tell whoever is in charge that I thank them for the invite, I’ll be going home now.”
Picking up her photo album, she left the diner. Jade could still hear him laughing as she got through the door and out into the cold. The Strong men were nuts, was all she could think about as she waited for her car to warm up enough that it wouldn’t die when put into gear. Stupid men. They were all nuts.


~*~
Jenson startled awake and sat up. This caused him to cry out in pain, and he had a few seconds of wondering what the fuck had happened. Then he looked at his leg, and his temper, not all that maintained lately, flared up when he remembered the waitress hitting him.
“You should be ashamed of yourself.” He looked over at his mom, who was knitting. The way that her needles were clacking together made him realize that she was as pissed off as he was. Without looking up, she continued. “What made you think that you could talk to anyone like you did that young woman? To tell her to make sure that she was dressed nicely? Then on top of that, you shoved her into the seat like she was nothing but an errant child.”


She finally looked up at him. “She said that she wasn’t coming to grandmother’s celebration and that she had to work. I told her to find someone else to wait at her table. That’s all.” His mother clicked her tongue at him. “Why are you mad at me? I’m the one that’s in the hospital. Not her.”
“You’re only alive because she, a mere waitress, according to you, was there to save your butt. Did you know that when she knocked you back—justifiably too, from what I’ve heard—that the splintered table leg nicked your artery? That had she not been the one to tie off your leg so that you’d not bleed out, that you’d be dead now?” He asked her what she was getting at. “What do you mean, what am I getting at? I thought I was being clear on what I’m telling you. And you should have read the report on the employees that work at the diner before behaving like an idiot when you were told to ask, not tell her to come to the celebration. What is wrong with you of late? You’ve been snipping and snapping at everyone, including me, for the last several months.”


“I have a lot on my mind.” She asked him what that might be. “It’s stuff with work. I’ve been working on things that aren’t coming to fruition as quickly as I wanted them to. Not to mention this thing with dad.”
“Your father? What’s he done that has you so upset? This might well have slipped your mind, Jenson, but we’re both old enough that we don’t need a sitter anymore. Not to mention needing our son to babysit us.” He said that he knew that. “Do you? I’m not so sure about a great many things with you of late. Why is it that Trevor refuses to talk to you? Or, for that matter, Barkley and Clay? What about Maverick? You’ve pissed off a great many people. As I’m sure was your plan.”
“I didn’t want to bother you and dad with what I have going on.” She just glared at him. His leg was aching right now, and he didn’t want to say the wrong thing to his mother. “Did you know that the money that we set aside for the new school programs is missing? Also, the high school was supposed to have received their football uniforms for this season, and they’ve not been delivered.”


“And?” He asked her if she didn’t think that was wrong. “Wrong? Not really. The school board received an email from the company making the uniforms that the material that they used to put the uniforms together wasn’t being delivered in a reasonable timeframe. So they made a deal with the school to not only make their basketball jerseys and shorts for half price, but they were also going to give them a huge discount next time the school orders for their mistake.”
“No one told me that.” She asked him if he’d asked anyone about it. “I was going to, then other things started popping up too.”
“The before and after school program, I’m assuming.” He was hurting now, so he only nodded at his mother. “Call the nurse, Jenson. We can have this conversation at any time. However, I will try to ease your mind by telling you that they’ve not set up the programs because they don’t have enough volunteers to work the time slots they were planning to run them with. The money isn’t missing but being put to good use on other projects that were also on the list that—call the flipping nurse, Jenson.”


He did. And when someone at the desk finally answered his call, he was nearly ready to beg them for something for pain. Jenson felt like his leg had been torn off and slapped back on. As soon as the nurse gave him an IV injection of pain meds, Jenson felt his entire body simply shut down. The pain wasn’t gone, but it certainly was a good deal easier to deal with.
At some point, he must have dozed off. His mother was gone, but his dad was sitting there working on a crossword puzzle. When he asked him where mom was, dad told him that she’d gone home to get a shower.


“I don’t need you guys to sit around with me while I’m here. I’m sure you have better things to do than to watch me sleep.” Dad just looked at him, confusion written all over his face. “Dad, I’m not being rude, but I’m perfectly capable of being in the hospital by myself.”
“I’m sure you are. But you almost lost your life, and I began to realize that I needed to hang out with my sons more often than I had been. Watching you sleep, to me anyway, is better than planning your funeral.” Jenson felt his face heat up. “That young woman that put you in your place, I’ve been doing some research on her. You’re an idiot compared to this young woman. I’m not going to go into details with you because, frankly, I don’t think you deserve it. However, I will tell you that you need to get your head out of your ass and stop judging people for what you think and see them for what they are.”


“You do understand that I’m the victim here? I’m the one in the hospital with my leg hurting.” His dad asked him if he thought he was justified in treating Jade the way he had. “I was told to make sure she was invited to the gathering with grandma. I did that, and she hit me. Then on top of that, she put me in the hospital with a messed up leg.”
Dad stood up and looked at him. At that moment, for the first time in his life, Jenson saw disappointment on his face. All of it was directed solely at him. When he left his room, not even bothering to tell him goodbye or even to say that he loved him, Jenson was left alone in the room to think.


Usually, Jenson was never one to second guess what he did or said to someone. But right now, he was thinking of how he had treated Jade. He hadn’t been going to admit to anyone, including himself, that he’d been in the wrong. But from all accounts, she had saved his life even after he’d been a total jerk to her. However, he tried to think of it being her fault for hitting him and telling him no—a word that he simply hated to be told—he’d done her wrong. More than that, he’d been a total ass to her and thought that perhaps he had deserved how his family was treating him.


Picking up his cell phone, sitting on the little table by his bed, he called his attorney. Jenson wanted to get a full background check on this woman and berated himself for not doing it sooner. As soon as Holly answered the phone, he told her what he needed.
“You mean Jade Anderson?” He said that was her. “Yes, well, I can tell you anything you want to know about her. She and I are cousins. However, I don’t think that you’re going to be overly impressed. Jade told me what you did to her in the diner the day before yesterday.”
Jenson hadn’t even realized that he’d been in the hospital for two days. Asking her what she’d heard, she told him what his parents had told him. That not only had he deserved being knocked on his ass, but he should have been nicer.


She said she’d get back to him on what she could find for him on a non-personal level. While he liked Holly a great deal, and she was an amazing attorney, he wasn’t thrilled that she was talking to him as if he was stupid. And she had. Telling him that he needed to curb his temper before someone took him to the task. Again. Also that he needed to stop looking at people like they were out to get something from him.
“Not all people are the same, you know.” He didn’t get a chance to answer her when she started again. “Leave Jade alone. She doesn’t need any more bitterness in her life, and for someone who has it all, you’re about as bitter as anyone I’ve ever met.” When she hung up, he just laid there.


What was wrong with people lately? He’d just been warned off by a woman that he didn’t particularly care for right now. Instead of waiting to find out what little Holly might be giving him, he searched for Jade Anderson. In seconds there were so many hits on his search than he could have imagined.
She’d graduated from high school at thirteen. Not unusual, he supposed as he might have thought. He had graduated at the same age. He was sure that all his family had. However, where they differed was that she’d gone straight into college while he’d waited until he was eighteen to go back to higher education.


Not only did Jade have a doctorate in her chosen field as a medical engineer, but she also had a bachelor’s in math and science. She was a certified doctor that volunteered at the homeless shelter and had been at ground zero at a few disasters around the world. As he read over her accomplishments, one thing occurred to him. There were never any pictures of the young woman in any of the articles, and—he found this one to be strange—there were never any quotes from her about anything she’d done. Not even to say that she had done this all on her own.


There were some articles about a Hilda Anderson he found as well. Jenson couldn’t know for sure, but he thought the woman was Jade’s mother. There were several places when she’d been interviewed about Jade where she didn’t have anything good to say about the younger woman. One quote that he thought was very telling was when Hilda complained that her little girl had abandoned her at the age of thirteen. He couldn’t figure out how that had come to pass. Children didn’t normally abandon their parents. Usually, it was the other way around.


The more he read about Hilda, the more impressed he was with Jade. To have had a mother like she had, while not abusive but surely toxic, and accomplish the things that she had was a miracle. Not only had she gotten herself educated, but she had worked hard at not having to have loans that would have come due after she had graduated.
When his dinner was brought to him that night, he had also been given a file from Holly. She didn’t stay, telling him that she had a date with her husband, but she told him that if he wanted more, she could get it for him first thing on Monday morning. He’d been so wrapped up in what he’d been reading that he’d not even realized that it was time for her to be off work.


Dinner didn’t look that bad, but it wasn’t what he might have ordered from a nice restaurant. As he was eating the soup and sandwich, he realized that he’d been wrong. The food was much better than he might have gotten, even at a five-star restaurant. With his belly full and his medications kicking in, he was ready to relax with the file he’d been given before sleeping. It was nearly midnight when he got through the first part of the file folder.


Hilda is the mother of Jade. Hilda also had a brother, Jacob, Holly’s father, that was a good deal better at everything than his older sister had been. Everything that Jacob touched seemed to turn to gold. While Hilda went from one disaster to the next with only the clothing on her back. She’d had Jade when she’d been barely sixteen, and while everyone around her wanted to put her up for adoption, Hilda had kept the baby. The notes that were in Holly’s handwriting told him that her aunt had held onto the child because everyone was telling her that she was too immature to raise her. ‘Of course, it looked like they were right, but that was when the story started to make me think that Jade had been the mature one in their little dynamics.’


Jade, at the age of two, had learned how to read. Once she had that under her belt, she began making sure that the bills had been paid and on time also that she and her mother had food on the table nightly. Since they were living in government-subsidized housing, the only real thing that they should have been paying for was their food. But Hilda had gotten cable, a cell phone, as well as a plethora of other items that, with no income coming in, soon were turned off. That was when Jade had gotten a job for herself.


By the time Jade was six, she had two jobs working around the neighborhood that earned her enough cash to pay for her supplies for school as well as anything extra—like a coat Holly had told him to walk to school in.
Cleaning houses at her age couldn’t have been easy on the child, but she did it until she turned thirteen. Then she’d gone to apply for a job at the diner where he’d seen her a few days ago.
She was now, twelve years later, twenty-four years old with a better education than he had. Not only that, she was one of the few people in the world that could break down just about any machine that had ever been made and repair it. Even if she’d never seen the machine while it had been working. Along with having a medical degree. Jade was well respected at any hospital or field operation that she worked at by all her peers and clients as well. He couldn’t have been more impressed with her than if he’d been with anyone else in his life. Christ, he’d been a real shit, he realized.


Picking up his cell again, he called the diner. While it wasn’t difficult to find the number, calling it made him feel horrible for the way that he’d treated someone that was much nicer than he might have been in that Jade had saved his life. When the phone was answered, he thought about hanging up but plunged forward.
“My name is Jenson Strong. I was wondering if there was some way that I could get in touch with Jade Anderson.” There was a long pause. He decided he had better continue before they hung up on him. “I know that I treated her badly, and I wanted to make it up to her. At the very least, to tell her that I’m sorry and that I was a shithead.”
“She’s upstairs. Let me go and see if she’ll come down to talk to you. But don’t hold your breath on it. She’s working right now and gets upset when she is interrupted. All right?” He said he’d hold on. After what seemed an eternity but only about five minutes, the woman came back on the phone. “Jade told me to tell you that she’ll be at the hospital in the morning for an install and that she’ll talk to you after that. Also, she said to tell you that if you want to know anything about her, you don’t need to go through the hoops that you are. Just ask her.”
“Yes, you’re right. She’s right. I’ll do that.” She asked him if he needed anything else. After telling her no, he thought of something. “Does Jade like coffee?”


“Nope. Just water. Nothing but water. The colder, the better.” He heard someone else speaking and then spoke to him in a hurried voice. “Mr. Strong, we’re kind of busy here. If there’s nothing else, I’m hanging up now.”
The phone went dead when he told her that he didn’t need anything else. Putting his cell phone down, his nurse came into the room. Everyone here had been so good to him that he wondered if they’d heard how he’d treated one of their own. While wondering, that didn’t mean he was stupid enough to ask her about it. Instead, he took his meds for the evening and settled on the bed. Jensen, if he was honest with himself, was embarrassed at how terrible of a person he’d been.

Dexter A Cross To Bear Release Blitz & Giveaway

Sunny Meadows wasn’t a people person. She had anger management issues, and most of the time, she didn’t even like herself. Working as a government agent, Sunny found herself in the Smoky Mountains tracking down a serial killer. A run-in with a park guest landed Sunny in the hospital and off the killer’s trail.

Dexter Cross and his family were black bears and lived in the Smoky Mountains, where he worked as a ranger for the park where they lived. He was to deliver a gun and a badge to the injured agent. He’d been told she was caustic, but he wasn’t prepared for her being his mate too.

When the killer discovered that Sunny was injured. She was making a move to end Sunny’s life, and anyone else’s that got in her way. Will Dexter and his family be able to protect her?

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Jamie Kemp was good at her job. Working for the FBI in search and rescue as a dog trainer and handler was fulfilling work. Never laying down many roots, Jamie was ready to head out on assignment with her dogs at a moment’s notice.

Mark Cross and his family had lived in the Smoky Mountains for ten generations, and he loved the land, but of late, he was feeling rather lonely. Mark and his entire family were bears, black bears that blended into the wooded areas better than any wild ones in the park.

Jamie and her dogs were called in to find a missing woman. Instead, Jamie found herself in the crosshairs of a serial killer. Mark showed her pictures of the women this maniac had killed, and she could be their twin. And to complicate things more, Mark was her mate….

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Prologue


Sunny didn’t mind people—just not in clumps. She supposed that calling them clumps was better than calling them herds. But they sort of did remind her of cattle the way they mooed when they were upset—well, whined. And they complained all the time. She’d not met a single person on this trip who hadn’t complained about something, even the weather being too hot. Damn it all to hell, people. It’s summer! It’s supposed to be hot. She’d bet those same people were surprised when it turned cold during the winter months. A clump of people was just ahead of her, and she had to pause in her walk to get around them. Why did people stop in the middle of places, like an aisle at the grocery or a narrow path on the way to the falls, like now, to have a whole clump reunion? She didn’t understand anything about clumps. “Excuse me.”

The woman that was taking up most of the left side of the path just stared at her as she continued talking to the other female clump—there were children with her, so Sunny decided to call them clump-its. “I’d like to go through. Please?” The Crusty Clump huffed at her. “Don’t you see that we’re having a private conversation here? You’ll just have to figure out a different way to get around us. It’s considered rude to interrupt someone when they’re speaking. I’m surprised no one has told you that before.” Sunny assured her they had, but she was just like that to not listen. “It figures. Just wait in line like the rest of the people here.” “No. You’re the rude one. You have like fifty people in the line behind the clump you’ve created waiting to either come down or go up. Your clump is blocking a narrow path.

I’d like to suggest—and right now, since I’ve finally graduated from anger management classes, I’m only suggesting this—that you get your flabby fat ass out of the way and have your ‘private’ conversations elsewhere. Though how you figure that with hundreds of people clambering around you to get through, you could have a private shit right now is beyond me. Everyone can hear every word you moo. But that’s just me.” Sunny looked away to reign in her temper before it got the better of her. She didn’t mind people around her hearing her talk to the women. Nor did she lie to her about the anger management classes. She knew she had temper and anger issues. But— Sunny felt the pain in her shoulder just before she fell backward and hit her head on one of the large stones that made up the Smokie Mountains. Christ, that had fucking hurt. “You hit me.”

Crusty Clump nodded and used her cane like a sword like she was parlaying or something. The warmth of what she thought might be blood slid down her back and into her eyes, so she couldn’t see well. “You fucking hit me with that cane? Are you out of your ever-loving mind?” “You’re a rude young woman, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that you’ve been to anger classes.” Sunny tried to stand but was suddenly weak, her head spinning. “You stay right where you are, or so help me, I’ll toss you over this mountainside, and they’ll never find your body. Now. I’m going to finish my—” Sunny tried to get up and failed, hitting her head again.

“Did I not just tell you to stay there? I’ll hit you again, harder this time if you don’t—” Sunny didn’t hear anymore over the roaring in her head. Her belly, usually all right with anything she shoved into her pie hole, was rebelling as well. Holding onto what she hoped was a tree, she nearly went over the side of the mountain when she heard a voice. Well, several of them, but the one that was closest to her was making the most sense. “I’m going to put you down on the ground, all right?” Nodding was out of the question, and she wasn’t sure any longer that she could make her mouth work. But the man seemed to understand. “My brother and I are going to carry you down the path, miss. Are you alone?” “Crusty Clump hit me with her sword. My head hurts.” He smiled, but she couldn’t understand why her demise was funny to him. “No, I’m alone. No one likes to hang out with me. I’m sort of caustic. I’m a lot caustic.” She grabbed her stomach.

“I think I’m going to be sick.” She was too. Throwing up three times, the man held her hair out of the way. While she didn’t know a great many things at the moment, she knew she’d had her hair in a ponytail when she left her hotel room that morning. Then Sunny tried to think why that was important. Laying her head back on the cooler rock, she closed her eyes. “I’m going to need you to stay awake, miss. You more than likely have a concussion.” She told him her first name. “All right, Sunshine—did your parents name you that because of your sunny disposition?” “I’m sure they thought that was going to work, but I rebelled.” Her eyes wouldn’t focus. She saw three, or was it four of him right now? “Do you think you can stop fucking moving right now?” He told her they were going to pick her up.

“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. I’m seriously only just barely hanging on right—what the hell did you say again? Oh yes. Pain medication. Yes, that helps. I need to finish my walk today. Have the clumps of people moved yet?” If he answered her again, she didn’t know. The sudden feeling of being airborne hit her, and she was sick again. However, there was nothing left on her belly. Being picked up was too much. She begged them to toss her over the side and let gravity take her down. Sunny was sure it would have been a great deal less painful once she hit her head again.

Sunny was in and out of consciousness. Each time they had to stop, she was gagging. Not sure if she was telling them to stop or if they were that good, she was at the bottom of the hill before she could think where her bike was. If she could even find it, she told herself. “I’ll have someone look for it for you and make sure it’s safe. Can you tell me what kind it is? Or the license plate number?” After telling him it was a Harley and that it was an Ohio plate, she slipped away. Another pinch to her arm told her she was getting more meds.

The ambulance ride was a series of questions shot at her, and to her, for the most part, her not answering them. She would have, but her mouth wasn’t working again. The man who had brought her down the hill, she’d been told, was going to find her bike for her and put it away. The medic even told her how he’d gotten her down the hill. “He and his brother carried you. The two of them are park rangers. Someone called the visitors center, and Gibb and Barron were the closest. They’re good men—all the Cross men are.” All clumps weren’t that good. The man laughed, and she wondered again if she was talking aloud or if this man could read her mind. Before she could figure that one out, he started talking again. This time not to her.

Sunny was in the hospital, in a very bright room, when she opened her eyes. They were sorely mistaken if they had expected her to fight the meds they were giving her and stay awake. The man standing over her in a white lab coat asked her if she had any allergies. Sunny pointed to the band around her arm. Everything was listed there. Waking again, she thought this was just getting stupid—she was able to talk. However, the feet, all she could see from her position, asked her to please lie still. He was stitching her up. “I hit my head. That clump—person hit me with a cane or something.” He said he’d been told that, but he was only there to make sure her head was stitched up. “I have a body cam. I’m required to wear it when I’m out because I have issues with clumps—uh, people.” “What do you call them? People?” She told him. “Clumps is a good name. Especially when they’re clumped together like they do at times.

Crazy Clump, the one that hit you, is a braying jackass if you ask me. She’s telling everyone at the station house that you hit her first. I’m telling you that because we saw the body cam when you came in. The rangers are having a look at it.” She asked him why. “Like I said, she’s saying you hurt her first, and she had to defend herself. You have a wound on your shoulder, Miss Meadow. They’ve decided not to stitch it just yet until the X-rays come back. Your collarbone is broken, and you have a concussion to the back of your head. When I’m finished here, they’ll take you back to X-ray to get a few more pictures of your head. All right?” She had so many people she needed to contact right now that she couldn’t think where to start.

When asked, she was given a little bit for the pain, and it took the edge off enough that when she looked down, the feet there had her remembering that a ranger had brought her down the hill. The boots, army issue, were dirty and used. Just the way she’d expect them to be. “My name is Ranger Mark Cross. I’m not going to take your statement right now, Miss Meadow, but I would ask that if you think of something important, you relay it to me at once. Mrs. Hardgrave has been—” She asked him who that was. “Gibb said you called her Crusty Clump. She’s in jail for assault. I’m assuming you will want to press charges.”

“Yes. Please.” She thought about the people she had to contact. “I’m going to need a cell phone soon. I’m not just here for pleasure, though I’d stay if I could. This place is beautiful. I’m working, and I can’t not check-in.” “Officer Anderson was notified as soon as your name was put into the system as a search for next of kin.” She thanked him. “No need for that. You must be pretty important if they contacted him not ten seconds after he spelled your name in the search line.” “No, not so much.” She didn’t tell him more but thought he’d never pass it on if she did. Sunny had no idea how she knew that, but she did. “I’m not human. I mean, mostly I am, but I’m not really.” “Elite shifter. I got that when they asked us to go to your aid. I suppose shifting would have taken care of your wounds, but we need it for court since you said you were pressing charges. I could smell it on you.”

She said that while she was an elite shifter, she didn’t heal like others did. “I’m sorry for that. It’s come in handy a few times over my life. Is there anything I can do for you?” “Just my bike, which I was told is being taken care of.” He told her that his brother Gibb was taking it to his house. “Okay. Then when can I get out of here? The sooner, the better.” “I can give you a cell phone to use. Yours, unfortunately, was broken when you were knocked back on your bottom. But as for leaving, since you can’t heal, they’ll need to keep you a few days. As I said, you can use a cell for your calls, but you have about two hundred stitches in your head alone.” She asked him if he’d said two hundred. “Yes, I did. You hit your head once the first time, but when you tried to get up, you fell back twice more, and from what we can ascertain from your body cam, you hit your head three more times. There was a sharp protrusion there, and you managed to hit it each time you fell back.” “Christ.” He chuckled a little and told her that was the way he reacted. “I’m going to take you up on your offer of the phone, Ranger. I do have to check in once a day with my boss, or I’m toast.”

“I’ve spoken to him.” When his feet disappeared, she heard the door close to wherever they were. “I was told to make sure you had all the help you needed, including a gun, should you not have one on you at all times. I was also told to make sure you knew he has watched the recording of your morning and isn’t concerned with that at the moment. He did tell me you’re not just caustic, as you told my brother, but you’re a pain in the ass as well. Mr. Rugby told me you were here to find an escaped prisoner. And that if anyone could bring her in, it would be you. You’re related to her.” “She’s my sister-in-law. So I guess I’m technically related to her, but thank goodness I’m not blood-related. She killed four men in Ohio and has killed one more on the way here that I know of. The reason I’m telling you this is nothing I can figure out. I keep my mouth shut like a virgin at a Friday night football game keeps her legs closed.” Mark laughed, and she smiled. “The only thing I ask of you, Mark, is to stay the hell out of my way. She’s fucking dangerous and won’t hesitate to kill whatever or whoever gets in her way.”

“Your brother and sister.” She didn’t answer but was surprised David had told him so much. “I’ll help you in any way I can. My entire family works here in this park, so we can keep our ears and noses open for you. We’re all bears, black bears, who live on the mountain. Also, I was told to tell you that if you get hurt again, David was going to kick your ass and bury you in the backyard of his home. He said he knows you’ll believe him too.” “You know, he only uses that tone with me. I don’t know what it is that I’ve ever done to him to warrant such threats, but he does it time and time again.” The man laughed again. “I’ve been on disciplinary leave for a month now. I’m, as you said, caustic to work with. However, once the big shits got their heads out of their asses and looked at the tape, I was released from it. I liked the class, however, so I finished the course. It’s all in the way you think rather than the way you react. I usually react first, feel really good about it, then get into trouble. And if you ask me if I ever feel any remorse for what I do, I’ll tell you what I told the shrink.

No fucking way.” Mark was still laughing when she heard the door open again. “Miss Meadow, we’re going to take you to surgery in a few moments. The doctor will be in to see you soon.” Panic took her breath away. She didn’t want to be put under. Didn’t want to feel like she wasn’t going to be able to handle herself when she was out. The meds she’d taken earlier had been just for the pain, and her lack of sleep had put her under. But with surgery, she’d be deep under and— “Sunny, take a breath.” She heard the voice of Mark but couldn’t focus well on it. “Sunny, I’m going to hit you to make you breathe if you don’t do it soon. You’re scaring the nice nurse here, and she is going to be sick. Breathe right now.” The compulsion of his order had her breathing again. His face, a nice handsome one, appeared in front of her. He was laying his head on the floor and looking up at her. His smile and charm had her thinking this man thought he was all that and a bag of chips, but she knew handsome men like him. All bark and no talk. “Breathe in and out. All right. I’m talking to you this way because you can’t be rolled to your back just yet. Are you still with me?”

She said she was. “All right. When you were hit with the cane, not a sword, Cranky Clump broke your collar bone, and there are several chips of bone in your muscle. They’re going to repair your shoulder without using any kind of screws or such and take out the small pieces. The small pieces are going to be put back on the broken bone with some kind of stitching, so you’ll be able to shift when you need to. So far, so good, right?” “Yes. Are you making fun of me?” He said his wife would have his head if he tried that shit. “You’re very charming. I didn’t want to be caught up in your bullshit, but it sounds like someone has your ass. Too bad, I was thinking about how handsome you are.” “Maybe we’ll be related in some way. I have five brothers. You’ve only met three of them so far, so our chances of—” “Nope, and no fucking way, no. I don’t want a mate or a husband, or even a wife if that’s the way things go. I got enough shit going on in my corner to last about fifty lifetimes. No thanks.

Keep them away, and we’ll call it even on you having my back.” He said he didn’t think that was going to be possible. “Make it possible, or I’ll hurt you. Believe me when I tell you, neither you nor your bear will come out on top if you try something.” “I believe you.” He didn’t move while they put an IV in her arm for the surgery. “They’re going to take you up to the second floor right now, and you’ll be in a room with others until your surgery is finished. After you’re okay to leave recovery, they’ll send you on to your room. I’ll be there waiting for you. I’ll have you a gun for when you’re able to take it as well.” “Thank you. I’m better now.” He still didn’t move, and she felt bad that he had to lay on the floor. “Get up, you moron, before I spit on you, and it lands in your mouth. Go on. I have shit to do, and you’re not going to get any brownie points for laying around.” She was moved into an elevator while he was still laughing. He did ride up to the third floor with her and even told her good luck when she was taken beyond where he could go. Christ, what a waste of a nice man.

She certainly hoped his wife knew the kind of man she was married to. Ten minutes after arriving on the surgical floor, she was wheeled into a bright white room and put under. Her panic didn’t seem to be as bad this time. ~*~ Mark was still in the waiting room when Jamie contacted him. She’d been working on her last job for the agency, and he was thrilled for her. She told him she was going home, having a nice nap in the sunshine. Be careful, honey. It’s supposed to thunderstorm soon, and I’d hate for you to be caught up in it. She told him that he was a party pooper. I am at that. I have to tell you about this woman I’m babysitting right now. She’s the kind of woman you only read about and wish you could just simply say the things that she does at a moment’s notice. He told her everything that had happened since she’d been picked up.

Nothing about her being here to find her sister-in-law, but everything else. When she laughed with him about her calling people clumps, he told her he loved her. And I love you. I’d like to meet her. Or do you think she’s only talking this way because of the pain? Mark assured her she was the real deal. Good. I hope she’s one of your brother’s mates. Not that any one of them could handle a—what did you call her? Caustic. And I was thinking the same thing. She needs to have someone strong enough to put up with her daily. Jamie agreed with him. I have to stay with her.

Not only is she here on business, but she is a little higher on the food chain than I am. I don’t know what she does for a living, nor what branch, if any, she might work with, but I’ve been assigned to make sure she has what she needs when she needs it. Gibb said she was not one to hold back when she had something to say. At least you’ll be able to have a little fun with her. Not too much, but just enough. Oh, before I forget, Bobby’s family arrived today. They’re a nice couple of people. I think they’re a little shocked by him and his sisters being around. They’d not even been told there had been a marriage or kids from it. I’m glad someone is going to be taking care of them. He said he was too. Also, I heard from the prison where Williams is.

He’s in solitary confinement and still causing trouble. The thing is, he’s bragging that it took anyone so long to find him. Some people are just nuts, I guess. We should have him locked in a cell with Sunny. I’m betting she can take care of his ass for us. I’m betting she’d come out on top even if he was armed. They talked for a little while longer, and she told him she really needed a nap. He didn’t blame her for that. Mark had been keeping her up most nights making love, and she’d gotten up early this morning and gone out to California to do a hunt for a cadaver. Then on top of all that, Molly, her oldest dog, had died in her sleep. She’d been about fourteen years old. It had broken her heart bad enough that he’d had to hold her all night.

Not that it was a hardship for him to hold her, but he had hurt for her. The other two took it hard as well. Sidekick, the youngest, hadn’t left Jamie’s side the entire night. He didn’t know what she’d found when she was called out. Rarely did she tell him anything about the bodies she was looking for. But he did know she was looking for a missing person from about six years ago. The family wanted to cash in the insurance policy that had been on hold, and the company wanted to make sure the woman was indeed dead. He’d have to find out from her what she’d found out. Stretching out his legs, he was happy when Dexter joined him with not just a few bottles of water but some dinner as well. They said the surgery would be about four hours—to him, that seemed a long time—but that recovery would be about the same time. Eating his sandwich, Dexter told him what he’d been able to find out about the owl he’d been sent to see.

“He was hurt, just like the camper said. However, I have a feeling he wasn’t hurt until the camper saw him. Poor thing looked like he’d gone from sitting up in a nice perch to being tossed around in the dryer for a load or two. I’ve sent him on to the vet, but I don’t hold out much hope of him getting better.” That sucked, too, Mark told him. “Yes, I think so too. But without proof, whoever hurt him is going to get away with it. Tomorrow morning I’m going to see if I can find his home. I don’t know if he might have a mate around, but if he and his mate are sitting on some chicks, she’s going to need some help with them. At least until another mate comes along.”

“If you need some help, ask Jamie’s dad to go with you. He’s becoming quite the outdoorsman. Last night I saw that he was looking through some of my old books and reading up on the park. He would enjoy that, I believe.” Dexter said he’d give him a call. “Grannie told me he’s doing well at work. She thinks he’s a funny man by the way he doesn’t raise his voice when he’s making a point. I like hanging around with him too.” “Yeah, and his daughter isn’t so bad either. Right?” He laughed and said he loved her. “Well, duh, you moron. Of course, you do. I have to get going. I have about fifty things to do before I can get to bed. Laundry, for one thing, and packing me something to eat on the trail tomorrow. I hate taking just a bunch of those nature bars. Yuck.”

After he left him, Mark pulled out his phone and played a few games of solitaire. He’d rather play the real thing, but the phone kept him entertained in a pinch. When the nurse came to tell him that Sunny was in recovery, he thanked her and called her boss. He had a feeling this was the man’s personal cell phone number, as he only answered it with “Hello.” He told him what he knew, which wasn’t much. “She’ll be in recovery for four hours or so, they told me. Once she’s finished there, she’ll be moved to a room.” He said he was sending guards to decorate—not to guard, but to decorate—her door. “I don’t know what she does for you. Or what you do, for that matter.

Should I be concerned?” “Not so long as you keep your head about you and don’t piss her off.” He said he had a feeling she was easily pissed off. “She is at that. However, when she’s pissy, and you don’t deserve it, she’ll apologize to you. But that doesn’t happen often. Just keep her safe while she’s there alone. I’m sending you a picture of her sister-in-law so you can know who to look for. Show it to whoever you trust. The woman is dangerous. Armed or not, she can kill without hesitation.” “Which one? I’m thinking you’re talking about the sister-in-law, but I also think that could pertain to Sunny too.” The man laughed and said that was right. “I’m going to remain in the dark until something happens, aren’t I?” “Yes. It’ll be safer for you if you are until such time as I get something back on you and your family that tells me otherwise.” Mark figured as much but didn’t say anything.

“I will tell you this one thing, and you’re to take it to your grave—Sunny isn’t a typical anything. Not woman, shifter, or someone that works for me. She’s more than just a little special, and I want you to treat her like she’s a national treasure. Don’t coddle her or try to change her mind. If she tells you something, you can consider it gospel. You’ll die if you don’t. And that is from me.” Even after talking to her boss, Mark didn’t know what was going on. But as the man had indicated, it was really none of his business unless she got hurt. He was really glad he’d not blamed him for her being hurt this time. However, now that he thought about it, he wondered what was going to happen to the clumps that had hurt her. Only time would tell, he supposed.

Keegan Foster’s Pride Release Blitz & Giveaway

Kerri Terrell nearly didn’t make it. With her house burned, her accounts frozen, being fired from her job, and her daughter taken, Kerri had nearly given up.

Keegan was happy to discover he had a new mate and a daughter now too. Protecting them from their supposed family would be his top priority.

Although both lions, when Keegan and Kerri came together, Kerri was more than Keegan anticipated. A lot more. As the magic flowed through them, neither was sure if they’d survive it.

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Brook Garrett had learned to live by her wits. When she was very young, she lost her father to a car crash. When her mother remarried, her nightmare really began. A few years later, her mother died the same way. She was next.Ronan Foster was an officer out on medical leave. He was a lion and wasn’t hurt in the least, but the guy responsible for shooting him would go free if he didn’t take the sabbatical. The guy was for much more than shooting him, and justice needed to be served. Trust was hard for Brook. Her stepparents had seen to that. Now the big lion was telling her that they were mates and she wasn’t sure how she felt about that. She had been doing just fine without a man in her life….

Parker Carter spent eight years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit—murdering her father. Now that the justice system had finally admitted their mistake, Parker was set free. Parker could have left anytime she wanted, she was a powerful witch, but for reasons of her own, she had remained locked up and didn’t use any of her magic.
Donahue Foster, a teacher at the local school, was having a hard time resting. Taking a run and stretching his legs as his lion was something he hadn’t done in a while. He hadn’t gotten far when he noticed two things, he smelled fresh blood, and he felt a presence. Don was dumbfounded when the woman used a mind link to communicate with him. She told him her name was Parker Carter, she didn’t like people, and she was his mate.
Don was so stunned with that news that he was nearly run over by the night hunters Parker chased off.
Now that Parker was back, her past needed to be settled. Half-truths and well-kept secrets needed to be exposed. And the possession of her mother, Meggie, was the most mind-boggling of all. What kind of screwed-up magic was this?

Sometimes, Rogue didn’t much care for her job, but it paid well, and she was damn good at it. As a forensic photographer, Rogue’s job was sometimes a bit more than she could handle. Especially when there were kids involved. But she could always vent to her college buds, Loman and Cass Foster.

Quin had heard all about Rogue from his brothers, and he was anxious to meet her. Loman and Cass said they owed their lives to Rogue, but they wouldn’t give Quin any of the details.

As soon as Rogue arrived, Quin realized she was his mate, but as soon as she met Don’s mate Parker, it was chaos, leaving Parker heartbroken and Rogue hurt. Rogue was steaming mad, and Quin’s lion wanted to protect her, but Parker was family too. Quin was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Sarah had been on the run her entire adult life. As soon as she found out she was pregnant, she faked her death to keep her children safe from the prick who’d fathered them. Now, nine years later, her twin boys were her entire world, and she was petrified he would find her. When she received the voicemail from Cass, she thought the end had finally come for both her and her boys.

Cassidy Foster was only helping a client find his long-lost grandchildren when he contacted Sarah, but when a distress call came in from one of her boys, Cass told the boys to hide before Cass’s lion took him. It only took that split second for him to know the woman inside screaming was his mate. Would he be too late to save her?

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Prologue


Keegan closed up the books he’d been working on and put them in the safe behind him. Tomorrow he was going to be moving everything into his new domain, and he’d feel better about the bigger safe as well as the good locks on the doors. Just as he was coming out of the building he’d been using as a temporary place, he was knocked on his ass. He ended up falling backwards and hitting his head on the cornerstone. He must have been out for only a few seconds when someone was jerking him up from the ground. Still dizzy, Keegan couldn’t focus on the man holding him, but he could smell that he was a bear. The hard shake to his body had him lashing out with his fist, and for the second time, he was down. This time, however, so was the man.

“I asked you a fucking question. Where the fuck is he?” Keegan said he didn’t know what he was talking about. “Oh, you don’t, do you? Well, who the hell knocked you back with tiny little feet like that?” The snow was covered in little footprints. However, there were a great many of them that weren’t so tiny. Looking up at the man when he stood up, Keegan let a little of his lion go so he’d be healed a little. Standing up, not feeling so bad now that he had done that, he asked the man what the hell he was going on about. “The kid. Where is he?

You have to have seen him. Or are you one of those evangelistic people?” Keegan asked him what the hell that was supposed to mean. “You know, those religious shits that would rather die than to give up on someone.” “That’s not what that word means. And what the hell would I have to give up on someone? Unless it’s you. Then I’d gladly let the police handle this.” He reached for his brother, knowing that Cass had been on his way to meet him here today. Keegan told him what was going on and that he might need the police. “I don’t know anything about a kid. However, I do know you’re going to be in trouble for knocking me down and making my head hurt if you don’t get out of my face.” “Sure. Like I’m worried about you.”

The man released his bear enough that Keegan could see he was a brown bear, and wasn’t in good shape. When a shifter didn’t allow their other half out once in a while, things could get nasty. “So you see, you’re going to tell me what happened to the kid. He stole some fruit from my store.” “He must be desperate then. I’ve been by your store, Hank, and there isn’t usually anything I’d eat there.” He drew back his fist, and Keegan braced himself for the blow. But when nothing happened, he opened one eye to peer at the man. “Ronan? I didn’t know you were in town.” “Cass and I were going to surprise you by having dinner with you. Our wives are out shopping. This man bothering you, little brother?” He didn’t normally care for being referred to as little anything, but he thought Ronan was making it clear to Hank that he was the brother of the king of lions. “I can dispatch him now if you wish. I know his sleuth is looking for him too. Seems he’s been taking money from the coffers at the bruin.”

“Sounds like something he’d be doing. He said he was looking for a kid. I haven’t any idea because as soon as I came out of the building here, I was thrown to the ground. He said the kid did it, but I think Hank did it for shits and giggles.” Hank said it was the kid. “I’ve not seen one. He pointed out that there are footprints, but I’m thinking these could have been made at any time by anyone.” That was when he saw the kid across the street from them watching things going on. However, Keegan didn’t think it was a kid but a girl.

And she looked beaten to shit too. Telling his brother, Ronan told him that Cass was on the case. Since he didn’t have the head right now for figuring out what that meant, he sat down in the snow again and pulled a ball of the fluffy white stuff to his aching head. In less time than it would have taken him to walk home, six blocks from there, not only was the sleuth with them but Hank was being arrested for assault and battery. Cass had been with the girl for the last ten minutes, and it looked as if they were getting along fine. When the ambulance pulled up, Cass pushed him out of the way and put the girl in it. With a wink, Cass told him he could heal himself. Standing now, the snow coming down once again, he let it fall over his face.

There were things going on around him, but he really did have a headache from hell. Almost as soon as he decided he couldn’t stand much longer, he found himself in bed, at his home, with a compress on his head. Parker and his mom were standing over him. “I’m going to be sick.” As soon as he said it, Parker touched his head. Not only was he no longer ill, but his pain was gone as well. “What happened that I ended up here?” “Ronan said you looked like you needed some assistance. So I popped in and popped you here. Hank is in serious trouble, and the woman is being treated for her wounds.” Keegan asked her what lady. “The woman that Hank beat up that was going through his trash. Not a kid, as Hank thought, but a full-grown undernourished woman. She’s going to be fine.”

“Why do I feel like I’ve fallen through the rabbit hole here?” His mom laughed and handed him a glass of juice. “Mom, please tell me what’s going on. I’m a sick boy.” “You’re no more sick than I am. A woman was going through Hank’s trash to get herself something to eat. He caught her, thinking she was a boy and beat her up for what she’d been doing. Once she was able to escape, she zoomed by you and knocked you on your bottom. She’s the one that called Ronan to come to help you.” He asked if she was a lion too. “Honey, she’s a lioness. And yes, she is. Very nice girl too, if you ask me.” He didn’t but kept that to himself. As he laid there, thinking how much better he was feeling, he closed his eyes. Whatever came from this, Keegan had a feeling he was going to be having a mate, as well as someone gunning for him. Christ, why couldn’t things just be normal? He supposed that was a question for the fates. Closing his eyes, he let himself go to sleep. It was going to be a long day tomorrow, what with moving and getting himself set up.

Ramon Dalton’s Kiss Release Blitz&Giveaway

Someone wanted Caiti dead. Her body had been so riddled with poison that when the fairies removed it, it would take the help of CJ and Ramon to save her. Ramon was instructed to convert her to a vampire, or she would die.

Unsure how his new mate would react when she recovered, Ramon enlisted the help of the kiss to protect her. Both their survival depended on it.

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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….

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….

Donald had been in the room with the women for a while. He knew one of them was his mate, but their scents were so similar he couldn’t tell which one it was. He took the women home one at a time. CJ and Rachel were the last to leave. It was then that Donald knew which one was his mate. He didn’t know which one of them was taking it harder, either.

Gracie had just lost the one person that meant the most to her. Craig, the ancient vampire that had raised her. He wasn’t just a father figure. He was her best friend. Now, she had been shot too, but she would honor his final wishes, find Bancroft, the king of the vampires and go to him. She wasn’t a vampire. She was so much more. The problem was that Gracie trusted no one.

As soon as she was around him, Gracie knew that Clyde, an ancient vampire, was her mate, but she was in no hurry to tell him. She had to deal with Bancroft first. The one responsible for Craig’s death was plotting to kill them all.

Dalton’s Kiss Series

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Prologue


Ramon wasn’t sure how it had happened, but he knew that Caiti, what she had never been called before, was going to make a difference in his life like none other. Reaching for her hand, he was glad when she allowed it. “I read about your trauma some years ago. I’ve never been one to read the newspaper, but I did that day. And the weeks following.” Caiti laid down, never looking at him, nor did she release his hand. “I still to this day believe there was more to that day than was ever reported. I don’t believe, not even knowing you now, that you lived a better life than you did at home with your family, as the papers speculated some months later.” “She didn’t want me.” He nodded, waiting for her to say more.

“Grandma wasn’t mean to me. She never demanded anything of me, nor did she question me about things that had been going on in the house. The police did, as did the doctors. But no one ever got anything more than she wanted them to have. Which was nothing.” “Did you have a good life living with your parents?” She said it had been a life. She’d had rules to follow, such as making sure that when her other grandmother came over, she kept to her room and out of sight. “Who was it that told you to do that?” “My mother. She didn’t like Grandmother. Nor did she like my dad, but she said it was the life she’d chosen, and it was all she had.” Ramon nodded but didn’t say anything. She dozed off and on throughout the night. Twice she woke up and said nothing, but he could tell that whatever had awakened her so violently was something she had dreamed about before. Ramon never let go of her hand, nor did he leave even after Clyde did. Caiti had told Clyde she was safe now, whatever that had meant between the two of them. He did contact him, telling him about the child as well as her parents.

Ramon was glad for the two of them. However, he was a little nervous about why Caiti had felt his good friend would be a better father to a human than the parents would have. Ramon didn’t stand when the doctor that had seen Caiti in the emergency room came into her room after a short knock. He told him she would be going home tomorrow, as he wanted to observe her and make sure she was all right. Ramon told him he was a doctor and could care for her needs, but the doctor still wouldn’t sign the paperwork for her to leave. Something occurred to him at that moment, and he reached out to Kelly for help. The doctor that is here, can you tell me what he looks like? Then compare him to anything you can find online about him. She said she could do that easily. Kelly had been in charge of the FBI for some time now, and he’d never been so happy for her help. When she got back to him, he had a feeling she was just as surprised as he was about what she’d found. So he’s dead. Been dead for some time now. So who do you think this man is that is treating her? I have no idea why, but I think we’re sitting ducks here.

I’m sending you some agents. He told her that he’d rather have the kiss there with him. All right. I’ll tell Banny. He’ll be there before anyone else can be, anyway. Also, I’ll contact CJ, as well as Gracie and the other women. Good. The doctor was going on about how she was going to have to go down for some tests. Ramon asked him what sort of tests they were going to be running on her. Something else occurred to him. Caiti was drugged. Not just dozing but fighting whatever was in her IV. I’m going to leave here with her as soon as the others arrive. This doctor, or whoever he is, said he was going to have someone run her down to get some blood tests and won’t tell me what they are. He’s also, knowing that we’re not married, going to have me escorted out. Please tell them to— Gwyneth is here now. Gwyneth had been around for a very long time, and she didn’t suffer fools at all. “There you are, my…why is she so drugged up?” She turned to the doctor. “She was only supposed to be treated in the ER, then released. Why is she still feeling the effects of the little bit of pain medication she was given down there?”

“The two of you need to leave here. Neither of you are related to this young woman, and she needs to have the best of care.” The others showed up just as the doctor was calling security on them. “You all need to leave here. This is a private room, and Caitlynne needs her rest.” “Leave.” It was Banny that got the man to leave them alone. As soon as he was gone, Banny turned to him. “Take her to your home, Ramon. Once there, I need for you to get her to wake. There will be a number of faeries there with you that will do your bidding. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but she needs to get out of here now.” Taking her home via his magic, he laid her gently on the bed. A faerie named Peanut stood on the pillow with her. Ramon told him what was going on. “She’s been drugged. The others and I, we can take that out of her system, but she will need you to give her your blood. I’m not sure how that will affect her, my lord, but she is going to die if we don’t work now.”

Telling him to do what he needed, Ramon called for Clyde. After telling him what Peanut had said, he said he’d help. Even CJ showed up to begin the process of removing the poison from her blood. “They want her dead. We can save her, my lord, but you must be ready to help her.” Not having any idea what that might mean, he stood by as CJ put her hands on Caiti’s chest. When she pulled back, he could see that her hands were covered in what he could only assume was the poison. She turned back to her task as she spoke to him. “This isn’t a poison like anything I’ve ever felt before. It was to shut down her organs. Also, it’s manmade. If not for your quick thinking, I’m afraid it would have been too late. As it is now, Ramon, you’re going to have to convert her.” He told her he’d never done that before. “Well, find someone that has and talk to them. But you’re going to have to act fast. Even with the poison out of her, she’s still got a great deal of damage happening right now.” It was Gwyneth that joined him in the room. Once CJ had done as much as she could by removing most of her blood from her body, Gwyneth told him to give Caiti as much as he could. Then she would give her some of herself. With the powerful blood they both had, she would convert quickly or die.

Ramon hoped to Christ this was going to work. Just meeting his mate only to have her die after all this time of waiting for her, he didn’t know what he’d do. He did know that he’d have to be put down at some point if she didn’t make it. After nearly two hours of giving her his and Gwyneth’s blood off and on, he could see the changes finally happening to Caiti. Twice while they’d been working on converting her, she’d stopped responding. Not just not breathing, but her heart had stopped, and there had been no brain activity. Normal things, he’d been told. However, he was terrified out of his mind for her. “There is a cave not far from here that you two need to go to. Not only will it keep her safe, but it will be a good place for you to train her how to be a vampire. She’ll need that, Ramon. The only thing that worries me now is if she will have your traits or those of a baby vamp.” He nodded at Banny as he watched color come back to Caiti’s lips. “I’ll come to you in a couple of days.

All of us will. The place has been set up for you, so you’ll not have to give up any of the comforts she might be used to, but you have to stay out of sight. Also, you should know that Gracie found a tracker in her wound when she was being converted. There seem to be no steps these people won’t take to have her.” “Why?” Banny said that for now, he really didn’t know. “All right. But don’t expect me to be a nice guy if anyone shows up without me knowing them. I will kill anyone that comes sniffing around us while hiding.” “Good.” Ramon wasn’t sure what he had expected from his friend, but he was glad for it. “Also, there will be a lot of faeries there. Not only is Aurora sending help, but so are CJ and Melisandre. You should be about as safe as you can be.” As soon as he entered the large cave, he had to laugh. Having the comforts of home was not what he had. Ramon thought this could well be his home for the way it looked. He laid Caiti on the large bed and went to inspect the rest of the area. There was a kitchen of sorts, with a large refrigerator that seemed to be running on magic.

A table that would seat a couple of people in a dining area he loved. The table was made of a long piece of stone that was as polished as anything he’d ever seen before. There were chairs around it, but for the most part, the room looked like something he’d seen during medieval times. A very large stone fireplace was burning against the cold of the stone rooms. He thought it would easily roast an entire cow, if not a herd. Even as he warmed himself by it, he felt the earth shake a little under his feet and went to see if his Caiti was all right. There were several little people in the room with her as she still lay quietly on the bed. “We’ve adjusted the room for her, my lord. The fire will run as long as she is recovering. After that, it will only take a thought for her to have it turn back to warmth for her.” He thanked the little person. “We have also adjusted the bed for the two of you. It will grow with the need you have for it. While she is resting, it will accommodate her. If you should wish to rest with her, it will widen for you both. Also, the bed is made with the finest of magic. Neither she nor you will ever have a bad night’s sleep upon it.”

“Thank you again.” He was glad there were no windows, but he did worry about her being without them. “She was forever staring out the window while in the care of the hospital. I don’t know if she was watching for someone to come or enjoyed the view. I should like it if she were to have one. One that changed with her needs. She is my mate, as you are aware, and I only want the best for her.” “Of course you do, my lord. She will have it too. Several places in this mountain have been carved out for the two of you should you wish it. A very private hot bath is just beyond that wall there. Also, there is a place where she can be hidden should someone come around. I do not foresee that happening, as we are all keeping her safe, but should it happen, you are only to take her to the wall there, and it will cover you both for as long as you need.” He was shown the area and was glad for it. “I’m to tell you that the doctor that treated the young woman so horribly has not been killed. Lady Kelly is using him to find out who he is working for if she can. She thinks him too dumb to be working alone.

I believe I must agree with her on this.” “I have some things in the home I have in England that I would like brought here. It was my plan at some point to return there to bring them back, but I would like them here now. I have fallen in love with this arrangement we’re using now. It’s quiet and just what I’d like should I need a place to go to unwind.” The faerie told him his name was Blue and said he had taken the information from his mind when he made this area for them. “I thank you again for that. Should Caiti need anything or wish to make changes, you are to do it. She is the only reason I breathe now, and I wish only for her to be as happy as I can make her.” It took them working for several hours side by side to make a few adjustments to the living arrangements where they were staying. Blue and several other faeries would be living in the cave with them for the time being, but after Caiti was awake and feeling better, there would be more. When he went to check on Caiti at around midnight, she was sitting on the side of the bed.

Saying her name, she looked up at him and frowned. He asked her what she remembered. It took her several moments before she answered him. “I was ill, I think,” Ramon told her everything that had happened while she’d been in the hospital. He also told her where they were and why. She listened, asking questions when she wasn’t sure of things, and he answered them honestly. “This person, you believe, is after me. Have you any information on him?” “Only in that Kelly thinks he’s not working alone.” She nodded, and he helped her stand. “You need anything, you only need to call out, and everyone here will be there for you.” “I’d like a shower if you’d not mind. Is that possible?” Apparently, no one had thought of a bathroom, and he had to laugh. “I guess it won’t be possible since we’re living in a cave.” “It is ready, my lady.” Blue told her he was sorry for being so short-sighted. “I never thought you’d be up and about so soon, or your needs might have occurred to me before you needed to have them. I am profoundly sorry.”

He started to tell the faerie it was all right when Caiti smiled at Blue. “It’s all right. I don’t know what is going on right now, but the simple fact that I’ve been resting on a very wonderful bed and have been treated so nicely makes any minor adjustments seem so small. You’ve done us a great service, Blue, in making this place safe and comfy.” The shower was perfect, she told him. If she had told him to let her alone in the large room, he would have, but since she didn’t mind that he was in the room with her when she stripped down, he said nothing. However, he was glad he was there when she became a little too weak to stand on her own toward the end. She rested in a chair that hadn’t been in the room before. When Caiti asked him what had happened after the doctor had tried to take her to have tests, he told her that in order to save her life, he’d had to convert her. Otherwise, her organs would have shut down completely, and she would have died. “I guess you’re aware that I didn’t have much in the way of a reason to live before today.” He asked her if she still felt that way. “I’m not sure. I do feel like I’ve been given a better outlook on life, but as for not wanting to perish? I’m not sure just yet. Things are certainly different.”

“Yes, they are.” Ramon told her about himself. What he thought his age was. “I’ve no idea. After a time, it became meaningless for me, much like it has for the others I know. My parents are both alive, though I rarely see them. I have a grandma as well that I don’t care for, but I see her sometimes too.” “Your parents must be very old.” They both laughed. “Mine are all dead. I’ve no one left. I don’t even own a dog, though I must admit that is something that I have wished for my entire life.” The little puppy appeared on her lap seconds later. He didn’t move, not sure what he was supposed to think of a dog. Most creatures, human pets, didn’t like his kind. Not that he blamed them. In his time, he had, in emergency situations, taken what he needed from the little creatures. “Oh, how beautiful.” She held the little dog, a beagle if he didn’t miss his bet, to her cheek. “She’s so soft, Ramon. Come and pet her.”

He couldn’t have turned her down if she’d asked him to pet an alligator. As soon as his hand was near the little dog’s head, it licked him as if he knew he’d kill anyone that tried to harm his mistress. Ramon looked at Blue when he cleared his throat. “The earth did this for her, my lord. We’ve no idea of animals enough to have brought her one. This little creature will not harm any of us or you. I have spoken to the earth, and they have said that it is so.” Thanking the man again, he nodded before speaking again. “There is food for the dog in the pantry, as well as a bowl for food and water. While we have not much in the way of encounters with the puppy, I have read his mind in things he wished. One of the faeries will walk him when necessary to keep the two of you safe for this time.” “Make it so that when he leaves here with one of the others, he isn’t seen. Nor you. I don’t wish anyone of you to be harmed with him either.” Blue said he’d take care of it.

“You’re doing so much for us, sir, that I feel as if telling you thank you is very little in comparison.” “You have given us a great honor in being able to help you and your mate through all this.” Ramon looked at Caiti when she said his name. “My lady?” “Don’t put yourself in harm’s way for me, Blue. None of you. I would never be able to live with myself if anything should happen to such wonderful creatures.” He looked at him, then back at Caiti when she spoke again. “You’ll do this for me, won’t you?” “I cannot, my lady. Above my own life, as it would be for Lord Ramon here, I will die to make you and this little puppy safe. It is my duty to do so and an honor for us to have been chosen to serve you.” He looked so proud of himself that Ramon was sure that his shirt buttons would pop off. “We have, above all other faeries of the world, been picked to come here and ensure your every need is met. That above all else, you are as safe as our own children would be in their beds. Nay, to not serve you the way you deserve would be a blemish on our kind. Not just all faeries but all creatures of the earth. Queen CJ, she’s a good and wonderful queen to us all, but should we, as she said, fuck this up, she will be a wrath like we’ve never seen before.

I believe her. While we can make mistakes—she said that is the only way we can improve on ourselves—we are not to just simply let things go when we see a need. Why I do believe she’d hurt us for decades to come and those behind us, should we simply allow you to be harmed. She is a wonderful queen, but she is also someone we are afeared of.” When Blue left them to see to the puppy, Ramon burst out laughing. Caiti looked at him as his laughter got the better of him several times in just a few moments. She had to ask him several times to tell her what he had found so funny. “They’re afraid of CJ. She’s more than likely…well, you’ve met her. Does she strike you as someone they should be afeared of, as he put it?” Caiti told him she didn’t know her that well, but she did seem to be very soft-hearted. “She is anything but that. However, thinking along those lines is what will get you killed by her too.

CJ is funny, hard, and full of life. She is also the first person I would call upon if I were in trouble. I’d never tell Banny that, but I think he might know it. She isn’t one to mess with. None of the women in this kiss are.” “Am I a part of this kiss now?” He said she was as long as she wanted to be. “Don’t treat me like this, Ramon. I want you to have opinions too. I also want you to give them to me when I ask you for them.” “All right.” She laughed when the puppy came running back into the room with them. “I think someone missed me. How about you show me around our new home, and then we talk about this conversion I’ve had done to me. That way, I won’t be surprised too much about changes.” Roman was as happy as he’d ever been. Several times he had to reach out to one of the others around the kiss and let them know things that Caiti would say to him casually. He was positive she was giving him information she’d not thought of as helpful too. Like the fact that she’d been thinking she’d been followed for some time.

Also, she’d not been working for several places that tried to find her for the last three weeks. The list she gave him he turned over to Kelly. “This place is large, isn’t it?” He said he thought it was growing with her needs. “Oh, I guess I never thought of that. All right. Well, I’m ready for bed. Not with you right now, but I do find myself very tired. Is it the poison?” “I would imagine it’s a great many things.” He took her to the bedroom he’d brought her to first. “You only need to call out for me, and I’ll be here. There is some work I can do while you’re resting that will keep me busy.” Caiti was nearly asleep when he left the room. The roaring fire lit up the room and her face, so he was sure she’d be all right. Finding a computer room set up for himself, he and Boop, the dog’s name, went to the room to work. There was a bed set up for the pup and a fire for him as well. Ramon thought he could really get used to this.

Layton Tate’s Crossing Release Blitz & Giveaway

Cody Martin was a good attorney. Never appreciated at her job, she still never wavered in her loyalty. And when she was suddenly fired for no reason, she found it would be the perfect opportunity to start a business with her brother Matt.

Layton Tate was also an attorney, but he and his brother Loren were bogged down with cases and needed to hire a new firm to help with their caseload. Cody would make a good candidate as her stellar reputation proceeded her. He reached out to shake Cody’s hand. The blast sent them both reeling to opposite sides of the room and shocking the family. Layton and his wolf both knew what that meant.

Cody wasn’t stupid, she knew what Layton was to her too, but she had to make sure the ground rules were straight before she’d have anything to do with him. No one would be pushing her around, mate or no mate….

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Caitlynne’s job was difficult. Doing what she did for the government not only put herself at risk but any friends or family she had could become a target. When her sister was hurt, she blamed herself even though it had nothing to do with her directly. It didn’t matter. It was time for her to quit before someone she cared about ended up dead.

Joel Tate had been in the building to meet with Becca Jacobson when she was attacked. To save her, Joel had to change her into what he was, a wolf. More or less guarding her in the hospital, Joel met her sister, Caitlynne, when she was brought to the hospital to see her sister. As soon as Caitlynne was close enough to him to get her scent, he knew she was his mate.

Caitlynne’s disappearing act from her job started things rolling. Her boss wasn’t taking I quit as an answer. When they tried to kill her by setting her apartment on fire, Joel thought it was time to take the situation into his own hands….

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Prologue


“Dad, we can make this work for us.” Cody was getting frustrated with her father. He was just too wishy-washy for her today. Well, most days of late. When he walked around the store they were thinking of buying for them to change into an apartment for the two of them, she sat down on the wire wheel that had been brought in by a construction company just this morning. She had three messages and several emails. Cody wouldn’t answer the emails or the messages unless it was either from her sister or brother. She was on her own personal time, and she didn’t do work when she was enjoying her time off. But her family should be here with them.

The two of them had set this up for Dad. Answering the one from Paige, she asked her what she wanted. All the message said was, Get back to me. Instead of messaging her back, she simply called her. “Yes? What is it now, Paige?” Her sister huffed at her. As her older sister by only ten months, Paige was acting more like their grandma all the time. “I’m at the mall thing with Dad. Do you have something to add to this? Other than you can’t tear yourself away for an hour to come here?” “Why are you so snotty with me all the time?” She didn’t bother answering her.

“Grandma was just here. She’s pissed off because she wasn’t told about any of this.” “That’s funny. You told me that you told her and even marked it on her calendar for her.” Paige huffed again. “Did you or did you not tell her? Because as sure as shit, I’m betting she’s on her way here now.” “She is, and no, I didn’t tell her. Grandma will have opinions that don’t matter, and then she’ll insist that she help with the remodeling. I don’t want her to be involved. Her tastes don’t run along the same line as mine do.” Cody told her that her opinion didn’t matter either since she wasn’t living there.

“And I suppose you would decorate it the way you like. You have an odd taste in everything, Cody. Why would anyone want to live in a bohemian apartment like you must have?” She didn’t bother correcting her sister. Paige only heard what she wanted to hear. Not that she was nasty or anything—not that she couldn’t be—but Paige was way old before her time. Paige asked if she was still on the line. “I am. I was just thinking that you’ve never been to my apartment, and I’ve no idea what you think a bohemian place would even look like. What is wrong with you today? You’re acting like someone shit in your oatmeal or something. Is Brian giving you a hard time about your spending? I wouldn’t blame him if he cut you off.”

Now that was something that Paige did well. However, it was rarely for herself. She’d buy up pallets of diapers and bottled water to have set aside for some huge catastrophe. Not just that, but she’d also have hundreds of dollars worth of gift certificates to hand out to the people hurting from one tragedy or another. She had a good heart, even if it was her sister. “Grandma is on her way there. She left here in a huff after leaving the kids, so wound up, it’s going to take me hours to get them calmed down. She didn’t even have to give them candy or anything.


She just has a way about her.” Cody remembered that well about her grandma. And Cody also knew that Grandma had slipped the kids candy too. A great deal of it, if she had to bet on it. “I have three meetings today. The first one is with the school board at the private school the kids go to. Then there is the meeting I have with Kelly’s teacher. She said she’s falling behind. I want to figure out what is going on with her.” “Is she behind or bored?” Paige told her what she thought was going on. “Could be that. But didn’t they tell you she didn’t need a tutor? I mean, that was a huge meeting, if I remember correctly.”

“It was that ended in me giving in. I also think she needs glasses. She said there isn’t anyone else in the class that wears glasses, and Kelly refuses to get them. I swear, she acts more like you daily.” She thanked her sister. “That was not meant as a compliment, Cody, and you well know it.” “I will take it where I can get it.” She looked at the front door of the place she and her dad were in. “I can see Grandma now. I’ll let you go so I can tell her you’re a snob.” “Cody Martin, I swear, you’re such a bitch.” Laughing, she hung up on her sister and went to hug her grandma. “Paige said you riled up her kids.

Good for you.” “They’re stuck in that house today because it’s raining. When you were little, you’d strip down to your panties and run right out in it. Where is my son? I think I might just have to talk him into buying a bigger place so I can come to visit the two of you a lot. Or buy one for me too. What do you think?” Dad came out of the backroom then and said he’d feel better if he knew someone here. Cody told him that he’d know her. “Oh, Peashaw, Herby. You’re a grown assed man. I’m sure you remember how to make friends.” “As pleasant as ever to see you, Mom.” He kissed her on the cheek when it was offered to him. “I think I’ll take this one.

It’s not too large, and I am liking the back room of it. There is already a nice sized bathroom back there. It’ll need some decorating to make it look less like an industrial one and to add in a shower, but it’s nice.” “They said we can have walls put in as soon as you sign the contract.” Cody looked at her grandma. “Let’s go and find you a place. Unless you’d like to live here until you decide. Dad and I were just talking about how he was going to put in three bedrooms so you could.” “Do that, Mom. I’d love to have you staying here with us. Or me when Cody is away.” He made it sound like she was gone for days at a time when she only worked at the law firm in town.

“We could have fun like we did when my Beth was alive. Say you’ll live here with me.” “I don’t know, son. What will you do when I have a gentleman friend over for a night of wild, loud sex?” Dad said he’d listen at her door for input when he had someone over. “Oh, go on with you. Herby, a mother couldn’t have asked for a better son. Trust me, I’ve asked. All right. If you’re serious, I’ll do it. And if you cramp my style, well, I’ll just bury you in the parking lot and be done with you. Now, out to dinner after we sign the contracts, and it’s my treat.”


The contract was straightforward and what she had expected. There were several loopholes in it, mostly in her dad’s favor, but he was all right with that, he told her. Once he wrote out the check for the entire asking amount, they were on their way to dinner. Her dad had money to spare. She did too, but not a great deal. Being an attorney for a small law firm had gotten her some good money, but she’d been paying off her student loans since she’d gotten out of college, and that was taking a great deal out of her checks. Paige’s husband was an attorney as well, but for a very large firm. His name was on the door, Peter Brown, while Cody barely made a blip on the radar for the people she worked with.

Paige had been a housewife, a title Paige detested since they’d been married. Matthew, their brother, was an architect. He didn’t design houses like most of the people in the firm where he worked but worked on things like solar panels for houses. Water in the home that could be used for other things once it was used in the shower or such. Matt, in his spare time, designed furniture for kids’ rooms. Like her, Matt was single and didn’t date all that much. But for different reasons. Paige had his entire line of children’s things. Cody would, too, if she ever found a man to stick around long enough for her to want to marry him. Cody knew she was hard on men. They’d try and bullshit themselves into something more than they were. Little did they know that Cody ran a background check on anyone she dated.

Dad said she was smart for doing that. Paige told her she took all the fun out of getting to know someone. So far, she’d been nearly on a date with a pedophile, a drug dealer, as well as a man that had very scary tastes in sex—painful and violent sex. There were other men she had dated, but they were either too boring, lazy or thought since she was an attorney, she could represent them for free. Nope, not going to happen. Matt was able to join them for dinner. Paige arrived late but did have dessert with them. Peter, she told them, had had to work late, and that was why she’d been late. Cody didn’t say anything, as she doubted very much that her sister would hear what she had to say. That her husband was having an affair with his secretary. And it had been going on since before he’d married Paige.

“The board is going to look into some things that could improve the kind of teachers that we’re getting to apply. I was hoping for some that were new out of college, but they want older, more stable teachers. I don’t even know what that means.” Grandma said they wanted women that didn’t have children in the middle of the term. “Well, that’s not fair. We have a good school there that pays well. The students that come out of there go on to college and succeed too.” “Be that as it may, they have how many teachers out now on maternity leave? One of them is a spouse to a woman that is out, correct?” Matt looked at Cody when Paige answered his question. “How about you? You ready to settle down and have a houseful of kids so I can spoil them and be the world’s greatest uncle to them?”


“When you have a baby, I’ll think about it.” It was an ongoing joke for the two of them. Everyone at the table knew Matt was gay. No one cared. In fact, Grandma was the one that had had a talk about it with Matt when he’d been about fourteen. Turned out she was right, and he no longer went around with a long look on his face. “Oh, there is a toy company expanding in town. I know you’ve talked to the owner before, but I think his daughter is now running the place. I don’t know a great deal about the woman that runs it, but she is recently married and has a baby on the way.

They’re also good friends with the people who own Tate’s Crossing.” “I remember them.” Grandma had to think a moment. “Yes, the father is Joseph, and his wife…let me think…was Lorraine. She died some time ago, I think.” “That’s right. She was hit by a car as her wolf. Back then, there was another pack master, or they both would have been immortal.

Joseph took over when most of the others left and only had to govern himself and his boys. Sad state of affairs that.” Matt laughed as he continued. “I’m sorry to bring this up now, but they’re the biggest men I’ve ever seen. Each of them played sports in high school. No one would beat them. Also, if I remember correctly, the youngest one isn’t with the firm but is a kindergarten teacher. A good one, too, from all accounts. Paige, you might want to recruit him. He might be a good fit for the school.” “He’s been a teacher since he got out of college. The oldest son, Joel, is recently married as well. They’re all well respected, as a whole and personally. They bought the old church in their town and are changing it into a venue to hold weddings and receptions.”

Grandma asked Cody if she’d done a background check on them. “Yes. They also own the mall development project that Dad is going to be staying at. I needed to know it wasn’t a fly-by-night group that was going to take his money and run.” “Good for you, honey. I feel much better just knowing you’re taking care of me.” Paige said she was as well, and Dad patted her on the hand. “I know you do, baby. I know that. Oh, before I forget to tell you, there will be a playground put in, as well as a garden area that, as residents, we can use.

I’m very excited about getting into gardening some.” “You’ll have to teach them how to grow things in your garden, Dad. The kids will love working in the dirt with you. Maybe you can wear them down a lot before you bring them home.” The rest of their meal, dessert anyway, was spent bantering back and forth about everything. Cody did notice that Matt was very quiet. He’d speak and answer questions, but he wasn’t his usual self. After they were gathering up their things to go, she stopped him. At first, she wasn’t sure he was going to tell her what was wrong, but when everyone left them there, he finally spilled the beans. “Don’t do anything about it.

You have to promise me you’ll stay out of this.” She didn’t even blink at him. “I knew you’d do that. I’ve been found out at work. They’re ‘looking into things,’ I was told this morning. I’ve been thinking about it all day, and I’m about ready to join you in the law firm we’ve talked about for years.”


“I’ll find us a building tomorrow.” Matt laughed. “Hey, I’m not going to give you time to change your mind. We’ll work well together. Like we always do.” “I’m worried someone is going to come forward and say something about me that will get me fired.” She asked if he thought they’d pay someone to say something. “Forever my hero, aren’t you? You didn’t even think I might have done something wrong, did you?” “I didn’t. Matt, you’re too nice of a guy for that sort of shit. Don’t shit where you eat is something you’ve told me all my life. I know you well enough to know you’d practice what you preach. Can I at least look into things for you? Not publicly, but enough that I can give you a heads up if they’re making shit up?”

“Yes. I’d like that. So long as you don’t make more waves than I have right now.” She said she’d not do that to him. He was her favorite brother. “I’m also your only brother. Speaking of which, do you know what’s going on with Peter? I’m sure no one works that late when they have their name on the firm’s stationery.” “He’s fucking Shelby.” He nodded, and she knew he’d figured that out as well. “I’ve not told Paige, but I will if he keeps this up. If she finds out I knew and didn’t tell her, she’ll be pissy with me.

But it’s not something you can just say without making her feel bad. Like it’s her fault or something.” “She would think that too.” They both made their way out to their cars. “Just be on the lookout for my job, and I’ll look into Peter’s life. I don’t mind telling her, either. Like you said, she’s going to have to know. I’m just really glad you had him sign that prenup when they married. You never told me how you got him to sign it.” “I told him I knew what he was doing, and if he didn’t sign it, I’d make sure the wedding didn’t happen.

He only wanted to marry her because she was pregnant with Kelly at the time. There is no love between the two of them.” Matt said he didn’t think so, either. “She’s going to take it hard no matter who tells her. I was thinking I’d let it slip to Grandma and have her tell her. She’d not hold back, but at least she’d know.” “Yes, she would.” Matt kissed her on the cheek and then hugged her tightly. “I love you, little sister. More than I think I love anyone else. Just be yourself, and I know you’re going to go far.” “I’m going to find us a building, Matt. All right?” He nodded and got into his car, and drove off. There was more she’d bet on it, but she’d wait to find out. Matt was her big brother and her biggest supporter. She wasn’t going to allow anyone to harm him.

Shawn Wilkerson Dynasty Release Blitz & Giveaway

Pete Tolliver was doing just fine, and when a man came into the tavern she owned asking for a Pete Tolliver, all sorts of warning bells went off in her head. She went by Pete for a reason, to keep her identity a secret. She didn’t like people and didn’t want to be bothered. She was Petunia, a well-known romance author, but she didn’t like the attention her fame brought her, so she simply went by Pete.

When Watts asked Shawn to check on a bed and breakfast his mother had left him in Europe, and while he was there to find a person in the same town by the name of Pete Tolliver, Shawn jumped at the chance. He could use a vacation, plus helping the old man in the hospital find his relative was a boost to his soul. He liked the old man.

When he met “Pete,” he liked her instantly. She was full of just enough spunk and sass that he wanted to get to know her better. And he was doing just that when the truck came from out of nowhere and put him in the hospital….

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61385188-shawn
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61385188-shawn

When Marsden Wilkerson received the phone call that his mother had been in a car accident, he wasn’t letting anything get in his way to get to her. Not a pushy boss, and especially not his Aunt Eita. Then his world crumbled when the doctors told him that his mother, Holly, didn’t make it.
Gabriella Farley, Abby, could hold her own, and she wasn’t about to take any flack from a rich bitch like Penelope Wilkerson.

All the Wilkerson women, with the exception of Holly, could fit that description. Abby stood up for Mars at the funeral home even though she really didn’t know him. What she did know was his mother, Holly, was a fine woman, and the family had given them both the shaft Mars’s entire life.

Mars wanted to apologize for his Aunt’s actions, but there was something about Abby that sparked a flame in his heart. From the first kiss, they knew they had something special, but going against the Wilkerson family could be very dangerous. Will this new love be doomed from the start?

Amy Hamilton never had much of a home life growing up. Her sister Phoenix and her mother demanded all the attention, so much so that she and her father didn’t have a relationship at all. Now that her father was filing for a divorce, he felt guilty for not being a part of her life and wanted to make up for it, but Amy wasn’t sure she was ready for that.

North Wilkerson had a similar upbringing. Although his mother was dead now, before her death, she was an awful person and an even worse mother. After having sworn off family ties to his parents, he was just now allowing his father back into his life.

Amy and Booker Wilkerson were close friends in college. Amy was only supposed to be in town for a few days, and when Booker called inviting her to dinner, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch up on old times. When Booker’s cousin North and his uncle joined them for dinner, they all had a blast.

But when North just showed up at her father’s house and took over, Amy wasn’t sure what to think of him. What did he think he was doing? She barely knew him. Amy needed to nip this in the bud before it went much further. She was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. She didn’t need a man now, or would she ever need a man, any man….

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Rayne just wanted to finish nursing school and take care of her grandda. He was all she had left. She had only left the house for a short time, and when she returned, he was gone, and there was blood everywhere. She panicked. She called the number her grandda had written down for emergencies.
When Watson answered his phone, he had trouble understanding the hysterical young woman on the other end. And when he got her to calm down enough to find out what was going on, being a doctor, he was ready to help where needed. When he arrived at Mr. Oliver’s house, he was met with the most captivating woman he’d ever seen. She was perfect. Wats was so smitten, he was afraid he’d screw up before he even had a chance to ask her out.

Marsden https://amzn.to/38Zq06Y
North https://amzn.to/3jln3TR
Watson https://amzn.to/3298RG1

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Charlie had been gone from the small town for several years, attending medical school with Rayne. She only returned when she got the news that her mother, the sitting judge, had been murdered. Rayne convinced her to come back home. The town needed good doctors.

Booker had just bought a huge, empty house. His cousins were going to a huge estate auction, and he figured he’d go to find some deals. His cousins were meeting their wives there. It would be fun.

Booker was having a wonderful time when he met Charlie. A spirited young woman who captured his heart from the moment they met. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.

Booker was caught up in Charlie’s enthusiasm as a first-time bidder until she got into an argument with another bidder, a bully who would win the bid even if he had to take it by force. Booker didn’t like bullies, especially a man who bullied women. Booker jumped to Charlie’s defense. That’s when things got dicey….

The Wilkerson Dynasty

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North https://amzn.to/3jln3TR
Watson https://amzn.to/3298RG1
Booker https://amzn.to/3mMt9Al

 

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Prologue


Pete loved it at this place. Dywyll. Welsh for Drink Darkly. Whoever named the place had done so with the décor in mind. It was dark, and there was only strong drink to be had. And that was what was going on with the five or so patrons when someone, a stranger, walked through the big double doors. Pete knew immediately that something had happened. Careful to keep an eye on him through the dirty mirror over the bar, Pete knew he was an American.

Not only that, but from the way he was dressed, she’d bet he was a man who had money to burn and didn’t give a flying fuck who knew it. When he approached Sammy, the manager and bartender, she watched both men as the newcomer struggled with his question. “Don’t hurt yourself. He speaks English too.” Nodding his thanks to her, Pete paid for her drink. Her heart was pounding hard now, and she wanted to get out of there. The man looked too much like someone she knew from her past. Then she realized what he’d said.

“Can you please repeat that?” “I’m looking for a man by the name of Pete Tolliver. Pete could be short for something else, but his grandfather has been hurt.” She told him she was Pete. “I thought you were. He’s doing much better. I’d say you’re difficult to find, but I believe that’s the point. He’s been asking for you.” “Doubtful. If you came here looking for Pete, then he didn’t send you. He calls me by my first name. What’s happened to him? Ben been knocking him around? If so, you give me an hour, and I’ll take care of him.” The man sat at the bar with her and pulled off his hat. “You’re a Wilkerson, aren’t you?”

“Yes. Shawn Wilkerson.” She only nodded. “Is there a reason you knew that? Or did someone tell you I was coming for you?” “Had I known you were coming, you wouldn’t have found me.” He only nodded and asked for a beer. “You’re the son of…let me think of her name. The one I have in my head isn’t nice.” “I’m sure I’ve called her worse. If it’s any help to you, they’re all dead. My mother included. Penelope was her name. She was killed by a bunch of prison guards while trying to escape.” Shawn drank down his beer and asked for another. When it was set before him, he asked her if she wanted another. Nodding, he ordered her one as well. “I’m set to be here for a week.

I had other business in this area, so I told my family I’d come to look for you. How did the bitches hurt you?” “Just like that, you believe me.” He nodded, and another beer was set before her too. “What’s happened? At home, I mean.” “Stanley is in the hospital but recovering well. He’s a good sort, isn’t he? Yes, it was Ben. He was pissed off because your grandda had the nerve to cash his check to pay his bills with it. Bastard. How is he related to you?” She told him. “I didn’t know he had any other children alive.”

“Ben’s dad died right after Ben was born. I’m not sure how, but I’m sure it was tragic. My mom was born as a late-in-life kind of kid. There is nearly nineteen years difference in their ages.” Shawn didn’t say anything when a full Welsh breakfast was put in front of her. Asking for a second-place setting, the two of them went to one of the many empty tables and sat down. “Have some. Let me see, my mom, Olivia, passed away when I was a baby. My biological sperm donor, Harlow, spent ten or so months in prison for beating up Ma.

However, she died before Harlow was freed. She was raped and murdered. Then your family stepped in, and not only was he their hit man, but I do also believe he knocked some of you kids around. I’m sorry if he did. But I wasn’t there, nor would I have been old enough to do anything about it.” “I haven’t seen Benton yet. He was in jail when I left. However, I’ve no doubt he was one part of the hitmen our mothers utilized. Is that why you’re here?” She told him she was working here and hiding out. Pete noticed that both of them avoided the cockles. Cocos in Welsh, they were like mussels found on beaches all over the world.

“I’m not telling you that you need to go home to see your grandda. Ben is going to be an issue, I’m sure. It’s up to you. However, as I said, I’m here for another week, so maybe we can hang out. You can show me the sights.” “I’m afraid you’re out of luck in this town for sights. Unless you’re into castles and lots of green grass and sheep. Which, thankfully, a lot of people are” He laughed, and she decided he had a good laugh. “Also, I have to work tomorrow. If I do go back, and that’s a big if, I’d need to go there and return here as soon as possible. I’m not much for living around a great many people, and I know your family is quite large. Also, you should understand something right now—I’m not easy. I’m not going to show you the sights by letting you into my bed.”

Shawn looked at her, shocked for all of three seconds before he threw back his head and laughed. Pete didn’t know why, but she had a feeling he didn’t do that often, let mirth take him so hard. Smiling at him, not really understanding what he might have found so funny, he kissed her on the cheek and stood up. “You’re leaving?” Shawn said he had to check into his hotel and tell his family he’d found her. “Don’t do that. Don’t tell them anything just yet. I don’t want to be pressured into going home. As much as I’d like to believe your family is nothing like your mother was, I’d just as soon not have to deal with them right now.” “I can understand that.

However, believe me, or not, we’re nothing like them. In fact, I’d say we’re more like my Aunt Holly. Did you know her?” She stood up so quickly the table jolted. “What is it?” “You said did I know her. She’s dead? Holly is dead?” Helping her to her seat, he sat too. Holding her hand, he told her the wives had had her killed a few months ago. She let the tears flow as he told her how she’d come to be gone. “She was…well, she was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I’m staying in one of her homes, as a matter of fact.” Pete looked at him. “That’s why you’re here. To check up on her home and tell me I have to get out.” “No. I am here to check on the house, yes, but not to toss anyone out. As Mars wasn’t able to find out much about the place, he asked me if I’d come here to have a look around.

To see what the house looked like, as well as the person running the place. I’m to understand it’s a bed and breakfast, correct?” She said it was. “You send all the money via an account, then you’re paid monthly. He couldn’t understand why as well as it was doing, you weren’t getting more money than what you were paid.” “I’m paying Holly back for a loan. And I do live there rent-free. It’s why I was able to send money to my grandda every month. I don’t have much in the way of expenses. She’s really gone?” He nodded. “Right after my ma died, Holly came to see me. I think she was on duty. The doctor had only just pronounced Ma’s death, so I was pretty raw.

When she sat down next to me, taking my hand into hers just as you just did, I launched myself at her, holding on to her while my heart broke.” “That sounds like her.” Pete nodded, thinking about that day. “Go on, tell me how she was a part of your life. I’d love to hear it.” “My da was already out of the picture, so it had only been my ma and I. I was only a child, you see, but Holly talked to me like I was her equal. She not only offered me a job when I was old enough but lent me the money to not just pay for my ma’s funeral but to go to college as well. She made sure I didn’t have to work while I was seeking higher education. Nor did she ever once try and take advantage of my owing her so much money. When I finished with school, I came here and began working off the money I owed her while running the B&B.

I’m so sorry she’s gone. You’ve no idea how many times over the years I called her just to hear her voice and to talk to someone. She was the only friend I think I’ve ever had.” Shawn told her how sorry he was for her loss too. “Mars. I know him. And…let me think which one. Booker. I wasn’t Pete them, but Petunia Jackson. I was adopted by my grandda when my ma died, so I’d not have to be put in the system.” “We didn’t know it was a woman we were looking for. And you were right, your grandda didn’t send me. I don’t think he even mentioned you until we asked if there was anyone to notify. He said your name was Pete then, but no last name. Stanley said he’d contact you when he was home again.” Pete told Shawn that she went by Pete, so she was harder to find. “It worked. If not for an entry made on some of the notes Aunt Holly kept, we wouldn’t have known you were even here in Wales.”

“Holly told me I’d be safe here. And I am. However, I was never sure who I was safe from, as Ben never bothered with me. Not even after he found out I had a good job while finishing up high school.” He asked her if he’d known about her. “I think so. However, now that you mention it, I have no idea. I’d see him around, of course. Know he was my cousin, I suppose. But as far as him acknowledging me, I’m not sure. That’s a good point.

Perhaps Holly kept me safer by just keeping me out of his line of sight.” “More than likely. Are you all right now?” She nodded, then shook her head. “I can understand that too. I’ve known for a while that Aunt Holly is gone, and I still have trouble coming to terms with it. She was one of the best there was.” “She was. To a great many people, I’m thinking.” When Shawn tried to pay the bill, Sammy asked her, in Welsh, if he understood that she owned the bar. Shaking her head, she told Sammy she’d talk to him later, and she left.

Pete was just too raw to try and explain to anyone that she had her own money now, and she was beholden only to Holly, who had died. Shawn followed her out of the bar. “He said something along the lines of owning. Or it could have been owing. You own the bar.” “Yes. I own the bar, as well as a coffee shop down the road. I didn’t take any of the money from the B&B. I promise you that. Nor did I use any of the money and then put it back. I’ve been—” He laughed again. “I’m a bit touchy on things if you didn’t notice it. Money and owing someone is hard on me.” “I guess I can understand that. However, it never occurred to me that you were doing that. Nor that I would ever think you would.” She nodded and looked away. “How about we start over? I’m Shawn Wilkerson, nephew to Holly Wilkerson.

I’m here looking for you to give you some information that your grandda—whom I like, by the way—has been hurt.” “Thank you.” They shook hands, and she told him she needed to get back to the B&B. Shawn followed. “Really, I can get there from here. I’ve been doing it for some time now.” “It just so happens I’m staying there too. In another room.” She shook her head. “How about later, you and I have a nice dinner and talk about my aunt. Or anything, for that matter. I’d like to get to know you.” “I don’t know. I’m very caustic.”

He laughed, and she smiled at him. “All right. But I cook for the patrons at the B&B. It’s easier than trying to make a breakfast with all the trimmings. I usually have it for lunch, and that’s it. But since we shared, I’ll be able to eat at dinner time.” Whatever was going on, she wasn’t sure about it. However, she was going to call Mars and let him know what was going on. While she knew the other man, she wasn’t sure how much he knew about her. But Booker, she did know and would also call him. ~*~ Booker was still working on a couple of projects at home when his cell rang.

He knew the ringtone. It was Shawn. Since he’d heard from Shawn when he’d arrived three days ago that he’d made it, he knew whatever was going on now was something funny. Thinking of something to bust his chops about, he answered the phone with a nasty quip about his sexuality. Charlie had gone to bed about an hour ago. Booker took into account that Shawn might not have realized the time difference. Or perhaps he did. When he realized that Shawn hadn’t said anything back, he sat up straighter in his seat. “Shawn?” He heard voices. They weren’t speaking English, so he was at a loss as to what might be going on. Waiting for whoever called him using Shawn’s phone, he concentrated on breathing in and out instead of what might be going on with the phone call. “Booker Wilkerson?” He said it was him. “My name is Pete. I’m using your cousin’s phone to—” “Is he all right? Do I need to come there—?”

“Just let me tell you, damn it. You’ve no idea how freaked the fuck out I am right now.” He could hear her speaking to someone else. While he didn’t know what was being said, he figured that since Shawn had gone to Wales, they were speaking Welsh. “I’m going to be calm here. I’m having difficulty translating what I’m being told in one language, figuring it out in English to tell you, then reversing the process so I can tell the people here. Just fucking bear with me. I’m stressed the fuck out.” “All right. Can you tell me if he’s dead?” She said he wasn’t, but it had been touch and go for a bit. Then she said something in Welsh again. “Take your time, Pete. Just breathe. That’s what I’m trying to do right now.” “He wanted to go on a run.

Early morning here. There are a lot of lorries out that early, making deliveries and such.” He nodded, then told her to go on. “Hang on.” His heart was hurting, but he knew if he were to scream at the woman to get her to get on with the story, he might well not learn a damned thing. Reaching for his house phone, he called Charlie’s cell phone. Telling her to hurry down here, he could hear her racing down the stairs. Booker put his cell on speaker phone after telling her the little he knew. He also cautioned her to not hurry the woman along. “The doctor here wants to know if he has any allergies to medications.” He said he didn’t. He was, however, allergic to caffeine. “Bear with me. I’m so upset here, and I’ve not spoken English for some time.” Booker looked at Charlie when she cleared her throat.

“I can speak to you in Welsh if you’d like. If that would help. It’s been a while for me too, so let’s start out slowly.” The two of them spoke in Welsh, another thing about his lovely wife he’d not known until now. Smiling at her, he asked for Charlie’s cell and called Uncle Hank. “Booker? What’s happened? Where are you?” He told him all he knew so far. “She didn’t tell you what happened? Who does that? Tell her I want—?” “She’ll hang up. I don’t know that she will, Uncle Hank, but she’s pretty upset. Charlie is helping her now. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I thought you’d like to come here. I’m making the calls now.” He said he was on his way. “All right. Do you think we should call the others in?” “Not yet. They’ll just want answers we don’t have. Call them when we have more. Oh, I wish I had gone with him as he wanted.

I’m on my way, son.” Booker put the phone down when his uncle just hung up. Charlie turned to him. “She’s speaking with the staff about his things. Shawn was out running this morning, and a truck hit him. They don’t think it was on purpose, as the roads are very narrow in places, and Shawn might not have been off the road far enough when another truck was passing the one that hit him.” He asked if she knew how he was hurt. “He hit his head. That’s all they told her when they called her. Everyone apparently knew he was staying at the B&B she is running for Mars. Oh, she knows Mars too. You know her as well, apparently. She’s Petunia Jackson.” It took him a few moments to put a face to the name. When he remembered her, he could only think of her as a child. He also knew that at some time in her life, she had moved away. More than likely, when she’d been that same young woman he remembered.

Calling Mars because he’d been asked to, he told him the information as well as the little bit more he knew about Shawn. He and Abby were on their way over too. “He’s in surgery. His leg was broken in four places, and they’re setting it. Since she doesn’t know what they’re doing in there, she can’t tell me what sort of setting they’re doing. She’s stressed to the max, Booker. I think she might be blaming herself for this.” Booker asked if Pete had been with him when he was running. “Not that I’ve been made aware of. She’s running the B&B and doesn’t get out much this time of year, I guess.” “We’ll all end up there sooner rather than later, I’m betting.” Charlie went back to the call while he let his uncle and cousin in.

Mars had apparently called in the others as well, as they were coming to the house one at a time. Going into the kitchen, he wasn’t the least bit surprised to see that Herman had started the coffee and was making pancakes. He’d been in the kitchen for the past couple of days whenever he wanted to talk to him. “I still have some pull, so I called to see what is going on over there. So far, I’m only waiting on a call. I wasn’t snooping, but I could hear the doorbell ringing and figured something—hang on, that’s my contact now.” Sitting at one of the chairs around the big table, Booker pulled a pancake to him and rolled it around a piece of sausage. While waiting, he also poured him some juice. “All right. A young man was hit by a truck at five their time this morning.

So there is a five-hour difference—they’re ahead of us—so I’m thinking it happened sometime around midnight our time. Someone must have been with him to have him in the hospital very quickly if that is the case. He wasn’t just left there to die. What I mean is that he wasn’t left on the side of the road. That didn’t come out right either.” “I understood. The woman we’re talking to over there, she runs my cousin’s B&B. I know nothing about her, but I’m guessing she and Shawn were friends.” Herman simply shrugged. He was talking to someone on the second phone call he’d gotten. When he continued to nod, Booker got up and started pulling glasses from the cabinet. When the call was finished, Herman said he had good news. “Good. I could use it about now.

I’m sure everyone will be happy for it too.” “Shawn’s leg is busted up pretty badly. They’ve had to reinforce two bones with some steel rods. He’s going to be a long time in healing. The head wound wasn’t as bad as they had thought. Of course, he’ll have a major headache for some time to come, but he’ll be all right. Two of his fingers are broken, as well as his wrist. All on the left side.” He asked what was going to happen now. “They’ll keep him sedated for a few days, just to let the swelling go down. The young woman, Pete, is the granddaughter of Mr. Tolliver. He adopted her when she was just a young child. Monthly she sends him nearly her entire pay to keep him afloat. Also, she’s done well with investments too. She not only owns the bar but a coffee shop as well as a bun store. I had to ask. It’s just sweets.”

“We all thought she was a man.” Herman nodded as he put another round of batter on the griddle. “I’ll call the others in to get some food. You can tell them what you know, and we’ll go from there.” As everyone stood around eating pancakes and sausages, they talked about going to Wales to see Shawn. When Charlie joined them in the kitchen, having been speaking to Pete, she told them what she’d been able to find out. “The B&B is full until the end of the week, so we can’t stay there. Also, there aren’t any hotels or other accommodations within four hours of the hospital.

Pete suggested we wait until Friday before we travel there, and the place will be all ours. This time of the year, they close up for a month to have the carpets cleaned, as well as any upgrades that are needed.” Mars said he’d read that in some of the notes on the place. “She’s much calmer now. The doctor told her that Shawn would need to rest for the next few days, so they’ve put him into a medically induced coma. I agree with her on the fact that we can’t do anything until he wakes. She said she’d call us whenever there was any news, and she’d be using his phone, as she has no cellphone of her own. You might be interested to know that she and Shawn have been seeing the sites. I haven’t any idea what that might entail, but they have been hanging out together.”

“You think she’s his future wife?” Charlie smacked him on the arm. “I was only asking. I mean, it’s a long way to go to find someone to love, but—you don’t think she’ll make him live there with her, do you? Mars, you have to fire her or something. We can’t lose Shawn to another country. How will our kids get to know one another?” “Cool your jets, dumbass. You’ve already got them married with children. How about we just figure out how to get there and when, and we’ll work from there. As far as we know, she’s a royal…well, she is a royal bitch, but that’s all right too. We’ll not rush into anything for now.” Booker smiled at Charlie. “I haven’t any idea what you might be thinking, but it’s not going to bode well for you if I have to smack you around a little in front of your family. Behave.” “But it’s so much more fun to not behave.” She smacked him again, harder this time, and he pulled her into his arms for a much-needed kiss.

“We will need to make arrangements to get there. Not only will we need to have passports, but time off from work for this. I can do my work anywhere, but I know a lot of us can’t.” The rest of the morning was spent talking about the trip, what they’d need to be taking, and calling bosses or whatever they had to take care of while they’d be gone. Wats told them with an injury like Shawn’s sounded, it might be a month before he’d be up from the bed. That was when Mars decided he’d charter a plane, take them there, and bring Shawn home when they could. It was a plan everyone agreed would work better. Then Herman cleared his throat.

“Two things you must remember. You’ll need to have cash, as credit cards might be all right, but this is a smallish town, and they might have poor Internet. The second thing is, not only will you need passports, but you might also need to have some proof of Shawn being related to any of you. Hank, I would suggest that you take everything you have concerning his birth records. As well as taking a death certificate of your wife. Just to make things go smoother. Also, I just remembered this, you’ll need an attorney in the States in the event you need something else.

An attorney can make things move faster. Having one ready to go, with knowledge of where and why you’re going, will save time as well.” North was making notes and asking questions about some things he had questions about. The rest of them, even for as many attorneys that were in the family, just waited to see if they needed to do anything too. “I just realized that you have three qualified physicians in the family. Medical certification should be handy if needed. Also, this is very important, don’t step on toes. I know you won’t mean to, but it’ll do better for young Shawn if he’s not the center of a national debate on US doctors versus any in Wales.”

“I agree on that one,” Wats told them how he’d been in another state and had offered his help at a very busy hospital following a traffic pile-up. “They were nasty, so much so that they called security on me. I learned a very valuable lesson in that.” By the time everyone was headed back to their homes, they’d made some real headway in getting things ready to go. Hank was going to leave this afternoon to be with his son while the rest of them waited until they could have accommodations. As it was now, there was very little they could do but watch Shawn sleep, and that would drive them all nuts, Booker thought. As he was headed up to bed to take a shower, Booker realized he’d been up for too long for him not to take a nap. Just lying on the bed, hoping for at least an hour of rest, he thought of Shawn being so far away.

Of all his cousins, he and Shawn were the closest to each other. He thought it had a lot to do with the order of their birth. They were only about two months apart, while the others were as much as six months. Almost as soon as his head touched the pillow, his body began to shut down. He knew, in that moment, that this wasn’t going to be a nap, but he’d sleep for at least several hours. ~*~ Pete was exhausted. She also thought if she had to eat one more plate of hospital food, she’d just give up eating altogether.

When Mr. Wilkerson came in with what smelled to her like heaven, it was all she could do not to knock him to the floor and eat whatever was in the bags he’d brought in. “I thought you’d enjoy a treat. I know I would.” He started laying out the covered plates of food. “Sammy, the man at the bar you frequent, said you usually only eat at the place once a day, but when you can eat there more often, it’s his famous fish and chips.” “It’s the best there is. How much do I owe you, Mr. Wilkerson?” When he didn’t move, his hand about halfway to her, she looked up at him. “What have I done?

Whatever it is, I’m sorry. I’d do anything for the food.” “Then call me Hank.” She said she couldn’t do that. “Sure you can. It’s a one-syllable word. Try it. Hank. It’s a completely common name. Something that my wife, when she was around, tried to get me to change often enough. Anyway, I’d very much like for you to call me Hank. Please?” “Mr.— Hank, you’re only here for the short time it’s going to take to get your son home. I know that. You don’t really have to be nice to me. I like Shawn, but again, he was only here to tell me about my grandda, then he was leaving.”

Hank asked her how sure she was about that. “What do you mean?” “Honey, I’ve seen the way you look at him. I hear you crying when you think no one is around. You’re in love with him. It’s as plain as the nose on your face.” She said that wasn’t possible, as she’d only known him a few days before he’d gotten hurt. “With my nephews, that’s all it took for them to fall in love with their wives. My goodness, Mars and Abby knew each other less than any of them before Mars asked her to marry him. Now there is a good young man. I sometimes think how much I missed of his life too.” He’d told her about his sister being murdered. How the wives of him and his brothers had conspired to not just have her raped, then murdered, but they had pitted them all, including their father, against her. She thought they were about the most fucked up family she’d ever encountered. But she did like Hank.

When he’d arrived two days ago, she had picked him up at the airport to take him to the hospital. The first thing he asked her was if she was all right. Nodding, as her emotions had gotten the better of her, he hugged her tightly and cried with her. Since then, he’d been staying in her room while she bunked in the apartment over the bar. She liked it there better anyway, as there were not that many people around. The doctor came into the room with them then and told them he was grateful for the extra food for the staff too. She’d not known he’d done that, but he included her in saying they’d both decided they worked too hard and deserved a treat as well. Translating for Hank was getting easier all the time. But she did appreciate it when the doctor spoke English for him. “Shawn is mending well. The pins in his leg to keep it stable aren’t causing any damage to his skin.

At times we do run into a little bit of trouble with infection getting into the wounds, but that isn’t a problem thus far.” Hank asked about his other wounds. “We did an X-ray of his head again last night. There isn’t any swelling, nor do we foresee any future trouble with that. He’ll have a headache when he wakes, but nothing more that a couple of ibuprofen won’t take care of.” “Will he be able to walk again? It looks frightening with all this going on with his leg.” Pete was embarrassed for asking such a cruel question, but Hank said he’d like to know that as well. The staff had long since given up on getting her out of the room when they talked about Shawn with Hank. He had insisted, and she stayed. “I mean, I don’t know him all that well, but he seems to be a very active person.”

“He is. Shawn has been a runner for a long time. I say that because I’ve noticed he goes out several times a day. He told me it was to clear his mind. I can see that.” She smiled at Hank. “I’m sorry. What else do we need to know about my son?” “I’m going to start lowering his medication to have him waking soon. He’ll be in and out of consciousness, but that’s to be expected. Also, you shouldn’t expect him to remember what happened right away. Don’t force his memories. Just let them come to him a little at a time.” Hank said they’d do that and reached for her hand to hold. “Once he’s awake fully, in a few more days, we’ll do more tests on him and see where we stand about his walking.

I know he will be able to, but I don’t want to make any promises right now on how active he’ll be once we remove the pins.” After the doctor left, Hank left her to call the family. There wasn’t much in the way of service for cell phones in Shawn’s room, so she just stared at the man she’d come to love. Not that she’d admit that to anyone but herself, but she wanted so desperately for him to wake up. Like she did whenever they were alone, she spoke to him. “Your father is very nice. He’s trying very hard not to be too worried about you, but I think he’ll be all right.” She took his hand into hers and was glad to feel warmth in it. “You do know I’m going to beat you senseless when you wake up.

I might wait a couple of days to do it, but I did tell you, several times, to be extra careful at crossings. You shouldn’t have been on that stupid bridge.” Standing up, she went to the window and looked out over the beautiful landscaping. It would be easier to talk to him this way. Even though she knew he couldn’t hear her, she still wanted to tell him things she wasn’t sure would make him happy with her. “I don’t just run the B&B for your cousin. Nor do I only own the bar and coffee shop. There are several pieces of property I own that I rent to farmers. I can do this because I have a job. One that I work at from wherever I’m putting my hat at any given moment.”

She drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “You see, I write. Books. Of course. That was stupid. I write books that are racy. Well, I think they’re more than racy, but that’s just me. Anyway, I have been writing since I was in high school. Just playing around. Then I submitted one of my stories to one of the smaller publishing houses for fun. It wasn’t two days later that I was called by the person in charge, the owner, and she asked me if I had any more stories. I never call them books. To me, it sounds like I’m being pretentious. She and I hit it off really well, and I’ve been doing it since then. I don’t want you to think badly of me—” “Why do you think he’d think badly of you?” She turned so quickly that she nearly fell over. “Be careful there, child. You don’t want to be laid up too, now do you? But answer my question.

Why do you think Shawn, or anyone for that matter, would think badly of you for using a talent to make money?” “They’re dirty books.” Hank laughed. “I don’t think it’s funny. What do you think his friends or his family is going to say when they find out I’m nothing more than an author that writes books for a living?” “I think they’ll tell you they want a copy of them. Are there a great many of them?” Pete told him how many she had published at last count. “Oh my. Yes, oh my indeed. That’s quite a few of them, honey. Good for you. They’ll be so happy to know that. Especially the women of the family. I know for a fact that Abby reads—I believe she calls them bodice rippers. I’m assuming you don’t write under Pete Tolliver.” “No. Just my first name. No last. It makes things easier for me.” He laughed and went to his phone. When he found whatever it was he was looking for, he handed it to her. “Which one of your—? She has my book.”

The woman in the picture was asleep on a couch. On her lap was one of Pete’s earlier books. Right there on the cover was her name in script, Petunia. Handing him back his phone, she didn’t know what to say to him now. “I’d say they’re going to be— Pete, look at Shawn.” She did. He was staring at her with wide eyes. Not moving, she was glad when Hank went to his son, saying his name. As soon as Shawn turned to his dad, Pete felt as if she’d run a marathon. Twice over. There were monitors all over his body. Also, a feeding tube in his nose. Since he’d been out for so long, they wanted to make sure he was getting enough nutrients. Going out into the hallway to tell the nurses, it took her several deep breaths for her to get her shit together. Pete went in behind the nurses. The doctor had been called in as well, they told them. When she moved back out of the way, Shawn put out his hand, and she took it.

The connection, or whatever it was, made her feel like she’d been given a new outlook on life. A steady stream of tears blurred her vision, but she was so very happy to see him awake. They worked with him for about twenty minutes before they left him again. The nurses did tell Shawn not to fight the rest he needed. When he closed his eyes, she started to pull her hand free, and he tightened his grip. She sat that way with him while Hank went out to call his family again. “You scared us.” Opening his eyes again, he winked at her. “Go to sleep before I have to knock you out. But know this—if you ever come to visit again, you’re not going to go running in the middle of the night.” “Daytime.” She pointed out that it was still dark when he’d gone out. “Am I all right now?” “I’m not a doctor, dummy.” He smiled with his eyes closed again. “You’re going to be just fine. Your leg is busted up pretty good, but I can’t see you letting that get you down much. You’re supposed to be sleeping, not having me tell you stuff you can find out from your dad.” “He’d lie to me.” She figured she should have, too, instead of telling him she was going to knock him around. “Thought of you when the truck hit me. Thought of you being pissy.”

When she was sure he was asleep, she laid her head on his hand holding hers. She’d been so stressed for the last couple of days she’d not really been sleeping all that well. Just thinking she’d close her eyes for a moment, Pete yawned once more and let her body relax enough to take her under. Waking up when someone touched her, she had to take a couple of moments to remember where she was. Hank asked her if she felt better, and with a glance at Shawn, who was still sleeping, she told him she was all right. “You’ve been asleep for nearly five hours like that. I was sure you’d be hurt when you woke up. Must be your youth that keeps you from cramping up like I think I would.” She asked him if she’d really been asleep for that long. “Yes. The only reason I woke you now was because they’re going to take Shawn down for a couple of more X-rays of his arm and hand. I can only think you needed it.” “I guess I did.”

Standing up, she was stretching when the orderly came to get Shawn. “Do you know how long this will take?” “No, ma’am. There are a couple of people ahead of your husband, but it won’t be that long.” She started to explain she wasn’t Shawn’s wife, but after a glance at Hank and him shaking his head, she let it go. “If you’ve got a cell phone, I could give you a call if you’d like to go out. It’s a lovely night tonight. Might get some of the cobwebs out of your head for a bit.” After agreeing that would be wonderful, Hank gave the young man his cell number. Going down in the elevator, she did feel better, she realized, and was so happy to be outside on the really nice night. Taking in a deep breath, she closed her eyes and let all her stress just wash off her. “The family will be here tomorrow. I noticed that the patrons at the B&B have left today too. Will you move back to the house?” She told him that with his family coming, they’d be packed up. “I suppose. But I hate that we’re putting you out of your home.

You have more right to it than we do.” “It’s not my home. It’s Mars’s, and I guess now Abby’s. But I’m all right over the bar. Sammy feeds me and makes sure I’m not bothered. There isn’t a phone up there, but I’m all right with that as well. It’s very quiet.” She smiled at him. “I’ll be by to make dinner for everyone if they want. I’ve become quite the Welsh cook over the years.” Pete wasn’t keen on seeing the rest of the family. Not that she was going to have much choice in the matter, but she really wished they’d just allow Hank to take care of getting his son home. He was, like his son, a very nice person. She wished they’d met under entirely different circumstances. But then, without Shawn being hurt, they might well have never met at all. “There’s our signal.” She was happy to be going back in.

They’d have a little more information from someone, and that was good. As they were seated, Shawn came into the room, bed and all, and she could tell he was in a great deal of pain. “He’s a bit on the stubborn side, mistress.” She asked what had happened. “He thought he could lift himself up and onto the table when he’s not strong enough just yet. I’ve asked the nurse for something for his pain.” She told Hank what the young orderly had told her. He’d been so nervous, she supposed, that he had slipped into speaking his own language. Pete glared at Shawn while the drugs from the nurse hit his system, and he began to relax. “What do I have to do? Go with you everywhere, so you behave? Didn’t I tell you to be careful?” He smiled, but she was on a roll. “I’m not going to stand for you making your father upset again, do you understand me?” He looked at his dad, then back at her. “I have no idea what you just said but for a couple of words. You’re upset. I get that. However, if it’s about me moving myself, you should have seen the little bitty thing that was trying to lift me up to put me near the machine. And she was several months pregnant.” She told him that was what she was upset about.

“I’m sorry I upset you too. That’s the last thing I wanted to do. But I can’t allow someone smaller and very pregnant to lift me when I can move myself.” “And how did that work out for you? You hurt yourself by being all macho.” He threw back his head and laughed. She had to join him. It was just too infectious for her not to. Even Hank joined the two of them.

Trenton Marshall’s Shadow Release Blitz And Giveaway

Trenton was the last of the brothers to find a mate. He saw his brothers’ happiness and wanted to experience that for himself.

Libby had moved in with her aunt to help her out. And when a crazy neighbor was plotting to poison their water to make them sell their property to her, the Marshalls stepped in to help.

From the moment Trenton figured out Libby was his mate, she suddenly possessed a great deal of magic. With the little people popping in and out and the house constantly changing, Libby thought she was on the brink of losing her sanity….

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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….

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?

Rebel had been called to the US when she’d been informed that her brother was dying, but she arrived too late. He left behind a devastated wife, two small children, and a load of debt. Rebel stayed to help out as best she could, taking a job at the local hospital, but working conditions there were unbearable, and she had no choice but to quit or kill someone—namely the head nurse. And as a doctor, she had taken an oath to save lives, not take them.

Rodney ran a small practice. He handled the medical care for the local schools and worked at the hospital when needed for emergencies. And when a little boy came into his office to get stitched up from being ambushed by bullies, Rodney knew he had to get to the bottom of the problem. When the boy’s Aunt Rebel shows up and takes over, Rodney instantly knows who she is to him—his mate. Having to approach her with the subject had his cat curling up inside him. He had watched his brothers flounder around with their new mates, and he didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot.

It didn’t take but a minute for Rebel to assess the new situation, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about it. She also needed a job, not a handout. She was a doctor, damn it, and a good one. No man, especially one she didn’t know, was going to order her around. If he thought he could, she’d let him know fast that she was no pushover.

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Paige Avery had been deep, undercover with her brother, James. Their target had been spotted, but something went wrong. The bullets came from everywhere, killing most of the people in the room. Sent to retrieve them, Rebel Marshall popped in and took the unconscious Page and James back to her home to recover. If Paige and James hadn’t already been immortal, they would have died for sure. As it was, Paige was too weak to shift, and until she could, it would be a long recovery.
Heath found James in the barn. The man seemed friendly enough, but Heath didn’t trust strangers easily. Heath was ready to go about his business when he smelled the boy. The boy was hurt and hiding it well, that is until he crumpled from the pain. Heath called for Rodney, and they got the boy back to the house.
Paige shouldn’t have been out of bed, but her concern for her nephew had her moving slowly. Told to sit in a chair before she hurt herself further, Paige caught Heath’s scent and realized he was her mate, and a string of curses flew out of her mouth in seven different languages.
 
 
 

Marshall’s Shadow
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2. Dean https://amzn.to/2H88RM4
3. Oakley https://amzn.to/3i0qNci
4. Rodney https://amzn.to/2Pgepf9
5. Heath  https://amzn.to/3lPlq45
6. Trenton https://amzn.to/3b0UBqy

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Prologue


Trenton wasn’t sure what he was going to do with such a large house, but he decided bigger was better in this family. Laughing to himself, he walked around the kitchen once more to try and figure out what he could dick around on the price. As he was thinking of making an offer, Harris contacted him. Don’t make an offer on it. I’d not even want the place after the things I’ve found out about it. He asked her what she’d found. Two things I’ve been able to find out about the house is that it has about ten grand of unpaid taxes on it. They’re going to try and make you be responsible for them. Also, the house, as you know, has been on the market for a while.

I just found out the reason for it. Apparently, at one time, there were about seventy bodies buried all over the land, and they believe some are still there. At some point—and I’d more than likely think the real estate office knows this—the government will go in and seize the house and lands to look around again. Perhaps even going so far as tearing the house down to look under the foundation. Aren’t they suppose to tell you that? She said they might hint at it, but she doubted they’d be that forthcoming. I see. So I’m walking away from it. I might take you up on the offer to having my house finished that I’ve been working on. At least it would be something I know all about. It’s been worked on now.

I knew as soon as I figured out the hidden things of the one you’re in now that you’d say that. And I agree. It’s better to know what you’re getting into rather than lose it all over some problems that come around all of a sudden. He thanked her. When you meet your mate, Trenton, things are going to go much smoother. I know that things have been for me and the rest of the family. Even your brothers are much calmer than they were before, I’ve been told. I’m hoping that’s the way things work out for me. I could use a little calmness in my life for a change. Not that I think I’ll have it when I meet her, but you never know. Besides, everyone has children or is going to have them, and I’m not going to take the chance of not having someplace for them all to live when they get here.

I’m not saying it will happen, but I’m more of a be prepared sort of person. She laughed with him. To be honest, I’m excited about having a mate. Someone to be able to share a life with. It is a wonderful feeling. He told the realtor that he didn’t want the house and left her standing there, trying to convince him that this was the perfect house for him. Trenton got into his car and left her standing there begging him, really begging him, to purchase it at a lower price. All right. I’ll let you get back to being the only bachelor in the family. Instead of going back to his home to see what was going on, Trenton made his way to the schoolhouse that was going up. It was a huge project they were all doing, and he was happy there would be a place for the kids to have a safe environment. After having a look around there, he made his way to the old schoolhouse to see how the renovations were going there.

The classrooms were being fitted with a bathroom and shower. There would be two women per room unless they had other children. Then the family would share the room. He also liked that they were putting a kitchen in the rooms. While only a refrigerator and a microwave, it was going to be nice for a person to have a small snack or two when they wished it. “Hello, Mr. Marshall. Have you come by to see what we’re doing?” He told Mr. Kyle that he was just being nosy. “Not a bad thing. Come on, let me show you what we’ve done with the kitchen and dining areas. I think your grandda had a good idea when he suggested the few things we’ve done. Makes it seem less sterile if you ask me.” He was happy too. Instead of having long tables, as had been in the room for eating, there were small tables scattered all around the room. He could see them with tablecloths on them.

A nice little candle. It was almost romantic, Trenton thought. There were larger tables, Kyle told him. Mostly, he’d bet, for a family. Even as he was being shown the kitchen area, Trenton knew his grandda had had a hand in designing this space as well. “He said there should be a couple of open fridges for the people coming in late. The kitchen will be open for the three meals, of course. This way, anyone can come in and get them something to eat without having to go out.” There were large places for drinks and such as well, he was told. “That there wall will have windows that show a garden. Anyone that wants to work in them—I’m told it’s a nice stress reliever—can do that too. That grandda of yours, he sure is a smart fella. I hope you guys know that.” “I did know that, but I think we still underestimate him a little. I love all these ideas.” There were others too. Things that would make the place look less and less like a refuge and give it more of a homey setting.

“I think this will be a good safe place for women in trouble, don’t you think?” “Yes, sir. I do. I knew this girl once—that’s all she was too, a child. She got herself in a family way, and her parents kicked her to the side of the road. No help from them, nothing to do with her. About six months into her being in that delicate condition, someone killed her while she was living in a box under the bridge. A car did it—came right up on the curb and ran her over. Killed them both. You know what? Those parents of hers, they didn’t even show up at the funeral. Said she’d made her bed.” Trenton asked if they’d done it.

“Not really, but they might as well have with them tossing her out. Poor thing. If she’d had a place like this, both of them would be all right today. Sad world we live in if you ask me.” He agreed with him. As they toured the rest of the place, he was shown what the plans were for the outbuildings. There were three of them—not huge, but big enough to use as a classroom, a skills-building, and a place to do laundry and such. There was also going to be a heavy-duty fence around the entire compound that would keep most anyone out. Those that made it over the fence would meet up with the pack that would be roaming the lands both night and day. Trenton made his way back to his place just as he realized he was getting hungry. Stopping by the deli, he got him a thick sub, as well as a cold drink. Sitting out in the unusually warm day, he was enjoying the day a great deal better than he thought he might have when he woke up this morning.

He’d had some terrible dreams. Few of his family knew he’d suffered from night terrors for his entire life. None of them, during the day, were anything he thought should have bothered him. But at night, he’d wake up with a scream coming out of his mouth and his entire body drenched in sweat. Trenton wondered what a mate would think about that. Heath joined him at the table he was sitting at with his own sandwich and drink. “I thought I saw you. I was going to take this home to eat, but if you don’t mind, I’ll stick it out with you.” Trenton told him he was already joining him. They both laughed. “I’ve two games finished up. The one I was working on for dementia patients is ready for testing, and the other, a children’s game to help with counting money, is going on the market soon.

If I don’t have another buyer wanting first dibs. The sucker has only just been finished, and I have people fighting over it.” “Well, that’s not a bad thing, is it?” They talked about everything, but not really anything at all. He did tell him of the ideas that Grandda had on the building they were working on and how much he loved them. “Also, my house is being finished up. Might as well be prepared, don’t you think?” “Yes. I’d say so.” They were finished eating, and he asked him where Paige was. “She’s working on something for Harris. I stay out of those conversations as much as I can. They’re not at all nice to each other, and I don’t want to get in the middle of anything. I think Shep does the same thing when they’re together.

I noticed he wasn’t home either when I dropped Paige off.” “They are a little intense.” Boy, was that an understatement. “I was thinking about the holidays last night. This will be our first without Mom. I don’t know how to feel about it. I think I’m going to miss her ten times as much. She loved the holidays so much.” “She did. But I have a feeling she’s going to be right there with us.” Trenton nodded, too emotional to speak. “I love you, Trenton. Very much. I think I need to say that to all of you more often.” He agreed, and when they stood up to go their separate ways, they hugged tightly and for a long time. Trenton needed that. More than he’d come to realize, he needed to feel arms around him. He, too, was going to do it more often. Yes, he thought, he was going to hug more often, even if it was just a quick one.

Bailey Morgan’s Leap Release Blitz&Giveaway

Bailey Golden and his five brothers were the first of their kind. Born leopards, they were blessed with the magic of being the first leopard shifters. Morgan, their mother by proxy, raised them to blend in with humans and to be good men. Blessed with immortality, they all lived together on Morgan’s Leap, a sanctuary for all nature.

Zippy and her sister, Venita, were born witches. Veni, Leslie’s mate, was the grand witch, but Zippy was no slouch when it came to magic. Zippy and their parents came to Morgan’s Leap because they had discovered that Veni was alive, not dead as they’d been led to believe, and they wanted her back in their lives. Although Zippy was thankful to have her sister back in her life, discovering she had a mate was both a shock and a blessing.

Bailey was surprised but not at all unhappy when Zippy appeared in his life. Everything around him was changing so fast. And when Zippy didn’t hesitate to take in the three abandoned infants from the hospital, his heart couldn’t have been fuller….

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Carroll Golden and his five brothers were the first of their kind. Born leopards, they were blessed with the magic of being the first leopard shifters. Morgan, their mother by proxy, raised them to blend in with humans and to be good men. Blessed with immortality, they all lived together on Morgan’s Leap, a sanctuary for all nature.

Hanna March worked for the FDA. She had always wanted to visit Morgan’s Leap, but it was closed to the public, so when she was given the opportunity to inspect their orchard on some bogus complaint, she jumped at the chance. The place was beyond anything she ever expected, and Morgan was the perfect host. But when someone took a pot shot at Morgan from the field, a huge leopard came out of nowhere and took them both down. Hanna, hitting her head on the way to the ground, was down for the count.

Carroll shifted back to human as soon as the women were out of danger, but finding out the pretty FDA agent was his mate took Carroll by surprise, and boy was she going to be mad when she woke up.

Leslie Golden and his five brothers were the first of their kind. Born leopards, they were blessed with the magic of being the first leopard shifters. Morgan, their mother by proxy, raised them to blend in with humans and to be good men. Blessed with immortality, they all lived together on Morgan’s Leap, a sanctuary for all nature.

Venetia had been thrown from a vehicle and left for dead at the edge of the Golden’s property. When found by the Goldens, she couldn’t remember what had happened to her.

It didn’t take long for Leslie to realize who Venita was to him. Everything was happening so fast to him and all his brothers. Now, a car crash at the edge of their property left them with three kids to raise. Then it hit him all at once. He had a mate, and he was a father… What else would be in store for his new family?

Carroll https://www.amazon.com/Carroll-Morgans-Leopards-Shapeshifter-Romance-ebook/dp/B08Y7VVLJL/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=carroll+by+kathi+s+barton&qid=1633184717&sr=8-1

Leslie https://amzn.to/3l0ZJO0

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Prologue


Morgan made herself into a tight ball as she hid in the tall grasses in the field. She knew the men chasing her would find her soon enough. But for now, she was going to make them work for it. Closing her eyes, trying her best to calm her breathing, she did the only thing she knew to do to not think about what was going on around her. Morgan counted to fifty in all the languages she knew. She had awakened out here. All she remembered was having dinner in the kitchen with the staff and then waking out in the middle of the moonless night. She didn’t remember going to bed.

Not putting on her nightgown she had on now. Nor did she remember waking when brought out here in the cool night. Soon after waking, she heard the voices of the men, six she thought she’d counted, saying the first one that found her could have her. At fourteen, Morgan knew exactly what that meant. They were going to rape her. Then more than likely kill her. Her parents would be looking for her. She would admit, only to herself, that they’d not be too upset about her being gone. Morgan had a habit of getting up in the middle of the night to see to one creature or another.

So it might be days before anyone— The hot breath of air on her forehead had her whimper just a little. Lifting her head without opening her eyes, she felt it once again. It was hot but not sour-smelling. Opening her eyes, she looked right into the golden eyes of a leopard. Their noses touched—that was how close she was to her. The lick to her face scared her. While she’d seen the wild animals around the compound where she lived, she’d never been this close to one so dangerous. The farmers would kill them when they took down a cow or something they raised, but no one could have prepared her for the beauty of them this close.

The big cat put her paw on her head and pushed it back down, so it rested on the dirt. When she started to lift it again, the cat pushed her down again. Understanding that she was to stay where she was, Morgan closed her eyes. If she was going to be eaten, she was glad the cat was sparing her from knowing when it was coming. The sound, soft as a coin dropping onto the dusty ground, was all she heard before the large cat screamed. There was gunfire too. Something frighteningly close stirred up some of the dirt she was hiding on. The screaming of men was next. It wasn’t long before it was all cut off, and she knew on some level that the cat had killed the men.

The paw to her head again had her lifting it up to see if she was next. The cat had been hurt. Blood was pouring from her shoulder at an alarming rate. Sitting up, unmindful of whether it was safe to do so, Morgan tore at her nightgown to staunch the blood as she spoke to the leopard. “I think you saved me.” The cat just let her poke around at her wound, soon lying down when she asked her to do so. “The bullet needs to come out. If it doesn’t, I’m afraid you’ll get sick and die from it. I wish I had my knife here. But I think I can see it enough to get it out with my fingers. I won’t do any more than I have to. All right?”

Morgan worked for fifteen minutes in getting the bullet out. The cat never hurt her. Never tried to get away from her as she worked. Sweat poured off her forehead as she finally got it free. When she was finished, she showed it to the cat. “See? Someone got a shot in. I promise you, I’ll make sure you’re all right. Do you have a lair? Someplace you can rest?” The cat stood up, and that was when Morgan noticed she’d had kittens recently. “Oh no. Where are they? You left your den to come to save me? Come on. I’ll help you back.” It wasn’t far, about a hundred yards from where the cat had come to her. It occurred to her that the cat was more than likely saving her kittens from being found when she killed the men, but Morgan was ever so grateful that she’d spared her as well.

Helping the cat into the den, she saw that she had three of the pudgiest little kittens she’d ever seen. “They’re beautiful. Oh, look at them. You are a good momma, Golden Eyes. They’re very fat. I’ll stay with you until you need to eat again. Then I’ll hunt for you.” The cat didn’t seem to mind when Morgan picked one of them up, so she touched each of them in turn. “You’re very lucky those men didn’t find you too. But I guess you knew that.” She stayed with the family overnight. There wasn’t any way she’d be able to make her way back home in the darkness, so it was fine with her to be in the cave. The kittens woke hungry a couple of times in the night. Instead of having Golden go to them, Morgan carried them back and forth to their mother. She seemed to be all right with her helping that way as well.

When the sun was coming up, Morgan made sure that not only did the family have water, but she also scavenged as much as she could from the horses the men had come out here on. There was hardtack in abundance, but she was also able to get herself some much-needed flint, as well as some blankets. Taking it to the cave, she put the kittens on one of the blankets and then sat down to watch them fall over each other until they had their spot picked out. It was calming to watch them, she thought. They were just too little to do much more than be roly-poly little kittens. Giving the hardtack to Golden, she made her way to her home. It was further than she’d thought it might have been, and she didn’t arrive until the sun was nearly down. Going into the house by way of climbing up the back stairs, she heard her parents speaking on their balcony from her own window.

Sliding out onto her balcony, she stood deeply in the shadows to listen to what they might be saying. Her mother was standing at the railing, her father deeper in the room. “I cannot believe she’s gone.” Morgan started forward, wanting to assure her mother that she hadn’t been hurt at all. “This was a brilliant idea you had, Malcomb. To have it look as if she’d been kidnapped, then killed. I have never wanted anything more than that child dead.” Her heart hurt. Her mind didn’t know how this was really what her mother was saying. They weren’t close, but she never thought she’d want her dead. But even as her dad came out to the balcony, too, she watched the two of them as they stood there in an embrace.

dad came out to the balcony, too, she watched the two of them as they stood there in an embrace. “Well, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be to get some men gathered up to take her. As you said, it’s a good thing now that she’s gone. When they find her body, it will be blamed on anything but me.” Mother said it wouldn’t be her fault either. “No. No one will bother with blaming you, my dear. For all they’ll know, you committed suicide because your daughter is gone.” It took her less time than it apparently did her mother to realize what her father was saying. As soon as he pushed her mother nearly over the railing, intending, she was sure, to make it look as if she had fallen to her death by her own hand, Mother grabbed her father’s coat. The two of them hung there for what seemed like forever. Would they both fall? Would they be able to save one another?

She didn’t care. So when her mother’s weight took them both over the edge, Morgan stood there for several minutes, thinking about what had just befallen her family. Looking over the edge of her balcony, she saw them there, tightly embraced as if in a lover’s hug and dead. Blood spread out beneath their heads as if a bucket of it had been poured over the two of them. Making her way to the kitchen area, she staggered twice in her grief. Not because they were dead—no, it was that they had planned her demise in such a cold way. Lincoln was there, the butler of the house when she entered. He took one look at her and sat her in the chair she’d spent more time in than the ones in the formal dining room.

Lincoln, she knew, would be her family from now on. “Child, what is it?” She must have been a mess or looked on edge. The slap to her cheek stung enough that she was brought out of whatever thoughts she’d been having. “What’s happened? Your parents, they told the household that you’d been kidnapped. Are you hurt?” She told him everything, not leaving out anything, including the cat that had saved her. Also, leaving no doubt to the older man that her parents had planned for her to be killed. Lincoln sat down across from her after making her a cup of tea that was mostly bourbon. “You are mistress of the house now. Tomorrow we will find their bodies whilst you are still abed.

You will say that you were out with the creatures of the field. They will believe that well enough. That is where you are most of the time.” She asked him about the cats. “‘Tis your decision. However, if you were to bring them here, none of the rest of the staff will mind. It is you we stayed for all these years, and not your parents.” “I’ll need help bringing them here.” He said he’d go with her. “They’re far. Much further than I had thought. But I wish them to be safe, Lincoln. She saved my life, and I will do the same for her and her family.” “You have a good heart, child. A very good one. We shall leave now and take lanterns with us. A basket too so that we might carry the little beasts.” She asked him if he didn’t want them here. “Nay, I want what you want. We all do. Tomorrow after your parents are found, we’ll be as we should have been. A good home and a safe one. Mark my words on that. I will talk to you as we go, now that you are mistress of the house, about what men will do to get to you.

They’ll want you, but you’re too stubborn to be a good wife to anyone seeking your hand. It might be well that there are cats here to protect you. You have become a very wealthy woman.” As they were making their way to the cave, she wondered if he knew how safe the house would be with leopards in it. Once the kittens grew up, they’d be as big as she was now. Smiling, she thought perhaps she wasn’t all that upset about her parents being dead. They’d been treating her as if she had been so for as long as she could remember. Golden seemed happy to see her. She licked her face and brushed her with her large paws. As Lincoln gathered up the kittens, she helped Golden outside to do her business. It took a great deal out of her, and Morgan had to carry her back into the cave. Once they were all loaded up in the buggy, she sat down with Golden to tell her what had happened.

“So I’m motherless except for you. I know you’re a cat, and I’m only a human, but I think we can get along. When the men start to come, and according to Lincoln, they will, I’ll need you to protect me too. I shan’t ever marry. Not only that, but I’m also going to make it my life’s work to make sure animals such as yourself are as safe as I can make them.” Arriving home well after the sun had settled in the sky again, she made sure the mother and kittens were safe in her parents’ big bed. There was a fire in the fireplace for them should the night turn too cold. Morgan also made sure the mother had plenty to eat, having given her one of the steaks her father would treat himself to daily while she had whatever else he had with his meal.

Sleep didn’t take its time capturing her, luring her to a night’s rest. It hit her right between the eyes and had her nearly sick with exhaustion. As she closed her eyes, sleeping in her own bed as if nothing had happened, she knew she’d keep her promises to not just Lincoln and the other staff but to herself as well. The animals here would need her, and she was going to make sure they were as safe as they could be while she was still living. ~*~ Four years later Morgan watched the man as he ran out of her home. How he’d gotten in was beyond her, but now that he was gone with a little less of his fancy clothing, she sat down on the front veranda and waited for the cats to come to her. Over the last month or so, men had been showing up at the oddest times to tell her that she must marry them.

They would all come around sooner rather than later. All of her leopards, as well as a plethora of other creatures, would come to make sure she’d not been harmed or taken away from them. None of them would be harmed here, and daily another one or two would come limping into the compound and be welcomed. Golden came to sit at her feet, and she smiled at her when she looked at her. “He had it coming. We both know that. The pompous ass thought if he could tear at my clothing, I’d allow him to marry me so I’d be happy. He said I’d need someone like him to watch over my money and keep me from dying an old spinster.

Apparently, women aren’t meant to think beyond having a man around. I’m much happier without him, I think. What did he think I’d been doing here all alone since my parents died? Waiting on someone to rescue me? Not likely.” Morgan slid to the floor and put Golden’s head on her lap. Running her hand down the length of the cat, she could feel her newest litter wiggling around. “I am worried about you, mistress cat. You’re heavier this time with your brood. Not to mention, I know the wound you suffered for me so long ago bothers you more daily. The babes you brought here that night, they have gone on to have their own children. I cannot believe so much time has passed since that night.” She thought of something and put her forehead to Golden’s. “I just realized that you’re a grandmother. Congratulations.” “That would make you an aunt in her eyes.”

Morgan reached for her gun, something she’d been carrying since that night, and found it gone. “You cannot kill me, mistress, but I would prefer that you not harm me either. I have come to speak with you about the good works you are doing here. The one you call Golden, she has asked me to come to speak to you about a great many things. In addition, I have some things I need to ask of you.” “Who are you?” The beautiful woman asked if she could tell her in a moment. “So long as you know that whatever it is you’re hawking, I want no part of. We’re doing very well here on our own.” “You are doing better than well, I think. The ground is fertile here, thanks to your way of doing things. Not all humans would leave an animal to rot on their land without doing something with it.”

Morgan told her that other animals took care of it. “They have indeed. Even the things the larger breeds cannot eat or use, the smaller creatures come to salvage what they can. You have a good system here. A system that will not be popular for a great many years.” “I don’t want to have to go into town.” The woman nodded, her smile something Morgan thought more than beautiful. “You said you came here because of Golden. She is a cat. How is that possible that she would call to you?” “Let me start at the beginning, please. The night your parents died, the night you came to help Golden, it was thought you should have died along with them. Sometimes, with humans, the apple does not fall far from the tree. But you are nothing like them, are you, sweet child? You are not only different than them, but a kinder, gentler person than any of us have ever seen before. We have all been watching you these last years.” Morgan asked her who they were.

“Ah, that brings me to your first question. I am Tellus, the terrestrial being that cares for and is wholly a part of the earth and the land you have here. Not from my doing, but your own. This land is rich beyond anything man has ever seen before.” Morgan didn’t speak, letting all the woman told her to settle into her mind. She’d been alone for most of her life now and had learned not to prattle on when there was no one to talk back to her. Petting Golden, she was glad to hear her purring. The rumbling of her throat was soothing to her for some reason.

“Mother Earth. I’ve read about you. You’re Roman.” She said that was correct. “All right. So you’re here because I have good land. However, I still don’t know why you took time out of what I’m sure is a busy day to tell me that.” “You are a jewel among all the stars in the sky, Morgan.” Confused at the words and their meaning, Morgan continued to pet her cat. “We, the other earth creatures, have been watching what you were doing here since that night. We’ve not had to once intervene in helping you care for the animals, all that you protect here. You have lifted a great burden from all of us.

Even creatures you may not be yet aware of have found a home here among the others and have been safe from harm. One such creature sits there on your leg. His name is Button.” Morgan looked down at her leg and saw the tiny creature standing there. She put out her free hand, and when he hopped upon it, she brought him closer to her face. Yes, he was a little man, just like the men that had been coming around but for his size. Then while she was watching him closely, he spread out his wings and fluttered above her palm for several seconds before settling down again. “Faerie.” He bowed before her. “I have read of such creatures as this one. They are thought to be a myth. Such as you are, Lady Earth. I have either hit my head, or I’m being visited by creatures that are as magical as the sun coming up and then resting in the other sky.” “You are seeing magic, my child.”

Nodding, she laid her hand back on her leg. Button didn’t sit on her leg again but stayed on her palm. “He wishes to be with you. To help you in the coming years. For as much as I’d like to say your life will be filled with only riches, we both know it is never that way.” “Nay, it is not. The banker says I owe him great funds for a loan my parents took out before they died. Also, I have a man who is trying his best to catch me unawares, so he might rape me to take my lands. I don’t think he means to keep me around much longer than it takes me to say, ‘I do.’ They only want what I have.” Tellus said she could help her with those things. “Thank you, my lady. But I’m sure you have enough to do now with the earth as large as it is.” “I do. But helping you is not something I take lightly, my child. We, all the creatures in charge of the parts of the earth you now own, are happy to help you.

And in doing so, they will get the help they need as well.” Morgan asked her what they wanted her to do. “You will do it, will you not? Even not knowing what it is we ask of you.” “I will help the earth for as much as it gives back to us here. And that, as you know, is a great deal. We are self-sufficient here. Water is ours to use as we see fit. There is a roof over our heads when necessary. The fields, as you have pointed out, are rich and give us back so much more than we can eat. I share what I cannot have put up or preserved.” Tellus told her she knew that as well. “If you need me to do more, I will do it to the best of my ability.” “Thank you.” Tellus looked at her, then at Golden as she continued. “Golden will stay with you until the kittens are born. Her children will be the first of many creatures that will take on this new magic that we wish you to help with.”

“She’s going to die.” Tellus nodded but didn’t look at her. “I thought when I’ve seen her around this time, she wouldn’t make it long after. You do know that she’s the only friend I have besides the people that work here? I’ve thought about, long hours of thinking, how I will make it without her counsel. Without her snuggling up to me when I need it. I don’t know that I want to. But I must, for the others.” “Yes, you will.” Tellus told her of the magic that would be given to her. About the babes that Golden would have and how they would go on to be great men, to help her in ways that Tellus and the others hadn’t thought of yet. “The magic they will get will help them to be a part of the world of men. To breach such places that even now frighten us a little. We will need you to help them blend into such places. To walk, talk, and act like real men. The abilities we will give them will make them a prize should anyone find out. So it is important that they do not give themselves away while men. Do you understand?”

“Yes. I’m to be their teacher.” Tellus told her she would also be their mother. “I have questions now, but I know I will have so many more when the time comes. I will teach them everything I can. Give them whatever step up they’ll need so long as I live. I promise you they will be the best of men too. Not like the ones that come here sniffing out an easy way to my home.” “You will not die either, Morgan. You will be around for their children to come into the world, as well as all the shifters that are to be born.” Morgan asked her about the men coming around. “They will not come around again should you wish it. Button will have an army of faeries to use that will come to your aid in that and anything else you might need them for. Do not be fearful of using them either. Rightly so, they are excited to serve one such as yourself. You have been titled with the name Queen of Shifters.” “You don’t have to do that, my lady. I said I would help you.” Tellus laughed, and it made Morgan smile. “I will do as asked.

The rest I will accept as part of my duties, but I don’t see myself using it overly much.” “I foresee you using the magic given to you much more than you think you will.” Tellus laughed again, bringing yet another smile to her face. “I will also give you a list of things you will need to invest in. They will fund you better than a bank will, and you will remain self-reliant at the same time. Also, the bank has been taken care of. He will no longer bother you about funds he thinks you owe him.” “Thank you for that.”

Morgan looked down at her friend and ally in all this. “What will become of me when you no longer have a use for me, my lady?” “There will always be a use for you, child. A creature such as you will forever bond with the earth and make everything around you a better place. I have such faith in you.” Morgan told her she could only do her best. “And that, my child, is all I could ask for.” The two of them talked throughout the morning and into the evening. Ending up in the living room where there was a fire roaring in the hearth, they were served their tea there, as well as juice. She was told she’d need to be drinking a great deal more of the elixir. And that the fresher it was, the better it would be for her after using magic.

At some point, Tellus took her hand into hers and gave her the magic she’d need. The power of it washed over her in waves, so much so that for several minutes she had to sit still in her seat and wait for it to settle out. Not only did she receive the magic, but the knowledge of how to use it. Also, things, as she’d been told, that she must invest in. Things that Tellus told her would be worth a great deal in the future. After Tellus left her to rest, she was told, Morgan sat in the yard at the back of her house. Lincoln came to sit with her a spell, telling her that there were faeries in the kitchen now that would make sure the household was safe. Also, he said, he’d been given magic as well. “It is to keep the house in order. To build out when you need it, my lady.” She said she’d been told she’d need to have a larger house.

“I find that hard to believe, but I will do what it takes to have you safe.” “I now have more land as well. Tellus told me there are now five thousand acres here that will be used for the animals in need. No one will be able to enter the land if they wish to harm anything that calls this place home. What am I to do with all this knowledge and wealth, Lincoln? I know I’m to teach the next generation of cats born to Golden, but how much do you think they’ll need from me? What am I to do when they go out and have their own leap? I shall be an old woman, with only you to keep me company.” He asked her if he was immortal as well. “You are. But I was told that at any time you wish to die, I could take it from you.

No harm will come to you with it either.” “I think I shall stay with you, my lady. I think we will need each other in the coming years, don’t you think?” She said she needed him every day. “You are so kind to me, Morgan, that I wonder at times why your parents wanted you dead.” “They were in love with themselves.” She knew that to be true as soon as she said it. Looking at the older man, she smiled at him. “You and I will do the best we can and hope that it’s right. Someday, I think, we’ll look back on this and wonder what all the fuss was about. Don’t you?” “I think I will hold my thoughts on that until such time as it comes to an end.” He laughed a little.

“Do you believe it will come to an end, my lady?” “No. I don’t. I don’t have any idea why, but I think we’re going to be having something new and something strange happening as a daily routine.” She stood up when he did. “Let us begin this new phase of our life, Lincoln, and hope we make it work better than the thoughts in my head are making it. All right?” “Whatever you wish, my lady. We will do well together, I believe.” She hoped so. It seemed like a great deal was depending on her doing just that. Making it work for the safety of all involved. She only hoped she knew enough and was strong enough to make it work for all of them.

Tony Griffin Brothers Release Blitz & Giveaway

Tony couldn’t believe what he was seeing on the security monitor. A woman and her kid were living in the alleyway next to his office, and they were in trouble. A man snuck up on her and snatched the kid. He had to do something….

Jana Cantrell wasn’t taking the news too well. She would have been dead and her son in the clutches of that maniac if it hadn’t been for her being Tony’s mate, and she was now immortal. She didn’t trust men. She had just escaped from the imprisonment of the maniac who had nearly killed her. No way in hell would she be enslaved by another….

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Prologue


Charles, Charlie to most people who knew him, was so lost he hadn’t any idea if he was walking on the ground or the sky. Of course, he knew the difference, but it was so dark out tonight that if there had been a moon shining, he couldn’t see it. When he sat himself down on a log to get his bearings again, he paused in his thinking to look at what could have made the sound he’d heard. Terrified out of his mind when he saw glowing eyes looking at him, Charlie sat as still as he could. The eyes grew larger and incredibly more shiny as the beast made its way to him. He didn’t run, knowing that even if he knew where he was at the moment, the wolf would know it better. It would chase him down and kill him without any hesitation.

The wolf, a big gray fella, just stood there within a few inches of his outstretched legs. When he laid down, putting his heavy head on Charlie’s leg, Charlie had another moment of fear. The thing never took his eyes off him either. As soon as he felt he was brave enough to try and talk to the wolf, he was gone, and in his place was a man. A fully-clothed man with the gray of the wolf’s fur colored into his hair. Even his eyes were the same as the wolf’s, Charlie thought. Still, neither of them moved until the man sat back on his butt and regarded him. “You live on the property not far from here, is that correct?” Charlie told him he was only squatting there until they found him. But he was a mite lost. “Yes, I’ve been following you for some time.

And in all that time, never did you harm any other animal you came across, and there were plenty too. Why is that?” “You mean the rabbit and the family of deer?” The man nodded. “I don’t have a need for meat just now. I only kill when I have to. When my belly feels like it can’t go another minute without some meat in it. And even then, I use it up the best I can. What I can’t use, I find some other animal that will use the rest. Why do you ask?” “I’ll get to that. You didn’t seem that surprised when I changed from wolf to man. Can you tell me why that is?” He nodded and told him what he’d been seeing a lot of lately.

“Yes, war will make a man wish for better times. So you were surprised but just wrote it off as being another strange thing that had no explanation. That’s a very good explanation, I think.” “They say the war is about over. I don’t know much about that. I can still hear shooting when I’m out and about. I don’t have any land left because the soldiers took it all when they was coming through. Not that it was much more than a bunch of rocks and stumps, to begin with.”

The man only nodded. “I’m Charles Griffin. Most call me Charlie. Some call me a great deal more, but I ignore them. Not everybody was able to go to school all the time. I had my family to feed when my daddy up and got sick. Momma died a few weeks ago, and I’ve been roaming around since looking for work. I don’t suppose you know anyone that might be wanting an extra hand around, do you?” “I do, as a matter of fact. My name is Romeo Hank. The Hank is for when I need a last name. But I do have something I’d like to propose to you if you’ve got the time to listen.”

Charlie told him he didn’t have anything but time right now. “All right. I have a medium-sized pack. You can see a few of them over there watching over us. They’re all just wolves. I’m the only wolf shifter I know. They’re a good bunch. Hungry most of the time, but then all of us are, correct?” “Yes. Some more than others. At least I can find me a bit of string and fashion me up a hook to use.” Romeo told him that was excellent. “You need me to fish some fish out for you and your pack? I don’t mind at all doing that for you. In fact, I’d be powerful happy to help you out.”

“Not just yet. But I think I will take you up on it soon. I have a daughter. Her name is Luna. Such a beautiful name, don’t you think?” Charlie asked if it meant moon. “It does. Thank you. You’re very well educated for a man with no means of living.” “My mom was a school teacher when I was born. They fired her, of course, when she had me. Since my dad was gone, she took whatever jobs she could get to support us. She taught me to read and to figure. I can write too, but I do have to think about the spelling of things. Can you write?” Romeo said he’d been given a great gift in that. “I think so too. When I find me a newspaper or some little old book, I treasure it for a bit.

Then I pass it on if I can. I don’t have to know the people in the paper. I just like reading about their stories. Are you going to tell me what this is about?” “I am. I was working up to it, but I believe you to be a man that can be trusted with things in life. I would like to change you into a wolf. One such as I am. You’ll be a man when you wish. A wolf when necessary. There will be magic, as well as wealth.” Charlie told him he didn’t have use for wealth, but food all the time would be nice. “That is precisely what I’m speaking about, Charlie, my good man.”

Throughout the rest of the night and well into the morning, they spoke of things Romeo needed from him. It wasn’t brought up again about him being changed, but Romeo did tell him that his daughter had found out that he, plain old Charlie, was her mate. The soul reason he’d not been harmed while wandering around in the woods. “Do you understand what it is I want you to do?” Charlie said he thought so. “No. I’m sorry. I can’t allow you to go into this, only thinking you understand. Please, ask me anything you’d like.

You must be clear on this. I need you to be clear on how it is I wish for you to someday take over for me.” Romeo never got upset with him when he asked his questions. If Charlie was honest with himself, which he usually tried not to be, he was afraid that Romeo had picked the wrong man. That he’d be better off finding himself someone else to take over his empire. “You’re the right man, Charlie. When I told you I’d been following you around, I want you to know that it wasn’t just last evening, but for some time now. I’ve seen you share your last bit of food with people. Work for someone that cannot do for themselves, and not take anything but a bit of bread and water.

You’re a very good man. A better man that I am.” Charlie started to protest. “No. I’m correct in picking you as my replacement. And if that is some of your worry, being an alpha, you’ve no worries there either. I will not leave this earth for the next until you are comfortable with what is needed of you. Now. If you’ve no more questions, I shall leave you to allow you to think on it.

I’ll be back here tomorrow so you can tell me your answer. I know I have picked the right man, Charlie. It’s something you can do easily to save this pack and my daughter.” Luna followed him as he walked around. He’d thought about calling back Romeo and asking more questions, but he didn’t. Sitting down again, his leg bothering him from sitting so long, he looked at the big, beautiful wolf. “You’re not really his daughter, are you?” She shook her head. “I didn’t think so. Is there any more of the others that he claims are his children?”

She nodded this time, and he determined by asking questions that it was one other female. “I don’t know what to think about all this, to be honest with you. Are you my mate? Is he telling me the truth? I just don’t know what to think.” She nodded or shook her head after each of the questions he put to her. Yes, she was his mate. Yes, Romeo was telling the truth. There were many more questions and answers. He was headed back to the area where he’d first seen Romeo when he felt the pain take his breath away as it slammed into his left shoulder.

Falling back, he hit his head and lay there while trying his best to catch his breath. That was when he heard the other gunshots, the wolves howling and trying to hide. Pulling Luna toward him, he whispered harshly into her ear, hoping that at least she’d understand him enough to know that she must warn the others. “Go. Tell Romeo to hide the pack. To make sure you and your sister are safe.” She didn’t want to leave him, whimpering at him as she laid her head on his shoulder. “Go. Please. Run and escape before they hurt you too.” When she left him, Charlie closed his eyes. Opening them when he felt the shadow darken over him, he looked up in time to see the barrel of a large rifle. He was a goner, he knew that. He could only hope that Luna and the others were safe.

Hamish Perry’s Nest Release Blitz & Giveaway

Lander was good at her job. What she wasn’t good with was people, most people, in fact. Especially attornies who weren’t prepared when they cross-examined her as a witness. She didn’t care. She had work to do. Leaving the courthouse was the last thing she remembered when she woke up in the hospital.

Happy to have finally found his mate after all these centuries, Hamish, an ancient vampire, had been following her scent all morning. The scent led him to the courthouse, where he decided to wait until she came out. But shots rang out when Lander stepped out of the building. Hamish would have to move fast, or he would find and lose his mate at the same time.

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“Please state your entire name for the record.” Lander did as she was told. “And your occupation pertaining to what you’re here for today.” “I’m a diver. As for why I’m here, I’ve no idea. I was summoned based on the findings of another diver.” The attorney went back to the table to look at his notes, saying nothing. Lander had a look around the fancy courtroom. The room was overdone as far as she could see. Large windows were hidden behind long blinds, so there weren’t any blinding rays coming into the room. Although she thought it might be nice to have the sunshine in the room, she could also understand the need for some sort of break from it.

The carpet on the floor was about as stained as the muddy river she’d been in only last night. Chairs instead of benches were nice. Oak, she’d bet, with armrests on them. The pictures on the wall were of past judges and officers that had been killed in the line of duty. Black ribbons wrapped one corner of each frame. Her father had been a judge in good standing, but not in this state. He worked out in California, where she had grown up. When Dad retired some years ago, he and his new wife, Lilith—Lander’s stepmom—decided to sell their home and see the world. That had been three years ago. While she did speak to him on occasion, she didn’t really miss him all that much.

They’d never been what anyone would call even remotely close. “Ms. Henderson, it says here that you were brought in as an expert witness.” Lander didn’t ask for clarification. If he wanted answers, he was going to have to ask her questions. This wasn’t her first courtroom appearance. She’d like to think she was also an expert on pissing lawyers off. “Well, what do you have to say about the condition of the body that was retrieved?” “I don’t know anything about the body that was retrieved. As for its condition, I wouldn’t have the first clue about that either, as I’ve never seen it or heard the file number.” He did some more shuffling. Lander turned to the judge.

“Sir, I was summoned to be here just last night. I’m sure if I had been told I was to be a witness to anything, I would have had more time to go over the notes. I don’t know who did the dive, the retrieval, or where it might have happened. I’m completely in the dark as to what is going on here.” Judge Wilson did the paper shuffle thing too. “It says here that you were given a file folder as early as a week ago. That in that, it had the pictures, notes, and the information you mentioned. You didn’t receive anything?” Instead of answering, she asked him if he had an address where it was supposed to have gone. “It says here that it was hand-delivered to you at the sight of another job you were on in the area of DC.” “Then no, I wouldn’t have been there to get the paperwork. I’ve not been to DC in over three months. In fact, I’ve not been to my own home in over five months. Since I work for several states and agencies on finding bodies and such, I’ve been working nonstop for a while now.”

Judge Wilson called the attorney to his dais. “What is the meaning of this? You bring in an expert who hasn’t any idea what the hell is going on? On top of that, you also stated that she was hand-delivered the paperwork that should have been given to her over a week ago. What are you playing at, Taylor? I’m not going to put up with your shenanigans today.” “All she had to do was ask for the file here, and I would have handed it to her. The expert that was supposed to be here called me three days ago and told me he’d had a heart attack and wasn’t going to be able to make it. It took me that long to find her to come in.”

Wilson asked Taylor if he’d been dropped on his head as an infant. “Not that I’m aware of. But she is the best there is, and I thought it would be easy for her to tell us what she saw in the pictures. That’s all it would take.” They both looked at her. The judge was pissed if the large veins in his forehead and temple were any indication. When she was handed the file from Taylor, she didn’t even bother opening it. He said for her to look at the pictures and tell them what they wanted to know. It wasn’t as simple as her opening it up and looking at the pictures to determine anything that went on at the dive. “This isn’t going to help me or anyone else. I don’t know how many experts you’ve called in before this, but this chick doesn’t play like that. I don’t have any information that goes with these photos.

First of all, I wasn’t on the dive. Also, I don’t know the conditions that brought the person into the, what I’m assuming was water. In a car? Did he jump? Pushed? I haven’t any clue. How long was this person in the water? Where was the water? What were the weather conditions when it happened? Also, when the body—again, I’m assuming—was retrieved. Pictures tell me nothing. If you wanted me to be an expert, you’d have to give me every note, every sample that was taken at the site, as well as I’d need to talk to the person who did the actual job. Pictures mean shit if you want me to tell you the conditions of anything.” Taylor told her to watch her language. “I will not. You pulled me from a job where I do know what’s going on to come here. You’ve wasted my time and that of the people in here.

Also, you should know I’m not free to just come and go as you please. From the moment you ‘summoned’ me, your firm is being charged two hundred dollars an hour. As I said, I’m not cheap, nor free.” “I’m not going to pay you. You haven’t done a thing that was required of you.” She told Taylor that if he was better at his job, she wouldn’t be here with her thumb up her ass. “Your Honor, she’s being hostile to me. Not to mention using profanity in this courtroom.” “If I were sitting there working with you, I believe I would have been a good deal more hostile towards you. Now get over there and sit down while I talk to Ms. Lander.” Wilson turned to her, his face holding a smile, but it was as forced as she was in trying not to be really pissed off. “Now, young lady. How much information can you tell me, if any, from those photos? Other than the fact that the man is dead.”

“That would be about it. Pictures don’t really tell much anyway in a crime scene—that’s why a lot of departments are filming. Pictures don’t show depth. They’re only one-dimensional, so you don’t see what is just below the ear. Or what might be in the mouth. I’m sorry, sir, but as I said, there is nothing I can add to this. You’d be better off bringing in an expert on water deaths. A coroner would even be able to tell you more than I could.” Wilson asked Tayler if he’d called in a medical examiner. He said he hadn’t. “Sir, I would help if I could, but I have no information. And even if I did, there isn’t any way I could get you accurate information for a trial if it comes to that, from what I’ve been handed right now.” After another thirty minutes, she was let go. To say that things were finished would have been far from the truth, as Taylor was still getting his ass reamed by the judge for failure on his part in getting someone to help him.

Just as she was coming out of the building, someone tackled her to the ground. Hitting her head twice on the hard steps of the courthouse, she blacked out. When she woke up, Lander knew she was in a hospital. Not only did the white and gray walls give it away, the ugliest curtain she’d ever seen was pulled around her bed. Sitting up, she nearly threw up. The pain was so bad. The man’s voice had her turning toward him but much slower than she might have. “You have a concussion, and they need to put some stitches in your head.” She asked him what had happened. “I happened. That’s why you’re here in the cubical and not in the morgue, where a lot of other people are. There was a shooting that happened just as I took you to the ground. I’m sorry about your head. But at least you’re still living.”

“Who did the shooting? I’m assuming it was a drive-by?” He said he didn’t know. They’d asked him to come here with her. “Ambulance?” “Yes. I might have brought you here on my own, but you were bleeding a great deal, and I was worried about the laceration you have. Plus, there was still shooting going on when the first ambulance pulled up. It came from one of the higher buildings across the street. I’m Hamish Perry, by the way.” She told him her name as she strained to sit up on the bed. “They wanted to make sure you lie still. Something about the way your wound is deep and wide.” “I have a hard head, and I hate hospitals with a passion.” She looked at him while she let her body adjust to the new position. “Why did you save me? I mean, there are, according to you, several others that you could have knocked on their ass and given them a concussion.” He laughed. It was cute and charming. However, she wasn’t into cute or charming right now. Thinking about moving off the bed, she watched him stand up.

Lander had a feeling that if she were to fall, he’d catch her. “I’m a vampire of considerable age. If you’re wondering why I’m out during the day, I can tell you that I’m old enough to be able to withstand a great deal more light than a younger vampire.” She watched as he took two steps toward her. Lander told him that he was swaying. “Actually, that would be you swaying. Also, you seem to be rolling your head about more and more as you sit there. Would you mind lying back on the bed?

Otherwise, I’m going to have to pick you up and hold you. I don’t know that you’re going to like that any more than what else I have to tell you.” “I don’t care.” Her belly was churning up, and her head felt slightly too heavy for her shoulders. “I’m going to be sick.” His hands at the side of her head seemed to be just the right pressure to make her feel stable for a few minutes anyway. The rest of her body felt like it had been wrung out, turned inside out, and wasn’t going to let her stay upright. Just as she was sure she was going to puke all over the man in front of her, she was without pain. “You’re still hurt and very weak. Just let them stitch you up, and I think you’ll be all right.” She asked him what he’d done to her. “We’ll talk about that when you get out of here. I believe they’re going to keep you overnight.

I’ll stay with you to make sure you’re all right.” “You said, vampire. That you’re old and a vampire.” He said he was one. Yes. “You’re not telling me something. Something to do with why I’m feeling better.” “Not better, no. However, I’ve taken away your pain for the moment. Once they get you numbed to be stitched up, I’ll talk to you.” She demanded that he tell her right now. “All right. I’m your mate. I’ve been chasing your scent all morning since I happened upon it at the convenience store down the street. I was waiting for you outside the courthouse when I heard the shooting. I saved you from being shot because I knew I’d not touched you as yet, and you’d be killed. You’re now an immortal, the same as I am. Lander, are you listening to me?” “I am, but I’m not sure what you’re saying.

My head is all fuzzy. You said you’re my mate? I’m not a vampire.” The curtain swooshed open, the sound of the rings making her head spin again. The nurse told them what she was going to do and that a room had been set up for her. Hamish, she thought that was his name, sat down in the chair again while she was being strapped to the bed. “What are they doing to me?” You’re moving around too much for them, Lander. Lie still, or they’re going to have to put you under. It’s all right, love. Just be still. She couldn’t. Her mind was all over the place with what he’d said to her. Lander, the nurse is afraid your concussion is far worse than the doctors are saying. She is right.

Lander asked him how he was talking to her mind. I’m your mate. Once I gave you a bit of my blood to keep you from dying out there, we formed a connection. Let the medication take you under, Lander. The nurse is worried for you when you speak out loud to me. Just let it take you under. That’s my girl. ~*~ Hamish waited in the waiting room for Lander to be brought out of surgery. They couldn’t get her body to calm with what they could give her in the emergency department. The way she was thrashing around made them think she might have a brain bruise that was causing it. He knew it was from her thinking about the few things he’d told her. Stretching out his legs, he wondered what he should be doing now. While he knew only what he could get from her mind, there were still a great many things he needed to know about her sooner rather than later.

Like that cancer that had been in her bone marrow, as well as spots of it on her brain. She didn’t know he’d healed her of her cancer, of course. In fact, she’d not ever get any kind of sickness again. Once he acknowledged her, she was healed of all that and more. There were no longer spots on her breasts that he was sure no one had found yet, as they’d been very small. Her hearing was now perfectly pitched instead of her having tinnitus in her ear. She was as healthy as he was, with the exception of the wound on her head. He would have healed it by now, but there were just too many humans around that would be suspicious if she were suddenly healed. Standing up when his name was called, he made his way to the nurses’ stations.

The nurse there, an elderly woman, was smiling at him when he arrived at her area. “The doctor wanted me to tell you that your wife is calmer now. They put in forty-three stitches and have made sure there were no foreign objects in the wound.” He thanked her. “They will be keeping her overnight, I’m afraid. She’s been given a lot of medication, and he’s not sure how well she’ll react to that.” “I’ll need to make arrangements for me to be able to stay here with her.” She said she’d already taken care that Lander had one of the rooms with space for guests. “Thank you very much. I don’t want to leave her in the event she wakes up.” Yes, that would be a disaster if she woke up too soon. Then she’d tell everyone that he was indeed not her husband and wasn’t related to her at all. Hamish smiled at his own thoughts as he wrote down the information about which room Lander was going to be in, as well as the outside line, so their family could call and check on them. Going back to his seat, he pulled out his cell.

Who to call? his mind thought. It wasn’t as if he had anyone around close that would want to know he’d found his mate. He’d tell his grandda after Lander was out of the hospital, or he’d be here every second of her stay. Last he’d heard from his grandda, the man had been living the easy life on one cruise after another. Should he call her family? They weren’t close. He couldn’t find a single memory that was recent in her mind about them. No sisters or brothers. Just a dad that was on his fourth marriage to a woman nearly Lander’s age. Hamish also knew her mother had remarried, and they weren’t close either.

He thought that very sad, but nothing he’d not encountered year after year with humans. Not only did they not respect their elders, but they treated children with the same disregard. Putting his cellphone away, he decided now was not the time to make any calls. If she wanted him to call her parents, or she wanted to call them, he’d be there for her in the event things went south. As it seemed to happen a good deal when they were all together. They rolled her bed in about an hour later. The doctor spoke to him about what they’d done for Lander and how well she’d taken the medication. Hamish told him they’d not been together long—which was the truth—and he was still learning about her. After he left them, Hamish touched his finger to the bandage covering most of her head and gave her a little more of his magic. She was going to have a hell of a headache in the morning, he knew.

Leaning back on the seat, he thought about what needed to be done to prepare things for his mate. While he had a house—several of them, as a matter of fact—he’d never been one to upgrade things. In fact, he’d been sleeping in a cave lately. There was no need for him to have a stove or working lights in the place he was staying, so that had to be something he took care of quickly. Also, he did have a bed—not a coffin-like the movies projected men like him to sleep in—but it wasn’t suitable for a woman to want to sleep in. It was narrow, hard as stone, and without any linens on it. Not that he spent all that much time in the house or bed, but it would be something that had to be cared for before he brought Lander home. Or would they live in her home? It mattered little to him where they lived. Hamish had plenty of money if she wanted to start from scratch.

While he’d been looking around in her head, he noted that she spent very little time at her home. Working a great deal, she tended to live from one hotel to the next, as her job kept her hopping. She was a diver. It seemed such a small thing to call her that when she was sought after by agencies all around the world. He’d looked her up after finding out her name and knew that even though everyone thought her name was Lander, it was actually Aulander Fitzgerald Henderson. He also knew she was named from the little town in North Carolina where her mother had been born. Hamish hadn’t been able to find any reference to the name Fitzgerald, but he would soon enough. When the nurse came in to take Lander’s blood pressure and temp, he stepped into the hall. Making sure there was no one around, he took himself to the local shop and got some magazines, as well as a couple of books. He was also able to purchase a tablet he was going to use to research his new mate and her family.

Returning to the hospital was easy enough. He appeared in her bathroom and came out when he knew the coast was clear. Sitting down, he reached out to his grandda, only just realizing that he was supposed to go on some kind of cruise with him in the next couple of days. “Oh, son, I’m so happy to hear from you. I was going to talk to you later tonight. I’m about finished with riding around on a boat. Nowhere for me to feel the grass under my feet— What’s happened? Where are you?” He told him he was fine and that he was in the hospital. “I’m not sure how you reckon that being fine and in the hospital are the same thing, but I’ll come to see you. Is the room empty where you are?” “Just hang on a minute.”

He asked him again what was wrong. “Nothing. My mate found me today. Nearly scaring ten years off my life.” Grandda appeared in the room with him, so close to the bed that he wondered if he’d been hurt in his appearance. When he waved him off after asking him if he was fine, Grandda stared at Lander for several minutes before he spoke. “She sure is a pretty little thing, Hamish. What happened that brought the two of you in here?” He told him how she’d been in the courthouse, as well as how he’d followed her there by her scent. “So she’s been shot but is going to be all right. How bad was it when you first found her? I’m betting she was far from all right.” “Yes, she would like to know too.” Lander looked at him, then at his grandda, before looking at him again. “He has to be related to you, but I’m doubting very much that he’s your dad. You seem closer than that.

I have no idea why I feel that way, but there you go. Why are you even still hanging around here? Don’t you have some bodies to drain or something? And you.” She pointed at his grandda. “Why are you here? I’m sure you guys have a lot more things to do than to sit around with a measly human. I’m right, aren’t I? You are still a vampire?” “Yes. We both are vampires. Lander, this is my grandda. He’s been on a cruise until a few minutes ago. His name is Charles Hamish Perry. Grandda, this is Aulander Henderson Perry.” Grandda stood up and put out his hand. “He is harmless, I promise you.” “What makes you think I am?” She sat up higher on the bed as she stared at his grandda.

“I don’t have a lot of information on either of you, but this one tells me that he’s my mate. I understand the concept—I work with a few shifters—but he must be wrong about this thing with us. I’m not all that healthy and won’t be around for very much longer. Not the way things are going in my life. I have cancer, and it’s killing me.” “You’re not ill, child.” Grandda stepped closer to Lander with his hand still out. “If you were to take my hand into yours, I can tell you a great deal about yourself. Some I’m sure you don’t even know.” “I’m sure you can, but just for now, we’ll shake without having a meet and greet about my life.” Grandda laughed and told her she was enjoyable. “Not really. It’s why I spend a great deal of time on my own. I don’t enjoy people all that much.”

“Neither does my grandson. Until recently, I think he was staying in a cave someplace, working out a way to end his life.” He wasn’t sure how his grandda had figured that out, but he didn’t say anything to him. “He’s lost a lot of family recently. His parents have been gone for some time, but he had a brother who ended his life recently, as well as his aunt. Hamish does have a sister, but she’s not been around for quite some time. I think she’s off her noodle, but then she’s always been flighty. As for the others? They were bored. So was Hamish. But you’ll keep him on his toes, won’t you?” “Not if I can help it.” The nurse came in and was surprised to see Lander sitting up so well. But Grandda told her, with magic, that everything was normal. When she left them, Lander said she was starving. “I could eat a horse. Do you guys do that? Have a horse for your food?” “You’re very snarky, aren’t you? No, we don’t have horses. In answer to your earlier question, no, we don’t drain people either.

Grandda showed up here when I told him you’d found me.” She said she’d not be taking credit for that—she’d not been looking for anyone. “Be that as it may, you’ve found me. I’m not sure of a great many things, but I am sure that you and I are going to get along well.” “You mean if I listen to your every command? Don’t count on it, buster. I have a life, and I’m going to continue to live it despite you being in the background.” He said he wanted to be a part of her life. “Tough. I’m sick and dying. I love my job, but I’m going to have to give it up soon because—”

“You no longer have cancer, Lander. Even the spots on your breasts that were much too small to see as yet are gone. If you’d give it a chance, I think you’ll find out you’re hearing better than you ever were. The bad break at your left ankle isn’t aching as it normally would at this time of the day. You’re healthy and in good shape. You’re no longer going to die. As I said before, you’re immortal, just as I am.” When she sat up fully, he thought she was going to attack him. Standing too, he was surprised when she got off the bed and took them both to the floor. “Lander?” Grandda got down on the floor too. While he didn’t seem to know what was happening, he nearly screamed when the door exploded behind him. Pressing her to the floor to keep her safe, Hamish wasn’t the least bit surprised when Grandda left them in a poof and returned quickly after.

“The man from this morning was going to kill me. His name was Taylor or something. I could…Christ, I could hear his heart racing, and that’s what alerted me to him being hyped up on something. Then for some reason, somehow, I was able to feel his intent about killing me. Why? He was going to kill me because I—because he thinks I made him look like a fool in the courtroom.” Lander looked at Grandda. “Did you kill him? I can’t hear him anymore.” “Yes.” Grandda helped them both up. Lander laid back down on the bed but didn’t stop staring at his grandda. “He wouldn’t have stopped, child. He would have harmed you in some way that would have gotten him killed anyway.” “Because of Hamish.” It wasn’t a question, but he nodded to her anyway. When she pulled the sheet up and over her chest to her neck, he could feel her stress. “I’m very sleepy now. I want to rest. Thank you both for being here with me and for killing that man. I’m sure you’re right. He was a fool, and foolish people never think they’re in the wrong.

Even if it’s glaring them in the face. I’m sleepy now.” Hamish watched as she closed her eyes. Reaching out to touch her hand, he helped her rest. He could feel her terror as well as her need for a great deal of rest. He helped her with that. When she was in a deeper sleep, he turned to his grandda. “Will it come back and bite either of us in the ass?” Grandda told him Taylor would be found as a suicide. “Thank you for that. He was going to kill her, and I didn’t feel a thing. What if he’d gotten by me?” “I don’t think you’ll have to worry over that too much, Hamish.

You were making sure she was doing all right when it got by you. I’m thinking you’ll never get that involved again with her where something will get by you. Or perhaps that is her superpower. That she can protect you when you need it. You remember how your grandma could just know when the humans were coming to kill us off? It’s the reason we don’t put it out there that we’re vampires anymore. Humans get it into their head that we’re there for the killing.” “This man, he really was going to kill her. For her being smarter than him.” Grandda told him that was about right. “I wonder what it is that would drive a person to do something like that in a large hospital.” “I don’t know, son. I don’t. However, the cameras are all fixed that he would have been seen on. The staff is also none the wiser. I already fixed up the door and walls while you two were talking.”

Grandda looked at Lander. “I’m already about in love with the child. She saved us both, but especially you, from being shot up. In my book, that makes her about perfect.” “I’m falling in love with her as well.” Grandda decided to go and get some food for Lander when she woke up. He did know she wasn’t one to eat a lot of sweets—that had been forefront in her mind when she’d been thinking she was hungry. “Grandda, when I go to rest later, will you keep an eye on her for me after you return with food? Please? I need a little downtime, or I’m not going to do either of us any good.” “You know I will. It’ll be my pleasure to do so.” Grandda told him to go on home now, that he had this. “You rest up. I don’t know why I’m thinking this, but I feel like she’s going to keep you hopping for a while. I hope so. She’s perfect for you.” He didn’t know if she was perfect or not, but he knew Grandda was correct. She was going to keep him on his toes, and he was looking forward to it. Yes, having a mate was going to be epic. Hamish popped home, the cave that Grandda had been talking about, and laid down on the bed he’d made for his stay. Tomorrow he was going to have to get things organized for his mate. He only hoped no one was going to be out to kill her again anytime soon.