Jackson House Of Wilkshire Release Blitz & Giveaway

Jackson William hadn’t seen his father in centuries. Now his father was dead, he was now king, and the dragon council wanted to hold him responsible for his father’s crimes? And there had been many. The truth would be his salvation.

Nicole needed a job. A job that would put a roof over her head as well. She hadn’t had a decent meal in a week. But the ad didn’t say there were faeries and witches. Where there were faeries, there were dragons and Nicole was petrified of them. And with good reason.

The poison from the dragon bites flowing through Nicole’s veins left her weak and in a lot of pain. She was a mere human, and her body’s inability to heal from the bites left her vulnerable to new dragon attacks. Now this dragon, Jackson, was claiming to be her mate? Would this nightmare never end?

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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….



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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Bryant News Letter Is  Donna Steppig   Congrats

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“Lord Jackson Le Rouge William, Duke of Willow, Prince of Dragonwyck, you are hereby given the title of king of your castle, owner of all that live there. And in accordance with our laws, you will now be tried for the crimes of your father, now deceased. Where do you stand on this?” “Stand, my lords? I don’t understand any of this. I have not seen my father nor my mother in decades. You call me here to tell me that not only is my father dead, but you cannot locate my mother.

Now you wish to make me responsible for the crimes for which you have beheaded him?” Jackson laughed a little, his heart hurting for this. “You also have made me king of a castle that is no longer anything but a single wall, a burnt out orchard, as well as many sheep and cattle that lay dead in their paddocks. A pond so dried up that it is a wonder that anything at all has grown since you came for him. Nay, I do not understand any of this. What crimes—as I know for a fact there are many—are you trying my deceased father for? Murder? Yes, he had plenty to account for. Filicide? Yes, that as well.

But you will need all the information before you are able to take me to task on those. What is it, man? I have things to care for to bury the worst man that ever took a breath. The only thing that he did do for this world was marry my mother, sire me, and then die.” “He killed off as many as two dozen of his own children. All daughters were given to him as a wife after wife produced him nothing but girls.” Jackson corrected the man. “You knew of this? His killing of his own blood? How can you stand there and condone such a thing?” “I condone nothing. I only heard about this when I arrived after being summoned here by you.” He turned to the room, then back to the four men at the table in front of him. They were there to sentence him, he knew that.

“I should like for you to clear the room of everyone but one, my lords. There is a story for you to hear that will sicken you to the very cores of your life. The reason that at a tender age of only two hundred years, I left my family home, never to return. Also, the very reason that you cannot, nor will you be able to, charge me with any of these crimes when I have finished telling the tale to you.” “You dare tell us what we can and cannot do, Lord Jackson?” He didn’t so much as blink at the men. He knew what he had, they did not. “What do you have, what story can you tell, that will be so horrific that you wish the room cleared?” The woman, his own mother in the front row of the court, stood up. All she did, Jackson knew, was to pull her scarf away from her face and open the hood that covered her head. When each of the men gasped, their faces pale with the site of her, everyone quickly cleared the room except for the six of them.




Bryant Prince Of Tigers

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

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

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


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PAPERBACK  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1949812928/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=bryant+paperback+by+kathi+s+barton&qid=1555937942&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull








Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A   Signed Mystery Paperback




LEVI News Letter Is  Ann Ivey  Congrats

your paperback will be mailed out this week.

Please allow 7 to 10 days for delivery.


Teri Bellville

Joyce Mirabello

Kate Fetzer

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If you have not gotten your prize please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com  

Happy Reading,



Buck enjoyed hot wings, the hotter the better. But even he had to admit defeat when it came to eating wings with his oldest. Bryant would get them as hot as he could, then add more heat to them. Buck often wondered if the boy could taste a dammed thing after he ate a plate of them suckers. Today he was eating alone. He didn’t get that opportunity much, not since his Sara had been killed all those years ago. But it was her birthday, and while he knew that his boys were remembering her today, he had his own way of thinking about his little mate. When the plate was set in front of him, he looked up at the waitress. Deb had been working here since she was a teenager. He wondered if they’d built the place around her. When she winked at him, he smiled back. Everyone was aware of his way of doing things. The first one always made him tear up—the heat, not his heart, he told himself. But as he was picking up the second one to eat, Bryant came into the diner. Whatever had happened, it had Buck reaching for his pistol that he was never without.

“It’s all right. I just wanted to come to tell you before you left here and found out the hard way.” Bryant then told him how sorry he was for coming here, today of all days. “Pops, there’s been a fire at the Wilson home. The mister is dead, and his wife, she’s on her way to the bigger hospital for treatment. It doesn’t look good for her either.” The Wilsons had the farm right next to theirs. The Wilsons had bought up a lot of lands when they first arrived in this area, putting themselves and their kids in a powerful terrible place. The money had been plentiful when the Wilsons arrived. But planting things that the earth didn’t have the energy to grow made for bad years of bringing crops in. That’s why Buck’s family only had a dozen acres, as well as cattle.

“The kids home?” Bryant shook his head, still not sitting down with him. “No, they’d not be there for any reason, would they? What else, boy? You know I don’t care for things being given out in little bits and pieces.” “Samson and I were wondering if we should take in their crops for them. The mister, he’s not there anymore, and you know as well as I do that the kids wouldn’t come back to help if their very lives depended on it. Not that I blame them any, but the missus, she might pull through, and the money might make the difference in her having medicine or not.” Buck stood up, his meal ruined now. Not by his son, no; the news was what had soured his taste. “I’m assuming that’s a yes.” “Gather up the boys, Bryant, and we’ll get a start on it for sure.” Buck went to pay his bill, and Deb told him that there was no charge. “I have to keep you in business, Deb. If I don’t, where will I get to come for breakfast every day?” “Here, just like you do every day, you old coot. I heard what you’re doing, and I’ve called my sons. They’re going to meet you there to help out. I’ll be bringing by some food about dinner time, and a cooler of drinks too.” She shoved him out the door. “I have work to do, Buck. Now get on out of here so I can get to it.”

By the time he’d gotten on his tractor and made his way to the next farm, there were about fifty men and women out there, all of them ready to work. With the extra hands and the other two tractors, he was sure they could get a lot of the fields picked and plucked in no time. Buck worked with his boys. Men really, all of them as old as sin. It was the way of their kind, the first of their species. Immortality had been given to them when he and his wife had been created to give the earth some of their kind. A lot of their magic. Sara and he had had six children, all of them from one litter. They’d been cats then, black tigers that had come to this earth with no ill will in their hearts. It was a good thing as well as a bad thing for them to be so trusting. The day after his cubs had been born, the lady of the earth, Aurora, had come to see them. She thought them blessed to have so many sons at their only birthing.

That was the downside, he thought—only one birthing to be bestowed to them. It was, she told them, to not overpopulate the world with such a special creature. Before the lady had shown up, they were going to call the boys by number of birth. And they did so until they were a little older and could pick out their own names. “I shall wish for you to roam the earth as men as well as tigers, giving your magic to as many of those as you touch with kindness. I know by creating you that you are already kind and good-hearted, but it is my wish that you spread it to all the humans as well. I fear that they’re going to be much worse as the years go by.” And she’d been right about that. Not that everyone they encountered was bad—no, there were a great many good people too. But the trouble was, he feared that they were slowly being outnumbered by the bad people in this world. It was nearing ten when they finished up the last of the fields. Harley, his son, asked why they’d planted pumpkins. Buck didn’t know, but he figured that they’d sell them in their roadside stand until they heard otherwise.

Every little bit would help, he supposed. Going home, he dusted the earth off his clothing and stripped down. Buck didn’t look his age, he thought with a laugh. He could very well pass as one of his sons and had on occasion. Shifting into his cat, he hit the ground running. He wasn’t the least bit surprised to find Kylan out there running as well. Are you all right, Kylan? He said that he was, just tired. Yeah, so am I. But we did a good turn for those people. And that is what we were put here for. Is that all we were put here for, Pops? He asked him what he meant. I’m lonely. I need more in my life than just farming and raising cattle. I have a degree—I’d like to branch out and start using it. It might, I hope anyway, bring in more money than just selling off cattle to the local farmers. All of them had gone to college. It hadn’t been one of the ivy leagues—they couldn’t swing that. But each of them had gone to the local college and had a nice degree to show for it. Kylan had a degree in advertising, and he could come up with ideas for things that would spin your head, as Sara used to say. Then I’d say go for it. I’m getting a little tired of raising cattle myself. Not much in the way of money in it, not the way we’re going. Kylan said he’d been talking to Marcus, and they wanted to open an advertising business together.

Well, with Marcus doing the art work, you’d sure be good at it, son. Both of you would be. And I know that Harley has a degree in business management. Perhaps that would be the ticket. Not all of you working in the same place. You know as well as I do that is just a fight waiting to happen. Kylan laughed. Yes, I’ve noticed that as we’ve gotten older, the arguing becomes more dangerous. They fought like men who hated each other. But as soon as someone drew blood, the fight was over and they were taking care of the injured one. Kylan left him after their talk. He was going to go and get things started, Buck knew that. Making his way to the little cemetery that his wife was buried in, Buck laid down on the ground next to her and told her about his day, just as he did every night when he could. Those boys, they’re going to leave me soon, Sara. I don’t know what I’m going to do in that house without them arguing all the time and picking at me. He smiled to himself. They sure have grown into men of worth, my darling. I think we did a good job, not even knowing what we were about back then.

He told her about the Wilsons and how they’d brought in their crops. They were going to try and get ahold of one of their children, to see what they wanted to do with it all. Buck had a feeling he knew what they were going to tell them—just to burn it all. Pops, I hate to bother you, but I just heard that the missus, Mrs. Wilson, has passed on. She was pretty well burned all over her body, they said. And the fire marshal, he’s saying that it looks like arson. As soon as it cools down enough, they’ll have a better idea. Buck thanked Fisher. Also, I wanted to tell you that I’m very proud to be your son. I should be saying that more often. All of us should. What we did tonight, even though Bryant was the one that thought of it, you didn’t hesitate for a moment to step in with us. I love you, Pops. For the next ten minutes or so, Buck laid there sobbing about what his son had said to him. It didn’t hurt him, but his heart did burn with love for his sons. Telling his wife about the death and what his son had said, he stood up and made his way back to the house. All the lights were on in the place, but he knew as surely as he was walking home that someone was in each of the rooms. They all knew the meaning of a nickel and leaving the lights on when you left a room was a big deal.

There wasn’t any need for him to get dinner started. True to her word, Deb had not only brought them out food, but it was the kind they could carry along with them as they worked. And there was plenty of her sweet tea and water. While normally Buck wouldn’t care for the sweet stuff, it was mighty nice on a hot evening to have something that gave you a bit of pep. Just as he was ready to go to bed, he glanced at his desk. It had been put up here because it was quieter in their room without the boys running around. Then when they’d gotten older, it had just been too much trouble to mess with. Buck had gotten a card from one of the Wilson boys when his Sara had been killed. Looking for it now, he found it among some of the other things that he’d been meaning to take care of.

It had been a few years, coming up on ten, since she’d passed, but Buck never threw anything away.
There was a return address on it, and Buck laid it right on top of his pants he was wearing tomorrow so he’d remember to do that first thing. He didn’t know if anyone in town would know how to contact the family, so he was going to do it. If they already knew, then that would be fine too. He could pass along his condolences and tell them about the product they’d pulled in for them. Closing his eyes, he thanked the mother of the earth for his day and wished his wife a happy birthday. Rolling to her side of the bed, he spooned her pillow. It was as close to her as he could get nowadays. ~*~ Randy tried to remember Mr. Prince. He knew that it had been a while. He’d left home when he’d turned eighteen and had never looked back. Now he was successful, married, and had two children. And, his parents were both now dead. “The fire was a big one, as you can imagine. They rushed your momma to the hospital by life flight, but she just couldn’t make it. I’m truly sorry, Randy. We did help them out a bit by bringing in the crops that were still out. My sons, they’re selling what we can at the stand we have out every year. We’re keeping the money for you to use for—” “Mr. Prince, while I do appreciate you doing everything you could for them, my sisters, my brother, and I, we don’t want anything to do with them.

I’m sorry that sounds so harsh, but we cut complete ties with them long ago.” Randy sat down at the table. He felt like a shit hole for saying this aloud. “I’ll pay for the funeral and whatever other expenses that they might have, but there isn’t anything that would make me want to go back there again. I’m sorry.” “I know you kids had it bad, I do know that. I wanted to…well, Randy, you don’t know how hard it was for my missus and me not to step in sometimes. Even with all the distance between the houses, we still heard it.” Randy thanked him. He wished he’d known that. He might have run to them when it was really bad. Which wasn’t saying much—it had always been bad. “Well, you tell me what you want done here and I’ll help you out with it. I never cared for your parents, I’ll tell you that. But we do like the land and what it represents to people.” “Yes, I’m sure that there are few people that cared all that much for my parents, Mr. Prince.” Randy looked at the calendar on his desk. There was barely a minute to call his own. “I’ll call my sisters and brother. See what it is they want to do.

I’m sure that none of us will be making the trip for the funeral. So if you could see your way to getting that taken care of, I’ll pay you back. Nothing big, just something quick and done.” “I’ll get on that first thing. I’ll let you know about when it is. I’ll just have them a gravesite and bury them both at the same time. It might help you to know, if there was any insurance, that your father died first. Mrs. Wilson died last night.” Randy thanked him. The man had always had the right amount of information to give someone without overwhelming you. “You let me know what you all decide. We’re going to be working on selling off the crops and such. If it’s enough, you might not be out of pocket anything.”

After getting off the phone with the elderly man, Randy thought about what he’d said. The Prince family would have taken them in, he knew that now. It was too late, but they would have been there for them. Randy thought that had any of them known that, they would have been more well-adjusted adults and not afraid of every little sound—fearful of someone coming after them with a hot poker, or even a gun. Randy called his sister Meggie first, and she reacted just the way he’d thought she would—by doing the happy dance, she told him, right there in her kitchen. He asked her if she wanted to go with him to settle their estate. “Estate? You really think they were able to save any money after we left? We were always told what a terrible burden we were to them. I’m betting that they had no life insurance, no homeowners, nor anything on that property.” She laughed bitterly. “No, I don’t want to go unless I have to. And even then, I don’t want to go. No, Randy, I’m over them. My life is finally on an even keel, and we both know how long that took me. Not to mention what it cost me.” “I know, honey. And I’m so sorry.” Meggie’s husband had divorced her and taken the little girl that they had. But not long after the divorce had been finalized, her ex and the little girl were killed in a plane crash. It had taken her years to get over that. “I’ll take care of everything. Mr. Prince said he’d make the arrangements for us.” “He always was a very generous and nice man. The entire family was. I so wanted a family like that one, didn’t you, Randy?”

He told her that he had, and also what Mr. Prince had told her. “They didn’t have squat, but they would have given us all they had if we needed it. Tell him that I said thanks.” “I will.” Now he had to call Harper, but he thought that he’d call Tyler first. Harper only lived down the street from his family after moving into a small condo about two years ago. It was both a pleasure and a nightmare to have her so close. Harper didn’t suffer fools lightly, nor did she have a filter between her brain and her mouth. Calling Tyler was much easier. “Mom and Pops have both died,” he started off. Tyler, like Meggie, laughed. Then Randy told him about the fire and how things were being done. “Mr. Prince, do you remember his family? He’s taking care of the arrangements for us. And I’m going to take care of anything else that might have to be done. After the funeral. I was wondering if you wanted to go with me.” “No, and fuck no, I do not want to go.” Tyler, a quieter version of Harper, then laughed. “No, if you want some company, I’ll go with you, so long as you’re one hundred percent sure that they’re both gone. I don’t have shit to say to them.” “Neither do I. Meggie isn’t going. I called her first.” Tyler made fun of him for waiting to call Harper last. “You would too if you had to make this call.” “Yes, you’re more than likely right about that. She’s a tad touchy about them.” And she had every reason to be too. Harper, even being the youngest of them all, had endured the most from their parents. To this day she still— “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“I said that I bet Harper will want to go for the simple reason that she wants to piss on their graves. Not to mention, I’m betting that before the end of the first day there, she has a certified letter stating that they’re not only dead, but buried as well.” Randy didn’t think his brother was far off the mark. “Let me know what she’s going to be doing, Randy. For now, I’ll make sure that my calendar is clear for the next week. I know you’ll have to take your computer, but we’ll be there and back in no time.” “All right.” He put the phone in the cradle, thinking again that he was more than likely the only person in the world with a household phone still. It was for business and the fax machine. As he pressed the buttons for Harper’s home, he wondered if she was in a more reasonable mood than she had been earlier today. Harper answered the phone like she and he had spoken not two seconds ago. “Did you know that there are over nine hundred thousand different kinds of bugs in the world? Which accounts for over eighty percent of the world population.” He told her that he’d not known that. “I’m sorry about earlier today. I tend to get my underwear all twisted up when I drive, you know.” “I do know, and cannot believe that you’ve not been arrested for it.” She told him that she was cute. “You’re not cute, Harper, you’re gorgeous. Everyone but you knows that. Now, the reason that I called is that Mom and Dad are dead.” She was quiet for a few minutes. He gave her time. His sister might be a hot head and about the most beautiful woman in the world, but she didn’t empty her head when there was reflecting to do. “Who told you this?” He explained what Mr. Prince had told him, even about the way they’d not liked them.

“Did I ever tell you that Mrs. Prince took me to the hospital a couple of times? She was the nicest person I ever knew. I was sorry to hear of her passing. What do you want me to do, Randy, other than piss on their graves?” “That’s what Tyler said you’d do. He’s going with me, to settle up on anything that we might need to do. There is a lot of property there. I know that while it didn’t grow shit, it was a good bit.” She told him how many acres, then asked him what would happen to it now. “I haven’t any idea, to be honest with you. I don’t know if there is a will or anything. It would be like them to think that they would live forever.” “Are they really dead, Randy? Please don’t tell me this if it’s not true. You of all people know what they did to me.” He told her again, for like the millionth time, how sorry he was for everything. “It’s not like you could have done anything about it. No one could have. They were out to kill us, or simply maim us in any way they could. I think they did a bang up job of it too.” “They’re dead, honey. I promise you. Mr. Prince was the one that called, as I said, and he’d never lie to us about anything like that.” She said nothing, but he could hear her heavy sigh. “I was going to ask you if you wanted to go there with Tyler and I. But I can understand if you don’t want to go.” “I don’t know.” Again, Randy told her that he understood. “Can I let you know when you leave? You know me, because of my job, I have to be ready at a minute’s notice. If not, then that’s all right as well.”

“I have to make arrangements for Tyler to go. And since we’ll be staying overnight, I’ll see about accommodations.” She told him that she’d pay her part. “I have it this time. If something happens, then you can catch it the next. Or you can buy me dinner. Do you suppose Deb still works at the All Nighter?” “I just bet that she does. I think she and her husband are older than our parents. And they have the best open-faced sammiches I’ve ever eaten. Oh, now I’m hungry for one. And their pork fried sammiches. Holy shit, Randy—if I don’t go, you’ll have to bring those back with you.” He didn’t know how that was going to work, but he’d give it his best shot. None of his sisters or brother ever asked for anything. So when they did, any of them, he went out of his way to get it for them. After telling her he’d wait on her call, he called his wife, who was a teacher at the local high school. She wouldn’t want to go either, only because she was coming up on her due date in a couple of months, but the doctor had already warned her about sitting in one place too long. “I hope Meggie and Harper both go with you. Perhaps I’ll give Meggie a call. You all need this, to finalize things.” Randy told Alice that he didn’t know if there was anything to finalize. “No, silly. I meant to have closure. I think you would sleep better, and I know that Meggie still has nightmares. Harper? Well, I know she’s haunted, but she won’t talk about it. And your brother…well, he has his own demons, doesn’t he?” “Yes. I think you’re right. You talk to Meggie, and I’ll arrange things for the four of us to go. I’ll miss the kids and you.” She said that she’d be right there when he returned. “All right, love, you work your magic and I’ll work on this end of things. I love you, Alice Anne.” “And I love you Randy Panda.” He knew it was silly, the pet names, but he also knew that whenever the chance came up to do it, he was going to call her pet names until they were parted from this earth.


Levi The Stanton Pack Release Day & Giveaway



Rachel Spencer, Ray to those that knew her, was barely hanging on. She had called for help, but her father had nearly killed her before help had arrived. Unless Hailey could help her, with the magic given to her by Dane, Ray’s prognosis for a normal life wasn’t good.

Levi Stanton had been talking to his sister-in-law, Hailey, through their link. She had told him all about Ray and that Ray might be his mate, or Wyatt’s. Levi hoped she was, he had known Ray’s grandmother and loved the woman, but he was also terrified to find out. It was the fear of the unknown.

Levi was happy to find out that Ray was indeed his mate, but Ray’s decision to get help from Hailey would be Ray’s alone. Hailey, however, was afraid her blood wasn’t strong enough to help Ray, so Dane stepped in. Ray would need all the strength she could get to face her Aunt Caroline.

Caroline Spencer was on her way to town. No one told that woman no and lived to tell about it. And that was exactly what Ray was going to tell her too. There was no way on this earth that Ray was handing her little brother, David, over to that tyrant. She’d die before she let that happen.


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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


The Stanton Pack
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Hailey held Ray’s hand and thought about what Denny had told her today. He’d been taking over her care since they’d gotten back to the house, and it had worked out well for her and Ray. Taking her to the doctor every couple of days would have been hard on her. “He destroyed her womb. There isn’t any chance that she’ll be able to carry a child and keep it. There has been much too much damage done for her to even take the chance. When she’s better, and I have to believe that she will get there, she should think about having a sterilization surgery done to prevent it from happening.

” She asked Denny if it would hurt her to get pregnant. “Yes, it could very well kill her.” Now here she sat with her friend, wondering what she was going to do with that information. Reaching out to Levi, who was still in France, she smiled when he laughed before speaking. They had become very close over the last week, and she was glad that he was happy. I took your advice, and I can’t thank you enough for it. I went and found some of the smaller, off the chart galleries, and had a blast. There are so many different things out there to see and create that I found myself buying things just because they were so unique. She laughed at his enthusiasm. Don’t be surprised if a large crate comes your way soon. I thought about waiting and bringing it home with me, but I couldn’t wait for you to see my finds. How is your friend? No change. But your dad told me that she wasn’t going to be able to hold a child of her own.

It breaks my heart how people treat their children. What would possess a man to do this to his own child? Not to mention what my mother did to hers. She felt her heart crumble for the pain of her stepfamily’s deaths. Cheer me up, Levi. Tell me some adventure that you’ve had since I spoke to you last. I’m so sorry, Hailey. She knew that he’d understand if she couldn’t answer him. Yesterday I had an encounter with one of the artists. I tell you, Hailey, I’m glad at that moment that you or the rest of the women weren’t with me. You would surely have cut him down. He was so pissed that I wasn’t buying anything from his booth when I was shopping. What did he sell? He was laughing hard, and it made her laugh too. Oh, I have a feeling this is going to be really good. I swear to you, it looked like he went and got him some wood out of the small parks around here and hot glued—I kid you not—he hot glued shells all over the pieces so that not one bit of the wood was showing. There were places on it that he might have run out of shells, so he drew them on some paper and stuck them there.

I swear to you, it was only beautiful to those like him. I don’t think he sold a single stick. She asked if he was making that up. And as soon as he started laughing again, her phone made a noise telling her that she had a message. See it? I had to sneak that picture. He has several signs in his booth that say no pictures. Why I have no idea, but there you have it.

She laughed even harder after seeing the picture, and she was so glad that Levi had told her about it. After they talked for a bit longer, really him only telling her what he’d been enjoying, Levi told her that he had an appointment and needed to get going. When are you coming home? He said that he was leaving in two days. I can’t wait to see you, Levi. I have a big hug here waiting for you. Hailey squeezed Ray’s hand and was shocked when it felt like she had given her a returning squeeze. Trying it again, she also floated into her head to see if she was awake yet and saw that her mind was going over the day at her office. Ray? She stilled for a moment in her memories. Ray, it’s Hailey. Do you remember me? I’d like to talk to you if you do. Hailey? He’s here, isn’t he? Hailey asked her who, knowing that she remembered her dad trying to kill her but testing her memory. My father. He’s in my office. I think he’s going to kill me. No, he will never bother you again. On this, you can go to the bank. There was a moment of relief, then fear took its place. You have to tell me what it is you’re thinking, Ray.

Your mind is going too fast for me to figure out. He hurt me, didn’t he? Hailey told her that he’d hurt her badly before anyone could save her. Yes, you told me that I had to scream, loudly, so that someone could come and save me. They did, didn’t they? Yes. Danny, the local pack alpha, came with his men, but Alan had already hurt you badly. Danny killed your father to keep him from hurting you more. Denny had told her that if she spoke to Ray in any way, she was to make sure she knew that she’d been hurt badly. And to be honest with her when she asked how badly. Hailey didn’t want to be responsible for telling her friend that she was more than likely going to be disfigured for the rest of her life, but she didn’t want to lie to her either. Ray, two things I want you to know right now. We have been keeping an eye on your places—home and business and even here. David is also with the local pack here. He’s as safe as you are. And the second thing? I’m calmer now, Hailey. I think I can take whatever it is you’ve been trying very hard for me to get on my own. How badly am I hurt?

Hailey felt tears roll down her cheeks and knew that it was now that she was going to have to be the one to hurt her friend. Hailey? Tell me, please. Alan used a knife on your face. He cut you from cheek to ear. The doctors had to reattach it to your head, but Denny told me that you’ve not lost your hearing. Your lips have been busted up, as well as your eyes. The socket was busted all to fuck on the left, and your other eye is swollen too badly for them to know the damage there. She paused when Ray asked her to. I want you to know that I love you very much, Ray. And think of you as my only sister. I love you too, Hailey. I felt that way the moment that you stood beside me that day. She could feel the sorrow in her voice, even if it was only in her head. The rest, please. My arm feels heavy, so I’m assuming that it was broken. Yes, in two places. They’re waiting for you to be stronger before they go in and repair it with metal rods. Also, your left hand was shattered when your father— Ray said not to call him that. All right.

I can do that. When Alan crushed your hand in the floor with his heel. They don’t know at this point, even if they go in and repair it if you’re going to have full use of it. There’s more, isn’t there? Wait for that, please. I know that you’ve been saving the worst for last. You have no idea how much I appreciate that but just wait. How is married life? Getting any better? Hailey told her that it was. I’m so happy for you. After everything that you’ve told me, I was hoping that I’d be one of their mates. But I’m supposing that they’d not want a freak like me in their life. Stop that right now, damn it. And you still might be. I’m hoping as much as you are for it to happen. Hailey let out a slow breath. The only thing keeping us from being true sisters is blood. And that matters very little to me. I love you just as if you were my sister. I’ve told you this before. Now, I’ll hear no more talk about that. All right? Yes, Momma. They both laughed. Hailey, fix me. I want you to do for me what Dane did for you. I know that you can do it. No, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Ray asked her why not. I don’t know. But this shit that I have, it’s scary stuff, Ray. I’m only just getting used to some of it. The things that I can do are— I don’t want to be a freak of nature, Hailey. She could feel her sorrow and her pain. The timer on the meds she was getting automatically said she had about a minute to go before she’d be medicated again. Never mind. You’re right. Having all that juice, as you called it once, it could get me into more trouble than I usually am. The laughter from Ray was harsh and almost bitter.

Before she could talk to her more, the meds kicked into her system and Ray was gone from her touch. Hailey could still read and feel her memories and pain level, which was lower now, but there wouldn’t be any more conversation for a little while. Getting up, Hailey went to the window. They’d brought Ray home as soon as she was cleared to go. She’d have to go to the hearing sometime soon—her father was still going to be charged with attempted murder. Hailey watched the gardener fussing with the little herb garden that the cook had asked to have put in. It was just after Saint Paddy’s Day, and things were starting to warm up. Just last week while out running with Colton, she’d seen crocus and daffodils coming up. Today there were blooms on the strawberries that Ken, the nice man that worked for Levi, had planted for the households. The man was doing great after his brain surgery. It was little things, she knew, that would make her smile. In the last few weeks, things in her life had begun to shape up and be happy. At the beginning of her stay here with Colton, and then her recent marriage to the man, Hailey was trying to find one thing every day that she had to be grateful for. Life, she knew, had a way of changing when you least expected it to. Sitting down again, she started reading some of the homework she should be grading. Hailey, unlike a lot of teachers where she worked, loved her job a great deal. And the kids seemed to be having a good time in her classes, too. ~*~
Levi looked around the room again. He’d been staying at a lovely bed and breakfast for the last two weeks, wanting to try things that he’d never done before after a show. While he knew that he’d done well at the show, he wouldn’t know how well until he was home. He didn’t want to think about anything but having fun, as Hailey had asked him to do. Smiling, he thought of her asking him to have fun and knew that it had been a direct order from her. She was adorable when she got all mother hen like, and he loved that she was a part of the family. Hailey could be all soft and mushy seeing a puppy on the television, but she’d also be the one that could cut a person to ribbons if anyone dared fuck with her family. Which, thankfully, he was a part of.

Going to the limo that was to take him to the airport, he thought of the conversation that he’d had with his brother last night. The woman, Ray Spencer, was healing well, but the outlook for her life wasn’t good. She was depressed. Levi knew this from talking to Hailey. He also knew that Ray had asked for Hailey to change her into what she was. Hailey wanted to—she’d told Levi that—but she was also afraid. What if she didn’t get enough, or got too much of her blood and died? Levi thought about the question she’d asked him. “If she turns out to be your mate—and I haven’t any idea if she is or not—would you want me to change her?” He’d thought about that hard, but before he could come up with an answer, if he ever was to reach one, she spoke again. “As it stands right now, she will have to walk with a cane for the rest of her life. Her left hand will never hold another pencil or camera, nor will she be able to carry a child within her womb without it killing Ray or both of them. I just don’t know what to do.” “I don’t either, Hail. I mean, I guess I’d have to know for sure that is something that she could live with. The consequences. As for me telling you that you should do it, even if she turns out to be my mate that answer doesn’t lay at my feet. It’s her body, her life, and even her choice. You know that too.” She said that she did, but was confused about it. “I am as well. I don’t know what to tell you, love.

You and her, you’ll have to work that out. Or you could ask Dane.” She huffed at him. “You know as well as I do that Dane would have done it permission or not. She did the same damned thing to me.” They both laughed. “I think I will talk to Dane, however. Maybe this is all for nothing, and I can’t change her into anything. I’m a copy of someone, not the original.” Now that he was headed home—he’d be there tomorrow afternoon—he thought of nothing else. Not of her injuries—he knew them to be extensive—but of the woman being his mate. Levi already knew a great deal about Ray and thought that she was a great deal like Hailey. But he knew too that it could only be him hoping that she was a cuddly as her, and she might be an absolute terror. Not likely, but he didn’t know. He landed in New York as a stopover. All of a sudden, he didn’t want to go home. Not that he was afraid of her—no, it wasn’t that. But the unknown, about her being his mate, frightened him more than he wanted to admit. Levi knew just what sort of person he was—a slob that liked this his way.

“Dr. Stanton?” He looked up when someone said his name. His title wasn’t something that a great many people knew about, and fewer knew that he was an artist. Nodding at the man, he said that was his name. “I’m Lucas Young. I work with Young and Young Attorneys. May I have a few minutes of your time?” “No, I’m getting ready to catch a flight.” He didn’t tell him which one, nor where he was going when he asked. “What do you want? We can talk here.” Lucas looked around then back at him. Levi looked too but kept his eye on the man. Backing up a little, he knew that he was in trouble when someone put their hands on his shoulders and held him tightly. “You just had to make this more difficult, didn’t you? I said that you’d be hard, but no, the boss, he told me that you’d be a pussy.” Levi reached for his family, every one of them, to tell them what was going on. Lucas, or whatever his name was, kept talking about his boss when Dane answered him. I’m close to you, Levi. In the same store. Don’t look for me. I’ve got your back. He was never so happy to hear that she was close to him in his life. I’ve been following this fucking shit for two days. You have Hailey to thank for this, by the way.

She and that thread thing, that’s— Dane, I don’t suppose we can talk about this later, can we? This shithole has a gun in my belly. And the one behind me is trying his best to tear my shoulders from my body. She laughed, and he could have gladly strangled her. He wouldn’t, of course—she’d hurt him—but her laughter did ease his mind a great deal. When I tell you to move, I want you to do it. Just tuck your head into the chest of the man behind you. I’ll take care of the rest. She laughed again. You do have something else to wear home, don’t you? He asked her why just as she told him to tuck. And when he did, he felt the warmth of blood splatter down his neck to his chin. Lucas fell back but had a knife in his hand that scared Levi as well. Levi just stood there until someone touched his arm. It was Dane. “Come on, you’re okay.” She had to drag him away from the crime scene. When he looked back as they hid behind a magazine rack, she could see that the shorter man, Lucas, was sitting up with a blade in his hand now, and Shoulder Man’s head was lying in his lap. Levi looked at Dane. “You killed him.” She said that was what the plan had been. “And what about me? Why did you drag me away?” “So you don’t have to miss your flight home, dummy.” He would gladly have hit her if she wasn’t dragging him to the back of the store they were in. “I have you something else to put on. It’s not as fancy as your suit, but it’ll get you home. There is— ” “I’m going to be sick.” She paused in her dialogue to let him throw up several times in the trash can that was suddenly there. As she stood there, she pulled out a phone and started talking, like the person had been waiting for her to call. He supposed, in a way, they had been once he heard her end of the conversation.

“It’s done. And you will have to pick up the tab for a suit for my brother.” A pause in the conversation had him standing up and glaring at her. “I have to go. My brother has puke on his chin, and I have to get him home to his mommy.” “That wasn’t nice.” She grinned. “You’re not nice. I know you’ve been told that before, but I think, after what just happened, that I should be able to tell you that again. You are not a nice person.” “I saved your ass. And I’ll tell you all about it once you change and we get on the other flight home. By the way, you do have puke on your chin.” He wiped it off on his sleeve and saw that there was a great deal of blood there. “Don’t. Just don’t ask me now, all right? You’re safe, and now that we’re headed home, the rest of us can keep an eye on you as well.” He didn’t ask her, even though he was burning with the need to know. This person, whoever it was, they were going to kill him. He didn’t know that for sure, but he could feel it all the way to his bones. Sitting in his seat in first class, which he knew for sure his ticket hadn’t been for, he glared at Dane when she asked the stewardess if she could have something to drink almost as soon as they were in the air. “Here, you’re to take these.” He asked her what they are. “I want you to be able to listen to me with a clear head. Right now, I can tell that you’re pissed off and that you’re in need to ask the million and one questions that are going on in your head.

” Levi took them, then settled back in his seat. He should have made her tell him what he was taking, but honestly, he was so freaked out that he might have drank an entire bottle of liquor if she had handed it to him. “They weren’t after you.” He’d never thought of that. All of his brothers had PhDs so it could have been any one of them. “They thought they were getting Brayden. Because of me. But mostly because of the things that had been going on in Africa before he left.” “The thing with the donations and the houses.” She nodded and smiled at him. “I don’t understand. I thought that was taken care of months ago. Didn’t someone go to jail over that? Not to mention, I think that they even told Brayden he was in the clear.” “They did. And he is. But that doesn’t mean that the people who had to pay out the ass for stealing in the first place were happy.” He asked her why they had to wait until now to tell him. “Because that’s not all of it. And I need you to think very hard about what I’m about to tell you. Do you remember a man by the name of Roberto Perez? He would have talked to you at the show two weeks ago.” He closed his eyes, and he wasn’t at all surprised to feel Hailey there. After telling him to wait for her, she moved through his mind gently and found the man for him. He allowed it—he told himself it was because he was just too overwhelmed by this entire thing. “Perez wanted me to paint his wife, or something like that, in the nude at his home. I told him that I didn’t do that, not with a model and that I had a timeline of things that I was working on anyway. He didn’t seem too happy about it, but he did walk away.” Before he could open his eyes, Hailey showed him the rest of the man’s movement through the showing.

“This is freaky, isn’t it? I mean, it’s like having a behind the scenes sort of camera following you around.” “She’s good, and she has your back. But when she pauses, you listen to the conversation he has with this other man.” Hailey followed the man through the rest of the time he was at the showing. Then when the man was leaving, he pulled out his phone and called someone. “Hailey has that number, so don’t worry with it.” It hadn’t even occurred to him to do that when the other man spoke. “Did you get him to do it?” Perez said that he hadn’t. “Why the fuck not? My money not good enough for the fucker? You know what it is. He’s a fucking gay, isn’t he? That’s why he’s turning you down.” “I don’t know, sir, but I couldn’t get him to do it. He said something about having enough work on his timeline or something. I can try again.” The man on the other end said that he’d take care of the little fucker—meaning him, Levi was sure. “All right then. There is no reason for me to come to the rest of the showing. I’ll be home in two days, sir. After I arrive, we can work on something else to get him to your home.

” “What does he want?” Hailey said that she didn’t know. Even Dane, who could find a mole in a valley of tunnels, said she didn’t know either. Without knowledge of the man on the other end, she hadn’t any clue. “But you do think that it’s more than just me painting his wife? And just so we’re clear, whose wife is he talking about?” “That is what threw us both at the start, too. Lucas said his wife, and then the other man says his wife. I’m not sure. Perhaps they’re both lying, or they could really want you to paint their wives. Maybe together or some shit like that.” Levi didn’t comment. He had to think about whether Perez had come to the show on the second day. When he was sure that he’s not, he wondered what the hell was going on, and why him. Sure, he could paint, but who would go to that much trouble for him to paint their spouse in the nude? And for that matter, why did he have to go to their home? Most painters he knew would say no to that. It was going to be a short flight, but Levi had a great deal on his mind to sort through. And most importantly, to see if Miss Spencer was his mate.

Adrian The Whitfield Ranchers Release Day & GiveAway


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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



The Whitfield Rancher
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Angus came to her with every little thing, Mason thought. So much so that she wanted to brain him. But she supposed that was a good idea until he was more comfortable with his new position as the front man for a place they were going to work with. Mason loved him, and that was all she needed to let things roll off her with this transfer of power. At least for the time being, it would be good for him to get answers before making a commitment. He’d make a good replacement for her at Mason Tile and Paper. Her brother was doing much better than she’d thought he would in so little time.

Mason was getting closer and closer to her time to run away. Not that it was really what she was doing, but her dad and brother thought that she was. And while they weren’t wrong about her leaving the firm, they weren’t right either. Mason Jane Barnhart had had enough of things in general. She also knew what no one else did—that she didn’t have long to live. For two days now, she’d been out walking about the tiny town. It was small compared to where she’d lived most of her life. Chicago was a nice town, one that she loved, but that too had been too much for her in dealing with everything. Everyone, even in a town as big as hers, had heard something about what had happened to her. Not all of it, but enough to ask her if she was doing all right. And at least daily, someone asked her about her health and wellbeing. No, she thought to herself. She was not doing all right. But she would only smile at them and nod.

Yes, Mason would say, I’m doing just fine. I’m over it. And that had to be the biggest lie she’d ever told anyone, especially her family. Not that either of them knew much of what had happened to her. Nor did they know the extent of her injuries that she carried to this day. Not just the emotional ones, but the ones that were on her flesh, so that each day she was sure it was going to be her last. And hiding it from her family and friends was taking its toll on her. She was going to die. A long and painful death that would not only drain her father’s business but also his health by staying at her side. Mason stopped by the little bridge she’d walked by a dozen times over the last few weeks. The first day she’d been by it had been a dry and sunny day. The water, not all that deep, was babbling around the low hanging trees, as well as the large stones in the waterway. The fallen trees that no doubt came from upstream formed cascading water sounds that had made her smile despite the circumstances surrounding her interest in the water. Then it started to rain, a deluge of water that seemed to have been an open spigot on the town and all the now swollen creeks. This was just what she was looking for in a way to end her life by falling to her death. Mason knew that drowning wasn’t a sure thing when it came to jumping into the fast running creek. But she’d been coming by here at its lower point, and saw that there was a great big stone in the middle of the waterway. And if her estimations were
correct, the fast-moving water was just about freezing.

There were icy formations along both sides where the water didn’t move as fast. Sitting on the railing, her feet dangling over the water, she wondered what the impact would be for her to fall directly on the large stone that had made its way above the moving water. It was a creek, she’d been told, that fed into the Muskingum River downstream from where they were. A long way to go, she thought, before anyone would realize that she’d jumped. “Hello.” She didn’t bother to look at the man. She’d seen him around town too. Actually, it was difficult to go into any place on the main drag without seeing Mr. Whitfield—Oliver, he’d asked Angus to call him. “Are you going to jump?” “I’ve not decided just yet. I was calculating in my head how hard the water would be, and the stone beneath it.” She looked at him then. “I have a lot on my mind, Mr. Whitfield. I thank you for your concern. However, this is nothing that I’d like to share with a stranger.

It’s a place I come to think, and I’d like to do that alone if you’d not mind.” “Yes, I can understand that. I’m Oliver Whitfield. If I’m not mistaken, you’re one of the workers that is with Angus. Good fella, by the way. I think he has a brother hereabouts, but I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting him just yet. Honey, is there anything I can do to help you?” It was on the tip of her tongue to ask him if he would push her into certain death, but she didn’t. Instead, she just looked out over the muddy, icy water. “I have a couple of doctors in my family. They’d be more than happy to talk to you, child.” “Do you have a gun, Mr. Whitfield?” He said that he didn’t. Realizing her mistake, she had to think fast about telling him why she’d needed a gun. “Then no, I don’t think there is a thing you can do for me. I was…there are a few snakes here and about in the water. I was going to practice on them. I have a permit to carry, but I don’t. Not anymore.” “I don’t mean to be rude, and my lovely wife would box my ears for this, but I don’t believe that you want a gun for that at all. Can you tell me about it?

I promise you on my wife’s heart that I’d never tell anyone else.” Mason shook her head. “I need for you to tell me what’s bothering you, child. I’m not leaving here until you do.” “At the moment, you’re the only thing bothering me, Mr. Whitfield. As I said, I have a few things I need to work out on my own.” He sat on the side of the bridge with her, his jean covered legs and high boots looking ridiculous next to her fancy worthless boots and lightweight pants. “Mr. Whitfield, I’d very much like for you to go away and leave me alone. I’m not going to share anything with you. There isn’t anything you can do, and even if there was, I don’t want anyone to be a part of this.” “This here creek, did you know that it’s called Narrows Creek? Been here since the man over there decided to widen his fields so that he didn’t have to cross a little bitty bridge in the spring when the creek flooded. And boy oh boy, it sure could flood.” She looked at the house that was on the other side of the field but said nothing. “That’s his home if you’re thinking that. He’s not lost anything since he had some people come in and widen and deepen this place for him. Don’t jump.”

Tears filled her eyes. The man was too smart for her own good. He was much too observant as well. Instead of answering him, even though she wouldn’t, she thought of what he’d said about Angus having a brother. “Angus doesn’t have a brother, Mr. Whitfield. I’m his sister, Mason.” She looked at him. “Mas Barnhart is our father. Not really Angus’s, but he is mine. Dad bought me off my mother so that she’d not abort me when she found out that she was knocked up. Not a good term, I guess, but those were her words, not his. Then a few months after I was born, no more than an infant, she was killed in an automobile accident.” She hadn’t expected him to say anything, so when he didn’t, she continued. “Angus’s mother thought that she’d get a great deal of money from my dad by claiming that my dad was the father of him. He wasn’t, of course, but that didn’t stop him from paying her off, and he still does when she shows up making a stink about shit that isn’t true, nor any of her business. Mostly, lately anyway, the shit has been about me.”

“You seem like a good girl. What on earth could she have on a child like you?” She just stared at the creek, watching it roar along the sides of the banks, pulling limbs and leaves along with it to make pretty colored swirls in the waterway as it flowed downstream. Trees, too, had been moved, probably a great distance, and were starting to pile up at the posts that held the bridge she and Mr. Whitfield were sitting on. “Mason, what happened to you?” “A man did. Not that you’d have to believe me or not. Frankly, I don’t have any proof at all that he even touched me that week. But he kidnapped me from campus where I was teaching, drugged me, and raped me, repeatedly, over an entire week and then some. There were others too. All men, who I found out later had paid a great deal of money to have their way with me.” She laughed bitterly, not even sure why she was sharing this with him. A last confession, she thought, because she was going to jump today. “I was the great Mas Barnhart’s daughter, his princess that was so untouchable. I haven’t any idea where that had come from, but there it was. And lucky for me, or not so lucky for me, I was able to escape with my life. Or so I thought.” She looked at Mr. Whitfield.

He had a kind face, one that she thought reminded her a great deal of her own father. She knew this man had sons, six of them. And he had grandchildren and a nice wife. Carefully she reached out her hand, meaning only to touch his cheek to see if it felt as soft and warm as she thought it might. But curling her fingers into her palm at the last minute, she thanked him for being there. The jump was easy. Mason just stood and leaped. But she wasn’t getting to the water as she had hoped—something was keeping her there. Turning her head to look at Mr. Whitfield, she saw that he was holding her back by her coat, and his grip was too powerful for her to shake loose. Mason did try to make him release her so that she’d not have to come back another day to try again. This was her last chance, she thought, and she needed it to work. “Don’t do it, child. We can work something out.” She reached for the zipper on her coat, pulling it down slowly as Mr. Whitfield strained to hold her back. She wanted to just rip it off, let him have the coat that he was holding so that she could die. But the strain on it and her body were making it go slowly.

“Please, I’m begging of you, child, don’t do this. There has to be another way.” “There isn’t.” The coat was undone and she let it slip from her arms. The water came up fast, and Mason closed her eyes for the impact. Hoping that it would kill her right away, she let out a breath that she’d been holding, and hit the water hard. She had missed the stone except for her arm. The water was so cold that it made her inhale sharply. The pain of it, like icy needles, felt as if it were tearing her flesh from her body. Mason didn’t care. She was going to be free soon, and that was all that mattered. Not fighting the current or the trees that banged into her, she let it take her under several times as she tried to get her bearings on where she was in the water. The water was rough, tumbling and turning her all around so that she didn’t know which way was up. Bashing her body off one thing to the next, she knew that her arm and leg were broken, useless to her in trying to hold herself under. And when she knocked her shoulder, the pain of it making her cry out, she swallowed more water, then nothing. The pain in her head took it all away.

~*~ Oliver had put out an emergency call for help when Mason stood up. He’d been talking to Evan since seeing her there, but he never dreamed in a million years that she’d do it right in front of him. Shifting to his tiger, he dove into the water after her, knowing that his cat would stand the cold a bit better than he would as a man. He had a difficult time finding her in the murky water. He’d see her for a second, but then she was gone. Oliver knew that they were farther down the creek than he’d told his family, but there wasn’t any time for him to get his bearings and find the girl. As soon as he had a good hold on her leg, he bit down hard, knowing that if he lost her this time, he’d never have a second chance of finding her again. The bones, already broken, shattered more under his powerful bite. “Dad, can you see me? Dad, I’m here.” He popped his head above the water in time to hear Evan yelling for him.

“Christ, bring her to me and I’ll see what I can do. They’re all coming, Dad. We’ll save her if we can.” Oliver swam as hard as he could to get to the other side, but he was an old man, worn out by hard work and age. Oliver wasn’t giving up, but he knew that he wasn’t going to make it to his son. Then he felt his burden become lighter and looked to his other son. Josh had come into the water as his cat to help him. It was a struggle, even for the two of them, to get her to Evan. As soon as his son was able to reach into the water and pull her out, Josh got out as well and helped him out of the freezing cold water. Oliver didn’t have the strength to shift—he wasn’t even sure that he had the energy to breathe. But his lovely wife, the woman of his heart, Eve, yelled at him through their link. While he’d never tell her this, she sounded like a choir of angels talking to him. You die there on the side of that nasty creek, Oliver Whitfield, and I will never forgive you. I won’t visit your grave, nor will I put any pretties there for you. Get up, you old coot, and move around before you freeze to death. He told her that he loved her.

I love you too. And you were so brave to save her. Now, you’d better be up and around before I get there. Or so help me I’ll— I’m up. Now hush, woman, I can’t hear what Evan is saying about her. It might have been for nothing. Evan was looking grave as he worked. Then he looked at him. She’s got some kind of sickness, Evan. I tasted it in her blood when I bit her. “You’re going to have to finish the job, Dad, or she will be dead before I can do a thing.” He asked him what he was talking about. “Change her. You’ve bitten her several times, it looks like. And she’s dying. Change her and she’ll live. And it’ll take care of whatever illness brought her to this point. As it is right now, she’s got so many broken bones, and with the loss of blood, I don’t know if she’d make it even if this were to have happened with a team of doctors around her. Change her, please.” He didn’t want to. Oliver wasn’t sure why, but he had a feeling that this little girl was going to be one of his sons’ mate.

Evan told him it was now or she’d be dead to someone. He bit down in her bruised and battered belly, and felt her scream that came up from her gut. She was poisoned with something nasty, the poor thing, and he had a feeling that she’d been right. Mason had been about as close to death as it came. It was another twenty minutes before he could move away from her tiny body. Ivy was there with them now, and so was his Eve, who had brought him some clothing. When Mason started to shake hard, they covered her with as many blankets and coats as they could find. All it did, he thought, was make her shake harder. It wasn’t until Carter showed up that he could see some improvement in her skin. But she gave her a couple of drops of her powerful blood to be sure. They all knew that Carter was a fae, and that she had shared her magic with Josh. But what it would do to a human, one that was just on this side of dying, no one knew. It might well be a moot point if she died right now. It was decided, however, that they’d take her up to the bridge and lay her down there, so that when the ambulance came, they’d just say that she had slipped on the icy bridge. It was plausible, he supposed. She was soaking wet and badly battered. Carter said she’d make it, so the authorities saw only what they needed to see, and he was grateful for that. “Her brother and dad, they don’t need to know that she was trying to kill herself.”

Eve agreed, but Evan wasn’t so sure. “If he needs to know, then we’ll tell him. But I think, for now, we should just let it go as a fall rather than her jumping. I think this is something that she’ll need to tell them. On her terms, I think, too. I’d want to hear it from one of you if you were thinking there wasn’t any other way.” “What about changing her?” Oliver told Evan he didn’t know about that yet as he pulled off his second coat to lay on Mason, to make it look as if he’d been the only one there. “All right. But think on an answer or something before we get in too deep with this. Her dad, he might even know that she’s been down of late. But I doubt very much that he knew that she was dying with what she had. That is more than likely what drove her here in the first place.”

He had to agree. But he’d not tell any of them what she’d said to him before she’d jumped. It tore at his heart when he thought of the sadness and pain that he’d seen there just before she slipped out of her coat. The ambulance was called, and he waited for them. The rest of them left him there so that the story was plausible. He held her hand while he sat there with her, telling her that it mattered little to him if she was one of his boys’ mate, he already loved her to pieces. When the ambulance pulled up, Ivy was on it with them. With a wink at him, she asked him what was going on. He told her the story that they’d agreed on. He’d found her there, lying on the bridge, and had covered her up with his coat. He didn’t have to explain why she was wet, no one asked, but once she was bundled up and taken away, Oliver sat there for a few more minutes, thinking of his part in this woman’s life now. He’d not changed anyone in his life.

Not even when he’d been younger had he had the occasion to do something so terrifying. His lady wife, Eve, had been a full-blooded tiger when they’d come together. And now, he’d just changed the life of someone, a stranger, so profoundly that he doubted very much she’d ever be able to forgive him. Oliver wasn’t sure that he’d ever forgive himself if it came to that. But she was alive, and she’d be all right. Oliver thought that was the best he could be happy for right now. “Are you finished feeling sorry for yourself?” He turned to look at Tanner when he spoke. “You saved her life, at great risk to yourself. And while she might have wanted to die, by her own hand, you have done something wonderful for her family. As you thought, she might not forgive you right away.

But Oliver, I have known you all my life, and no one can be upset with you for long.” “I’m not like my father.” He looked around and saw that it had turned rainy again, the clouds thick and heavy. “He could charm the pants off a nun, I’ve been told. By him, mostly, but I have heard it. I’m not the type of person that can make anyone do anything.” “Let me see your arm.” Oliver had hurt himself holding the girl so she’d not fall. It had just begun to hurt him when Tanner sat beside him on the cold, wet bridge. “You strained it badly, I’m afraid. You will need to be in more pain before you will be better. I would have thought that shifting to catch her would have helped.” “My cat was hurt. The current that had us, it was much stronger than I’d thought when I went in for her.”

He looked at Tanner. “She was dying. I just couldn’t let her do that to herself. Or her family. She is better now, I’m hoping. Do you think you can do that magical thing you do and tell me if I did a worse thing by doing this to her?” “I shan’t do that, Oliver. You know as well as I that she will live for a good long time now, and have no worries that she had before.” Oliver nodded, but wasn’t convinced that she’d not try again. “She will not. I shall tell you something, my friend. She is the mate to one of your sons, but I know not which one. And that alone will give her immortality, regardless of her being the wonderful tiger that I know she will be.” “Do you know this man? The one that she was talking about before she jumped?” He said that he didn’t. “I wish I did. I’d hunt him down and give him a good showing of my cat. Even as old as I am, I think I could make him wet himself.”

“Don’t do it, my friend. While I have no doubt that you could make him wet his pants, I think you should leave that for your son, her mate. But as I have said, you will need to see Ivy or Evan about your arm. I believe that you have dislocated your shoulder. Quite painful, I have heard, so you will, as I said, be in a great deal more pain.” Tanner stood up. “I wish to ask you something, Oliver, and you do not need to form an answer. And though I am quite aware of what you are going to say, I wish for you to think on it. Her father, I have heard, is a good man. What would you feel should this have been your despondent child, and a man—you, in this case—had the chance to save her from certain death, so changed her into something more? How would you feel?” Tanner disappeared, not waiting to see if Oliver had an answer or not. The sun was coming out and the rain was gone. The roads, he knew, would be slicker before dinner tonight.

Walking home, enjoying the chill of the day, he thought about the question that had been put before him. “I’d want her to be alive more than anything.” He knew that to be true, but he also didn’t know the other man, her father. His dad did, of course. Dad knew everyone. But Oliver didn’t. Making his way to the diner, Oliver decided to have a talk with his dad about it. “So you saved her life.” Dad was talking to him between customers. Oliver had an idea that he needed something to do like his dad had, if only to make him feel better about life. Dad sure did look better than he had a few months ago. “I know Mas. He’s a good man, and a better businessman than I’ve come across. If he has his little girl, then you can bet that he wouldn’t care if she was a donkey braying out her love for him.” “Dad, where do you come up with this stuff? There has to be a place that has a list of them. Every day you come up with something new, and just as goofy.” Dad laughed when he did. “I heard that the boys are going to be helping him out so that no one takes his company. It’s good to see someone still doing business within the family.”

“It is, I agree. And if’n you want me to, I’ll be there when you tell him what you did to his little girl. I didn’t know that— Say, you thinking what I’m thinking?” Oliver told him that he was still thinking about that girl braying like a jackass. “I never said jackass, you dummy. I said a donkey. But what if she’s one of the boys’ mates? Wouldn’t that be a hoot?” “It might be if I wasn’t so afraid that she isn’t,” Dad asked him why. “Because she’s a tiger, Dad. She’s no longer a human.” He didn’t tell him what Tanner had said. For some reason, he wanted to keep that to himself for now. “Oh, don’t go on about that. Whoever she’s mated to, you can bet your bottom pocket lint that this other person is going to be a darn sight happier with her being alive, don’t you think?” Amazed at his father’s sayings, Oliver just nodded. “There you go. And if she happens to be one of them boys’ mates, well, you had it right on to make her something that could be running with him. Don’t go looking for trouble, Oliver. You don’t need to. Trust me when I tell you, when it comes around, this here trouble that’s in your head, it’ll find you without you worrying yourself sick over it. Now, have some pie, then go on over and get that bum arm looked at. I can see that it hurts you.”

He walked over to the clinic after having a slice of pie with his dad. Oliver was glad to see that one of the other doctors was there today. Oliver knew that Evan was on call and Ivy had taken Mason in, so he’d not be embarrassed when someone set his arm for him. The man told him the same thing that Tanner had—it was going to be more painful before it started to get better. Once they strapped him to the table, really making him more nervous than before, he laid there just thinking about the woman, trying his best not to think of her as a girl. Calling her one when he could see that she wasn’t, Oliver hoped that she’d be all right. “I came by when I heard from Tanner. Oh, Oliver, I wish you could have said something. I would have picked you up.” Oliver was happy to see Eve—so happy, in fact, that he held her hand when the doctor came into the room. “You just lay there and let him fix you up. Then I’ll take you home and pamper you for a bit. I think there is even a little pie left over from dinner last night.” There wasn’t any pie—he’d had it before leaving the house this morning. But he’d not tell her. She’s been fussy with him again. And right now, he wanted her to be loving and comforting. The doctor grabbed his arm at the elbow, and all Oliver remembered after that was screaming his fool head off.

Brody Forbidden Series Release Day

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

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

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


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I TUNES Coming Soon

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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.



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

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

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

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


Recommended for 18+

Forbidden Series
Jake  http://amzn.to/2EynG8K
Henry  http://amzn.to/2E0yWcK
Cameron https://amzn.to/2RSMTRf
Brody https://amzn.to/2WE6wPz


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Teri Bellville

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Happy Reading,

Brody was ready for his own bed. Well, one where a five-year-old wasn’t sleeping with him. Jordan, he’d come to realize, was a bed hog. Looking over at him, Brody fell deeper in love with the little boy. He was going to be his. On the third day of their vacation, he’d realized that Jordan had never asked about his mom. Not once did he wake in the middle of the night calling for her. And he’d never, when buying gifts for Grandma and Howie, as his butler liked to be called now, did he even suggest that he get anything for his mom. That, to Brody, was just sad. Jordan would answer questions about her when asked, mostly by strangers, but nothing about her otherwise. This was their last day, and he needed to talk to his son. Jordan, as usual, beat him to the draw. Like he knew. “Dad, are we going home today? I sure miss my bed. And you not sleeping in it.” They both laughed. “I can’t wait to give my gifts to Grandma and Howie.

But…Dad, will Mom be there?” His question was quite like he was almost afraid to ask it. Or, Brody thought, it could have just been him thinking that’s what Jordan was doing. Sitting down at the small table they had in their room, he handed Jordan his glass of orange juice. “No. She won’t be there. But I told you, we’re not going home.” He nodded. “Jordan, would you be upset if she didn’t come with us to the new house?” “No.” He looked at his dad, then back at his now empty glass. “She’s not nice. And she yells at me all the time. She says awful things about you and Grandma. And when she has her friends over, I have to stay in the kitchen with Howie all the time.” More and more things were coming out about his wife. Rachel had made Jordan take swimming lessons, the beginner classes so she could be in the pool with the younger mothers. Jordan was an advanced swimmer and had hated the way his mom acted. He never got to go out to eat with her—it was drive through or nothing. And then he wasn’t allowed to eat in the car. Little things, yes, but they’d mounted up heavily on the little boy. “I’m sorry about that. I’m glad that you’ve told me all these things, but I’m very sorry that she treated you this way, Jordan. You believe me, don’t you?”

He nodded and Brody took a deep breath before speaking again. “We’re getting a divorce, your mom and I. We’re not going to be living together anymore.” The hopeful look in Jordan’s eyes was there and gone so quickly, Brody was sure that he had mistaken it again. When Jordan started playing with his bowl of cereal, Brody decided it was time to tell him the truth about everything. But Jordan spoke before he could. “Dad, will I have to go and live with her? I don’t want to. I don’t even like her.” Brody didn’t know what to say, so said nothing. “I know you’re not my daddy. I wish you were all the time. But if you keep me and not give me to Mom, I will be the best boy in the entire world.”

“Oh, Jordan.” He held him tightly, tears filling his eyes even as Jordan sobbed on his chest. But what broke Brody’s heart more was how Jordan kept begging him not to make him go back to his mom. Never. “You won’t. I promise. And Jordan, you are a good boy. So good that I’m jealous I wasn’t that good when I was small. Grandma is going to be living with us in our new place, as well as Howie.” “You promise I won’t have to go to her?” He said that he did, on his life. Brody only hoped that Jake was a good enough attorney to make it happen. “I love you, Dad. Forever.” The rest of the morning was spent packing up their things. They didn’t have to leave until later today, but they could take their luggage to the airport and then not have to mess with it later. They had taken two bags each, and now had four bags each. Most of it was things that Jordan wanted for his new room. The walk around the city was nice. Brody knew that as soon as he was with Jake and the rest of his group that he’d have to settle down and get busy on this divorce. Talking to his mom nightly had helped—both he and Jordan, as a matter of fact.

So he was up-to-date on things that were going on at home. Brody knew that Rachel hadn’t shown up for her court date. And he knew why. She’d been in a jail cell—for not paying her bill to the hotel—since the morning she was to appear. He had to laugh every time he thought about her being taken out in handcuffs while trying her very best to sell off some of the things in the room. Rachel’s mother, Becky Sharp, had cooperated with the police. What with her husband David being in jail too, Becky had no choice except to get out of the house nicely. And when searched, she’d not taken anything. So Brody, even though he didn’t care for her husband or her daughter, paid for two weeks in a hotel for her, with food and room service included—as long as she didn’t try and steal anything or harbor her daughter. “You should have seen it, Brody. I tell you, Howie and I laughed for nearly two hours watching Rachel being pulled from the hotel. And there she was, screaming that she was going to get you. I don’t know how she figured that was going to happen, but she was. Then I think she saw the television crew.” He asked his mom why they were there. “Not for her, though I think they did film her. That boy we hired, Jake, and his partner Forrest, they’re making a name for themselves. I think you got the best of the best. But they were there for the unveiling of the plans for the new library addition.

It’s going to be nice. I think your boys had something to do with that too.” He hoped they were doing a good job. He would hate like hell to have to turn his son over to that monster. Brody hadn’t realized how much he’d had riding on this. There was his practice, his homes, money. Of course, she’d signed a prenup, but he knew that she was slick and would do just about anything for some money. But today was for Jordan. The phone was ringing as soon as they entered the hotel room. Jake was on the line, and he sounded like a man who was either really pissed off or holding back on something. When he finally burst out laughing, Brody couldn’t help but smile.
“Your soon to be ex-wife is on the line. Not with us at the moment, but as soon as I tell you a couple of things.” Jake laughed again. “My God, Brody, I think she’s more of a bitch than my ex-wife was. Does she by chance have any decorating skill?” He had heard about Jake’s wife.

“I was afraid to give her the chance. The house decorating was off limits to her at all times. What does she want, do you know?” “Smart man. She said that she wasn’t going to tell me, so I hung up on her. The second time she called, an officer was on the line. He asked me, politely, to let her talk to you so they could have some peace and quiet. I guess she’s putting up a great big hullaballoo. I love that word. I might have to use it more often.” Brody hadn’t heard that word in a while either, and laughed. “Yeah, my grandma would say that a great deal. Anyway, I’ll be on the line with the two of you. And since she’s calling you from the police station, there will be someone listening in on that end and recording it. So, keep your cool and don’t tell her anything that you’d not normally tell her if she didn’t ask you. For instance, you can tell her about the tests, but only if she asks.” When the line opened up, the police officer said what Jake had told him. Apparently, Rachel was listening as well, but her end was muted. They told him they were recording the conversation, and that Brody’s attorney was on the line as well. “This is bullshit.” The phone was muted when Rachel spoke; the small humming sound was all the notice that they got to clue them in on that. Then when she came back on the line, she wasn’t any happier about having to behave, Brody would bet. “Brody, honey, I want you to get your rectum down here and bail me out. Give me a key to the house and stop this nonsense with our son. You know as well as I do that you’re not going to go through with this. You need me.”

“No.” She asked him what that meant. “No, I’m not going to go and bail you out. No, I’m not going to give you a key to my home, and I’m certainly not going to stop with the proceedings. I’m divorcing you, Rachel.” “And you think that just because you have all the money, you can do as you please? I’m your wife, you fucking dick shit—” The line went dead again, and Brody laughed. He wondered if Jake was laughing too when Rachel came back on the line. “I’m supposed to stop cursing. But I want you to know, Brody, that I’m calling you every name in the book in my head. Where is my son? I want you to make sure that when you go to court, or whatever the he…heck you think you’re doing, you know that you’re not going to raise him. He’s our son, and as his mother, I’m the one that should raise him. Everyone knows that the mother wins in this sort of thing. I’m thinking now about how much me having our son in my possession is going to cost you.” “He is your son. You have that right, Rachel. And you know as well as I do that he’s not my biological child. In fact, I found the list that you wrote on who could be his father.” Brody looked at Jordan as he continued. “But I could care less who he was fathered by. He’s my son, and I love him with all my heart.

And as for you raising him, that’s not going to happen either. You’re neither a good role model nor mother.” “You have never had a heart, and you’re abysmal in bed. Why is it you think I found other men to screw me? Because you might have a nice dick, but you hadn’t a clue how to use it.” Brody started to say that it might have been her, but he wasn’t lowering himself to her level.

“Don’t you have anything to say? I have plenty, but I have to be nice. You have no idea what you’re stepping into here by treating me this way. And tossing my parents out on their butts with nothing at all to fall back on.” “Perhaps you should have read the prenup better, Rachel. It stated that so long as we were married, I would provide your parents with a home to live in, as well as a car. The money allowance that I helped them out with was because, believe it or not, I’m a nice person.” She snorted. “Regardless. I’ve had enough. And since you’ve been stepping out on me since the day we married, I’m going to take back control of my life.” “Have you any idea how many men have fucked me in that big house of yours? Hundreds. Some days I’d take on two or three at the same time. It was so much fun, having men right under your nose.” Again, he could have said more, but he didn’t. “And with you all alone sleeping down the hall in your lonely little bed. Did you cry yourself to sleep, Brody? You pussy.” The line went dead, and Brody closed his phone when he heard a dial tone. It took everything that he had just to sit here and not hunt her down and strangle her. Then Jordan came to him and put his small arms around his neck. “Dad, she’s not worth it.” Brody told him he knew that. “She’s a mean person. And you are my dad. Can I tell you something?” “Yes, Jordan, anything.” Jordan walked to the little cabinet that held snacks. He’d never taken anything out, but he knew that Jordan had a small sweet tooth. When he took out a candy bar, Brody smiled at him as he ate it.

“I found my birth certificate in Mom’s purse when she took me to register for school a long time ago. I read it on the back too.” Brody asked him if he knew what it meant. “I didn’t. But I asked Clare, the girl next door. Dad, she has boobs and stuff. Anyway, she told me that my mom had been sleeping with other men, and you weren’t on the list. I had to ask Grandma what sleeping around meant. She told me. I don’t know why Mom would do that, do you? I just want you to know that I love you very much, Dad. And we’re going to be all right.” “I agree. Any reason you didn’t come to me with the question?” Jordan’s face turned red. “Are you afraid to talk to me about sex?” “Gosh no. I know you know about sex. Geeze, Dad.” They both laughed. “I wanted to ask someone that would tell me how it is. And boy oh boy, does Clare tell me like it is. But she said that I should ask you about it. I put my birth certificate in my baby book the day that we left the house. I wanted you to find it. I don’t know who those guys are, but Mom wrote their names on the back of it.” Brody thought of the things that his son was figuring out. Sex. Stepping out. He was going to have to talk to him about other things, he knew—and soon. But what he really wanted to do was let him know that he could come to him about anything. Even if it might embarrass them both. “Thank you.” Jordan threw the rest of the candy in the trash. Looking at his phone again when it rang, Brody realized that they had to get to the airport. It was Jake.

“We’re headed to the airport now, Jake. Do you think we can talk when I get there? I’m beat after that. And Jordan is as well.” “Yes, that’s a wonderful idea, Brody. I’m so sorry about all this. I know just what you’re going through.” He thanked him. “All right. I’ll see you, I guess, around seven tonight. Enjoy your flight, and remember, there will be a car at the airport for you when you arrive.” ~*~ Emmi watched the planes land and take off. Damn it, she wanted to go home and curl up on the couch, take some pain pills, and forget the world. Why Aaron had to come home right now was driving her nuts. But then, everything drove her nuts lately. Aaron had a good job, one that would take him all over the world one week then he’d be off for a while. And when he was off, if he could, he’d stay with her. Usually it wasn’t any trouble. But she knew as soon as he saw her body—because she knew that she wasn’t going to be able to hide her pain from him—he’d have a major shit fit, and then she’d have to explain things that she didn’t know. She saw that her brother’s plane was on time and would be landing in twenty minutes. Emmi sat back down in the chair, extremely careful of how she sat, and then leaned back. Then she began to think and wait again. Closing her eyes, she tried not to think of anything, to make the pain go away. Drawing—or painting, it mattered little to her. But she enjoyed it so much that sometimes she could forget about the world and the way that it had been shitting on her lately. Emmi remembered to check the flight times again and the gate where he’d be coming in. When she opened her eyes, however, a small boy was standing nearby. “Can you help me?” She was leery of the kid. Not just him, but all kids.

This was some sort of scam, she knew it. Looking around, she asked him where his parents were. “My mom is in jail and my dad and I are coming here to live.” Too real to be a lie, Emmi thought. But that didn’t mean she wholly trusted him yet. “Okay. And why are you not with him? I mean, you don’t look old enough to drive or anything yet. What gives?” He cocked his head and stared at her. “Kid, I don’t know what your deal is, but I don’t want to have to be dragged off to some sort of chamber and have someone kill me. Tell me what’s going on. And no lies. Okay? I’ve had a shitty day—well, month—and really, I just want to go home.” “My dad said that the car was going to be here to get us, but I had to go to the bathroom. Dad said that he did too, so we went inside.” He pointed to the men’s room right behind them. “Then when I was all done, I washed up my hands and came out to stand by the door. But he never came out. I think that my mom escaped and she’s killed him.” “Kid, you have a great imagination.” He told her his name. “All right, Jordan Downs.Let’s go see what we can find out. To be honest,Let’s go see what we can find out.

I got trapped in that bathroom crap too. It opens up on both ends. I came out on the wrong side and was lost for a bit. Come on, we’ll get this figured out.”
He took her hand into his and she froze up. Emmi didn’t care to be touched, especially when she was hurting as badly as she was at the moment. People terrified her, especially men. She supposed it was because of her husband when he found her. But knowing why she didn’t care for it didn’t make her any less unhappy about being touched. Emmi was married—or so she’d been led to believe. She didn’t remember the wedding, the man, or for that matter, what he looked like. But she was getting these summons—bills—that were apparently made by her husband that she had to pay. Not to mention, someone had changed her name on not just her mail box, but also her monthly bills, like rent and her utilities. No matter how much Emmi searched for some clue, she— “Are you all right, lady?” She told him she was fine and her name. “That’s a pretty name. I’m betting it’s short for something pretty too. Dad said he didn’t want me to have a nickname. He thought them to be confusing to little kids. People think sometimes I’m a girl. I’m not.”

“Yes, I can see that. There are all kinds of names that are gender neutral. You said that your dad had a car waiting for you? Do you know if it was a rental or a bigger car?” He told her. “I see. So, the person coming to get him might be at the gates with a sign for this limo. And if your dad is there, problem solved. If not, we’ll try out plan B, where we have to involve the airport security. And just between the two of us, I don’t think we’ll get too much help from them either.” She was hurting; trying to find the little boy’s dad was pulling on stitches and bruises that she had all over her body. The airport wasn’t that long, but there were a lot of people walking into them. Pay attention to your surroundings, she wanted to scream at people. But she— “You sure do walk fast.” Emmi slowed down. She had very long legs, and she’d forgotten for a few minutes that she was with a kid. “Thanks. Look over there. See those big signs?” “I do.” She was near to them when she was thrown to the floor and someone had her arms too far up her back. Airport security was screaming at her to get away from the boy. Emmi hadn’t a clue how that was to happen, as she had an elephant of a guard on her aching back. It was all she could do not to pass out. Not to puke where she lay. The man on her, because there was no doubt to her that it was a brute of a man, was telling her to not move, not to say a word. She was sick with the pain, and Jordan was screaming at them to let her go, that she was helping him. Before she could beg anyone for help, any kind of help, she was let go and yanked up to her feet. Emmi had to lean over until she not only caught her breath, but the pain was gone—which by her estimations, would be never. No longer able to hold onto the bile in her empty belly, she turned her head and dry heaved for a few minutes. The shoes in her view were expensive and polished. There was only one person that she knew who had shoes that shiny.

“Hello, Aaron. Don’t touch me yet.” Laughter had her peeking up at her brother. “I was only trying to help the kid. Now I have to go home. You’re on your own to get there. In fact, you should maybe go back to where you were for about ten years.” “I heard the kid. Christ, I think the entire place heard him telling them that you hadn’t done anything wrong. However, I did not know that you were in so much pain that you should have told your big brother.” She wanted to wipe at her nose and tears, but she hurt too much. “I’m going to find out what happened—you know that, don’t you? In the meantime, do you need something for the pain, Emmi?” “I’ll be all right. Just give me a minute. Could you help Jordan find his dad? He said he was getting a car.” Emmi couldn’t move, but she had to sit down. Trying to lower herself to a better position was making her sicker. “Aaron, I’m not going to be able to move without help. Can you sit me on the ground? There is a better place for me to die, I think.” “No dying, Emmi. I mean it. And so you know…. Well, that’s for later. Where can I touch you?”

Aaron’s voice was so strong that she wanted to lean into it, much like she had as a child when she’d be taken to task about something made up by her parents that she’d done. But Aaron’s shoes didn’t move when she felt someone at her waist. “Don’t touch her until she tells us where we can.” “She’s bleeding.” She heard Aaron cursing and the man behind her breathing hard. “Emmi, is it? I’m going to help you down to the floor. But you have to tell me where I can touch you. I think your brother is pissed.” “He’s always pissed.” Sobbing now, the pain was getting the better of her. “Find a gun. Shoot me between the eyes and I’ll feel much better.” She heard Jordan tell them no. “I was kidding, Jordan. I just hurt too much right now to think of anything other than not being in pain. Just leave me here. I’ll move when I’m able.” There was a pinch at her arm. Before she could turn, if she could have, to see what had happened, the man behind her came into focus. He was rubbing a place where she was sure that he’d drugged her. Then, amazingly, she started to float away. Emmi was never one to be able to just take a pain pill or shot and be able to be pain-free. She was a redhead and all that came with it—freckles, pale and sensitive skin. If she was out on a beach for ten minutes, she’d be burnt to a crisp. Like she’d ever been to a beach, she thought with a smile. Then she heard Aaron tell whoever had shot her up that she was indeed a redhead, and she felt another pinch to her skin, then absolutely nothing. There were glitches in the things that she saw when she woke.

A giant cat—a tiger, she realized. Then there was a man, telling her she was all right. Over and over Emmi thought that she’d died only to wake a little to more pain. When she was finally able to focus on her surroundings, there was a man in the room with her doing a crossword puzzle. As she watched him, he cursed at the clues. “What the hell is a steam engine scoop? You’d think a man my age would have heard it all. Stupid puzzle.” Clearing her throat twice, she told him the answer. “Bucket, huh? Let me look. Yes, that’s it. Thank you. I would have given up had I not been  assigned to watch over you. Though I must tell you, it’s not a bit of hardship on my part.”

“You’re babbling, and I hurt. Where am I?” The man stood and stretched. Her mouth went dry as the shirt he had on pulled up from his pants. Looking away, Emmi saw that she had an IV, as well as that her body was layered in gauze. She was in the hospital someplace. “Where is Aaron? I’d like to go home now.” “If you mean your brother—who is very scary by the way, even for me—he and a couple of other guys went to the cafeteria for something to eat. Do you need for me to get you something for pain?” Shaking her head, she closed her eyes. “Yes, well, you might want to talk to the doctor before you start moving around too much. Brody said you were a bitch to put back together. Who did this to you?” His voice had gone hard, and she turned to look at him again. There was something about him, something that made her think she knew him, but her head hurt too much to be able to remember. “You never said where I was. And who the hell is Brody?” He sat down, picking up the puzzle that he’d been working on. “Okay. Be a shit. I’m getting out of here.” When she sat up, costing her everything that she had in her, he growled low. It took her a moment to realize that he was growling at her. But for some reason, she wasn’t afraid of him—more like pissed off. So Emmi did what she wished she’d done to her dad every time he’d drawn back to hit her. She doubled up her fist and socked him right in the nose.