Gannon Release Blitz & Gieaway

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?

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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, cold-cocked 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….

 

 

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“Aunt Mel, can you show me how to use these things?” Mel looked back at her niece and saw that she was holding something that shouldn’t be held by an eight-year-old. “It looks like something I saw in a movie one time. They chopped off a man’s head with it. It rolled right over to the kids, too. Teenagers are stupid, I think.” “You might be right on that. But if you don’t put that cut off tool down, we’re going to have a problem. I don’t mean you and me, but your daddy and me. Just lay it back on the big machine there, and I’ll answer your questions about it.” When she put it atop her laser cutter, Mel smiled at her. “Your daddy was a dork when he was a teenager. Not me. I was the perfect picture of a child, and I never got into any trouble.” “Bull hockey.” She’d seen Daniel standing behind Mary, and had said that to get him breathing again. “Mary, what have I told you, repeatedly, about picking up tools out here when Mel is working?” “You said that I should be more responsible than she is. But Daddy, Aunt Mel said that I can’t learn anything if I don’t get to touch, see, or even use something.” Mel laughed and looked at her brother. “She’s very smart about her tools too. Aunt Mel told me that if I picked anything up, it had better be unplugged and have the safety on the plug. I looked before picking it up. I promise.” “Yes, well, I didn’t see that.” Daniel kissed her on the cheek as he sent Mary into the house for lunch. “Are you staying for lunch?” “Are you having anything besides fu-fu food? Like meat and potatoes?” He said that they were having a salad with salmon on it.

“Fu-fu food. Why can’t you have a burger with something like potato salad or French fries like normal people?” “I’m trying to instill good eating habits in my children. Unlike their aunt has. Did you really get them to try anchovies, Mel? I swear to you, you’re a bad influence on all three of them.” She just stared at him. “I was joking. I feed them healthy meals so that when you’re in charge of them, they can have whatever junk food you give them to balance it out.” “We rarely eat junk food, as you call it when they’re with me. The night that they came to spend the weekend with me, we had a nice big healthy bowl of popcorn with hot pepper powder all over it, and no butter.” Daniel just shook his head. “When are you leaving to go to the McCray’s? I’m sorry that I can’t go with you.” “No, you’re not sorry. You’re thrilled to have to stay here cooped up in this building working. Speaking of that, I told Demi that you weren’t coming, and she said that if you weren’t with us when we arrived, she was coming for you.” Mel just pulled the welder mask over her face and turned on the soldering iron to use. “I know you can hear me still, Mel. I don’t think I’d mess with this family about this. They’re going to get us out of debt with what they’ve asked us to do. Especially you.” “I’m paying things off, Daniel.” She pulled the mask up and put her equipment down to turn to him. “I love you dearly, I really do. Your children mean everything to me. I would…. I think that I’m only alive because of the four of you. But I will tell you right now, I can’t do this much longer and remain sane right now, I can’t do this much longer and remain sane. It’s too much for me.

People terrify me.” When he pulled her to him for a hug, she went to him willingly. But she was afraid that he realized that she wasn’t hugging him back. It was difficult to have people hug her. Much harder for her to hug them back. “Mel, I have a deal for you. And don’t turn me down before I ask you. You come with me for a couple of days—that’s all, just two of them. Then whenever you want them while I’m still there, you can come and get the kids and keep them for the entire weekend. All of them, if that’s what you want.” She looked up at him, suspicious of him giving her something that she wanted so desperately. “I promise you too; I won’t even put any restrictions on them. Including what you do with them and feed them.” “So, I can take them to the movies with me.” He asked her if she’d want to do that. “No. Never. But for them, I would. I’d do just about anything for them and with them if it made them love me.” “Oh, Mel, they love you right now. Even if you didn’t take them to places, or get them food that would melt a normal person. My kids have never thought of you as anything but their much-loved aunt. I promise you, honey. For as much as you love them, they love you that much, if not more.” She didn’t say anything but did lower her head. “You don’t believe me, do you?” “I know what I am, Daniel. I know, too, what I look like. I see people staring at me. Looking at me like I’m some sort of freak.

” Daniel, as he usually did, told her that wasn’t true. “Look at me, Daniel. My face is a mess.” “Melody Austin, you need to get yourself a better mirror if that’s all you see. You’re the most beautiful creature—woman—that I’ve ever seen. Well, except for Demi McCray. Did you see that woman? My goodness, I should have used her good looks when I was a kid to have as a wet dream.” She smacked him on the arm. “I’m joking. She’s scary, don’t you think?” “I don’t like her.” She pulled away from him and turned back to what she’d been doing. “She is scary, but she’s also nosey and rude. I don’t like the way she thinks that her shit doesn’t stink.” Mel reached into her pocket and put a buck in the cursing jar on her shelf. It wasn’t very full, not as full as she thought it would have been had there been someone out there with her at all times. They did it, mostly her, when there was someone around to hear it. If she’d had to put something in it when she was alone, she’d never be able to afford her rent, not to mention food. “When are you leaving?” He told her that they were going to a hotel in Vegas tonight, and leaving first thing in the morning. “I’ll have to meet you there then. I have to finish this door with the specs on it that Demi asked for before I leave here.” “Are you going to crap out on me?” She said that she’d let him know for sure before he left there. “I’m going to hold you to that. I’m also going to tell the kids the deal that we made. I know you well enough to know that you won’t be able to turn them down.”

“If you tell them, they’ll be out here for the rest of their time here. And that will only delay me getting finished. Up to you, but if I’m pestered too much by them, I won’t be there for a while.” He nodded and said he’d hold her to it. Mel looked at him. “You know what this is going to cost me, don’t you? You know that I’m going to be a mess the entire time that I’m there. I’m afraid, Daniel. Every time someone gets too close to me, I’m afraid that they’re going to hurt me.” “I know, honey. I know. I also know that you’ve yet to tell me what else happened that day. You getting shot and left for dead doesn’t explain your fear of people, nor the scarring on your face. I wish that you’d tell someone about it.” She turned away again. “Mel, you know that I’d never judge you or even tell you that you were anything but lucky to be alive.” “I know that. But why am I? Alive, I mean.” She tried to smile at him and knew that it came out as tight as it felt on her face. “Go away and leave me to it. The way it’s working now. I’m going to be another few hours getting caught up for Miss “I would like this on the door too, please.” “What is it you’re doing?” She knew what he was doing—changing the subject so that she’d not dwell too much on their conversation.

“She has some good ideas. I know you’ve had a lot of extra work cut out for it, but I think that her ideas are right up there with what you wanted. Did I tell you that they’ve gotten rid of the cafeteria idea? That was a smart idea you had with not having one.” “She only wants to butter me up by going with my idea so that I’ll change things around on the door,” Daniel asked her if she believed that. “No, but it’s a lot of extra work that she’s asking for after we gave her a quote for what the doors were going to cost.” “I never thought of that. Yeah, that is something that we’ll have to add to future contracts. That the deal is based on the doors that we show them at the time. Or we have to jack up the prices. How much longer is it going to take you to make the doors now?” She told him. “Christ, Mel, that’s a lot of time for each of the doors. Will it be all right with the pricing that we gave them?” “Yes. Mostly because I make the doors myself, I wonder if they know that. Not that it matters, but anyway, yes, I have the parts here to modify the other four that I have done, but if she keeps making me have to go back and redo them, it’s going to be cheaper for me to tell her to fuck off. Much more satisfying too.” They both laughed. “I can make it work. The extra three hours per door is going to go faster once I get the hang of putting it together. And you’re right, her ideas have been really good. This modification is to make sure that the deadbolt to the wall is longer than the standard size. I told her that I put in four inches now, and she wondered if there was a way to make them longer to lock into the frame. It’s a good idea, no busting the door in, but like I said, it’s costly in man-hours for me.” After he left her, Mel pulled her equipment back on and started working on the bolt. She had made it so that the door would lock into place when the alarm was triggered, but having the bolt longer and going through the entire width of the door, plus ten more inches into the wall, would make it safer for the kids.

Mel worked through lunch and dinner. Once in a while, one of the kids came out to ask her something. Mel always put down her work to talk to them. They would also shove something at her—a bottle of water, a granola bar, or something. Usually, she’d take a bite of one of those nasty things and toss it, but if they hung around, she’d have to finish it. Mel couldn’t stand food that was good for her. “Aunt Mel, I have something I need to talk to you about.” She looked at Holly when she sat on the stool where she was working and told her to ask away. “I’m sixteen now, and I was wondering if you would help me pick out a dress for the winter dance.” Everything in her seemed to freeze up. Winter dance meant they were getting the school ready. It meant that they would be decorating. Mel watched as she saw her niece’s lips move, but nothing was moving through the air to her ears. The sting to her face had her inhaling sharply, and her heart beating again. “Are you all right?” She looked at Dan, Daniel’s fourteen-year-old son, standing between her and Holly. “Aunt Mel, are you all right now? Christ loves a cat. You scared us to death.” “I’m all right. I just zoned out for a minute.” Dan just looked at her. “I’m fine. You have a nice slap there for a veggie eating man.” He laughed, just as she hoped that he would. Holly looked a little freaked out still, but she hugged them both. When she thought that she could speak again, she held them tighter so that they’d not see her face. “Don’t tell your dad. He thinks I’m perfect.” Holly hugged her tightly. “I’m sorry that I scared you. It was never my intention. But you guys know that I’m weird, right? I just got all caught up in thinking about things that I shouldn’t have.” “We love you, Aunt Mel.

We know that you hurt—even when you’re with us, we can see it.” She told them that she loved them as well and let them go. She looked at Holly when she took her hand into hers. It was everything that she could do not to take her hand back. “You’re the bravest person I know. You’ve done more since you were in the hospital than anyone ever did before. You’re making something that happened to you into something that will help others that could have been hurt the same way.” “Thank you.” Holly nodded, and then Dan hugged her again. When they both moved back, he told her that he was sorry he’d hit her. “It’s all right, Dan. I know that you were trying very hard to keep me from hyperventilating again. You did the right thing.” Daniel came out to tell them they were getting ready to go to the hotel. When he asked her if she was all right, Dan told her that his aunt was perfect. Daniel looked at her when the other two went into the house to finish loading stuff in the car. “I’ll be there in a couple of days at the most. But don’t try and talk me into staying more, Daniel. I’m doing this for you and no one else. All right?” He nodded and thanked her. “You might want to remember that if anything happens to me if I have a meltdown in front of our clients, I did try and warn you.” “I’ll remember. Thank you, Mel. I promise you, nothing will happen to you.”

She nodded and went back to work. She knew that he stood there for several minutes. Mel could feel him looking at her. But after a while, not only did he leave her, but he told her that he loved her. Not letting her tears blind her anymore, she wiped them off and started working. The sooner she got this done, the sooner she could see her nieces and nephew to bring them home with her. They would be the only thing, she knew, that would keep her from ending her fucking miserable life. ~*~ Gannon didn’t know who he was picking up other than the kids and maybe one or two adults. He thought it was a ploy to get him out of his home, but really, he was ready to hit the town running anyway. His list was finally complete enough that his house was starting to fill out around the edges. Which to him meant that he not only had towels so that he’d not have to wash one every day to use but sheets for all the beds, baking stuff if he was inclined to do that, as well as throw pillows that his mom had helped him pick out. The two couches that he ordered had been delivered yesterday. He was thrilled that the evening had been cold enough out that he was able to light a fire. It was both homey, he thought, as well as cozy. Gannon was loving the house more and more daily. When the plane landed, he stood there waiting for the family he was to pick up to disembark. It had frazzled him a little to know that not only did Demi have her own plane, but Meadow’s family had one as well. They were both so stinking rich that he felt intimidated every time he was around them when they were talking about what they had in the way of money. He saw the little girl first. Her name, if he remembered correctly, was Mary.

The other two, who he knew were Holly and Dan, got off next. They stood with their sister at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for the others to disembark. When the father came down the stairs, he was loaded down with bags, but Dan ran up the stairs of the plane and helped him down with them. Laughing as Dan handed each of his sisters something that he’d taken from his dad, Gannon thought that he could really like that kid. He came into the airport with nothing in his arms as he’d pawned it off on his sisters. He thought that he’d just found his favorite Austin. “You must be the Austin family.” He and Daniel shook hands. After that, he introduced his children to him. Gannon shook all their hands too. “I have a car for you to use. All the things that you sent ahead are already at the house. Demi said to tell you that she has the staff in place, and all you need to worry about is having dinner with them tonight. If you feel like it.” “I’m starving to death. My belly thinks that my throat has been struck through.” Gannon glanced at the little girl, then at her dad, who was mortified at what the child had said. “I want something to eat, please. I’m sorry, Daddy.” “Yes, well, I’m thinking that I might have to have a couple of rules to go over with your aunt when she has you. Mary, tell Mr. McCray that you’re sorry.” Gannon looked at Mary, who winked at him when she said that she was sorry.

Gannon changed his mind—Mary was going to be his favorite to hang out with. She was sassy and adorable. When he suggested that they hit a pizza joint on the way to the house, they all looked at their dad. This, he would bet, was a real treat for these kids. “I’m hungry too, so we’ll have pizza. But, and I can’t stress this enough, there will be no trying to outdo the others with how hot they make it. All right?” The kids moaned and groaned, but they agreed. Gannon wondered about that but decided to see if they could order the pizza to sit in the back for a minute or two so that it wouldn’t burn the kids when they ate. “Mr. McCray, thank you for this. It’s been a very long morning for us.” “It’s fine.” He helped them load everything in the back of the limo. He was to bring Daniel up to date on the school project, as well as give him the information about the house they were going to be staying in. “The ground level is nearly up, and all the walls for the basement are finished and standing now. Most of the wiring had to be redone, but that wasn’t on our end but that of the contractor. He is working overtime to catch up with his mistake.” “Yes, when I was looking at the video of the place, I did wonder why there were no outlets on that level. I’m glad that Mrs. McCray is sending me progress reports so that we can be up to speed on things as they go, instead of finding things when the building is nearly finished.” Gannon agreed with him and pulled out his notes. “I’m so glad to see that someone else writes themselves notes to go by. My sister, she’ll be coming in a few days, has never taken a list to the grocery store since she’s been going.

Of course, now that she can order online and have it delivered, it’s worked out well for her. I don’t like it, but it’s working for her.” “My aunt Mel never leaves the house except to come to our house. She says she’s a hermit crab.” Dan corrected his sister. “I know she’s not a crab—only to Dad, I guess— but that is what she said that I could call it. She said that it was better than me telling people she was a weirdo.” Gannon couldn’t help it—he burst out laughing. This child was going to love his dad, he thought. As they pulled up in front of the pizza place, he told them that it was on the company. Demi had made sure that he had a new company credit card for the school project, in the event that the Austin family needed something before they got to the house. He understood what Dan had been referring to about the heat of the pizza as soon as they started looking at the menu. They didn’t care if the pizza was cooked too hot, but hot as in the spices they could add. Holly and Dan seemed to have the taste buds of someone that would set their mouth on fire if they thought it would taste good. Mary was almost as bad, but Daniel didn’t like heat at all. He ordered his own cheese pizza, with nothing on it, and the salad bar. None of the kids were going to have salad until Daniel told them that they had to eat a balanced meal. “Okay, I’ll have a salad too, but I don’t have to like it.” Gannon covered his mouth when Holly looked at him. “I think my dad was born an old woman like Aunt Mel says about him all the time.

We have to balance our meals, lives, as well as our clothing when he has us.” “You live with your mom part of the time?” The older two stiffened up and looked around. Mary just shivered, as if she had had a nightmarish thought. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say the wrong thing about that. When you said that you lived with your father, I just assumed.” “It’s all right, Mr. Gannon. Vicky dropped us off one time and didn’t say anything to anyone when she did it. Then she never came back for us. Or for Dad.” Gannon told Holly that he was sorry for that. “We were too at first. But then Dan and I thought of all the things that she had done to us and said to us about Daddy and Aunt Mel, and we decided that we’re better off without her.” “Holly, I’m sure that Mr. McCray doesn’t want to hear about our domestic life.” Holly seemed unaffected by her father’s response to what she’d said. Gannon could tell that Daniel was, however. “My ex-wife isn’t in the picture. They were talking about when they stay with my sister. Mel takes them to her apartment, and they have a good time trying to burn the place down with how hot their food is.” “I like heat too. Not like you three do, but I enjoy some hot when I’m eating.” When the pies were brought to their table, he noticed that all three of the kids had finished their salad. He supposed that everyone should make sure that their kids ate veggies with their other food. He should have done the same thing and had one himself. Taking a slice of the meat pizza and putting in on his plate, he heard from Demi. Her trying to be calm voice had his bear feeling a little tight inside of him.

I take it you have the family. He told her that he did and what they were doing. Don’t alarm anyone there, but Vicky, Daniel’s ex-wife, is looking for him. She’s been by their home twice in the last hour. If Mel is there, which I’m guessing she is by the work going on in the backyard, Vicky isn’t going in the barn to check to see if anyone is in there. There isn’t any love lost between the two of them. I just mentioned her in an off way, and they all looked like they were afraid of her. The kids, especially. Is this something that I need to keep an eye on? Demi said that they’d have a talk about her when they were all together. Will Mel be safe? The kids really love her, and I’d hate to think that anything would happen to her while they’re here. She’s fine. As I said, working. There are enough pack wolves around to keep Vicky from entering the house or the barn, but I wanted to warn you that we need to keep an eye on them. Not that I think she can find them here right now, but I just want this family to be safe. I like them. Gannon told her that he did as well. Good. Like I said, they have nothing to worry about now. But I don’t want anyone to be surprised when Vicky shows up because I have a feeling that she will now that it’s in the paper that he’s designing the school of the future. The aunt is to arrive in a couple of days. I don’t know why there’s a delay, but how is she getting here? By your plane, or will she be driving? Demi told him that she had thought Mel would be with them. I guess, from what the kids said, she’s working on some specs. They didn’t know what, and I didn’t ask, but it’s what put her behind.

I bet it was the locking mechanism that I asked her to change. I bet she had to retool the entire line for that. I’ll tell her how sorry I am to have changed it so close to their arrival date. Gannon told her about the kids wanting pizza, and that they liked it hot. Good for you. Someone you can eat with that likes your sort of food. We’re having steaks on the grill tonight. So all of you will be here. Also, before I forget, I hired you a staff. Okay, Gannon. I’ll see you when you get to their house. Lucian and I are there, making sure that things are ready for them. Gannon didn’t want a staff, but with his house being so huge, he could understand the need for it. Finishing up his meal with the family, he enjoyed being able to just hand over the credit card without looking at the bill. He knew that it was on the company account. But given the fact that he was making good money working with Demi, as well as now working for Meadow, he had had that much more fun in shopping for his furniture that he’d not been able to get at the warehouse. There had still been a great deal of furniture in the warehouse even after he and the others had taken out what they needed. Gannon was still going to go back to finish up the last bedroom. He’d been wanting the bunk bed set that was there since he’d walked around the first time. He had no idea if he’d have a great deal of use for it, but he had decided that it would be nice to have a set of twin beds in the last bedroom, just in case. He had no idea of what would happen, but he wanted that to be there for whoever needed it. Taking them to the house, Gannon was glad that they’d loosened up a great deal with him around. Daniel was a good father, keeping his kids in line and them helping each other. But he could see that they would try their best to get away with something while he wasn’t looking. “I’m exhausted.” Gannon thought maybe that was an understatement for the other man.

“I’ve been worried about my sister. Leaving her there alone, I hate doing that to her. She’s a grown woman, I know, but she has so many things going on in her head that I worry for her.” The kids had scattered once they were in the house. The girls were picking out a bedroom, and he knew the exact moment that they found the gifts that had been purchased for them. The screams were deafening, and they were laughing too. Demi and Meadow had gotten them laptops to use here and to take home with them when they left. Daniel and Lucian talked about the modifications that Mel had been doing as they walked away. “What?” He asked Demi what she meant. “I don’t know. You look like you’ve taken a tumble down the rabbit hole, and you don’t know which way is up.” “You’re very strange. Has anyone told you that before?” Demi pretended to consider it. “Never mind. You’re strange—let’s leave it at that. Nothing is wrong. I’m just thinking about what is going to happen with this family when the school is finished up. You said that his name was in the paper. You know that’s just going to be bringing out the worst of the worst. People everywhere will be plotting ideas on how to get inside of it just to prove you wrong.”

“I hope they do. Not prove me wrong, but try and get in. I’d like for someone with a devious mind to try and breach a single school that has this equipment in it.” Gannon watched his brother and the other man. “You like them.” “Of course I do. What are you trying very hard not to tell me, Demi? It’s not like you to beat around the bush, or even to knock the sucker out of your way when you have something on your mind.” She told him what she’d been thinking about. “I have too. I don’t know what to think if she is my mate. She’s not like you guys, all gung-ho and out there. I’ve never met her, but I have a feeling that she’s tender and terrified of shit.” “She is afraid. Of what? I don’t know for sure. She’s a recluse, as you might have guessed, and doesn’t like to be touched. I have an idea what happened to her that day, but she’s never said a word to anyone, including the therapist that she sees every other week. Her face was split open from her jawline to her eye. Also, she had numerous slices to her body that no one can explain.” Gannon asked why it mattered. “Because whatever it was that did that to her, it’s what haunts her. Meadow thinks it’s what keeps her hidden away from everyone. She can relate to that more than most, I think. But something happened to Mel, and until she tells someone about it, it’s going to continue to haunt her.” Gannon didn’t know what to say about that. He’d only heard a little about the shooting. Deciding that he needed to get home and look up what he could, Gannon told the family and Demi and his brother that he’d see them later.

He was nearly home when he thought of Mel being his mate. She was broken, he thought or was she breaking. There was a difference, he knew. Meadow had been breaking when she’d met his brother. Gannon thought that had she not met him, she would surely have broken to the point where no one could have gotten her to come back. While he didn’t know this other woman, he thought that if she was one of their mates, then they would need to make sure, and soon, that she knew they were there for her. Gannon also wondered about this Vicky person, and how much she knew about what had happened to Mel at the school. As in, if she had anything to do with it. Gannon had been thinking things like that since he’d started working for Demi. Thinking like a criminal was the only way to catch one. He had the skills to set up equipment to make sure that they were caught on camera. That was because he could think like they did a little. Demi did as well. It was scary how much Demi thought about it. Getting home, he was just putting away the things that he’d picked up before going to the airport when Demi called him. Her using the phone scared him more than what she could be calling him about. “I have the plane ready for you to go. I need for you to go back to Daniel’s home and see to his sister.” He asked her what was going on. “The house and the place where Mel was working are on fire. Daniel is going to go with you to help. Please be careful, Gannon. I don’t know what is going on, but I have a feeling that it’s not going to be good.”

“Is Mel all right?” She said that Mel was the one that had called her. “Okay, I’m leaving right now.” He got to the airport just as Daniel was getting out of the car. Lucian was with him, and they both looked upset. Whatever was happening, Gannon was sorry for the other man. This couldn’t be just a simple meeting of his potential mate. No, everything had to be topsy-turvy all the time.

Chandler Release Day &Giveaway

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

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

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

the living and the dead?

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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Sasha got back to her rental and sat down at the table. The dead woman knew her. The place was furnished, thankfully, so she didn’t have to worry about anything other than food. The dead woman in the field knew her. Sasha would have to make dinner soon. Looking around the kitchen area, she wondered how she’d gotten home. Her mind wouldn’t be still long enough for her to focus on one thing for more than a second or two. Laying her head down on the table, she thought about the things that the woman, Melinda Harvard, had told her. Not just that, she needed to be found—they knew where she was—but about not just her death, but the baby too. Also, she was her sister, she’d told her. Sasha didn’t know what to think about her saying that. As far as she knew, she had just the one sister, and she didn’t look like Melinda at all. She didn’t even act like her. While Pearl still lived at home, taking care of their mom, she’d never been as thin as she wanted to be. Pearl had weighed close to four hundred pounds the last time she’d seen her, over three years ago now. Sasha, too, had always had to fight with her weight. But she wasn’t obese, or anything like her sister was. Sasha made sure that she kept up with her exercise program. And when she wasn’t able to run or something like that, she’d go to the gym. Melinda had been thin, but it seemed more like she was just that way, rather than she’d had to work at it. Sasha had no idea why that mattered, but she was trying to think of things that would make what the woman had told her true. Which, Sasha realized, was more than likely just that. Just as true as Sasha being able to talk to ghosts. In thinking of her sister, she thought of her mom. Her mother was a liar and a thief.

She scammed people when she could, even if there was no reason for her to do so. Sasha also knew that her mom could get up and around as well as Sasha could. Being confined to a wheelchair, as she told everyone, was a bald-faced lie, like most of the things that spewed from her mother’s lips—like her name. Her mom had been calling herself Katie since Sasha had been a child. Her real name was Sally, but she had always liked the name Katie and decided that it made her sound younger. Sasha had never understood her mother—even less, her brother and sister. Her dad was the only one that not only believed in her but gave her shelter when talking to the dead got to be too much. With her parents divorced since she’d been five, it was easier to stay away from Katie when she got it into her head that Sasha needed to be doing more for her. Sasha got up to make herself a cup of tea, her mind still battling with the things she’d been told. The brewing of the tea, the putting in the sugar and lemon, gave her something else to think about, even if momentarily. As soon as she sat down, Sasha thought of Melinda. She’d gone to the body to see if she could find out who had killed the woman and left a newborn behind. Sasha liked the big ex-cop who had been there and didn’t mind helping him out when he’d ask.

Sasha knew something was off almost before she got to the body. The ghost was staring at her with a huge smile. “There you are.” Sasha told her that she didn’t know her. “No, but I do you. You’re my sister. My older sister by five years. Your mother, our mother, gave me away when she figured that people would think her much too old to have another child. Since they knew who she was, they put my name on the birth certificate as well as hers. That way, I was able to find you.” “I have a sister and a brother.” Melinda had told her their names and their birthdates. “That’s correct. Why are you here? I don’t usually get to— Do you know who murdered you?” “I do.” She looked at Sawyer then, and the man that was standing nearby, a cop whose name she couldn’t remember. “It’s not like you think, whatever you’re thinking. I wasn’t killed by any of those that we’re related to. I don’t know why I cannot think of his name, but you don’t know him.” “I don’t usually come to people where they’ve been killed or died. The dead usually seek me out, and I tell someone where they are to be found. This is all new to me.” Melinda said that she’d been given permission to talk to her. “By whom? There are more people out there like me?” “Yes. Very many like you are now. But that is to change. You’ll need to start helping us.” Melinda sat down beside her or made it look like she was sitting. “You’ve been so very helpful to the dead, sister mine. You’ve helped so many of us find peace, and given those that we love more peace in that bodies have been found and put to rest. We cannot thank you enough for that.”

“I didn’t have a choice in the matter. They just started coming to me when I was four. I haven’t any idea why I can even do this shit.” Melinda asked her about the mark that was on the bottom of her left foot. “So? I’ve had that forever. It’s even noted on my baby chart that I have it. What is it other than a birthmark?” “A mark of birth.” Sasha told her that she didn’t know what she meant. “You were hurt in the womb, and that made you so much different than other children being born. Others like you need to be taught how to do what you do naturally. My child, my daughter, has the same marking. The man who murdered me, he thought he was killing you or someone that could talk to ghosts. He wishes us dead so that we will not tell anyone what he’s done. I still don’t know his name, but as I said, you know him.” “Was he going to kill the baby? Your child?” Melinda watched as pictures were taken of her body. When she was flipped to her back, Sasha could see that her belly had been cut open, the child taken from her. “He did this to you?” “No. He only shot me, in my belly there where I’ve cut myself. I did the rest. I could not let her die within me. I needed her to be found, and someone—someone like you— to raise her. To keep her safe.” Sasha told her that she didn’t want a child. “Then she will die as well, I think. He will find her through records.” “Sasha?” She looked at Sawyer when he said her name. “We know that you’re speaking to her. What we don’t know is what’s going on. Can you tell us anything about her murderer? Did he do this to her?”

Sasha told him about how Melinda had delivered her own child. That the man had meant to kill them both after he realized it wasn’t Sasha. That he wanted them both dead. However, she didn’t tell him that they were related. Nor did she mention that she was supposed to take the child to raise as her own. “You will need his help, they told me. The Bishop men are worthy of one, such as yourself. They are well respected on both sides of this sphere.” Sasha asked her who had told her that. “The dead. Those in charge of making sure that the rules of our kind are enforced. That we’re doing nothing to the living, nor are we harming those that helped us be found. There are others out there that do more. You will never have to do what they do. But you will be the one that they go to when they have unsolved business to take care of, such as finding the person or people that killed them. You have been, I guess, promoted.” “Promoted? I don’t want to be promoted, damn it. I want to just do what I do and nothing more.” Melinda started to fade. “I have so many questions. You can’t leave me yet.” “I must, I’m afraid. I have lingered too long on this sphere.” She stood up when Melinda began to fade more. “His first name begins with the letter ‘C’—that is all that I can remember. You must find him before he finds you. He will know when my death is announced, that he killed the wrong person.” Then she was gone. Sasha had come back home in a fog, not letting her mind think of anything but the next step to getting there—get in the car, start the car, and things such as that.

Now here she sat with so much useless information that she didn’t know where to even start. Sitting at the table, stirring her tea until it was cool enough to drink, she got herself a pen and paper and began writing down all the people that she knew whose first name began with the letter C. There was a pitiful number of them, and only a scant few of them even knew what she did for others. Not sure what she was supposed to do now, she picked up her tea and dumped it into the sink. Sasha didn’t even care for the drink, but there was something so calming about making it that she kept the bags around just for the simple pleasure of making it. When her cell phone rang, she picked it up after seeing the face of her mom. Sitting down again, she was ready for the battle that would ensue. Deciding not to talk about what she’d discovered today, she made sure that her mom knew that she was busy upon answering the phone. “I don’t care what you might think you’re doing that makes you too busy to talk to me. Where have you been, Sasha? I’ve been by your apartment several times, and you’re not there. I want to know what you’re up to now.” Sasha laid her head back on the table when she saw that Hailey had returned. “Are you there? It would be just like you to just put the phone down and not speak to me.” “I’m here. I have had a rough morning already, and I don’t want to have to deal with whatever drama you think you might have going on in your life at the moment. Also, how the hell did you go by my house, Mom? I thought that you weren’t to drive. You said you couldn’t walk.” That didn’t sit well with her mom, but she didn’t care.

“Whatever you’ve done, whatever you’ve had done to you, it’s not my concern. You got yourself into whatever mess you’re in, get yourself out of it.” “When did you become so horrid, Sasha? You used to be such a fun-loving little girl. Where did she go?” Not answering her didn’t seem to be an option with her mom today. “Tell me what it is so that I can tell you to get over it and—” “I grew up and figured out that you’re not as young, as nice, or as wonderful as you and your clique thinks you are. You’re a mean, hateful person that thinks revenge is the only way that you can make people pay for whatever shit you’re doing at the moment that goes belly up.” Mom huffed at her. “As I said, I have things going on here, and I need to get to them. Call Pearl or Zack home. They’ll be rooting you on in your misdeeds because they don’t know you the way I do.” Disconnecting the call made her feel better, but not for long. Looking at Hailey when she moved to stand in front of her, Sasha asked her what she needed. The smile that she gave her was watery, with bits of underwater things hanging out. Sasha shivered. “I’ve been found, thanks to you,” Sasha asked her why she was still here then. “I’ve been asked to keep an eye on you. To help you with your new job.” “I don’t remember saying that I’d take it. Besides, if it’s just more of the same, I’ve learned it by myself. I’m sure that I can figure out the rest. Don’t you?” Hailey began to change. Not fade, but to become what she might have looked like before her untimely death. “You’ll be human again?” “No. Not human.

I thought that it would be much easier for you to see me like this, rather than how I looked when they pulled me from the water this afternoon. You did very well with the Bishop person today. He will be an ally for us both. He and his family.” Sasha pointed out that she worked alone and liked it that way. “You have done very well in the past, Sasha, but things needed to change. In that, you were the one that was chosen to help more people. It will be good for us.” “And what about me? How is this going to be better for me? Did anyone think about how much I’ve given up to help the dead? How very little sleep I get when you and the others come to me in the middle of the night and then bug me until you’re found? Did anyone mention that?” She asked Sasha if not being able to sleep would have mattered in the long run. “Yes, it would have mattered. I can’t hold down a job. And the little work that I do get, someone always comes along and screws that up for me too. I’m broke. The last of my money was used to come here. Because you dragged me here by telling me how important it was that I help them find you. I did that.” “You did. Would you like to know why it was so important?” Sasha said that she didn’t care. Hailey just smiled as she spoke again. “Bradley was planning the same demise for the woman that he is living with now. She deceived him by not telling him of her children, of which she has three. They, too, would have been murdered. Her youngest child, Beth, is to become a great attorney someday. Someone that will fight for the dead and their rights. There are none of those now.”

“This is the reason that I don’t want to know shit about those that I have to help.” Sasha paced the room as Hailey waited. “This ‘C’ person. Does he really exist? Is he really going to come after me? And that little baby?” “Yes. He will kill you both if he finds you.” Sasha didn’t care about herself, but it would hurt her if something happened to her…niece, she supposed. “The babe is in good hands now. She is being called Pip. There is no other name for her that we were told. The man that is caring for her, he is as good a man, as is his brother, the cop that you worked with today. You will need them all, especially this man when the man comes for you.” “This is a fucked up nightmare. You know that, don’t you?” Hailey told her how sorry she was. “I’m sorry too. This isn’t your fault. It’s mine, for thinking I could ever have a normal life.” Before she changed her mind about this, even if she’d had a choice, she pulled out the business card that had been given to her by Sawyer. Calling the man to see how she could get help from him, she told him that she’d like to meet him at his house. She figured that was the best way to figure out what the fuck was going to happen to her now. Also, she told him that she’d need a ride to and from his home, please? ~*

~ Raven watched the proceedings of her mother’s pretrial hearing. Not only had she been found to be quite sane, which no one that had met her believed, but they thought that she was competent to stand trial for her crimes. Not that Mother thought she’d done anything wrong, but she had killed her entire family as a child, and that was what they were going to try her for. She had also murdered several people recently in the name of getting things to impress her clique at the club. And she’d kidnapped Raven’s daughter, Molly, and nearly killed her. The people there were listening intently to what was going on. Most of them, Raven had found out, had been taken advantage of in some way. Whether it was financial or physically, Merriam Addington had been worse than any of them had thought. Including her father. Roger, her dad, was getting on with his life now that his wife of thirty years was no longer bullying him around. And Mother had been a bully, too. She didn’t even care if she had to lie or cheat to get him to do what she told him. The thing that bothered the family was that Mother had thought she was the first and only Addington, and that other Addington’s were to use her as a guide on how to act and live. The fact that her only daughter had a child out of wedlock made her feel that Molly wasn’t a real person and that she should have been killed at all costs. Raven had been an adult when she had Molly. The man that she’d been having a fling with had already been married, which Raven hadn’t known about. Then a few weeks after she broke it off with him, he’d been killed, which Raven thought had worked out well for her and Molly. His plan had been to marry her after killing off his current wife, then to kill Raven. After that, he’d be wealthy—her name and money would open doors for him. Mostly to the bars, but they’d be opened up.

“Mrs. Bishop? Would you mind coming forward, please?” Raven stood up and made her way to the dais that the judge was sitting behind. Something must have happened, she supposed, while she’d been thinking because he looked about as stressed as any man that she’d ever seen. “Your mother would like to have a word with you about her living conditions.” Raven glanced at her mother before looking at the judge with a smile. “No. I like her right where she is.” The judge glanced at his name bar to remind her to address him properly, and Raven told Judge Henry that she was sorry. He rubbed his hand over his face to the back of his hair. It looked as if he’d been doing that for some time now. “What is it she thinks I’ll do for her?” “She won’t tell anyone but you. She said that it’s personal. And because of that, she will not answer any of the questions put to her so that we may proceed with this pretrial.” Raven glanced at her mother, then back at the judge again. “I’m begging you, Raven, to do this for us, please. I have a lot to get through today. I don’t want to burden you, but I’ve seen you in action with her, and I think it would maybe set her up nicely if you were to tell her what you wish.” “Will you record it?” He said if she did this, he’d use his own phone to do that. “All right. But this will not be pretty, sir. I’m telling you right now that I don’t like her, and I certainly will not be putting up with her shit.” “Good for you.” Raven walked to her mother just as one of the bailiffs walked to stand by her. He was holding a small device pointed at her mother, and she smiled at her. This was going to be ugly, Raven knew it. “What is it you think you want me to do for you? I want you to think very hard on it, and realize that I’m going to tell you no.”

Merriam told her to keep her voice down. “I will not. You only lower yours when you think it suits whatever it is you’re doing. Otherwise, you shout to the world what you’re talking about. What is it?” “I was told that you are pressing charges against me for trying to take that bastard child from you. Raven, she cannot be an Addington. Don’t you get that? She’s nothing. Not to me. She shouldn’t be to you either. Get rid of all that nasty weight.” Raven started to walk away. “Wait. I want you to have your father stop this divorce. How can I hope to become the next president of the club if I have a divorce hanging over my head? You tell him that I’m going to teach him a lesson if he doesn’t take care of this right now. I’m an Addington, for Christ’s sake, and we do not divorce.” “Apparently, having several dozen abortions is all right, though.” Mother looked around and told her to keep her voice down again. No one needed to know that in here. “Ah, but they do know that. Everyone does. It’s been in the newspaper, and I want you to know that I helped you out with that.” “It’s about time that you did something by me. I’ve never done a thing to you that you didn’t deserve. When are you going to get away from that man you supposedly married?” Raven said that they were still married and were going to have a child. “No. No, you can’t do this to me. I demand that you abort it right now.”

“Here? In this courtroom, right here on the floor? Why Mother, what would people say if I just popped out my child right here?” Mother called her all kinds of names then. Some of them Raven was sure that she was making up. When she called her a slut for what seemed like the millionth time since she’d found out she was having Molly, Raven had enough. “Watch your mouth, Mother. You want something from me, while I want nothing more to do with you.” “You have never been a good child to me, Raven. Never. Not since you were old enough to use that smart mouth of yours.” Raven thanked her. “That is not something you should be proud of, Raven. I swear to you, you are the cruelest and most rotten person there is. I am still your mother, damn it. You contact your father, and you tell him that I want out of here. I do not belong here, and I will not tolerate him leaving me here as if I mean nothing to him and the name Addington.” “You don’t, as a matter of fact. Besides, I don’t know what has you so hyped up about getting home. The house has been sold. Daddy is living with my husband, daughter, and I while he thinks about what he wants to do from now on. One of my wonderful brothers-in-law is going to move in after everything in the place that you breathed on is stripped out. That’s everything in the event you didn’t know.” Mother stood up and slammed her chained hands against the table.

“What? Are you upset about something?” “You tell him I will not allow that. I am going to live there even if I have to kill a lot of people to make it happen. You tell your father that it will be entirely his fault because he drove me to it.” Raven reminded her mother that she was being recorded. She turned to look at the recorder before continuing. “Roger Addington, you will be at that house when I get out of here, or so help me, I will destroy you, both physically and financially, before your next heartbeat.” “Oh, before I forget to tell you. While we’re on the subject of Dad, he’s made it so that you’re not an Addington. He’s stripped you of that name because you were never the name that you changed it from when you married him. Also, and this is really funny to me—you signed a prenup. You’re getting nothing. Not one red cent from Daddy, his estate, or me. Ever.” This time Raven did walk away from her. Mother was still screaming at her to get back to where she was. Raven, ignoring all the insults and nasty things she was being called, barely made it to the bathroom before she threw up. While she knew that it was never going to get better between them, she could be happy that her mother was going to be far away when this was finished. She wanted her not only in prison but in one that was far, far away from her. While in prison, she’d not be able to make calls every day. Mother would be unable to have people message Raven through the courts. It would be better for all of them when she was gone. Prison might even make her a better person. Raven wondered why she’d even bothered to come here today. Hello, my darling. I can feel you’re stressed out again. Should I come there as my cat and rescue you? Sawyer had a way about him that made her feel better with just a simple sentence. I take it that nothing is going as planned at the courthouse today.

Nothing. Worse than that, Mother is holding up the proceedings so that she can yell at me about the divorce and how I’ve ruined the good name of Addington. I shouldn’t have come here. You were right. Sawyer said that he wasn’t so sure that he had been. What do you mean? You think I should have come here and been treated this way? Wow, that’s harsh. No, I didn’t mean that. I meant that—well, you have to admit, you were feeling a little doubtful about your mother and whether what she’d been doing was enough to warrant her being in prison. Did this help? She said that it had solidified it very well that she needed to be put away. That’s as good as any reason to be there, to figure this out on your own. You might have believed me a little that this was going to happen when we spoke about it. But you got to know first-hand that she’s a fucking bitch who isn’t going to change. Did you tell her about the house? I did. I’m so glad that Gunner is buying it from Dad. To be honest with you, every time I think about him living in that huge house, all I can think about is he’ll be sleeping out on the back lawn in a sleeping bag rather than buying himself some nice furniture for it. Sawyer told her that Gunner was actually working with the people in the house. Well, that’s good, I guess. How is he handling being around people? I didn’t say he was there when they were. He comes in after they’re gone, and I guess one of them leaves him a list of stuff that he can do. Gunner told me that he’s enjoying getting his hands dirty in a way that doesn’t involve blood. Freaked me out a little when he said that.

Raven laughed and got up from the floor to clean herself up. There was another reason that I contacted you. How would you like to meet myself and Molly for dinner? I’ll bring your grandma too. We could try out that restaurant that you were reading about, and then get Holly a car. She’s been bugging me to do that for her. She said that she loves bugging you, so don’t think this will be the end of her bothering you about things. She loves you. Sawyer told her that he loved her as well. I’m going to go back to the hotel and take a short nap. Molly is at the packhouse, learning how to use the magic that she got from you. I still can’t believe that she has so much from a few drops of your blood. I’m just glad that it’s not much more than she has now. Being able to search out things that she wants and to bring them to her is nothing that I know how to do. I think she’s a little upset that she can’t shift. She was, Raven told him. Okay—date or not? Yes. I’ll take a nap at the hotel that I’m in, and you guys can meet me there. I do understand that they had to move the trial to a different place, but Columbus isn’t that far away, do you think? He told her how it had a lot more people to choose from for jurors than their town. I suppose. Okay, I’m better now. I’ll go there and see you guys later. I can’t wait for this to be done. Is Daddy all right? He is. I think that he’s having a good time with my dad. They’re working on the rose garden. Dad and he are learning how to drive the tractor and use the attachments. I guess Roger wants to put in a little garden someplace on the land that we have. I told him that would be fine by me. Mom is going to help him with it. She asked him about the peas. Yes, the ground is plowed up, and the rows are set up and ready. Mom is so excited about having peas that she can’t hardly stand it. Seems like a great deal of work for so little return, but then Mom will make it work to where she’ll have bushels of them if I don’t miss my bet. They were still laughing when she exited the bathroom. There were police all around this floor she was on. When one of them spotted her, Raven was escorted to the limo that was out front for her, and he made sure that she was in the hotel before he left.

Whatever happened, because Sawyer said he’d not called anyone to escort her, Raven was glad they were taking care of her. Raven had a feeling that it had to do with her mother. Exhaustion rolled over her in waves as soon as she got off the elevator on her floor. Even before she was able to get the covers pulled back on the bed, she was falling into it and closing her eyes. The baby and the stress were making it difficult for her to function. Raven decided that for her own peace of mind and health, she wasn’t going back to the courthouse.

Marsden Wilkerson Dynasty Series

 

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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Mars moved along the line and picked up what he needed for his work. Today he was putting together the ingredients for the coloring for the next pieces of acrylic they were sending out. He was the chemical engineer that mixed the chemicals together that created the colors that the customer ordered. He loved his job too. After it was approved, he’d give the specs to the next team, and they’d mix it all up on much larger batches, then use it on the large pieces of acrylic that would be made into huge sheets. He would do that as well, calculate the mass quantities of the ingredients so the plastic-looking sheets—to be made into whatever was needed— would have a uniform color. Like, he always liked to tell people, the holding aquarium tanks that were used in zoos across the country were made of the same acrylic that he colored and helped manufacture. As he was finishing up on the teal color that he needed, he was paged that he had a phone call. Since he couldn’t take his mask and gloves off in the cleanroom, he made his way out into the hall from where he worked and picked up the phone.

“Mr. Wilkerson? This is Officer Jamie Brown. There has been an accident.” He fell against the wall where he was working and asked the officer what had happened. “You mom, sir. She’s been involved in a hit and run, and I’m afraid it’s not good news. You need to get here as soon as possible if you can. They’ve taken her to surgery, and as I said, it doesn’t look good for her. I’m so terribly sorry.” “Where is she?” He told him where his mom was and how long she’d been there. “I’m on my way. It’ll only take me about twenty minutes to get there, providing there is not much…. I’ll be there soon.” He didn’t know why he was explaining things to the officer. Nerves, he guessed. As he was pulling off his coat and gloves, his boss came around the doorway and asked him where he was going in an all-fired hurry. “Hospital. My mom has been in an accident, and she’s in surgery now.” Chris put up his hand to block Mars from moving around him.

“Did you hear me? I said that my mom has been in an accident and I need to go.” “You work for me, right?” Mars nodded and wished that anyone other than Chris Blevins had caught him leaving. Everyone else would have said go, call me when you know something. But not Chris. “Yeah, I thought so. That means that I get to tell you when you can leave. Not you leaving, then someone else telling me where you’ve gone. Go back in there and get the rest of your work finished up, Wilkerson. I don’t have time to explain to you what sort of trouble you can get into for abandoning your job, now do I?” “No, you don’t. But I didn’t plan on leaving without telling someone why I was leaving. You caught up with me before I could.” Chris just nodded at him, as if he didn’t believe him. “I have to go. The officer that I just spoke to told me she’s in surgery and that it looks bad. I need to be with my—” “I need you to be here doing the job that you were hired to do.

And since we pay you, we trump your mommy being in the hospital. Besides, aren’t you a little old to be sucking at your momma’s tit?” Chris laughed, and Mars wanted to slug him. Glancing down, he saw that he’d not yet turned off his camera, always on when he was in the lab and was recording the moron in front of him. “Now that we have that figured out, you get your ass back in there and get to work on your job. As I pointed out earlier, we pay you, which does not include you running off for every little boo-boo that someone has in your family.” Mars reached blindly for the phone that was near him. Fingering the buttons, he found the two that he wanted and called the lead supervisor to where he was. Chris didn’t seem to be impressed with his move, but Mars waited. Oliver Reese entered the hallway just as Chris was screaming at him to get to work. “I’m telling you right now, Mars, if Oliver does come down here to see you, he’s not going to be at all pleased. Just today he was telling me that he’s sick of whiney assed employees thinking that they have any rights at all with anything. You fucking get that ass of yours back in that lab before I have to put you in there. I’m not shitting you. I will have your ass fired if you even think of leaving here because your mommy needs you to hold her fucking hand while she gets a few stitches.” Mars told him that the police said she was in bad shape and that he was leaving.

“You do that, and I’ll make sure that you never work as an engineer for so long as I live. You’re a fucking employee, not a boss. Get in there, like I said to you, or so help me, you’ll regret it.” “That’s quite enough, Chris.” Chris turned to look at Oliver when he spoke. “Your mother has been in an accident, Mars? I’m sorry to hear that. Get going, and give her my best and tell her that I’m thinking of her.” “Thank you, sir.” Nodding, Mars moved around Chris, who tripped him. Getting up, Mars had to count to ten before he could look at Chris again. Then he backed away from him. “You’re not worth the mud on my boots.” Leaving the building, he was running to his car when his phone rang. It was his Aunt Evelyn or Eita for short. Telling her that he was on his way to the hospital, she told him that the police wouldn’t tell her anything. Not even if the accident victim was his mom. “They just called me.” She demanded, which was her way, to know what the hell was going on. “I don’t know. I’m on my way to the hospital now.” “You left work? Marsden, I’m sure your mother will be just fine. Tell me where she’s at, and I’ll go there to take care that she’s okay. You know how she can be.” She laughed that bitter biting laugh that she did when speaking about him or his mom. “You can barely afford to leave your job in the middle of the day, Marsden. Have some responsibility, please. Stay there, and I’ll take care of every—” Hanging up on her felt wonderful. Traffic was tight, but he knew this town like he knew his room. Mars also made sure that he was careful not to speed and to keep his cool. All he needed was for him to be in an accident too, and they’d both be laid up. When his phone rang again, he saw that it was his Uncle Clayton.

. Answering it while pulling into the parking lot, he was too stressed to be nice to anyone right now. “Your aunt said that you hung up on her, Marsden. That is no way to treat your elders. You just let her take care of this for your mother and get back to work. She said that you cursed at her at well.” Mars didn’t say anything. “Listen, young man, I will not tolerate you treating your aunt this way. Now, get back to work. She told me that you left there without telling anyone. You can’t afford to lose your job, Marsden. Especially without either of you having any kind of job.” Hanging up without any comment, not that it would have done any good, he made his way into the hospital. After being directed where to go, he made his way up to the surgical floor. The staff there told him that it would be a little while, but the police would speak to him now that he was there. While he waited, Mars checked his messages. There were several from work. Deciding that he didn’t want to be bothered about that right now, he ignored them. There were two from Uncle Clayton and four from his wife, Aunt Eita. They would gang up on him when they arrived, treating him as if he were a ten-year-old instead of the twenty-something-year-old man that he was. His uncles were his mom’s brothers. She was the baby of the family, and they still treated her that way even now. They also all thought that they were so much better than he and his mom were. Mom having gotten pregnant with him when she’d been just barely sixteen years old, had also meant that they never respected her, especially not his aunts.

Each of his uncles had married women that, to him, seemed to be cut from the same mold. Snobbish women who thought that they were the only people in the world who could get a job done right or whatever “project” they set their minds to. Mostly it was keeping him and Mom in their place, which was several hundred steps below where they thought they were. They were forever in their business and talking to them like they had a learning disability. Neither of them had any such problems. But, unlike them, he and his mom kept out of their business, family, and whatever else they had going on. Mom had worked hard after he was born, and his grandfather had kicked her to the curb. All her brothers were married by then and had never once helped her out. Well, they helped her out with useless advice, but that was about all. His mom had gone to night school to finish her high school education, then on to college to get a nursing degree. He wondered if any of them had any idea the accomplishments that his mom had made. Her same work ethic had been taught to him. You want something, you go after it. And he had. Mars had wanted to be a chemist from the first time he’d had a chemistry set as a kid. He not only pursued a degree in his desired job, but he also had continued to work on his education, with his mom’s support, to receive his doctorate in the same field. He was now Marsden Wilkerson, Doctor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. He and his mom had celebrated for a week when he’d graduated at the top of his class thirteen years ago. Mars had been more proud of his mom when she’d become head nurse at the hospital that he was at right now, as well as department head for nursing at the college where they’d both gone.

When his phone rang again, he let it go to voice mail. It was Chris, his boss again. He wanted nothing to do with him right now. Going to the desk to ask the nurses there if they’d heard anything, he sighed when they shook their heads. Gladys told him that she had only just asked the OR for news. “Your mother is a strong woman, Mars. You know that. She’ll be just fine.” He nodded and told her that he hoped so. “I do, as well. There has never been another person here that works as hard as she does. Not only at being a damned fine nurse, but helping the rest of us when it comes to issues.” “She was telling me last night that you guys were having a party for one of the doctors who is leaving. Mom said it was more of a celebration for the nurses that he was finally retiring than them being happy for him.” Gladys and the other women laughed. “Has my family been calling you a lot? Just tell them that I’m here and that I’ll call them if there is anything they need to know.” “I told that aunt of yours, Christa, that she had better curb her demands at the door before she comes up here or I’ll call security on her. Demanding that I send you home. I don’t know how your mother came from the same family as those brothers of hers. I swear, I don’t.” He didn’t either but said nothing. He was watching the police come toward him. “Mars, you take them in the nurses’ office there. Lock the door. That way, no one will bother you. I’ll send the surgeon in when he’s done too.” They shook his hand, Officer Brown and his partner Officer Dutch. About ten minutes after taking them into the room to talk, the doctor came in to speak to him as well. Mars wondered at the timing but waited for the news.

~*~ Eita saw Marsden sitting in the little room when she got off the elevator. He had his back to her, and for reasons that she couldn’t explain that pissed her off more. Clayton stopped at the desk, and she made her way into the room. It was about time that Marsden started having respect for his elders. She wasn’t going to tolerate anything more from him today. “What do you think you’re doing here? Didn’t I tell you to go back to work? I swear to Christ, Marsden, you’re going to lose that job of yours, and then where will you be while your mom is laid up? I’m not going to bail you out of anything. I did tell you that I had this taken care of, didn’t I? Several times, I believe. What did she do to cause the accident, anyway? Texting and driving, no doubt.” Marsden just looked at her, his eyes cold. “Don’t you dare look at me like that! You know as well as the rest of us do that you’re barely making it on the money you have coming in. You’re both still living in that shabby little place, aren’t you? Well, when your mother comes home, she’s going to stay with us. I’ll make sure that she has proper care and someone getting her up and moving again.

” “Marsden?” He turned his head and looked at Clayton. He had better not baby him, or Eita would tear him a new ass when she got home. “They won’t tell me anything
about your mother. They said that you did that. You go out there right now and tell them that I’m her brother and that I’m—” “So you did remember that she’s your sister, did you?” Clayton looked shocked, but Eita didn’t. Marsden had never had any respect for them. Any of them. That was going to stop now as well. “I’m her son, and I’m the only one that can make decisions on her behalf. Also, you might be her brother, but that doesn’t mean shit to me right now. So you can fuck off.” Eita slapped Marsden. As his face reddened with her handprint there, she felt a satisfaction that she’d not been able to feel since the first time she’d spanked this kid. Of course, he was an adult, but that was absolutely no reason for him to behave like he was from the streets. Though, the way things were going, she didn’t doubt that he’d end up there after a time. She lifted her chin up a few more notches when he stood up.

“What do you have to say for yourself, Marsden? You’ll apologize to your uncle right this minute. As much as I’d like to blame this on your mother’s little accident, you’ve always been a disrespectable little shit. Tell him right now that you’re sorry, or so help me, Marsden, I’ll make you regret it.” Marsden looked at her. While she tapped her foot so that he’d know she meant business, he finally spoke to her. “You ever draw back your hand to hit me again, and I will fucking hit you back. You can demand no more respect of me than you’re willing to return.” He then looked at Clayton. “My mother died on the operating table twenty minutes ago. Her little accident took her life.” Eita looked at Clayton when Marsden left them both standing there. Surely he had that wrong. There was no way that Holly would leave her only son to fend for himself. Sitting next to Clayton when he sat down, she wondered what she was going to have to do now. Christ, they’d have to make arrangements for her funeral, and more than likely pay for it too. “He’d better not be doing anything that my ass has to cover.

” Clayton didn’t say anything. “I’ll have to go down to the funeral home and make the arrangements for this, or he’ll have it so expensive that we’ll have to dip into our savings account. I don’t know who would even come to it either. I wonder if it would be all right if we just made it a graveside service without calling hours. That will suit everyone just fine. Where do you suppose her body is now?” “I don’t know.” She really didn’t think that Clayton would know, but he stood up. “I’ll go and see what sort of things we can do to make this happen. I can’t believe that Holly is gone. You assured me that the police said it was nothing more than a fender bender when you spoke to them.” “I didn’t actually speak to them, Clayton. I told you that.” He said that she had. “No, what I told you was that Marsden wouldn’t allow me to speak to them. But from what I heard on the scanner in my office, it was only two cars. Nothing to think that she’d be killed in it.” “Well, you were wrong. Weren’t you?” Nodding at him, Eita didn’t point out that he was being rude to her. She would allow him to be cranky for a little while longer, then she’d have to shake him out of it. “I’ll have to call and tell the rest of the family.

What did he mean about me remembering that she’s my sister?” “He’s still going on about not inviting her to our Christmas parties. I told them both, several times, that it’s not their type of crowd. People with money, like our friends, do not want to be reminded that there are people out there with less than them. Especially at Christmas.” Clayton told her that he thought it was more than that. “Who knows about those two, Clayton? They were forever with their hands out to someone or another. It wouldn’t surprise me if there isn’t even any insurance to pay for things. And him not working? I just don’t know what to do about that. Do you have any idea what he even does for a living? I’m betting that he’s nothing more than a fast-food restaurant manager, or something lowly like that.” “I don’t know what he does. I don’t even know what Holly did for a living.” She could hear a tone in his voice, but since he didn’t use it on her, she didn’t care. “Don’t you think that’s sad? That I have no idea what my sister has done with her life?” “No, I don’t think that’s sad at all, Clayton. She made her bed, and she had to do things on her own to be taught a lesson. The smartest thing your father ever did was to put her out when she found out she was going to have Marsden. Did I tell you that I looked it up once? The name on the certificate for his father is unknown. She should have made a name up rather than putting unknown. Now everyone will know what sort of person she was by that statement.” He asked her what sort of person she meant. “You know what I mean.

The type that sleeps around so much that she hasn’t any idea who to blame her mistake on. And he was a mistake. She could have been so much a part of this family if she’d taken care not to get herself in that position. I’ve always thought that Marsden’s father was a married man that didn’t want to have anything to do with raising a child from one of his flings. Clayton, I’m telling you right now, I think Holly got just what she deserved in life by getting herself in that position.” “I don’t think that she wanted to die, Eita. No one wants that.” She didn’t answer him. Holly more than likely planned the accident so she could get sympathy from her brothers. Well, had that happened, Eita and the other women of the family would have put an end to that too. Eita and the other wives had been making sure that Holly and her bastard son stayed right where they were since Holly announced that she was going to have a baby. No amount of tears that she shed that day would have made Eita any less hard on the child. As she told Clayton, since Holly screwed up, that was her problem. And she wouldn’t take the rest of them down with her. Pulling out her phone, she pulled up her party line numbers that they all used when they had juicy gossip. This news was going to pop all their buttons when they heard what she had to share. Smiling, she waited for them to answer. When talking to them, she never had to fake her concern or pretend to feel any different than she really did when talking about Holly and Marsden. None of them cared for the sister or her son. “We’ve all heard about Holly. Can you believe that?” Eita, having her news already spread about, asked Tina who she’d heard it from. “Marsden called him a few minutes ago. He told us that she’d been in an accident, which we all knew, and that she’d not made it out of surgery.

Also, he said that funeral arrangements would be ready in a couple of days.” “He thinks he’s going to go down there and run up a high bill and that we’ll all pay for it. I have news for him, I’m going to make sure I do it so that there isn’t any way that he’ll put a huge bill out for one of us to pay. I was thinking just a quick graveside. I doubt very much either of them had any friends. Of course, there will be ours, but they won’t go to someone’s funeral that they don’t know. Do you think?” They all agreed with her, just as she liked it. “He’s also not working. I told him that I had this taken care of, and what did he do? He left work to come here like we didn’t already make arrangements to be here. I swear to you, he does stuff like that just to piss me off. He also threatened me. I slapped him when he was nasty to his uncle. I don’t think he has a lick of manners. Holly did him wrong by keeping him when he was born, and now we’re all going to pay for her stupidity.” When she’d told them all she knew, Eita was surprised to see Clayton sitting out in the lobby. He never left her alone without asking her permission to do so. It just wasn’t done in their society. Well, just a little bit longer, she told herself, and he’d be back to his old self again. Going to the elevator, knowing that he’d come to her, she was in it with the doors closed before she could stop the doors from closing on her. “Damn it. Why do I have to suffer?

Damn it, Holly, why did you have to go and ruin all our lives when you decided to get yourself knocked up?” No one was in the elevator with her, she noticed and was saddened by that. There was no one to ask her what had happened. Well, she’d do it later when she had to drag Clayton out of here. Didn’t he remember that they had dinner plans with the Staffords tonight? Getting frustrated with him when she had to wait another twenty minutes on him, Eita decided that she’d just take the car and go home. Let him deal with getting home. She had things to do to get ready for tonight. She wouldn’t have to get all dressed up too much tonight, she realized. Thanks to Holly’s death, everyone would expect her to be sad and a little absentminded. Not that most of their friends knew how she felt about Holly. Eita planned on taking their sympathy to the next level. Something good may come out of this anyway. They would think that she and Clayton were real troopers for coming out on this day of all days. Eita wondered if she had a lovely black dress she could put on. Black wasn’t really her color, but she wanted to look washed out and in mourning. Although she was actually sort of glad to have Holly out of her life now. Out of all their lives. No more embarrassing looks when she was with her friends, and they saw her on the street. She’d not have to answer any more questions as to where the sister was either when she and Clayton had parties. Then there was the added bonus of having a real excuse to play up why they weren’t there. She was just getting ready to start the car and go home when she saw Clayton coming out of the hospital. He didn’t look her way but continued to speak to the man he was with. Whatever they were talking about, she’d find out later. It had to do with Holly and Marsden, she was sure. Eita had forgotten all about the hospital bill until this very moment.
She supposed it would be up to her to make sure that got paid off as well. Would anyone ever appreciate everything she did behind the scenes for them? More than likely not, she thought.

Dean Marshal’s Shadow Release Blitz &Giveaway

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….

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dean had most of the bedrooms finished with the exception of furniture. He’d been working on making the rooms a little larger and decided that having three larger bedrooms was much nicer than having six small ones. He wondered at times when working how he and his brother Rodney, like Shep and Oakley, had managed to sleep in the same room and not smother one another. There was barely enough room in the closets for one person’s clothing, much less two of them. Not that Heath or Trenton were any smaller. They just seemed to have been able to work out the room size to suit themselves. Mom had done right by them, though. There might not have been as much room in the bedrooms as they needed, or even wanted, but there was plenty enough food for them to eat, as well as a roof over their heads. Their father hadn’t ever cared about that. At times he’d think about his father.

How he had been in prison for a time then got out, only to screw up again to get himself dead. To have found out that he’d murdered their mom was enough for anyone to turn against him. But for his father to think that it was justified because she’d been mean to him didn’t cut it as far as he was concerned. Just as he was coming down the stairs, he heard his grandda on the front porch. Taking the family home had afforded him plenty of company coming around all the time. All were welcome as far as he was concerned, and he always had fresh tea in the icebox in the event they might show up with a thirst. “Hey, Grandda, how’s it hanging?” He just loved this old man and was surprised to see him blush when he spoke to him like he did. “I’d think that after living with Harris all this time, you’d be used to the dirty comments and bad jokes.” “That girl. I tell you, Dean, I swear she was raised up by heathens. But I love her to pieces, and I can’t find a single thing about her that don’t make me smile. I came over to see if you had a date tonight.” Dean told him that he did, with him. “I know you and your brother Rodney are the babies of the family and all, but you all still need to get out there and date some. How you gonna find Mrs. Right if you’re all holed up in this house working all the time?” “Let me show you what I’ve been up to for a mate, if she ever comes around, to make our home one that can stand on its own.”

He took him to the bedrooms that he’d just left. “I’ve not told anyone, but Harris loaned me the money to get started on the house. She told me that once I got started on it, have a project or two done, then people that sold the equipment that I had would want me to try out their products. She promised me that she’d help me find the right fit for me.” Grandda walked into the bedroom that had been his and Rodney’s. It didn’t look a thing like it had before, because of the interior and exterior project that he had going on here. Grandda turned to him after looking around. “See? That’s the great part of it. It just blends right in with the everyday house. There are several components in this room that will make it more efficient. There aren’t any vents in any of the rooms here because everything is under the flooring. You know
as well as I do that when you get out of bed and put your feet on the cold flooring, it can make you feel about ten times colder than it really is.” Grandda agreed with him. “The water from the floors all goes to the basement to be heated up for the hot water tank. It’s cleaned, too, so that you can drink it.” “Where does this water come from? I mean, eventually, you’re going to run out, right?” Dean told him not if he was smart about it. “Tell me about what you did.” “There is a stream that flows under the house. I had no idea it was there until I had someone come out and show it to me.

It comes from the mountains behind the houses and flows into this stream year-round. Even if there is a drought, there is always plenty of water coming down to the stream.” He showed Grandda the windows next. “These are double-paned windows. Much better than the ones that we had in here before. The seals around them are better than anything I’ve ever worked with before. Even better, Harris told me, than what she has in her home. I did a lot of research on it.” There were other things in the room, too, things that he was happy to show his grandda. And like he had hoped he would, Dean got enough praise from him to make all the depression he’d been fighting lately just vanish. “Shep and Harris’s property. They have enough stuff on it that they don’t have to go beyond for things like meat and vegetables. You getting that done up too?” Dean was glad that he’d gotten his garden in. It had been late, but he’d been amazed at how many late crops he could still grow. “This is really amazing, son. I’m very proud of you.” “Thanks, Grandda. Some of the men that work with the Marshall House have been coming over here when they have time and showing me how to get my orchard in order. I have to admit, I was going to start out slow on that—just get me a few trees to start with. But Joe—he works for Shep—he told me to go big or just go home. So now I have two hundred fruit trees all planted, as well as a watering system that is much like the one in the house that keeps them watered. The garden that I’ve got in, it’ll be much too large for just me this year to harvest. Even with help, I think I’m going to have to learn how to cook so that I can use as much of it as I can.” Grandda asked him about meat. “I’m working on that.

I have to have young animals so they can get used to me, but I’ve already bought them—again, with help from a farmer not far from here. Next spring, I’m going to have fifty head of cattle brought in, and fifty pigs. There will be a hen house too, as well as ducks. I had no idea how helpful ducks were to a farm.” Taking his grandda out to the barn, he told him about the tradeoff he’d had with Marshall House. “So they can store things here in this barn for free if they let you use it when you need to. I like that. Bartering has been around forever, I’m betting. What are those things out there in that field?” He told him they were solar panels that would supply electricity, and thus heat, to the house. “No electric bill? I’m betting that the electric company don’t like that none too much.” “I don’t have to justify anything to them. And the extra that I have, which is a great deal since I live here alone, is being sold to a company that the Marshall House sells theirs to for a profit. It’s not as much as Shep is making, but I’ll get there.”

“You did this all in a month? My goodness boy, what will you have done in a year or two? This is wonderful.” Dean hugged his grandda. “You might be having yourself a grand house before this here thing is done. My goodness.” “Doing most of it by myself has helped me a great deal. If anything goes wrong or I have to extend things, then I’ll know how to do that without having to call in the professionals. I’m having a good time too.” Showing his grandda what else he’d been doing, it wasn’t hard for Dean to admit when he’d made mistakes here and there. There had been plenty of them at first, but he was getting better all the time. “I’m adding onto the back of the house. The kitchen is much too small for this house with all the improvements I’ve made. Plus, I wanted to be able to have an eat-in kitchen like Mom always had. Plus, a dining room to hold a few people if I wanted to have anyone over to watch the game or whatever.” Getting cleaned up to have dinner with his grandda, he thought of all the work he had to do today. But he wasn’t going to let it stress him out. The one thing that he’d learned from his mom—just one of the million and one things he’d learned from her— was to take time for your loved ones. You had no idea if they were going to be there when you woke up the next morning. She’d not been, as it turned out, and he was sorry for that daily. They made their way to the local steak house. It was a nice little drive. The trees were starting to turn colors—he could make them out now, knowing which colors were made by which trees. He’d been thrilled to learn that he had plenty of maple trees on his land, and was planning, again with the help of Joe, to get as much syrup from them as he could come late winter.

He started to tell his grandda that as he drove them in, but decided that if he didn’t have enough to give everyone, he’d just give it to him. Grandda was his hero. “I’ve been working at the grocery store for a while now. I just love seeing all the people around town. And I will admit that I’m a talker. But the things that you hear there, it would curl your tail if you let it. I’ve been thinking on getting some way to get some baskets ready for the holiday coming up. With what I’ve heard around, I’m betting that there is plenty I can do to get a few extra vegetables on a few tables.” Dean told him that he’d help if he wanted. “I might take you up on it. But I’m still in the planning stages right now. I mean, I know I can tell you about something, and you’d not blab it all over town. Some of these people are downright broke. Not even enough coming in for them to see to their bills, much less food on the table.” “Mom used to do stuff like that. Not give people the feeling that she knew they were broke—she’d be slick at it. Like she’d hear something, and one of us and her would gather up some things to share. Not so much they’d be suspicious about her showing up with a lot of stuff, but enough that they’d think she was doing just what she said she was doing—cleaning out the closets or something. Mom would bake up a few pies too. She’d say it was because whatever tree that the pie was made of had been especially fruitful that year.”

Dean smiled when he thought of the conversation he’d had with her once about having a cherry tree. “We didn’t even have most of what she’d bake the pies from. Like she would tell them that we boys had been out in the woods and come across some blackberries. She decided to share our good find with these people.
Then there was the cherry tree that she’d say was so pretty in the spring she just knew she was going to get a lot of pies from it. And there she was with a dozen of them.” “There ain’t no cherry tree on that property, is there?” Dean told him that there was now, but no, not when Mom had been baking there hadn’t been. “My Jill Ann. She was a good-hearted soul, she was. I miss her every day. I’m betting you do too.” “Every time I tear out a wall or put in a new electrical outlet, I think of her. She’d be all over helping me with this project, telling me what my mate someday would think of all this. Every time I pull out a wall and replace something on it, I write her name and the day that she passed on. So that someday someone will know that a great woman lived there.” Grandda told him that was a special thing he was doing. “It’s what any of us would do for her, I think. Our mom, she was something special.”

After they were finished with their meal and Grandda had a nice slice of pie with his, Dean told him of the things that he was working on outside the house. Grandda told him of all the things that he’d been up to, and by the time they parted ways, him dropping Grandda off at Shep’s house, Dean decided that they needed to do that once a week from now on. That way, they could catch each other up on their weeks. He might even suggest it to the others. ~*~ Hunter didn’t want his sister there, but there was little he could do about it. Talking Dad down and telling her that he demanded to see her had her coming, not running off so he had to fill Dad with stuff she’d told him. Well, stuff that he had in his head that she’d told him, none of it very good. He also mentioned to her that Dad had said that she was too old for birthday celebrations. He’d almost forgotten what today was. Of course, of all days, his dad was running behind. The man was never late for anything. Isabella Booth, his sister, was a pretty thing. He supposed she would almost have to be. He was handsome and well built, and their parents were both good looking, even for their age, Hunter thought. There was very little reason to have ever thought that she’d be ugly. Hunter wanted to think that he had something to do with it, but really, he was just her brother, not her parent. It hadn’t ever bothered him what she looked like so long as she wasn’t a boy.

Hunter knew his father well enough to know that he would never have left the family business to his sister. Hunter had made sure that Dad thought that Bella was just a greedy airhead that didn’t know a hoe from a whore. That was the way he’d been able to slant things in his favor. Hunter didn’t care how stupid or smart Bella or Dad was, so long as, now that he’d left the business to him, they stayed the fuck out of his business. While he didn’t know what this meeting was going to entail, he knew that it might be something he didn’t want his sister in on. “I’ve had enough.” When Bella stood up and walked to the door, he actually stared at her with his mouth open. No one ever walked out on Dad when he wanted to talk to them. Especially not his children. “If he comes in, you tell him I said to fuck off. I’m a fucking grown woman, and I’m not taking this shit anymore.”

Like he’d say that to his dad. He would, of course, but he’d be much nastier about it than she’d been. When she walked out of the house, Hunter just sat there, where he’d been when the butler told them that Dad was running behind. As soon as he heard her car startup, Hunter smiled. One more thing to dig the hole that would bury Bella when it came to anything that Dad left them in the will. He’d get it all, which was all he ever wanted in the first place. To be the man on top of everything. Getting up, he’d started for the bar when he heard their dad coming back. “What the hell are you doing, Hunter? It’s only nine in the morning.” Hunter said that he’d been trying to catch Bella. “What do you mean, catch her? I thought she’d stay and talk to me. Doesn’t she know what today is? It’s her birthday. I thought of all days she’d want to talk to me.” “I don’t think she wants to be around us anymore. She said that she was sick of waiting and that she was a grown woman.” Hunter didn’t think he’d ever be able to say a curse word to his dad. His mouth would never form them in front of him. But he had no such trouble lying to him. “She said that you aren’t ever going to demand anything of her again, Dad. She even told me that I shouldn’t be here either.”

“Oh yeah? I wonder why she’d say something like that. I mean, I’m trying to make amends here, for whatever I’ve done to her to make her so upset with me. Do you know what it might have been?” Hunter shook his head. “Well, I’ll try and call her later. But you and I need to talk about the business that you’re running. I’ve been hearing things that I just don’t care for, son. Are you having troubles? Do you need for me to step in and help you out? I can. It would be—” “No. I’m doing just fine, Dad. I swear. It’s running almost like you never left. You said that you’d give me the business to run, and that’s what I’m doing. You’ve not changed your mind, have you?” Dad told him that he’d not. “I don’t think you have to worry about Bella’s business like you did before. She will fail soon enough. You can count on that. A woman like her, growing up in this house, and she goes out and opens her own place. Bella did that so that she could act like she’s smarter than you. I don’t believe that, but she sure does.” “You go and get her and tell her that I’d like to talk to her as soon as she has time. Tell her…I don’t know. Tell her that I’d really like to see her. I miss her. If you weren’t around to tell me what she’s up to, I’d never know except for what little I can read in the papers.” Hunter didn’t think that Bella would come back here ever again with all the things he’d been telling her about Dad. None of it was true, but she didn’t know that, any more than Dad knew what Bella was really saying about him. “Also, you tell her that I’d very much like for her to come and have a few dinners with me every week. Now that your mother has left for her European vacation, it gets a little lonely around here. You tell her that, will you, Hunter?” “I will. And I have to say, Dad, that’s a wonderful idea.” Dad puffed his scrawny chest out like he was king of the world. Hunter was just barely able to catch himself from rolling his eyes when he turned away to leave, wondering where Dad had gotten the idea that their mom was on vacation. Turning back to his dad, he tried to act all humble. “She took my last cash, Dad.

Just demanded that I hand it over before she left. If she has all that money, why did she need mine too?” “I’m not sure of a lot of things of late to be honest with you, Hunter. Sometimes I have these memory spells, and I have to just rest a bit. By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask you. How are things going down at the lawn care service? I’ve been hearing things around town and such that things aren’t going as well as I’d hoped they would with you in charge. What are you doing?” Hunter told him it was just that, rumors, and that he had a handle on things. He told him not to worry. “It has my name on it, Hunter—of course, I’m going to worry. But you make sure you tell Bella everything I told you, Hunter. I’m not getting any younger here, and I miss her. I just can’t believe some of the things she does according to you. Like robbing her only brother. But then, from some of the things you’ve told me, I guess it’s no less than I could expect. Correct?” As he left the house, Hunter thought that his dad was wrong on that score. Bella was only good for one thing, and that was to be the scapegoat when he needed her to be. But he also knew that his dad had gotten stupider. The fact that he believed every word that came out of Hunter’s mouth just went to show just how dumb his father was. Hunter had been playing his father and sister against one another since he’d been old enough to figure some things out

First and foremost, Bella was very intelligent. Not just that, but she could make money. Easily. When she’d been just a kid, she’d figured out a way to make money by mowing lawns. At thirteen, she’d been able to get her own mower, as well as a weed eater and other yard equipment to carry along with her mower and little trailer. By the time she was fifteen, she’d been able to pay for a nice used truck that she’d never let him drive. She wasn’t even able to drive it until a year later. Stupid to pay for something that she’d not been able to use, Hunter had always thought. Bella had gotten out of school earlier too. At sixteen, she’d graduated an entire year before he’d been able to. It didn’t help that Hunter had had to repeat a few grades and didn’t graduate until he was almost twenty. But there she was, taking college classes on how to run her own business on a computer that she locked up every time she walked away from it. It just occurred to Hunter that Bella had always been selfish about her things. Not that he ever wanted to share with her. But she had nicer things and didn’t allow anyone to mess with them.

The day she turned eighteen, not only did she move out of the house Hunter still called home, but she moved not into a shabby apartment, but a house that she’d been able to purchase with her own money. That, too, was someplace he could never go to. While he had an idea where she lived, the actual address was something that she’d never share with him. He supposed she was smart on that score. He would have fucked that up for her if given the chance. Now, at twenty-three, not only did she have her own car, a home, as well as a fat bank account, Bella also had a multimillion-dollar business. Hunter would see the little signs in all kinds of yards and businesses, stating that Booth Landscaping was caring for this property. The only reason he knew about her bank account was because he would read about her being one of the wealthiest women in the entire state.

More than likely, the article had said, the country. Pulling into the front lot of her business, he was detained. He was forever detained there. Really, what it meant was, they were asking his sister how badly she wanted to make him gone. He’d never been on this lot, and he was reasonably sure he never would be. Bella actually had wild dogs roaming the place after it closed down. He knew that because he’d tried to get in at that time, and had nearly had his ass torn off by them. “She said to tell you that you need to go back and suck up more to your father. She’s busy.” He hated that the entire company seemed to know that Hunter didn’t care for him. “Miss Booth also said to tell you that you’re not getting money or a job, nor are you going to get in to steal from her.” “What a thing to say to her own brother. You tell her that I have a message from our dad.” The man not only went into the booth to talk on the phone to Bella, but he closed the door. Hunter could see him laughing like it was a huge joke on their part to have a good time with him. Being her older brother had counted for nothing to her, and he was frankly sick to death of it. Before he could pound on the door and tell the man he wanted the fuck in, he came out with his hand on his gun. Fucking shit.

Had she ordered him to shoot her only brother? “Miss Booth said for you—” “I know who the fuck she is. You don’t have to keep saying her name as if I haven’t any idea that my sister is here. What the hell could she say to me that has you ready to blow my head off?” “Miss Booth said that if you don’t leave here now, she’s going to have me drag your dead body into the lot and let the police know that I had to kill you for trespassing.” The man leaned down to the window. “You go on and try to run the gates, Hunter, and I’ll have you dead before you cross your front tires over the electric eye that will lock you down.” Terrified that he’d do just that, he slammed the car into reverse and hit the gas. He got no more than three inches before his entire body was slammed forward, then back. Whatever he’d hit, he was sure that it had killed him. Getting out of his car, he held his head where blood was making it impossible to see what it was that had rammed him from the rear. Looking at the large truck, one of the kind that he was sure could pull a house down the road, Hunter was satisfied that he’d at least done some damage to it. “What the hell? You hit me.” The man, a huge monster of a guy, got out of the car, and Hunter revised his thought about the truck and the house. This man would need this type of truck to pull him around. “Did you even look in your rearview mirror before you backed up like you did?” “You hit me. I was trying to see my sister, who owns this business, and you rammed me.” Hunter loved the way the lies just slipped from his mouth like piss did from his dick.

“What did you think was going to happen to your truck when you came up on me so fast? My sister isn’t going to be happy about this.” “Your sister doesn’t give two shits about you.” The guard again. That mother fucker needed to keep to his own business. “Hello, Mr. Marshall. Miss Booth is expecting you. If you’d like to go on ahead there, the man on the other side will take you to her now. I’ve already called the police, and I’m making a recording of the entire incident as we speak to hand over to them. Obviously, it was this man’s fault for being too afraid to even drive properly.” “You have no idea what you’re talking about. I wasn’t the least bit afraid of you.” Hunter tried to shut his mouth, but again, things were flowing faster than he could stop them. “I was sitting still when he drove his excuse to compensate for his tiny dick into my car.” The man didn’t even pause as he made his way into the gate to the waiting golf buggy, leaving him there as if he was going to be the one that took the blame on this. Hunter looked at the guard that was standing there with his hand still on his gun.

The sirens sounded just as he was trying to figure out how he was going to get home. As soon as the two cruisers pulled up, the cops came out of the cars, hiding behind their car doors with their guns drawn and yelling at him to drop to the ground. Hunter put his hands up but refused to drop like he was some sort of animal. “Are you insane? Do you have any idea how much it cost me to clean this suit? More than I want to spend again.” He put his hands down. “Now listen here, you have no right to arrest me. That other man, he hit me.” “Moron.” The guard walked by him and handed the police something. “He backed into Mr. Marshall’s truck after arguing with me about going inside. It’s all on that recording for you.” Hunter found himself arrested and getting in the back of the cruiser before he could think how to lie himself out of this mess. Just as his neck was being bent so that his head wouldn’t get hurt on the doorframe, he looked at the building and saw his sister standing there. His tongue was so tied up when he saw her that he couldn’t speak—not to yell at her to come to help him or anything else.

Standing there, with the sun behind her and leaning against one of the many trucks, the vision that she was made him realize just how gorgeous Bella had become. He supposed that she was when she’d been at the house earlier. But then she’d been dressed in a pair of sweats and a dirty T-shirt. One that had her name on it. Looking at her now, he could see that she’d not only cleaned up, but she’d dressed up too. The skirt hung just mid-thigh, slick tight and black. The blouse she was wearing was a bright white. The slimness of it made her look curvy and grown up. When the hell had that happened? Hunter never got a chance to ask her that, or any of the other million questions that were going through his head. Almost as soon as the door was shut, he found himself being taken to jail. Unfairly too, he thought.

Ronan Foster Pride Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

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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Prologue
Ten years ago
Brook woke and sat up in her bed. With no time to think about what was wrong, she rushed to the window nearest to her bed and pushed out the screen as she threw up. Her belly tossed up her dinner several more times as she leaned out, not even caring if she fell out the window or not. Christ, she’d never been sick a day in her life, and right now, she thought that her body was making up for it all in one illness. Rolling over so that she could sit on the floor, she was sure there was nothing else inside her. Brook closed the window and leaned her head back on the wall. She was wide awake now, and other than feeling a little weak, she felt better than she had when she’d woken up, that was for sure. Getting up and brushing her teeth at the window again, she spit the bottled water she’d used out the window as well. Dressing in sweatpants and an old hoodie, she made her way downstairs to the kitchen. Brook had grown up in this house. She knew every creaking step, loose board, and any doors that squeaked. She used to take care of those but now found them to be handy when she thought that no one else was in the house with her. There was no way anyone was sneaking up on her again. The house had belonged to her parents. When her dad was killed when she was five, it was just her and her mom living there. Then one day, when she came home from school—she’d been seven then—a man by the name of Allen Quarter had moved in. Two days after that, her mom married him at the courthouse. Again, she’d been at school when it happened. It had been a horrible five years with Allen there. The man had knocked Brook around, as well as her mother. There was never a time when one or both of them wasn’t covered in bruises or cuts. The house became a place of danger and anger for her, and she would spend a lot of her time at the library. They didn’t even get any kind of reprieve from him going to a job. Allen didn’t work but did expect her mom to. He even made Brook take an after school job of babysitting someone’s children. It was a nightmare of being knocked down, locked in closets for hours at a time, and tending to her mother when Allen would hurt her too badly. When Brook turned twelve and a half, an awful thing happened to her. Her mother died in a horrific car accident—her father had died the same way on the same highway. They had just crashed their cars into a light pole, which no one could explain.

Brook was devastated. She had no one left to go to. No family at all except for Allen. Brook vowed that when she was old enough, she was moving out. Soon, she told herself. It would be soon now. Then Brook found out that she was way smarter than her stepfather, which wasn’t hard to be. But she turned out to be extremely smart. She also had the ability to not just remember things, but she could see the word, the dictionary definition of it, as well as how the word could be used.
As she passed through the kitchen, feeling better all the time, she picked up an apple for herself and a handful of nuts for the squirrel that came around. Taking the knife she’d bought out of its hiding place, Brook checked to make sure that her backpack was where she’d left it. Thankfully, it was untouched.

At almost seventeen, Brook had a lot going on in her life. She had a full-time job that her stepparents didn’t know about, money in a safe deposit box, as well as a car that she had stashed someplace they’d never find it, waiting for the day when the two of them either tried to hurt her again and she had to run, or—and this one scared her the most—they would kill her. Just as, Brook thought, they had killed her mother. Cindy Quarter was her stepmother. Not four days after her mother’s funeral, Cindy and her two kids had moved into her family home. Allen married her at the courthouse too. He even stapled their marriage certificate on the wall so that Brook would always understand who was in charge. The two children that Cindy had were Allen’s. Brook had been looking for her mother’s will when she came across their birth certificates. Not only had they been fathered by Allen, but he’d fathered them while he’d been married to her mom. Sadly, Brook had found her mother’s marriage certificate to Allen while looking around. She had hoped that they weren’t married and that he wasn’t her stepfather.

Brook had a lot of her hopes dashed. It was beginning to seem like she’d never had anything good happen to her. Eating the apple, she threw the core to the squirrel too. He was a fat little guy— thanks, she thought, to her feeding him. She hoped that he was sharing his food with a family someplace, and telling them how thankful they should be for her treats. Brook didn’t get many people thanking her or even saying a kind word to her in this house. The car coming down the street startled her. They were at the end of the road they lived on, and once someone passed the neighbor’s house, about a mile away, there was nowhere else to go. So unless they were lost, they were coming to their home. It was one in the morning. Tensing up when the car turned their lights off to pull into their driveway, she looked around to see where the squirrel was. Sometimes Allen would invite his friends over to shoot at the little animals around the house. Brook didn’t want anyone or anything hurt by them. Hearing Allen coming down the stairs like the hounds of hell were after him, she put the knife in her coat pocket in the event that she might need it. Whatever was going on, it could not bode well for her, as Allen had been trying his best to run her off for months now. The lights were off in the house right now, but if the kitchen lights came on, someone would see her, she realized. Moving to the other side of the window, she knew she would be safe, especially dressed in dark clothing the way she was. Unless, of course, someone came out on the porch and turned on the outside light.

When Butch Salmon got out of his car, she could see that his brothers were there with him. The four of them together didn’t have a brain cell between them, not to mention a full set of teeth. Every time she saw them, Brook would have a fear in her heart so deep that nothing but getting away would make her feel better. They were not just bad news but were horrific people. They were drunken assholes that would steal pennies from their own mother’s eyes if she were dead. Butch was the worst of the four of them, and he’d been trying to corner her for the last several months. Even to have him breathe in her direction made her ill with fear. Butch had a streak of evil in him that was wider than he was. Of course, Allen and Cindy loved the man and told her that she was nuts, that no one would want her skinny ass, and to let him kiss her, and he’d be done. No, he would not. She didn’t know how she was so sure of that, but she was so sure that he’d rape her then toss her to his brothers that she’d started carrying a knife around. A switchblade that was longer than her hand. When Butch and Allen were standing on the front porch, Brook turned on her phone to record them. She’d been getting really good at figuring out her phone without looking at it, and tonight was no different. Brook had also begun saving any and all conversations that she happened upon in case she came up missing—or worse yet, dead. “I’m here to get Brook.” Brook felt her body freeze when Butch said that. “You doped her up, right? I don’t want no fighting her for some of that pussy, Allen. You said that we could have our fun so long as we killed her afterward. Then her body could be found for the insurance money you got coming to you.” “I did it.

I’ve only just put the kids to bed now. They’re locked up in their rooms. I even gave them a little of that fentanyl shit that Cindy brought home from the hospital for Brook so that they’d not hear a single thing.” They both laughed, and she wanted to throw up again. “I think I got it right this time. I know the last time you came for her, I’d not given her enough. Christ, even Cindy was surprised that it didn’t knock her on her ass like it should have. She was telling me that a man three times her size would have been out for days. She’s out now, I tell you, Butch. Out like a stone. I went by her room and knocked to see if she’d answer me, and got nothing.” Before? She tried to think when the last time might have been and couldn’t remember. When the other three Salmon brothers got out of the car and went into the house, Brook stood up and thought about how safe she’d be to walk by the window to get her things just as the light in the kitchen came on. She checked her phone to see that it was still recording, and left it by the window as she moved to the door. “I’m going to be so glad to have that bitch out of my life. Who knew that her mother would be leaving this house and the insurance to her daughter? I never would have killed off her husband and her if I thought I’d have to take the brat in too.

You have no idea what it’s been like here with her, Butch. She’s nothing but a pain in my ass the way she just walks around, not speaking to any of us unless we talk to her. She won’t even go out to dinner when we do. Like she’s embarrassed about us. Damned fucking girl. All I want to do every time I see her is stab her in the head. This is going to be working too. That money, double on account of her momma dying the way she did, will set us up for life.
Then there is the policy we took out on her. We’re going to be sitting pretty, I tell you, just as pretty as a picture.” Butch asked if they were going to be living in this house.

“Nah, you and your brothers should move in. It won’t be no sweat off my balls if you do. Tear it up, I don’t care. I hate this fucking house anyway. Well, we should get her out of here before Cindy comes home. She don’t want to be here when she disappears. That way, she has herself an ally-by so that we don’t look like we did it.” Brook thought that Allen would spell it just like he said it too. Ally-by, like that, as the way it was pronounced. Moron. As soon as the light in the kitchen was off, she made her way to the back door to the house. She hadn’t counted on Raymond, one of the Salmon brothers, staying behind, and was startled to see him standing in the kitchen. Reaching blindly for the backpack, never taking her eyes off him as he stared out the window over the sink, Brook had her bag and boots before he saw her. Her heart was pounding so hard she wondered why no one had found her from the sound. As soon as she stepped off the porch into the yard, she heard Allen yelling for her. Butch even shouted out for her like she was going to come running because he told her to.

Turning off her phone, she made her way to the orchard that the neighbors had behind their home. Brook had helped them two summers ago to hang up security cameras as well as lighting when the Quarter family started stealing the fruit and throwing it at passing cars. It would have been different if they were eating it, but they were wasting it, as they did everything they had. After he caught the Quarters stealing from him, they no longer went there. They bitched about it like Mr. Shirley had done them wrong. After the police were called on them and they were told that the next time they did it, they’d be arrested, they just bitched, which she was glad for.

Mr. Shirley and his wife were good people. Trying to decide where to go with the information she had, not to mention someplace they couldn’t hurt her, Brook made her way to the police station. She had been good friends with a lot of the men there. Two of them had helped her get her emancipation paperwork so that she didn’t have to depend on the Quarters for anything. Officer Harland Sheppard was in house this morning, and he was more than glad to see her. Taking her to the chief’s office after she told him what she knew, they listened to the entire conversation while she was given time to calm down. She’d almost been caught twice more when she left the house and would have without the help of a little man named Bert. Butch and his brothers had been out looking for her, using a light like the police did to find missing criminals. Lucky for her, she’d been warned about them coming, and had been able to hide behind another car. “He drugged you up?” She nodded and told Chief Donald Shoe about being sick and how she had thrown up out her window. “All right, honey. You just stay right here, and we’ll run over there. Better yet, I’m going to send you over to the hospital to get you checked out. I’ll send an officer with you.”

He looked at Harland. “We’re going to need to take children’s services to make sure them kids are all right.” In less than two hours, she had tested positive for fentanyl. The nurse who had examined her was really upset about it too. Apparently, even with her getting sick from the drug, she had enough left in her body to have killed her. Not, she told Brook and the officer, that it would take all that much. They put her on an IV drip to run it out of her system and put her in a private ER room to keep her safe. The officer said he’d not leave her door until they had everything taken care of. She had no idea what that meant or how long that would be, but Brook only laid on the bed and thought about what would happen if they didn’t arrest the Quarters. She’d be in deeper shit than she was now. ~*~ Cindy made her way home so excited that she could nearly bust with it. Being let off early had been a real treat. She just hoped that things were finished up by the time she got home. It was difficult for her at times while working because she didn’t want to give away any information about the little bitch Brook. Being a registered nurse was a good job and had helped them out with this thing so much. However, if she lost her job, they’d have nothing until the insurance money was paid.

And for her, that couldn’t come fast enough. Pulling in the driveway had her confused. Several things popped into her head as she sat there in the car. The police were inside her home, and several cruisers were sitting there with their lights still on. The second thing was, she just knew that Allen had killed Brook before the Salmon boys could take her away. If he’d fucked up, then he was on his own with this. Not that it mattered really how Brook was dead, because gone was gone, but for some reason, she didn’t think that was it. Just as she opened the door to her car, a gurney came out of the house with her babies on it. Junior was ten, of course, and Bethy was eight, but they were hers, and she rushed to them to see what had happened. Unable to wake them, she asked the man pushing the gurney what they’d done to them. Instead of answering her, the officer with them told her to get out of the way and shoved them into a waiting ambulance. The police wouldn’t even allow her to go with them. Cindy went to find out what the hell was going on. “Mrs. Quarter. It’s nice of you to join us.” She sat down where Chief Shoe told her. “I was just having a conversation with your husband here about your children. Did you know that all three of them had been drugged?”

“I only have two children. Brook isn’t either of ours. We—I guess you could say inherited her. What do you mean, my babies have been drugged?” She looked at Allen. “What did you do?” “I didn’t do shit, Cindy. I think that Brook did it.” She realized her mistake when Allen glared at her. “They all have something in their bloodstream, and it’s made them be knocked out. The officer here was telling me that someone complained about it. I was just asking him how anyone would complain about shit since the kids are right here.”

“Yes, he was telling me that. But he doesn’t seem to be able to account for Brook Garrett. He said that she was here at nine, but now he doesn’t know where she might be.” She didn’t know either, so kept her mouth shut. “And believe it or not, he’s got no explanation at all as to why there is vomit outside her window with enough fentanyl in it to fell a black bear. Then there are the vials of fentanyl in his sock drawer with not just his, but your fingerprints on them as well. Do you know why there are nine vials of that nasty drug in yours and your husband’s room that are property of the nearby hospital?” “I don’t know, no.” She had to think. Whatever happened next was going to be quite literally life or death for the two of them. “I work there as a registered nurse and have for eleven years. I’ve never had a problem before.” Shoe nodded and pulled something toward him. Cindy could see that it was a report from the hospital about her being written up several times for missing drugs, missing gloves, as well as a plethora of other things that she’d brought home.

If they were to have walked into any room in this house, they’d see a lot of shit with the hospital label on it. “Well, someone better be telling me something, or there will be some repercussions. You don’t want anything coming back on you that will have an effect on the rest of your lives, now would you?” Allen asked why they were responsible for Brook and where she was. “Because she’s sixteen, and even though she’s been caring for herself for some time, you still were responsible for her.” “What do you mean, she’s been taking care of herself? She lives here. Eats the food we bring in here. We pay for her overhead and things that she needs.” Shoe asked if they were sure about that. “Of course, I’m sure. We’ve made sure that she gets to school and that she has a coat to wear in the winter. All the stuff that comes with having a kid in the house.” “When was the last time you saw her eat at the table with you? Or better yet, what grade is Brook in? Do you have any idea when the last time was that you bought her a coat for the winter months?” Cindy said that she’d gotten her one last fall. “Did you now? What about school? Can you tell me where she goes or what her grades are?” She had no idea. It just occurred to her that she didn’t have any idea when the last time was she’d even signed a report card for the bitch. As for the coat, Cindy wasn’t sure that it had been this previous fall that a coat had been bought for her, or anything at all now that she’d thought about it. Cindy didn’t even know when her fucking birthday was. “I don’t remember that much about her like that because she’s older and does for herself.”

Shoe nodded. “What I mean is, she keeps her room clean, and she does her chores when she’s told. As for her grades, I’m assuming that she’s doing well, or they would have let us know by now.” “Would you be surprised to know that Brook is a senior in college?” She couldn’t be that old, Cindy thought. “How about that she graduated from high school with honors two years ago at the age of fourteen? At that time me and a couple of other men at the department took her before the judge and had her declared an adult so she could take college classes that would help her finish up her chosen career when she had that all mapped out.
Which, I might add, she had paid for by the state because of her being an orphan and all.” “No, that can’t be right. She’s as dumb as a post.” She just laughed. “What does this have to do with anything? What is wrong with my children? My children. Where is she? Because I’m sure as I’m sitting here that this is all her fault.” He pulled out a recorder, and before she could protest about him recording this conversation without her say so, he pushed a button, and she heard her husband and Butch Salmon’s voices. While it played, Cindy just stared at Allen. “I’m here to get Brook. You doped her up, right? I don’t want no fighting her for some of that pussy, Allen. You said that we could have our fun so long as we killed her afterward.

Then her body could be found for the insurance money.” “I’ve only just put the kids to bed now. They’re locked up in their rooms. I even gave them a little of that fentanyl shit that Cindy brought home from the hospital for Brook so that they’d not hear a single thing.” As their voices continued to drone on, Cindy tried to think what she was to do now. This crap just got real, and she didn’t want to go to prison for that bitch. Then there were her babies that would be left behind. When Shoe stepped away from the table to answer his phone, Cindy eyed the door. She could make it, she told herself. As she started to rise, one of the officers moved to stand in front of it with his gun out as another one stood next to the table. He was close enough that Cindy could tell what cologne he was wearing. When Shoe came back, the officer near them moved away, but the one at the door stayed where he was. Whatever Shoe had to say, she had a feeling that it was going to be the end of her trying to distance herself from her husband. The moron had told them that she was bringing home the drug to dope up Brook to have her killed. “Well, now. That was the hospital. Your kids were tested for fentanyl, and you’re not going to believe what they found.” Oh, Cindy had a good idea about what they found. But what it was going to mean for them, now that was the real question.

“They found that not only was that drug in their system but that it wasn’t the first time they’d been doped up with it. Seems that it was in their water bottles. Brook had one in her room too. Testing it was how we knew how much could have been in her system. Not a good thing going on here, I have to tell you.” “She did it.” That wasn’t going to fly anymore either, and she wanted to tell Allen that. They had the smoking gun, so to speak. “Brook made it look like she doped herself and then drugged the kids. I want her arrested. No. I want her right here to tell me what the hell she was thinking.” “She’s in the hospital, right along with your children. All three of the children are in my care now.” Shoe stood up. “I’m arresting the two of you under suspicion of three counts of attempted murder. Also under suspicion of the murder of Brook’s parents, Brock and Lynn Garrett. Insurance fraud….” They were cuffed while Shoe went on about what they were being arrested for. Cindy didn’t even question where that information had come from. She had no doubt that Allen had been talking too much, and now they were going to prison.
Then something occurred to her. “What about my babies? What’s going to happen to them?” Shoe said that they’d be put in foster care. “No. You can’t do that to them. They’re just kids. I want you to let me go, and Allen will take the blame for this all. I need to be with my babies.” “Perhaps you should have thought of that when you were plotting to have Brook raped and murdered for the insurance money.” Richard laughed again, and Cindy could have gladly murdered him too. “I’m thinking you two will have a lot of time to think about what you’ve done. Not to mention where your children might be living from now on.”

Wyatt The Stanton Pack Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

The explosion on the school bus had affected everyone in the town one way or another, including the Stantons. Bryn had been driving the bus when the bomb had detonated. Injured herself, she was the only one to go back into the flames to help rescue the few injured and retrieve the dead. She died a few days later from her injuries.

Sidney Daniels, Bryn’s best friend, flew into town to see Bryn’s father, Les. She wanted him to know about a lot of things, but also that she and Bryn had been conducting an investigation before all this happened. Sidney was sure Bryn was the target. Now she had people following her too.

When Wyatt Stanton went to the airport to pick up Sidney, he wasn’t prepared for the woman to wrap her body around him and plant the most intoxicating kiss on his lips that he’d ever had. She had done it as a diversion to shake the guy trailing her, but Wyatt couldn’t think of a better way to discover his mate.

Sidney wasn’t as impressed. She was here to shake things up, and the guy better get on board, or she was going knock some sense into him.

 

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Dane had no idea who she was. She’d been shot and couldn’t even remember who she was hiding from. All she did know was she needed help, and when Julian Stanton found her, he took her to his family.

Brayden Stanton was just tired of everything. It was time to leave Africa and go home to family. He called his dad to tell him that he was fed up with the job and he was on his way home, and he was bringing a fiancée with him. She wasn’t his mate, but he was going to make it work. He realized his mistake the moment he proposed.

Danger comes at every turn. The women in Brayden’s life are surrounded with it. Both are lethal, but one has Braden’s heart from the beginning. The question is, can the family survive it?

 

 

Being a country lawyer was something Christian Stanton had always wanted to do. Taking a client he really didn’t want to represent was not what he had in mind.

Allie had been hired to teach the Stanton men hand to hand self-defense. She loved her job and was quite good at it. She knew about shifters, but had never really worked with them before. And when the big cat shifted into a very naked man proclaiming to be her mate, Allie wanted nothing to do with him.

When it came to Allie, Christian was in big trouble. She was no pushover and the sooner he figured that out the better off he’d be….

 

 

 

Julian Stanton was eating breakfast and rethinking his life as a PI when a stranger walked into the diner looking for Tess O’Rourke. Julian felt the hackles rise on his neck. He wanted to take his gun out and blow this guy’s head off for no apparent reason other than he didn’t like him. He’d never had an instant dislike for a person before. He didn’t know who Tess was, but he was going to make sure this stranger didn’t find her.

Tess was at her wit’s end. Dexter had once been her best friend, now she couldn’t get far enough away from him. He was everywhere, attacking her at every corner, emptying her bank account, and now he was after her baby daughter, Ruby. Only the Lord knew what he’d do to the baby if he got his hands on her.

Sent by his parents to help, Julian was to be Tess’s escort to the family home for dinner. The hotel was no longer safe since Dexter had found her there too. When she opened the door, she shoved the most precious squalling baby girl into his arms that Julian had ever seen. And when the woman walked by him, her scent hit him like a brick.

The job went from a favor to personal in the blink of an eye, and Julian would protect the girls in his life with his own if necessary.

 

Hailey Whitehead was on the trip back home and everything was going as planned until a brief stop for lunch changed everything. The guy came into the diner waiving a gun and shouting orders and Hailey shot him.

Hailey knew what would come next, so when the cops arrived, she was on her knees with her pistol dangling from one finger and her permit to carry in the other hand. What she hadn’t counted on was an overzealous cop cuffing her too tight and leaving her on her own for far too long. By the time Jules Stanton discovered her predicament, she had nearly bled out.

Wyatt had performed the surgery on her wrist and he was worried that she would lose the use of her hand. He asked Dane to help her out with a few drops of her blood, but that didn’t go as planned either. Haylie had an unexpected reaction to Dane’s blood, and when she woke up, not only was she healed, she was no longer entirely human.

She was having the worst week of her life, and the Stantons “helping” her was only making things worse. She just wanted them to leave her alone. Now Colton, another Stanton, was telling her that she was his mate? The last thing she needed was a man ordering her around. Not no, but hell no!

 

 

Rachel Spencer, Ray to those that knew her, was barely hanging on. She had called for help, but her father had nearly killed her before help had arrived. Unless Hailey could help her, with the magic given to her by Dane, Ray’s prognosis for a normal life wasn’t good. Levi Stanton had been talking to his sister-in-law, Hailey, through their link. She had told him all about Ray and that Ray might be his mate, or Wyatt’s. Levi hoped she was, he had known Ray’s grandmother and loved the woman, but he was also terrified to find out. It was the fear of the unknown.Levi was happy to find out that Ray was indeed his mate, but Ray’s decision to get help from Hailey would be Ray’s alone. Hailey, however, was afraid her blood wasn’t strong enough to help Ray, so Dane stepped in. Ray would need all the strength she could get to face her Aunt Caroline.Caroline Spencer was on her way to town. No one told that woman no and lived to tell about it. And that was exactly what Ray was going to tell her too. There was no way on this earth that Ray was handing her little brother, David, over to that tyrant. She’d die before she let that happen.

 

 

The Stanton Pack
Brayden http://amzn.to/2nzwIdz
Christian http://amzn.to/2gUfYgI
Julian  http://amzn.to/2GIKgMS
Colton  https://amzn.to/2nbOG5M
Levi  https://amzn.to/2KhvGS0
Wyatt https://amzn.to/2RheqMK

 

 

 

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Les watched the people go up to the closed casket and put their hand on it. She wasn’t in the box. His Bryn had been used up, to help other people in need. Thinking of his youngest child, he tried to tell himself that he’d done right by her, done what she’d wanted, but all he could think about was that she was gone from his life. Walker, his son, sat down beside him. Les wanted to tell him to leave him alone for a while, but he wouldn’t. The service was about to begin. “Dad, when this is over, I’d like to talk to you.” Nodding, Les was startled when both Addie and Kitty sat down on his other side. It was all he could do not to burst into tears. His family was there. Bryn had died five days ago. The accident, or whatever it was that had taken her life over two weeks ago, was still being investigated. Les wanted answers, and he wanted them yesterday. There were a great many questions he had too. But the ones he needed answers for were, who had put the explosive device on her bus? Who was the little girl that had been the target of the explosion? Why had she been targeted in such a way?

Mostly, however, he wanted to know why someone would have made his daughter go back into the burning bus to bring out the ones that had passed away, a decision that he was going to get to the bottom of. Because it was what had caused her death. The service was short, just the way that his family had requested. No one here really knew his daughter, nor did they have a lot of knowledge about his other children. They were headed to the cemetery when he realized that his phone had a message on it. Listening to it on the way, he wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear from his ex-wife, Meadow. “I suppose you think that I’m happy with you pulling the plug on my baby girl. Well, in the event you haven’t gotten it, I’m not. And I’m taking you to court over it. It wasn’t up to you to do a fucking thing to my child. Did the others know? Or did they only find out by reading the paper as I had to do? You fucking bastard. I—” He looked over at his other children, who had insisted that he allow them to hear it as well. “I guess she ran out of time,” Les observed. Walker snickered, and his wife smacked him soundly on his chest. “I’ll talk to her later. And I did try and locate her. I want you to know that.” “All of us did, as well.” Addi showed him her phone. “I tried to call her even before we left the hotel this morning. Walker and I didn’t even have the right number. Dane gave us what she’d been able to find out from her last known address.” Arriving at the cemetery, Les said they’d talk about it later. He felt his eyes fill with tears as he made his way to the little tent where the casket was now sitting. Bryn had only been twenty-six years old, and now she was gone. She’d been working as a bus driver for privileged children to take them to and from school. Bryn had to pick them up in a well-equipped limo-like bus that even had bulletproof glass all around them.

There was air conditioning for them, as well as heat. Nothing like the buses that he had ridden to school when he’d been younger. The butler for one of the students had given it to the child in an envelope, or, and this was what Dane thought, someone had put a bomb on the bus. Dane told him that she was doing some research on it now and would have answers soon. Les had never known anyone with the sort of connections that she seemed to have. While he knew that his daughter’s organs had been donated to others and that her body had been cremated, he needed the casket, an empty one, to prove to himself that this was for her. He had no idea why that helped him because it was an illusion, but as he sat there, he thought about his little girl. When she was a child, he’d been so proud of her knack for figuring things out. Bryn had been smart, sociable, as well as a caring person. When he’d gone a little crazy—he knew that now—he’d sent them all away, including her, so that they’d be safe. Les didn’t remember now what he’d been keeping them safe from. It had taken her getting hurt, then dying, for him to see what a fool he’d been. His phone vibrated in his pocket, but he didn’t bother pulling it out to have a look. Whoever it was, he didn’t have any reason to speak to them now.

He looked at the people around the gravesite and wondered, not for the first time, why he’d broken connections with Denny Stanton. Denny had been his best friend, not just when they were children, but as adults too. When his children had been born, it had been Denny that had brought them into the world. He and his wife Lucy had been there for Les for a long time. Then he’d gotten a burr up his ass, and had broken ties with just about everyone, including his children. Les didn’t want to blame Meadow for his paranoia, but the more he thought about her, the more he realized that she’d done this to him. She’d had him afraid to drive his car, leave the house, or even to open an envelope. Meadow had told him of things that she’d heard here and there. Things that her hairdresser had told her, a man who did hair for the most influential people around—including mobsters. It had all been a lie. “I’ve looked over records as far back as when Walker was born. Your wife had left a trail of men all over the place. I’m assuming that was why you divorced her.” Les told Dane that he’d married her because she’d been pregnant with Walker.

“Nah, she wasn’t pregnant with anyone’s child at the time you married her. She was just coming from a relationship with a mobster by the name of Wendel Kelly. Kelly kicked her to the curb when he found her blowing one of his men for a ride to another lover’s home. Meadow was playing a lot of men back then.” “But I’m the one that married her. Are any of the children mine?” Dane shook her head. “I don’t know why that never occurred to me before this. Not even Walker, then.” “No. I’m sorry for that. And I can find out who their fathers are if you want, but I don’t think it will mean a hell of a lot at the end of the day, do you?” He shook his head at her. “Also, you might not want to know this, but Bryn knew it. She’d had a DNA test done of herself sometime after she got out of high school. I don’t know how she got the tests done for the others, but she had records in her apartment. She has a great deal of information on you, but mostly her mother.

Bryn would have worked well in a police department. She was that good.” “Thank you.” Dane handed him a few things that she’d taken out of Bryn’s apartment. There wasn’t much in the way of personal things—a few pictures, not even a computer. But there had been notebooks about things that she’d discovered. He wondered if anything that she’d dug up on her mother would have been bad enough to have had Meadow turn against her. Les asked Dane. “Nothing that I could find as yet. There are a couple of more places that I have to look. Your daughter had two safety deposit boxes that I’m getting ready to go through, and a friend of hers, a Sidney Daniels, has a few things that belonged to her.” Les asked if she was going to see Sidney. “She’s coming here tomorrow. It was the soonest that she could get away. She and Bryn were best friends, she told me. And she wants to talk to you. Before you ask, no, she’s not holding a grudge against you or anything.” “Da?” He looked at Walker and realized that the service was over. “Are you all right? You look like you’re exhausted. I know you’re not eating enough.” “I’m all right. It’s just more than I thought that I’d be doing for one of my children.” When he stood up, he nearly fell back on his ass, but someone behind him caught him. It was Wyatt. The man had been helpful to him for the last few days. “Thank you.” “Your son is right. You do look a little more than exhausted. And I’ve told you that you have to eat more than a half of a bagel. Let’s go to my parents’ house, and I’ll check you out. You need to take care of yourself, Mr. Mackenzie.”

Nodding at the young man, he was helped to the car. “Also, I’m going to have you go into the hospital for a couple of days to have you checked out. You need to take better care of yourself.” For what, he wanted to ask him, but Walker came over and helped him to the car as well. Leaning a little more on Wyatt, Les let them take him to the car. It was over. His daughter was well and truly gone. Les cried all the way back to the house, where there was going to be a reception. He had no idea what people would say to him, nor did he have a clue what he should say to them when they told him that they were sorry. Les was sorry too. Sorry for a great many things that they had no idea about. He’d thought of himself as a good father. He and Meadow had had some fights. Well, that was an understatement—they’d had some doozies. But he’d never allowed the kids to be a part of their fights. Now that he thought back on things, he thought for sure they’d heard a great deal more than he’d meant for them to. There were a great many people at the house when they pulled in, so many that he found himself shying away from it. Wyatt must have seen how nervous he was and took him to the back of the home to where Denny had a small practice. Once he was in the room with a gown on, Les felt every ache he’d ever had. “I’m going to give you a little something to help you relax. Your blood pressure is a little higher than I’d like it to be. You just lay back, and I’ll give this to you. If you feel like you need to fall asleep, do it, Mr. Mackenzie. You’re overwrought and too stressed out.” The pinch to his arm wasn’t that bad, but almost as soon as Wyatt rubbed the place again, he could feel the drugs moving over his body.

“Let go and allow yourself to rest. You need that more than anything.” Drifting off, Les saw his daughter there, her face as beautiful as he remembered her as a child. Telling her that he loved her so very much and that he was sorry, he let the drugs to what he needed them to do—close out the hurt that he felt right now. ~*~ Wyatt examined Les. He was in good shape considering what he’d been through in the last few days. Sending off the bloodwork by courier, he sat down at the computer to contemplate his own life right now. Wyatt wasn’t thrilled with anything going on at the moment. He loved being a doctor, just not all the things that went with it. Wyatt had wanted to be a doctor all his life, ever since he saw his father save a child’s life by simply knowing what to do when it was time. Wyatt thought his dad had been god-like to him since then, and now too. He supposed now he should just go ahead and get out of the practice he was in. It would cost him, Wyatt knew that, but right now, he thought that paying a large fee would be so much better than him hating to go to work so much that he made life-threatening mistakes. Wyatt wouldn’t give up his privileges at the hospitals across the state, and since he helped out with the police department on occasion, he was able to help out the Feds too when they needed it. Not sure what he wanted to do from now on, he figured that for the time being, he could simply be called in as a forensic doctor, what he’d mostly been doing for the last few months. His phone dinged that he had a message. It took him a few moments to realize that it wasn’t his phone, but Les’s.

Picking it up, he looked at the message and decided that he’d help the other man out. Sidney Daniels said that she was at the airport now. Telling his parents where he was going, Dad asked if he could go with him. Not having any reason to tell him no, he told him they’d get lunch with her too if she was ready to eat. He and Dad were just pulling into the parking lot at the airport when he got a second call from the young woman. I’m in deep shit here. Not really, but I don’t want to have to go to jail the first time I’m in Ohio. There is this pervert that won’t leave me alone. Can I use you for a minute? Sort of as my sugar daddy so he’ll back the fuck off before I have to kill him. Dad laughed as he read him what the message said. “I’m guessing we should tell her who is coming to get her. That way, she can let us be the knights in shining armor for her.” “You could be her sugar daddy if you want,” Dad growled, and Wyatt laughed. “I’m sure for a damsel in distress, Mom wouldn’t mind.” The camera went off, and he asked Dad what he was doing. “I’m sending her a picture of us both, and telling her that you’d be more than happy to be whatever she needs. Also, I’m telling her that we’ll meet her in the terminal. That way, if this pervert tries anything while we’re around, we can just take care of him.”

“Take care of him, how, Dad?” He just glared at him. “I don’t know what you want me to think. Here lately, you and Mom have been a little out there. Just yesterday, Mom told me that she’d thought about going to a salon and getting a wax job. That is not a conversation I ever want to have with either of you again.” “She told me that she’s not going to be holding back anymore. I blame the other girls. Not that I don’t enjoy this new her, but she does scare me a bit now and again. What did you tell her about the wax job?” Wyatt just got out of the car. He could hear his dad’s laughter all the way inside the building. As he had no idea what the woman looked like, he just sat down on one of the many chairs in the terminal. There were all kinds of people coming in and out of the place. He’d never seen the place this busy before—not on a Thursday, anyway. Dad came and sat beside him, and they both stood up when a younger woman came toward them. Christ, he thought, she was going to break the floor the way she was stomping down the hallway toward them. Before he could put out his hand to tell her who they were, the woman leaped up into his arms and wrapped her legs around his body. “I’m so sorry.” Then she kissed him. Wyatt didn’t have time to think about what she was doing, her body wrapped around his, her mouth doing incredible things to his. Putting his arms around her, bringing her tighter to him, Wyatt gave as good as he got from her.

Christ, he thought, this was more than he could have hoped for in picking someone up from the airport. It wasn’t until someone jerked his arms from around her that he remembered where they were. “Who the fuck are you?” Wyatt couldn’t think beyond the woman in his arms and how much he wanted to find them a dark place and finish what they’d started. The man, he supposed he was the pervert, asked him again who he was. “That there is my son, Wyatt, and his fiancée.” The man said that wasn’t right. When Sidney slid down his body, Wyatt couldn’t have held back the moan for all the money in the world. “Son? You want to deal with this man, or do you want me to?” Wyatt looked at Sidney. She was more than beautiful; she was adorable as well. Her hair was done up in braids on either side of her head. Freckles danced over her nose and cheeks like someone had painted them there. And she had the reddest hair he’d ever seen on anyone. Dad said his name a second time, and he had to drag his eyes away from Sidney. It hit him then that she was his mate. Tongue-tied and out of sorts, he looked at his dad. “She’s her. I mean, it’s her, Dad. My mate.” Sidney pulled away from him. When he saw that the man was actually pulling her from him, Wyatt grabbed the man’s hand just above his wrist and squeezed as hard as he could without breaking anything. “You would live a good deal longer if you release her on your own. Otherwise, I will kill you right here where you stand. Unhand her. Now.”

The man hesitated, just enough that Wyatt felt his bones snap under his pressure. When he jerked back, Wyatt started to pull Sidney behind him but figured he’d live a good deal longer if he let her handle this if she wanted to. It was then that Dane contacted him. The man isn’t just a pervert, but he’s after Sidney. Get away from there before his backups show up. I’ll explain when you get here. He asked her if they’d be safe going to their house. As safe as a brand-new box of condoms. By the way, congratulations on finding your mate. You’re going to have your hands full with this one. “Dad, we should be going.” Dad nodded but stared at the man. “Dad? We have to go now. This is not going to be settled here.” As they were walking to the front doors, he stopped when he realized that Sidney needed her bags. Telling her to go with his dad, Wyatt told her where he was going. She grabbed his arm and dragged him along with her.

“I don’t have anything but this carry-on.” She looked at him, then at the front door. “I haven’t any idea what is going on right now, but a woman by the name of Dane just told me to get you out of this place before you kill someone. Is that going to be an option with you all the time? Because if it is, then you’re going to piss me off.” “You’re my mate, and that jackass hurt you.” Sidney told him she was a big girl and could take care of herself. “I know that—I guess you can. But when he touched you, all I could think about was that he was going to hurt you.” It occurred to him when they got into the car that he wasn’t in any shape to drive. Dad took the driver’s seat when he asked him to, and they were headed home. Which home, he had no idea. But it did give him a chance to think about Sidney and her being his mate. Since he was in the back seat, she turned to glare at him. Wyatt had no idea why, but he thought that she was cuter more than she was mean looking. When he smiled at her, she doubled up her fist and told him to behave. “Look here, buster. I don’t have time for you to be going all apeshit with me or people around me. You tell me what she meant when Dane said that you might kill that man.” He told her what Dane had told him.

“And this Dane person—who is she, and how the fuck was she able to talk to me without touching me? I’m not stupid either. And you’d better never treat me that way.” “I don’t doubt that you’re very intelligent. You got yourself out of a situation, or you tried to do so by jumping into my arms. However, Dane told me that this man, whoever he is, was after you. I’m assuming to get you alone.” Sidney nodded. “He won’t. Just so you know. Dane also said that we needed to leave the airport before he brought in reinforcements. I’m assuming that you’re someone that he knows about to know to bring in reinforcements. Correct?” “Not usually. But after Bryn was murdered, I did some more digging into some of the things that she and I would talk about. Mostly it was her job and how much she hated it. We talked about the people that she worked for as well. Not the company that she drove for, but the parents of the kids on the bus. I also found out that the butler, Abram Maiden, who brought his charge Porsche Humphrey out the envelope, is dead as well.

His body was found a few hours after the explosion.” “They’re connected.” She looked at him with the oddest look on her face. “What did I do now? Not that I don’t think you’re absolutely the cutest thing I’ve ever seen when you’re all befuddled, but I would like to get to know your looks a little better before you hurt me.” “You believed me.” Wyatt asked her why she’d think that he wouldn’t. “I don’t know. I guess I just assumed because you’re some sort of shifter that you’d be all pissed off because I knew more than you do.” “I’m a cougar. All my family is. And I’m sure there are a great many things that you know more about than I do. Same as me knowing a bit more than you when it comes to healing people. We’re a team, not a competition.” She didn’t look convinced. “Sidney, you seemed to be okay with the fact that I’m your mate. Why is that?” “I felt something too. I’m not human, not wholly anyway. My grandda is a tiger. My grandma was a bear. Don’t ask me how that worked for them, but it did. My parents were both humans as far as anyone knew. I didn’t know them at all. I lived with my grandparents when they were killed. I was four.” Wyatt told her he was sorry. “Thanks. But anyway, I can shift, but I rarely do. It’s difficult for me to hold onto a shape. I can be a bear or tiger when I do it, but not for very long. Also, I have a freaky ability to be able to sort of blend into things around me.” When she disappeared, Dad nearly put them in a ditch. When Sidney came back to them, laughing and telling Dad she was sorry, Wyatt had a sudden thought. He wondered if she was being hunted for that ability alone, or did it really have to do with Bryn? “Wyatt, I just spoke with your mom. She said for us to come there, that the rest of the family is waiting to meet Sidney.”

Wyatt asked Sidney if she was all right with that. When she said yes, Dad nodded at her. “We’re having a light lunch, then we’re going to have a big dinner. I’m supposed to ask you what, if anything, you’d like to have for dinner.” “I’m starved. So long as there is meat in the meal, I’m all for it. Does this mean that Bryn’s family is going to be there as well?” Dad said that they were. Would that be all right? “Yes, of course. I have a few things for her father. Information that he might find helpful in dealing with Meadow. By the way, no one should trust her, not even if she hands you a bottle of supposedly unopened water. She’s figured out a way to taint it somehow. Meadow is a person that should have been put to death a very long time ago.” Wyatt didn’t even question her about that information. He knew, deep in his heart, that this woman would never say anything that she’d not checked out several times. Wondering how she and the rest of the women in the family would get along, he had a thought that it wouldn’t matter at all to Sidney if they liked her or not. She wasn’t going to change a bit to suit anyone but herself. Wyatt loved her for that. He also knew that he loved her more than he could have ever imagined loving anyone.

Xavier The Manning Dragons Release &Giveaway

 

 

 

Cindi Janis was worried. The murders had been all over the newspapers. Young, redheaded women were found murdered, too many to be just a coincidence. Cindi hadn’t heard from her Aunt Caroline in quite some time, and she fit the description of one of the victims. So did she, for that matter. A short trip to Ohio and Cindi could claim the body if it was indeed her aunt and get on with her life. But what she found when she got to Ohio wasn’t on her agenda.

Xavier Manning wanted to help; someone needed to go to the airport to pick up Miss Janis to get this nasty business of identifying the body out of the way. He hadn’t expected that the beautiful redhead getting off the plane was going to be his mate.

The killings were getting closer to home. Now that Xavier had his mate and she fit the killer’s profile, the pressure to solve these murders was ramped up. Would Cindi be next?

 

AMAZON USA https://amzn.to/2sW3Rq9
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AMAZON AU https://amzn.to/2ZqbBwM
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SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/996969
ITUNES https://books.apple.com/us/book/xavier/id1492677500
GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Xavier?id=tyfGDwAAQBAJ
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/xavier-18

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Micky could have gone her entire life without those words.

 

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

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

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

 

 

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The plane landed on time, but the cool air after being in the warm jet was almost too much. Even the wind here felt so much more brutal. Cindi had made arrangements to have a car rented before leaving home and was dismayed to find out that the order had not been filled. Not knowing what to do, she saw her name on a piece of cardboard and walked to the two men holding it up. “That’s me. I’m Cindi—with an I, by the way. How did you know that I’d be coming in today?” The older man told her his name, then introduced her to the younger man. “I’m glad to meet you in person, Mr. Green. Is there something wrong with your son?” “He’s not my son. I love him like one, but he’s only a good buddy of mine.” Mr. Green poked Mr. Manning in the ribs. “What’s with you? She’s been talking to you.” “Ms. Janis, I’m sorry. I was caught off guard for a moment.” Cindi stared at him. His bright pink cheeks were cute, but she wasn’t into men right now. She had too much going on to have some overgrown man think she was going to be some kind of plaything. “You should be aware right away that I can read your mind.

I’m sorry about your not being into men, but I’m your mate. Do you know what that means?” “Yes.” Cindi knew enough about mates to know that they were going to be stuck with each other no matter how much she didn’t have it in her to be a slave to anyone. When he grinned at her, she thought of all the things that she had to deal with. “Can I be taken to where the body is? I’d like to know before her daughter gets here.” “Of course. It’s not that far from where we are. Also, I’ve made arrangements for your staff to have an open line of credit to replace or repair anything in the Ivy. One of the men on the cleanup crew is a friend of mine.” She asked if there was much to take care of. “No. But with you and your staff living there full time, I thought that it should be as safe as it can be. Nothing major, but he did have to redo the floor in the kitchen, and a couple of the appliances were outdated. It’s a good solid building. You got a good deal on it.” Cindi thanked Mr. Manning as they made their way to his car. “I know you must think I’m stupid for buying something without even looking at it. But if this is my aunt, then I’d like to know that we can have a place to stay without having to drive back and forth from Columbus.” Mr. Manning told her that she wasn’t stupid at all.

“Rash then. I assure you, I don’t make many rash decisions.” “I believe you, or you’d not have taken your parents’ businesses and made them more profitable, as well as going green as much as you can. I don’t want you to think I’ve been stalking you, but I knew your grandmother when she was younger.” She didn’t say anything to him about that. Her grandma was in her nineties, and this man, perhaps in his mid to late thirties. “I’m much, much older than I look. I’ve also made sure that your luggage is taken directly there. There is a car at your disposal too. My brother Cooper took care of that for you. We all wanted to make sure that your stay here is easy on you.”
“I don’t know what to say. Thank you. About my staff. When they’re finished with the clean-up, most of them will be returning to the place where they work. But I’d like to have a nice meal with them someplace that doesn’t take a large bus to get us there.” He told her that he had a home. “I’m sure you do, Mr. Manning. But how about if we take this one thing at a time?” “What I meant by that is, I have a large home with plenty of staff available that could accommodate a large party. They’re on call in the event that I need them, but they don’t need much in the way of advance notice. Anyone of my brothers also have houses that could do that for you as well. But it’s up to you if you would feel more comfortable with one of them letting you use their home.” She didn’t know what she wanted to do at this point and walked to the car that was just pulling up in front of the little airport. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Stop reading my mind.” Mr. Manning said that he would do that, but only if she would talk to him. “Fair enough. My aunt is Caroline Janis—she goes by Carol. She was here a few days ago when she called me at home to tell me where she was. I’m not sure why she was in Ohio. When she’s writing a book, she goes to the places she’s writing about rather than just looking it up.” “I have a couple of her books at home. I had no idea when I heard that this person might be her that she was the writer.” They were in the car by then, and Mr. Green was in the back. “The funeral home has prepared the body for you to view. I don’t know how…damaged she is, so if it’s too much for you, just let me know.” “I speak to the dead. I usually can see them only moments after they’re dead. Few of them are in good shape when they die, so I’m used to seeing blood and such.” He pointed out that she was not related to them. “True. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s the reason I couldn’t contact her if this person is my aunt. By the way, how was she found?” “Grace could feel her. No, that’s not right either. Grace is an artist, and she gets her ideas from a muse. That’s what she calls him, Muse. When someone on the other side comes to Muse, somehow Grace has a need to paint them. Sort of like a lifeline of their life up until their death.” Cindi asked if her name was Grace Manning. “Yes, that’s her. You’ve seen her paintings then.” “I have. And now that I can put the two of them together, I can understand what you mean. So my aunt somehow contacted her muse, and that made it so that she could be found.” Xavier said he thought that was the way it had gone. “She was found in a cave, they said—the police, when I called here. What would she have been doing in a cave?” “I haven’t any idea. But you should know that your aunt wasn’t the only woman that has been killed the same way. If this is her, I mean.” Cindi told him that she’d read up on it coming here on the plane. Xavier glanced at her a couple of times as he drove. “I don’t want to alarm you, but you could be a victim as well. Red hair, slim build. It’s the same with the other women.” “How do you know that it’s not from a bottle?” He said that he could tell. “Must be a shifter thing, I guess. What are you, anyway?”

“I’m not a shifter. I was a dragon before I was able to be a man. We were being hunted, our kind. My mom gave her life to protect us. My dad did the same, giving up his life to change us into beings that could blend in with humans.” Cindi told him she was sorry. “I don’t remember my mother much. My dad? I have vague memories of him. I think because I was so young when they both died, as well as it’s been thousands of years since they both died.” “I lost my parents not long ago. They were killed in a plane crash on the runway. Another one skidded out of control and hit theirs in the gas tanks. My brothers and I, we saw it happen as we were still waving goodbye to them.” Xavier said he was sorry too, and she looked around when he parked. “I don’t know if I want to know right now. I mean, should I wait for my cousin? Should I see and then tell her what happened to her? I want to know, but I don’t either.” “I can understand that. If you’d like to put it off until tomorrow, that’s fine. Or, if you have a picture of her, I can go in and check for you. I’ve known the Wilsons for a long time, and he’d allow me to check for you.” Cindi stared at him, then glanced back at Mr. Green when he said he’d do it for her. “If you’d rather wait, I can bring you and your cousin back tomorrow, and we can do it then.” Cindi got out of the car. So did both the men. She needed to know. “If I put this off until tomorrow, I know that I’ll never get any sleep because of worrying.” Mr. Green said that he’d go in with her. “I hate to sound like I’m a wimp, but could you both go in with me? I’m terrified that it’s her. Actually, I’m sure that it’s her.

While she wasn’t the best aunt, or even mother, in the world, she was still a relative.” “Of course we’ll go on in with you.” Mr. Green went up to the door and waited for them. Cindi turned to Xavier. “I suppose you have a comment about my behavior?” He asked her what she meant. “I’ve been around shifters all my life, Mr. Manning. I know they have opinions on a great many things that are none of their concern. What is yours of me and dealing with this?” “First of all, I’m very proud that you want to get this over with. If I were in your shoes, I’d want my entire family here with me. Just to hold me upright. Secondly, I don’t know the shifters that you do, but I can tell you right now, I’m nothing like them. I’m calm and enjoy my own company rather than that of a person that likes to talk all the time. Foster has been quiet today, but he’ll talk your arm off if you allow him to. And third?” He pulled her into his arms. Nothing sexual about it, just a comforting hug that Cindi hadn’t known that she needed until that moment. “Don’t judge me by others, please. I’m a good man. A man who, as your mate, hurts as badly as you do for the suffering that you’re going through. I would never, not in all my life, belittle you for having feelings for anything. Understand?” “Yes.” She pulled away from him, and he let her. Cindi wasn’t sure why the thought of going back into his arms sounded so appealing, but she could have spent the day just being held by him. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.” The building was lovely, with an old world look as if the owner had kept it up over the years rather than letting it go to pot, like so many other buildings that she’d seen. As
soon as she walked in the door with Mr. Green holding it for her, Cindi smelled flowers and other sweet-smelling things.

There was no odor of chemicals like she had expected. “Ms. Janis. I’m so sorry that you must do this. I’ve been assured by the police department that your aunt did not suffer overly much. I’m so sorry for your loss.” Cindi shook her head, not sure what to say to the man. She watched as Xavier took Mr. Wilson aside. When they both came back, Mr. Wilson apologized for his words. “I hadn’t realized that it wasn’t confirmed as yet if she is related to you.” “Thank you.” She looked at Xavier and thanked him too. “Would you please go with me? I don’t want to impose or anything.” “It’ll be my pleasure to help you with this.” She nodded and followed the funeral director to a little set of stairs. “Be careful of these steps. In the winter months, they get a little slick.” She did slide a little but caught herself from falling on her ass. Xavier didn’t make fun of her, nor did he seem pissy when he helped her the rest of the way down. Even her brothers would have teased her greatly if they had been with her. The room she was in was small, but Cindi thought it had a great deal to do with the man standing behind her. He was big, but he didn’t encroach on her space. When Mr. Wilson said he’d be right back, she saw the curtain to the area she was staring at move. Reaching for his hand, Cindi was happy when Xavier not only took hers into his own but held her to his side as the curtain was moved back. With Xavier at her side, she walked to the now open area. It took her a few seconds to realize that a person was there. When she saw what was left of the woman’s face, Cindi cried out. Just as she was falling back, she was scooped up and pulled into strong arms. “It’s not her. It’s not Aunt Caroline.” Xavier told her over and over that he had her.

And for whatever reason, she knew that he did really have her. As he held her, she let the sleepless night, the fear that she had, and the terror that she’d felt coming here settle over her, and Cindi did something she rarely did. She fainted. ~*~ Xavier put the cell phone back on the bedside table and sat in the chair by the bed. Cindi had been resting for the last several hours, and he didn’t have the heart to wake her. So he’d not only answered the phone when it rang for her, but he’d been able to talk to each of her brothers about the woman in the funeral home. Each of them was so relieved to know that their aunt was still out there. But the last call had been from Blair Owen, their cousin. He thought about what she’d asked him while he kept an eye on Cindi. “How do you know that it’s not my mom?” Xavier, always a patient man, told her for the fourth time that Cindi said that it wasn’t. “I don’t want it to be her—you understand that, don’t you? But where is she if not—? Shit. That sounded almost like I wanted her dead, so I would know where she was. I didn’t mean that.”

“I know that, Ms. Owen. You’re stressed out, and you’re coping. I think you’re doing very well with all this.” She thanked him. “Cindi is still resting. Is there anything that I can tell her when she wakes? I think she had herself convinced that it was going to be your mom as well.” “I think we all did,” Xavier told her that he could also understand that. “You’re a very nice man. I hope so, anyway. The young woman that is— Do you know if they have any clues as to who she might be?” “No. I know that one of my sisters-in-law has taken her fingerprints. We’re just waiting to find out if they get something back on them. It does help to narrow it down to know that it’s not your mom. I’m very happy for you all.” Blair seemed distracted, and when she told him to hang on, he did so without any question. When she came back, he asked her if everything was all right. “Yes. My cousins, Cindi’s brothers, are here, and they’re telling me that they spoke to you already. I’m sorry about that, Mr. Manning.” He told her to call him Xavier. “That’s very kind of you. Daniel, one of Cindi’s brothers, is making arrangements for us all to come there. They’re thinking that Ohio was the last place that we knew where Mom was, so we’ll start there. Is that all right?” “Absolutely. I’ll talk to Cindi when she is up and around and let her know. You need anything, you just call me.” He gave her his cell phone number. “I’ll be there with Cindi to pick you all up when you land. Just let us know when you’ll be arriving. I’m so happy things turned out well. The Ivy is coming along nicely, too, so you shouldn’t have any trouble once you’re there.” “What a lovely name for a bed and breakfast. The Ivy.” Xavier could have told her why it was called that, because of the miles and miles of ivy that hung from the porch, but he knew that they’d figure it out when they arrived. “I’ll call Cindi later and let her know what I’ve got scheduled. Thank you again for making sure that my cousin is all right. I don’t know what any of us would do without her.” He’d not told any of them that Cindi was his mate.

Honestly, Xavier didn’t know why he’d not mentioned it. Several thoughts circled in his mind, but mostly he wasn’t sure if telling them was something they should do together or not. Pissing her off so early in their relationship was something that he wanted to avoid as much as possible. At noon Carson came to see him. She told him that she’d gotten back the fingerprints from the Jane Doe and that they had a name now. He didn’t ask her who it was. She might have told him, but he really didn’t want to know it right now. It would make it sadder for him to have a name attached to the poor young woman. “I’ve put out a search for her family. The autopsy was performed, so we know a little more about her. Not a great deal, mind you, but more than we did before. We know she had at least one child, but nothing much more. Well dressed.” Xavier asked if she’d had a wedding band. “There is a small indentation on her finger for one, but I think she’s not worn it for a while. There is no tan line. Also—and this one I find very strange. When the medics took her away, they found her purse, with all her identification gone, under her. There wasn’t a tube of lipstick or even a hairbrush in her purse.

There might not have ever been. I know most women have both those items within reach all the time.” “Is that consistent with the other women?” Carson told him that it was, but nothing had been taken from her. “You mean a trophy, don’t you? Did he take anything from the other women?” “No, nothing from any of them, so there are no apparent fetishes. I just wanted to come by and give you an update. Let us all know when Ms. Janis wakes up. Maybe she can think of things about her aunt that would help us locate her.” She left right after that. All his family had been over since he’d brought her home several hours ago. They’d sit with him for a while, then leave. Each of his brothers thought it was necessary to bring him food. As he looked over the number of subs that he had, he wondered if he could freeze them for later. Just as he was reaching for one of them, Cindi spoke. “I could eat a horse right now. You don’t eat them, do you?” He told her he’d not for a very long time now. “I’m guessing that grocery stores make it a lot easier for you to find fresh meat when you want it.” “It does. Occasionally we have to hunt down a little girl or two, just for the sweetness, but I don’t do that often either.” She smiled at him. “You’ve been asleep for about eight hours now. I’m not saying that you passed out, you’ll notice. However, you sure did scare poor Foster. He nearly keeled over and bit the big one. His words, not mine.” “He told me when I first talked to him that he’d been dead before and wasn’t now. I didn’t even think of how strange that is until right now.” Xavier told her how he’d done them a good turn. “Do I even want to know what that was? Did he, I don’t know, find you a dozen virgins to eat for some strength that is going to scare the shit out of me?” “Doubtful much scares you. But no. He lived in my house, you see. As a ghost. When the previous owner was—well, we’ll call it taken care of, Foster had the book hidden away that belonged to my kind. The book of dragons.” Cindi sat up but didn’t move off his bed.

“To have him around all the time was his gift for helping all of us. Another gift was given to him as well. Not only did he get to speak to his wife, who forgave him for being labeled a thief, but he also gets to talk to her at midnight. He only stole things to feed his family.” “I’m assuming that you guys are pretty powerful.” He said that they were. “And with all this power, what sort of consequences are there when you use it? There seems to be a tradeoff for using magic, from what I heard.” “I don’t think it works like that for us. We don’t deal in black magic at all. My family and I give a lot back to those that help us. More so to the kids than to the adults.” She asked him what he did for a living. “I invent games for computer systems, as well as all the platforms that are out there. I’ve also written a couple of books. I tend to do whatever catches my interest. However, being as old as I am, there isn’t much out there anymore that captures my attention for very long. I think that’s why I invent games for people to learn about history, science, as well as other languages.”

“That’s wonderful. I run several businesses and work too much. I’m stressed out all the time by trying to be as good as my parents were.” She smiled. “That’s not quite true. I do work a great deal. I don’t stress about being able to do a better job than my parents. They were who they were when it came to running a business, and I do things my way.” “If that makes you happy, then I’m sure they’d be very proud of you,” Cindi said she thought that they might be. “If you are hungry, these are pretty fresh subs. However, I do want to warn you, they’re more than likely hotter than you’re used to if you enjoy spicy stuff.” “I love spicy stuff. But I don’t think my stomach could take spicy right now. I’m still thinking about that woman.” When Cindi shivered and stood up, so did he. “Do you think I could have something light? I don’t know what that would be, but nothing too heavy for me. Later I’ll show you how much heat I can handle.” The thought of her handling heat made his cock stretch, but he didn’t say anything to her. They were getting along nicely, he thought and didn’t want to mess that up. He might later on, but for now, he was happy to let her pace them into a real relationship. Following her down the stairs, he pointed out some of the things that he’d been doing to the house. There were still a couple of rooms that he’d not touched yet. Since he did enjoy cooking, Xavier made her a grilled cheese sandwich as well as some tomato soup, neither of which, he was sure, had been in the refrigerator after he’d gone to the grocery. Putting out the hummus and the chips he’d gotten, Xavier wasn’t the least bit surprised to find that it was one of her favorite snacks.

 

 

Samson The Prince Of Tigers Release Blitz & Giveaway

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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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.

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Allie loved to ride her bike. It was as old as she was, but she’d put a lot of time and money into it to make it look and ride like it was just off the assembly line. Speeding up to the next light only to sit and wait on it to turn green, she was surprised to find Morgan waiting on her. He did not look happy. “You’re on the outskirts of the town.” Allie nodded and waited for him to tell her what had happened. “The bodies of your brother and sister still have not been claimed. I’ve seen them. They weren’t killed by a police officer. It was a cat—tiger if my senses aren’t rusty.” “Okay? How does it matter how they were killed just so long as no one was hurt?” The light turned green, and she pulled to the side of the road. “Tell me, Morgan, before I have to beat it out of you. You know that I’ll try, too.” “I do. I’m hesitating because I’m trying very hard not to tell you something that you’re not going to like. They’re the Prince black tigers.”

She had to think a moment, and when it hit her, she was glad that Morgan had held onto her bike, or she would have dropped it. “Allie, I have told you this before, but they did not do what you have in your head that they did. I don’t know why you won’t believe me on this.” “Serenity told me that they’re the ones that showed her how to use a gun. Also that she was to murder all that came sniffing around her business. I have every reason not to believe that. But it’s all that I’ve thought about for the last ten years or so.” Morgan just stood there. “Even if they did it to help her out of whatever shit she was in, they started a long line of people being killed by her and Heath. What am I going to do if they were the ones that trained her to kill?” “You will do what you have in your head to do to them, and there will be nothing I can do to change your mind.” She looked away. Morgan was correct on that. She was a ten times kind of stubborn. “They’re a powerful leap, Allie. Much more so than your average kind of shifter. I don’t know who it is that helps them, but whoever the magic holder is, they’ve gifted them with a great deal of power.” “Are you telling me that they’re more powerful than you are?” Morgan told her yes, they were. That they were older than him as well.

“You told me that you were the most powerful in the world, Morgan. If they’re older than you, how is it—?” “I said I was the most powerful vampire there is. But these men aren’t vampire. They’re old, more than likely twice my age. While I was there, I could feel that they’re much more powerful than they were even back when I was first changed. Allie, they’re not people to be messed with.” She looked toward the little town where she was headed. “The tiger that killed Serenity and Heath is not someone that you should mess with. It is said that this shifter never changed his shape but killed Serenity with only a shift of his hand. That alone is something that would deter me from looking for them.” Long after Morgan left her, she sat there on her bike and thought about what he’d just told her. She knew from friends that shifting their body was hard on a shifter. To have changed only one hand would take a strength that she’d never heard of.

But she was there only to see her brother, claim the bodies of the other two, and bury them. Not where her parents were buried. She’d see them in Hell before letting them lie next to them. She would have to find a place as far from her parents as she could possibly go without leaving the state. Riding into the town where Howie was, she parked her bike outside of the small diner that looked like every booth and bar stool was filled. Looking at her watch, she wondered what was going on to have this place hopping at two-thirty in the afternoon. Going inside, Allie knew immediately what it was that had the place with standing room only. The All-Nighter had a great cook, and the smells brought back so many memories that she had to pause at the door and hold onto the closest thing she could touch. It was roast beef and mashed potatoes. There was lemon pie, she’d bet, as well as bread baking. Taking a seat that had only just come open at the long bar, she thanked the man who had gotten up and looked at the menu that was in front of her. It was limited in what was on it, but she’d bet her last buck that it would be the best food that had ever crossed her lips. “Whatcha having?” She asked Deb, her name tag said, for the open-faced beef and a glass of water. “The water is for shit. We have to boil it, so we make some tea with it. You can drink that and not keel over after puking your guts out. Sweet or not?” “Not sweet then.”

Deb walked away, shouting her order to the open window that led to the kitchen, Allie would bet. As she waited on her order, Allie looked around the room and saw that everyone was looking at her. “Just here to take care of some business. Not here to stay.” She’d never been one to suffer fools lightly. Not that she was assuming that these people were fools, but she didn’t care for being stared at. Turning back to the counter when something hit the worn tile, she looked up at Deb. “Nobody here is gonna hurt you. You’re related to that boy they arrested about the bank.” She nodded, not sure who would have told her. “I can smell you. It’s old, your contact with the kid, but it’s the look that makes us all know you’re related to him. You his sister?” “I am. I guess I should have figured that with the Prince tigers about, someone else would be around that can smell me. What else do you smell?” Deb told her that she worked in a bar, more than likely owned it. She had contact with a vampire and a bear. “The vampire is a buddy, and I do own a bar. The bear? I haven’t any idea. I’m not in the habit of asking what someone is when I encounter them.” “You know what your brother was a part of?” Allie said that she knew what he’d been a part of and who he’d been with, but she had nothing to do with them.

“No. You don’t look the robber type. I was in the bank that day. We were lucky that Sampson was there. They were hell-bent on killing us all when they pulled out their guns. Never seen a more mouthy…well, until then, I’d not seen a more mouthy woman. But you being mouthy, you’re just honest, I’m thinking. That right?”

“I cut ties with my brothers and sister when they killed my parents and left them to rot in their beds,” Deb said she’d heard that. When she looked up and past her, Allie didn’t move. “Howdy, Buck. I got your order all ready to go for you. Even put you in some pie for you and the others to have afterward.” Buck thanked her. “Oh, this here is sister to that boy in jail. Don’t know her name as we’d not gotten that far before we started exchanging smarts, but there she is. Pretty little thing if you ask me.” She turned then and knew right away that she was talking to one of the Prince men. When she started to stand up quickly, the stool she had been sitting on nearly fell over with her on it and would have had he not caught her. Standing, Allie wasn’t sure if she should run or pull out her gun. “The gun will do you no good at all. I had Deb pack up your meal for you. I don’t know what has you pissy with my family. I talked to that buddy of yours, Morgan. He said you have a misconception of us that I’d like to be able to clear up.” Allie found herself out the door and on her bike in minutes. Starting it up, she wondered what the hell was wrong with her.

Going blindly to someone’s house wasn’t something that she would normally do. But she did glide her big bike into the little bit of traffic and follow the man. She might as well get this part over with, she thought. Then getting the shit taken care of with the rest of the family would be easier. Well, not easier, but it would be done. The town didn’t look like most small towns that she’d ever been through. Most of the time, they were run down and on the verge of being wiped off the map. But this little town not only looked like it had been doing well for itself but the house that she followed Mr. Prince to looked like it had recently been upgraded. Also, the fields behind it looked recently plowed, a job that she had done when she was making money for herself. “My name is Buck. My missus is Sara. I know you’re upset with things, but I’ll not have you upsetting my wife. You understand?” She said yes, sir. “Good. Now, I have a couple of my boys here, not to do anything more than have a nice lunch with us. You’ll have your answers, and then we’ll be all right. Deal?” “Yes, sir. But I have a few things I’d like to get to the bottom of first and foremost. It’s about my sister, Serendipity. She said…says…said that she knows your family. Is that true?”

Without a single answer, Buck went into the house. When she stood there for a minute or two longer, debating whether or not to just do her business, a woman came to the door and told her to get her ass in the house. Allie went, but not because she was told to. “Yeah, you keep telling yourself that I didn’t make you.” Allie laughed and went back out to her bike and sat on it. Just as she started it up, the woman came back outside and told her again to come in. Allie simply flipped her off, then drove away. Compulsion didn’t work on her, thanks in great part to Morgan. He’d given her enough of his magic to be able to withstand the most powerful of most magics. However, it was high time that this family understood that she wasn’t as stupid as the rest of her family had been.

Riding to her room that she’d rented for the week, she left her bike in the parking lot behind the building and walked to the funeral home. Her appointment wasn’t until later, but since there didn’t seem to be any services today, she figured the man could perhaps help her now. Allie didn’t want to stay here any longer than she had to now. ~~~ Sara was about as mad at her family as she’d been in a long while. To think that they had forced that young woman to come here, and then tried to make her stay, obviously against her will. She looked at Harper when she sat beside her. “What’s it going to take to make you less pissy with me?” Sara glared at her. “You might think that works on me. But all it does is make me want to hunt the other woman down and beat her for running off like she did.” “Oh, because you being your usual bully self has worked so well so far. Well, I have news for you. She’s no more like those other three than she is like me. She did just what I’d do if someone not only kidnapped my lunch right out from under me but also tried to force me into staying where I obviously wasn’t wanted. Now, I’ll ask you, what are you and that husband of mine going to do to make this right with her?” “Why do we need to do anything?” Sara growled low, and she noticed that her sons knew enough to back away from her. “Look. I don’t know what her beef is. All we wanted was to tell her that we were sorry for killing off her family.”

“I don’t know if you noticed this or not, or it could be only me, but your way of apologizing isn’t working.” Harper said she was sorry. “I’m sorry too. But not to you. I’m sorry that you made that poor girl run off on that monster bike. Now I’ve no doubt that she’s handling all this alone. Something that we all agreed to help her with, as she lost all of her family members in one afternoon. Because you know as well as I do that that little boy is going to prison for a very long time as well. Even if she didn’t care for them, as Morgan told us, they’re still family. As I’m sure you can understand more than most.” “I was showing off.” Sara said that she got that. “It’s my fault. I’m truly sorry, and I’ll go and talk to her. I promise to be nicer this time and not a fucking jackass. You can go with me.” When her son stood up, she looked at Sampson. Sara had a hard time thinking of him or any of the others as her little boys anymore. They were grown men. “Something you want to add, Sampson? I’ve got a busy day in front of me, and I’ve no time for things to be messed up any more than they are.” Harper gave him one of her certified looks. “She’s at the funeral home with Mr. Baker. He called to tell me that she was early and that he was going to work with her. I’ll go. I know you have things to do today, and I’m between jobs at the moment.” Sara asked him if he was going to tell her that he’d been responsible for her family’s death. “I wasn’t responsible, they were. But yes, I’m going to tell her. It’s only fitting, don’t you think?” “I don’t know, son.” Sampson had always been the quiet one in the family. He was also the one that wore his feelings deep inside of his heart. She never knew if he was upset about something until he came to talk about it. Then, usually, he’d have things worked out and was only, in passing usually, telling someone how it had been upsetting to him.

“You’ll be able to tell if she’s the type of person that will be all right with you saving a bunch of people. Just go easy on her. Whether they hurt her or not, they’re still her family.” “I understand.” Sampson moved toward the door, then paused. “Should I invite her back here for dinner? Or just take her someplace? I don’t want to cause anyone any trouble, Mom.” “If she’ll come back here, you bring her on back. If not, then I don’t think it’ll hurt you any if you have a meal with her. She might have something to get off her chest.” Sara glared at both Harper and her husband. “We’ve been rude to her enough, I’m thinking. You just play it the way you see it, Sampson.” When he left, Sara went to the kitchen to brew herself some tea. Sitting down at the table after she made her a nice cup, she looked around the new kitchen. She didn’t think she’d ever get used to the way it looked now. But she had to admit, it was prettier and much nicer than it had been before. Looking at the jars of jelly and jam that she’d made, Sara wondered if she would be able to make a few more jars before winter set in. It was still some weeks away, of course, but the trees and vines were hanging full thanks to the little faeries that had helped the land along. To be able to freeze up some apple and cherry pies enough so that they could have plenty when the snow was deep was going to be a rare treat for them all come Thanksgiving. While she sipped her tea, she made a list of things that she wanted to get from town. Her mind, however, kept drifting from her task to the poor woman in town. She didn’t know a great deal about the family, and less about the killing sprees and robberies that had been committed by them. What little she did know made her heartbreak for the sister.

“I can help you with that.” She was still upset with Harper, but wouldn’t hold a grudge against her any longer. “I’m sorry about what I did. I swear to you it was the magic I got going to my head. I should have known better. Bryant told me I was lucky that she wasn’t stronger than me, or I might have gotten my ass handed to me. In a way, she sort of did that. I’m truly sorry again. I’ll behave in the future.” “Good. I’m not really sure that I didn’t do the same things when I first married Buck.” Harper smiled at her. “That doesn’t excuse your behavior, but I won’t hold it against you if you behave from now on.” “I will. What are you doing there?” Sara told her that she was making a list of things that were needed to make jam for the colder months. “I don’t mean to be rude, but why are you going to all this trouble? I mean, you can pretty much buy any flavor you want at the store. I have the biggest downfall when it comes to cherry jam.” “I have some. Let me open you some of mine, and you tell me if it’s worth it or not.” Sara wasn’t being nasty about her jams, but she’d had store-bought and had never gone back to it after she’d tasted that nasty stuff. Not to mention, it had been too sweet for even Buck, a man who had the sweetest tooth she knew. “There is some bread there in the bread box, love. Can you pull it out so I can slice up a few pieces? I’ll also cut some for Buck.

I swear, that man can hear a jar of something open a mile away. But when I ask him to take out the trash, he’s suddenly as deaf as that old mule we used to have. About as stubborn too.” “But, you love him.” Sara nodded, feeling her entire face smile at the thought of how much she loved him. “Yeah, I feel that way about Bryant too. He can irritate me to no end to the point where I want to strangle him. Then the next second, he does something really sweet, and I fall in love with him all over.” As if he’d been summoned, Buck came into the kitchen. He even volunteered to slice the bread while Sara opened up the jars of her cherry and red raspberry jam. By the time she’d spread the berries over a couple of slices of bread for her and Harper to enjoy, Buck had already reheated her tea, made himself and Harper one, and was on his second slice of both kinds of jam. Sara thought it was a good thing she loved the old man. “Holy crap monkeys, Sara, this is some good shit.” Sara smiled at Harper and handed her the other jar of jam. “I don’t think I’ve ever had red raspberry before. But if it’s anything like the cherry, I’m going home right now and taking all the stuff we have in the cabinets and donating it to someplace that hasn’t ever eaten yours. Man, this is really good.” Harper moaned as soon as she bit down on the bread. At the rate they were going, Sara would not only not have to make much in the way of dinner, but she’d also have to bake more bread tomorrow.

Not that she cared. Baking bread was one of her favorite things to do nowadays. After the three of them turned to four when Bryant joined them, they sat at the kitchen table and talked about their upcoming plans. Bryant had hired three kids from the high school to help out with the trees, and Harper told them that she was going on a quick trip to the zoo to take pictures of the polar bear that had recently been born. They were so tiny, she told them, that you had to be careful not to make the momma nervous or she’d hurt the cub. Getting up to get the phone when it rang, Sara wondered if they really needed the dumb thing. It only rang about once a week, and they all had cell phones now. “Mrs. Prince?” She said that she was one of them. “I’m looking for Harper Prince. I was told that if she wasn’t home or in her studio, she’d be at this number. Is she there?” “Well, I’d have to check. Tell me your name and why you’d want Harper, and I’ll go out and see if she’s still here.” Harper shook her head when she spoke to her and the man on the phone. “I want you to know right now that should she tell me that she doesn’t want to speak to you, you’d best be losing this number. In this family, no means no.” “Yes, I fully understand. This is her attorney, Elwood Fitzpatrick. Harp calls me Fitz—that is if she’s in a good mood. Can you please find her for me? It’s about the pictures that she took of the poachers earlier this summer.” After putting the man on hold, a thing that she was just now falling in love with, she told Harper and the rest of them what the man had said.

“Yes, that’s him. Will you tell him please that…? You know what? Never mind, I’ll talk to him. But first I’m going to have another cup of this tea. We can’t just have him thinking I was right here all this time.” Sara enjoyed this girl more than she had thought that she would. Additionally, she loved her wit and the way she told it like it was. After she drank her tea and ate another slice of bread, she picked up the phone. “Fitz, if you’re telling me that these fuckers got off, I’m going to come to your office and beat you with your fake assed leg.” Okay, Sara thought, not so much her wit right now. Why on earth would she threaten a one legged man like that? But when she heard Fitz laughing, she figured it was a long standing joke between them as they got down to business. Harper put it on speakerphone when she had to keep telling everyone what was going on. “I said that there is a substantial reward for catching those poachers. The government has cleaned out the police station there and put their version of the national guard in place like you suggested to them years ago. The pictures were very helpful, and your friend knowing just where they were hanging out helped a good deal more.” Harper explained how Aurora had helped with their exact location.

“I’ve already put your money in the slush fund that we set up when you first started winning awards. However, as I said to you before, you’re going to have to start using that money for something. The taxes that you’re paying on that money are eating away at the balance. Don’t you have a charity that you can donate some of it to? I know you’re married now—congratulations on that, by the way. But perhaps they know of something you can help out.” Sara had several places that she volunteered at and told her about those. When Harper asked the man on the phone how much it was, she nodded and said to divide up the total amount and send a part of it to each charity organization. He must have asked her whose name to put it under, and Buck spoke up when Harper asked them. “The Prince family. That should do it, don’t you think? I don’t want any one person taking the credit in this, do you, honey?” Harper said she didn’t care, and settled up the call. When she sat down, Buck laughed. “If you’re dividing it up between the five charities, I’m assuming that it’ll make a nice little nest egg for them.” “I think so.” He asked how much if she didn’t mind telling him. “There was just over three hundred thousand in the fund. With what was added with this last thing, it’ll be a hundred thousand to each charity.

Bryant and I were just talking about the fund today, so you guys made the decision easy for us. So I’m thinking that much money should make a difference, don’t you think? Can I take some of this jelly and jam home with me? I think I’d like to have it every morning for breakfast from now on.” After Harper and Bryant left them, Sara looked over at Buck. She reached over and closed his mouth when he looked at her with it hanging open. Shaking her head, she started to clean up their mess. “I guess we’ll have to learn how to be rich too. I mean, she just donated an amount of money that I’ve never in all my life thought about having.” Buck just continued to stare at her. “But it will be used wisely, don’t you think?” He just got up and left her there. Sara had to laugh. She’d never known him to be caught speechless before. She might have to think of ways to render him that way more often. It made for a very quiet evening.

 

 

 

Blake The Whitfield Rancher Release Day &Giveaway

Shadow Henderson was grateful to the Whitfields for taking them in. She had to keep her mother and grandmother safe from her Uncle Thomas. The man was heavy fisted and had kidnapped her mother and was set to starve her to death just because he was embarrassed by her, he had his sights set on becoming the next president. His sister’s affliction with Altzheimers was an embarrassment to him. Shadow even suspected that he had killed her husband, but she couldn’t prove it.

Blake Whitfield was trying to adopt two boys he had taken into his home to foster, but with being a single parent, the judge went off on him, and Blake wound up taking a bullet for his troubles. Blake was immortal so the bullet wouldn’t kill him, but it still hurt like hell. His parents insisted that he recuperate in their home.

Several of the Whitfields had been pushing Shadow to meet the yet unmated Blake just to see if they were mates. Shadow wanted no part of it. She wasn’t happy in her last marriage and had sworn to never marry again. There was no way she would let anyone push her into anything she didn’t want to do ever again. That included the high and mighty Blake Whitfield.

Amazon USA  https://amzn.to/2pzDvZK
Amazon UK  https://amzn.to/2qgxqlk
Amazon AU https://amzn.to/2XxMw20
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blake-kathi-s-barton/1134978452?ean=2940163103096
Google Play https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Blake?id=mq2-DwAAQBAJ
Smash Words https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/991398
I Tunes  https://books.apple.com/us/book/blake/id1488404321
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/blake-11 

 

Dylan Hutchinson lived and breathed Army, and she’d been undercover so long she’d forgotten what it felt like to be a civilian. But the last mission took a turn for the worse and not only was she hurt, but she’s been informed that she could no longer do her job. It’s either a desk job as a recruiter, or she’s out.

Evan Whitfield didn’t have to work, but he loved his job as a surgeon. And when as his tiger he found an old man wandering in the woods with Alzheimer’s and confused, he wanted to help the family. The family had a daughter in the hospital too, and they were struggling. Evan thought the daughter might be not as sick or hurt as she claimed to be, so he took it upon himself to check her out. Evan was surprised to find that she was not only hurt worse than they claimed, she was also his mate.

For a doctor, Dylan thought Evan was dense. What part of go away didn’t he understand? She wasn’t the mate or marrying kind. Her life was over, not beginning. He needed to just go away….

 

 

Sunny, or Sunshine Davis, is a well-known investigative reporter. After her recent article shuts down a drug lab, she just disappears. People everywhere are looking for her. Truth is she’s been shot and left for dead. Tanner, a vampire, has other plans for the feisty reporter. He needs her help, so he saves her. His old friend, Ollie Whitfield, owes him a favor, so he sends her there to lay low for a while.

David Whitfield is on a deadline with his publisher. When he’s writing, he’s in a world of his own. When his grandda, Ollie, asks him to hide out a friend, he’s all for it. He’d do anything for his grandda. What David doesn’t expect is for the woman he’s supposed to be hiding out to be his mate. A very hurt mate that has his tiger in a possessive uproar.

Because Sunny technically died before Tanner could revive her, she has a little difficulty remembering the events just prior to her death, but when she does the revelation rocks her to her core. And her baggage can put all the Whitfields in danger.

 

Josh had taken a month off from his Realtor job to get the construction finished on his house, but he was leaning toward it being a permanent vacation. He still liked selling houses, but something was missing. It didn’t excite him anymore and he was tired of the rat race.

All Carter wanted was to get a job and start her life over again. She had just spent the last ten years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit, and that made finding a job difficult, if not down right impossible. She didn’t want to go back to the halfway house, but things weren’t looking good.

Ollie Whitfield took an instant liking to the young woman and her sister, Rachel. He’d make sure his grandson gave her a job in the new greenhouse he was opening up. There was no since in her beating the pavement for a dead-end job when he had one for her. He just had to convince her of that. She had some dad-blamed notion in her head that she’d bring danger to the family.

Josh’s grandda had already told him of the scary things the woman could do, and he was worried that Carter and her sister might be taking advantage of an old man. But when Josh walked behind her at the dinner table and caught her scent, he was floored. He had found his mate and neither of them were prepared for it.

Carter knew he was a shifter, but the things she could do would get them all killed, and she wouldn’t allow that. She would somehow convince him that this mate thing was a bad idea.

 

 

Ivy Walton loved her job as a surgeon but hated her boss. What part of “I’m on vacation” couldn’t the woman understand? She’d just lost her house to a fire, and she needed this time away with her sister. They’d been on their way to the coast when Ivy’s car broke down, and this little town they’d found for repairs was a breath of fresh air. Ivy found the non-hectic life of a small town to be appealing to her raw nerves.

Adam Whitfield was a farmer and, like his brothers, a Bengal tiger. He had just purchased his grandparents’ home and was putting on the finishing touches. The home was large, too large for a single man, but he liked it. Furniture was still sparse, but he figured he could add to it in time.

When Adam met Ivy at a family dinner, he knew instantly who she was to him. But could a renowned surgeon be happy with a simple farmer? He hoped so. He hadn’t been looking for his mate when he found her, but now that he had, he wasn’t letting her go. If she went back to the city, he’d go too whether she liked it or not.

 

Mason Jane Barnhart had nothing left to live for. She was dying and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Rather than suffer a long agonizing death, she wanted it to be on her terms. She’d let the icy water claim her, and if she was lucky, she wouldn’t suffer.

Oliver Whitfield had been watching the girl. He couldn’t believe that anything could be so bad as to want to take her own life. But when she jumped from the bridge he had to go in after her. His tiger, bigger and stronger, would have to save her. When they got her to shore, Evan said that changing her was the only thing that would save her. Oliver didn’t want to, but he couldn’t let her die. He had a strange feeling that she was supposed to be the mate to one of his sons.

Adrian wasn’t sure he was ready for a mate. The timing wasn’t right. He still had so much left to do while running for public office, and if word got out that she tried to take her own life, he’d have that scandal to deal with too. But when he caught her scent, he knew, she was his and all thoughts of not being ready for a mate fled his mind.

When Mason opened her eyes, she was fit to be tied. She wasn’t supposed to be here, she was supposed to be dead. That’s what she wanted. What had those meddling Whitfields done now?

 

The Whitfield Rancher
1.Evan http://amzn.to/2vCYKM5
2.David http://amzn.to/2fOK6dk
3.Joshua https://amzn.to/2IdH4wT
4.Adam https://amzn.to/2znvmcI
5.Adrian https://amzn.to/2HsBl5k
6.Blake  https://amzn.to/2pzDvZK
7
. Joey  Coming  2020

 

Coming 2020

 

 

 

 

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Bryant yawned as he drove to the place where the supposed artist lived. He didn’t care for doing favors for people. But when a Whitfield asked, people tended to do what they wanted immediately. Bryant had already made up his mind that even with the favor he was doing for them, he certainly wasn’t going to ruin his reputation by saying that this person was good when they weren’t. He’d done that before, and would never do it again. The directions that he had were perfect. He got out of his car just as an older man came around the corner of the house. He’d thought he was going to meet a woman who, he’d been told, was a little on the rough side, so he thought perhaps he was being scammed. The man put out his hand before he could get back in his car to leave. “My name is Ollie Whitfield. Shadow has herself an emergency and couldn’t be here to greet you, so my family, who set this here meeting up, sent me to take care of things for her. You must be that art guy?” He told the man that he was a critic. “Yeah, someone that tells people if they’re good or not. I don’t envy your job, sir. I don’t. For the most part, people don’t like to hear that they’re not good at something that they enjoy.” Bryant thought he’d just insulted him, but he wasn’t quite sure. Following the man, he didn’t ask. It seemed to him that the man was ignorant of such things, and didn’t want to get into a debate with him.

Standing at the door, Ollie pulled out a set of keys. Inserting the one that seemed to match the lock, he turned to him once again. “I know that it’s your job like I said, but I have a feeling that you’re going to be plum surprised at what’s behind this door. Surely as I’m standing here, I don’t think I’ve ever in my life seen anything so pretty in my days. And that’s a great many days.” Bryant didn’t comment but nodded. “You don’t say much, do you?” “I’m not going to be pushed into anything, Ollie. I’m good at my job, and you having money is not going to change my mind either way on what’s on the other side of this door.” Ollie asked him if he’d already made up his mind not to like it. “No, that’s not it at all. But glasswork? It’s been done and overdone over the years. The artist that works in this media either makes these tiny little things that collect dust and are better served in a mall store, or they make things that no one in their right mind would buy. I’ve seen it all.” “Have you now?” Bryant rolled his eyes. “Well, then. I guess there ain’t no impressing you. So, I’ll just wait for you here, and you can pretend to go in and have yourself a look around. But don’t touch anything. It’s glass, you know.” Instead of the door opening as he thought it would, Ollie reached into the opening, and the wall opened up like a garage door would have. Bryant watched Ollie, waiting for him to say something more, point out the little horses that were all one color, and devoid of any kind of difference than the thousands of other little horses that were made in places like this one.

When Ollie laughed and turned to enter the building, Bryant turned too. “Holy mother of God.” Bryant couldn’t move from where he was standing. Just taking in the work area made him jealous of the person that got to work in such an area. “This is not a regular workshop, is it?” “I heard Shadow tell Mason, my granddaughter-in-law, that her grannie worked for a stained-glass man. Ended up marrying him too, I guess. Well, Grannie, that’s her name, would be in charge of ordering all the glass for his projects. Then when the run was finished up—I guess that’s what he called the limited work he’d done—he’d give all the leftover glass to Grannie. She was good at working the glass, too, I’ve heard.” Bryant hadn’t seen a single piece of work yet because of the way the glass seemed to beacon him to come and look them over. “Now Shadow, she ain’t like her grannie nor her momma when it came to making pieces. She said that the pieces seemed to speak to her about what they wanted to be. So she has this here idea that she can do what it wants. Shadow surely does have some fine talking glass, I tell you.”

Nodding again, touching his fingers over the glass that was in front of him, he couldn’t believe the number of colors that were there. Bryant figured that there must have been ten shades of light brown, the color differences so soft that he’d bet only an artist would be able to detect them. As he was moving around the workshop, he saw pieces that he’d thought about earlier. But these were different in so many ways. There were horses there—not tiny, but about ten inches or so tall, and they were exquisite in their beauty. The detail on the one that he had picked up was almost as if the person who had done it had a horse right there in the studio with her. As he started to put it back, he noticed there were drawings under them, details about weight and size. Turning to ask Ollie about it, Bryant nearly crushed the horse he had picked up to see under it. “I think you should put that there little one back afore you drop it.” Nodding, he had to turn back to the shelf to do so but was hard-pressed not to just drop it so that he could look at the find in front of him. “I thought for sure that I’d be on my way back to my home by now.

You having seen it all and such, you didn’t seem all that impressed with being here.” “I was wrong. Christ, was I ever wrong. This is…I have to tell you, Ollie, I’m not usually so blown away by someone’s artistic ability, but words fail me on this one. They’re carousel horses, aren’t they? And so beautiful that it nearly brings tears to my eyes.” Ollie laughed, and Bryant laughed with him. “I guess I’ve been caught at being a jaded art critic. I think I’ve been this way for some time, and a horse of all things brought me out of it. Please tell me you have the authority to sign her to a deal? Please?” “I don’t, I’m sorry to say. But she doesn’t have any idea that you’re here, as I was told you knew.” Bryant had forgotten about that in his need to have this woman in his sights. “I don’t know what all she’d need, but to say that it’s gonna be easy to convince her, I’d say that ain’t going to be the way it is. I hear tell she’s been told for some time she’s just like you thought she was. A hack.”

He’d not said that, but Bryant knew that he’d implied it heavily enough. Getting closer to the first of four horses, he wanted to touch it so badly that he only allowed himself a finger to it. While it looked ready to be ridden, he knew that no child, or even a stuffed animal, would ever sit upon its back. Bryant asked if he could take a few pictures. “You tell me what you’re gonna do with them, and I might agree.” Bryant told him that she’d need a dealer. A person that would represent her in the art world. And she’d need a gallery set up. “Oh. Well, I have to talk about that with the family. How about you follow me on back to my home and we’ll work on that for you? As I told you, she’s got herself some family stuff going on right now, and it’s got her staying at my house.” He wanted to explore what other art was in the building. As surely as he was looking at the horse, he knew there was going to be other art here. Someone this good would have had to practice their skills to get this good. But, because Ollie was nearly pushing him out the door, he had to leave. The man standing there startled him enough for Bryant to give out a little scream. “This here is Nate. He’s gonna be watching over this place while she’s gone. Shadow has herself an uncle that would come in here and destroy this here stuff just on account of him being her uncle.” Bryant begged Nate to watch over it carefully.

“I will. Shadow is a good friend of mine, and I’d not let anyone harm her again.” Bryant had a feeling there was more to the story, but he was being shoved into his car to get going. Before he started his engine up, he saw about fifty wolves come out from behind the building, and Nate himself shift into one. Bryant found himself giddy with excitement. Never, not in the last two or three decades, had he been this excited before. The woman, whoever she was, was going to tear apart the art world and be the best thing to ever happen to glass blowing. He had a prize on his hands, and he was so happy with it that twice, he had to calm his breathing, as well as his heart rate. While driving, in order to keep his mind on the job of not having an accident, he thought of and rejected ten people that he thought could do a good job of representing the woman. The person needed to be calm and able to handle the elderly. Bryant had a picture of the woman he’d be working with in his mind of being about fiftyish, tall, and willow thin. Shadow would have long white hair that she wore in a single braid down her back, with pretty combs at the sides to keep it out of her face while working. Laughing to himself, he wondered how dead on he was because he knew that someone with this amount of talent would have to have had a great deal of experience at what she did. The drive didn’t seem all that long to him. He had his mind full of ideas and things that would have to be done to make her famous. Several times he started to call some friends of his but was afraid of jinxing it for himself. Bryant might only be an art critic, and he knew a great many people. But there were only a few that he would trust with this. Shadow would have to have the best and only the best in this. He was going to make sure of it if it was the last thing that he did.

The little town that they entered off the highway was about as quaint as he’d ever seen. There were two stoplights on the main drag, but only one of them was working. The one that was blinking looked to be still decorated for Christmas in that a medium sized tree was hanging from it and the yellow blinking light served as its star. As they drove through the town, he noticed all the fields that seemed to be just waiting for someone to plant them. There were, of course, a lot of trailers along a few places, but the houses all looked well-maintained, and there was what looked to him like a brand new grade school. Then he noticed that the homes were no longer small and cute. They were into some seriously expensive houses that had large SUV type vehicles in the front, with gated driveways that seemed to hide something bigger than he’d seen so far. When they pulled up to the gate where Ollie was waved through, Bryant realized that he was going to have to rethink everything. This woman wouldn’t need him to make her rich. Christ, from the look of the home that came into view as they cleared the tree lined drive, she might well be on her way to being too rich for even him to help out. When he got out of his car, Ollie was there to greet the person on the front deck. Bryant nearly made a misstep when she smiled at him. Christ almighty, she was far and away the most beautiful creature that he’d ever laid eyes on. And this was with her wearing a pair of jeans and a sloppy sweatshirt. Dressed to the nines as his momma used to say, she’d command mountains to dance with her.

~*~ Blake stood up when asked. Today was the day that he was going to officially be the dad to two boys. Bennett Carlson, who had been with him for several weeks now, and Joey Phillips had come to him just before the New Year. Both boys were beside him in the courtroom today, and he had never been so proud to have his family with him as he was at this moment. “Mr. Whitfield, it says here that you’re a single man wanting to adopt these two young men. Is that true?” Blake told Judge Holloway that it was. “And for the record, why is it you think you can do a better job than the state can? I’m sure that you can’t. So why don’t you explain to me why it is you think you can do better.” “I can answer that one, sir.” Blake reached for Bennett when he moved toward the front of the courtroom. “Blake here, he’s going to ground me after this here thing—this thing, but I’m sure that I’m going to have a better answer than he can. He’ll be all mushy.” Blake had only cleared his throat, and it had the desired effect on Bennett to fix his language. He’d been on both boys about the proper way to speak, and when Bennett corrected himself. Mom winked at Blake when he looked her way. “What is it you think would make me believe you, young man? I’m a man that is hard on people adopting kids without a spouse. I believe that in order to raise children such as yourself, there needs to be as many eyes on your kind as there can be. Including a police officer not afraid to use his nightstick. If I can’t have that, then there should be two people helping to raise one child. No one should take on two of them without constant supervision.”

” Bennett ignored Blake when he asked him to come back to him. “It seems you’re not very well behaved if you were to ask me.” “I didn’t, sir. But I was in a two people home with my mom and dad, and all it got me was nearly starved to death and beat up daily. Blake hasn’t once hit me or Joey, and believe me when I tell you, I sure gave him cause to when I first went to his house.” This was going to end badly, Blake just knew it, and looked at his dad, who looked like he was enjoying the show. No help there either. The judge was also making him uncomfortable about some of the things he was saying. “Blake got me about a month ago. I want to show you something. This is my report card from when I was in the home with the other kids. You can see there that I wasn’t doing what I needed. They even beat my a—my butt a few times for wasting the time of the teacher that was helping me. But Blake didn’t do that. See my card there? I ain’t…I have never had an A in anything, and there I have six of them. You want to know why? Well, I’ll tell you. He didn’t do nothing but find out that I needed glasses to see with. I couldn’t read what I was doing, and he fixed me rather than treat me like I was a dummy.” “It’s been my experience, young man, that kids will say anything to get with someone that lets them get away with things. How long did it take you to change your grades on this report to hand to me?

Or did someone in the family do it for you? It never works out when you people are paired up with someone from the right side of the tracks. Especially a person with as much money as the Whitfields. You’re planning to rob them then kill them, aren’t you, young man?” Blake watched Bennett. When he turned to them, his entire family here with them, he smiled at his grandda. Blake started to protest about the comments, but Dylan, who was next to him, held him back. “If you have nothing further, you delinquent, I would like to finish my questions to Mr. Whitfield.” “I have one more thing I’d like to say, sir. And I think it will change your mind. Blake’s mom raised him to be an outstanding person. She did this with Blake’s dad because they were raised to be generous and polite. My grandpa Ollie there has been teaching me things that I never thought of when I would run away from a home and find myself on the streets.

I know how to trust people to help me if I don’t get smart with them. My aunts there? You couldn’t find yourself a better bunch of women to keep you in line. If you want the truth of it, they scare the snot out of me. But they sure can pick a body up and shake it until its better. And boy oh boy, can they hug you. It’s like they’re squeezing the love right smack dab into your heart. Blake’s brothers are big men but as nice as can be, and they showed me that loving a woman, someone that you want to spend your whole entire life with, doesn’t mean you knock them around or take them to task for stupid stuff. They don’t any of them do any kind of drugs. They don’t drink, nor do they act all snobbish when they sure do have all the money in the world. I have never had such a Christmas as the one I just had, and I’m not even counting the presents I got. There was more than enough food for me and Joey to eat. Meat too. And you know what Auntie Bea did? She put us a plate full of stuff on the lower shelves of the fridge so that anytime me or Joey wanted, we could go there and eat until we busted.” Bennett looked at Blake as he continued. “It’s nothing to do with gifts or having a warm bed to sleep in.

Not even a hot shower whenever we want. Being with Blake is like having the best family in the world and knowing, just knowing deep in your heart that you were meant to be with him. He might be a single man like you said. But he sure does love a body like he’s got more than enough for ten kids just like me and Joey.” When Bennett came back to stand with him, Blake kneeled down and hugged him. Joey hugged him as well until they were all three crying. Whatever happened today, Blake knew that no one could have said it better than Bennett did. Love was doing this, and he loved them both very much. Eve took both boys out of the courtroom when the judge told her to. Even if he didn’t get to adopt the boys, Blake knew that he’d try his very best to be in their lives. The judge asked him what he’d do with them if his mate came along. This line of questioning was pissing him off. And he was sick of the name-calling as well. “Do with them, Your Honor? Why the same thing that I’m doing now. If I have a mate out there, she’ll have to be happy with a ready-made family. To me, having them as my sons is no different than if I had married before and had them.” The judge said that they were miscreants and not meant to be with people like him. “I disagree with you, sir. And please don’t call them that again.

They’re my sons forever. It matters little to me or to my family if they’re blood or not. It also doesn’t matter to any of us that one of them is a bear shifter, the other a human. They’re just young men that have had a hard start to their lives, and I’m going to make them better to the best of my ability. You know my family, sir. You’ve known them longer than I have. Do you think that any one of them, including the spouses of my brothers, would let me be remiss in raising them to be men of honor?” “You think you’re a man of worth, Blake? A man with means? What will you do if—or I should say when—they become the environment that they were born to? Will you buy them out of it because you can?” It didn’t seem like a fair question to him, so he only looked at Dylan. When she cleared her throat and started forward, Judge Holloway stopped her. “If you’re thinking that you can scare me into agreeing to this, then you might as well get back in your seat, Mrs. Whitfield. I’ve seen too many kids come through here, getting with families as good as yours and still ending up on the street. Or, and this happens all the time, they’re going to murder the family in the middle of the night then take all their worldly goods from them. I’m not going to allow this to continue. Every time I see a child like those two coming in my courtroom with a family, I’m going to stop it. It’s my duty to make sure that they stay in the rathole that they came from.” “Rathole? Well, I guess it sucks to be you then.” She turned to the bailiff at the door and nodded her head. Turning back to the judge, she started forward again. “I’m afraid that I’m going to have to ask you to step down, sir. You’re not fit to be dealing with anything, especially the adoption of children. I have an order here from the law board that states that I have jurisdiction in this courtroom. Some of the things you’ve been saying are not within the boundaries of your job.”

“Who the hell do you think you are, coming into my courtroom and saying these things to me? You’re not going to do a damned thing to me.” He picked up his gavel and slammed it down hard several times on his desk. Dylan laid some paperwork in his dais. “You think to bring me down because you don’t agree with my methods? Let me show you how I feel about your fucking paperwork.” Dad started to clear the others out. But when the judge pulled up his robe, Dad and the rest of them paused as they were leaving. Judge Holloway was naked beneath it. Pulling out his penis, he began to piss all over his dais and the files and paperwork there. “Do you see this? This will let you know that I’m in charge here.” When he reached under his dais, he started waving a gun around. A shot was fired from the back of the courtroom. The gun in the judge’s hand went off as he was falling backward. Evan ran to see to the judge when Blake realized that he was in pain. “Ivy, come here quick.” He saw his dad’s face in front of him, but Blake was having a hard time saying anything. His dad told him to hush up.

“That fucker shot my boy. Help him. I beg of you.” “Dad? What will Mom say?” There were more voices around him. He was sure that he wasn’t going to die. He was, after all, an immortal. But everything going on seemed to tell him otherwise. Blake looked at the face in front of him but had no idea who it was. “I don’t want to die. I just got sons.” “You’re not going to die; do you hear me, Blake Anderson Whitfield? I will beat your bottom if you do.” Blake struggled to tell his mom that Dad had cursed. “I heard him. And I think that’s a good name for that man who did this to you. Why, if I had a gun, I’d go up there and shoot his wiener off him, then make him eat it.” “Eve, it sort of loses its power when you don’t use the right terms.” Ivy, at least he thought it was her, laughed. “This is what you have to say to make it stick. If I had a gun, I’d shoot that fucker’s dick off and shove it up his fucking ass. See? Doesn’t that make you know that I’m serious when I say that?” “Ivy, honey, please don’t teach Eve how to curse.” Dylan this time as Blake was fuzzing out. “She’s so much more fun when she doesn’t use the right words. She can still make her—” Whatever was said next, he didn’t hear it. Blackness seemed to have swallowed him up, and that was all there was to it.

 

Dominic: Winchester Brothers Release Blitz

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

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

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

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

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

 

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B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1134558275?ean=2940163185054
GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Dominic?id=m5K6DwAAQBAJ
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dominic-25
I TUNES https://books.apple.com/us/book/dominic/id1485903510
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/988806

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Winchester Brothers

Caleb http://amzn.to/2E7eFp3
Gabriel  http://amzn.to/2tK6Lgf
Owen http://amzn.to/2oeLnfd
Xander https://amzn.to/2KHcP2A
Tyler https://amzn.to/2BucOst
Dominic https://amzn.to/36mBoJa 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Reading,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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