Oakley Marshall’s Shadow Release Blitz&Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Marshall’s Shadow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fisher Prince Of Tigers

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ian McCray Bruin Release Blitz &Giveaway

 

 

Things hadn’t been going very well for Lucy and her two sisters. When their parents died, their uncle had moved in and took over. The girls, apparently, were too much trouble to worry about, so he’d dumped them onto the streets to fend for themselves.

It was just luck that Ian McCray and his family had found Lucy that day. Both Lucy and her sister, Jilly, were in bad need of medical attention. Ian was just thrilled to have found his mate alive. In their situation, it could have been much worse.

Lucy was thankful for the help, but she was just going from one man to another lording over her and dictating what she could and couldn’t do. It was marry Ian or lose her sisters for good. Ian was a nice man, but she was tired of everyone telling her what to do.

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Melody Austin was afraid of nearly everything, but like it or not, she was a survivor. When she was seventeen, she had survived a harrowing attack that left her mentally and physically scarred. Now, ten years later, her brother, Daniel, repeatedly asked her to talk about the disturbing events, to tell him what happened so that he could understand, but she remained silent.  She knew he meant well, but telling him a bear was behind the attack at the school would get her locked up in a mental institution. No one would believe that story, and she couldn’t blame them.

Daniel had taken a job working for the McCrays. He made Mel promise that she’d join him in just a few days, but instead, Daniel received a call that his house was on fire, and Mel had been burned in the process. Daniel took Gannon with him to check on his sister.

Daniel had told Gannon that Mel was a bit skittish before they arrived on the scene. But the moment Gannon caught her scent; he knew she was his mate. He meant to reassure her by telling her that she was his mate and that everything would be all right, but the instant she heard that he was a bear shifter, she went wild, running back into the fire to get away from him.

When Gannon discovered that a bear was the cause of all her fears, he didn’t know how he could get past this. He couldn’t change what he was…. Was this doomed from the start?

 

Lucian https://amzn.to/2V5qhib

Josiah  https://amzn.to/2SyOLzG
Gannon  https://amzn.to/2WsiyxT
IAN https://amzn.to/33Iw7gk

 

 

 

 

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Ian waited in the lobby for Lucy to be brought back to the ER department. She’d been gone for about an hour when his dad had brought her sisters in, just to have them looked over too, he told him. Jilly sat across from him while Cybill glared at him from several seats away. It was his nature to laugh at someone disliking him. He thought, however, if he did that now, even the hospital wouldn’t be able to save him. They’d kill him that quickly. “What are you?” Ian asked Jilly what she meant. “You’re not human. I don’t think you are. So, tell me if I’m wrong or what you are. I don’t want to be waking up some time with you looming over me like some sort of monster. Not that we’re going to be staying with you or anyone else.” “First of all, take it down a notch. I’ve given you no reason whatsoever to be nasty to me. Also, I’m not going to loom over any of you. I’m a black bear. My entire family is.” She glared at him harder. “Look, why don’t you just say what you’re thinking and we’ll go on from there? We’ve done everything we said we would without once trying to loom or any of the other things going on in your mind.” “What’s going to happen to my sister and I when you force Lucy to come and be your slave?” Ian stood up and walked away from her. He wasn’t going to lose his temper with a kid. Not today. “Where the hell are you going? I’m speaking to you.” “No, you’re not. Speaking to me would mean you’re having a conversation with me. All you’ve done since you were brought here was snip and snap at me like I was the one that left you at the side of the road. I’d never do that.

Not even with the way you’re treating me right now.” His mom and dad came back from the cafeteria with a bag of things. When Mom gave the girls an apple apiece, he declined to have one. Mom asked him what was going on. “This one, Cybill, hasn’t spoken to me since she got here. But I think Jilly here is making up for it by being nasty and accusatory at me. Like I’d hurt any of them. Oh, and she’s accused me of planning to dump her someplace when I take their older sister as my slave.” “What a thing to say to my son.” Mom sat down by Jilly and asked Cybill to come closer. Of course, she just sat there. “When I tell you to come to me, you’ll do it. I’m going to be your grandma, and I do expect you to respect me as an elder. You don’t have to like me, but I’d like you to. Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself at the wrong end of my heart. Now, come here so I can tell you what is going on with your sister. And what I would like to see happen to the two of you.” Cybill came to sit next to his mom, and Dad sat with him across from them. Mom told them that Lucy had a bad sprain on her wrist, and they were going to set it with a cast. Cybill told Mom they didn’t have the money for that. Ian spoke up. “I spoke to the bursar’s office before you got here. All the bills are going to be sent to me. There won’t be many of them, since as a family we’ve donated a great deal of money to this hospital in order to have the best of the best here. Lucy is in good hands.” Jilly asked him where he lived. “About a twenty-minute drive from here.

Not too far. I’m thinking they more than likely will keep her overnight simply because she’ll need more in the way of pain medication than they can send her home with. I’d very much like it if you two were checked out. I know you said you didn’t want to be but think of this. If you have a cold or some other sort of illness, you might make your sister weaker. They’ll keep her longer if that happens. I’m not blackmailing you into anything, but I’m not too keen on either of you being sick either.” Cybill stood up, and so did Ian. She was so stiff it worried him. Was she hurt? Did something happen to the three of them to make them like this, other than being abandoned like they were? Ian wondered how soon his sisters would be able to track down the uncle. “I’d like to make sure we don’t have anything that would make Lucy sicker. She’s all we have.” Ian didn’t point out that they had him too. He was working hard at making them believe in him before he tried to convince them he was going to be there for them. “But I’m not going to allow you in the room with me.” “Of course, I won’t go into the room with you. Christ, kid, I’m not sure where your mind is all the time, but if you give me half a chance, you’re going to see that I’m nothing like whoever shit in your oatmeal.” Mom told him to behave. “Tell her that. I’ve done nothing to either of them, but try my best to show them I’m not the bad guy in this.” “Be that as it may, son. They’re terrified and untrusting. We have to work on one thing at a time here.” He nodded and went to the desk. Jilly came with him. Instead of asking her what she wanted, he asked the nurse if there was someone who could look the girls over to make sure nothing was hurting them. Ian turned to Jilly.

“I’d very much like for my mom to go back with the two of you. She can keep in contact with me through our link. Just in case the nurses or doctors ask you for something that you might not understand.” Jilly looked at her sister, then nodded to him. “Thank you for that. I know how hard it is for you to trust us. But I swear to you, we only have your best interests at heart.” “I don’t trust you,” Ian told her that was fine. Hopefully, she would someday. “What are your plans for us? Sending us away won’t get you in good with my sister.” “I don’t have any plans for you and your sister, other than wanting you safe and healthy. I want to take care that your uncle, wherever he is, knows he’s messed up badly by treating you the way he has. Also, and this is true for my entire family, I’d very much like for you not to jump to the wrong conclusions about everything we say to you.” Jilly’s cheeks brightened up a little, and she turned away from him. “Is there anything wrong with you, Jilly? I mean, are you hurt in any way that the doctors are going to find? I’d really like to know.” She turned to him then. While she looked at him with such intensity, he let her. Whatever she was thinking, he was sure it wouldn’t bode well for him to try and read her mind. He was determined to allow her to make this call on her own. “Three weeks ago, we were sleeping in a van. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the one we’ve been in lately, but that’s not saying much. It was all we could find at the time.”
He nodded. “There were no bathrooms, of course, so we had to go outside and do our business. Someone hit me from behind. I didn’t lose consciousness, but I did get hit hard enough to draw blood. I still have trouble seeing things clearly, and I seem to have a headache all the time.”

“Did you tell your sisters?” She shook her head gently. “All right. I’m going to go back with you to tell them what you’ve just told me. Also, I’d like to get my sisters-in-law involved. One of them is freaky scary magically powerful. However, she’d never harm either of you. She can find someone just by touching something. I don’t know if she can with a head wound or not, but it’s worth a try. Okay?” “Why are you really doing this? Lucy won’t care how much you say you’re going to keep us safe. The first time something happens, you’ll not find us.” He told her he would now. “Because of you being a bear? I don’t believe you.” “Believe me or not, Jilly, I’m a man of my word. If I tell you something I’ll do or have done for you, I’ll do it. I can find you because I have your scent. It won’t be as easy as it would be if I had a taste of your blood, but you don’t trust me enough for that. Not yet.” She said she doubted she ever would. “I’m sorry for that. I truly am.” The nurse came to get the two girls, and he went back with them to wait for the doctor to come in the little room they were in. He’d asked the doctor, a woman he’d known for a while, Hallie Jamison if the girls could be in the same area, as they’re still frightened of him. He knew her from helping set up some of the computers they now had. Hallie laughed. “You go on with you, Ian. I’ve got them here. They’ll not be bothered.” Ian told her what had happened to Jilly and how he was worried about her. “Head wound, huh? Well, you let me have a look-see at it, honey, and I’ll see what I can get going for you right away.” Hallie had a gentle touch, but he could tell it was still painful for Jilly.

Taking her hand into his, Ian held it tightly as Jilly tried her best not to cry. Cybill held her other hand. When Hallie stepped back, she looked at him. He could tell the news wasn’t going to be good. “She’s got herself a piece of something under the skin. I don’t know what it is right now. Not unless she can tell me what it was that hit her.” Jilly told them she didn’t know. There hadn’t been anyone around. “I’m thinking you did lose consciousness for a little bit, honey. Not long, but long enough for whoever hit you to hit you a second time there. I found two places where the skin was broken. Whoever it was, they left you to die.” “But she’ll be all right, won’t she? Whatever it takes for her to be better, you do it, Hallie. I don’t want anything to hurt them again.” Jilly looked at him when he spoke to the doctor. “Just tell me what you’re going to need to do to remove whatever is in her head.” “Nothing, Ian. You did good just getting this sort of information from her. She’ll be right as rain.” Hallie looked at Jilly. “I’m going to have them X-ray your head, honey. After we have a look at the films that come back, we’ll be in a better position to figure
out where we’ll go from here. In the meantime, I’m going to give you a little something to make you relax a little. Being tense is not helping your head, I’m betting.” As soon as she left to get whatever was going to be needed for Jilly, Ian asked Cybill the same thing he’d asked Jilly. She told him she was always being babied by the other two, and she was never alone. Ian thought while she resented it a little, Cybill was glad not to be hurting like her sister.

“I’m going to check on Lucy while you’re getting X-rays, all right?” Cybill said she didn’t want to leave her sister. “I don’t think they’ll allow you in the room when they do that. However, they’re going to bring her back to this area, and you and I will be here waiting for her. My mom will be, as well.” “I don’t want either of them hurting,” Ian told her he didn’t either. “What will happen to me if they have to stay here? I can’t go home with you. Not without my sisters.” “I know that. I never thought to make you leave them. I’ll make a few calls, and we’ll make sure, if we can, that all three of you are in the same room. If not, then you can move back and forth between their rooms to make sure they’re all right. Would that be all right?” Cybill nodded, her big blue eyes dark with fear. “Good. Now, I’m going to reach out to my family with my link to them. You won’t know I’m talking to them, but I promise you I’ll tell you everything I find out, even about your uncle. I won’t keep things from you guys. Ever, if I can help it.” Ian reached out to Demi first, telling her what he knew about the girls. She told him she was looking into the uncle for them and was looking for someone that might have a copy of the original will. I don’t for a minute think anyone would have left their children in his care if what they’re saying is true. We have to assume this could be just a case of the girls not wanting to be around him. I’m not going to jump to conclusions. He told her that was a good idea. Meadow is here with me. She’s doing her thing too to find out what she can about the accident that killed their parents.

Also, you should be aware that Melody is clothing shopping. They’re going to need more than what they currently have even if they take off again. I don’t think they will, but with kids, you never know. Thank you for that. I would like for Meadow to figure out what happened to Jilly that gave her the wound she has. Demi said she’d have her look. Another thing—is there any way you can have someone go to my house and fill up the cabinets and fridge? I wasn’t expecting anyone, and now I have three mouths to feed. I’m thrilled to death about it, but I also don’t want them to think I’m planning to starve them. Closing the connection when Demi said she’d take care of it, he watched as a young aide took the bed out of the room to take Jilly to X-ray. Mom and Dad both joined them in the room while they waited. “Do you think she’ll die?” Mom told Cybill she didn’t think either of her sisters would die. “I don’t want them to. They’re all I have left as my family.” “You have all of us now, Cybill. I want you to know that right off.” Dad took the child’s hand into his much larger one. “Yes, ma’am, you’ve got all of us now, and we’re
not going to let anyone hurt you again. Nor will you ever have to sleep in some old van. Unless it’s a camping trip—then that’ll be fine. You ever camp?” Dad and Cybill spoke quietly while Mom peppered Ian with questions. Nothing he could answer for her, but it didn’t stop her from asking. Mom went with Cybill to get her checkup while he and his dad waited. They didn’t speak much. Ian was worried for his new family, and Dad seemed to be content with watching whatever was on the television while they waited. When Lucy was finished with her arm being set, he went to see her in the room right next door. Telling her everything that was going on, he could see she was in a great deal of pain. When the nurse came in to give her something more for it, Ian stayed with her.

She was asleep in a matter of minutes. ~*~ “I’ve removed the bullet without any trouble, but I still want to keep her for a couple more days just to make sure there is nothing more with the wounds. It’s a small wonder she was having trouble seeing and a massive headache.” Lucy didn’t have any idea who would have shot her sister. Fearful of whoever it was coming for her again had her reaching out and grabbing the closest thing to her. It just happened to be Ian’s warm hand. The doctor continued. “She’s quite the trooper, I have to say. Not only was she fantastic at following instructions on what I needed her to do while I removed the bullet, she asked me questions about the procedure while it was happening to her.” “You mean she was awake?” Her voice squeaked, but she didn’t care. They’d made her suffer through this without putting her out? “Isn’t that sort of cruel?” “Oh, no, Ms. Jackson. She didn’t feel anything until I was ready for her to. When working with the brain or the skull, we want patients to be able to tell us if there is a change in their vision or speech. This way, if something were to have changed for her, Jilly was still in the operating room, and we could fix it immediately. She didn’t have any trouble at all.

Jilly even told me while we were working that she could see a little better.” “I don’t understand.” Ian turned to her, asking her what it was she needed clarification on. “Who would have shot her? Why? We weren’t hurting anyone where we were. Why didn’t she tell me she’d been hurt? I’m supposed to be taking care of them.” When the doctor left them, Ian sat in the chair next to her bed. Lucy wasn’t sure what he was doing there, but it did occur to her that having him close was making her feel safer than she had at any time in the last year. “I’m having my sister-in-law look into the shooting. The police have allowed her to touch the bullet. I did tell you she has some kind of thing going on with her mind, didn’t I?” Lucy said he’d not explained that either. “All right. Do you remember the Spring murders? When the entire family was murdered except for one daughter?” “Yes. They thought for a long time that it was her that killed them all. Even the dog, I believe.” Ian told her that was it. “Are you telling me Meadow is that woman?” “I am. When she was cut up like she was, her body sort of woke up some kind of mental ability. She can do all sorts of things we’re still learning about. She was hoping that with her touching the bullet, she could backtrace the reason for it being shot at your sister and who might have done it.

” Lucy’s head was spinning, and Ian seemed to understand she was overwhelmed. “When she has information, she said she’d tell me or come by, and I’ll tell you without holding anything back. I’m going to be as honest and as straight up with you as I can. All right?” “Yes. Do you know why she told you she’d been shot and not me?” He nodded. “I don’t know why, but I have a feeling I’m not going to like the answer, am I?” “I don’t know if you will or not. But I do understand her motive for it. She thought you had enough on your plate, she told my dad, and she thought having a headache all the time was minor compared to what was going on in your lives. She would have told you, Jilly said, when you were safe, but it never seemed to be a good time to speak about it. Also, she had no idea she’d been shot. Jilly thought she’d been hit in the head with something.” “What about my other sister? What has Cybill been holding back from me?” Lucy hated the way she sounded as soon as she spoke. Ian had been nothing but nice to her, and here she was snipping and snapping at him. “I’m sorry. I’m trying to deal with this. I don’t know you or what you are going to want from me. What you’re going to do with my sisters, either. It’s too much, but I know I have to deal with it. Deal with you.” “Dealing with me is going to be easy. I don’t want anything from you or your sisters that you’re not willing to give. I’m going to care for the three of you. As for what I’m going to do with them? I don’t have any plans to do anything with them. I’ve provided them with rooms at our house. They have clothing now that my sisters-in-law got for them.

As soon as you’re up and around, we’ll take them to get more. It’s only fall now, so we’ll have to look for winter things too, I guess. I don’t know a great deal about teenage girls, to be honest with you. But I’m so very proud of you for keeping them safe and together.” “The doctor said we are all undernourished. I thought he was going to take them from me when he said that. But all he said was that with the cook you have at your house now, we’ll be fattened up soon enough. I don’t even know what that means.” Ian laughed, and she felt a smile pull at her mouth. “You have money, don’t you?” “I do. I also have a home, a great job, and insurance that you and the girls have been added to as of this afternoon. I don’t know a great deal about any of you, but I’m assuming you drive.” She nodded and told him she had a license, but it had been taken from her at her uncle’s. “They’ve found him, by the way. Demi isn’t going to contact him until she figures out a few things about him. I’m not sure what those are, but she said she’d have you some information soon.” “They’re very resourceful, aren’t they?” Ian laughed and told her that was an understatement. “What will they do with my uncle now that they know where he is? I mean, it’s not like my sisters and I have any recourse. I’ve been so worried he was going to come after us and ditch me in order to keep them around. I suppose he could. I’m an adult, and they’re not.” “I did mention that to the others. Mr. Shoe is an attorney for the family right now. Mostly Demi, but he’s looking into what can and can’t be done. You told me you didna know where the will was.

If you can tell me where your parents died, then we can go there and find their death certificates and work backward from there.” She told him everything she knew, which, after saying it aloud, she thought was a pitiful amount of information. “Once they know where to look, finding it will be easy. I mean, they would have filed it in order for it to be legal and binding.” “I have some questions for you. I know you’re telling me I’m your mate, but how do I know you’re not trying to scam me into your home and bed? For all I know, you could be a murderer or a rapist. I don’t want to go from the pot to the fire without knowing what I’m getting into.” He told her that was fair, then to ask him whatever she wanted. “I don’t know what to ask you. I don’t know you at all.” “Nor do I know you, Lucy. But I’m a college graduate of the local college. I have a computer science degree that is helping me while I learn what Demi and Meadow have me do. I can, and do most of the time, build computers for the elite. All the family is now the owner of a great many properties all over the world, and I keep the computers working so Demi’s cameraman, my brother, can install cameras and keep them as well as anything else in the homes up and running.” She asked him about his house. “Ah, there is a funny story to that. Demi and Meadow purchased the houses for all of us a while back. All I’ve done to it since moving in was throw a mattress on the floor and look for things to fill it a little at a time. It has nine bedrooms. Also, I’ve managed to find a couple of ponies I’m working with so they’re not afraid of me.

I’m not a rancher by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m having fun just hanging around the place when I’m not working.” “Nine bedrooms is a huge house.” He told her about the kitchen and how it was supposed to be a cook’s dream. “You don’t cook.” “No. I mean, I know how, but I don’t unless I’m too hungry to wait until I can hang out at my mom’s house for a meal.” He grinned at her. “When I first figured out the three of you would need a place to stay, I had my mom and sisters go and fill the place up with food. While I don’t have any idea what they purchased, I’m sure it’s going to be a good mixture of good for you things as well as fun food. My mom is a wonderful cook. I’m to understand that you love to bake.” “I do. I’m good at it too. Not tooting my own horn, but I used to have people come from everywhere to have some of the bread and cakes I make.” Ian had the most generous smile. When he smiled, it was like he was telling her he was as happy as he could be. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with you.” “With me? I don’t know either. As I said, I’m not going to rush you. I’ll take whatever you wish to give me. However, I plan to pamper you so much, you’ll wish to bash my head in.” This time she laughed. Laying her head back on the pillow, she watched as he explained to her what sort of pampering he was planning to do. When the door to her room opened, she was so happy to see Cybill that she had her climb into the bed with her, simply so she could make sure she was all right. Ian didn’t make fun of her, nor did he scold her sister for climbing over her and causing her pain. Lucy thought he would have for some reason.

“I’m going to go and check on Jilly if you two will be all right.” Lucy thanked him. “You can have anything you want to eat. Would you like me to pick you two up something and bring it to you? The sky’s the limit.” “I would love a hamburger. With everything.” Ian told Cybill he could get her that, then asked her about fries. “No, I don’t care for potatoes. But if they have onion rings, I’d really enjoy that. Are you sure you don’t mind getting it for me?” “I’m positive. I’m hoping we can be a family. But I’ll settle for good terms for now.” Lucy told him she’d like the same, but she liked fries. None of them liked soda, so he was going to bring them back bottled waters. “I’ll be back. If there is anything I find out about Jilly, I’ll let you know that too.” When he was gone, Cybill told her she liked the McCray family. “You’ve been getting to know them, I guess,” Cybill said mostly she’d been with Grandpa McCray, but Grandma was nice too. “You’re already calling them your grandparents? Cybill, do you think that’s a good idea? We shouldn’t get too attached to them right now. Don’t you think?” “I don’t think that at all. We’re warm and getting taken care of, Lucy. I’ve been checked out and given a vitamin D shot so I could be better. You’ve had your arm looked at and fixed. Jilly is getting taken care of, and tonight, when I go to bed, I’ll have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, and a bathroom all my own.” She asked her where she was staying. “I’ve been taken by the grandparents to Ian’s house. You’re going to love it, Lucy. It’s so beautiful, and I can’t wait to live there for the rest of my life.” Lucy was worried that something was going to happen to take all these plans away from them. A roof over their head was a good thing, but at what cost? When she thought of all the things that Ian or the rest of them could demand of them, Lucy had a feeling they’d not want anything in return. They were, she hoped, just what they looked like—a good family with no ulterior motive of any kind.

North Wilkerson Dynasty Release Blitz & Giveaway

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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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?

 

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North was ready to call it quits. Moving around the house he hadn’t liked even before he walked through the front door, he decided he’d just live in the condo for his entire lifetime. It was better than trying to decide what sort of house he was going to buy. “Sir, if you don’t mind me saying so, you’re going about this all wrong.” He cocked a brow at Libby, the woman showing him the home. “Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to sell you the biggest house on the market around here. But you’re not thinking of this as a house to warm up to a home. You’re looking for your home.” “There’s a difference?” Libby smiled and told him there was a huge difference. “All right. I’m game for it. Tell me what it is I need to do to get myself done for the day.” Her laughter made him smile. He was glad that Abby had told him about this particular realtor. She was much like Abby, though older, and seemed to have taken him under her wing in an odd sort of way. Smiling again, he did as she asked and went out to the front porch with her. “Close your eyes and think of this doorway you’ve just gone out of. Tell me what you remember.” He looked at her. “Trust me. It’s going to help you out with this. Tell me what you thought about when you first came up the steps to enter here.” “The door looks like it’s from some kind of institution. The windows on either side of it are not right for a house this large. They look cheap and out of step somehow for the wooden doors.” He looked at her. “I hate it. The door. It was the first thing I looked at, and it’s soured the rest of the house for me. I guess you’d say the first impression was off.” “All right. That’s good. Remember that the door and the windows can be changed by you. Now, what about the house? First impressions on it, and what you saw when you walked inside. You have to remember; the front of the house can be changed if you want to live here.”

He was liking this. North had no idea why, but it was helping him to see what his feelings were for the house rather than just hating it and not moving beyond that. They re-entered the house to the front entrance hall. “Now, the door is fixed. The glass on the side has been updated. What would you like to see in here that you didn’t before?” He didn’t close his eyes this time, but looked around, changing things as he went, such as the wallpaper in the room next to where he was. Then he changed the flooring. His mind skittered over the staircase twice before he came back to it. That was the issue. “The stairs are off-center. What I mean is, it looks like they’ve been put in as an afterthought. I suppose I could change them too, but then the room would look off balance because of the way everything is centered squarely around the staircase.” She told him they’d move on to the next house. “This really is helping me. Thank you so much.”

The next house was just as bad for him. As an attorney, he wanted balance in his home. North had never considered himself to be obsessive compulsive, but he did like things in straight lines where they were needed, and curves that would be well blended in the flow. Things just where they were supposed to be. He was ready to call it a day, perhaps a week when they pulled up in front of the next house. Christ, it called to him. North got out of the car and stood staring at the way the house looked with the backdrop of the sky behind it. “I saved this one for last because when you told me what you were looking for, that there should not be a long pretentious drive, I didn’t think it would be something you’d like.” Nodding at her, barely paying attention to what she was saying, he made his way to the front door. “This house had eleven bedrooms. Each of the bedrooms on this floor has a half bath inside. There is a shower/bathtub between each set of two bedrooms that would be shared. The master bedroom not only has its own bathroom, but it also has its own deck that has a two-person hot tub on it. Also, there is a place to bring firewood up to be used in this room.” “Are the turrets from the original build?” Libby told him that according to the paperwork, not only were the turrets built with the home, but there was extra shaped glass stored away in the basement of the utility building out back. “Several years ago, the entire house was sandblasted to remove all the paint from it. I have no idea why someone would have painted it, but it’s better now.” There was a turret at each corner of the massive building, both front and back. He loved the way each of the three floors had a window looking out over the lands. How the very top of each of them had ivy growing from the top down.

The way the house spread out from each of the sides showed him that someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to use a great many of the stones around the area. The walls between each window on the main floor were tall, stone, load-bearing walls. Going into the house, he decided that the front of the place just screamed at him to live here. Libby laughed when he handed her back what he thought was the specs on the house. “I’m sorry. Did I miss something? I’ve fallen in love with this house. I’m sure you know that without me telling you.” Libby told him she could see that he had. “I’m not very good at poker either. Tell me this place isn’t going to cost me more than the purchase price to have it brought up to this decade.” “The kitchen was redone just last year. The roofing gets a good power wash every other year. It’s made wholly of slate with a tin seal under it. There is a new furnace and air conditioner on each floor. The house, only about ten years old, is about as modern as one could be, I’ve been told. There are no carpets in the home. I believe the homeowners didn’t care for the way carpet had to be replaced every several years and opted to have area rugs put into the rooms. That way, they could change them out when the room needed to be redecorated.” He asked her why the house was being sold. “The previous owner designed the house himself. You’ll find large pieces of furniture in some of the rooms that cannot be removed without tearing out walls. As soon as the house was finished and set to be moved into, the man died.

Not here, I assure you, but when he was visiting his parents in another country. That’s all I know about that.” Nodding, she unlocked the door for him. Stepping in first, he turned to Libby and told her he wanted to buy it. The house seemed to wrap around him and make him feel like he’d just found the perfect house. Nodding, she handed him the paperwork. “I know you want it, but I’d like you to go through the house once. That way, if you get up on the third floor, you can change your mind.” He asked her if there was something wrong with the third floor. “Not that I’ve been made aware of. But the house has been sitting for eight years now, the first two in probate, without a single person wanting to go through it after seeing the front of it. Also, the drive to the house. The driveway is longer than some people want to travel, I guess.” North had started to leave Libby in the largest dining room he’d ever been in when he asked her if he could bring in someone to be objective. Nodding, Libby told him to do whatever he needed to make sure he was making a good choice. North decided if he ever needed any kind of land, he was going to ask for Libby. He was even going to recommend her to his cousins. Calling Mars to ask him if he could come by hooked him up with Abby. She said her mom was out shopping and she was bored. Asking him if she’d be good as a standin for Mars, he readily agreed.

Abby had become the go-to person, since Holly had been murdered, for just about everything they did. He couldn’t have been more happy than to have her in his corner, as well as the rest of his cousins. When she got there, he was in the kitchen. While he knew how to cook, due to Holly, Mars’s mom, taking the time to show all of them how to make a few dishes to survive on, Abby had been expanding his skills. “Holy shit, North. This is a fucking wonderful kitchen. You have to buy this for that alone.” Libby was laughing when she showed him the other features of the kitchen. Such as a large pantry for extra storage, a huge freezer, as well as a restaurant size refrigerator that would be good to hold food for parties. The three of them walked the rest of the house. There were rooms that had large furniture in them, but he found that he loved them as well. The master suite had a bed in it that was larger than a queen in both length and width. It was the gas fireplace in the room that made him as happy as he’d ever been about a home. “There are some things I am required by law to tell you. Nothing bad, but it does need to be disclosed. The bank has been trying to sell this home for several years now. Just recently, a company was set to purchase it, but there was a death in the family, and the deal was closed. In the back acreage of the lot is a family cemetery that—”“What was the name of the company that was set to buy this house?”

North wondered why Abby would care when Libby said she’d check. “Just wait a second, and I’ll tell you why I care. It’s important for all sorts of reasons.” “Abode Well.” It took North a few seconds to catch up with Abby when she started to dance around the room. “Did I miss something?” “Holly was going to buy it. If for no other reason than that, North, you must purchase this home.” Abby looked around, then back at him. He was going to buy it,
but knowing that Holly had approved in some way made it all the more special for him. “If you don’t buy it, I certainly will.” He turned to Libby and told her he’d buy the house. “Also, you mentioned when we pulled in that there was an empty lot next to this one. I’ll take that as well.” Libby said there was a rental on that property that was currently being rented. “Who are they?” “Mr. Oliver lives there. He used to teach here at the local school. He’s retired now, and his wife passed on a few years ago. Lately, he’s been late on his rent. That’s something else I was going to tell you that you might have to deal with him sometime soon.” North told her he’d deal with it later if that was all right. “It is. Once you purchase the house, all of that will no longer be a concern to anyone at the bank, nor my offices.” It took him nearly two hours to get to sign his name on the deed. With the help of Mars and his dad, he was able to get a very low-interest rate, as well as some extra from the equity from the house to fix the barn out back. It needed a new roof. North took out a loan, even though he had enough money to pay cash for the house. His dad told him that the loan would help him establish a line of credit, as well as help the town. Always, he’d been told by Dad, help the town more than he had ever done.

North, with his new outlook on life, told his dad he would do that. Anything to help the town, after all, it had muscled through when his mom and aunts had gone on a rampage recently that ended not just in the death of his mother, but in all the other women being in jail. The five of them had done enough harm to the town and the people living here, North was still surprised the townspeople were nice to him and his cousins. ~*~ Amy had been summoned home from college a couple of times since she’d made a hasty exit. This time, however, had been different. She not only had her own place, but she was also making her own money. Not sure where to enter the house, she opted for where she knew she’d be welcome. The timing couldn’t have been better, she thought. While in town, she was supposed to look at some paintings for a person by the name of Wilkerson to evaluate them. Then she’d be in charge of cleaning them, bringing them back to their natural state. It was a hobby she did when she wasn’t on a job taking pictures of animals. Going to the back door of the house had been her way to escape all the drama in the front rooms. As soon as she walked into the big warm kitchen, Amy felt the stress of the last few days roll over her. The big hug from Lulu and her husband Hank was just what she needed. Sitting down when they asked her to, a large plate of not just her favorite fruits were given to her, but scones warm from the oven as well. A cup of tea, her preferred flavor, was also there. Just like when she’d been living here, they never discussed the household, neither the people living in it nor her family. It was just the three of them enjoying a nice little break from whatever else was going on.

“I’ve been working out of the country since January. It’s been fun having a new job waiting for me every time I finish one. Did you get the pictures I sent you?” Lulu told her how she’d been putting them in a big album. “I’m going to have the ones that weren’t picked by the company I work for put into an album someday. They paid me for fifty pictures and ended up buying an additional fifty. I have no idea what they’re going to do with that many shots. I’ve made it so they have to get approval from me for whatever they want to use them in. That way, they’re not all over the Internet used as book covers. Not that I’d mind that, but I have to have some say over them.” “The one you took of the elephants playing in the water is my favorite of them all. And the monkeys throwing around leaves. They’re all wonderful.” She hugged Hank when he blushed brightly. “When are you leaving again? I’m sure someone is good as you isn’t going to be idle for very long.” “No. I have two more shots this year for the same magazine, then I’m taking a month off. I don’t have any idea what I’m going to do with so much free time, but I think I’ll manage it.” Lulu asked her if she enjoyed taking the water photos. “I did, as a matter of fact. The ones I was able to take of the polar bears was heartbreaking. They’re having a rough time of it.” She turned when her dad walked into the room. He glanced at her, then looked at Lulu. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had company.” Then he looked at her again. “Amy? Is that you? My goodness, you’re beautiful.” “Thanks, Dad.” Unsure if she was supposed to hug him, she waited for him to make the first move. When he just kissed her on the cheek, she didn’t let the disappointment hurt her too badly. “I had some extra time before I was to meet with you, then later the job I have. So I came to see what Lulu and Hank were up to.” “I can see that. Things have been very quiet around here.” She figured with Phoenix gone on her honeymoon, things would be considerably quieter. Amy didn’t ask about her or her mother but laughed when Dad asked for the same thing she was having— and was denied.

“Just this one time, Lulu. You know how I’ve been keeping close to my diet.” He was eventually given two cookies and half a scone. Again, Amy didn’t ask him what was going on. She’d learned the hard way that she wasn’t a true part of this family. Phoenix and Mom had been louder and stronger than her since she figured out she wasn’t welcome here. Amy was never sure what she’d done other than to be born that had pissed them off. But since she didn’t care much about parties and socially mandated appearances, she kept to herself and entertained herself when necessary. “I’ve been meaning to get in touch with you for some time now. I wasn’t even sure how to do that until I asked Hank. I’m glad you had them here for you, or I might not have been able to call you home.” She nodded at her dad, wondering what she was going to be forced to do for a “family function” again. “If you don’t mind, we can just talk in here.

I’ve been confiding in these two much more than I think they wanted.” “No, sir. I’m just glad you finally got that big head of yours out of your ass and saw what was going on right under your nose.” Amy laughed at Hank. He’d always been one to say what he thought. It had helped her be what she was too.

“Now, you go on and tell this little thing why you called her here. She’s a right to know.” “Have you always been this pushy? If so, why am I only just now noticing it?” Hank told him he had that ass thing going on. Dad laughed, then looked at her. “I’ve filed for divorce from your mom. It’ll be final in a few weeks. Phoenix isn’t married either.” Amy wished she’d not been taking a sip of tea when he said that. It burned her lip and her nose as it spewed from her mouth. As she coughed her way to breathing again, she watched the rest of them try and mop up the mess she’d made while pumping her on the back to help her breathe. When she was finally able to inhale again, she looked at her dad.

“Phoenix isn’t married? So Doug Schmidt is dead? I mean, that’s the only reason I can think of that would make it so Phoenix didn’t get her way. It would be death or— Oh no. She was caught with her panties down. Wasn’t she?” Dad just nodded with a huge smile on his face. “Did Doug leave her at the altar? I do hope someone took pictures of it. That will do me— I’m sorry, Dad. I truly am. After spending all that money on her day, it was all for nothing. I’m really sorry.” “Only you would think of me in this. Thank you for that. But if I’m honest with you, and I plan to be from now on, I’d tell you it was well worth it. But Doug and his dad, they’re thrilled so much that they paid me back in full for the wedding, as well as the tickets for the honeymoon. I’m not planning on telling your mother or sister. I’d like to let them think that I’m still out the money. It’ll be good for them, I think. I guess the Schmidts were more thrilled that the wedding of the century didn’t go on after finding out that not only was Phoenix a piece of trash, but she was an expensive piece too.” Dad laughed, but even to her, it sounded bitter. “Fran, your mom, she was in the pictures I had taken of them with several of the groomsmen.” “You knew what was going on.” Dad looked at Hank and Lulu. She did too. “You told him what was going on. Thank you for that. I don’t care for Phoenix or Mom, but it must have been hard on you to have gone to Dad with this information.” “I hired a man to take the pictures. It was easy. The only issue I ran into was finding a night to pick from. Since the invitations went out, there had been an orgy of sorts going on here nightly.” Hank handed her another scone, which she declined. “I didn’t want another family hurt by them. What it came down to was them or us. We’re too old to be cleaning up a room four times a day after the two of them had their friends over. Here, you’ve lost some weight you can ill afford, young lady. Eat.”

“I have lost some weight, but I’m not worried about putting it back on, thanks. At least while I’m here.” She winked at Lulu when she huffed at her. “I’m headed out again soon, so getting the weight on right now isn’t a priority. I need to be able to get in and out of places, and being the size of one of the elephants I’m working with won’t be a good thing.” “What do you do?” She looked at her dad. “I know so very little about you that I’m ashamed of myself. I don’t even remember the last time you and I had a conversation.

It’s totally my fault, I’m aware of that. But I just realized there is no relationship between the two of us.” “It is your fault, but it’s all water under the bridge now. I mean, it’s much too late for us to have you come to my art exhibits, or any of the other million and one things I was in while living here, with Phoenix and Mom always taking up your time.” Amy knew she’d hurt him, but it wasn’t in her to be lovey-dovey with him anymore. “I’m a photographer. I’ve been one since I graduated from college a few years ago. In the event you tell me you don’t remember paying for it, you didn’t. I paid my way—” “That’s enough, Amy. You’ve proven your point quite well, I think.” She looked at Hank when he spoke to her. “I know you’re hurt, but there is no reason whatsoever for your father to be made a target. You know it isn’t entirely his fault that you stayed away.” “What do you mean?” She just looked at the plate in front of her without answering her dad. “Amy? What’s Hank talking about? Tell me, please, why you stayed away for so long. I’m begging you.” “The missus and your other daughter made her life a living hell while here.” Lulu took her hand into hers as she continued. “If she wasn’t being ambushed and beaten by one or both of them while living here, it became a nightmare for Amy to even be in the same room with them. Several times I had to care for Amy when they poisoned her food. Food that I cooked, mind you. There were credit cards taken out in her name that she had to go to court over. Clothing of Amy’s was torn to shreds, shoes filled with unspeakable things.

Once there was a scorpion put in Amy’s bed. If not for her spending the night in the hospital that night, she would have been killed, I think.” “Why wasn’t I informed of any of this?” He looked at her, and Amy saw the exact moment he understood. “You did come to me, didn’t you? You tried several times to tell me what was going on, and I shoved you away.” Dad stood up, and so did she. When he hugged her, then left the room, she sat back down. Not saying a word to either of the two people that had practically raised her when her mom and dad didn’t, Amy got up and left the same way she’d come in. Once she was in her car, she drove out the front drive and onto the main street. Once there, with nowhere to go, she decided to take a little time for herself. Finding herself a hotel with a pool, Amy opted for two nights and pulled her luggage from the trunk, full of clothing that was going to need to be washed before she could wear any of it. But instead of doing any of those things, she laid out on the bed and cried. Cried until her heart felt like it would never mend. Waking when her phone rang, she didn’t bother picking it up to see who it was. Instead, she staggered to the bathroom and turned on the water to take a bath. It had been literally years since she’d been able to soak in a tub. The phone rang several more times while she lay there in the too-warm water. Amy tried to think of anything other than what was going on with her family for a while. Just as she was thinking there would be nothing to take her pain away, she remembered her good friend Booker Wilkerson. It only then occurred to her that he was more than likely related to whoever had asked for their paintings to be cleaned.

They’d been in a couple of classes together. Hitting it off as well as they did, they would go on shoots together during her assignments or when she was helping him study for this or that. Afterward, they’d go out to someplace fancy, always his treat as she was dead broke all the time, and then hang out at his place. Unable to recall even a short conversation with him, Amy did wonder how welcome a call from her would be. Finding his phone number proved to be a tad more difficult than she thought it should have been. But once she found it, calling him was easy. Getting a busy signal, Amy opted for not leaving a message. It was silly anyway, wanting to get in touch with someone from years ago. Putting her phone back on the nightstand, Amy pulled out her clothes to sort out. When her phone rang again, she saw the face of Booker. Wondering how much the man had changed over the years, she answered the phone with a smile. “Amy Hamilton, how the fuck are you?” Amy laughed and cried as she told him she’d just gotten to town. “I’m going to pick you up, take you to dinner, then we’ll go over all the shit that has happened since I spoke to you last. It’s been far too long if you ask me.” “For me as well. I’m only home for a couple of days. I’m thinking I’m here to assess your family pictures. I’m staying in a hotel.” After giving him the name of the place she was staying, he told her he was leaving now. He also told her that Mars, one of the cousins she never met, was the one with the paintings. “I’m going to talk to him soon, just not today. I spoke to my dad earlier today.

I don’t think I’m any more a family member than I was before. How is your family?” “Too much to tell you over the phone. I’ll be there in about ten minutes. I’ve missed you so much.” Amy said she’d missed him too. Very much so. “All right, dear. You wait for me in the lobby, and I’ll come in and get you. Remember what I’ve always told you, love.” “I remember. You told me that you are the only man in the world I needed. I don’t know how true that is anymore. Do you?” He said he didn’t know, but would be there soon. “I’ll be in the lobby. I can’t wait to see you.” When he came in the front doors of the hotel a few minutes later, Amy went to him, sobbing about how much she’d missed him. As they hugged, talking over one another, she knew she’d made a good decision in calling him. If nothing else, she knew she’d feel better just hanging out with him for a while.

Donahue Foster’s Pride Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

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?

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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 responsible 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….

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Maria Dalmau
Katherine Humphreys
Sarah Black
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Niki Driscoll
Cheryl Lopez
Teri Bellville
Joyce Mirabello
William Cheney
Elizabeth Cranage
Kaylee Rankins

 

 

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Happy Reading,

 

 

Chapter 1
Parker didn’t move when the warden came to stand in front of her cell. She’d learned a few things while being incarcerated. One of them—and it hadn’t taken her long to figure this one out—was that she was never in the right. Also, in this case, she wasn’t to talk or move toward the cell door until they said she could. “Miss Carter?” She turned and looked at the speaker from her position on the floor. Carter had been doing push-ups when she heard the footsteps coming toward her cell. “I’m to tell you that you’re going to be set free today. They proved you didn’t kill your father.” She was sure it was a joke. For the last eight years, she’d been saying she’d not killed him. It had been tempting, on a daily basis, to get rid of him. However, she’d not been the one who murdered him. Standing up, she saw Warden Peck back away, as if she could reach him through the bars she’d come to call her front door. She could, actually, not just reach him, but leave the jail without anyone knowing. However, Parker didn’t. Without a word from her, she was handed a bag as well as a checklist. Inside the bag was the bloodied clothing she’d come here in, as well as her possessions. Not much of it would do her any good now, but she stripped down right there and pulled the jeans and shirt on while the men turned their backs to her. “You could at least have waited until we were gone to do that.” Standing back when they asked her if she was finished, she waited as they unlocked the cell door. “There is some paperwork we have to have you sign. Also, because you were wrongly accused, there will be some money coming to you.

Do you have any questions so far?” “No.” She followed the three men, two of them guards she’d had extraordinarily little to do with since arriving here eight years ago, and was taken into a smallish room where her attorney was waiting, as well as two people she’d never thought to see again—her aunt and uncle on her father’s side of the family. “They have it in their heads that you didn’t kill my brother. I still don’t believe it, but then they never asked me for permission to let you out of here, where you belong. But I told them that you’d be back. Soon too, if I know you well enough.” Parker said neither of them knew her. “I know you well enough to know that even though they said you didn’t kill him, you were a part of his death. I’ll always believe that of you.” As they said their piece, however incorrect they were, Parker kept her mouth shut. She wasn’t what they thought she was—a person with very few morals and no sense of the laws of the land. Instead, she was an immensely powerful being—mostly, she reasoned, because of her mom. Few people, including the few she’d shared a cell with over her time here, had any idea what she and her parents were. As she waited for the paperwork, Parker thought of the things she was going to have to do when she was out. First and foremost, she had to figure out how she’d ended up in here.

Given a few minutes alone with her only living relatives, Parker wondered why they had been called. Or, for that matter, why they’d even bothered with her at all. It wasn’t until she was given the first thing to sign that she knew. They were supposed to be helping her acclimate herself to the outside world. Signing her name to the places marked, she didn’t bother asking questions. She might get some of them answered, but not to her satisfaction, that she could count on. Standing up, she was asked to sign the list stating that she’d received all her belongings from when she was arrested. Parker had a feeling she was going to have to figure out her own way home. Aunt Mae and Uncle Raymond left her standing by the open gates to her freedom. “You can press charges if you want. They’re supposed to keep you in their home for a few weeks.” Parker told the guard, Mary, she didn’t want to be around them. “Yes, I guess I can understand that. They were at your hearing, the one where it was figured out you couldn’t have killed your dad. I never heard such language from anyone in my life as I did when your aunt started screaming at the lawyers how you had to be guilty. She’s a piece of cake, isn’t she?” She and Mary had gone to school at the same time. It was funny to her that Mary had gone into law enforcement and been on the opposite side of the cells. Mary and her brother Thomas had gotten into more trouble before breakfast than a hardened criminal would in all his life. After Thomas had been killed, gunned down by a man who thought he had been having an affair with his wife, Mary had taken a good look at her life and changed.

Not once in the ten years he’d been gone, had Mary ever slipped back into her dangerous role. Parker had been with her when the news came that Thomas was gone. It had hurt the two of them more than it had when her father’s life was taken. “Do you know what you’re going to do now, Parker?” Shrugging was answer enough for her friend. “I’m going to miss having you around. Honestly, it’s what made me want to come to work every day. And I’ve been making some money off the investments you’ve been having me do for you. Do you have a way to get to the halfway house, or do you need a ride?” “I’ll walk.” Mary told her it was a good ten miles. “I’ll walk. It’s not that far.” It wouldn’t feel like it either. Parker had been into fitness as well as self-defense since before they’d arrested her and had been able to keep up with it after being put in prison. There was a nice treadmill she thought no one but her used in the fitness room. Weights too. Even in the time allotted to her for being out of doors, Parker had walked the fence line every day she could. It was the only reprieve she’d ever had from being locked up. Mary had been taking care of little things for her since she’d been assigned to a cell. She’d also been helping her out with her investments, as well as a few other things. Nothing to do with the crime she’d not committed, but things like her home, her car, as well as money she got each month from her stocks. Without her helping, Parker would have been in serious trouble. No money, no home, and especially nothing to support herself while trying to find gainful employment—something she’d been told she had to do before she’d left the prison.

Walking to town was soothing to her body and mind. There were things she kept thinking about, like the list of shit she had to take care of because she’d been locked up for so long. Mostly little things, but there were other things too. Her craft, her father had called it, didn’t have to be hidden away any longer. A lot of the magic she’d been gifted when her father was killed had grown with each day, it seemed to her. Witchcraft had been in her family since well before even her father was born. Dad had told her it had been dwindling out, their magic because a lot of the older generations had married nonmagical people—just as his sister had done. But Parker seemed to have gotten the lion’s share and then some, Dad had told her. Aunt Mae neither believed there was any magic to use nor that anyone in their family had ever practiced it. Aunt Mae was an idiot. Her mother, a witch with hardly any magic, had been married off to her dad just so they could have her. It had never been a secret that her mother didn’t love her dad. Parker thought she made up for it by loving her so much. Since she’d been born at home, everyone present knew Parker had more magic than her mother would ever have. As it turned out, more than her father did as well.

“Need a ride?” Shaking her head at the car moving along with her, the man laughed. “Come on, honey. You know you’ll have a good time. I’ve been told you were just let out of prison. You have to be hard up for a real man between your legs.” She didn’t have to ask him if it was her aunt who had told him to find her. Parker knew it for a fact that one or both of them had paid the man to come for her. The two men in the car smelled like her relatives. As she continued to walk, she snapped her fingers, and the man and his passenger swerved off the road and into a ditch. They’d not be killed, not if they stayed with their car. Lucky for them, the fresh air and the nice walk had put her in a wonderful and forgiving mood. Parker left them to their new dilemma as she reached out to her aunt and snapped her fingers again. Having her aunt and uncle embarrassed was the best she could do without them being in front of her. Not that she couldn’t do something from a distance, but she wanted to see them suffer—at least a little. When Parker dealt with her relatives, she wanted them to know who was turning their life upside down. Besides, having her dress split up the back was no less than Aunt Mae deserved for wearing a dress two sizes too small. Her uncle was embarrassed too, but all she’d done to him was make sure he was present when Aunt Mae’s dress fell to the floor. People shouldn’t have to see that much flesh without it being a porn movie.

Reaching town at a reasonable hour, Parker found a restaurant and asked for a seat in the back. Her credit cards were still good, her credit rating better than it had been before she’d been put behind bars. Ordering herself a large diet cola as well as a large pizza, she looked around the room and the people there having dinner. Much had changed while she’d been away, but most of it wasn’t new to her. Mary had helped her keep up by bringing her magazines monthly, as well as a newspaper daily. It wasn’t forbidden for her to do that for her, but it was sort of frowned upon.

Parker owed Mary a great deal for her help. And she’d pay her back too. As her pizza was set in front of her, a police officer sat too. He didn’t take her pizza, which surprised her, but he did introduce himself by telling her his name. Captain Donny Franklin told her he’d heard she was headed this way. “Do you have any plans of sticking around?” Parker told him she was only eating her dinner. “I’m not going to ask you to keep moving. I’m not even going to point out you should be with your aunt and uncle. If they were related to me, I’d have kept my distance from them too. Mary Cunningham is my cousin. She said you were an all right person.” “I have a home here. One that I owned before I was arrested.” He said he knew that. That just today, he noticed it was being cleaned up and aired out. “I wasn’t the one that killed my father.” “I know that. I knew that before you were taken away. But they don’t ask cops what their opinion is before they arrest someone. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I knew your dad. He was a terrible man. I’m sorry if you think differently, but for some reason, I don’t think you do.” She nodded, putting down her slice of pizza. “Don’t let me ruin your meal, Parker. I only came to sit with you because I’m aware of you and why you’re here. There are a few things I want to talk to you about. But it’s fine if we wait.” “I don’t need a job. “ Donny said he was all right with that, and he knew that she had some money. “Yes. Not as much as I’d like, but I can live off it for a while. Until I can get myself some income.” “There is a construction company here in town.

It’s been here for some time, but it’s owned and operated by Brook and Ronan Foster. I think you know Ronan.” Nodding, she told him that he was a year older than her. “I thought so. Mary said you should go and apply to work for them. Not that you’re considered an ex-con, but Brook has a habit of hiring those sorts of people to help them get a foot into the working world. She’s a good person too. We’ve never had any kind of trouble with their employees for as long as I’ve been an officer.” “Brook Garrett?” Donny said that was her. “I knew her parents. Not so much her. They were killed.” “Yes, both of them were by the same couple. The Quarters.” Parker knew who they were as well. “They’re both in prison and will be for a long time. Bethy is married now, with the cutest little boys I’ve ever seen. Twins. Married to a man whose name I can’t remember right now. He’s not been around here much so far as I know.” Parker didn’t know why he was taking her down memory lane but let him talk. When offered a piece of her pizza, he took a slice. Parker ate with him. As he told her other tidbits she couldn’t understand why he was sharing with her, she didn’t pay much in the way of attention until he mentioned Carmilla Foster. Carmilla had helped her out a couple of times when she’d been hiding from her parents. “She’s living with her mother-in-law over by where Brook used to live with her family. All the Fosters live right around there. Do you remember them?” Telling him no seemed to make him have to tell her everything about them too.

“Ronan has retired from the police force. He was going to be a part of our crew, but he’s now the king of all lions. Pretty nice set up for them if you ask me. Don still teaches. He’s really good at it too. My kids have been in his classes. They liked him. Quin is the town vet. It was a little touch and go there for a while whether or not he was going to find a place to open his practice, but he’s got it going now. Cass is the attorney for the family. A good one too that you can depend on. Keegan, he’s running some of the businesses for Brook and Ronan. I guess she’s pretty wealthy. Then there is Loman. He’s always been a loner and hasn’t changed all that much. He’s living here too when he’s not out taking pictures of endangered animals or just things in general. What are you going to be doing, Parker?” “I’ll have to report to you because my relatives aren’t going to help me.” He said he’d figured that. It was another reason he’d come to sit with her. “You said you knew my dad. So you know about what I am.” “Yes. It’s not common knowledge just so you’re aware. I know, and a couple of the other cops know. Mary told me. The others? I don’t know how they found out. Your aunt and uncle, they don’t know, do they?” Parker said she thought they didn’t believe what she was. “Figures. They never mentioned it when they came by the office yesterday to tell me you were getting out. Since I already knew from Mary, I tuned them out when they were talking to the boss. I think they would have said something about you being a powerful witch. Don’t you?” “Yes. Anything to make me stand out.”

Donny asked her if she’d like to help him out when he needed it. “For solving crimes? I suppose. So long as you don’t make a habit of it.” “I won’t. I know you’re a loner.” When they polished off the rest of her pizza, he took the bill when it was laid on the table. “This was sort of a business meeting, so I’ll pick up the tab. My wife, so you know, has been hired to work at your home. She’s looking forward to getting to know you.” “I’m not good with people.” Donny simply nodded. When Mary came in and joined them at the table, Parker had to breathe slowly so as not to overwhelm herself. She wasn’t kidding when she told him she wasn’t good with people. Parker didn’t particularly like them at all. Especially when there were too many of them around her. “I have to go.” Neither of them stood when she did. Mary would know, and more than likely Donny too, that she’d been in confinement for six of the eight years she’d been locked up. Parker had to save Mary and a lot of other guards once, and that got her special treatment from a lot of the guards inside. She never had to share her space with anyone. Nor did she have to be outside when anyone else was. It would have been dangerous to the others. Not her—she was too strong to be caught off guard—but from anyone gunning for her to take what her father had wanted from her that day. That was what made her a danger to herself. People would get themselves dead if they tried anything with her. Parker made her way to her home. There didn’t seem to be anyone there, as all the lights were off, so she let herself in via the back door and made her way up to what had always been her bedroom.

The master suite was the perfect size for her to spread out should she need to when casting spells or practicing. There was a note on the bathroom vanity. Picking it up, she read who was going to be working in the house with her as well as what her job was. She supposed Mary had made sure she had this note. Parker could only hope that Judith Franklin was going to be all right with a witch in the house. The name would also keep her from having to fumble around for a name when she met her. Parker couldn’t make herself relax enough to sleep. Pulling the sheet off the bed, she dragged it and her pillow out to the wrap around second story deck and laid out there on a lounger. The slight breeze and the sounds that only living in the country could bring a person helped her to fall asleep. ~~~ Don was happy for the summer months. Not that he changed up his schedule all that much when he didn’t have classes. He still rose at the same time and went to bed when it was barely dark out. However, tonight he was having some trouble relaxing enough to make himself sleep. Shifting into his lion, he roamed around in the fields behind the houses along the area he lived in. He knew if one of his brothers were out and about, they’d join him. Don would be just as happy if they were all cozy in their beds and left him to his own. Not that he didn’t love his family, but today had been a particularly long day, one that had him spending too much time behind four walls and doing things he wished he’d just done at home. Shopping for furniture wasn’t exactly how he wanted to spend a lovely June day. The worst part about the day from hell, he’d dubbed it, was that he’d not found a single stick of furniture to go in his home.

Nothing suited him—it was all chrome and glass, nothing wooden or smooth. That was another thing he couldn’t understand. Why did everything have to have texture to it? Why not just leave wood alone? Of course, he’d not put that question to anyone. He didn’t want to seem stupid, and he thought if word got around of his query and his mother and grandma found out, they would murder him. Smiling to himself, Don lifted his overly sensitive nose to the air and inhaled deeply. Someone was close. Not only that, but he could smell blood. Lying down in the soft grass with his head only inches above the highest reeds, he looked around for the source of the scent. It wasn’t until he saw her, the woman standing in the moonlight, that he realized someone besides his family had access to the wooded area behind their homes. Don didn’t want anyone around that he didn’t know. Nor did he want someone around that would harm one of the kids that might be hanging around. His plan, if he really wanted to call it that, was to sneak up to her and scare her—just a little. But almost as soon as he moved again, she turned around and looked directly at him. Don’t move.

He didn’t. Don’s paw was up, his tail curled next to his body. It took him a full minute to realize she’d just told him not to move. Him? A lion? Wasn’t she scared of him? Or at least impressed or something? When she put her finger to her lips then pointed, he looked in that direction. There are two men beyond here that have no right to be on the land back here. I can smell the fresh blood. I’m assuming that’s what brought you to me. Don kept an eye on the men he could see now and spoke to the woman in the same way she’d done for him. Is it a human that is bleeding? She told him it was a deer. They had been night hunting with goggles on. This is private land. Did you know that when you came out here? Yes. Nothing more. Nothing to say she was sorry, nor did she make excuses for why she was out here too. I’m going to give them a scare. You could, I suppose, but if you show yourself, everyone in the territory will be out looking for a large cat. It won’t even matter to them if they happen to kill a house cat. Don watched her move. She wasn’t touching the earth. Not a single blade of grass bent under her feet. The branches surrounding her didn’t snap or make a sound when she moved over them. So caught up on watching her, he nearly leapt up to take the men down when they began to scream bloody murder about something hurting them. The two men nearly ran over him in their haste to get away. Moving quickly, Don barely managed to get out of the way of their feet when they kept knocking each other over. Every time one of them would fall, they’d scream about something grabbing their legs.

Don didn’t see anything that looked as if it was touching them. However, they were running through the brambles. After they were out of sight, Don looked for the woman again. She was far enough away from him now that he knew he’d have to run to catch up to her. Not knowing a thing about her, not her name or even her scent, he only just realized he was going to be at a loss to ask her what she’d done to the men. As he hunted for her scent in the area where he’d seen her, he noted to himself that there was nothing of her anywhere. Looking for her again, he noticed that she’d disappeared as if she’d never been with him at all. Perplexed, he made his way back to his home. The waterway that ran directly behind his home was the first place he stopped by as he walked. The night moon was bright with light, but he couldn’t see where the woman had gone. Moving his now exhausted body up onto his deck, Don reached out for her. She’d spoken to him, so he thought he should be able to speak to her too. I’m not much of a people person. He thought that was an odd way of answering his call. I’m also not human. Neither am I, as you well know. Where do you live? After asking, he knew it was a long shot if she told him that kind of personal information. I live in this cul-de-sac with the rest of my family. Why are you roaming around here in the middle of the night? Another dumb question, but he was glad he asked when she laughed. I was having trouble sleeping. The same as you. Why do any of these things you’re asking me matter to you? I’ve not intruded on your personal life. How about you do the same for me? He didn’t have an answer to that. Don thought that telling her he wanted to meet her face to face would get him killed. I don’t murder people for being curious, Mr. Foster.

I’m a better person than that. He’d hurt her. Don wasn’t sure how he’d done it, but he knew he had. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to come across— You know my name. Her laughter again. You have a lovely laugh. It reminds me of summer. How that connection was made, I haven’t any idea. But that’s what I feel when you do it. Also, I have no idea why, but I don’t think you’ve had much of an occasion to laugh as late. That is about as close to the truth as you could ever be. However, you’re inevitably going to hear about me, so believe what you wish of whatever you hear. I was only just released from prison today. My name is Parker Carter. I was wrongly accused of killing my father. I live on the next street over from where you are now. He wondered why she’d been in prison and for how long. If you have questions, Mr. Foster, ask them. I’m not in the mood to sugarcoat the answers. Actually, I’m rarely in the mood to do that.

I know your mother. She saved me a few times when my father was out looking for me. I’d rather hear information from you if you don’t mind. I don’t know why, but it seems important to me that I hear the truth, and not someone else’s version of what they think has happened. She thanked him. For whatever reason, Don thought she didn’t quite believe him. Why do I have the feeling that the two of us are going to be good friends, Parker? Because, Lionheart, I’m your mate. When the connection between them closed, he didn’t move off the deck until the sun was coming up over the forest of trees behind his home. If asked, Don wasn’t sure he could have put his finger on a single thought that had been roaming around in his head. Parker was his mate? She knew his mother. Don shifted back to his other side and went into the house. It was time, he thought, for him to speak to his mom. Other than Parker, he knew she might be the only one that would make sure he had the truth as much as Parker would have told him. She was his mate?

 

Finn Release Blitz &Giveaway

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He gave his life to keep us safe. But it did not work.” No one said anything to him as they each watched their father. “Dragons such as us, we’ll be hunted and killed by the humans. There is nothing we can do but wait for them.” “We will survive if we stay here,” Cooper told Xavier they would have to leave here eventually. “To feed and to fly, yes. But perhaps we could do it only at night. To keep to the skies and not let them see us.” “They know we are about and will have spies out looking for our lairs. We will have to kill any man should he come for us, and still, we will not be safe. We are, after all, dragons who have a great deal of magic.” Coop stopped breathing. Cooper did not hear his father’s heart and knew it was at an end. He was quiet for a bit longer, waiting, hoping for just one more beat, one more sound that would mean he was still alive. But there was nothing. Their father was dead. Sitting up, Cooper told them their father had passed from this world into the next. None of them had ever seen a dragon die before. Their mother had been dead when they found her. Each dragon they had come upon when they were out had been dead long before they found them, their bodies stripped of every part, so they resembled more a pile of bones than a dragon. Their scales were used by the humans for roofs for their homes and for shields. The very meat of them was roasted and stored away so it could be used for medicines and potions. Hearts were cut up and dried, then ground into a powder to use for other things the humans would use to keep them from sickness, as well as magic to have a grand garden and trees heavy with fruit. The only part that would be left was the bones, and sometimes even those were carried off and used for something. Cooper hated all humans. “We will do as suggested by Hudson. It is the only assured way we can—” Before he could finish, he felt the stirring of the earth.

It shook so hard it knocked each of them off their feet. As they lay there, terrified someone was coming for them, their father appeared before them. His body was still aground, but instead of dark in death, he was brilliant in light. Faeries, thousands upon thousands of faeries, seemed to be covering him. Before Cooper could tell them to stop, to leave him alone, Father spoke. “I love you, my sons.” Each of them nodded, fear almost something Cooper could touch. “I will now and forever join my true love, your mother. I must warn you when you find your other halves, and you will, you will have to be careful of the slayers. They will know what you have found by the magic you both will share. My sons, you will leave this place and take your place among men. Becoming someone I will be proud of.” “Father, the magic didn’t work. We’re still dragons.” Cooper felt shameful to say a thing to his father. To tell him his sacrifice had not worked. “We will be hunted and killed.” “Nay, you only need to think of being your other half. Becoming a man is simple. The same when you wish to be your true self.” Cooper was not sure what that meant, but his father continued before he could ask. “Go now, before the men come. The magic to hide me will draw them here.

Be safe, my sons, and know I love you more than I do any other creature on this earth.” Cooper stood then, the faeries still working, taking the body of his father apart. But as he watched, he could see they were not doing anything but preserving his body. Faerie ropes encircled him, strings of magic wrapping around him like a cocoon, making him invisible to all. As Cooper stood there, his brothers beside him, he knew, like him, they mourned the loss of yet another parent. “You are the eldest.” He nodded to the faerie when she asked. “We have a gift for you. For all of you, but you will receive the most. Your father was a great man, your mother, a queen among her people. We wish to bestow upon you all your father had.” “My brothers, they will need it as well. I should like to share.” She smiled at him and bowed. “What have you done with his body?” “He is being prepared to be moved. We will make a grand garden upon him. Flowers will be there for all to see, but only a few will know a dragon is there with his other half, his love.” He nodded. It was as it should be. “You will take this gift? You will share, but as I said, you will get more than the others.” “I don’t care. Please, just do what you must so we can hide.” She nodded again and touched her fingers, tiny ones, to his forehead. Then she did the same to the others before coming back to him. “It is done? You have shared it with us?” “I have, Lord Cooper. But you must leave here now. There are humans coming. The magic we used to do this thing has given them cause to come here.” He nodded and looked at the ground where their father had been. “He is safe. Just as your mother is now. Go, before they find you here and murder you as well.” He thanked her for her help and left.

The exit from this part of the cave was hidden so well only they knew about it. As they made their way into the night, he thought of the human inside of him, and the pain of it took his breath away. In seconds he was down on his knees. Whatever was happening, he was surely going to die. “You’re a man.” He looked up at his brothers as they began to transfer to their human versions. “We’ll be safe now, all of us. We’ll be humans for them until we can find a safe place where we can be ourselves.” “I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.” Hudson nodded and held his head tightly as he did so. “We will need to train ourselves in their ways. Become what they are. But never monsters.” “No, never.” They made their way to a building; any would do for now. Hudson, like Cooper, was staggering a little, but they were getting stronger as they moved. He turned to look at him as they were settling in the empty shell of a house. “We will need to buy things, houses and such.” “Yes. But tomorrow. I am too tired to think beyond how much we have lost.” Hudson and the others agreed. “When the humans are gone from our cave, we’ll go and find what Father was telling us about earlier, the wealth that will keep us safe.” “I only hope there is a great deal of it. I don’t know how to work.” Cooper told Xavier, the youngest brother, they would soon learn. “I hope so. I hope so.”

He did, as well. It was going to be hard enough for them to learn to eat and dress like humans, much less get around. Cooper hoped this worked, for he was as afraid as he had ever been in his life. ~~~ After a time, thousands of years, each of the dragons, turned into men, forged their way into a world so different than the one they had been born to it seemed a different planet. But survive they did. Having their mates come to them, children born to all of them gave them hope. A small and fragile thing after such hardships they had been born to. Cooper became, as his father had been before him, the king of dragons—his mate, Carson, their queen. It had been and still was a time for celebration. To this day, they commemorated often and hard at each new birth of the dragons turned men and women. The others, his brothers, prospered too, finding their other halves, making their magic stronger for having their love.

They worked hard in keeping everyone safe and well-fed, humans or other dragons. No one, not anyone in need, was ever turned away from their help. The Manning Dragons, true to their father and mother, became the most powerful dragons ever born. Of the six sons, Xavier’s sons, four hatchlings and two humans moved far away to be the next generation of Manning Dragons who would open their hearts and doors for all creatures. Even the sons of his heart, the two human born men, carried a powerful magic. They used it, with their brothers, to help as many people as possible, humans and dragons alike, to live in the ever-changing world. To help them not only succeed but to, perhaps, help someone else when they needed it. These boys, now men, have stories to tell.

 

 

Houston Release Blitz & Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

She growled at him.

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

 

 

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HOUSTON https://amzn.to/2Z6v0ob

 

 

 

 

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Happy Reading,

Houston looked around his house again. It looked better than it had since he moved in. Dusting and running a vacuum were just too easy to let slide. Thus the reason his home had resembled the haunted house he’d gone to every year since he was a kid. He’d been wanting to hire a cleaning service to come in once a week and clean up after him, but he’d not been able to sit still long enough to do it. Mom had come to the rescue for him once again. Not that he’d asked her to hire someone, but when she’d come over yesterday morning, she’d commented on how much laundry wasn’t done. “I’ve been working on the spring catalog my agent wants. I had this idea, and instead of just letting it stew, I went ahead and worked on it to make sure it was plausible to put together.” Mom looked at the piece he’d been working on. “I know it’s rough right now, but I can see it finished. The way the pieces I threw fit together was what I was having so much trouble getting my head wrapped around.” “You need to take better care of yourself and your home, Houston. What if your mate had to come here? What do you think she’d think of me if you were to have a home looking like this one?” He kissed his mom on the cheek and told her he wasn’t worried. “You’d let her think I raised a slob? Shame on you, Houston Robinson. I would have been mortified if she were to see this house looking like this. Why have I never noticed this before today?” “You’ve been really polite?” She smacked him on the chest. “I’ll get around to it when I have time. Which, as I said, hasn’t been all that much lately. As soon as I can, I’m going to hire someone to come in here and dust and stuff for me.” “I’ll do it.” Houston didn’t even bother arguing with her. It would get done without any effort from him. Not that he was lazy—he was just really busy at the moment. “I’ve also been thinking about something else. The reason I came here.

What do you think of me getting a job?” “Do you need one?” She said not for the money, but she’d like something to do every day. “Okay, I guess I can understand that. What about the kids? Are you tired of babysitting already?” “No. Never that. I was just thinking if I were to babysit them all the time, I might become a little adult starved. Like needing adult company. I know the girls and I are hanging out more, but to be honest with you, son, they sort of scare me to death at times.” Houston told her they scared him as well. “Yes, well, I’ve seen the lot of you around them. You’re like putty in their hands. I suppose when you have someone pull a gun on you a couple of times to get people to listen to you, that will do it. I don’t want to have to do that.” He got it as soon as she turned away from him. “You think we don’t respect you, Mom?” She didn’t turn back around. Nor did she tell him that wasn’t it. And to Houston, that was very telling. “Mom, you do know we’re all terrified of you much more than we are of them. I mean, with them, it’s just a matter of choosing to do what they tell us. With you, it’s a need to do what you tell us.”

She looked at him oddly, and he smiled. Telling her it came out wrong, he started to tell her what he meant. But she put her hand over his mouth then and looked up at him. Houston in that moment realized how much older his mother looked. How there were wrinkles around her eyes. Her hair was graying. Houston hugged her tightly to him until she begged to be let go. “I can live without them coming around here every day. But my day isn’t complete unless I see and speak to you at least twice. I want to seek you out when I need a good slap on the butt to get my bottom in gear. I love seeing you smile at me when you think I’m doing something wonderful. Mom, when you come into my studio and look around, it makes me feel proud—not just of myself, but of you. To have a mother take such an interest in what I’m up to, what I’ve been doing, even how my home looks, makes me feel loved and cherished. And that is how I feel about you, Mother dear. Like I couldn’t love you anymore. I couldn’t cherish your love more without a bigger heart. You give me that. Every time I see you, you make me want to be the best man there is.” He grinned at her. “I don’t think I said that quite right.” “You did it very well.” She hugged him again. “Oh, Houston. You are the sloppiest of all my sons, not even counting that mess of mud you work in, but you are also by far the most romantic.” “Thank you. I think seeing the way Dad would simply bring you flowers, whether he messed up or not, showed me you could show your love for someone all the time, not just when the other person is upset with you.

He even brought you candy when he heard you were trying to diet. I realized when he did that, he was telling you, in his own way, that he loved you just the way you were. Dad, for all his faults and crazy sayings, made us want to be the most romantic men in the world. But I think I’m the only one that paid attention.” Mom said she thought he was right. “I love you so much, Mom.” “You’ve made this old woman feel very special today, Houston.” He told her he didn’t know any old ladies. “I cannot wait to see you with a mate. I have to tell you, it’s you I’ve been waiting to find her. I only hope she sees all this goodness in you and doesn’t try and beat it out of you because she doesn’t like it.” “If she does, then I’ll have to use my charms on you. Just so I don’t lose any of it.” They were both laughing by then, and he knew his mom was feeling better. He thought about the job she’d been asking him about. “What is it you’d like to do? Anything at all comes to mind?” “Nothing really. But then everything does. The one thing I was thinking the hardest on was flipping. I know I can get things cheaper than they sell them for in those big fancy stores. And I so love going to auctions. What if I were to open a place for second-hand goods? Not an antique store, though I would have a few antiques in there. Just a place where someone could browse around and pick up something they might need for a much better price than brand new.” He told her she’d be perfect at it. “I don’t know about perfect, but it would give me a chance to go every day. Not every day. I don’t know. But a place all my own where I could just talk to people. I’m not as social as your father, but it would be nice.”

“Mom, no one is as social as Dad.” They’d had had a good laugh about it, and he’d taken her to lunch. Now, two days later, his home was looking good, he had food in the fridge, and clean clothing hung in his room. The area rugs in his living room looked so good he found himself eating in the kitchen more so as not to mess it up. Stepping out onto his back deck after having a couple of sandwiches for lunch, he took off his shirt. Houston didn’t usually allow himself a good run until he was finished with a project. But today, and yesterday for that matter had been really productive days. Treating himself felt kind of good as he put his hands into his pants to remove them. He might even call one of— “Hey there, Tarzan. Don’t do that just yet.” He looked to his right and saw the woman, dressed in a shirt about four sizes too big for her and a pair of tennis shoes. If she had on anything more, he couldn’t tell. “I’m just passing through, and I’d like to not have to witness any kind of that shit going on.” “What is it you think I was going to do?” She told him. “I don’t usually masturbate out on my deck at one in the afternoon. I hold off until twilight, so I can sleep better.” He grinned at her. “Well, whatever floats your boat, I guess. I’m only passing by but still have no desire to witness anything you might be doing. I was told I could cut across the lawns back here and no one would bother me.” He watched her make her way through his yard until she was standing near the pool and him. “You’re one of the brothers. Did your mom by chance take any kind of enhancement drugs to have you guys? You’re bigger than fuck, aren’t you?” “I have no idea what that might even mean. I’m tall, yes. Wide? I suppose so. I’m also a tiger.

Why were you given permission to cross my yard? You’d better have a good answer before I call the police.” She asked him if he was one to call the police on someone crossing his yard. “I am if I don’t know you. There are children that play in these yards. Not to mention, my parents.” “I’ve not met your parents, but by the looks of you and Thatcher, I’d say they were big enough to take care of themselves. Rogen could kick some major ass too if she— I was going to say if she had to, but I think she enjoys it too much to limit it to when she has to.” Naming names of his family wasn’t endearing her to him. Houston told her that. “I’m not going to tell you my name because I don’t know you either. I will tell you I’ve been staying with Rogen and Thatcher for the last week. They have a son named Jimmy, and Rogen is going to have another child. I don’t know when, and frankly, I don’t care, but that’s what I feel comfortable telling you.” “You’re hurt.” She nodded at him and put her hand to her belly. The blood seeped through. “Christ, why didn’t you say something? Come here.” Houston reached for her only to come up short when she put a knife at his balls. He didn’t move but looked at her face. She was beautiful, but he could also see that she wasn’t at all trusting. Fine by him, he didn’t trust her either. Not yet. “I’m going to pick you up and take you into my house. I’m also going to reach out to Thatcher and let him know his patient is here and bleeding.” She didn’t so much as blink at him.

“You’re getting weaker by the moment here. In a few seconds, I’ll be able to pick you up without your permission, but I’d rather have it before I do.” “I fucking hurt.” He nodded and moved slowly to pick her up in his arms. When he had her there, he told her what he was doing with each step he took. “Look, fucktard, I’m not addled, just hurting. I shouldn’t have gone on a walk at all, much less one that wore me out. Just fucking put me on your floor and let me die right here. I’m in fucking pain. If you ever see my dog, Charlie, tell him I’ve missed him and love him to pieces.” Thatcher. Come here quick. I have a pretty redhead in my arms who is bleeding and in pain. Thatcher said he was on his way and asked him what her name was. I have no idea. She said she doesn’t trust me with that. But she knew you. Her name is Tru Justice. You can’t tell anyone who she is. He asked if that was really her name. It’s Trudy, but that’s what she goes by. She, Rogen, and now Anna all work together. They had an argument, and that one took off. I think she was ready to kill the other two. Seriously? She really must be addled. Thatcher was still laughing as he came up on Houston’s deck and into his home. “She said she was told she could cross the lawns back here and not be bothered. Someone might have told me. Oh, and she must have a dog named Charlie someplace.” “He’s at her parents, I guess. And when are you ever out of your cave over there this time of day? I thought it would be easy sailing for her since no one is in their homes until dark. Especially you. What happened? Did you have a need to come out during the daylight hours?” Thatcher was so funny at times. Right now wasn’t one of the times. “Tru, I’m going to give you something for pain. Then I’m going to check out your wounds. What happened that you started bleeding again?” “I thought while I was out, I’d join a gymnastics team.

The issue was, instead of me getting to work up to being on their team, I was running hurdles. Those fuckers are hard to jump over when there are stitches in a belly.” Houston laughed, and Thatcher growled. “Oh, grow the fuck up, you moron. I was walking, and I leaned over to pick up a rock to skip it over the pond, or whatever that is back there. What the hell happened to your sense of humor? Or does the rod in your ass make it so you can’t find a joke funny?” “He’s been like that since he was a child,” Thatcher told Houston he wasn’t helping. “Oh, I don’t know, I seem to be having fun. And she is smiling now and working through the pain. You really are a stick in the mud at times. Me? I’m always up for a good laugh.” “I know. Just look at your hair.” He didn’t trust Thatcher to tell him if his hair really did look bad. But looking at Tru, she only had to nod to have him turning to his reflection in the glass door out to the deck. “Made you look.” Houston started to reach for Thatcher to put him in a headlock when he got a look at Tru’s belly. Christ, she’d been walking around with that? He moved around his brother and got a little closer to her. Houston didn’t know what he was going to do, but comforting her came to mind. As soon as he was close enough to smell more than her blood, it hit him hard who she was to him. ~~~

Tru watched the other man closely. Something had changed in him in the last few minutes, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to know what it was. Thatcher was so intense all the time in showing Rogen he loved her, or when he talked about his parents and brothers. This one, Houston, seemed to be the fun one in the family. Right up until he touched his fingers to her belly wound. “You’ll have to lay low here for a couple of days, I’m afraid.” She told Thatcher no. “I wasn’t putting that up for debate, Tru. You’ve pulled a few too many stitches for me to think taking you back to our home is going to make things any better for you.” “I was fucking taking a walk. It can’t possibly have done anything that bad. I mean, fuck, I just needed to get out of the house for a little while. You have to know what that feels like.” Thatcher nodded and told her he did. However, she needed to stay here. “Mother fuck. Why does everything have to backfire on me? I needed a walk, not a whole new set of four walls to fucking look at.” “I’ll take you out onto the deck when you want. That’ll be something different.” She eyed Houston and asked him what his problem was. “Problem? I don’t have any problems. I was just trying to make your stay here more comfortable. If it helps you decide, I don’t spend a lot of time in the house lately. I have a deadline.” “You’re the potter.” Houston nodded. “You’ll have to be briefed on me staying here, I would imagine. It seems someone is out to kill my ass, and we haven’t figured out who it is yet. I mean, I know who shot me—I just don’t know who told her to do it. And contrary to popular belief, I know a man from a woman.” “I’m sorry?” She told him how the person who shot her was a woman. That at some point, it was thought a man had done it when his body was found. “I still don’t get your reference on that, but that’s all right. So long as you’re safe now.

Also, if you work with Rogen, I guess I can understand that someone might be out to get you. They are her too sometimes.” She still didn’t like this version of Houston. He was as uptight as Thatcher was most of the time. “Or you might like this better. I could heal you, and then you’d be about as good as new. I’m betting you’d like that. I know I would.” “Houston?” He just looked at his brother and nodded. “All right then. This might work out better for both of you. You can let him heal you, and he’s right—you’ll be about as good as new—” “What the ever-loving fuck just happened here?” Houston asked her what she meant. “That little nod. I’m paid to pay attention, and something just transpired between the two of you. You either tell me, or I blow your fucking brains out all over this nice soft sofa.” She was armed, as she was when she was out working. Only today, she was only carrying a gun and not a lot of other things to kill with. Putting the gun to Houston’s head, simply because he was closer, she watched him smile, and her heart did a little flip in her chest. “You’re my mate. While I know anyone of us could have healed you, even Thatcher, he didn’t because you’d smell like him, and my cat, a tiger, would be really pissed off.” She asked him why the hell that should matter to her. “That my cat would be pissed off? I guess nothing to you. But I would have had to hurt my brother.”

“Because you would possess me, and he would have his scent all over me. You know that makes absolutely no sense at all. Who the fuck cares who heals who, and why the hell wasn’t I given that option the first time you operated on me?” Houston told her for the reasons he’d just said to her. “I don’t give two fucking figs who does this, but I don’t want either of you to do it now. Find another one to heal me. Another brother to come here and fix me.” “I’ll have to kill them if they do. Or at least try.” Tru rolled her eyes. She wasn’t hurting right now, but the thought that she could not be hurting was very appealing. All these rules, however, were just pissing her off. “I can do it.

I would gladly do it for you. But it will be me only because I have no desire to lose one of my brothers over this. I hate to do this to you. You have no idea how much it hurts me too. But it’ll have to be me, or you wait this out like a human.” “I see.” She pulled her shirt down over her wounds and looked at Thatcher. “I’m finished here. I want you to take me back to your place. If you can’t do it, then I’ll find someone who can so dumbass here won’t get his underwear in a cinch. Your mother? Father?” “I’ve called Rogen.” She nodded and then looked at Houston, who was just staring at her. “Mate or not, you come near me again, and I will not ask questions as to why you’re there. I’ll blow your fucking dick off, then your brains. If you have any.” “Houston?” She could hear the voice but didn’t know it. “Houston, why is there a woman on your couch bleeding?” He didn’t take his eyes off her as he spoke to the woman behind her. “Mom, this is my mate, Tru. Tru, this is my mom, Meggie Robinson.” Meggie came to the side of the couch where she could see her. “She’s pissed off right now and wants to go back over to Thatcher’s home. I don’t know what is going on, but I plan to find out.” When he stood up, she could see the anger all over his body. Stiff as a rod didn’t cover how angry he seemed to be. She waited for him to—well, she didn’t know what he might do to her, so when he turned on his heel and went out onto the deck he’d been on earlier, she laid back and closed her eyes. Tru had no idea why, but she felt like she’d just lost a major battle. And she was going to wear the scars for the rest of her days. “Houston said he’d stay at our home and have someone come here and take care that you’re all right,” Tru told her she didn’t want to push him out of his own house.

“Well, you did, didn’t you? I’m not sure I like you overly much right now, young lady. To think I was excited for him to find someone to love. Then in less time than it took for him to figure this out with you, you crushed him.” “I didn’t ask to be his fucking mate.” Meggie just glared at her. “That won’t work with me, Mrs. Robinson. I’m made of sterner stuff than most people. I’m a hired killer, and nothing much bothers me.” “Well then, I wish you luck with this. Because I believe you’re going to need it. I was asked to come here and take care of you by my son. I’ll do that. But you, you’re on my list.” Tru didn’t know why, but that hurt her heart more than she’d ever been hurt by any of her family members. “All right, Ms. Justice. Can I get you anything right now?” “No. I’m fine.” Meggie nodded and left the room. Tru looked at Thatcher. “Do you have something to say to me? If you do, then say it and leave me alone. I didn’t ask for this bullshit, and I don’t need someone else telling me I’m fucking up.” Thatcher stood up.

“No. Nothing to say to you about this. Your wounds were looking better until today. If I were you, I’d try very hard to stick to resting rather than running around in the yard. Otherwise, you might have to spend more time with this family than you obviously want to.” He laid a cell phone on her lap. “That’s from Rogen. She said she’d get in touch with you if she needed something.” When he left her too, Tru laid there on the couch, fighting tears. It had been a very long time since she’d been so upset and hurt she wanted to cry. Forever since anyone had spoken to her as Meggie had. When she heard Meggie speaking again behind her, it took her a few moments to realize she was more than likely talking to Houston. He was there, Tru figured out, to get some clothing. She laid there for a while before she tried to figure out if she could sit up or not. When the pain took her breath away, she laid back down. The remote to the large television was within her reach, but she didn’t want to see what she could find to occupy her mind. Not yet at any rate. This was just bullshit. Why was she the bad guy in all of this? She’d been a bitch, she told herself. And she’d hurt someone who was only doing what they’d been trained to do. Well, that’s what she’d done as well. Done what she’d been trained to do. Pushing people away, so they didn’t get too close, was something she’d been doing since she was in the service. Having a family or even friends could get both of you killed.

Tru had seen it happen time and time again. Even children were nothing more than a pawn in her line of work. That was why she’d been so surprised when she heard Rogen had not only married but had children. Not me, she told herself. Looking out the doorway to the back yard, she wondered what it would be like to be free enough to take off your clothing and run. How it would make her feel not to have to put her gun on her person before she did her clothing. To know the next time her phone rang, it wasn’t going to be someone needing a clean-up. Tru figured she’d never know that sort of companionship with anyone. When the phone did ring, she declined to answer it. There was no point in talking to Rogen right now. She had a feeling she was going to chew her out about how she’d treated her brother. When it rang a second time, she nearly answered it but declined it as well. It wasn’t until it rang for the third time in as many seconds that she finally answered it. “What the fuck do you want? Another pound of flesh?” Rogen laughed. “What the fuck do you find so funny? Is it that I was put in my place by your mother-in-law, or the fact that I’m stuck here and can’t get out?” “You’re stuck there until you’re released by my husband. First, the fact you did what you did is all on you. Secondly—and this is very important. You’re very lucky no one wants to kill you right now. Hurting the sweetest woman I know will get your ass plugged. Thirdly, you fucked up.

Badly. Either fix it now, or I call your boss and have him come and get your ass. Just so you know, he’s not been cleared as not being your killer either.” She told her to call him then. “You have a death wish? Well, I’ll be happy to help you out with that. Straighten your ass out or so help me, Trudy Justice, I will bury you in the back yard alive.” The line went dead, and Tru was tempted to toss the fucking phone across the room. But she only laid it down on her lap and counted. It was the only way she knew that worked to bring her temper down. When she got to five hundred, Tru stretched and tried again. Nothing was working right now, and she had a feeling that was her fucking fault as well. Screaming made her feel better, but Tru was startled when Mrs. Robinson came into the room with a gun in her hand. Staring at each other, Tru nodded when Meggie asked her if she was all right. Then she simply turned and left her there. Tru had no idea why, but she thought that was the funniest thing she’d seen in a long time. The mild-mannered Mrs. Robinson standing in the living room, with a flower in her hair and wearing a huge apron—obviously meant for a man—pointing a gun at the outside door. Tru thought that image alone would get her through the worst of times for the rest of her life. Suddenly exhausted, she pulled the pretty afghan over her body and closed her eyes. Perhaps when she woke up, she’d feel well enough to go back to Rogen’s home— if she’d be welcome there. Tru knew she’d fucked up big time, but right now, she didn’t care if she fixed it.

Bancroft Dalton Kiss Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

Dalton’s Kiss Series

  1. Bancroft
  2. Stanley
  3. Donald
  4. Clyde
  5. Ramon
  6. Brian

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

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

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Kelly played with the clay in her hand and thought about the work she still needed to do. The bust was coming along nicely, she supposed. But she had a feeling that the information she’d been given two days ago wasn’t correct. The skull, or what was left of it, wasn’t that of an older white woman at all, but that of a young child—a male. And he hadn’t been dead nearly as long as she’d been led to believe, the fifteen years that her boss had told her. She had also found other things that were wrong. “Well, Kelly, you’re not going to finish if you stand around staring at it while having a one-sided conversation. You know what you have to do. It’s start over or stare at this sucker until it fixes itself.” She made sure that she was at least reasonably alone before she tore everything off the partial skull to start over. She’d been talking to herself for years, and the dead didn’t mind it at all, she thought with a giggle. “Now, this is where it will start getting me sacked.” Kelly Roman worked as a forensic anthropologist, as well as working with the police in forensic clues in one of the most deadly cities in the nation. Always, someone that liked to be on top of things in the medical field, Kelly was a medical doctor, a coroner, as well as a registered police officer when she needed to wear that hat. Also, when they needed some specialized work, she would go to work with the FBI. And she hated it. Not what she did—Kelly loved working on the remains of the dead and solving their deaths, putting them together so their families could lay them to rest. It was her boss, Lord Shamus Van, that she disliked with a double side of passion. No one knew if he was a real lord or not. She personally didn’t think so, nor did she really care. She thought perhaps he’d been an overseer for someone when he was younger and the job had gone to his head. Shamus treated everyone like he was used to cracking the whip and people doing what he said. At two-thirty in the morning, just a little over six hours after she’d started over, she knew that she’d been correct. Not only was it a male, but he’d been younger than she’d first thought.

Only having the skull, and only part of that, made guessing harder if the information she’d been given was wrong in the first place. Instead of being ten to twelve, she was sure that his age was closer to five or six. Thinking of the other things that she’d been told, Kelly decided it was time that she stood up to stretch and look over those notes for a moment. She’d forget to do that at times and would stiffen up terribly if she sat for too long. “What are you doing here, Miss Roman?” Nearly screaming when his lordship spoke behind her, she dropped her glass of water and it went everywhere. “You were told there would be no overtime paid to you if you worked past midnight again. What are you doing here at this hour anyway? I want you out of here right this moment. And you’ll be here on time in the morning as well. Don’t think you can slack off on my—the work you’ve been assigned.”

Something about the way he kept looking around seemed like he was either thinking that they weren’t alone, or that she wasn’t. Or he was expecting someone and didn’t want her to know about the meeting—or whatever they were doing here. Instead of answering him, she asked him what he was doing there. “I mean, as far as I understand it, the overtime rule didn’t just apply to me. It applied to you as well. But now that I think about it, you rarely work forty hours a week as it is.” She glared at him. “That didn’t answer my question, by the way. What are you doing here?” “I come and go as I please, young lady. And I certainly do not answer to a second rate pathologist like you.” She watched as he looked at the clock that was behind him for the second time in as many minutes. “I want you to leave here this moment. I will not say it again.” “Good. I thought it was boring the first time you said it.” Kelly turned her back on him, shocked that she’d said that to him. “I’m working on that skull you had me working on this morning. Or I guess, yesterday morning. Nothing you told me was correct, by the way. What’s up with that mess?” Leaving him there, she decided that it felt pretty good to be able to say what she wanted. Not that she wanted to make a habit of talking back to someone. Kelly was exhausted yet happy, and that was what she was going to say if someone brought her to task about it. “I said for you to— What have you done? Why have you changed the specs on what you were given? Damn it. You’re going to ruin everything.” When he reached for the skull, she stepped in front of the table to block him from touching it. “You will tear up that monstrosity right now and do what you were told. This minute. You are going to regret this.

I’m telling you right now that—” “Is there something going on here? Something that I need to be aware of? Shamus, you asked me to come here at this ungodly hour. What did you want?” She didn’t know the voice, nor the man when she peeked at him around Shamus. “Shamus, leave that young woman alone and answer me.” “Well, I was hoping to do this without her here, but since she has broken the rules—again, I might add—then this will be as good a time as ever. This is Miss Kelly Roman, the bane of my existence. I wanted you to see the work she’s been doing.” Shamus put his hands on her shoulders as if to move her. “Just let me show you what she’s been doing. Oh my, Kelly, what are you doing with my bust?” “What? Your bust? I’ve been working on this all evening. We just had a conversation about it not ten seconds ago. Did you hit your head again when you fell? You’re forever falling on the floor in those ridiculous shoes you wear.” He didn’t have to move her—she turned herself to see what he’d been talking about. “This is my head. You’ve only just arrived here, as I said.” “No. No, you don’t have that right at all. I’ve been here all night. You just came and told me that you were taking my work.” Shamus looked at the stranger. “I was working on this head when she came in here yelling at me to give her the head. I was bent over it working to make sure that we had the correct head. I wanted you to see the notes that she has. They’re nothing like the ones we were given at the meeting, sir.”

Kelly knew she was going to be in deep trouble here. What bothered her most was the way that the stranger was watching her, like she was something he’d caught in a trap. Turning back to Shamus, she tried to salvage her job. “What meeting? I didn’t write those notes. You handed them to me at nine o’clock this morning and told me that what the chief of police was saying the skull was supposed to be was written there. It’s not right, as I’m sure anyone above second rate can see.” Kelly looked at the man again and dawning became clear. “You’re the new chief of police, I’m assuming. You’re here to look at…I’m assuming he told you that I wasn’t playing ball with the new department head, and brought you in here to see the original skull that I’d been working on. The one that wasn’t right from the start.” “Mr. Van was at the meeting this morning when I called everyone in to tell them about the case that was sitting on my desk for six months before I was hired.” He looked her up and down before continuing. “Mr. Van told me that you were out the night before with your boyfriend, and refused to get up and come into a mandatory meeting. Is that correct?” She looked at Shamus, then at her bust. As much as she hated to admit it, she was finished. Not because he told her that she was fired, but because she didn’t have it in her to try and salvage her job every day she had to work here. Not only that, but she just couldn’t bring herself to defend herself to a stranger who was looking at her like he was. Shamus was forever putting her on the spot about this or that.

Whatever was said by her now would only make her look worse than the picture that Shamus had painted of her. It was a clear case of the boss said this and his employee didn’t say what he wanted to hear. Nodding once, she picked up her bust and crushed it against the table. It was her work, and she wasn’t going to leave it behind to be used by either of these pricks. Going out the door, making sure that she knocked against the table enough that the bust fell to the floor, she left the room. There was cursing and laughter, but she didn’t turn to see who was doing what. Kelly was just too pissed off to care anymore. Gathering up her things, she emptied her locker—there wasn’t much in it anyway—then grabbed her jacket and went to the timeclock. It was hard to see through her tears, but she refused to let them fall where anyone here could see them. Clocking out, no one tried to stop her. When she was checked for anything she shouldn’t be taking with her at the front door, she handed her badge to Joe, the security officer on duty. “Kelly? What’s going on?” Shaking her head, she told Joe, the nicest security guard she’d worked within the eight years she’d been here, that she’d had enough. “This have anything to do with his lordship?” “I have to go now. All right? I’ll come over later, when I can, and tell you about what happened.” He nodded at her this time and she left. Kelly was nearly to her car when her cell phone started ringing. Taking it out of her pocket, she turned it off and took it back to Joe, as it was a company phone. He handed her a receipt not only for the phone but also the lock that she’d turned in and her badge.

It would be just like his lordship to sue her for not turning her crap in. Both of them, she and Joe, knew it. She was halfway home when her personal cell phone rang. Turning it off—she was too distraught to talk to anyone at the moment—Kelly made her way home. Pulling into the drive to the apartment complex she was living in, she had a moment of fear. Two cruisers with their lights on were near her front door. Then she realized they were there for the couple that lived next door to her in the apartment she rented. Domestic call, one of the officers told her when she asked if she could go into her home. Giving her permission, he asked her to look in her front room for any kind of bullet holes, as the couple had been trying to kill one another. After checking and finding nothing, she told him and then locked herself into her place. The tears were coming almost as soon as the lock engaged. Kelly was good at what she did. She’d been doing sculpting for the police force for several years before she started working with the bureau. She wasn’t employed by the Feds, but she did do work for them when they had bones that they couldn’t identify. The extra money was good, and she had banked every penny of it for her first house. Shamus had hated that she did theirs over the work that he wanted her to do. Actually, Shamus hated everything that she did. Tonight had been the last straw. It was him or her, and she knew enough to know that she’d never be able to work with someone like him again. Changing into her soft jammies, she sat on the couch and turned on the television. If there had been a murder going on in front of her, she wouldn’t have noticed. Her mind kept going back to the skull she’d been working on, as well as Shamus trying to take credit for her work.

When someone knocked on her door, she thought about ignoring it but got up when the pounding became harder. Pulling the door open, she glared at the person standing there. “What the heck do you want? I think I’ve had enough crapola happen to me for one day, how about you?” The man, the chief of police, asked if he could come in. She moved back from the door. Kelly waved her hand to show him he could enter, but he just stared at her. “You have to invite me in, Kelly.” It took her a full minute to figure out what he was saying to her. “Yes, I’m a vampire. And if you’d allow me to come in, I’ll explain things to you. I also want to talk to you about Shamus Van. I have some questions about his work ethic, as well as some of the things that he—” “No.” He cocked a brow at her. “No, that’s what I said. No. I’m not inviting you in so that you can do whatever you want in here. I’d like to think that I’m strong enough to fight you off, but we both know that since you’re more than likely older than my parents, you have shit going on that I can’t even understand right now. What do you want?” “I came to see you about the remains that had been found. I swear to you, that’s all I need for the moment.” She just stood there, tapping her foot. “All right—that’s the truth. I can’t lie to you anyway, but I did go there to see what you’d come up with on it. I had no idea that Shamus had sabotaged your working there. But in the three weeks, I’ve been working as chief, I’ve heard more about your bad work habits than I have about all the other men that are working for me.

He’s a little bastard if you ask me.” “I didn’t. But that’s not a bad description of him. Why did you allow him to go on telling you that he’d done my work? Or for that matter, why did you have to go there with him? He hates me, you know.” The chief, she thought his name was Bancroft Dalton, told her that Shamus did hate her. “Well, that was harsh. Couldn’t you have just said you didn’t know? Not that it matters. I’m not going to work for him or you anymore. I have had enough of being treated as a— What did you just say to me?” “Which time?” She glared at him. “Well, we have had quite an extensive conversation while I’m standing out here where people can see me. Perhaps you could narrow it down just a little.” “You said that you can’t lie to me.” He said that he couldn’t. “I don’t know that many vampires—just two of them—but I do know a great many shifters. When they say crapola like that it means that they’re mated or something. Please tell me that isn’t what it means to you as a vamp.” “I’m afraid it does.” She slammed the door in his face, and she heard him laughing. That ticked her off enough that she opened the door again to yell at him. Mrs. Miller, the woman across the hall from her, was speaking to Bancroft. “Yes, ma’am. We’ve had a little spat, and I’m trying my best to make it up to her. She’s very stubborn.” “A woman needs to be stubborn nowadays. If they’re not, then men will think they’re nothing more than the rug under their stinky feet. You should have come on your knees with flowers, young man. It never hurts to be bringing her pretties, even when you’ve not screwed up enough to have you on the other side of the door.” Mrs. Miller looked at her. “You’re home late, honey.

You might want to let this man in to keep you safe. There are all kinds of monsters out there that can hurt you.” “I would never hurt her.” Mrs. Miller told him to see that he didn’t. “Yes, ma’am. I wouldn’t hurt her for any reason. I just want to speak to her for a little while here. She’s stubborn, as I said.” “Get in here, you fool.” He stepped over the threshold, and Kelly had the wind knocked out of her when his magic or whatever hit her. “You did something. What did you do? I’m telling you right now, I’m not going to be putting up with any shenanigans. I have enough crapola going on in my life without you interfering.” “Shenanigans? Crapola? How old are you?” He laughed, then sat down where she’d been on the couch. “Since I’m assuming you don’t want to talk about us, then I’m going to talk to you about the skull you were working on. You were told that it wasn’t a small child, I’m assuming.” “He said that it was that of a small adult female. When I started on it, having that in mind, it wouldn’t work at all. And there is never going to be an us, you idiot. I don’t want anyone in my life that is going to be there at the end of the day to tell me what a lousy job I’m doing.” He asked her who had done that to her. “No one that you’d know. I’m not going to work for Shamus anyway. The Feds have offered me a full-time position, and I’m going to take it. I’ll have my own office.

I’ll work only on cases for them, and I’ll not have to put up with Shamus.” “I don’t want to burst your bubble or anything, Kelly, but there are Shamuses everywhere you look.” She knew that but didn’t bother answering him. “I would like for you to come back and work for the city in this case. If at the end of the case, you still don’t want to work for us, then I will give you a glowing recommendation and help you move to whatever station they put you in. However, you have to keep in mind that as of the moment we met, where you go, I go. I won’t keep you from your work, but I can’t live without you now that I’ve found you.” Kelly sat down on the chair and thought about what he was saying. She needed a job. While she had been offered the job at the federal level, she wasn’t sure she wanted to take that either. It would mean a move, one that she would have to make if she wanted the job. There were just too many things that were depending on her being local. The most important thing was the little house she’d been dreaming of since she’d been about ten. “I’ll work on the remains, but if Shamus so much as breathes in my direction, I’ll walk out, and you’ll never find me. I know enough to know that since you’ve not touched me, finding me would be difficult. I’m not saying impossible, but it wouldn’t be easy. And I won’t be. Easy, I mean. I don’t want this at all.” He told her that he understood.

“When I tell you to back the heck off, you’d better do it too.” “I will. I won’t rush you.” He stood up when she did. “I need this done as soon as you can get to it. There are a great many people that need to know if it’s their child or not. I have made sure that you have everything you need, including the correct paperwork. Please, could you come back with me today and work on it? Shamus Van is no longer working for the city.” ~*~ Bancroft looked over the paperwork in front of him without seeing it. She was only a few floors below him, and he wasn’t allowed to go and talk to her. Not even to see if she had everything she needed. Kelly had told him, in no uncertain terms, that she didn’t want him breathing on her. Bancroft thought that she was the most beautiful, refreshing woman he’d ever met. “Sir? You asked me to tell you when Dr. Roman needed something. She’s asking for the key. Since I don’t know what that might mean in her department, I thought you might know.” He didn’t but got up to go see what sort of key hadn’t been turned in by Van. “Something about supplies. I know that she’d need them, but as for what it might be, I’m clueless. Did you know that she can carry a gun, but won’t?” “No, I didn’t. Why would—? Did you say that she was Doctor Roman?” He said that it was on her new name badge. Bancroft made a mental note to find her file and look it over. “I had no idea. I need to get to know all the people that work for me a little better. Do you have a good idea about the men and women here?” “Yes, sir. I’ve been the mailman here for nearly twelve years. I know them all.” They were in the elevator when he turned to him. “My name is Roger Dodger. I know what you’re going to ask—did my parents hate me or something?

I believe that they might have. Everyone just calls me Dodge.” “I’d like for you to work with me for a while. Perhaps forever. I need someone that can keep track of me. Do you think you can do that? You’ll be working with me at my home. As I said, I need someone that can keep track of me and my day.” Dodge’s chest looked as if it expanded three times as he started nodding. “Good. I’d like that. I’ll find you an office someplace where I live, and we can work on your duties while we get acquainted. Ask for Jamison when you get there, and he’ll introduce you to the staff. It’s important that you get to know all of them as well. All right?” “An office too? My goodness.” The elevator opened. Bancroft heard the cursing, at least Kelly’s version of it before Dodge did, and while Dodge was afraid, Bancroft thought it funny. Whatever had happened since he left her, she wasn’t the least bit shy about venting about it. “Doc, I asked, and he said he didn’t know. He’s come down to help you.” “He took the key. Not only that, but he must have changed out the frigging lock so that I couldn’t get to the items that I need. I hate that man.” She glared at Bancroft. “I thought I told you to go away. You’re a pain in the bottom.” “I would love to hear where you’ve picked up the colorful way you were cursing before I got here. What’s in there that you need? I’m not saying that you don’t need it, but I have a way of getting into the room when no one else can.” She said she needed calipers, as well as depth markers. “I’m not sure what the second one is, but I can get in there without a key.”

He looked at Dodge. “I would appreciate it if you said nothing about what you’re about to see or hear. I’m a very old vampire.” “I knew that already, sir.” When Bancroft only shook his head, he disappeared from the room they were in into the locker room. Kelly wasn’t going to be any happier about the state of the room than she was about being locked out, he was afraid. Turning the lock, he stood in front of the doorway before she could enter. As soon as she looked around him, he could tell that not only was she royally pissed off, but hurt too. He could only stand there and watch her as she dealt with the emotions on her own. Bancroft had promised not to touch her until she was ready. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve been gathering these things up so that we’d have a good working station? Years of hitting garage sales and auctions. Now, look at it. It’s all but ruined. Why would he do this?” She started picking things up and putting salvageable things into the boxes that were there. He asked her if he could help. “I need all the glasses put into a box if you don’t mind. I guess it doesn’t matter if the lenses are in them. But I do need the glasses.” As he picked them up, tossing out the lenses on the ones that were shattered, Dodge started separating the depth markers, or landmarks, she’d called them—little dots of dowel that would not just measure the thickness of the skin, but also keep it all evened out. He was a little disconcerted when he noticed that there were hundreds of eyeballs looking at him from all over the room when he finished with the glasses.

It took them nearly two hours to get the place back in shape. There had been a great deal of destruction of the equipment. He made himself a mental note to figure out the cost of each thing and charge Van for it. Bancroft was also going to make sure that Kelly had a cash allowance to spend on things that she picked up where she could. She was more than likely saving the city a great deal of money by picking up things like glasses and wigs that didn’t come from a wholesaler. He had security look for the key to the room, and it wasn’t found, so he called someone in to fix that. Calling a locksmith to have the locks changed seemed to cheer Kelly up. When he walked into the room where he’d first met her, he couldn’t believe the skull work that she’d gotten done already. “It would have been a great deal better had I had all the skull, as well as more bones,” Bancroft said that he had them. “Van told me that the police had only found the partial skull. Why wasn’t—? Never mind. I can answer that one on my own. He didn’t want me to have them. May I have them please?” She was upset again, and he didn’t know what to do to comfort her. His beast wanted to find Van and tear him up. But that would only piss her off more, he thought. Bancroft went to the storage room and picked up the box of bones. He did have a moment of fear that Van had gotten to them as well, but they were still in the evidence bag that had been in his office up until yesterday morning. “I’m going to reconstruct the body, then I can have a better idea of what I’m working with. Did anyone try and do any kind of DNA off the bones?” He pulled out the paperwork that had been with the evidence bags and handed it to her. “Seven months ago?

And you’ve not heard back from them? What the heck, Chief Dalton. Are you slacking on your job as well?” He nearly laughed again, thinking that she was so adorable, but thought better of it. She was in a mood. While he didn’t know all her moods yet, he was sure that laughing at her might get him hurt. “I’ve only been here for three weeks. I did mention that, didn’t I?” She growled at him, and he let go of a burst of laughter. “How about I go and call someone to find out what is going on with the results? That will give you plenty of time to work on that growl you have. You need to have it come from the belly. That way, it doesn’t sound so wimpy.” He left before she built up the nice head of steam that he could see coming. Christ, she was beautiful. The fact that she didn’t hold back in speaking to him made him feel like he could spend the day pissing her off just to be delighted by her reactions. Bancroft had a feeling that mate or not, she’d murder him in his sleep, so he would hold back on that fun for a while. Bancroft had to call three different places before he was able to run down the tests that he wanted. The first company hung up on him, telling him that they’d never work for the city again so long as Shamus Van was there. He didn’t get a chance to tell them that he didn’t work there anymore, but he did make himself a note to email them, as well as pay the overdue balance that the city had with them.

The second testing office that he called had been out of business for a year. If he was going to make this work, he was going to have to update the phone numbers that were in the old fashioned Rolodex that was on his desk. By the time he got the right place, several hours had passed, and he was exhausted. Going to the sublevels again, it occurred to him that he could have called Kelly to let her know, but he was glad that he hadn’t when he found her. She’d fallen asleep at the messiest desk he’d ever seen and was snoring slightly. Turning around when Dodge said his name softly, he was astonished at how much work she’d gotten done while he’d been gone. The bones were laid out to form a body. He could see that she’d even marked a couple of places where bones were missing as to what they were. Walking around the table that she’d used, Bancroft could see things that he’d bet no other human could have. This wasn’t just a case of a missing child, as he’d been told. This was murder.

 

 

Oliver M/M Romance Release Blitz & Giveaway

Oliver Moody had a lot on his plate. He was a self-made billionaire, but his personal life left a lot to be desired. Even with his mother and sister plotting his untimely demise, Oliver sought custody of his nephew Lyle, a lost soul he felt was worth saving. Even though he had a lot of new friends, Oliver was still a lonely man.

The doctors had told David Finch he had less than a year to live. The cancer had spread like fire through his body. That day he met Oliver was the best and worst day of his life. He had finally found his soulmate, only to have it snatched away. David was devastated.

Oliver and his newfound family had more magic than David realized…. Maybe there was hope for them yet….

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

The death of his sister and niece brought Easton back into town. He carried the guilt of not protecting her from that monster she was married to. Now she was dead, and that monster was in jail where he belonged. Easton would take his infant nephew Alex to raise as his own.
Wayne and Cara had come from the same wolf pack and had both lost their families when the new alpha took over. For years they had only had each other and loved each other like brother and sister. Wayne was gay, but he wanted a child. Cara agreed to be a surrogate and grant him his wish.
Easton had been waiting for the elevator when the doors opened. Cara was in labor and Wayne was doing his best to keep her calm as he pushed her off the elevator. When the wheelchair rolled past, Cara grabbed Easton’s hand like a lifeline when pain hit her. In the confusion, Easton and Wayne touched hands and the connection was instant.
Easton had found his mate. Both men knew it as soon as they touched, but the past had a way of sneaking upon them. Both men had past baggage and Wayne had a secret he feared would tear them apart….

 

 

 

 

 Forbidden Series 

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Henry  http://amzn.to/2E0yWcK
Cameron https://amzn.to/2R

Brody https://amzn.to/2WE6wPz
Easton https://amzn.to/2VjQudr
Oliver https://amzn.to/2Vg3cLJ

 

 

 

 

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Breathing was like having his balls crushed in the hand of someone that had no clue what that did to a man. He was sure the pain he was in right now was much worse than that. Lyle had no illusions that he was anything near being a man yet. When he’d been living with his mom, he thought he was. But now that he was hanging around his Uncle Oliver, he realized that he was nothing more than the little shit that Grandpa had called him. Especially when he thought about all the really dumb things he’d done before the accident and his death experience. “You want something for the pain?” Shaking his head, he told Gracie what she said that he could call her, that he was doing just fine. “Sure, you are. If nothing else, Lyle, you get your stubbornness honestly. Your grandpa and your uncle are the same.” “Thanks.” She just grinned at him when he did the same. “I’m afraid of getting hooked on them, to be honest with you. I’ve seen what it could do to people firsthand. Only thing is they didn’t have to deal with any more pain if they didn’t get the drugs. I’ll take them when I really need them.” “I’m sure you have seen a lot. But the doctor told you that if you let the pain get the better of you, it’ll take more of it to bring the pain back down. Just let yourself be rested. That way, we can both benefit from it.” Lyle, so very insecure now, asked her if she was mad at him. “No. I’m just thinking about the homework you have to do for your class. You should work on it when you’re feeling better. You don’t need to do it all at one time.” “I know. But I have a lot of work to catch up on. I’m working at a sixth-grade level, Uncle Oliver told me. I was a freshman when I started screwing around, and Mom yanked me out of school.

The more I think on that, I wonder why she did that. I wasn’t doing that bad. Not yet, anyway.” She nodded. “I hate to bring this up, Grace, but have you told him what my grandma did to you to get you to help her?” “I haven’t. I’m going to, but I haven’t yet. He’s going to fire me. Not that I don’t deserve it, but I like working for Oliver. Also, it’s going to hurt my family.” Lyle knew that. It was what his grandma was counting on. “I saw that you wrote out everything you’d been involved with concerning your mom and grandma. That must have been difficult for you.” “No. I thought it would be too, but it wasn’t. I’m coming clean like I told him I would. He’s going to make my life into something. I’m working on it with him. Uncle Oliver told me not to forget that I have to do this for me as well. But in my heart, I know that I did him way wrong. I’m ashamed of myself.” Gracie told him that she was ashamed of herself too. “You’re not going to feel any better if you don’t tell him. I know what you’re feeling. It’s like a festering sore, huh?” “It is.” She looked away. “I never in my life dreamed that was what she wanted the code for. I thought it was to steal something of his and then get him to pay her for it.

She didn’t know then what sort of trouble she was in with the bank, but I don’t know other than that I could have saved him if I had just told him.” “You should do it today.” Gracie looked at him then. “You got them someplace safe now, don’t you? I mean, she can’t hurt your parents and sister anymore if she can’t find them, right? You should ask him for help after you tell him everything.” “Tell him what everything?” Uncle Oliver sat down and smiled at him. “I looked over your homework from yesterday before I turned it in for you. You’re doing so much better now. I didn’t even have to tell you that you spelled your name wrong again.” “Gracie has something to tell you. Something important.” Uncle Oliver looked at her, then back at him. “She’s going to have a stroke or something if she doesn’t tell you. But you have to promise me that you don’t go flying off the handle like I would have done a month ago. Okay? I mean, it’s really important that you hear everything. Okay?” “Is it that she helped my mother by telling her the code to my offices?” Gracie stood up, then sat down when Uncle Oliver told her to do it. “I’ve known since the day after I woke up in the hotel. You really didn’t think that I’d not be told who it was that allowed them entrance, did you, Grace? I’m also aware that what she did to make you do that must have hurt you badly. And for that, I’m profoundly sorry, Grace.” “I’m so sorry too.” He asked her if they were safe. “I’m sorry? What did you just say to me?” Uncle Oliver repeated what he’d asked her. Lyle watched the two of them like he would the ball in a tennis match. “You knew that they had my family? You knew what they did to them? Who? How did you find out?” “Quincey.” Lyle had met the big vampire.

It scared the shit…crap out of him even just to hear his name. Looking around to see if he was lurking in corners in the hospital room with them, he tried to make himself look really small, so as not to draw any attention to himself if he was around. “He knew what they had done in the way that they’d hurt your father. Your mom, she’s getting stronger every day, correct? Quincey told me that your sister wasn’t there, or she may well have hurt her as well. But I knew. And I also knew that you’d get around to telling me. It took you long enough.” “There was a great deal going on.” Uncle Oliver nodded then got up to look out the window. “I’m sorry that you were hurt, Oliver. It was never in my mind that they’d try and kill you. But they’d hurt my dad badly enough that we didn’t think he was going to make it. My mother didn’t fare much better. I’ll give you my resignation as soon as—” “I don’t want you to quit, Grace. I know that you had no choice. I have come to see that my life is better than it was before this all came to pass. You do as well, I’m thinking.” She said that she’d been in on him nearly being murdered. “Yes, you were. And you told me you’re sorry for it. The police have no idea what happened. My mother and sister think they messed up somehow. I’d like to keep it that way. Also, I hope that if they approach you again for something like that, you’ll tell me so that I can keep you safe. Now that it’s out in the open, I’d like for you to allow me to take care that your family is as safe as mine is.” “I’ve moved them to my aunt’s house. They, your mother and sister, don’t know that I own it. As you said, I’d like to keep it that way. But I’ve made them safe.” Uncle Oliver pulled out his cell phone and then put it on speaker when someone answered.

“What’s going on?” “Cam, this is Oliver. Yes, much better, thank you. I’d like you to do me a favor. With a computer. Can you see if Grace Lane owns any other property in town? Just do your thing with the computer.” While Lyle didn’t understand that, he watched Gracie. Her face was very pale, and when Cam came back on the line with an address, she had to put her head between her knees. Lyle hurt himself trying to help her. She was visibly upset. “That’s all they have to do?” Uncle Oliver told Gracie that they’d not have Cam do it, but it really was that easy. “I don’t want them hurt again. I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to them again. Please, I’ll do anything you want. Anything. Just don’t let them be hurt again.” “Cam, thank you so much.” He must have asked him what was going on. “I have my nephew and my good friend Grace here. Her parents were caught up in something nasty and were kidnapped by gunpoint, then beaten to shit when they didn’t think Grace was going to help. My mother did that. She even got her hands dirty in doing it. I was wondering if there was someplace they could stay and be as safe as you’ve made us here.” “Yes. But in order to make them as safe as I can, I’ll have to have a few things from you. Not necessarily just you, but from others.” Uncle Oliver told him that he’d give him any sort of information or money that he needed. “I don’t need the money, but I do need for you to tell me a couple of things. Do they drive? I mean, do they need to be near a grocery store?” Lyle watched Gracie again while Uncle Oliver answered all the questions.

It had been only two weeks that he’d been awake and talking since the car accident, but Uncle Oliver had done a great deal to make sure that he could be a good man. He’d bet anything that he’d do the same for Gracie. She was a nice lady. A month ago, he’d been riding around with a couple of friends of his. Well, the other kids were his friends, but the driver hadn’t been. Lyle had been drunk then, as he was most of the time back before all this, and when the car started to speed up, he simply tightened the seatbelt that was around his waist and let the wind blow over his face. It was the coolest thing he’d ever done. Right up until the car began tossing him around like a ripe tomato and he felt himself lurch forward when the car suddenly stopped like someone had put something in front of him. The tree had been huge and old, he’d been told. Lyle hadn’t been out there since he woke up, but he did remember being cut from the car and the pain that he was in. Uncle Oliver told him that he’d have to face his demons. He meant that once he was on the mend that he had to see what was left of the car, as well as what had happened to the other victims that had been with them. He knew enough that two of them were killed on impact. One of them, the driver, had ended up in the top of a tree so far away it was only by chance that he’d been found. That, Uncle Oliver, told him, could very well have been him.

Lyle told himself that every day when he wanted to whine about something that wasn’t going his way. He knew it would stay with him for the rest of his life, even if he didn’t have hundreds of cuts all over his body. Even being taken out of the car like he had, he knew that he’d been dead a few times. They’d had to work hard to save his life. He was going to make sure that no one was disappointed that they had. Then when he’d been on the operating table, his grandpa had come to see him. He’d died some years ago, and Lyle had thought for sure that he was dead as well. He was, he’d been told. He’d been told that he’d died several times that day, and he was lucky that someone had cared enough to come and tell him what a putz he’d been. Worse than that, his grandpa had told him he was a horrible, terrible person. Grandpa had asked him if he thought that he was worth the trouble of someone saving him. It was the first time that anyone had put it to him like that, and Lyle knew that he’d not been. But he didn’t want to die either. He told him that. “You remember that all the time, and you might just make it,” Lyle asked him what he had to do. “You can start by turning your life around. You can do it too. You’ve only done some petty shit that will get you into a little trouble, but you’re headed for the big times if I don’t miss my bet. Just like your momma there. Lyle, that momma and grandmammy of yours, they’re going to drag you right down with them.” He told him he could get some help with that, turning himself around with Uncle Oliver’s help. “Oliver is a good man, that grandson of mine. Now you? You should have been nothing more than a stain on your momma’s sheets. But you’re here now, and there is nothing we can do about that. Except to allow you to die right there on the operating table.” He didn’t want to but thought that it was no less than he deserved. “You want to make things right with yourself and live to tell about what you’ve been up to?” “I do. I really do. I don’t want to…I could have died, and no one would have given a rats ass about it.” Grandpa said that he wouldn’t have either had he not been killed off by Honey. “Grandma killed you? Why?” He knew the answer to that now. It wasn’t just that she wanted the jewelry that Grandpa had given over to Uncle Oliver, but she wanted it all. Everything that didn’t belong to her. The same way he had been, he was sorry to say.

But no more. Lyle had a long list of things that he was going to have to do. None of it was really all that difficult. He had to go to school when he was able, and keep his grades up, which was something he’d always been able to do without much studying. And he was to own up to what kind of person he’d been and make restitution. That, he thought, was harder than anything, admitting that he’d been a part of some really terrible things while living with his mom, and sometimes living with Grandma too. Lyle had allowed his mom to take him out of school when he started causing some trouble. She was to blame for that. Not fully, because he knew that he could have just not done what she wanted. But after a while, he’d gotten lazy, Uncle Oliver told him. Lazy in that it was easier to be a bastard than it had been to be nice. Being nice, he was beginning to understand, was a lot more difficult than he ever thought it had been. With this newfound revelation, he was also beginning to respect his uncle a great deal more. He wasn’t just nice, though he was, even when it was hard to be nice to someone like he’d been to Lyle all these years.

Lyle knew now that he would have just cut Uncle Oliver out of his life if he’d been in his shoes. But Uncle Oliver hadn’t ever done that. Even now, he was taking him under his wing and making sure that he had everything he needed while in the hospital. Lyle knew for a fact that his mom wouldn’t have done squat for him. Not even with him being her son would she have bothered if she could shove it off on someone else. The phone ringing by his bedside only meant one thing—his mother, grandmother, or both were coming to see him. When Gracie and Uncle Oliver left him there, without a single trace of them ever being there, he felt his heartbreak just a little. Lyle didn’t want his other relatives there with him. He wanted his uncle and Gracie. He put his homework under the table they put his meds on and closed up the computer. Putting it under his pillow, he was careful of moving too. He wasn’t going to go home with them anytime soon, but he didn’t want them to think he was healing more either. “There you are. Are you going to stay awake for a little while this time, dumbass? I swear to you, Lyle, I think they know when we’re coming up to see you and dope you up. Have they told you where you’re going after you leave here?” His mom sat on the side of his bed, smashing part of his leg with her hip. It pulled all the stitches in his leg like a chain saw going up and down him. Yelling for her to get off him, she smacked him on the chest. “Don’t you dare talk to me like that. What is wrong with you?” Before he could tell her that she was hurting him, the nurse came in. “I heard you yelling, Lyle. Is there—? Get off that bed. Are you trying to send him back to surgery? The young man has stitches all over his body, and I’m sure that you’re pulling at them.” Mom got up off the bed, and Lyle hurt. He’d been feeling better, but now he hurt. “Want something for pain, Lyle? You can have it now.”

“Yes.” Mom told her no. She had to talk to him. “Please. She hurt me. I really hurt right now. Can you hurry?” The nurse glared at his mom and left to get his meds. Blood was starting to seep into the sheet above his leg. Even his belly, where he only had a few stitches and a huge bruise, was staining now. Lyle thought that he was going to be sick before the medication made it to him. “What are you doing? I told you no, Lyle. She’s not going to give it to you until I have some answers. Where are you going after this is finished? You can’t come home. I have too much shit going on as it is. Also, the bank is doing something with our money, and I have to go there and get that straightened out. They’ve seized my accounts. What did you tell them?” Lyle asked her what she meant, crying with the pain in his legs. “Well, I certainly didn’t tell them that they needed to do that. And Mom is having the same trouble.” He almost asked them if they’d gotten a letter about two weeks ago, but didn’t. Lyle didn’t want them to know that his uncle had been talking about it before. When the nurse came in with his much-needed meds, she ignored his mom all together. He was sicker now with it, and as soon as the pain medication hit his system, he curled up in his blankets and closed his eyes.

His mom wasn’t nice. Lyle wasn’t just figuring that out, but it was coming home to him more and more. He supposed that finally realizing how bad his mom was had something to do with actually getting to hang out with nice people. And Grandma was the worst. She’d kill an animal if she thought it would make people upset with her. Like she fed on people not liking her. When sleep took him under, he heard his mom yelling at him to stay awake. He decided that he no longer wanted to be with her. Lyle was going to do something, anything, to make sure he got to be with his uncle. He really did want to be a better person. ~*~ Gracie saw Sunshine leave Lyle’s room. While she didn’t look happy about the turn of events, Sunshine did smile at the nurse that had left the room ahead of her. Even from where she was hiding, in an empty room they had set up for them to work from, she could hear the conversation. “When I tell you no, he will not have pain medication, you will not be giving it to him. Do you understand me? I’m his mother.” The nurse nodded and smiled back. “I’m glad that we have that cleared up. I will not pay for anything more for him to have, either. You have to take care of him, but he’s only to get what I approve of. If you’re going to be passing out drugs like they’re free, then you can hand them over to me, and I’ll give them to him when I see fit.” “That’s going to happen about as quickly as I turn over my savings account to you. Also, you know now that I’m his nurse, and I know his pain and his threshold better than you do. If he wants pain medications given to him, I will knock you on your ass to give them to him.” Grace had to stifle a laugh. “Also, you should know that while he’s under the care of this floor, we will bend over backward to make sure that his health and getting himself better far outweighs whatever it is you want. He’s a child who has come back from an accident that might well have killed a lesser person. He’s a good kid. You should know that too.” “He’s not a good kid. I don’t want him to be either. He’s just the way I raised him to be.

Someone that can make it in this world.” Sunshine looked at the other nurses there. “You try and change him, bitch, and I will have your job.” “You can’t even do your job of being a good mother. I doubt very much that you have the balls to even do my job for an hour. You don’t worry me.” The nurse pulled a file up from the desk. “These are the names of the places we’ve found that will take Lyle while he recuperates. You have to sign off on each of them, giving permission for us to send him there or not. There is only one that is free, as you requested us to look for.” “That’s where he’ll go then.” The paperwork was handed to her, and the nurse, she thought her name was Sara, told her what each of the others would cost her. “This one is completely free? You’re sure about that? I don’t want them coming to me when they find out that I have money for their hand out.” “No. It’s free. Everything is included, including his medications and the night nurse.” Grace wondered about that place. She only hoped it would take care of Lyle and not just do it for the drugs that would be there for him to use.

“You have to read it over and sign it, Ms. Graham.” “I’m not going to read that whole thing. Just tell me where to sign it so that I can get out of here. This place smells terrible. You should put some scented candles around or something. It stinks here.” Sunshine signed the paperwork then dropped the pen she’d been handed on the floor. “Oops. I guess I dropped it.” Then in an act of meanness, she crushed the ink pen with her foot. Grace could not believe that this woman was related to her boss and that child in the other room. There had to have been a mix-up at the hospital or something when Oliver was born. That was all she could figure had happened. When she left, Sara turned and looked where she was standing. Smiling at her, Sara brought the paperwork to her. She asked to see Oliver. “He’s left, I’m afraid. Is there anything I can do for you?” Sara just handed her the paperwork. “I’ll make sure that he gets this first thing. Before I forget, Oliver ordered dinner for the staff here to be brought in. Also, for the other two shifts. It should be here around six. I hope that’s all right.” “Perfect. You two have been very nice to us.” She looked toward where Sunshine had been, then back at her. “I can’t believe she’d hurt her son, then try and deny him anything for the pain. If I were in there and in his shape, I’d want medication dripping into me all the time. He’s doing well with managing his pain. The paperwork there says that Oliver can keep Lyle while he’s recuperating. I had the cameras pointed at us in the event she found out and tried to say I didn’t tell her about reading it over.

It was a good idea that your boss had.” “Oliver is a very smart businessman. It’s no wonder that he knows how to get things going in a good direction. About the medications—he told Lyle that it will do him no good to stop taking the medication so that he doesn’t get addicted to it if he’s in constant pain all the time. He explained to him keeping the pain at bay but not gone will make it easier, as well as him using less of it if he doesn’t wait too long to take it.” Sara said that was good advice. “Oliver asked me to find out if you need anything. Not just for the staff, but anything for the floor. He has noticed that you’re running short on some of your office supplies, as well as that your breakroom could use a few extras.” “Water would be wonderful. I know that is a lot to ask for, but we can always use bottled water. We drink it ourselves, and when there are people here visiting, we give it to them as well.” Grace made a mental note about that. “You tell Oliver that he’s a good man. And that we appreciate him helping us out.” “I will. Thank you for taking such good care of his nephew too.” When Sara left her, Grace made her way to the breakroom that they’d been using as well. It was filled twice a week, but she was sure that they could use a few more things in it. Grace made note that there didn’t seem to be a refrigerator in the room that would hold much. The small one they had, like the ones people used in colleges, didn’t hold all that much. She also looked around at the two little tables and one chair. Grace wondered if all the rooms the nursing staff had to use for breaks were like this one.

“Hello, Grace.” She turned around when she saw a well-dressed man standing behind her. It took her mind a minute to make out who it was. It was Jake Winslow. “I had a couple of questions for Oliver, but I’m to understand that he’s left. Perhaps you can answer them?” “I can try.” They headed back to the little office set up that they’d been using. “He’s gone out to make sure that two places he’s looking at are all right for a business that he’s working on. Things are so much cheaper here than they are in London, I think. Then there is all the work going—” “Grace. Calm down.” She had been talking fast, something that she did when she was very nervous. “Tell me what has you so worked up. Maybe I can help you with that too.” “I’m not sure. Sunshine, a terrible name for a person like her, just left. She hurt Lyle, the nurse told me, and wanted to deny him pain medications.” He asked her how she’d done it. “I’m not sure. I just overheard the nurse telling Sunshine that he could have the pain medications whenever he wanted them. I didn’t think to ask. Also, I talked to Oliver about my part in him getting hurt. He knew already.” When she started to cry, it was just too much—he held her. These men, all of them, were the nicest people she’d been around. They’d been by several times in the last few days to watch Lyle so that she could go home and get cleaned up. A couple of them had even taken her out to dinner so that she didn’t have to eat brought in food all the time. When she apologized for crying all over him, Jake told her that he was there for her. Nodding, she did feel better and started again on what she’d been doing. He sat in one of the chairs that Oliver had brought in and acted like he was there for a long stay.

She particularly liked Jake and Forrest out of all of the others. They were calmer and calming to be around. “The houses here are much better priced. Younger, too, than anything that Oliver had been looking at. London is a lovely place to live, but I think I like the States so much better.” She looked at him when he agreed. “My family isn’t safe from his family. I thought I had it covered, but I realized that people who want something, people like the Moodys and the Grahams, will go to great lengths to make sure you realize that they’re going to hurt you no matter what.” “Yes, that’s about right. In my experience, they usually get caught in the end, but they hurt so many in the process. What were you doing in the break room just a moment ago?” She told him what Oliver had asked her to do. “So you think they need something bigger in the way of a fridge too? I can see that. And thinking of the other stations was nice of you. You figure out what they need per area, and we’ll go in with Oliver to make it happen. We donate a great deal to the hospital, and this will be something that just the nurses can enjoy.” “I don’t know if Oliver will think it’s a good idea yet,” Jake told her that he would agree with her. “They said that they needed water. I don’t know why, but I think they don’t mean a twenty-four pack. What do you think it would cost to bring in truckloads of water?”

“Good question. I’ll find out. That is a brilliant idea. Keeping them hydrated all the time will keep them healthy too. That much water wouldn’t be stored in the rooms, but I’m betting that we can find a place to store it so that they can get it when they need it.” Embarrassed to be praised so highly, she turned her back to him. “Something else you might want to add to your list you’re making is snacks. When we were in here a few weeks ago when one of our clients was hurt, they only had graham crackers. I think having a bowl of fruit delivered daily might be just the ticket. You know, apples and oranges and the like.” She added things to her list as they talked. Twice she asked him if he wanted her to call Oliver, but he told her he was just enjoying talking to her. Jake was a wonderful person. She was glad that he was nice enough just to hang out with her for a time. Someone else to talk to made her lifeless boring right now.

Matthew House Of Wilkshire Release Blitz & Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

 

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18+ Erotic Shapeshifter Romance, fantasy romance, paranormal fantasy

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Jackson William hadn’t seen his father in centuries. Now his father was dead, he was now king, and the dragon council wanted to hold him responsible for his father’s crimes? And there had been many. The truth would be his salvation. Nicole needed a job. A job that would put a roof over her head as well. She hadn’t had a decent meal in a week. But the ad didn’t say there were fairies and witches. Where there were faeries, there were dragons and Nicole was petrified of them. And with good reason. The poison from the dragon bites flowing through Nicole’s veins left her weak and in a lot of pain. She was a mere human, and her body’s inability to heal from the bites left her vulnerable to new dragon attacks. Now this dragon, Jackson, was claiming to be her mate? Would this nightmare never end?

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

House of Wilkshire Series

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Matt walked through the new house three times. He was alone this last time, and he was glad for it. Having someone pointing out all the things that he could see was annoying at best. Stupid too. He could see deeper into anything that was going on here than the dumb woman that had been assigned to show him the place. It had taken him nearly an hour to get her out of the place so that he could feel it for himself. There are several things that I need to let you know about before I leave you to it. He smiled at Kelly as she spoke to him through their connection. This is not what I have to tell you, but I should like to mention how happy I am that you got rid of that woman. Christ, she was getting on my nerves, and I wasn’t around her. Okay, what I need to tell you. I’ve spoken to Bryce, and she said to tell you that the house has been warded. You’re safe there. Second thing, you need to know that your brother is still hanging his ass around. He’s staying at one of the old hotels out on Route Forty. It’s a place with a roof over his head and little else. As you’re aware, I’ve sent a faerie, Beta, to be with him to keep an eye on him. So far, she’s only had to teach him a lesson in being respectful to her once. He got the picture—I think, anyway. It’s doubtful, but you never know. I wanted to let you know that I’ve also spoken to my father. He said that he’d tell Rolland’s mother about his antics. Julia wants nothing to do with him. I guess it’s safe to assume that he burnt those bridges a long time ago. However, I did tell them to be extra careful when they return home. There is no telling what Rolland might have set up for them. She told him that was a great idea. I have them on occasion. About this house— I’d like to keep it. I can fill it out on my own, so there is no need for anything you offered us.

Good to know. Cole is looking his house over now. I made it so that he could do it alone after getting a hint about the woman with you. I don’t mean to be rude, but what kind of dragon are you? Devon told me that I would have to ask you. That it was something he couldn’t share unless he spoke to you. I figured it had to be good or he would have shared. He didn’t want to tell her but told her that if she were face to face with him, he’d show her. That bad, huh? Okay. I’m out and about today, so perhaps tomorrow. What can I bring tonight when we all show up for dinner? You’re all showing up here for dinner? She laughed when he did. I don’t know what we’ll have, so I’ll have to think about it. Just tell everyone that it will be a cookout. That’s about all I can handle here. Also, I have my own faeries with me. I want you to know that so that if you have any extras needing work, I can take them on, but I don’t really need them full time. Okay. I know that Cole only has his own personal faeries, so I can send them on to him. You have a cook too, I’m thinking? He said that he did. All manner of workers. Good. I’m glad to know that. So, tonight is all right with you? Then tomorrow night, we’ll hit up Cole. He’s not as magical as you are if you can fill out your home. It’s doubtful that many are as magically inclined as I am, my dear queen. She whistled, and he had to laugh. All right. I need to flush out my home here before you all arrive and drive me insane. I don’t suppose that you know if my mate is around, do you? I mean, you all seem to have everything down pat all ready for us.

No. Not that I’m aware of. But then, I could have been around her for a month and had no idea that she was your mate. He told her that she’d not been. He would have smelled her on her. That is sort of gross, don’t you think? I mean, what could I have been doing that I would smell like your mate? Nothing, I tell you. But then, I’m new to this dragon mate stuff. It’s kind of scary when you think about anything that could have befallen a mate before the other half found them. Don’t you think? Yes, I do. He actually thought of that more than once a day, whether his mate was out there still. Was she all right? Things that made him think that at some point along the line, she would have been dealt a deadly blow, and was now nothing more than dust in the ground. Such a morbid thought, he told himself. I do have to go, my dear. Thank Bryce for me about the house being safe. I shall now let my faeries roam free. The house was perfect for him. There were plenty of bedrooms should he want to have his family stay over. A kitchen that as his dragon, he could cook in it if he wanted. Not to mention he had plenty enough yard that he could stretch out as his dragon and not be bothered by cars, or even trees. There were plenty of those as well. Trees and the ground were a part of him, and he sorely needed them. Freeing his faeries, he was happy to see that they had all arrived with him safely at Devon’s home and were now free to make this house theirs, as well as his. They had, as most faeries of dragons could do, become a part of him. They were like tats over his body that, once he freed them, would leave him with nary a mark on his body other than the one that covered his back. That one was there until he died, which wouldn’t happen anytime too soon, he figured.

Gathering the thousands around him that had been a part of him, he had them listen to him this one time as a group. It wasn’t often that he had to make rules for them to follow. But until such a time that the others were aware of what he was, he didn’t want his faeries to get into trouble that would cost him anything. Being broke was something that he was used to. If he had to make restitution to Devon over something that they did, then he’d have to sell a part of himself. He’d done it before, sold off a small part of himself—a hair that was along his back, a pint of the liquid that kept him in wings. Being what he was, a dragon of some worth, he could do that and not miss anything. However, he didn’t want to have to do it if he didn’t need to. Matt made sure that his family, the group of faeries that he’d had since birth, understood that. “We have a chance to make ourselves a new start here. I don’t want to have to run out of town to keep any of us safe. All right?” They nodded to him, some of them apologizing for the trouble they thought had made it so that they’d had to leave before. “None of you are responsible for what Rolland has done to us. Not one of you. But know this. He is not welcome here. He is not to come here for any reason. If he tells you differently or that we have made up, then you are not to believe him. He is a liar and will say and do anything to harm me. But mostly you. He will tear your wings off just to be able to say that he has. Understand?” Honey came to stand on his shoulder. She was his faerie to call, and Matt knew that she’d be the one that would find him if anything were to happen. The other faeries

would seek her out faster than they would Matt if there were other problems to be taken care of. Only because of all the faeries that were there, Honey understood more than most of them did. About nearly everything. “I will need a staff of outdoorsmen to keep the grounds in shape.” As Honey made groups of their staff assignments, he thought about the rooms that he’d been in and filled them out. When he had all but two of the rooms finished, Honey said his name. “Master, there are a few that wish to be your cooking staff. I haven’t any idea what that might mean for this household.” “There are other dragons around, including the king and queen of us all. They will show up at a moment’s notice and wish for food. Someone in the kitchen needs to be able to handle that without causing trouble.” Two of the six stepped forward. “Also, and this is very important—someone will need to be able to order foodstuff from the locals and deal with them when it comes to money that they use. We won’t be making things from magic unless funds are too low. I have a home now, so I can give you what I produce in the way of gems, but you know as well as I that it is more difficult than for a regular dragon to sell off for cash what I have in the way of gems.” The one that moved forward again was Honey’s mate, Billows. He would be their cook. Matt welcomed him to the household. And just as he thought he would, Billows asked the other man to be his second. Faeries were a wonderful group—at least his were. They didn’t lord tasks that they were given by the dragons over each other. If they were offered a job, as Billows had been, then they would be sure to give as many of the others that had wanted the job a way to work in the area.

Billows would train his second, Tinsel, on how to deal with the humans around and how to count out money. By the time there was a need for someone else to have a faerie in their kitchen, then Tinsel would be their pick because of his training. Matt made sure that no one was without means to keep themselves busy. Busy faeries were less likely to get themselves into trouble. Matt did another turn around the bedrooms of his home. The master bedroom was large enough for a man his size. He was taller than most of the dragons around, with the exception of Devon, so his dragon was larger too. Also, and no one but his faeries knew this, Matt was able to call forth things that even Devon was unable to do. Now that he had his own home, he was going to make use of that magic for all those around him. “These rooms are well done, my lord. You have chosen colors that are of the earth. Your magic will have many guests happy when they stay for a time that won’t even understand the reason for it.” Matt told Honey that he wanted to keep it that way. “I have set up a time for the lady Kelly to come and speak to you. She has sent her own faerie here to set a time. Are you going to tell her everything?” “I was thinking that I should tell them all. With us living here, it might be better if more people knew what I was rather than being blindsided by someone looking for me. Not that there are many people around anymore that would know what I was, but you never know about humans.”

Honey said that was correct. “Honey, now that you know what I want in the way of the house, would you finish it up for me? I will add the magic to the rooms later. For now, I’d like to have a look around the yard to see if there are any improvements I can do with that.” “Yes, my lord. Also, you should talk to Lord Connor. He is working on a project now that I think you should be aware of. He has not told anyone of it as far as I know, except the faerie Dak that he smells of.” Matt nodded and started toward the door before he was stopped again by Honey. “My lord, your brother, he is going to be causing trouble again if I do not miss my bet. What would you like done with him? It is well past time that he is dealt with by one of my kind.” “I know, Honey. You have no idea how glad I am that you haven’t done anything. I will deal with him soon enough. We are among friends here, and I would prefer that we get their input on him rather than just taking care of him on our own. Killing him would be the best for you, I’m aware of this. However, with us being with the king of our kind, we’ll need to make sure that he’s not only aware of the things that Rolland has done to faeries, but also the harm that he’s caused to our kind. Everyone has been touched by his deeds. It’s only fair that everyone has a say in what he faces from each of them when the time comes. Also, my father and his wife are going to be arriving soon, I would imagine. I would like for them to know if they’re not aware already, what he’s done since they got married.” “Yes. You are correct. You are a wise dragon, my lord. And a kind one.

I do hope that you are correct in your trust in the others about what you are.” He didn’t voice it, but he hoped so as well. “I shall take care that the rest of the house is finished. Also, I will take care that the other faeries—there are a great many of them—are aware that we’re here. I do not wish for them to get jealous of how we are treated over them.” He didn’t tell her that the other faeries were treated as well, if not better than his were. While they weren’t a jealous lot, any of them, they did think that he was the best master that had ever been born. He liked them thinking that, but he knew that it was far from the truth. There had to be one or two others that were better than he was. ~*~ Aisling was waiting on Dak. When he returned, she was going to have to have a long-overdue conversation with him. She needed some answers, and in order to get them, she was going to have to order her friend to tell her. If he’d been honest with her from the start, she wouldn’t have to go to such extremes. But now, as they were near enough to the king to seek him out, she needed to know who it was that he was talking to. As soon as he entered her domain, nothing more than a hovel that she’d transformed into a home for them, she could tell that he had more information than he’d had when he left. “My lady? I had no idea that you’d be awake so soon. I should have been here for you.” She only nodded. “Something is amiss? I shall help you with it. Whatever it is, I’m sure that the two of us can take care of it.” “Who is it that you’re talking to?” He said that he was speaking to her, acting this time instead of being confused for real. “Who else, Dak? Who is the dragon that you go to speak to when you think me sleeping?

Is it the king? Are you telling him things about me that I wish you hadn’t?” “No, my lady. I’d never do that to you. I have the papers that are carrying your reviews. They have them on the front page. You are quite the star now.” She wanted to put aside her questions to see her name in print again, but he needed to give her what she wanted. Again, she asked him who he was seeing. “His name is Lord Connor James, Prince to the Castle Hillcrest, Dragon of Hillcrest Castle. He has been the one that is helping you come to see the king.” “How is it that he knew of us? You have been going behind my back, Dak. I do not care for the way you have deceived me.” He bowed before her, his wings spread out behind him and trembling. “What did you do to make him aware of me?” “He came upon us while you were resting so many decades ago. You had only been healing for a short time when he came into the cave to rest himself.” Aisling told him to stand up and to finish. “Lord Connor knew what you were when he came upon you. I could no more turn him away than I could have you, my lady. He watched over the two of us until you woke. Lord Connor also made sure that I was fed and cared for, and that you were never close to dying again, as you were when we entered the cave you were in.” “Did he heal me?” Dak told her what he’d done. “So he protected me so that no others were to come upon my body while I healed. How much will he demand of me, Dak? He will want more than I can give him, of this I’m sure.” “Nay. He knew that you were an untried female dragon. He knew too that you were white, even though you were covered in darkness to hide you away from others.” She asked what he wanted. “Nothing, he told me. For, he told me, all dragons are special. But for a female such as yourself, there is no greater gift to someone than to have you taken care of so that you were never harmed.

He has been true to his word in all this time. It is his card that you use when we eat.” “I will pay him back.” Dak said nothing. “What else has he done? Has he made it so that my reviews are taken by the newspaper? Did he fix it so that even though they are crap, someone prints them and pays us for them? I shall never do another—” “Nay, my lady. Never that. The king was kind enough to help you with the name. After that, Lord Connor told me that you were on your own. I had to ask him what he meant by that. But you got the job because you were good at what you did. Lord Connor only—how did he put that? Ah. He said that he only opened the door for you so that you could enter the job. You closed the door behind you when you were able to impress with your and my words. He was very good at doing that for you. Was he not?” She didn’t say anything to him. “You should know that I have also been delaying your meeting with the king. Lord Connor didn’t know why, but he said that you must only come to meet the king when the snow was on the ground for good.” “And he had no reason for this? That I was only to arrive in the snow?” Dak told her that was what he said. “So this Lord Connor, he can see my future. What else did he tell you about me coming there?”

“Nothing. He only can see some of your future, but not all. He only knew that it would be best for you to arrive when the snow was on the ground for a while.” Dak smiled at her. “It is time.” “Does the king even have a child?” He said that he did. There were many hatchlings around the kingdom. “I don’t know what to believe of you now, Dak. You have betrayed me to another dragon. What if he has it in his head to make me a part of his household? A dragon of his own?” “I don’t think he’d do that. I have seen his mate. She is a beauty, much like you are, but she is scary protective of her mate. You could never get close enough to either of them with any ill intentions in your mind.” She thought that was at least good. “Not that you have such intentions, but she will not be happy if you were to be a part of the household for any reason.” “You still hurt my heart with what you were doing. I knew that you were seeing someone about what we were doing. But it only just occurred to me what else you might be doing since you seemed to have no problem talking to others behind my back.”

He said that he’d never betray her. “But you have. Haven’t you? You have been telling me stories about how you were finding things out when you were going to someone else to get the answers. I suppose that he’s been paying our way since I woke.” “He has.” She stomped her way around the room, madder now than she was before she began this talk with him. “My lady. I never meant to hurt you about this. It was only my intention to make sure that you were safe.” “I don’t feel safe now.” She was hurting him, she knew, but he’d been doing things behind her back and taking the credit for what another person came up with. “I feel as if I shouldn’t have trusted you, Dak. How should that make me feel when you’ve lied to me from the beginning?” “I’ve no answers, my lady.” She stopped pacing and turned to look at him. “I will do whatever you wish to make this right to you. Whatever it is. Even if you were to tell me that you no longer wish for me to serve you. I don’t want that, ever, but I can understand if you were to wish it to be so.” “I only wanted to ask you about this man, and now I’m finding out that not only has he known about me since I woke, but he has been keeping an eye on me since I was hurt in war. You could not have found a time to have told me before? Why did I have to confront you on this now?” He said that Lord Connor wanted to meet her. “So that he might extract payment from me? I have nothing to offer him but myself. I don’t even have my first true job, because you have gone behind my back and had him open doors for me to get it.” “You got it on your own merit.” She snorted at Dak. “I promise you, my lady. Neither of us made him give you the job. You did that on your own with your own hard work.” “I don’t know what to believe.” She didn’t either. This was much worse than she had thought it would be. Aisling had only wanted to know what dragon he was seeing, but now it turned out that he had been caring for her for a while, a long while, and she had no other choice but to throw herself at his mercy and ask him not to take more than she had as payment.

“He will make sure that I am a slave to him forever. You are aware of this, are you not?” “I don’t think he will. My lady, Lord Connor, is a good man. He is happy to help you.” She didn’t say anything else to him. Her heart really did hurt for him not telling her when she’d first woken up. “He has asked to speak to you this night. We are going to try out the restaurant that is just near here. I have arranged it so that he can tell you all that you need to know.” “And what is it that he feels I need to know? That I have been sold to someone of his acquaintance? That I will be butchered into pieces so that witches and others can have some of my magic? I don’t know this man. And to be honest with you, Dak, I feel as if I don’t know you either.” He nodded and sat down on the table that he’d been hovering over. “I don’t know what to do about us. I will have to talk to this dragon and find out what he wishes of me. To me, it feels as if you have sold me to someone else. You will stay with me, please. However, if you have plans to go to meet up with this dragon again, I will quit you. I wish for you to tell me when you are to leave to talk to him about me.” “I will stay with you until you find another that you can trust.” She didn’t tell him that wasn’t what she wanted. But right now, she was hurting too—hurting about all the things he’d kept from her. “You will come to know that I never meant you any harm, my lady. I meant only to keep you safe, as did Lord Connor. You are only that because he has made it so. The job and the things that you are thinking of now are only on you.

He would never sell you off. Lord Connor wouldn’t do anything like that to you or to any other female such as yourself. This, I will stake my life on.” “I just hope that you have not staked my life on what you believe to be true. All I wanted, Dak, was for you to be honest with me. To not lie to me about what was going on. But not only did you know that I was being protected by another dragon, but you also helped him to keep me. To have me indebted to him. You know as well as I that I had only just been able to break the bonds that my mother had put me in. It nearly cost me my life. Now I find out that you have perhaps done the same to me. Put me in a position that I know nothing about, nor can I do anything about it.” “I understand, my lady. And I am deeply sorry for the trouble I might well have caused you. And for the trust you no longer have for me.” He fluttered over the table for a moment before he spoke again. “I shall meet you at the restaurant at six. Lord Connor will join you at half-past six with his mate. I will only join them if you were to call for me. I have, as you have pointed out, harmed you by not telling you all the truth.” “Is there anything else I should know about? Something else that you’re not telling me?” He asked her what she meant. “A mate? Have you and this dragon conspired to give me to a male as his bedmate? It is something that I would like to know now.” “No, my lady. I have never conversed with him about such a thing for you. However, I will say that anyone that takes you as a mate will be able to count himself lucky to have a female such as yourself.” She had nothing to say to him about that. “I shall go to him now to tell him that you are willing to meet him at the place you are working tonight.”

After he left, she sat down in the chair she’d been sitting in while waiting for him to return. Her heart was broken. Not just for the things that he’d done to her, but also the things that had come between them. It had not been her intention to break them apart. But she’d not known of half the things he’d confessed to her. Aisling looked at the things she’d gotten when she’d started running her articles about places to eat. The newspaper people had sent her a lovely letter with her first check, telling her that people were excited about her next place. He was also pleased that she was moving around the country and telling people about places that weren’t chain places—something that she’d had to look up—but little mom and pop places— another term she’d had to research the meaning for—and giving her reviews about their places. Since she’d noticed after the first week that Dak was seeing another dragon, she had been keeping records of what she would owe someone. It was costing her more than she had made on her first check. Much, much more. “Mayhap I shouldn’t have been so hard on him.” She had been very hard on her only friend, and it hurt her that she’d been so. “But he should have allowed me to know of what was going on behind my back. For him to have known so much and not told me scared me more than I could have thought.” Aisling could also feel dangers coming her way. Her mother for one; another was a being that she wasn’t known to. What they were up to, she didn’t know, but the second creature wasn’t going to fare well if he tried anything on her. She could show no compassion for anything right now.