Tristan The Manning Dragons Release Blitz & Giveaway


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 to 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….










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 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.

The Manning Dragons





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“Okay. I don’t understand, but I guess that’s all right too.” Winnie told her that her mom would be there soon. “You couldn’t just pop there and pop back here like you did for me? Nice that, but scary as fuck too.” “No, she’s in the car with Xavier. If I were to pop in, they’d have an accident. Not that it would hurt Hudson—he’s an immortal—but your mom might be hurt. Probably. I’d say that there is a ninety-nine percent chance—” “Shut up.” Winnie was having a blast. This was the third time that Wynter had told her to shut up. Winnie didn’t even mind. “Christ, of all the people I have to get tangled up with— Did they tell you that this sucker came up off my leg? Like it was begging to be petted? Who the fuck in their right mind would want to pet a fucking dragon?” “You sure do have a potty mouth. Do you kiss your mother with that?” Wynter just glared. “You’re also very good at that. Glaring, I mean. You might even be better at it than Carson.

She’s not as good as me, but she’s close to you.” “What are you?” Winnie sat down on the bed and touched the device that Wynter had on her ankle. When it fell off, while Winnie had hoped to distract the other woman, she just thanked her. “Now, again, what the hell are you? Something, I’m betting, that has you popping in and out of trouble all the time.” “Actually, I rarely pop in and out of shit. I usually just face it head-on. Something like you do.” Wynter said that she didn’t face anything. “Really? Okay then, tell me what happened on the night that you were arrested. Not the night, I guess, but when all those people were shot at the mall.” “No.” Winnie knew, but she thought that if Wynter told her, she might be able to find out why she’d been arrested. Something, though not likely, that she’d missed. “Don’t think that I didn’t notice that you didn’t tell me what you are.” “I am all.” Wynter nodded. “That’s it? You’re satisfied with me just telling you that I’m all? I have a feeling that you have about ten million questions right now.” “You say that you’re all. That guy, the attorney, he told me he was a dragon.

Okay, I’m a little stressed out right now, so let me ask you this. Will you prove to me that you’re all bad assed?” Winnie stood up. She could almost taste the other woman’s fear. Asking her not to run, she shifted to her true form. “Holy shit. You’re beautiful. And I’m betting that’s the point too—beauty to distract someone before you…. What? Blow them out of the water?” “You’re stressed out, I can feel it, yet you sound as calm as I am right now. Why?” Wynter laid down on the bed, careful to cover up the dragon. “We all know that he’s there. We might not know why he’s there or what he is right now, but we know about him.” “I have known all my life, so good for you. I didn’t know that he could come up off me.” She didn’t move, and Winnie felt a little sorry for her. “When I was a small child, about the time I started school, the other kids, they’d make fun of me. Even when I wore long pants to cover him up, it had gotten around that I was a freak. So, Mom, she homeschooled me until I was old enough to get out on my own.

I was going to be an attorney.” “I’m sorry about that too. There isn’t any reason that you couldn’t finish your education now. People will just think you’ve gotten a really amazing tattoo.” Wynter looked at her. “Well, whatever they want to think, you can tell them to shut up. You’ve been really good at that with me.” “I’m a convict, in the event you didn’t remember that. I’m going to be in so much trouble when they find out where I am.” She heard someone coming up the stairs. “Is that my—? Oh my God, it’s fucking moving. Up my leg and over my body.” Winnie tore the cover off Wynter’s leg and watched it climb up her ribs. It was digging its nails into her skin like it was using her flesh to help it move. And when the door flew open and hit the wall behind it, Tristan cried out too, falling to his knees, tearing off his shirt. Winnie watched as Tristan crawled to the bed, his hand stretched out and his dragon, which had been on his back, moving down his arm. Glancing at Wynter, Winnie saw that she was doing the same; her dragon was at her hand, his nose over her fingertips like he had consumed a part of her. As soon as they touched fingers the room exploded, and suddenly the two dragons left their bodies and were standing in the room. No one moved. Winnie had stayed when she’d been asked to by Wynter, and the dragons, a pair of them, turned and looked at her. After bowing before them, she saw them glance down at her sword. Putting it away, she apologized to them. “I hadn’t realized that I had pulled it, my lord and lady dragon.” Tristan and Wynter both were passed out. “Will they be all right?”

“Yes.” Their voices were the same too, blending together like only one of them was speaking. “They are our masters. We are their dragons. We have waited a great many years for her to be born and to survive life. They will rule us.” Cooper entered the room and they bowed before him. He looked clueless and terrified at the same time. When he sat in one of the chairs, Winnie wanted to laugh at him. But if she was honest with herself, she was just as clueless and terrified as he was. “They’re here.” She nodded, not sure what else to say to him. “I’ve read over the book. Sadie said that there had been a girl dragon born, but she was put under a spell that would keep her safe until a time when she could be ready to receive her mate. I’m assuming from the looks of things that Tristan is her mate.” “It would appear so. At least, the dragons came from them.” Kicking Tristan in the foot, Cooper told him to get up. “Shall I wake the young miss? I’d not kick her if I were you. She’s a tad on the stressed the fuck outside.” “So am I.” Tristan sat up and looked at the woman on the bed. “I had no idea what was going to happen when I got here. My dragon, he spoke to me. Freaked me out for a little bit, then I felt the need to come here. I’ll pay for the door.” Cooper looked at Winnie before speaking. “Winnie, the dragons—can you speak to them?” The dragons, again as one being, told him that they could speak well. He wasn’t sure if they were one being or two. Then the female spoke to him.

“We have been awaiting a great king and for the female to be born. We knew that you had been created, Lord Cooper, but the female, we had to wait for her to be born and for her to live. This is the seventh time that we have had a female born so that we could come to you.” She looked at Tristan then. “You are a great man, Tristan Manning. A good man for your mate too. You will, unlike others, have children that will repopulate the world with dragons. But sadly, they will never be as great or as large as the six of you.” Wynter woke up and moved back off the bed away from all of them. The female dragon moved to sit on the bed with her, but Wynter wasn’t having it. Standing up on her knees in the bed, she pointed her finger at them. “You just stay the fuck away from me. I don’t fucking know why you’re suddenly here— I’m fucking stressed out. I’m going to prison and I didn’t do anything, and now I have…there are two of you now, and I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do. You came from my body, damn it. Does anyone else find that to be fucking weird?” Tristan stood up off the floor and put his hand out to Wynter. “No. I don’t need any more shit going on. I could almost think that I’d rather be in prison right now than all this. Where is my mom?”

“I’m here, honey,” Winnie asked if they’d give her some time. While Carla held her daughter, Tristan looked as out of it as Wynter did. Instead of leaving when she told him to, he sat in the chair that Cooper had been in. “I have to stay. I don’t know what’s going on either, but I need to be here.” The dragons nodded at him. “They seem to think so too. I promise, if I freak out again, which I’m still wondering if I’m over the first time, I’ll yell for you. Also, if any more dragons come from us, I’m going to have a fucking stroke.” “We are the only two, my lord.” Winnie laughed when Tristan just stared at them. “They will be safe with us, Wendell the dragon protector.” Leaving them wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be. They were safe; she knew that for some reason, and her staying there, it wouldn’t make them any safer. Instead, she went to get answers. And she was sure that at some point, she’d have to hurt one of the dragons to get them to tell it all. Smiling, she thought that she might just hurt one of them for the fun of it. She so loved this family. Carson was pacing and Cooper was bent over the book that Sadie had given them. Xavier was the only one of them that looked relaxed and like he was having fun. She asked him what he was thinking about. “She’s not my mate. I have a feeling from just speaking to her once that she’s going to be hard on Tristan. Not that Tristan couldn’t handle her if she’s like the others—I’m sure that he could. But I can’t.” She cocked a brow at him and asked him why he thought that. “I’m delicate.” She smacked him on the shoulder and sat at the table.

The book and the pad of paper were shoved at her. Winnie shoved it right back at Cooper. She asked him what he’d figured out. “Nothing more than that she’s like us. Sort of like us, I mean. She was born a dragon and changed into a human, but she’s much more powerful than she looks. Her mother gave up her life for her by changing her into what she is now.

Her dad died sometime before she took Wynter to the safe home.” Winnie said that explained the footsteps disappearing in the snow. “I would guess that too. But that’s it. We’ve not found any more about her. There is nothing about her uniting with one of us and making two dragons, either. Can Wynter shift? I don’t know, because she’s denying having any kind of dragon in her. Can she do anything other than scream at us? I don’t know that either. There is nothing more here.” “We should have asked the dragons.” Everyone turned to Xavier. “I’m just saying they should know why they’re here. Also, they did say that they’ve tried this several times, to have Tristan and a mate to come together. I’m betting that they know just why they’re here and what they can do for us as a family.” “He’s right.” They started forward, to no doubt talk to the dragons, and Carson stopped them. Cooper asked her what she was doing. They needed answers. “Do you need them so badly at this very moment that you’re willing to scare that poor woman more? She had a lot of shit handed to her today. I doubt very much if she could handle much more without her having a stroke. Just let them settle, and then we’ll bombard them later.” She glared at Cooper when he started to push her aside. “Did that at all sound like it was a request? Did you think that I was kidding when I said, ‘let’s do it later’? I was not if you’re wondering. Sit your ass down and enjoy your family, before I make it so that you all are never able to have sex again.” They sat. Carson smiled at her. “Winnie, could you do me a favor and make sure these idiots don’t leave the table? I’m going to see about my baby and dinner. I’m guessing we’ll all be hungry in a little while.” Pulling out her sword, Winnie grinned at them all.

“Anyone want to try and get past me? Come on. It’ll be fun.” No one took her up on her offer. “Spoilsports.” ~*~ Tristan watched the dragons. They would answer his questions, which weren’t all that helpful to anyone, but he had to do something. Finally, after Wynter and Carla talked to each other for a while, Carla looked at him and smiled. Tristan smiled back. “We’ve been having some issues, I guess you could say,” Tristan told her that he could see that. “Oh no, the dragons are the least of our worries. I mean, it’s not to say that we’re not worried but…oh bother. I’m mucking this up.” “What she’s trying to say is that I’ve been trouble for her for a while now,” Carla told Wynter that she had not. “Well, I seem to have this dark cloud over me since I turned eighteen, and I can’t seem to get enough umbrellas to keep the black shit off my head.” “Wynter, there is no reason to be rude to the man. He looks as confused as we are.” Tristan smiled. “What is your name, young man? If you don’t mind me asking you that—I don’t mean to be rude.” So they were going to ignore the large dragons in the room. For now, he supposed, it was the best course of action. Clearing his throat, he put out his hand to Carla. She took it into her smaller and calloused one.

“I’m Tristan Manning. This is my brother Cooper and his wife Carson’s home. I have four other brothers, all of whom I believe you’ve met.” Carla told him that they had. “Good. And they told you, I’m assuming, that we’re dragons. The men are anyway. I’m so sorry about this.” “What do you have to be sorry for? About me being tossed out of college? Or about me being arrested for the murder of eight people at a mall? Could it because a dragon that has been on my flesh since I was born rose up off my leg? That it let your other brother pet him? Or could it—?” Carla told Wynter to behave. “Yes, ma’am, but you have to realize that I’m in over my head here. I’m a good person. Or I try to be. Why is all this crap going on?” “I would imagine that it has a great deal to do with what you are.” He looked at the dragons. “They’re a matched pair. And from what I’ve been told from my brothers, when yours was on your leg, it looked just like the one on my back. We, I guess you could say, were meant to be together.” “That is right, my lord. Since the beginning of the end of dragons, you were meant to be with a female that would be your match and mate in all things.” The female dragon laid her head down on the floor and the male joined her. “We have been waiting for generations for you, Wynter Snow. I think we were ready to give up hope that you’d ever be born.” “Great, I was born to be a screw up.”

Tristan laughed. “What do you find so funny? If they’re right, and at the moment I can’t see anything wrong with their logic, then we’re together. But I’m going to be spending the rest of my life behind bars, if they don’t put me to death instead.” “There will be no sentencing for any of those. I’ve spoken to my brother, and he said that you’re going to be exonerated for the mall incident, as well as what happened at the hospital.” She asked him what had gone on there. “You disappeared.” “Oh, yes, well, your brother freaked us all out with the dragon. Did they tell you that he rose up from my flesh so that he could pet him? What sort of fucked up shit is that?” She looked at her mom. “I’m sorry, Mom, but you have to agree—it’s messed up.” “I do agree. But what happens now? I mean, other than that the dragon is no longer a part of her.” The male dragon stood up. “Do you know what happens now? I don’t even know what to call you.” “We have no names as yet, my lady. We are just male and female dragon.” Wynter asked if they were to name them. “If you wish to name us that would be fine. But it does not matter to us. We both belong to the two of you. We are mates as well.” “Does this mean that I can’t shift into my dragon anymore?” That had only just occurred to him. And it would piss him off if he weren’t able to fly anymore. Male told him that he could. So could the young miss. “She’s able to be a dragon?” “Wait, wait, and wait. I don’t want to be a dragon. No offense to you guys, but I’m happy being the plain old human that I am.” Tristan told her that she wasn’t human, never had been. “Oh, but you’re wrong about that. I’m a human, damn it, and you’d better not be fucking around with me to make me anything else.”

“You’re immortal too.” He had no idea—insanity, he supposed—why he was aggravating Wynter like he was. She sure had a fine temper, and she was very expressive with her hands. Like the way she doubled up her fist at him. “You can’t hurt me.” “Why not?” He told her. “I’m not going to be your mate. It has nothing to do with this shit…stuff going on with the dragons, but I’m bad luck. I don’t even like to be around my mom so much—I don’t want her to be dragged into my trouble.” “I’m sure that it was all because you were going to meet me this way.” He didn’t even glance at the dragons, fearful that they’d tell him that that wasn’t it. “We’re going to get this all cleared up, and once we do, then you and I will live happily ever after.” “You’re certifiable; you know that, don’t you?” He grinned at her. “You’re not charming either. No matter how many other women have told you that. As a matter of fact, why don’t you go out and find one of them now? I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to see you.” “I’m not leaving you. We have a lot to talk about.” She said that she was done talking to him.

“I’m sorry that you feel that way, Wynter. But there are a great many things going on that we have to figure out. Like, why were you created with a dragon on your leg and not your back? Who were you parents? Where were they for all those decades before you were born? There are a great many things that we have to figure out. Plus, keeping you safe needs to be a priority—I don’t want anything to happen to you. For some reason, and I don’t know why we’ve never thought of this before, someone wants you to be in prison. To get you alone, perhaps? I don’t know. But it bears talking about.” Clara stood and so did Tristan. “I need to use the restroom. I don’t know that I’ll return here, because I think that Lord Manning is correct. You both need to talk things out. In the meantime, I’ll be making arrangements for a hotel or someplace that we can stay until we get those answers.” “I have a large house that we can all live in together.” Clara told him that was all right, but she could find something. “I insist. I can keep an eye on you both, and if Wynter wants, she can become her dragon. There is plenty of room for that too.” Clara left and Tristan stayed where he was. Wynter was jumpy enough without him lying on the bed with her like he wanted. Instead of talking to her about anything serious, he started telling her about himself. “I’ve been around for a very long time. When we were born, we were dragons; the world was a much different place than it is now. We, the dragons, blackened the skies when we were around. Helping out our human friends was easy for us.

Then they realized that we were worth much more dead than alive.” Wynter told him she was sorry. “Thank you. My mother, she’d been killed some months before my father gave his life for us to be human. And since then, we’ve been trying our best to blend in with humanity so they’d not kill us.” “I don’t understand any of this.” He said that he understood. They both looked at the dragons. “Do you really think it’s possible that I could turn into a dragon? Being that size would make people back off from me a little, don’t you think?”

“You’ll be much larger than them.” She looked at him. “Wynter, I know this is a great deal to throw at you, but we really do need some answers. Mostly it has to do with why you’re a dragon that no one told us about. Why are we paired with matching dragons? My head is overwhelmed with all this. I can’t imagine what is going through yours right now.” “My wound is healed. I’m betting if they remove this cast that I’ll be all right there as well. Is that part of the magic?” He nodded. “I’m terrified out of my mind right now. And all I can think about is you wrapping me up in your arms and holding me. Not that I’m asking you to do that, but I just need one thing to go normally. I really could use a dose of normal about now.” “I’m afraid that went out the door with yesterday’s wash.” They both laughed. “Come on downstairs and we’ll have something to eat, and talk. I’m sure that Winnie or Carson has the others tied to a chair or something to keep them away.” “I don’t have anything to wear but this gown from the hospital.” She looked down at herself.

“What I wouldn’t give for a nice thick pair of socks and some warm pants and a too large sweatshirt.” Before he could tell her to watch what she wished for, she was dressed in what she’d said. He had to admit, he thought, she certainly looked more comfy. When he started to tell her that she could do that, to change out of her outfit too, Wynter put her hand up. “I don’t want to talk about it. Nothing happened, all right? Please?” He nodded at her. “Good. I got dressed, and now I’m going to eat. I’m sure nothing will pop out of the kitchen in front of me, will it?” “I have no idea anymore.” She nodded and took his hand. The dragons said that they’d see them downstairs, as they needed to stretch their wings. “Do you want to watch them fly? It’s beautiful, and perhaps—” “No. There are no dragons. I’m visiting an old friend and I had a frightful dream, that’s all.” Tristan laughed and she grabbed his balls in her hand. “Don’t make me have to test that theory of yours about hurting you, buster. I’m fucking stressed out.” “Yes, ma’am.” Tristan walked behind her, thinking that he might just be as nutty as she was feeling. But Christ, she was beautiful, and her temper made her cheeks flush pink. He wondered if her nipples did the same. But he was smart enough to know not to say a word. Not until later, of course.


Noah House of Wilkshire Release Day& Giveaway

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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









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Noah Farley stood as still as he could. Bringing attention to himself right now would get a great many people in trouble, especially him. Not that they wouldn’t be anyway. Having him on site was just as bad to the police as having a taro reader, or even a magician, there with them when a crime needed to be solved. Not many believed in him. Nor did they believe he wasn’t the person they were after nine times out of ten. But Noah got results, and that was important to a lot of people who did believe in him. The man in charge of this investigation was someone that Noah not only didn’t respect, but someone that he thought of as a lazy fuck. He thought that of a great many people, but this guy, Detective Peter Boseman, was the dictionary definition of the phrase—at least the word lazy, anyway.

And the men that hung out with him—Noah called them his crew—were one step away from long prison terms or death by the state. Either way, he’d be glad to be rid of them. Boseman looked up at him. “I’m supposing you can see something that we can’t? You look like you just know it all, and think that you’re the best of the best, don’t you? What is it, Farley? You seeing the ghosts of these here dead? What are they telling you about how they were killed?” Noah said nothing, again not moving. “Well, what I find here is this. The man murdered the woman, then killed himself. Over money. She was spending it—just look at them nails and shoes—and he wasn’t having it. He’s wearing old shoes that have been patched up and a dirty coat. Murder/suicide, end of case. Tell me, Farley, am I dead on?” “No, not even close.”

He waited for someone, this man in front of him, to give him permission to speak again. He didn’t need it. Just last week he’d been asked to become a part of the police force as a full-time consultant to the department. And he would have higher ranking than any man there, including Agent Boseman. But he’d not taken the job—wasn’t even sure that he wanted it. He might take it just to put this man out to pasture…. No, he’d more than likely turn it down. He did this for the department because it gave him something to do. If it were a job, he knew he’d begin to hate it, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone, especially the dead that needed justice—at least their families did. No, so long as he could come and go as he pleased, that was better for everyone—including Boseman again. He would be a dead detective if Noah had to work with him full-time. “Not even close, am I now? Well, why don’t you enlighten us about your powers of observation?” He snickered, and the men with him did the same.

Noah thought that there was some sort of button that Boseman pushed to get reactions from the morons that were with him. “Go on. Tell me what you see that a thirty-year veteran of homicide can’t see. And so’s you know, I don’t care what you see or observe, I know which one of us the captain is going to believe. And it ain’t you.” “I’d not count on that if I were you. First of all, they didn’t know each other to care enough about what kind of money either of them had. The man is someone that I’ve seen over on Welsher from time to time. I believe that he’s homeless and pushes that
cart that’s right over there.

You can see it—it has all his worldly goods in it. The woman is an office worker. The badge that is hanging from her purse there says that she works in finance. She had money to burn because she has no one else in her life. The reason I can see that is, there is no wedding band and her watch is worth more than you make in a year’s time. The shoes are about four hundred, dress and coat another grand. I’d say she was a woman with good taste and liked to look nice. Her name is Shelby Kiddom, by the way. Again, it’s on her name badge.” The faerie that had been with him for decades, William, was in human form and recording the conversation for him for later use. Noah bent down to look at the things around the bodies. He spotted the police department issued gloves used at a crime scene, covered in blood, just under her left breast, and knew that only a cop would have those. Looking up, he knew who the killer was right away. The smirk gave him away. “I’m assuming that some big shot guy like yourself would know all about women’s fashion and such. You wear it, Farley, when you’re not wasting the taxpayers’ money? Or do you have a personal knowledge with this man? You know…?” Boseman did the international sign, one Noah had seen used a million times, for fucking. “Are you a homo, Farley?”

Ignoring his crude comments, Noah continued. “The male, I would say in his mid to late sixties, came upon the woman to offer aid. She was already dead by then, and the man that had killed her, not a husband, was just waiting for a flow of traffic of people so he could blend in. There is no blood splatter on this man, and there would be if he’d been the one to cut her throat. The male just happened upon him as Shelby was bleeding out. She had her throat slit from behind, but the killer would have had blood all over him. The homeless man has a single gunshot to the head—from behind as well.” “And you got all that from looking at two dead bodies? I won’t believe it. Nobody will.” He looked around at his crew, the only thing that Noah would call the cops with him. “He must be one of them there clara-boinks. You know, the ones that can see the dead?” The button must have been pushed again, because they all laughed like they had before. Short and loud. One of them even sounded like a jackass braying. All in a day’s work for Noah, he thought, putting up with idiots. Stretching his neck as he stood up, he smiled at Boseman. “It’s clairvoyant, and that’s not primarily what I am. I’m a profiler, for lack of a better term.” Boseman laughed harder. “Yes, well, if you ever get off your fat fucking ass and look into this, you’ll find that the man who killed them both is standing with you right now. It’s a cop.”

Noah and William walked away. When he heard the shots being fired, he didn’t turn back, but did pull out his cell phone. Telling dispatch that there was an officer down and giving them the address, he kept walking to his car. William, a faerie, changed into his other self and landed on his shoulder. “We can only hope that the man killed Boseman too.” William said that he’d not. “Figures. I need to get away for a while. I know that I was only just asked to take a full
time position at the station, but I can’t do this right now. I need time to grieve. I know that my family has been gone for some time, but I still ache from their passing. I understand why they did it, but my heart still hurts from it.” “As I have said to you many times, your lordship.” William was the only person who knew that not only was Noah a dragon and someone who could solve a crime quickly, but he was also—he had also been—the king of a castle. “If you remember, sir, his lordship Devon invited you to his home for the summer months. He has taken a wife, and she is breeding his child now.”

“Yes, I remember.” As they got into the car, William sitting on his own perch on the next seat, Noah continued. “I hate this city. Well, not the city so much as the people here. And I think they get more violent and more stupid with each passing year. I just need to get away from this. I need to be with friends who care not what I can do or what I am.” “The city and the people it consists of are the same thing, as I have pointed out to you before.” Noah nodded and laughed. “You do need a vacation, if you don’t mind me saying so. But you also need to be your dragon for longer periods than a few minutes when the rain is coming down. Sir, he needs to be himself as badly as, if not more than, you.” He thought about the vacation for the rest of the drive to his home. He was going to do it, but the amount of work that he had to do and to delegate before leaving was going to be a great deal. But still, he thought that everyone would enjoy it, getting away for a time. Noah pulled into the driveway and looked at the home that he shared with about fifty other beings. The house looked like one of the hundreds of other houses in the city and was a cookie cutter of the ones on his street. At least on the outside. Once you were inside, that was where you really saw the difference. It was about ten times larger than the other houses and filled with things that he’d collected over the years. Magic and the beings that lived with him, all faeries, had given him that and more. Companionship for the most part, and that he treasured more than anything else. There were three floors to the home, but it only showed that there was one from the outside. The kitchen was big enough for several of the finest chefs to make a meal and never touch one another. A dining room that was wasted on him could easily feed over a hundred guests. Even his bedroom—about twice the size of the entire house next to his, which was a couple of acres away—was something that his magic had done for them when he and William took up residence. The others, faeries that had been at his castle home, had come to live with him when he lost it due to taxes not being paid on time. When he’d purchased the home, there had been nothing around the area but fields of tobacco and corn. Then as the houses started to pop up, so did the fence that he had around his property. And now it was electrified too. He knew that people thought him to be something of a recluse, which he supposed he was. Noah preferred his own company over anyone else’s, save William.

His staff, the faeries, were there waiting for him as soon as he entered. “There is a call from a Lady Wakefield. She said that she is the marchioness to the House of Wilkshire.” He paused in going up the staircase when Rose cleared her throat. “She giggled, sir. Giggled and said that I was just to call her Kelly, not the mouthful that is her title from being married to Lord Devon. I don’t understand.” He turned to look at his staff and realized that they were just as curious. He thought about what he’d heard about Kelly, as Lady Susanna had called her, and knew that she was just as delightful as she’d told him. Noah sat down on the stairs and laughed. “I’ve been thinking that we’d all go for a visit to the Marquess Devon and his new family. Please, I would like for you all to close up the house. Donate all the foodstuff to the shelter, and pack us whatever we might need to travel to England.” He looked at William as he continued. “I want you to gather up the seeds and other things that you’ve been hoarding, and we’ll take them someplace where they can thrive. We will all leave as soon as arrangements can be made.” “Sir, what about your job?” He didn’t care and told William that. Noah didn’t need the money, not really, and he had to get away. “Shall I tell them that there has been an emergency and that you must travel today?” “Yes, that would be splendid. Also, do me a favor and find me Devon’s number.”

Rose handed him the small sheet of paper with not only the phone number, but also how many times Kelly had called. “It seems, my dear family, that we’re headed home. I only hope that we’ll receive a better welcome than we have before.” The cheer went up and Noah stood up. He never said this, not anymore, but he wondered if things could get any worse. They could and would, he knew, but for now, he’d take it as it came. By nightfall he’d gotten a call from his boss at the station. Noah had told him everything that he’d told Boseman, and that the man in his little posse was the murderer. Noah told him that Boseman had been an ass. Also, he wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but he thought that Boseman had known about it. “Yes, well, that’s the way he operates. Or I should say, the way that he did. I was hoping that with you in charge of him, he’d either quit or he’d have to be fired. I got the recording of the events, and I’m going to ask him, quite firmly, to retire before I have to fire him. I have three men dead because of his stupidity, as well as two more injured. And all because he wouldn’t listen to you when you spoke to him last week. This couple, the ones that were killed needlessly, they’re going to be added to that list. And Roberts, the murderer, he’s dead. You didn’t ask, but I wanted you to know that Roberts been taken off the streets.” Noah had told Boseman, as well as Detective Captain Lin Ming, that there were two dirty cops on the force. Boseman told him he was wrong, Captain Ming told him to look into it. “I’ll talk to you when you return. If there is anything you need, just let me know, Noah. I don’t want to lose a good man like you.” By mid-morning the next day, not only were they on their way, but he’d been able to bring everyone on his staff, all faeries, on his body. It was something else that he’d been given, the ability to bring with him and use as many faeries as he could put upon
his body. They not only were able to travel with him without anyone seeing them, but they lent him a great deal of power, power that was much different than that of his parents. Noah smiled when he thought of when he’d called Devon.

“I’m so glad that you’re coming. Grandmother will be back by the time you arrive, if not at the same time.” He looked over at the marchioness, who had hitched a ride with him on his plane—the last of his inheritance from the castle. “Also, we have been making some improvements here. Some that I’m betting that you will be pleased with. We’re going to be working very hard here to make sure that you never leave us again.” It wouldn’t take much, not with the way he was feeling. It all depended on the welcome he received when he arrived. Would they greet him with open arms, or would they simply turn their backs on him as they had done before? Not Devon, but the town in general. “How is that lovely wife or yours, Devon? She must be sick of you by now. Perhaps I can persuade her to come back with me, and we’ll have a bunch of little dragons.” He was only joking, and he knew that Devon knew it. “I talked to your grandmother while she was visiting my area. She is quite taken with the little slip of a woman.” “She has my mom’s dragon, Noah. Had I not been standing there when it happened, I think I would never have believed it. And, I think that we’re all in a better place too. Knowing that my mom was killed by my father gave us some peace that I didn’t think I’d have after he was dead. It gave me some closure that I didn’t have before.” He knew that from talking to his plane mate. It had given Lady Susanna closure as well. “When you arrive, I’ll have someone meet you at the airport. I’m having one put in for us here, now that I have a wife, so that it will be much easier for us to travel without the world knowing.” Noah knew what he meant—so that someone wouldn’t be able to take Kelly. It had happened before. Someone had gotten it in their head to take one of Devon’s stepmothers. That had ended badly when Devon’s father had refused to pay the ransom, saying that she was unfit as a wife to a marquess anyway. They had taken their anger out on the young woman, and she’d suffered brutally from the beating and the resulting wounds. “I should be there in a couple of days. These days the only thing that I have left is the plane, and that will be gone soon too. Also, I have a great many faeries with me, and they’d like to see if they can work with yours. I have also had William gather some of his seeds from the homestead that you can plant there. If you don’t mind.”

He told him that was fine, and that they’d been looking at places for him to stay when he decided to stay for good. “You and that little wife of yours, you’re plotting? My goodness, Devon, you surely have become a changed man. I think I might stay, for a time anyway. As for homes, I’m not sure about that right now. I’m a little short on funds that I can readily put my hands on at the moment, as you well know.” “I do. And I understand. Whatever you want to do, my home is always open to you.” And he knew that as well. For as many times as people had said that to him over the decades, Noah knew that Devon meant it. “Once you get here, you will never want
to leave again. I am so positive about it that I’m going to throw a dinner party to welcome you. I’ve missed you, Noah. I’m so glad that you’re finally coming for a visit.” “I’ve missed you as well, my friend. I’ll see you soon.” As they flew to their destination, Noah and Susanna talked about the new Devon. Yes, he thought to himself, this was going to be a very good visit. And who knew, perhaps he’d end up staying, as Devon wanted.

~*~ Laura watched her daughter struggle with her temper. The fact that she was trying to hold onto it said that she was trying to change, and not just go from zero to overboard when people made her pissy. However, if Laura had been talking to the man, she would have murdered him by now. The man was as dense as a cinderblock. He’d come to the front door about twenty minutes ago, screaming and accusing almost as soon as the door opened an inch. And when he’d been told that the police were going to be called, he yelled louder, making sure, Laura thought, that the world knew he was upset. She listened to Bryce as she tried in vain to convince the man she didn’t have his daughter. “I said, six times now, that I can’t help you find your daughter. If she told you that she was coming here, then you can bet that I’d tell you if she was. Emma and I are not friendly enough to be going to one another’s homes.” He asked why not. “Because I don’t like her. Not one bit. And you can bank on that too. If she was hoping I’d cover for her, then she’s just as shit out of luck as you are.” “I have it written down right here on this note she left for me two days ago. I want you to read it.” Bryce snatched it from Emma’s father and read the note as one might to a child. “You are a nasty, rude person.” “Precisely. Now, call the police, call the national guard. They’ll have better luck finding her than you will here at my home.”

Bryce started to close the door in Mr. Sharp’s face. He put his foot in the way so that Bryce couldn’t close it. “Look. I’ve tried very hard, several times, not to punch you in the face. But if you don’t remove your foot from the doorway, I’m going to pull out a knife and cut the part off that is preventing me from closing my door and close it. I’m tired and out of sorts, and you’re not helping one bit.” He jerked his foot back and Bryce slammed the door. As she leaned her back against it, Mr. Sharp started pounding on the door’s other side. The man had a death wish, that was all Laura could think about him. “Do you know where she is?” Bryce nodded and walked away from the door into the kitchen. Laura followed her. Her mother-in-law, Bea, was sitting at the table, a cup of tea stirring in front of her. “Bea, I thought that as long as there was the possibility of someone seeing you, you’d not use your magic in this house.” “Yes. But he wasn’t going to get in. We both know that. Bryce would have cut him to ribbons. Or if he got this far, I would have changed him into a toad. Nasty man that.” Bea picked up her cup of tea and the spoon disappeared. “You know where she is, Bryce, honey?”

“Dead.” No one said anything. If Bryce said she was dead, then she was dead. “I was wondering if we could have chicken and dumplings for dinner. We could use the roasted chicken from last night, since we’d be getting a late start.” Laura looked at Bea, who simply shook her head. Sometimes she was jealous of the two of them, the things that they could share. But on this, Laura was glad for the fact that she wasn’t anymore a witch than the dog was next door. Her daughter was very powerful, and her mother-in-law was a close second. They talked about dinner for a little while more, none of them very hungry, it seemed. As they plotted and planned for tomorrow, Bryce ate some grapes, a bowl of them on the table that hadn’t been there before. Tomorrow Bryce was going into the police station to turn down the job that they’d asked her to take. “I can’t be working around people all the time and not have one of them notice that I’m off my noddle.” Bea smacked Bryce’s hand. “Well, I don’t think that, but you know that they will once I use my magic. And I will. Even if I only have to turn one of them into something that is silent.” “I don’t blame you there. While our kind isn’t burned at the stake anymore, I do think that they’d put you away and never find the key if they knew just how powerful you are. Not that a cell would hold you, but then they’d try something else. Oh, by the way, that man next door thinks that his doggy is dead. I’ve taken care that his little doggy is safe. Poor thing. He was hurting it again and letting it stand in the snow all night.”

Laura asked Bea where he was. “Under the table, now that you’re aware of him. He’s a good dog. I might train him to be my animal. I’ve been sort of lonely without Pet around.” It was a startling revelation that witches had familiars. It was even more surprising that they didn’t necessarily have to be a cat—any animal would do. Case in point, Bryce had a bird. It was a pretty cockatoo that spoke four languages and could curse better than a sailor on leave. His name was Fred. Pet, Bea’s animal, had died. He’d been a pretty little lizard that would chase Laura around the kitchen when he was being playful. It could do more than snap out his tongue at her when she spoke to him, as he too was as powerful as his mistress. They were sure that he’d been poisoned by someone, but who had done it was a mystery. She thought it was a neighbor, but she didn’t ask anymore what they’d do to him if it had been him. Some things were better left unknown, Laura had figured out. Few knew that they were a house of witches. Laura could do some magic, gifted to her by Bea first, then Bryce had given her more. Laura couldn’t do spells, nor could she cast, gathering ingredients like she would for a cake and putting them together for some use. Laura could help with spells, but she wasn’t able to cast them on someone or something. That was fine by her as well. “I was thinking about that trip. The one where we headed back to your old country.” Laura got up and started throwing together a salad. That was something that she knew would be eaten, even if it wasn’t right now. She wouldn’t be going on the trip—that was something that Bea and Bryce did twice a year. “I’ve heard about some
herbs that we can gather and bring back with us. It would be nice to have a fully functioning garden.”

“It would at that. I have that castle too. The one that was up on the market for nonpayment of taxes. We could all stay there.” Laura wanted to see the castle in person—it was supposed to be grand. But she’d stay here, hold down the fort, so to speak, and they’d bring her back all manner of things as gifts. Laura tuned them out. There was nothing she could have added to the conversation other than to find out when they were leaving and when they’d return. As she was putting the bowl filled with the best greens she could find in the fridge, Bryce asked her if she was paying attention. “I was. You two will be leaving and I’ll make sure that the animals are safe here. I’ll need to have someone help me with the mail. I can’t travel all that far without having my hip hurt me a great deal.” She’d fallen two years ago, and her hip hadn’t been the same since. And the doctors told her that it wasn’t broken, just badly bruised. Quacks. “I know you won’t have to pack anything, so tell me what you need for me to do.” “Pack for yourself.” Laura started shaking her head. “Yes, you’re going with us this time. No excuses. I told you the last time you were going with us the next time. So, you pack you what you think you might want to take, and I’ll close up the house. Grandma said she’d take care of everything else. This will be an adventure for all of us, I think.” “Bryce, I’m too much trouble.” Her daughter crossed her arms over her chest and tapped her foot.

“You are not using my way of getting you to mind me. You just go with Bea and I’ll be here when you return. I’m too hurt to want to sit on a plane for hours.” “We’re not. Returning, I mean.” She asked her what she meant. “Grandma said that it’s time that we move on. People are beginning to notice that she’s not aging. Neither am I. And you look like we could be sisters and not mother and daughter. It’s time, Mom. We’ve done it before, and we need to do it again. And even if we weren’t, you’re still going.” The hand on her shoulder buzzed like electric through a cord all the way through her body. Laura stood there for several seconds, the warm feeling of good health still making her slightly light headed. She knew that when she moved around, she’d be not only as good as new, but also not in any more pain. Sitting in the chair that was still warm from when Bea had been sitting in it, she looked at Bryce. “I told you not to ever do that. I’ll not have you wasting your talents on an old woman like me. I do feel better, but you shouldn’t have done that. Honey, I knew that you’d have to move on soon. I just thought that you’d just make me old and leave me behind. I mean, that’s what I’d do.” “You would not. If you don’t pack, I will, and you know that I’ll accidently leave something behind. You can’t think that I’d leave you here, do you?” She shook her head. “Good. Pack only what you can’t replace. Then when we get to this castle, we’ll buy what you need. And if you pack up a box of things too big for your suitcase, tell me and I’ll send it along too.”

“What about Emma’s body? You have to give that man some closure. Not that he deserves it, but you should at least let someone find her.” Bryce said that she couldn’t and got up from the table. Laura sat there for several more minutes. Bryce couldn’t help the ones that had killed themselves. It was a vow that she’d taken when she’d taken her first lesson at the school for witchcraft. Everyone had to give up something, some kind of thing, that they couldn’t help humans with, and she’d said that she’d never help the suicide victims’ bodies to be found. It was something that she didn’t run into often, but this time she knew that it hurt her little girl. It was the only thing that Bryce could think of to give up that wouldn’t be her. Those were the only choices that she’d been given—give up her mother or the victims of suicide. Getting up, Laura started a mental list of things that she was going to take. Most of it was pictures, but there were a few things that she had been given by her late husband. Austin had been a good man, but he was also one that didn’t hide his magic. It was what had gotten him killed by the witch council.


Cameron Forbidden: M/M LBGT Erotica Paranormal Romance Release Day and Giveaway


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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Jake sat still and tried to read the paperwork that he’d gotten just this morning about the couple. The man lying on the bed in front of him had been hurt badly, so critically that it had taken the nursing staff and doctors here twelve hours before he had been put back together. His sister hadn’t fared any better, but she was resting comfortably while Cameron wasn’t. He seemed to be jerking uncontrollably and moaning in his pain most of the time.

Caitlynn, Cattie to her friends, was just down the hall in a private room all her own as well. The bullet that had hit her in the back of her head hadn’t been as serious as it could have been. They were still working on that, but the man that had brought them to the private hospital that they were both in said that he thought that Cameron, Cam to his friends, had called out to his sister and that had her ducking. The Hendersons had a great many people looking out for them, and none of them were human. “Where is my sister?” Jake stood up, completely forgetting about the paperwork that he’d been working on as it slid to the floor. “I don’t know you, do I? Where is Cattie, and my mom and dad?” “You’re at a private hospital for now.

Your sister is just down the hall, but I’m afraid she’s not able to come in here to see you as yet. As for your parents, your mother—a wonderful person, by the way—is in the cafeteria having a cup of tea with my mate, and your dad was called away. Something to do with his work.” The man nodded, then grabbed his head and cried out. “Yeah, they said that you might want to take it easy on moving around too much at first.” Jakes watched him struggle with the pain, and the very little that he’d given him in the way of answers to his questions. Jake himself still had plenty of questions, but he could wait.

Cam had been out for several days now, and it had been touch-and-go for both of them since Jake had been called away from his home to help them. Whatever favors had been pulled to keep these two alive had been more than a simple thing, like saving their lives. It had to be so much more than that, he thought, especially since Cam had been critical and Cattie in grave condition when they’d been brought to him. Now they were both on the mend, and it hadn’t been that long ago since their first diagnoses had been given to them. “What did you mean that Cattie isn’t able to come see me? They were supposed to keep her alive.” Jake told the man that the people who had brought her in had done all that they could. “If they’d done what I told them to do, then she’d be up and around and I’d be wherever she is. Where is Howard, anyway?” “The man that brought you to me?” Careful this time, Cam nodded. “He told us when we were notified to come and be with you and your sister that he had to take care of some loose ends. I didn’t think he was the sort of man who shared well, so I didn’t ask. Would you like to go and see your sister? Like I said, she’s doing better, but not as well as everyone hoped she would.”

“Yes. Can I be moved yet?” Jake told him that it was up to him, but he’d take a wheelchair until he was stronger. “All right. You said my mom was close? And with your mate? Is she capable of keeping my mom safe?” “He. And yes, he’s a tiger.” Cam said that he was sorry. “No need to be. It’s something that everyone does. Forrest, my mate, he said that they’re coming up now. And I’m to understand that you have the ability to talk to people, far reaching. I’ve been told to advise you to hold off on that for a while. They need to see who they can trust here.” “All right.”

The wheelchair was brought in and his mom and Forrest came in as well. Once they had Cam in the chair, which was not nearly as easy as it sounded, he was taken down the long hall to his sister’s room. The other couple came out of the room just as they got there. “Cam, these are friends of mine, Henry and Paddy. They’ve been keeping an eye on Cattie for you. Henry is a wolf.” Cam was rolled right up to the bed when they entered the room. No one said anything to him, but Jake had a feeling that the man was giving a bit of himself to his sister. Howard, the man that had brought them here, had said that Cam was very strong, and stubborn too. Just let him do what he felt that he needed. Jake looked at Forrest when he came to stand by him. He asked if he’d heard anything more. “Nothing as yet. I have been reading over the reports on the grocery store.” Cam turned to him and asked him what he’d heard.

“Just bits and pieces. And your friend Howard, he’s been giving us what he can. I’m not sure, but I think that he wanted to get permission from you before he told us too much.” “More than likely. What did he tell you about me?” Jake told him that there really hadn’t been much. He was an FBI agent, his sister was a cop. “Nothing about what I am? What I can do?” “No. Just enough to tell you not to reach out to people if you can help it. And that you are very powerful.” Jake watched him carefully. He didn’t want him to weaken himself more by being out of bed. But Howard had told them that if they took him right away to see her, he might rest easier. “What are you, if I can ask?” “I’m nothing that you’ve encountered before. I’m a little of everything. And some of that is pretty nasty shit. About twenty or so years ago, I was hit by a car. Completely my fault. The closest hospital was a clinic for shifters.

They sort of pumped me up with everything they had in their arsenal to save my life.” He didn’t say any more, just kept looking at his sister. “I’ve been on medical leave from the bureau for some time now. They’re trying to convince me to come back, but I just don’t have it in me anymore. It’s overwhelming, being what I am.” “My son is a good boy.” Cam smiled at his mom when she spoke. “Both my children are good people. And this thing that brought them here, I’m only just hearing about it. What would you like to know? I can tell you what I’ve heard from your father, but after that, he’ll have to tell you. The store that you were in, it was a set up. Not for you—you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But they wanted Cattie gone.”

“I figured as much.” Jake looked at Cam when he asked him why he’d thought that. “I’ve been reading over reports of the incident. Most of what I have, its things that not even your police have. A lot of it is from friends I have that can move in and out of places that no one else can. Or so I think. Anyway, Quincey, a vampire, has been looking around as well. He said that your sister, Cattie, knows him.” As soon as he said her name, she looked at him. She had the most beautiful eyes, the color of very old emeralds. Jake could see her pain—she wore it as if it were a second skin, one that she’d gladly strip out of. When she looked at Cam, he could see the resemblance and the love they had for each other. Trust too. Then something occurred to him. “You’re twins.” Cam nodded, and Cattie did as well. “You have a bond, too, that others in your situation don’t have, don’t you? This arsenal you talked about, some of it is in her as well.” “Yes. You’re very good. But yes, when I was on the bike, a regular bicycle, she was with me when I was hit. I went up and over the car that hit me and landed on my head. Cattie wasn’t hurt, but she didn’t leave my side. And because of the bond that we had before, she shared some, but not all of what I got.” Cam pushed his chair around so that he could face them.

Jake could see that he was mending quickly now, and so was Cattie. “By the time my parents were notified, I had been hurt for several hours. When they got to my side, the damage was already done. As in they had already changed me because of how close I was to dying. I’ve been laying low since I turned twenty-five. That was when the shit really kicked in.” “Cameron.” He apologized to his mom. “You should want to make a good first impression. There is no telling what might have happened to you had these people not stepped in to hide you. But as I was saying, from what we’ve been able to piece together, they were there to take out Cattie. For what, we just don’t know at the moment. But when Cam walked into the store, something that he hasn’t done in a while, they decided to take them both out—as far as we can understand, anyway. The robbery was just a ruse to get your sister to the scene.”

“I was specially called to hit the store. I was just going off duty when the call came in and my boss told me to go with them. That he’d cover the overtime.” Cattie looked at Jake, and he knew that she understood what he’d done. Jake had already seen and talked to the captain of the station through Henry, and his ability to talk to the dead. Shaking her head, she asked him to confirm what he was sure she already knew. “He’s dead, isn’t he?” “Yes. Quincey. He said that you’d understand.” Cattie nodded. She might understand, but he didn’t. “May I ask why they wanted either or both of you dead? I mean, I’ve been reading over some of the paperwork that was taken from the captain’s desk, and he seemed to think you were an all right person. He did have pressure from the higher ups, but that didn’t call for killing either of you. I can only assume, and I have a feeling that I’m right, they didn’t care for the number of cases that you close. With the help of Cam, I’m betting.”
“Yes, that’s right. But that was what you were supposed to find.” Quincey came in and kissed Cattie on the forehead and shook the hand of Cam. They were both getting better—the cuts on her face were nearly gone, and Cam was standing up now. Quincey handed him another thick file as he continued. “That is curtesy of his home. There is a room that no one found when they were searching his place after he was killed.

And to the public, so that you know, he committed suicide. But he’s been dirty since before he got out of the police academy. And more than likely before then.” “Why?” Everyone turned to Paddy when he asked the question. “I know a great deal about how a house is run and have even been in on a dirty one or two in my career. But this one, it seemed to be on the up and up without anyone on the take. And believe me when I tell you, I looked hard to find it. There just didn’t seem to be anything there.” “For the most part, most of the cops were on the up and up, as you called it. There were only a few, the captain for one, that were dirty. His dirt was going to take down the entire place, sadly. And we think, just from what we’ve found out recently, that he needed Cattie dead to get her out of the way of something coming soon. Or at least that’s what I’ve surmised so far.” Cattie got out of the bed and started stretching and moving round the room while Quincey continued. “But as to why they wanted her dead, I’ve not been able to find out much more than that she was the target in all this. Sadly, a lot of people lost their lives when the building blew. But their families are being well compensated.”

“So, let me get this straight, because this is just too much at once for me.” Jake smiled at Forrest when he winked at him. “So, this super cop, Cattie, is a target for some reason. These people, I’m assuming the ones that wanted her dead, are robbing a store to bring her on the scene. I’m assuming that they were going to kill her off, and make it look like she was shot in the line of duty. Then her brother shows up, another super person, and it all goes to shit. But, as far as the public is aware, both of them are dead as well. Correct so far?” “Yes, but you’re missing one important element. No one—no one on her force or the people that I worked with—is aware that I’m anything more than a man who had to take some time off to heal from a job gone south.” Jake could see the pain on Cam’s face. “I shot and killed a kid. Not that it was an accident—it was him or me, quite literally. When he pointed the gun at me and fired, I returned fire, and he was dead, and I was shot too. I’ve been healing since then. It’s been about eight months now. I have no intentions of going back.”

It was so final that no one said anything. Jake could understand it better than most, not wanting to go back to the same thing day after day. Going into partnership, both business and personally, with Forrest had given him a much better outlook on his whole life. And he loved Forrest for it. ~*~ Cam walked the halls of the place they were staying. He’d come to figure out that it wasn’t a hospital, at least not now it wasn’t. The place had been closed down years ago, but still operated quietly when it was needed. He’d have to ask Howard if they needed
any funding to keep it afloat. He knew that without this place, he and his sister would be dead. There were no other patients in the place but him and Cattie. The staff that was there—very few now—was all in some way involved with keeping the public in the dark about what sort of place it was. Quincey, he knew, now owned not only the building, but also about five hundred acres that surrounded it. Cam came to the conclusion that not only was it not known to the people that were nearby, but they didn’t know that there was even a building within the electrified fencing.

“I’ve been thinking.” He smiled at his sister when she came out of the room she’d been in. “Don’t say it. I’m really confused about what is going on with my job. I mean, who would want to go to this much trouble to see me dead?” “You mean besides me?” She punched him in the arm. “I’ve been thinking on that too. You said that your boss, Captain James, told you to go on this mission, even though you were supposed to be getting off. I wish I could have a long conversation with the bastard to see just how much money he made off of this. And see if hell takes that kind of currency.” “I think we can get that. But you’re right. It seemed strange to me, even when the call came in. I mean, we’re not cops, not the kind that goes out on this sort of thing. We’re the ones that go after the scum of the earth. Drug dealers, as well as prostitution and counterfeit shit.” She looked around to see if their mom was close. Even though they were both in their early thirties, they were terrified of their mom—with good reason. She was their mom, but she had a mean streak in her when they didn’t live up to her expectations. “Why did he think that I wouldn’t have questioned him about it?” “Did you?” She said that she had tried, but he was practically shoving her out the door. “I’ve been thinking on why I was there too. You know as well I do that I don’t go out unless it’s dire. I mean, being out of lettuce? I haven’t any idea why it was so urgent that I go out then. I was thinking that your nervousness of this, it called out to me in some way, and that’s how I ended up there. Even though you didn’t contact me, I still felt the need to be with you. I wasn’t even surprised that I’d walked into something. Understand?”

“Yes. And so you know, I did think about you while I was waiting on things to be set inside. I was worried about what you’d think of me being there.” He nodded and took the turn at the next left. He needed to regain his strength, and this was helping him. “So, this thing that we can do—I guess we can add being able to contact each other without contacting each other.” “I’ll put that on our to do list.” He moved down the hall, her beside him every step of the way. “Cattie, what do you think of the people that are here? The couples. Why them? I mean, it’s not like they’re anyone we’ve dealt with before. I’ve been wondering why Quincey, or even Howard for that matter, had them come to help us.” “Have you talked to Howard yet?” He said that he’d not. “Me either. I did remember seeing him there, when we were taken away. But not much before or after that. Quincey, he’s been telling me for a while now that I need to beef up my own security. I guess he was right.”
“Yes, I’d say that he was. By the way, you had a lovely funeral.

Did you see it on the television?” Cattie said that she’d purposely missed it. “The mayor had so many good things to say about you. He sort of glossed over me being killed too. I think that the bureau had asked him to do that. I’ve not tried reaching out to him yet. Have you contacted anyone?” “No. I’m trying to lay low.” They were picking up speed as they came down the next hallway, almost at a jog. “Cam, I have to say, I’m a little worried about Mom and Dad—especially Dad. Did you hear that he got called away last night? Why? The man has been retired for years. Why are they calling him out on jobs after all this time? I have a feeling that it’s not work, and he’s in trouble again.” He knew, but he didn’t want to tell Cattie just yet. Cam, too, had been laying low, but he was much better at searching minds than she was, so he had been picking brains for the last several hours. Cam turned the next corner and came to a sudden stop. There stood Howard. Cam hadn’t seen the man in weeks before he’d called to him to come for Cattie. He looked worried, overworked, and closer to his age.

The man was ancient, but you’d never know it to see him. The magic of being a vampire had kept him looking much younger than he really was. “I’ve some news for you both, but I’d rather wait until the troops are here to listen in too. Jake and Forrest, they’ve been taking good care of the two of you?” They both said that they had and asked when they were going to get out of there. “Not for a while yet. I like you both being presumed dead. I think in the long run it will keep you alive longer. What did the doc say about your noodle, Cam? Anything come up?” “Nope, just as brainy as ever.” He had hit his head in the bike accident, and it had been why the people at the clinic had poured all they had into him. His brain—unlike most people, Cam used every part of it. That was the magic that he’d gotten when he’d been hit by the car. “I do have a couple of questions for you concerning the others here. Not anything bad, but I would like to know why them. Why now?” “I can answer that one for you. You remember Jenna Winslow?” They both said that they did. “She was the long-lost daughter of Quincey. And Jake, he’s the grandchild of Jenna, and great-grandson of Quincey. The child that they’re raising is half-sister to Jake. The line of familiarity is why he trusts them more than he does even me. And we go back further than anyone I know. Forrest was her attorney and is the mate to Jake. The other two are good friends to them both. That’s the connection to all four of them.” “So, Quincey has them come here, taking care of us and making sure that—what? We’re not killed. Doesn’t that put them in harm’s way? I’d hate to see them hurt because of this crap.” He agreed with his sister, but Howard had more.

“They’re immortal? Because of their connection to Quincey? I guess that makes sense.” “Quincey told me that up until a few weeks ago, he’d been protecting his grandson, Jake. He kept him in the dark, and those around him, about the fact that he’s more vampire than human with some of his magic. As soon as Quincey removed the protection, right after Jenna was killed, he talked to him about it and then took the protection away. Jake has become good with the magic—a great deal of it, I guess—that
he inherited from Quincey, but he’s still getting used to it. Jake and Forrest both took it fairly well. And the baby sister, she’s not all human either.” Cam said that was a lot for anyone to take in. “You don’t know the half of it, I’m afraid. Jenna, if you recall, had been murdered by her son, father to Jake. Jacob has been sentenced to five life terms for his part in not just his mother’s death, but a few other things that had been unearthed by his son. It’s a long and terrible story, but you can see where the connection is now.” “Sounds too messy not to be true.

” Howard nodded at him. “All right. That explains that. But how much longer are we going to have to be hidden away? While I like it here because there aren’t a lot of people, I’m going just a little stir crazy. I know that Cattie is as well.” “We need to keep you dead, as I said, for just a little longer. But you’ll be happy to know that as of yesterday, there is a track that Quincey had put in for the two of you to run on. And there is equipment that you can use to get some of your strength back in the lower levels.” Cam thanked Howard. “Don’t thank me, it was Jake. He said that he knew that you two were getting antsy.” By the time Jake and Forrest got there, he and his sister had ordered their lunch. The kitchen here was five-star, Howard told them, and to order whatever they wanted. The magic again, he was told, would get them just about anything they wanted. Cam took them up on that offer and ordered a thick steak and all the trimmings. Cattie did the same, but she ordered pie too. His sister loved pie. He thought that she might like it better than she did him at times.

They were sitting at one of the large tables in the dining room when Howard came in to have a talk with them all. He had news, none of it good, but it was things that they had to hear. His dad showed up about an hour after the meeting started, and he looked broken. Instead of asking him what had happened, he touched his mind to see what else their father was hiding from them. His dad had been in trouble before—a great deal of it. While he loved the man very much, he didn’t really trust him, and hadn’t for a long time. It was just after Cam’s last day of work, all those months ago, that he’d begun to see his father in a different light.

And had it not been for Cam’s intervention, they would have lost their family home, Mom would have been out on the streets, and Dad would have been in prison. When Dad looked at him, Cam let him. He didn’t hide the fact that he didn’t want his father around him. He knew that he should have talked to Cattie about him, let her know what he was up to now. But he’d been putting it off for some time now. Cam supposed that he hoped that his father would change. He had, but not in a good way. Orval Henderson was in way over his head, and it was going to get him killed if he didn’t get his shit together. And Cam knew that it was going to be next to impossible for him to pay off the debts that he’d racked up, gambling on everything this time— including his children’s lives. His dad figured that Cam had gotten him out of it once, and that he’d continue to do so. But he wouldn’t. Not again.


Grayson The Sons Of Crosby Release Day & GiveAway








Misty Quartermain met Sean Crosby in college. One night, before they’d met, he’d saved her from a vicious vampire attack and after that they become close friends. He’d shared his family secrets with her and took a little of her blood so that they’d always share a connection. Sean knew Misty wasn’t his mate, but he’d always felt protective of her. A few years later, when Misty and her family were in trouble and on the run, Sean enlisted his family to come to their aid.

Grayson Crosby had always been somewhat of a loner. He mostly kept to himself but was there for the family when they needed him. Sean said he needed help to keep his college friend safe so Grayson was there for him, maybe not enthusiastically, but there. He heard Sean making the family introductions and came out of the kitchen. His beast suddenly had the poor woman backed into the wall.

“You said that she knows all about us?” Sean said that she did and that he was terrifying her. “Yeah, I know, but my beast, he won’t let me go enough to help her.”

“Well, let me help you then. I’m sick of men running over me.” Misty doubled up her fist and hit Grayson square in the nose. Then, when he was going back, she swung her leg around and did a round house slap with her foot to his head. He went to the floor in a thud, breaking the end table behind him.





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Spencer Graham had been trying to get a hold of Jason Crosby for weeks, but he didn’t seem to answer emails, mail or the telephone. She had an idea that would make them a great deal of money, but she needed him to invest in her project before it was too late. So, barging into his home at 4 a. m. was the only solution as far as she was concerned. She didn’t, however, expect him to answer the door naked and proposition her as soon as she walked in the door. Spencer did the only thing that came natural to her, she knocked him on his ass….

Jason Crosby was nearly two thousand years old, and in all his days as a vampire, he’d never seen anyone quite like her, not that he thought that was a good thing. He didn’t. She was his mate, and he was only going the tolerate her because he had to….



Chase Crosby didn’t know what he wanted right now. He was trying to get a grip on who his new mate was. He was told she was an ice dragon, but that wasn’t right either, she was a protector of the ice dragons. He had so many questions, and all he could do was sit there while she was locked away in his freezer to recover from her injuries.

Emerald was a warrior, and she had no idea what she was going to do with a mate. Even though the vampire appealed to her, she was worried the people chasing her would hurt him or his family to get to her, and she couldn’t allow that.

A Homeland Security Agent had gone rogue and he was after Emerald. He didn’t know exactly who or what she was, but he was going to prove she’d been around for centuries, and it didn’t matter who he had to go through to get to her.



Elliot knew the little boy, Cody, was in trouble. When he found the boy hiding out in his greenhouse, he could see that he was starving and battered. The boy’s little dog didn’t look like he was faring any better. When the boy’s father, Duncan, busted down the door of the greenhouse, Elliot had had enough.

Hannah didn’t have much use for her idiot brother, Duncan. And when she heard her brother had murdered his wife, and her nephew Cody was on the run from his father, she wasn’t surprised. She was surprised, however, and elated to find out her sister, Julia, was alive. Julia’s slimy ex-husband, Nathan, had Hannah believing Julia was dead.

Elliot was sent to bring Hannah back. Nathan had learned that Julia had left town and taking Hannah would be his leverage to make Julia do as he wanted. Elliot knew Nathan was on his way, and they had to hurry to keep Nathan from finding her. What he wasn’t expecting to find was his mate.

Hannah had had enough of men telling her what to do and finding out Elliot was a vampire didn’t make the situation any easier. He would take it slow and tread softly, or she would stake him, simple as that.

Finding out Nathan and Duncan had banned together spelled trouble for everyone. Even though Hannah was now immortal, Elliot still worried about her because she could still be hurt, and no one touched his mate if they wanted to live.


The Sons of Crosby Series



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Misty had been sitting in a cramped car for five days. It really wasn’t restrictive— her dad had always liked the bigger cars. And when he found one that suited him, he would drive it until there was nothing but rust, spit, and tape holding it together. This particular rust bucket was newer—well, at least it wasn’t too bad…yet. As soon as he pulled into the hotel parking lot, she nearly leaped from the car to stretch.

“You sure do creak a lot.” She turned and looked at her dad, ready to blast him for saying such a thing. That was when she realized that he was talking to the car and not her. “But you got us here all right, so I guess that’s fine too.” She would never, for as long as she lived, understand men and their relationships with cars. Or for that matter, sports. Misty loved football. It was like the only thing she could watch that would relax her.

And that was only because she could scream and throw things at the television and no one got hurt. She took her football seriously. And her team was Ohio State. Misty went into the office of the hotel and signed her and her dad into a room by using a false identity. Going to different hotels for the past few days, using fake names, was the only way she knew to be assured of their safety. And that of her brother too. She’d also been using cash since they’d left their home, as well as random names. Dad had had a bit of money at the house, and she had gone by her own on the way here and taken out all the cash she had in the bank, as well as any she had stashed around the house. That was one of the many things that she’d learned from Sean.

“Always have a backup. Not just a backup plan, but things that will make the backup work. I mean in everything you do. Money stashed where you can easily get to it. Get a couple of burner phones. A set of your car keys someplace other than your home, as well as water. You cannot be on the run without that.” She laughed and asked him if he thought she was going to be in trouble. “I’d like to say yes because you are trouble, but that’s not what I mean right now. I’m being serious. Someday you might be, you might have to run, and those things will get you closer to being safe.” Misty had done what he’d told her.

Not only did she have several thousand dollars that she could grab and go, but all the other things that he’d told her as well. Misty had also added jerky to her things. She knew that she couldn’t go far on an empty stomach, and she was forever forgetting to eat. “You want to get a pizza? Or go for a burger?” Her dad was enjoying this trip. Zigzagging across the state to keep ahead of the guys after Alex would be fun, she thought, if it wasn’t for the fact that it wasn’t for the fun of exploring, but a necessity. Dad was terrified, as was she, about her brother, but they were both trying to make the best of it. And knowing that he was safe helped a great deal. “I’m all for a burger, and not to eat it in the car.” “Yeah, me too. I want to check in with Sean. Let him know that we’re close and then we’ll go.” Dad smiled and said that he’d drive. “All right. And Dad, I love you.”

“I love you too, pumpkin. And I also wanted to tell you how proud I am of you.” She was tired, she told herself. That was why his words affected her so deeply. Instead of standing there like a fool sobbing about her daddy’s words, she picked up one of the burner phones and turned it on. You do know that you can speak to me like this, don’t you? Misty smiled. Why are you wasting your phone on calling someone that you only have to reach for? It sort of freaks my dad out. He understands what you are and that I trust you. But the mind talking thing, it makes him feel weird. But he’s in the car, waiting for me, so I can tell you that we’ve stopped at a hotel on Route Forty. It’s called Sweet Dreams. He asked her where she was in the hotel. If you mean, where am I standing, just outside room six. We’ve not gone into our rooms as yet. Why? He was suddenly standing in front of her. Backing up a bit, he was so close, two more people appeared near him, and none of them looked all that happy. Or maybe it was their natural state. The woman started barking orders almost as soon as she appeared. It was then that she noticed there were several more people coming out of the small group of trees behind the place. “You’re in trouble.” She nodded to him.

“We’re here to get rid of anything that can place you here. Someone wants your ass but bad. It’s a nice one, by the way, but just not my type.” “Are you trying to tell me something and you’re buttering me up for the bad news?” He nodded. “Is Alex all right?” “Yes. But you’re not. Nor is your dad. We’re here to erase you from here.” She asked him what was going on. “I honestly don’t know yet, and neither do my sisters-inlaw. The men that are following the two of you, they only have one thing in their head—get you or one of your other family members and take them back to the boss. We don’t know who that is either. And Alex, I’m sorry to say, is going to be their target. He’s the easiest to capture. And they’re sure that you’d do anything to keep him safe.” “I would.” He nodded and looked over her shoulder. Turning, she saw her dad there. Also, there was a lot of work being done, some of it she only just now understood. There were wolves pissing on cars as well as the hotel room they’d not been in yet. She looked at her dad, who looked confused and concerned. “Dad, this is my friend, Sean Crosby.

I’ve told you about him. They’re marking our things with their scent so that we cannot be detected as being here.” “Thank you, daughter. I was a might clueless. And you, young man, I want to tell you that I’m indebted to you. You surely saved my son, and I will be forever working on repaying you for that.” It never occurred to her dad to think that calling Sean a young man was well off the mark. But like her, he was stressed too. “What do we—? That guy is taking our wheels. I do hope that he isn’t stealing it. Is he?” “No, sir. He’s taking it to my brother’s house. He has a large barn that we’re going to store it in. And there are pack on the land that are going to mark that place up as well.” She looked up at Sean. “You’re going to travel with me. And your dad is going to go with my brother, Jason. All right?”
“Yes. You’re better at this cloak and dagger shit than I am. By the way, I had to ditch my real phone. Do you have a landline that I can use to get some work done? Someone I work with has been trying to get in touch with me since we left.” He said that he did. “Good.

I would love for you to meet him. He’s more persnickety. Nothing ever changes with him. It’s fucking annoying.” “He sounds like a real winner. Are you ready?” She nodded and closed her eyes. Misty knew what to expect, and when she got to wherever he was taking her, she’d be sick for a little bit. In no time, they were standing in a very lovely living room. “Steady now. Let me get you to a seat, then you can sit for a moment.” It didn’t take long, his way of travel, but it was hard on a girl. As soon as she had her bearings, her brother came to give her a hug. Standing up so that she could make sure that he wasn’t hurt, she let the tears fall freely from her eyes. Alex was all right—that was all she could focus on right now. Her little brother was all right. Dad hugged him too when he arrived. He had taken to the way vampires travelled better than she had. Misty hugged them both. They were safe. She knew that if anyone or anything came their way, they were in a position to be as safe as they could be. There were several other people in the room with them. Misty had never met Sean’s family, but she could almost guess who they were. Sean had told her all about his family over the years, his brothers anyway, and she was glad to finally meet them. She only wished that it wasn’t an emergency that had brought them all together. “Everyone, this is Able and Misty Quartermain. Able, Misty, this is my family. From left to right, you have Jason and his wife, Jewel, Chase and Emerald next to them. Elliot and Hannah, and that’s Ryan, the youngest.” Misty looked for the fifth brother. Just then he walked into the room eating a thick sandwich of what smelled like roast beef. “And that hog there is my brother Grayson.” The sandwich was still poised halfway to his mouth as he stared at her. The plate in his other hand held another one. He kept watching her like he’d rather be having her for a meal. The amount of hunger in his eyes scared her enough to stand behind Sean.

The low growl coming from Grayson brought her not only out from behind Sean, but right up in Grayson’s face. “You growl at me again, you jackass, and I’ll tear your face off. I’ve had it up to my fucking ass with men that think they can growl at me and I’ll jump.” She poked him in the chest then. “I don’t jump for any man, woman, or child. Do you understand me? I’m not going to keep my desk cleaned off when I’m working, and I most certainly will not go on vacation when you do just so things can be the same as usual. I’m my own person, not a puppet with strings that you’re going to use.” She realized what she’d done before they started clapping. Misty had mixed in her trouble at work with this man, and she was sorry for it. However, Grayson didn’t seem to think it was worth applauding at. He just kept staring at her—no longer with hunger, but with anger. It was so hot coming off him that she took several steps back. Grayson countered her, coming toward her even as she backed up more. Handing his plate and
sandwich to the man next to him, he kept coming. Putting up her hand, she told him to stop. “Who?” She asked him what he meant.

“Who did those things to you? I’m assuming that he’s still alive. Otherwise you’d not be here.” “It doesn’t matter. Why are you crowding me? Stop where you are.” He did, but now she was backed against the wall and her body was drenched in not just fear, but excitement as well. “Can you back up?” He didn’t, of course, and she was tempted to hit him. But he only turned his head just enough to speak to Sean, not taking his eyes off her. Misty didn’t know exactly what was going on—she hoped not, anyway. But she was afraid that she did actually understand, and she was in more trouble than ever. “You said that she knows all about us?” Sean said that she did and that he was terrifying her. “Yeah, I know, but my beast, he won’t let me go enough to help her.” “Well, let me help you then. I’m sick of men running over me.” Misty doubled up her fist and hit Grayson square in the nose. Then, when he was going back, she swung her leg around and did a roundhouse slap with her foot to his head. He went to the floor in a thud, breaking the end table that was behind him. The room erupted in laughter. Misty was not only afraid but embarrassed as well. Leaving the room, dragging Sean behind her, he told her that she had to let him go or he’d be dead. Stopping, she looked at her friend. “Please tell me that I’m wrong about his.” Sean backed away a few feet, then shook his head. “I don’t have time for his shit, Sean. I don’t even want to involve you guys at all, but I didn’t know what else to do.” “I know, honey, and I’m sorry. But Grayson is your mate. You can’t touch any of the males in the house until he touches you first.” She cocked her head at him, put her hands on her hips, and glared. “All you need to do now is tap your foot and you’d look just like you did in college.

” The women came out of the room and stood beside Sean. She hadn’t any idea what she was to do now, so she asked if there was a hotel that she could stay in. They shook their heads, and said it was much too late for that. “Fuck.” Jewel, she thought her name was, told her that was about right. “What the fuck am I supposed to do now? I don’t need this on top of all the shit that I have going on in my life. And I have to protect my brother. My dad too, since he has been drawn into this.” “He’s not the target. You are.” She looked at the woman she thought was Hannah. “I’ve been going over some of your cases—you’re good, by the way—and I found that you have opened up a can of shit that is supposed to have you dead. However, I can’t connect any of the dots to anyone you sent away. Not even parents of any of the deadbeats you won against.” “Why?” Grayson came out of the living room and she only glared at him. He leaned against the wall and didn’t come any closer. “You can’t get into my cases. They’re a part of the firm where I work.”

“I have ways.” She didn’t even bother asking her when Grayson came to stand by her and said that he was sorry. Misty ignored him for now. “Grayson is a good guy, if you can discount that he’s a Neanderthal. All of them are, as a matter of fact. But this thing with you, we’ll sit down after dinner and talk. There is a lot going on with you and your firm.” Misty moved to the front door and stopped when Grayson followed her, but she did notice that he kept his distance. Opening the front door, going out onto the front porch to just rock for a few minutes, Grayson came out too, and leaned against the railing in front of her. ~*~ She was furious. And beautiful. Grayson didn’t try to crowd her again but stood there watching her take angry strides to the chair. He might have pointed out that the rocker was old and rickety, but again, he thought he’d get further if he kept his mouth shut. “I’m your mate.” He nodded. “I know enough about your kind, as well as your family, to know that this is a done deal, no matter what I say or try to do. Isn’t it?” “Yes. If it helps you any, I’m as surprised by this as you are.

” She rocked harder, and the chair was inching its way to him. “May I ask you a favor? And I know you will have no trouble whatsoever telling me no, but I’d like for you to hear me out.” “All right. But I also reserve the right to tell you to fuck off again.” He told her it was a deal and asked if he could sit next to her. “Sure, but no touching yet. I’m still working a few things out in my head, and I do much better when I can think without distractions.” “I do that as well. I’m a loner, most of the time. Anyway, I’d like for you to move into my house with me.” She just stared at him, and Grayson could have gladly laid at her feet and let her abuse him. “Your family is welcome there as well. The house is an old one, and I’ve only just had it brought up to code. The kitchen is a mess, but it’s coming along. As I was saying, it’s a large house, with plenty of rooms so you’d never have to see me if you didn’t want. But I’d feel safer, until we can get this figured out, if you stay there.” “What’s so different that you think your house is better? I know that a hotel is out— too many people coming and going all the time. The hotel we were going to stay at, it looked like a stiff wind could have blown open the doors. Why your place and not, say, one of your brothers’ homes?” “I’d have to kill one of my family members, and I’d rather not.” She just stared off into the drive, and he wondered what she was thinking. He could have looked, but he didn’t want her not to trust him. “You and Sean, you’ve known each other for a while, I guess.” “Yes. He saved my life. Quite literally. I was nearly raped and left for dead one night after leaving work. Sean just happened to be in the right place to kill some men that were hell bent on having fun with me. I didn’t know until a few days later they weren’t human, but vampires like him.” Misty looked at him. “Like you all, I guess.”
“Yes, the men in the family are. We’re lucky enough to have a bit more too, as I’m sure he told you.

But the women, they’re not just human either. We have a faerie prince and princess, a dragon king and queen, as well as ice dragons that we can call to us for help. As well as the pack that roams all of our land.” Her rocking had slowed, and he paced his rocker with hers. “I was a fool earlier with you. I had my feet knocked out from under me, even before you did it.” “I’m sorry about that. Lately men have been giving me shit, and I’ve about had it.” She looked at him and he let her. There was something so profoundly heartwarming to have someone look at him like she was. “I’m an attorney. I’ve worked really hard at it too. The firm that I work for—worked for, I guess—they don’t think that women have any place in that business other than— Well, other than fucking their way to the top of them. I don’t play around.” “No, I know that.” She stared at him, then looked out over the drive. There was pack there, several of them as a matter of fact. “I don’t live far from here. After dinner, would you and your family like to come out and see the house? Like I said, it’s being worked on, extensively as a matter of fact. But the security system is state of the art, and the furniture is some that I’ve collected over the years.” Grayson decided not to bring up her job again, or the men she was working for. He wasn’t sure what she meant by the change in her job status, but he’d have Jewel—or better yet, Emerald—look into it for him. The company was going to pay if they didn’t play ball with whatever she wanted from them. “There are things about me that I’d like to tell you.

” She looked at him and he nodded. “I’m aware that you can tell that I’ve never had sex, but the reason why might make you laugh at me. Especially considering how I was treated at my job. I’m not going back there—I don’t think, anyway. I’ve only just decided that I think I could do better on my own.” “More than likely. Ryan, the one just younger than me, he practices law for us— well, practice is a comical term when you realize that he’s been practicing for centuries.” She nodded and leaned back in the chair, no longer rocking. “You said that you might make me laugh when I hear why you’re still a virgin. And you’re correct, I can smell that about you.” “I was saving myself for one man—you, I guess now. But I wanted it to be perfect when I married. I guess that is shot all to hell.” Grayson asked her why. “You have to survive with me only, correct? I mean, Sean told me a great deal about mates, and the way they go at sex like rabbits in heat.

” Grayson burst out laughing. For such a serious conversation, she was delightfully honest. When she smiled at him, it was as if she’d given him a rare glimpse of her. He’d bet anything that her life over the last several months was taking its toll on her. And now this. “We do like our sex. And yes, when you’re ready, we’ll have lots of it.” She just cocked a brow at him. “I don’t mean to be indelicate, but I’ve fed recently. I can go a bit longer before I want to sink my teeth into you and have a hell of an orgasm.”
Misty’s face brightened in embarrassment. They both turned when the front door to Jason’s home opened. Alex stepped out onto the porch and began signing to his sister. Misty was telling him what they were talking about, he supposed, so that he’d not feel left out. “He said that we’re to come in for dinner, but only if I can refrain from hitting you again.” She looked at him, then back at her brother as she answered him. “That remains to be seen. We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it. Also, your father is on his way, and Jason wants to know if he can tell them that we’re a couple.” “If you don’t mind.” She said that she didn’t care either way, but she wasn’t easy. This too she signed to her brother, and his face heated up. “Does your brother read lips?”

“Ask him. And yes, he does, but I have been really hard on my brother. I bullied him into never being handicapped.” Alex laughed, then nodded. “He can read lips, but only if you’re looking at him. And mustaches muddle the words for him. Which is no problem here—none of you are sporting any.” Grayson could talk to Alex and did so, welcoming him to the family. Alex glanced at his sister as she made her way into the house, and then asked to speak to him. Grayson told him that he could, at any time. He sat down next to him. After telling Grayson everything that happened at the police station, Alex asked him why he’d not been arrested, or for that matter, why it hadn’t been put into the paper that he was missing. Grayson had an answer for him, but he wasn’t sure if he could be honest with him as he would with his sister. “Please do. Misty, she made sure that I was never handicapped, as she said, but she’s also made it so that I could become a part of the world. Most in my place have given up, only hang out with others like them—deaf and/or mute people. I have a few friends like me, but most of my friends are speaking and hearing people.” Grayson told him he was extremely lucky to have a sister like Misty. “I am. I don’t know what would have happened to me had she not been who she is. Also, even though I’m just human, if you hurt her in any way, I will grind you to dust. Understand?”

“Yes.” Grayson liked this young man and decided that he’d like for him to stay with them until he met his own mate. He thought he could learn a great deal from the younger man. “The reason that you’ve never been pursued or attached to what happened there is because you were never to have been arrested for that crime. I don’t know all the details yet—my sisters, the other women, they’ll have a better handle on this than me. But, like I told your sister, you were just the person that they were going to use to get to her. And you would have been killed had my family, mostly Sean, not stepped in and helped.” Alex sat there, not saying anything, and Grayson waited. Alex, like his sister, was a thinker. He thought that they might have gotten that from their mom. Their dad, Able, he tossed out ideas and threw them away like he was testing the grounds. They were a good family. And Grayson found himself thinking that he was going to enjoy getting to know all three of them, provided Misty didn’t kill him first.

Laughing, he went into the house with Alex. “I hope you’re hungry.” Alex nodded and rubbed his belly. “Well, don’t sit next to Elliot. He’s a pig and will take food from your plate if you’re not watching him.” Alex told him that he’d figured that out but thanked him. Yes, Grayson thought, he was really enjoying having a mate so far.


Hawkins McCullough’s Jamboree Release Day & Giveaway & Winner Announced

Hawkins McCullough didn’t like his life. Army was his life, he lived and breathed it, but he wasn’t “regular” army. His life was filled with one covert mission after another and he was tired of it. He had done so many awful things in the name of “justice” that he felt he didn’t deserve to be happy. He felt broken and unredeemable.

Jamie had always loved children, and this small infant crying out to her broke her heart. These children were on their way to a baby farm and she was determined to stop this from happening. There was no way she would allow these babies to grow up the way she did, as a lab rat, not as long as she had breath left in her.

“I have to go. No, I’m going to go now. I only stuck around here to find the babies.” Lauren stepped in front of her. “Do you have a death wish? I would have thought someone with your obvious training would know not to stand in front of a dangerous bullet.”

“Is that what you are? Dangerous? I’m not so afraid of you. More that I’m afraid of what they did to you.” Jamie put up her hand and morphed it into a gun. Then a sword. And again, she turned her hand into a monster, long claws and all. “Nope, not going to work. You’re his mate, and that means something to this family.”

“Well, it means shit to me.”

Hawk never thought in a million years that he’d be happy to find his mate, nor would he have believed that she’d be more powerful than he was. Jamie was just more….



Amzaon USA
Amazon UK







Colin McCullough gets the phone call that all military families dread―his brother Hawkins has been shot. Colin only wants to thank Hawkins’s commanding officer for saving his brother’s life, but he can never seem to get past the guards in the hospital’s hallway to personally thank the man.

Major Lauren Burcher is all Army and head of a special task team usually sent in to clean things up. This time, her team is ambushed by friendlies, and Lauren and her best man Hawkins McCullough barely make it out alive―they were set up. Someone wants them both dead.

Another attempt on Lauren’s life in the hospital fails miserably, and when Colin scoops her up in his arms to place her back in the hospital bed, he finds a gun pointed at his forehead at point blank range. In that moment he realizes this bad-assed scary woman is his mate.

Lauren wants no part of this mate business. Relationships get messy and this jerk is bossy as hell. And Lauren doesn’t take orders…she gives them. But it will take all of them, his family and hers, to keep her and Hawkins alive…



Who rescued who was still a little vague, but they escaped just the same. The lab called him SA-8, and they had made him into a very powerful weapon. But to Reese he was just Josh, a boy that could do amazing things, but a boy none the less—not a lab rat. That was two years ago—the lab had been relentless and lethal in their pursuit. With her big rig running on fumes, and their last dime spent, they wound up on a small town in Ohio….

Parker McCullough found an abandoned big rig parked on his land. It had been there a few days, and he wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. Calling the authorities seemed like the logical thing to do, but when he tried to do so, his cell phone went flying from his hand and a teenage boy appeared from nowhere. Parker thought the boy was an Elite Shifter, and after hearing a little of the boy’s story he wanted to help.

Reese didn’t know who all these people were, but if she and Josh didn’t get away from them, the “others” would find them and they’d all be dead, just like all the other people who had tried to help them along the way…. And now the gorgeous shifter, Parker, had her trapped in the kitchen claiming to be her mate…. She didn’t have time for herself, and she didn’t want to see them all die because they’d helped her and Josh—Reese was out of options


Mackenzie’s shift at the hospital had just begun when they told her that a patient friend of hers was back in the ER and asking for her. When she entered the curtained room, the last thing she expected was for a McCullough to be sitting next to her patient. It wasn’t Hawk, thank god, but the man looked enough like him he could have been his twin. Hawkins McCullough was on her shit list, and if this man was related to him, she didn’t want anything to do with him.

It didn’t take long for Dustin McCullough to figure out that this feisty doctor was his mate. And when he found out that his brother had hurt her, it took a great deal of strength to keep his cat from killing him.

Mackenzie was at her wits end. Random attacks to her person and bullets flying had the entire McCullough family in an uproar. And just when they thought they had everything about under control, Hawkins drops a bombshell that had them all stunned.

Can Mackenzie find it in her heart to forgive Hawk before it’s too late?



Virginia is a bestselling paranormal romance author. She does much better with her stories than with people. When she’s in her “writing zone,” she won’t even eat unless her mother hands her a plate and reminds her to do so. She wouldn’t be making the trip to the McCullough’s if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Go, see the child, make sure he has a good home. That is the plan. Simple…not.

Larson is having his own issues. Being blamed for the murder of one of his clients, which he didn’t do, has him closing up shop and laying low for a few days. His mom insists that he show up for dinner to meet their visiting guests. Larson would rather stay home, but she’d have his hide if he did.

Larson sees the beauty from across the room and makes his way to her. Before he even reaches her, he catches her scent. She is his mate. Now what is he supposed to do? He has his life just the way he wants it and a mate wasn’t figured into that equation. On the other hand, the way she flushes when she returns his stare has him thinking anything but pure thoughts. Maybe having a mate wouldn’t be so bad after all.



Boyd lost his mate before he’d really found her. He found her in college, but his studies were important too. He figured he’d have plenty of time to meet her, after his exams. But a tragic car accident robbed him of his future before it had begun…. At least that is what he had always believed.

Reilly was just trying to make ends meet. She wanted to get through the day with her slimy boss keeping his hands to himself. But when she got the call from the hospital that her dad had been in an accident, she had to go. Her boss had other ideas.

The pileup on the freeway had Boyd working overtime. All the injured had been coming into the hospital in droves. He had treated so many patients that he was just exhausted. When he stepped out for a breather, he saw her. She was the sexiest woman he’d ever seen, and when he approached her, her scent had his senses in a whirl and his cat reacted. The word mate flashed through is mind. But that couldn’t be right, it had to be lack of sleep making him think that.






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Jamie figured that she’d give someone ten more minutes, then she was leaving. She’d been at the hospital longer than she thought was necessary for fainting. Well, she’d really just passed out from shock, but she’d never done that before. Tossing off the cover that had been on her when she woke, she heard the baby crying so close that she ventured out of the room she’d been in and followed the sound. Her heart broke for how pitiful the tiny person’s voice sounded. There were ten babies in varying ages in the bassinets, all of them under six months old, she’d bet, and all of them asleep but the child that had her finding them. Lifting the little girl from the bassinet, she sat in the nearby rocking chair and started rocking her. “I have been looking for you for so long, I thought that I’d been mistaken about it.” Rocking a little more, the baby quieted down and stared up at her with the most beautiful green eyes that she’d ever seen.

“There is this guy here—you’ll know him as soon as you see him—who is a bully. And he’s a big hulking sort of person. Not like he’s stupid or anything—at least he didn’t sound that way. But he’s big, like that green guy that used to be on television. I know you wouldn’t know who that is, but I’m just making a reference.” The baby’s tiny hand wrapped around her finger and she smiled. Jamie loved babies—all kids really, but babies had a special place in her heart reserved just for them. When the baby’s eyes started to close a little at a time, Jamie decided to talk to her more. “When I was a little girl, I was dropped off at one of those safe places. I’m not sure why anyone would think that it was safe. I spent the next five years there, and let me tell you, it was not a place I’d go back to even on a threat of death. Then I ended up where no one should ever be allowed to stay. It was horrific, and the things they did to me were twice that bad.” Jamie heard the door near where she was sitting open and then close. “Anyway, the place. It wasn’t a baby mill like you were in, at least I don’t think so.

But a real place that unwanted children went. I say unwanted because we were told that every day—that we were there because no one wanted us for one reason or another. But the lab did. They needed me for a lot of things that I didn’t want to do. So that’s where I grew up. I think the place has shut down now. The house was a showstopper, really beautiful if a little out of date, and I loved it. Just not the people there.” She looked up when the curtain was thrown back. There stood her nemesis with a gun pointed at her again. Jamie started to stand and give him a big part of her mind when he slipped the gun back in wherever he’d gotten it from and sat down on the floor in front of her. “I thought I’d just sit here in the event you wanted to hit me again. This way I’m closer to the floor already.” She wanted to stick her tongue out at him, but knew that he’d laugh at her. “You said that your name is James. Why would anyone mistake you for a male? I’m Hawk, or Hawkins if you prefer.”
“I was a great deal younger back then, you idiot. Don’t you have someone else you can harass?

I mean, I was having a nice conversation with this little girl, and you—” “Her name is Lily, Lily Anderson. Her parents are on their way to see her. All the children have names now.” She just looked down at Lily, and her heart hurt to know that someone loved her. “Why do you think that no one loves you?” “You’re reading my mind. Why the hell would you think that isn’t rude?” He just shrugged and leaned back on his elbow, smiling at her. “What are you in here for, besides pulling yet another gun on me?” “I only pulled one out on you. The first time, it wasn’t meant for you but the guy holding you.” She rolled her eyes at him and started rocking again, anything to get the man to leave her alone. “You aren’t afraid of me; that’s a first. Usually people who see me for the first time never hit me in the face. Then you hit me in my balls too.” “Perhaps it’s because you’re nicer to others than you have been me.” Kicking his foot away from the front of the rocker, she glared at him. “I swear to Christ, you have to go away. I don’t like you one bit, and you’re taking up all my air while you’re here.”

“You’re not human.” Jamie felt every part of her body tense up. Then she looked for a way to escape. “I’m not sure what you are, but you’re not going anywhere now.” “Why is that? And let me remind you that I’ve hurt you twice now. If I want to leave, then I will. You won’t be able to stop me.” He looked at the exit door and she did as well. There were men standing in front of it, and she could tell they were armed. “You’re holding me prisoner? What the fuck for?” “They’re here for the children. And for me.” She asked him if he was going to be arrested. “You’re very defensive; anyone ever tell you that before? No, they’re not here to arrest me. They work for me. I’m considered a big deal by some people.” “Whatever.” She stood up, and he was suddenly standing too. Like he’d just willed it or something. “You’re a cat. Jaguar, I’m guessing. I could have told you that before you were shooting at me, but I was distracted. By you telling Ben to shoot me.” “That was before I knew you.” She pointed out that he didn’t know her now. “True. But I’m hoping that we can remedy that soon.” She was missing something in what he was saying, but she was too stressed to figure it out. Putting Lily back in her crib, she moved to leave the same way that she’d come in, by the back door. When she opened it up, there were three men standing there with the woman from the house. Miss Laughs a Lot. The two in uniform aimed their guns at her and she backed up a couple of steps. And right into the arms of Hawk. She struggled to get away from him, thinking that she’d be safer with the guns pointed at her, when Miss Laughs a Lot told them to stand down. No one moved. “Did you hear me, soldiers? I said to stand down.” Neither man moved, but they were looking at the man behind her. “Hawk, you’re going to lose these two idiots if you don’t make them behave around me. My word is my bond.” “Stand down.”

Both put their guns to their sides when Hawk said for them to do it with a great deal of authority in his voice. The other man laughed. Miss Laughs a Lot
didn’t seem to find it funny. Getting out of Hawk’s embrace was a good deal easier now. “They work for me and only me. This was a good test for them. Thanks, Burcher.” “It wasn’t a trial for anything, you fucking bastard. I don’t care for being ignored. Perhaps they don’t know me.” She turned to both men and they were nodding like their heads had somehow come loose from their necks. “So, you do know me. That doesn’t explain to me why when I give you an order, you don’t obey.” “They’re not dogs. Christ, you got your panties in a twist because they didn’t listen to the great Burcher, or whatever the fuck your name is? You on some power trip, or are you always a fucking cunt?” Every one of the men backed up from her and Burcher.

“You might get a lot more done if you ask politely when you want something to go your way. Like, and this is just an example, ‘Would you mind putting your guns down? I don’t want any more bloodshed—’” Jamie was lifted from the floor by Burcher. She was holding her there like she didn’t weigh a thing. Hawkins reached out to touch Lauren when the third man got right up and in his face. Jamie did the only thing she could think of before she passed out from lack of air. She shifted. Her beast roared when she told her to calm the fuck down. The people were afraid of her, that she could see, but she really didn’t care. Right now, she needed to get out of there before they spoke to someone about her. The presence of another being felt calming. Even the beast inside of her seemed to know that someone less than but like her was coming. Before the door opened, she as her beast, a great black bear—bigger than any normal—moved away from it. Whatever was coming, it wasn’t angry, but it was concerned. As soon as he walked through the door, she knew him for what he was. Not a name, but she and him had been created at the lab. When he came toward her, talking softly the whole time, Jamie whimpered. He wasn’t close to as powerful as she was, but she knew he had a great deal more than she did in knowledge of what he could do. She’d love to learn from him, but that would be dangerous. Nor could she hurt him. “Hello. I thought that all the others were found. I had no idea that you were there.” She let the bear go and stood before him. He was taller than her by a few inches, but nothing near what Hawkins was. “May I take your hand in mine?” “No. Don’t touch me.” He nodded and put his hands behind his back.

“I saw you there. In the room when I’d look around at night.” “Jon?” He looked at Hawk when he said his name. Then Jon looked at the others with a smile. The service men were guarding the door again, and didn’t look as if they gave a shit about what was going on around them. “Is she like you? Someone from the lab?” “No. She’s very different than I am. Just as dangerous, but no less hurt by the men there.” She watched Hawk when he moved to come closer to her. “I wouldn’t, Hawk. Not yet at any rate.” “She’s my mate, Jon.” No one said a word, but seemed to focus all their eyes on her. She lifted her chin and decided it was well past time for her to get the fuck out of there. “What do you mean, she’s very different than—?”

“And she’s standing right the fuck here. You are the rudest man I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. I’m leaving here.” Jon asked her to wait. “For what? For them to call someone and tell them where I am? Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve been down that road more times than I’d like to think about. “Tell them what you are.” She looked at Jon then at Hawk. Jamie knew what a mate was, but there was no way that anyone would want her after what she’d been through. “You’d be very surprised at what these people can do for you.” “I was dropped off at the home for wayward kids when I was an infant. During my first five years, I was a troubled child.” Hawk snorted. “Fuck you. What would you have done if you became a monster that didn’t have any idea where she was? I was a bear shifter and didn’t have any idea how to control her.” She looked at the floor, anywhere but at Hawk.

“I wasn’t one of the lab rats like you were. I wasn’t a human when I was taken there at the age of five—I was a shifter, so I guess that qualified for me to be discarded when they were done with me. Taken from the home I had been in since birth. After a while they got tired of me not doing what they wanted, and I was put away to be destroyed. When I slipped out of the cage they had me in, I wandered around the building to keep up with what they were doing.” “They messed with you with drugs too, then.” She nodded at the man near Lauren. “I’m Colin McCullough. Lauren is my wife. And Hawkins is my brother. He’s Army.” “Yeah, I got that part.” Jamie ignored Hawk. She looked at Jon and spoke only to him. “They did the first experiments on me, before you were given anything. The trouble was, no one took into consideration that I hadn’t been human, so they would affect me differently than you. Second, I was a way for them to figure out if whatever they were set to give you would maybe kill you. And if it didn’t me, then they’d give it to you.” “You were five when they did this to you?” She told Jon how they’d find her every month or so then use her again. “They knew where you were at all times, I’m thinking. The men there only gave you the illusion that you were free to roam.” ~*~ Hawkins watched her. He knew as surely as he was standing there she was going to bolt. And he’d bet any kind of money that he’d not be able to find her unless she allowed it. Marking her wouldn’t do him much good either. She was just as strong, if not stronger than Jon, Hawkins would bet. “I have to go. No, I’m going to go now. I only stuck around here to find the babies.” Lauren stepped in front of her. “Do you have a death wish? I would have thought someone with your obvious training would know not to stand in front of a dangerous bullet.” “Is that what you are? Dangerous? I’m not so afraid of you. More that I’m afraid of what they did to you.” Jamie put up her hand and morphed it into a gun. Then a sword. And again she turned her hand into a monster, long claws and all. “Nope, not going to work. You’re his mate, and that means something to this family.”

“Well, it means shit to me.” Jamie looked at him before speaking again. “I’m nothing you want to fuck with or fuck. I am dangerous, and I’m not as stupid as some people may think I am. I will hurt you if you try again to detain me.” “I’m asking you to please not leave me.” She shook her head and looked at the doors again. He knew her plan to leave was rapidly coming to fruition. “I’m asking you to take a chance here. No one will be able to touch you again. I will swear this on my life.” “And you? Will you claim me? I’m guessing that’s what you think is going to happen. And you might be immortal, but removing your head will be easy enough for me.” He nodded and told her that he knew that she was stronger than him. “Hell, I’m stronger than even Jon is. Don’t you get it? I’m nothing more than a taste tester from long ago. If I lived, then they would inject the shit into him. Sometimes more than once.” “I don’t care about any of that. I was bemoaning the fact that someday my mate would come to me. Basically because of what I do. I’m not such a cup of tea either.”

He moved closer all the time, hoping that if he could touch her once, his cat would feel much better. “You know what I am. A jaguar first and foremost. My cat is pissy with me, because he too knows who you are to us.” “Again, I don’t care.” She looked at the exit then back at him just before he was able to touch her. Hawk felt himself being tossed back. Hitting the wall behind him, he braced himself for whatever came next. He was sure, too, that there would be more put upon him. Hawkins watched her while she calmed herself. She’d not lost total control, he knew that, but had punched him with magic just enough to keep him away from her. Sitting up, he sat there while the rest of them left. Even his men walked out the door. “You did that? Made them leave us?” She nodded. “And can you make me leave too? Or is it the mate thing that prevents you from making me do anything I don’t want? By the way, you’re not supposed to be able to hurt me. I guess we can chalk that up to being a falsehood.” “I can’t make you leave. Had I been able to, then you’d be gone. And no, it doesn’t have anything to do with you thinking I’m your mate.” She looked down at her arm where he’d touched her, and he could see the marks on her arm. Standing up and going to her, he asked her if she was all right. Then he pulled her arm over to have a better look at what had happened. She was burned. Like his fingers brushing over her, and that had been all it was, had caused her to be blistered and in pain. “Why did you touch me? I told you, several times, not to touch.” He let her arm go but didn’t back away this time. “I don’t want to be here.” “No, I got that.” He laughed a little, and saw a tease of a smile on her mouth. Then she became hard again. “Why did you burn when I touched you? And why not the second time that I held up your arm?” “You were intending to detain me. For lack of a better word, my programming knew that and lashed out at you. The second time you weren’t as aggressive.

I didn’t
need to harm you again.”

Hawkins nodded and touched his fingers to her cheek. “That doesn’t mean that I won’t fucking hurt you. Go away. And then I will. You’ll be much happier without me around, trust me. I know this for a fact.” “There have been others that you hurt?” Instead of answering him, she walked to the window and looked out. “I can help you. You can tell, I’m assuming, that I’m a bit more than a cat. I’m in no way as powerful as the two of you, you and Jon, but I can hold my own.” “They won’t care what you are. If you have loved ones or even if you’re an immortal. They’ll take you apart right there along with me once they figure it out.” He shivered, thinking of all the shit she’d had done to her. “I’m trying my best to save you, and you’re too dense to understand that forgetting about me will be the best thing that happens to you.” “Doubtful. I mean, I was afraid of when I found my mate. Not afraid, but concerned that I’d been too long in the military and might not be good for a woman. Hell, I’m barely good to my family on a daily basis. I can see you have no trouble putting me in my place and making sure that I understand when you’re pissed off.” She didn’t laugh like he had hoped she would. “I’m not a gentle man. I don’t know how to be romantic. I haven’t the first clue how dating works anymore. When I was seventeen I signed on to become something more. What I hadn’t counted on was Burcher finding me and recruiting me for her team.” “I’m assuming that was her last name before becoming McCullough. I’d toss her into a deep hole or cage and lock the door, but that’s just me.” He told her what her name was before. “Colonel Lauren Burcher? I knew that she was something more than just a woman. She’s a bitch.”

“Yeah, she might say the same about you. But she’d be happy with it instead of pissed off like you are.” She looked like she didn’t understand, and he’d bet she didn’t want to. “I was called Mac in the service. My family is the only people that call me Hawkins. Or sometimes Hawk when I’m not in too much trouble with them.” She didn’t say the obvious next line of “that must happen a lot then.” Hawkins realized that she was going to forever do the unexpected and not care a bit if it offended or even pissed someone off. She was a great deal like Lauren, but Jamie would be meaner when pressed, he guessed. “Why don’t you come home with me?” She turned and looked at him then. “I have a nice house. My brother helped me buy it when I was in the service.” “You still are. In the service, I mean.” He nodded, not saying anything. “I’m not going home with you. I have one that I like well enough. But you’re to stay away from me. I don’t want to get involved with you at all.” “I’m afraid it’s too late for that.” He pulled her body to him, and was surprised that he didn’t hurt her again. Pressing his mouth to hers, hoping that she’d allow him a taste of her, he moaned when she finally did. Her body fit his. When he pulled her closer, letting her feel what she was doing to him, he thought he would happily die right now the way she’d wrapped her arms
around him.

Before he could pull her up from the floor, find a hard place to lay her while he feasted on her body, she pulled her mouth away from his. “I’m sorry.” He started to tell her that she had nothing to be sorry about when she disappeared. Hawk was left holding air, and was no closer to finding anything out than he had been before. And Hawk wanted to know everything. Reaching to Burcher, he asked her if she’d do him a favor. If you’re going to ask me if I can find out something about your girl, I’m already on it. Your mate is a piece of work, by the way. She isn’t the least bit impressed with me, nor does she care that I could snap her like a twig. Hawk wisely said nothing. He was reasonably sure that Jamie could not just snap Lauren, but get rid of the body without any trouble.

There isn’t much when I do a regular search, but I’m digging. Where is she, by the way? Gone. She was here, then gone. I need to talk to Jon too. Maybe he can shed some light on things. Lauren said she doubted it. Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking too. I might have to return to Washington, but I’ll be in contact with you while I’m gone. I’m assuming that Mom and Dad know that I’ve found my mate? Yes, but it wasn’t me. I was really pissed about that too. Colin told them before I was able to. She paused for too long, but he knew better than to hurry her along. Hawk, your mate is really in the shit. She’s not just wanted by some very unsavory people, but there is a warrant out for her arrest as well. Murder and robbery. But they know her as an entirely different name. Holly Tree. Even I can tell that’s a fake, and I’m not looking very hard. I’ll need what you can find. I don’t have a clue where she is, or even if she needs a place to stay. But she’s my mate, and for what it’s worth, I’m sorry I ever doubted that I wanted one. She said that she’d have it couriered to him. Thanks. I owe you one. Never, Mac. Never that. I owe you so much, I don’t think being immortal is ever going to be long enough to pay you back for most of it. He said nothing. I’m printing it up now and making arrangements to have it brought to you. Should be there by this evening. Hawk could disappear too. He didn’t care for doing it, because when he reappeared, he had to be careful where he was landing, so to speak. But this time he had no choice. He should have been in Washington yesterday. He only had a few more missions to go before he was done with everything military. For the first time in his life, he wasn’t dreading it.








Hugh Justice Series Release Day & Give Away End Of Series

At 23 Hugh McGuire had his life figured out. He was on top of the world and nothing could stop him. In the blink of an eye, it all changed, when a disgruntled employee, Burton Dunn, shot and killed Hugh’s parents, and attempted to take Hugh’s life as well. Hugh’s life would never be the same, and twelve years later, Hugh was a depressed and somewhat bitter man that could now see and speak with the dead.
Kimber Dunn had been a sickly child, and on her deathbed, her nurse, a leopard shifter took pity on her and converted Kimber to save her life. Now Kimber couldn’t run far enough to outrun her brother’s murderous deed. Spending most of her days as a leopard kept her hidden well. But when fate threw her in front on the one man she’d been hiding from all these years, Hugh McGuire, her cat knew him for who he was…her mate…the only thing she knew to do was run…run as fast and as far as she could….
KOBO  Coming Soon
Steele Bennett was born with a gift, but he sees it more as a curse―he can see and speak with spirits. And when he loses his twin sister at seventeen, he wants to turn his back on life―block his heart so that he never has to feel the sharp pain of loss again…

The small bar Kari Briggs runs is failing fast. She hasn’t seen the owner in three months, past due notices are piling high, and her last paycheck bounced twice. And if she doesn’t pay the delivery guy soon, there’ll be no more supplies.

She has trouble enough controlling her cat, so the last thing she needs tonight is trouble. But those guys at the bar won’t listen and take it outside. Deciding to take matters into her own hands, she is shocked when a tall stranger grips her arms from behind and her cat wants to roll over and purr.

From the moment Steele touches her, she knows he’s her mate. And Steele thinks he can just get her out of his system with sex and a lot of it―he won’t mark her and she can’t mark him―no permanent attachments. But that’s not how it works with a shifter, she will die if her cat can’t get what she needs from him. She will love him because she has no choice―he is her mate―but that is a secret she is willing to take to her grave…
Nick Stark had known Addison West for quite some time. Although they’d never met in person they shared the same nightmare―both were unwilling participants. However, through these dreams they had formed a bond between them. And a telepathic connection. So when out of the blue, Addie contacted Nick and told him she had seen some things that she shouldn’t have and she was next on the killer’s list, Nick didn’t hesitate to come to her rescue.

Nick had known for some time that Addie was to be his―why else would they share the same dream? But he was in no hurry to form emotional attachments. Never having much in the way of a decent family life, he didn’t know much about love. And with the deep emotional scars he bore from an abusive childhood, he didn’t want to bring that burden onto another soul―especially Addie.

Addie had her own baggage. Her father had been forcing her to marry an abusive man―he told her it was her duty as his daughter to obey him. Addie wasn’t having any part of it, so she ran…. She had been hiding for the last five years.

Nick may not have wanted any attachments but he couldn’t ignore the beauty he’d rescued. But there were things he had to tell her…about all of them…about Steele Bennett’s group. He wasn’t sure how she fit into all this….
Mitch Riley was a haunted man, and being a necromancer didn’t have much to do with what haunted him. A troubled childhood left him withdrawn and short tempered, so when he received a summons that he was being sued by the foster parents who had abused him, he didn’t take it well at all. And their attorney? None other than a vamp. There was nothing much worse than a vamp in Mitch’s opinion.

Victoria Graham, or Vinnie her mother had nicknamed her, wasn’t expecting the man her clients were suing to be her mate, and a necromancer. She would have refused the case had she known she’d be walking into a den of necromancers. She had grown up on horror stories that necromancers were the one thing that could kill her kind, and it was clear the man hated her very existence…. But when he touched her, she’d lost control of her magic…and her mind too apparently. 
Landon Logan is a man haunted by a tragedy that he blames himself for but didn’t do. No one can convince him otherwise—especially his well-meaning Grandda who happens to be dead. Landon is a necromancer.

Dillon Malone has a few abilities of her own. She can “find” things by touching the owner or touching something the owner has touched. This makes her a wanted woman.

Landon is so angry at his good-for-nothing parents that he storms out of their house with their maid in tow. Dillon is happy to leave with this brooding young man and soon discovers that the handsome hunk is her other half.

Dillon’s happiness is short lived when her past reaches out to bite her, and she and Landon become pawns in her father’s evil scheme. When Dillon’s father has Steele’s new baby kidnapped, all bets are off.
Ryder Mackenzie didn’t remember much about what happened to her. All she knew was she hurt in more places than she could remember. Mac barely remembered going over the falls and hitting the rocks below to save the little girl. But now that she’d been to the other side, the ghosts wouldn’t leave her alone.

Drew Mullins was a haunted man, quite literally. His mother tortured him as a child and seemed bound and determined to continue doing so seventeen years after her death. Drew, being a necromancer, was having a hard time avoiding her because she didn’t know she was dead.

Between Mac having the little girl’s father haunting her and Drew dealing with his mother’s ghost, they both were a mess. But in each other they found what had been missing in their lives—love.

But when the thirst for revenge heats up, can Steele and his group find a solution? At least one where no one else ends up dead?
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Christian: The Stanton Pack—Erotic Paranormal Cougar Shifter Romance

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….

Chapter 1
“Master McGuire, your father would like a word with you. He said that he will meet you in his study when he has completed his business this morning.”  Hugh wanted to ask him what his father wanted, but knew this household well enough to know that they’d not answer him. Most of them would just stare at him as if he had something in his teeth, but none of the staff would go against anything that the master and mistress of the house wanted. Ever. Not that his parents were task masters, but the people who worked for them were very old world, and wouldn’t have gone against them even if they asked them to kill him. Which would never happen either. His parents loved him very much. Nodding once, Hugh pulled his jacket from the closet in the main hall and slipped it on. He knew for a fact that his father wasn’t even in the residence, and that his “little while” could be hours. Hugh had been down this road with his father before. He was as forgetful as he was organized. And Hugh didn’t want to wait. He was easily distracted, his dad. Not his mother, but his dad certainly was. He took being lord very seriously, and did a good job of keeping things in perfect order and done in a timely matter. Hugh thought his father was the best. A little on the annoying side, but he loved him as much as he did his mom. They were both his world, and would be forever. It was a show of just how powerful his father was, Hugh thought. He had no idea— and he had asked—of what made a man know how to be like his dad was. Just simply a man who others knew, instinctively, was in charge. Hugh had known that his parents, the Lord and Lady of Whimmpington, the ninth earl to the estate, were going to be the only ones who took care of the burg they lived in, because he knew he’d never be as good as they were. Everyone in the house did, as well as all of Whimmpington. Hell, he was pretty sure that all of the world knew it. His parents were perfectly suited to being in charge, while he, on the other hand, liked to just have fun. He supposed someday he’d have to straighten up, but not any time soon.  As he made his way to his car, he thought of what his father might want with him now. He’d graduated from college, as his father had wanted. Gotten the grades that were required of a man of his stature, and he’d made sure that he kept his nose out of trouble and his dick properly sheathed when he did have to have sex.  Smiling, he thought about the sheathed sex he’d had last night. Mary had always been more than willing to let him toss her skirts up over her head and fuck her. In fact, it was a well-known fact that anyone could have Mary for a price. He thought perhaps his dad was the only man alive who had not had a go at her. The woman could suck a nail through a board, too, when she gave head. Crude? Yes. He was no more interested in anything long term than he thought she was. But good Christ, the woman could fuck well.
He’d met her in her father’s orchard just after supper last night, and she’d been as naked as the day she was born. He’d nearly come in his pants when he found her leaning against the apple tree fingering her pretty, bare pussy. As soon as she saw him, she spread her legs and told him to eat her. Not one to turn down a splendid offer like that, he’d stripped down and gotten down on his knees before her. She came twice before she begged him to fuck her. Standing up, Hugh had looked at her, a prime woman who loved sex as much as he did, and wondered if all the rumors about her were true. He’d bet they were, just as the ones about her fucking her way through high school and beyond were. When she’d told him to meet her there, she said she’d give him a fuck to remember, and he was pretty sure she was going to do just that. That was going to be the last time they’d be meeting out here, as he was moving away next week.  Mary had large breasts and dark, thick nipples. Lifting up her left breast with both hands, he suckled it while she fisted his cock. When she begged him again to fuck her and Hugh pulled a condom from his pocket, she told him she was too needy to wait, but he knew that there was never going to be unprotected sex between them. Mary had been around, and if she didn’t have protected sex, there was no way he was going to stick his dick in her without a condom. Hugh did not want to chance getting anything she might have picked up elsewhere, much less a child with her. Between long pulls on his cock with her mouth and hands, Hugh knew that he wasn’t going to last as long as she liked to go if she kept this up.  “Mary, love, unless you want me to come before I’m in you, you’d better stand up and let me inside of you.” Her mouth let go of him with a small pop, and he wanted to beg her to take him again. “You have a mouth that begs to be fucked. But I need to be in your pussy. Later we can play if you want.” As soon as he pulled the condom over himself, he lifted her up by her ass and slammed his cock as deeply as he could into her hot wet sheath. “Oh yes, Hugh. Fuck me.” He did, pounding her as hard as he could as she wrapped around him. “Harder. Harder.” When she came, screaming out his name as he emptied himself in the condom, he fucked her again just to give her everything he could before he needed a break. When she pulled his head up from her shoulder, Hugh smiled down at her when she nipped at his lower lip. “I needed that.” He laughed. “Christ, I’m going to miss you. You have no idea. That guy I’m supposed to be marrying next summer is going to be boring after this. I think you ruined me. Are you sure you have to go away? I could come with you. We could have so much fun together.” He knew there was no other man. And he also knew that she would more than likely never marry anyone from around here. She’d been with too many men for any parents to even let her marry one of their sons. People did talk. “You’ll be fine. And maybe he won’t be so bad.” He pulled from her and tore the condom off and wrapped it in the foil it had come out of. He was always careful to take all means of DNA with him when he had sex. Another rule of his dear father. “He might have a dick as long as mine and know how to use it.”
He’d been joking really, but she only shrugged. Hugh wasn’t stupid enough to think that Mary wasn’t plotting and planning something. She’d been getting her way since they’d been hanging around together, and she always seemed to have something up her sleeve. Just before he’d been sent away to boarding school, there had been a rumor that she’d had a baby out of wedlock. Not a big deal to him, but the community had been in an uproar about it.  But he didn’t ask her about it, nor about a great many things he’d heard about her and her family. He and Mary were fuck buddies and sometimes friends, but not close enough that he’d ask her something so personal. So last night had been a farewell fuck between two people that more than likely would never meet again. Or at least he hoped not. He’d keep an eye out for her, but he knew that he’d never contact her again. When his phone rang he realized that he’d made his way to town and parked at some point in his musings. Pulling out his phone to answer it, he nearly put it away again. His father would not be a happy man to find out that he’d skipped out on talking with him. “When I ask you to come talk to me that is what I mean for you to do, Hugh. I know that I sometimes forget the time, but there is no reason for you to as well. Where are you anyway?” He told him. “Come to the office, please? I have a few things for you to sign before you leave. I meant to do it several days ago, but I got…well, I got distracted. When did you grow up? Never mind. But your mother and I would enjoy your company for dinner this evening. If you can tear yourself away from the Manchester orchard.” He sat there for several minutes with his phone still in his hand after his father had stated what he wanted him to do then hung up. Hugh was twenty-three years old now, not some kid that needed to be ordered around. Not that anyone had ordered him to do much of anything for a long time, but…well, he supposed he was embarrassed that his father knew. Not just about Mary, but the orchard as well. Hugh put his phone on the seat next to him and stared out the window. He could see his father’s empire right in front of him. The building stood high above any other in the town. A monument to a great man and a better father. The McGuires made money. Hugh was pretty sure that they didn’t really print it, even though there were times when he wasn’t so sure. But they did make it. It seemed that everything his father touched turned to gold. And if his mother thought it was a good investment, then it was. People from around the world came to his parents for advice on making more money and how to turn nothing into something. They were that good. Hugh could turn a nickel into a buck as well. He’d taken the money that he’d gotten from his grandmother and turned it into his own little empire. The seven million that she’d left him when he turned eighteen was now worth a billion and a half, and growing daily. Hugh, it seemed, had the touch as well. Hugh wondered again what it was his father wanted. Starting the car, he made his way to the parking lot. His father had no special parking for himself, and he didn’t have any for his son either. Hugh the ninth prided
himself on being like one of the people that worked for him, and Hugh was pretty sure he believed that he was. There was no doubt that aside from being their boss or lord, everyone loved his parents. Including him. It was not that his parents were easy people, as in being saps. In fact, they were very stern, if not a little…okay, a lot stiff. And very much in love with each other. They had money, but they never stopped working, either of them. And they did not indulge on things that they didn’t need. There were no private jets…they all flew commercial, and no boats floated in the harbors. Nor did his parents have a lot of status things in the house. A few paintings and a vase or two, but things they liked, not things they felt they needed so no one else would own them. Hugh loved his parents very much. He thought them odd at times, but he loved them all the same. “Good morning, Master Hugh. Your father is on the phone. He asked me to have you go to his conference room and wait.” Smythen, his father’s right hand man, led him down the hall to the long room and asked him if he wanted anything. It was on the tip of Hugh’s tongue to ask him if he could tell his dad that he’d not shown up, but only shook his head. Hugh wanted to get going, and getting this over with was the only thing holding him back from making arrangements to go to the States again. Fifty minutes after he was shown to the room, with Smythen coming in several times to tell him that his dad was having problems and would come in soon, Hugh was ready to leave. His mother had made a list for him last week of things he had to take care of, and another list of people he had to say goodbye to. Hugh looked at his watch when he decided it was well past time to go. The noise down the hall had him standing. Hugh moved closer to the door and put his ear to the wood to see if he could make it out. Hearing the screams had him pausing at the door but not going out. Whatever was going on, he didn’t want any part of it. The gunshots startled him. They were loud, close even, and the screams were being cut off one at a time. Moving from the door now, Hugh reached for his cell phone to call his father. As it rang and rang in his ear, Hugh looked around for a place to hide. Finding nothing helpful—the room only held a large table and some chairs—he hung up the phone when no one answered and tried his mother. She answered almost immediately. He could hear the screaming coming through the phone as someone, he thought it was his mom, told everyone to be quiet. Then the gunshots started again, louder than they’d been down the hall. When she spoke, he had to ask her what she said, her whispers too low with all the noise going on around them both. “Get out if you can.” He asked her what was going on. “Hugh, get out of the building. Hurry. Someone is shooting everyone they—” This shot was almost right in his ear. And when he heard someone screaming again, he wasn’t sure if it was right outside the room he was in or coming from the phone. Closing his phone, he moved to the door and put his ear to it again. If he was honest, he’d say that he was terrified. And not just a little.
The silence was both scary and a relief. He wasn’t sure if the person or persons shooting everyone was gone or if they were waiting for him to come out. Picking up the phone again, he dialed the police. They answered right away. “I’m in the McGuire building. My name is Hugh McGuire. There are shots being fired. I think someone is killing the people who work here. I’m on the eleventh floor.” She asked him if he could see the shooter. “No. I’m in a conference room just down the hall from the elevators. I think…my mother, I think she’s been hurt, and my father isn’t answering his phone. I need for you to come here right away, please. I think someone is killing everyone.” “We have cars on the way. Are you hurt, Mr. McGuire?” He told her that he was not. Then the shooting started again, with screaming. “Mr. McGuire, I need for you to find a place to hide, can you do that? Somewhere safe, as far from the shooting as you can get.” “I’m not sure what’s going on out there. If I leave here to go somewhere else, I have no idea where this person is, and I could…I don’t know where the shooter is.” She told him to stay put, but to barricade the doors. He had no idea how that was going to work either, but said he’d try.  The shooting began again almost as soon as the words left his mouth, this time right in front of where he was standing. He could hear the dispatcher on the phone screaming at him, but Hugh had no idea what she might have been saying. Backing away from the door just as it exploded open, he left the phone on, but slipped it behind him as a man came in the room. He knew him, though he couldn’t place his name. Someone…he backed up when the man entered the room with a gun pointed right at him. “There you are. I knew you were in here somewhere. Hiding out like all the rest of the cowards.” The man standing in front of him looked like any other person that worked for his parents. Suit and tie, and he even had a name badge on with the magnetic strip that got him into the building. “I’m going to kill the last of the McGuires. Payback is a bitch, and you are going to pay like she did. I’d ask you why you did it, but I know. I found out. You bastard. You fucking bastard.” “Payback? I don’t understand what you mean. You killed my parents too? Please, tell me what it is you think we did to you.” The man laughed at him. Hugh read his name badge and knew that he was going to die. He wanted the police to know who it was that murdered them too. “Your name is Burton Dunn, and you say you killed my parents. Why? Tell me what it is you think we did to her. You said her…what is it we did to her that would make you do this?” “You fucking killed her. And now I’m going to kill you too.” The first bullet hit him in the leg. Hugh went down, the pain taking his breath away. “This is for my sister. When I’m finished with you, I plan to go to your house and kill all the people working there as well. I’m going to wipe the McGuire name from the planet. There was just no reason for you to do that to her.”
“Why?” The next bullet hit him in the belly. Hugh fell all the way to the floor, rolling to his back as the man stepped in front of him, his gun pointed at his head. “Why are you doing this?” “Because, you let her die. You killed my baby sister because you and your family are selfish bastards and took everything away when she needed it the most.” Hugh thought he could see the bullet leave the gun, feel it as it pierced his head. Then…then nothing. ~~~ “Hugh?”  Sander Phillips looked at his client and waited for him to focus. Wherever he’d been, Hugh was not happy about the memories. And he’d bet anything it had to do with his parents again and the day that they’d been murdered. When Hugh straightened up and looked ready to get back to work, Sander handed him the paperwork that he’d brought for him to sign. Instead of reading it over, which Hugh was meticulous about, he laid it on the table between them and went to the window. “It was twelve years ago today.” Sander knew that, and had taken care that everyone that was going to come into direct contact with Hugh did as well. “I guess you kind of realized that was what I was thinking about just now. It was as if I were there all over again. The entire day rolls through my mind like a loop every day.” “Yes, sir. I can understand that.” He just looked at him, and Sander didn’t even bother to apologize for calling him sir. “We can do this some other time, if you wish. Tomorrow is just as good. There is nothing really that important here that we can’t just do tomorrow.” “No. I need to get this done today.” He came back to the table and picked up the discarded file. “Everything is in their names now, right? James and Becky Mullins will get everything if something should happen to me?”  “Yes.” He started to say sir, but one look from Hugh told him he’d not get away with it a second time. “Yes, they’re named as sole heirs to your estate, and Mr. Mullins, their father, is to care for it for them until they reach the age of eighteen. Mrs. Mullins will also receive a payout to do with as she chooses. The rest, the castle and the other properties attached to the estate there, is to be diverted to the burg, and they can do with it as they please.” As the man he had worked for since that terrible day twelve years ago read over the will he’d had him draw up, Sander looked around the room. It was the most un-office like area that he’d ever been in. Not to mention that no one looked like they worked there, but instead seemed as if they were just the cleaning crew or held some other job that didn’t require them to dress up. That was, in fact, frowned upon. No ties or briefcases where allowed. If they had to take things to and from work, they carried a backpack or some other form of carry all. Jackets were the kind that you wore in the winter, not the ones that gave you the appearance that you were someone important. To Hugh McGuire, everyone was the same. And he treated his staff that way as well. He was quirky, as he’d heard others call him, but that came with what he’d suffered, he was sure.
Hugh McGuire was nothing like his father, yet he was just like him. While his father had an air that said he was one of them, nobody ever believed it. Not really. With the younger Hugh, he was just like them, if you forgot about how rich he was. There had seldom been an occasion when he didn’t go out with them when invited. Birthdays were never forgotten, and he seldom forgot a person’s name or those of their family. Hugh was a man of men, a hardworking man who had never gotten over the tragedy of his parents being killed. Then there was his feeling about suits. Everyone just assumed that it had to do with the day that had changed his life, but it was more than that. And mostly due to the men who had stood guard at his bedside when he’d been in the hospital. There had been five men in suits, all of them armed and none of them friendly. Hugh had tried to engage them in conversation, talk to them about what he was feeling. None of them had acknowledged the wounded young man in the bed. When Sander had asked their boss why they couldn’t simply talk to him, help him when he needed it, the man had glared at him. It was their job, he’d been told, not to get friendly with the client. So for nearly six months they stood there, their hands on their weapons and staring at the door as if someone would come in and try to harm him. Men in suits, Hugh told Sander, were the worst kind of people. But there were other things that made him stand out with his peers. Not just his ability to read a person without much information and know everything about them, including what type of home life the person had, but also their worth. As in what kind of worker they were at a glance. How hard they would work, and the best possible job for them. It mattered little what their education level was; he would know what they were better suited for. And he was never wrong. So at almost thirty-five he was the richest man in the world, and also the loneliest. Not to say he didn’t have friends, but Sander doubted any of them knew the real man. Nor the ability he had inherited from his mother that had given him the boost up when it came to money. The young man could see the changes in the climate of a business better than anyone Sander knew, and had made them both very rich. Sander listened to his boss better than he did his own wife. However, he’d never say that to her. “This is good. Send it out to the right people.”  As he stood up, so did Sander. There were a couple of other things he needed from his boss, but was hesitant to ask right now. Not today, at any rate. Hugh turned to him and Sander just nodded. Not asking him would not get him the answer he needed. When Hugh smiled at him, Sander decided that now was as good a time as any. “There is that thing tonight. I’ve already said that you are unable to attend, but Mrs. Bennett has asked that you escort her and Mr. Bennett.” Hugh was shaking his head even before he finished. “She said that if…she told me to tell you that if you didn’t go, she’d hunt you down and eat your arm off. I’m pretty sure that she wasn’t kidding, either.” Mrs. Bennett, like Sander, was a panther. She was by far meaner than he was when she needed to be, and she scared him to death each time she called to speak to him. He
was just glad that no one, not even Mr. Mullins, Hugh’s best friend, knew where the offices were. He feared the lovely Mrs. Bennett more than he cared to admit. “I’ll talk to her.” Sander’s relief was profound. “In the meantime, make sure there’s enough staff on hand to answer questions, as well as food for them all. I don’t want anyone complaining that this thing was a bust. And you did make sure that there were donations from the estate? As well as bids on the things we talked about?” “Yes. There is the trip, as well as the paintings that were donated. And there are several other pieces that you expressed a desire to put there as well. The bids that we discussed are with the proper people to use as necessary. No one’s donation will not get bought.” Hugh nodded. “Security has been hired as well, and there are several appraisers on hand to make sure that there are no problems with things that are bought. Just as last year.” Sander knew that no matter what they did, there would be at least one or two things crop up that had been forgotten, but for the most part, things went smoothly. The function was a Christmas fundraiser that had been held annually by Hugh’s mother before she’d been killed. The McGuire name had never been attached to it, nor was it now. But they did raise a great deal of money for the children of the world, and would continue to do so long after the people attending tonight were gone. “Hugh, there is one more thing.” Hugh turned and looked at him. Sander didn’t want to talk to him about this, but there really wasn’t anyone else. “It’s about my retirement, sir. You do know that next week is my last week. And we’ve yet to settle on who is taking my place. I hate to bring this up now, today of all days, but we must settle things.” “I don’t want you to leave me.” He sounded so wounded that Sander almost told him that he’d stay. But he had to go. It was time…he and his wife wanted to have some time, now that their children were all gone, to see a little of the world. “What will I do without you?” “You will survive, sir, as you have done before.” He looked at the scar on his forehead, the one that the monster had given him all those years ago. “My wife said that if I allow you to talk me into staying she will harm us both. I’d believe her if I were you, sir; she is quite set on seeing France and all those other countries I’ve been to on business for you. She and I want to see the world, one city at a time, before we leave this world.” Nodding, Hugh made his way to the door out of his office, but paused there. Sander would do anything for this man, as he had his father before him. But the son, unlike his father, was the genuine article, as his wife said about Hugh…a true man and gentleman. Sander knew that Hugh was a man that was also fighting the worse kind of demons, his own self. “Set me up some interviews for early in the week. Only the ones that you think will work out. I don’t want anyone coming here that…that might want more from me than I have to give.” He told him he would. “And Sander, make sure that they have no priors before they get in the building, please. I don’t want anyone hurt.”
“I’ll make sure that they’re investigated completely.” As Hugh left the area and made his way to the bank of elevators that only went to this floor, he asked him about the last thing. “What of the other, sir? I haven’t…there is the matter of the buildings that needs to be taken care of, as well as the endowment to the burg. What shall I tell them should they ring here again?” “My parents loved that place. And all that went with it.” He turned and looked at him then. The anguish was there, as it was whenever he talked of his parents. “I’ll go there this weekend and see what I can figure out. See if Drew and his family can come with me. I know that they’re working on getting their house in order, so maybe they can use a break from all that. Don’t tell them where we’re going, but that…perhaps your wife would like to go as well? It would be a nice start to your vacationing. Then you can settle up there and get going on that trip.” “I’ll see what she would like to do.” He smiled, knowing that his wife would leap at the chance to go to England. “I’ll take care of the arrangements, as well as any paperwork that the others will need. Anything else?” “No. Not that I can think of right now.” Pressing the button to go down, Hugh smiled at him. It wasn’t the best smile he’d ever seen, but there it was. “I remembered about you leaving, Sander, just so you know.” The doors closed and Sander wasn’t able to reply, even if he had known what to say. Whatever he’d meant by that, Sander would have to wait to ask him when he saw him next. Going to his office, he went to his desk to call his wife and mention the trip to England. She was going to be so happy. But the phone was ringing before he could pick it up. “Oh Sander, you should see it. Oh my goodness, Hugh must have spent a fortune on just the wrapping alone. And it’s so pretty that I don’t want to…I wish you were home with me now. I can hardly contain myself from opening it.” He was ready to ask her what she meant when his doorway was suddenly filled with a large box. And it was topped with a large red ribbon. The men who had brought it in just dropped it off and left, not saying a word or having him sign for it. Sander realized his wife was still talking.  “Honey, I have a box here. From Hugh as well.” She squealed, and he had to take the phone from his ear or risk having it explode. Laughing, he continued. “I’m to assume that you’re excited about it, correct? Is your name on it, love?” “Yes. Is that one addressed to you? Oh, I do so hope it is.” He told her it was. “Then I’m opening mine. I’ll call you back when…oh, just open it and I’ll open mine. Then call me when you have it opened.” The phone went dead and he approached the large box. No, that wasn’t right, it was huge. At least six foot tall and that deep as well. And the width of it had to be four or five feet. Sander pulled off the card and read it. “‘Happy retirement, my friend. My parents would have wanted you to have this. I know that I do as well. Take your lovely wife out right, and when you return, I expect to see hundreds of pictures. Send me a postcard too.’” He stared at the card then at the box, almost afraid, like his wife had said, to mess it up…it was that beautiful.
The large red ribbon on the top hung about halfway down the sides. The sides, just thick cardboard covered in paper, he could see now, were held together by string. The heavy kind, but string all the same. The wrapping paper was decorated in large balloons of every color one could imagine, and on each was his name. He was almost afraid to open it. Not for fear, but whatever was inside would be epic, he knew. Pulling on the strings that were tied in a smaller bow than the one on top, he watched as the sides fell open and the top floated down quietly. As they filled the floor, all he could do was stare at the contents. This was more than he could have ever dreamed of receiving, and he knew that for as long as he lived, he’d never be able to thank Hugh enough. Picking up the phone when it rang again, he stared at his gift while his wife spoke. “It’s not real, is it, Sander? He couldn’t have done this for us. It’s too much.” Sander told her he believed that it was and he had. “Sander, he gave us a trip of a lifetime. Several lifetimes. However will we be able to thank him?” The large globe was decorated with envelopes. Each of them stated a country, state, as well as a city. Each one, like the one he’d pulled off when his wife called, would be filled with a plane ticket, an address where they were going to be, as well as a credit card to be spent on food and dining. A second card had been marked for entertainment, as well as any incidentals that they might need. Below the globe was brand new luggage that was spilling out clothing, as well as both casual and dress shoes. There were other boxes too, none of them opened, and Sander could only guess at their contents right now. This really was too much. “We enjoy ourselves is how we repay him. Take this gift and have the best time we can.” She was crying now, and his own eyes filled with tears. “I do believe that he’s the best man I’ve ever known. His parents would have been so proud of him.”

Sterling: Calhoun Men Release Day & Giveaway

Marty liked her life just fine. She was alone in the world, and waiting on tables would get her by until she finished college, but the girl she was training wasn’t working out. And the girl got her fired–now what was she supposed to do? She needed that job to survive.

Sterling Calhoun’s encounter with the she-devil was over, but the nightmares still lingered. The only thing that helped him deal with the nightmarish pain were his paintings. And through is Grandda he met Marty, his mate, but Sterling hadn’t been himself for a very long time…. 

Marty knew a few shifters, so she knew what it meant when Sterling told her she was his mate. Oh, hell no, this guy had to be nuts, the “mates” she knew were a strange lot, and she didn’t want any part of it….
I BOOKS  Coming Soon 
Johanna, better known as Joe, had been a day walker for her only friend, Noah, for centuries. An immortal with eight hundred years under her belt, she had become proficient in several languages and occupations. When her friend Noah talked about meeting the sun, she had every intention of following in his path. 

Joe had only gone to the Calhoun’s office to catch a ride to the estate. When she entered, it took her breath away to see the younger man on the floor and no one doing a damn thing to help him. 

Trent Calhoun had forgotten how to have fun. Diving into his work was what kept him happy. At 33 he had no life, so when he had a heart attack, his doctor said to change his ways or else.

When the gorgeous woman stumbled into his hospital room, Trent thought his dad was up to his old tricks again―that was until he caught her scent…. Now, because of his wolf, he’s face to face with an angry vampire….
Noelle was in somewhat of a pickle. She had researched the Calhoun firm―Elijah Calhoun in particular―before she made the appointment, but she was having second and third thoughts about hiring the firm after she got there. All her research indicated she could trust them, but big men scared the hell out of her, and the place was full of them.

Elijah had been running a tad late for work, so his brother Trent took his first appointment. Elijah never dreamed that the woman he had an appointment with was his future mate…and she needed his protection.

Noelle’s stepfather wasn’t their only problem. Elijah’s brother Sterling’s nightmares had gotten worse and somehow the creature that had marked him was controlling his actions as well…no one was safe….
Chloe Davis was giving up. She thought for sure the owners of the computer shop she worked for were responsible for her father’s death, but in all the time she’d worked there she’d not been able to find enough evidence to prove it, so as far as she was concerned she was out of there. Her boss, George, on the other hand had other ideas. As far as he was concerned she wasn’t going anywhere…by force if necessary.

Scott Calhoun was just trying to help his grandfather get the young woman to safety, the last thing he expected was for her to be his mate. And he wasn’t happy about it either. Scott was a Dom, and he liked his sex hard and rough and his women submissive…this woman was a spitfire, and he was pretty sure he’d scare her off with his demands…. As far as he was concerned he was a deviant, not mate material. 

But when Chloe and Scott come together, they both find more than they expected…Scott has finally met his match. Now, if everyone would stop trying to kill them, they might live long enough to enjoy each other.
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Alta set a plate full of food in front of him, and Sterling stared at it before looking up at her. She’d been with him for nearly four months now, and he was sure that he was about as fattened up as he was going to get. She smiled at him and told him to eat. “I’m thinking you’re either fattening me up for a huge dinner, or you think I’m still skinny. First, I’m not Santa, and second…. Well, second, I’m not that hungry anymore.” She patted him on the cheek and walked away as he started putting butter on his pancakes. “Did I tell you that I’m supposed to host Christmas this year? I haven’t any idea why I got volunteered. I guess I should pay more attention when they’re all talking.” “They do love to talk, your family.” He nodded as she handed him a platter of bacon and sausage. “Randal is coming. I think he should be here any second.” The back door opened and there stood his brother covered in snow. He was brushing it off his head as he was telling Alta that he could eat again. When he sat across from him, stealing one of his pieces of bacon, Alta gave him pancakes as well. “Mom sent me over. And Grandma wants to know if you have enough decorations for Christmas.” He said he had some. “I’m also supposed to tell you that once you’re ready to start with the decorations, you’re to call Mom. She said don’t forget. Wanna go shopping with me?” “No. I have work to do, and Noelle has a list of things she needs me to pick up as well. I guess she’s been making some pretty good deals with a few vampires that Noah knows.” Randal finished his breakfast before he did, which didn’t surprise Sterl. He didn’t have live-in help and no one cooked for him. “Why did Mom send you here?” “Mostly to make sure that you’re eating well and that you’re not lazing around the house. I haven’t any idea why she thinks that, but she told me to see about you. And I think she’s still pissed at Grandda. He should have known better than to be late for dinner on Friday.” They both laughed. “Did I tell you that I’m interviewing for help at the house?” “I’ve got someone coming to your house this afternoon, Mr. Randal. You can hire him or not, but you should know that he’s a better cook than I am.” Sterl didn’t ask, but was glad that Randal did about what the person was. “Witch, and Myra said for you to call her when you have a moment. She wants to talk to you about something.” “I can do that.” While they discussed how to get in touch with the witch, Sterl zoned out. He really did have a list of things to do today, and most of it had nothing to do with the things he had to pick up for Noelle. They were business partners. Mostly he worked upstairs in her antique shop, but when she wanted someone to come along with her on buying trips, or to lift heavy things, he went to take care that she didn’t lift much. Noelle was having twins in the early spring and everyone watched over her.  The thing on his list that he had tried to avoid for several weeks now was the meeting with his grandma. She told him if he bailed on her today that she’d tell everyone his 
secret. He was sure that most of them knew that he painted, but the rest of his secret was something he was afraid of them finding out.  He was afraid that Joe knew already, and that she was in on this whole thing with him having a gallery opening. Sterl wasn’t ready for that. He had been working a great deal, painting whatever popped into his head, but he’d not shown anyone his work except his grandma. And only then because she’d barged in and simply pulled out his canvases and looked for herself. “You need this as much as I do.” He told Grandma that he didn’t need it. “Yes, you do. You need for people to sit up and take notice of you. You’re very talented, and I for one cannot wait to see what others say about you.” “They’re not going to care. And if they do, I can’t imagine that their words would be kind.” She smacked him on the back of his head. “Grandma, you know that I’m telling you the truth. I’ve had no formal training other than a few classes at the YMCA when I was a kid. I like painting because it’s relaxing to me. I don’t want someone to tell me it’s crap.” “No one had better tell you it’s crap.” He laughed at her tone. “All right, I did walk right into that one, but they’re going to love you as much as I do. And if you find yourself a mate, I’m sure she’ll love it as well.” And now, today as a matter of fact, he was going with Grandma to talk to a person who owned a gallery willing to show his work. This man, Sullivan, was a friend of the family, she’d told him, so he was sure this was happening because of that and not his talent. Or the lack of it. Sterl wasn’t looking forward to this any more than he was decorating his house for Christmas. His heart, he thought, just wasn’t into it. After Randal left, he went up to change. He was wearing a suit for this meeting, but bringing some jeans to wear afterwards when he went to pick up some furniture. He was going out the door when Myra was suddenly standing in front of him. “It’s today.” He nodded, then realized that he had no idea what she was talking about. “Remember when I told you that someone was coming, a male?”  “Yes. You said they were going to come to mean a great deal to me. I’ve been thinking about what you said, and I’m not sure about this.” She asked him why not. “I have no idea, but I’m still a little skittish around people, and I’m not sure that I could handle someone else in my life right now when I don’t even have my own set.” “Sometimes life gives you little bumps to keep you on your toes.” He told her that he wasn’t ready for bumps, little or large. “You’ll be fine. Also, I wanted to tell you about the gallery opening that you’re going to have. It’s going to be epic, and the Bentleys want to go to it when you’re all set up.” He started to ask her how she’d found out, but decided that he didn’t want to know. Instead, he grabbed his coat and made his way to his car. Sterl was slightly afraid of Myra and the Bentleys, but didn’t say anything. When Myra was seated in his car when he started it up, he looked over at her. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with the gallery.” She said that she did. “Well, don’t tell me. I’m not sure I want any disappointment right now.” 
“Why do you believe you’ll be disappointed? Never mind. I can see it in your heart. You’re very talented, young man. And as your grandmother says, it’s time you let the world know it.” He backed out of the garage and pulled into the busy street in front of his house. “Will you at least promise me that when you have it set up you’ll let me know?” “Since I’m sure that you know the answer to that, I’m not going to say. I’m supposed to meet my grandma in an hour. Are you going as well?” She told him that she was too busy today, but would sometime soon. “Good. And if you have a few minutes, my house could use some decorations for Christmas.” He regretted it the moment it left his mouth, but she disappeared with a grin. He was sure his house would be as outlandish as Myra was. She was the brightest and most colorful woman he knew. And she even changed the color of her hair and shoes to match whatever she had on her body. He was going to come home to a house in plaid, he knew it. His grandma was waiting for him at the diner, and as he made his way there, he thought about what he was about to do, which was be publicly humiliated. His grandma would tell him that he was being silly—or worse, selfish—if he wasn’t willing to give it a shot, but Sterl had taken a good hard look at his work and knew people were going to be disturbed by it. He’d been hurt. Badly. Not just from the accident that had killed some of his friends, but the she-devil that had done it to them all. This thing, a true she-devil, had decided that, for whatever reason, he was going to father the monsters she was going to use to take over the world. She had invaded his dreams, his mind, as well as his health to get what she wanted. It had taken his family all working together with a pair of witches, Chris Bentley and Myra, as well as a demon, to set him free of her and get her out of his life. And painting had helped him do that. He joined his grandma at the table and she laughed at him. Sterl loved his grandma, all of his family really, but this woman could make him feel like he was king of the world with just a smile. But today, he wasn’t sure that he had it in him.  “I’m not really thrilled about this. First of all, they’re going to laugh at us, and secondly, I’m not sure this is going to get me anywhere but in a loony bin.” She told him he was going to be fine. “You keep saying that, and I’m not any closer to believing you than I was before you got this idea in your head.” “Darling, have I ever steered you wrong before?” He shook his head. “Then you just have to believe me that this is going to be good for you. You might even have to give me credit with your family over this. Especially your grandda. He’s been an old poop lately.” “I’ll give you credit either way. And Grandda is always a poop when he wants to be. He’s never going to believe that he’s wrong about anything.” She slapped her hand gently on his. “When do we have to meet this person?” “In two hours. I thought we’d leave now and then have plenty of time. You have your work in the car?” He assured her that he’d wrapped up what she’d told him to bring. “Good. You’ll see, Sterling, this will be just perfect. Why, I’d bet by the end of this meeting, he’ll be begging for more of your work. And I’d not be surprised if he wants to 
set things up right away. His family has been in this business for a very long time, and they know quality work when they see it.” He was driving them there slowly, even though the snow had stopped now, it was still slick. He hated to drive in this type of weather, or any for that matter, but they were going to get this over with. Then there was the fact that several times along the way he thought about pulling over and throwing up. This was a bad idea, and he wasn’t sure that anyone would think his work was anything but crap. But he gripped his steering wheel and drove to what he was considering the last stand.  ~~~ Isaac was excited to have his meeting. He knew that he was supposed to be doing a favor for a very nice person. Jasmine Calhoun had been a friend of his mother and grandmother for a very long time. And was now becoming one of his. He looked at his watch again and saw that the meeting was just over an hour away, and decided to go and find his brother.  Robert, even as his twin, was as different from him as they could get. While Isaac was tall and thin, Rob was five or so inches shorter and heavier. Not fat, not yet anyway, but not slim either. Laziness attributed to most of his weight gain, and drugs the rest of it. Isaac thought his divorce was making him drink more. Their mother had always thought it was Isaac’s fault because he’d been successful and Rob hadn’t. The logic of his mom had been out there, but he’d hired Rob to help when pressed by his parents just before they both were killed a few months ago in an accident. Robert had been born second. And his birth, according to his parents, had just about ended his mom’s life. Not true. Isaac had done some investigating and found that neither delivery had been that bad, and that their mom had sailed through both like a trooper. The only thing that had happened was their father, Robert also, had passed out when told there was a second child. Robert, his brother, was sleeping on the floor behind his desk, naked, when Isaac went into his office. He’d been there when Isaac had left last night and covered him up with a blanket from his office. Shaking his head, he woke his brother with a kick to his feet. It was nearing one o’clock, and it looked as if he’d not moved since he left him on the floor last night at six. “What the fuck, Isaac? Can’t a person take a little breather without you waking them up? Go away and leave me alone. I have a pounding headache and you’re not helping.” He told him no, that when at work he expected him to do just that, work. “Well, I’ve gotten a lot done if you want to know the truth. I’ve been really busy until about ten minutes ago.” “Oh yeah? Well, then you’re better than most. You’ve been there on the floor since last night. Might have been longer, but I went home and you were there. What the hell have you been doing if not sleeping?” Robert only glared at him as he sat up. There were two empty bottles under him, large ones of some sort of liquor. “Robert, I told you no drinking while here. You can do whatever you want at home, but no alcohol here at work. Damn it, this is a job, not a playroom for you to enjoy yourself in.” 
“You have no idea what I’m suffering with, Isaac. You should cut me some slack. Mary left me and took my children.” He told him to get up and clean himself up. “I will. Christ, you’re a hard ass. Why I ever thought working for you would be a piece of cake I have no idea.” Isaac didn’t say what was right on the tip of his tongue. He could have pointed out that if he’d been less of a drunk, or perhaps gotten a paying job instead of stealing, she might have stayed. Or that his children never saw him because he was either too drunk to move or at a bar. The fact that he was unhappy at not seeing them now was senseless. Then there was the added fact that the divorce had been finalized almost a year and a half ago, not recently as Robert tended to let people think. “I have a meeting at two, so you need to get cleaned up and sober before they arrive. I want you to be in it with me so that you can see how it works.” Robert said he didn’t think he wanted to. “Rob, I gave you a job against my better judgement. And so far, you’ve done nothing toward making me think I’ve made even a reasonable investment. Either start working or I will fire you.” “Yeah? And what do you think Mom would say to that? You hired me because she told you to. You won’t be able to fire me for the same reason. You owe me. I’ve not had as easy a life as you have. And my family left me. Mom is gone now, but you know as well as I that a death promise is the worst kind to break.” He laid back down as he continued. “I’m going to take a nap then go to lunch. I don’t even know if I’ll return.”  Isaac Sullivan wasn’t a violent man. He rarely lost his temper even a little, but right now he thought he could have easily beaten the living shit out of Robert and not felt a single bit of regret. As he stood up, he snatched the blanket off his brother and smiled when he started cursing at him. Going to his own office, he sat at his desk and pulled up the camera that he had installed in Rob’s office right before hiring him. At the advice of his attorney, he’d done what he’d been told to keep his brother in line. It hadn’t worked so far, and for whatever reason, Isaac was sure that it never would. The camera, Blake had told him, would go a long way in making sure that when he did end up firing Robert, not if but when, that he’d have enough evidence on him to make it stick. Just as he was ready to turn it off, he saw the rewind button and went back to noon yesterday. More than twenty-four hours before. Rob was at his desk, but he wasn’t alone. He had two women in the room with him, one of them naked on his desk, the other down on her knees in front of him. It was sickening to see Robert naked, but he watched as not only did the sex get violent, but one of the women had been hurt when Rob hit her hard enough to have her lying still nearly an hour later. Isaac thought he had to watch it then, if for no other reason than to make sure that Robert hadn’t dragged the dead woman off somewhere and left her to rot. He didn’t watch his brother, but the woman. She wasn’t moving, and it wasn’t until Robert had finished that the other woman had gone to help her up. Both women staggered out of the room and into the elevator. He wondered why no one had commented on it, and was surprised to watch the guards turn their backs on the two as they left the building.  
It took him nearly ten minutes to figure out what was going on. It wasn’t that they were covering for Rob, but more than likely figured since he was his brother there would be nothing done about it. Isaac decided that he was going to have a little talk with his security team and end this shit once and for all. Going down in the elevator, he also decided to fire his brother today. To hell with his mom and the death promises she’d made him agree to. If Robert wasn’t such an ass, he might have glossed over everything. But Robert was, and was going to cause them a great deal of trouble at the rate he was going.  After five minutes of talking with his team, Isaac knew that what he had guessed was correct. Nor was it the first time that his brother had done this. He’d been bringing in not just women, but all sorts of people during and after hours at his own pleasure. After assuring the security team that they’d not lose their jobs, he asked if they had all the records of when he’d brought women in. It had occurred a total of seven times in the five weeks that Robert had been employed there. And that wasn’t counting the night shift, which was supposed to do the same thing. Fuck. “All right. This is what I want you to do. He’s in his office. I’d like for you to go up there and help him leave.” Bill, his top guard, just quirked a brow at him. “I don’t care if you have to drag him out by his feet, I want him out of here now. And I’ll call my attorney to tell him what I’ve done. Oh, you should take precautions when touching him. He’s naked. Christ, why did I ever do this? Anyway, get him out of here now.” “He’s not going to be happy. From what I’ve observed, he’s pretty much made this place his play house.” Isaac nodded and told him he was sorry. “No need for you to be sorry, sir. It’s us that should be. He told us when he started here that you’d given him the keys to the place, and that if he didn’t get his way, we’d be fired. We all have families, and this is a good job despite having to deal with him. I’m just sorry that we believed him.” “I didn’t know. I want you to know that, I didn’t know.” Bill told him again that he should have told him from the start. “It’s fine. We’ll get him out of here and moved on. I don’t think it’ll be as easy as that, but I want him gone.” After talking to his attorney, he decided that he was going to be all right. That nothing could come back and bite him in the ass. However, the moment that the elevators opened, Isaac could hear his brother cursing, and the men helping him laughing.  “Isaac, I certainly hope you have a good reason for this. This is no way to treat your brother and your partner. Tell them to let me go.” He said that he did have a good reason, and that they were not partners in anything. “Well, I can’t imagine what it would be. And I told you that we should sign off on us being fifty-fifty in this place. Now I’m not so sure that I want to. Tell these men to unhand me and I’ll not call my attorney. You know as well as I do that this isn’t going to look good in the papers. You’re supposed to have this great reputation, right? How do you think this is going to look?” “I do have one. But you do not. And I don’t care for the way you’ve mistreated me and this gallery, so I think, in that regard, I can finally do something about it. You’re fired, Rob. And it’s no less than you deserve after all the things that you’ve done, not to mention 
not done since you’ve been here.” Robert asked him if he was talking about the missing cash. “No. I was talking about the hookers that you brought in. What missing money?” “What did you expect me to do? Live off what you were paying me? Fuck that shit. I sold a few of the paintings that were here, as well as got into the safe. It wasn’t like you would miss anything. And I was right, you didn’t.” Robert laughed and jerked from the guard. “I’m willing to forget this whole thing if you just give me a little more each week, say about another grand, and I’ll think about not calling the police or my attorney. You know I will, Isaac. I’m not kidding around this time. This is just stupid.” “I don’t care. And you don’t have an attorney, Robert. The one that I have, I pay. What will you do for money if you do find one to sue me? They require you to shell out some cash when you’re asking them to do something for you.” He looked at the men standing with Robert. “Take him out, please, and don’t forget to get his badge as well as any company keys he has on him. Bill, will you please inform the parking garage that Robert no longer works here, and not to allow him to park on the premises? Thank you. And good luck, Robert. I have a feeling that you’re going to need it.”  He was handed the badge as well as Rob’s parking permit and a key ring that had more keys on it than he’d given him. Such as one to the front door, as well as the conference rooms. When asked, Rob said he’d stolen his keys and made copies of them. Isaac asked him where he’d gotten them. “I’m your brother. Surely you didn’t think I should be begging to be let in and out of this place. For Christ’s sake, Isaac, you should treat me better than you do.” He asked him why. “I’m telling you right now, Isaac, if you do this, you’re going to regret it for a very long time. I’m not one to fuck with. I have friends in very high places, you know.” “You’re fired, Robert. And I’m not frightened of you. I’m also going to inform you that you’ll have to find yourself transportation, as the limo service will no longer be there for you. Also, any and all paintings that you’ve taken from here and sold will have to be paid for, by you.” Robert said he wasn’t paying. “We’ll see about that.” As he was taken out the door, three men dragging him across the floor, Isaac leaned back against the wall and tried to think why his brother was like this. He knew that it was his mom for the most part, but Dad hadn’t helped either. When Bill told him it was done, he thanked him again. “No need for that. But if you think this is done, then you’d be mistaken.” Isaac said he was aware of that and wanted him to take precautions. “I can do that. I’ll have some extra guards at the parking garage as well as in the lobby. Also, if you don’t mind, I’ll have the locks changed out. I have no doubt that he would have made more than one copy.” “You’re more than likely right. Also, I’d like for you to detain anyone that comes here looking for Robert. I have a feeling that we’ve not heard the last of them either.” Bill asked him if his brother really told on him like he was five. “Yes. And has done it our entire life, even when it wasn’t possible for me to have done whatever misdeed he blamed on me. But promising my mom that I’d make sure that Robert had a job when I knew that I shouldn’t was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made.”  
Looking at his watch, he realized that his appointment was in twenty minutes. Isaac wasn’t nearly as excited as he had been, but also, he was relieved that his brother wasn’t going to be there to fuck things up. He’d known it was a mistake taking Robert on, but he thought that at thirty-seven, he might have grown up a bit.  The Calhouns arrived right on time. He liked Mrs. Calhoun anyway, and found that he truly enjoyed the company of the younger man. As he showed them around the gallery, he had only one thought in his head. This man was going to be famous if his work was half as good as his grandmother had told Isaac. He pointed out places where he thought his work would be best displayed. Isaac also mentioned the preopening that he wanted to have, as well as the fliers to be printed, and who was catering the event. Sterling said nothing, but he could see the gleam of excitement in his eyes. The man was as shy about his work as Jasmine had told him. “Now, you’ve seen the place. I’d very much like to see some of your work. When can we arrange it?” Sterling, Sterl he said to call him, told him that he had a few of his pieces in his car. Sending out the security team to bring them in, Isaac was impressed. “I have seen a few pictures of your work. Your grandmother was most accommodating. And if it’s half as good as I think it’ll be, you’re going to have a wonderful gallery presence.” “Grandma told me that there was no point in waiting, that I should just show you from the start. And while I’m happy for the opportunity to do this, please don’t feel obligated in taking it because you’re friends with her.” Isaac assured him that he wouldn’t do that. “You most likely won’t care for them. I started painting again at a low point in my life, and I think that my work shows it. It’s very dark. A lot of it is nightmarish in the way I’ve painted it, and a great many people might be upset by it.” As soon as the first painting was uncovered, Isaac could see the pain. Almost feel it in his own heart. The paintings were dark, haunting, and revealed a great deal about the artist. He hadn’t had an easy time in his life, and he was good. Very good.  Isaac walked around the six paintings four times. Each time he looked at each of them, he saw a little more. Felt a little harder the pain of the man. There was a great deal of feeling in them, none of it good. But the work on them, the art, was outstanding. More than that, it was perfection. As he stood in front of the last one again, he asked Sterl if he had any more. “Yes. Ten more. All with the same darkness. I’m not there any longer, but I still feel the need to put it to canvas. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel a need to paint landscapes.” Isaac told him that he hoped he never painted those. “You don’t care for them, do you? It’s all right. I understand that—” “Sterl, I think you’re amazing. I’d like to run a gallery opening with all your work.” Sterl was shaking his head. “I’m serious. These are…words fail me on how good these are. And the darkness of them will appeal to a great many people on all kinds of levels. Yes, we’re going to do well, you and I.” 

Thoughts About Past Thanksgiving Days.

Thanksgiving wasn’t about having a turkey and all the trimmings for us as children.  But it was about being thankful. It wasn’t about watching the big game on the television, but it was about family and friends.  It was about providing.  Providing for our families with what we did that day.

Providing a place where neighbors and families got together and helped each other.  Providing a foundation for people to make it through the winter months with meat on the table and warmth in their hearts – knowing that hard work and friendship made it possible.

When Thanksgiving morning dawned there wasn’t the scent of turkey roasting in the oven or pumpkin pies cooling on the credenza.  It was the last of the sausage frying in the huge cast iron skillet, ham sizzling right next to it.  Cornbread with cracklings and fresh butter warmed from the heat of the kitchen.

Grams would be hard at work in the kitchen when we arrived.  Everyone knew to bring their own coffee, as it was known that she made the worst brew in several counties.  But it mattered little; they knew when they pushed back from her table groaning with the weight of the food, you’d be full for hours.

Pancakes were not present at this feast, but nearly everything else was.  Ham and red eyed gravy, sausage and eggs, biscuits and cornbread, there would be mounds of fried potatoes with thick sliced onions.  And gallons of fresh milk, taken from the cow at the neighbor’s barn just hours before.

The food,however,wasn’t the real reason for this gathering. Before we sat down to eat, the men would have been busy digging a pit to put the large vat over to boil water.  The pit would be six feet long and several feet deep.  I could never tell how deep because the men who worked on it never stood in it when I was around – but I’d say three feet at least.  It would then be filled with wood – fallen trees that needed clearing and branches from the spring storms.  Cords of wood stacked close to  keep the water hot over the next several days.

The water would need to be carted by hand from the hand cranked pump.  I don’t remember ever seeing a hose, though I’m sure they had been around.  Once it was going well, then we’d converge on the kitchen in the main house.

Mostly the younger men would be responsible for the fire while the adults would be doing the actual job in the paddock

My Grandpa had a special knife that was used.  It was honed to a precise edge and sharp enough to cut a sheet of paper that was dropped over it.  It was not used for any other time of the year or for any other purpose than to kill the hogs.

We didn’t use a gun because we had been taught to never waste anything.  So to use a gun to kill them, would ruin the brains that my Grams and Mother loved to eat with their scrambled eggs.

My dad would simply walk among the pigs that had come to trust him.  A trust he had encouraged specially for this time of year.  He would walk up to the ones that had been chosen and slit their throats.

I won’t go into detail here.  Suffice it to say that it was a sad affair and often made us upset for several days afterward.

Once the hog had died, he or she would be pulled out dipped in the boiling water to strip off all the mud and then make it easier for the course hair to be shaved off.  Then hung from the rafters of the barn to be finished dressing out.

Over a week’s time we would work cutting and dividing.  Preparing the meat to be ground into sausage or hung in the smokehouse to be preserved for the rest of the year.  Careful marks were made on the hooks to ensure that neighbors got their meat, though no one had ever thought my Grandpa would cheat them.

My Grams would save the funny sheets for weeks before the day in hopes of keeping our attention for a few minutes during the days that followed.  She would tell us that Santa would leave us special gifts if he chose our brightly colored pictures in lines across the sheets.  It worked too, every year and every Thanksgiving.

Her manual sewing machine would clang along sewing the sausage bags together to be filled with the delicious concoction.  I’ll never forget taking a stack out to the sausage house to have them filled only to find she had sewn all the openings closed on the entire stack.  When I took them back, she said that she had meant to do that.  If they were going to make her stay in the house with all of us kids then they’d have to take what she gave them. She paid each of twenty-five cents to take the tiny stitches out for her – not each bag, but for the entire job.  We loved her that much.

At the end of the two weeks, there would be no more trucks in the yard, no more fire blowing up and sparking in the night sky.  The blood would be washed away, the tools cleaned and put away until the following year.  Plans would have been made to breed the sow’s that were left and which neighbor would be bringing their male over to cover the female.  The tractor would be back in the barn and it would be closed up tight against the cold.

My Grandparents are gone as I’ve mentioned before.  I miss them terribly and wonder what they would think of my family if they could see them.  I’m sure they would be proud.  I know that I am. I’m also sure they would fuss.  I’d welcome that too.

From our home to yours, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Pancakes on Easter Morn

There are times in everyone’s life that you remember well. I myself have a great many of them. Some of them are so strong, that I need only to close my eyes and I can still smell the small dab of vanilla flavoring my Grams would put behind each ear as her perfume. I can still feel the rough whiskers on my Gramps weathered cheek as I leaned in to kiss him. I see the bright green of Grams eyes, the twinkling blue of my Gramps. I hear their laughter, their voices as they sat and talked over their days. And I can still taste the pancakes Grams made on Easter Morn.
My family went to church every Sunday. We went to choir practice on Monday nights, Wednesdays found us there for mid-week services and bright and early to Bible school every summer. We would all load into my parents Dodge Rambler, pick up Grams and head on in to the Baptist church. It was the only time in the whole summer we would be required to wear shoes.
But on Easter Sunday, for sun rise services we would rise at four in the morning, to celebrate in the resurrection of Christ, our community and our family and friends. We would not take the time to eat on that morning, knowing and anticipating the treasure of Easter breakfast when we went returned to Grams.
The preachers would change over the years. Some of them old, others young, each had a different style, a different idea of what they were trying to convey. One pastor was a woman, though she did not last much longer than a few weeks, she still made her impression in our Sunday rituals. But the services were always the same. Songs sung loud and clear, seldom on key. Children could be heard fussing and mothers hushing them. Occasionally you could hear a soft snore, usually followed by a sharp cough from a direct hit with an elbow to the rib from their spouse. Families would sit in the same pews, in the same order every week.
My family sat in the middle of the church, on the left hand side. We would fill an entire row – the five Deatherage children lined up by age, oldest to the youngest, my mother on one end and my father at the other and then Grams. Sometimes one or more of the men who worked for my father would join us if they were staying with us in our house at the time.
The summer I turned ten, the original church burnt to the ground. Faulty wiring we were told. I wonder now if they meant the church had faulty wiring, or the people who might have been responsible had faulty wiring.
Southern folks don’t take well to change. Nor to anyone who might be different. An African American couple – not what they had been called back then – had moved to the area that summer. They came to our little church their first Sunday they had moved in. I can still remember their fresh faces, the little bundle the Mrs. held so tightly to her breast. They only came the one time; there was no church after that until we built a new one. The next night it burnt to the ground. Rumor was there had also been a cross burning in the young couples yard that night as well.
My Gramps told me that it was sad what was lost. The old pews with the shiny seats from the butts riding up and down them, the toys in the basement that the kids cannot play with anymore. He said that it was a terrible shame, terrible indeed what we had all lost. I thought that he was silly at the time. We were getting all new pews, ones with cushions and brand new toys to play with. And as far as could remember, Gramps had never set foot in the old church, nor did he the new one. He had not been talking about the pews, but the people who sat in them. The change from the tight community that we had once been to the ones who would burn down a country church because someone different had sat in their midst. The toys would never be played with by children untouched by prejudices or bigotry. Their innocent minds would be clouded with doubt and mistrust because their parents were no longer innocent nor without guilt.
Was he this profound, this smart? Yes. I believe he was. My Gramps was a very intelligent man. He was quiet, so quiet that at times one would forget he was there. So he would listen, learn and gather. I’m sure now that he knew who had burned the church, and why.
What does this have to do with pancakes on Easter Sunday? Everything.
My Grams pancakes were special. She would make hundreds of silver dollar pancakes for us every Easter Sunday with her special syrup poured warm all over the stacks. Pounds of bacon were fried, along with equal amounts of fresh smoked sausage. Fresh butter melted down them to make rivers of “gravy” to sop up with the last bite or two. No one left the table hungry, no one left without a groan or two. You could count on being full for several hours easily.
The summer I turned ten was the last time we had her pancakes after church. The last time we rose at four in the morning to get ready to go to sunrise service. The last time we trusted our fellow parishioners.
You see, the little bundle held so tightly in the woman’s arms that morning, the little girl all dressed in pink didn’t make it out of the burning house that night. Supposedly the burning cross, too close to the house caught the little home on fire and it too burned to the ground, taking little Lily with it.
It was years later that I found this out. Many years later before I thought about those people we sat next to, the men and women whose faulty wiring might have taken the life of one so small. My family continued to go to services there. Helped build the new church, taught in the new Sunday school classes. But we never returned for the ice cream socials, the sewing rings or the Christmas pageants. We did not attend Bible school and we never went to another sun rise service either.
I was married in that church, the new one. My husband and I took our vows and pledged ourselves to each other. But I have not been back there since. I have not set foot in that little white church on the hill in over thirty years. I’m not even sure if it still has services, not even sure it still stands.
Did I lose my innocence’s that summer? No. The love of my Grandparents made sure I did not. I went on with my childhood without a care in the world. I had an idealized childhood with my Grandparents and their love. They made me what I am today.
I do not eat pancakes. I cannot care for them. I think I now know why. Funny isn’t it, how something seemingly so small can make such a change in one’s life.
There are many many more memories to go. None of them quite as harsh as this one, but just as vivid that I look forward to putting to paper and sharing. I cannot wait to pull the next one out and walk down the path again.

Her Pet Name

The world is full of stimuli.  It’s a wonderful and vastly different world from the one I grew up in as a child.  In just the few decades since then so much has come into existence.  The smells, textures, tastes.

Today at work, while walking down the hallway towards the bathroom, I walked into a scent that triggered memories from that slower time, the happiest times of my childhood.

The smell was cologne, Old Spice.  My Gramps wore it.  He wore it every day whether he was going to the neighbors or plowing the fields.  The feelings that it evoked had me staggering with the flow of thought snippets.  Immediately I pulled out my paper and pen and began writing the words down that each held a special meaning to it.  Whiskers, chicken, beer, well water, iron – so many memories that I had to lean against a wall for support.

The one that came to mind first was my Gramps.  I lost him when I was just sixteen and the pain of that loss still brings a sudden tear to my eye and a pain in my heart.  He was everything to me.

My cousins and I would spend the entire summer with our Grandparents on their farm.  I was the only girl, but my other three cousins, Johnny, Shermie and Bruce never treated me any differently than they did each other.  We would leave the house at first light and not return until we were nearly starved or it was too dark to see.  Sometime we would go into the woods that ran alongside the farm or spend the day down at the river, swimming or fishing.  We never had a set plan, just as long as we were together and it didn’t involve school.

My Grandparents were Irish.  He and new wife, Alma Jane came to this country in 1918.  Along with their meager belongings, they brought their own parents and siblings.  Gramps had five sisters and one brother.  His brother, Thomas James only ten at the time, and his parents died on the trip over.  I never asked him what of, but it was likely the hard trip and their age.  My Grams parents and her only sister survived the trip only to die within the first year of landing.  A house fire took their lives that first Christmas Eve in this, a better world for them all.

After settling in Kentucky and saving every penny they could they were able to buy a nice track of land.  Until their own deaths, both still lived there and farmed.  I had never tasted a vegetable or fruit from a store, nor had I ever had pork from anywhere but their smoke house.  Hogs and farming were all they knew besides their faith and family.

The summer I turned eight I remember that Johnny and I were pulling weeds out of the sidewalk in front of the main house.  Grams was making homemade ice cream on the porch, churning the crank handle while sitting under the shade of one of the two oaks in the front yard.  The rhythmic chinking sounds of the ice along with the crickets were soothing.  It made you think it was much hotter than it really was just from those sounds.

A sudden shout rent the air and we all looked up to see what Gramps was hollering about.  He was sitting under the shade of the Maple across the drive, beer in hand and faded baseball cap on his still red hair.   “Kathi!” he yells again.

Grams said, “go on over see what he could be awanting.”  Her Irish accent strong even after the sixty years in this country.

I watched as she picked up the wooden blue ice cream churn and went into the house before I raced to see what he wanted.

My Gramps never raised his voice in anger.  He didn’t have to.  If you did something wrong he would only look down at you then shake his head slowly.  It was more painful than any punch or slap I’d ever gotten from my father.  It hurt longer and made more of an impression on me than any threat he could have ever used.  To disappoint him was paramount to ripping out your heart and having is stomped on.  He was quick to forgive and forget but the lesson was permanent.  Whatever it had been, you never wanted to do it again.

“Ask Mrs. Deatherage when we can be havin’ our supper laid.”  That was the only way I’d ever heard him refer to his wife, my grandmother.

Off like I’d been shot from a cannon, I ran to do his bidding.  I was so proud of the fact that I’d been singled out to do this for him.

Slamming into the house, screen door hitting the wall, I tumbled into the kitchen.  And right into another look.

My Grams looks were more varied.  The one she gave me that day was “you did not just do that” look and that was all it took.  Without speaking a single word, I turned around and walked out of the house.  This time I gently opened the door and just as quietly closed it behind me.  I sedately walked up the two steps from the mud room into her inter-sanctum, the kitchen to ask her about dinner.

“Grams, the old prick wants to know when we’re gonna eat.”

Now maybe I should explain something.  I’m sure they loved each other very much.  I’m sure they had the greatest respect for each other, but they didn’t live together.  He lived in the shanty across the drive and she in the big house.  No one ever said why and no one was dumb enough to ask.

The tomato she was slicing hit the cast iron sink with a splat and the knife clanged loudly against the faucet.  I watched as my otherwise happy grandmother turned several shades of red and breathed as though she was having difficulties.  Both her hands gripped the sink with enough force, I could see the white of her knuckles.  Before I could ask her if she was alright, she turned to me, green eyes blazing.

“Katherine, that name, prick…well that’s my own special name for your Gramps.  My own name, you see.”

“Like a pet name, like honey?”  I’d heard one of the ladies call her husband honey just last Sunday at church and had asked my Aunt Mabel about it.

“Yes.  A pet name.  So you don’t be acallin him that.  Dinna call anyone that until you get yourself a man of your own.”

I agreed that I would and that I wouldn’t.  She smiled at me then, eyes still sparkling and shining.

“Tell Mr. Deatherage, that dinner will be ready in an hour, I’ll be acallin’ him when it’s finished.”

After relying the message to him, I went back to the sidewalk and the weeds.  Grams homemade ice cream was involved and payment wasn’t paid without a thorough inspection of a job well done.

I never told my cousin about the pet name.  And it wasn’t until years later that I figured out that not only was it not a pet name, but also what she’d really been calling him.

When my Gramps died when I was just sixteen, I realized that I’d never heard her call him that again.  I was both saddened and ashamed by that.  I knew that I had taken away something that while not really very nice, it was theirs.

I miss them both.  I miss them both so much even after all these years that I ache with it.  I realized when I thought about them today that I’ve been using them as a standard to be both a parent and grandparent to my own children.  I think they’d be proud of me and my brood.

There are many more thoughts that I want to share.  I’ll be picking a word from my hodge-podge list on another day.  But for now I want to savor this one, this great memory just a little longer before I open another one.