Anthony Bentley Legacy Release Day 10/31/16

Coleen had heard just about all she wanted to hear from her grandmother about the Bentleys—no one could be that nice. There had to be an angle there somewhere. People just didn’t help other people for nothing—not in this day and age.

Tony Bentley wasn’t expecting to find his mate, and as a Were Panther he could even understand her reluctance. He was, after all, a Bentley, and the poor woman had been taken through the ringer, but she was his mate, and he wasn’t about to take no for an answer. 

Coleen’s ex had left her in a heap of debt, and she couldn’t allow herself to bring that kind of baggage into a relationship. She’d work through it somehow—without the help of the mighty Bentleys. 

Micah Bentley is a third generation cop and a panther. He always wanted to be a homicide detective like his dad, but kept getting passed up for the job because he was too good at what he currently did working the beat. Micah has a gift, he can read people’s minds. Such a gift could be a help and a hindrance on a job. He could pluck the information he needs right out of someone’s mind, but knowing they’re guilty and proving it are two different things. But when his dad is killed off duty it has him rethinking his career choice.
Regina Webster, Reggie to her friends, is just trying to make ends meet by working three jobs to keep her head above water, and also take care of her invalid brother. She doesn’t have time for socializing with bossy men like Micah Bentley who butt into her life making everything concerning her his business. She doesn’t know anything about this mate thing he keeps spouting off about, she just wants him to leave her alone.
Due to a random act of violence, she finds herself suddenly homeless: no home, no money, no car and suffering from a gunshot wound to boot. Reggie has no choice but to accept a helping hand from the Bentleys at―least until she can get back on her feet.
Trouble has Reggie marked, and this time they take Micah’s mom too. Micah knows they’re in trouble, but when the bad guys don’t go where they’re expected it’s a race against the clock…
Christiana McKenzie, Chris to her friends, was at her wits end. She and her sister, Angel, were born witches. Their mother had warned them that to use their powers would bring on another witch hunt, and they’d risk being burned, just like their ancestors. Her sister didn’t heed their mother’s warning and now Angel was dead. Angel had lived long enough to tell Chris that she’d left something for her with a man by the name of Bentley, then she died. Chris had to track down this Bentley no matter the cost….
Joseph Bentley almost had everything finished: the house, the barn…everything. In a few weeks it would be finished and he would be able to move into the house and get the ranch going. But the progress wasn’t going fast enough to suit him―he was lonely. 
Micah had come out to tell him that the sister of the girl that died to protect him was coming to see him, and he was hoping that the nightmares since the incident would stop. Micah wanted him to come out to the main house and be there when she arrived. But the limo delivered the woman to Joey’s house instead of Micah’s. Joey couldn’t believe it, the hostile woman was his mate…and more than he could have ever hoped for….
Whether or not Chris wanted a mate or not was irrelevant, Joey wasn’t letting her out of his sight. And when she found out that her mother had lied to her―she wasn’t an ordinary witch―and that others would come to try to possess her. If they couldn’t do that, then they would kill her to possess her powers―she needed help.
The Bentleys ban together to save one of their own, but will it be enough? Can they even fight the powerful magic that’s targeting Chris and Joey?

Christiana McKenzie, Chris to her friends, was at her wits end. She and her sister, Angel, were born witches. Their mother had warned them that to use their powers would bring on another witch hunt, and they’d risk being burned, just like their ancestors. Her sister didn’t heed their mother’s warning and now Angel was dead. Angel had lived long enough to tell Chris that she’d left something for her with a man by the name of Bentley, then she died. Chris had to track down this Bentley no matter the cost….
Joseph Bentley almost had everything finished: the house, the barn…everything. In a few weeks it would be finished and he would be able to move into the house and get the ranch going. But the progress wasn’t going fast enough to suit him―he was lonely. 
Micah had come out to tell him that the sister of the girl that died to protect him was coming to see him, and he was hoping that the nightmares since the incident would stop. Micah wanted him to come out to the main house and be there when she arrived. But the limo delivered the woman to Joey’s house instead of Micah’s. Joey couldn’t believe it, the hostile woman was his mate…and more than he could have ever hoped for….
Whether or not Chris wanted a mate or not was irrelevant, Joey wasn’t letting her out of his sight. And when she found out that her mother had lied to her―she wasn’t an ordinary witch―and that others would come to try to possess her. If they couldn’t do that, then they would kill her to possess her powers―she needed help.
The Bentleys ban together to save one of their own, but will it be enough? Can they even fight the powerful magic that’s targeting Chris and Joey?

Nolan finally had a practice of his own, and soon his brother Burke would be leaving the hospital and joining him. Now, if the rest of the family would mind their own business, Nolan would be much happier…or not. He was sulking over his dilemma when his nurse told him he had a patient, a hurt kid who wasn’t doing much talking.
Rylee nearly collapsed with worry when she found out her nephew had been hurt. She wasn’t sure if she was cut out to be a parent. She loved her nephew, Shane, dearly and had taken on his care when her sister died, but how she’d missed the warning signs was beyond her. He was being bullied at school daily and she knew nothing about it until he’d been cut with a knife. 
“I didn’t know.” Her entire body sagged at her confession. “He said he had it handled. And I thought he did. It’s my fault he’s beaten up like this. I should have…I’m not any good at this parenting thing.”
Nolan reached for her just as Shane moved on the bed. He wasn’t sure what the kid could do, banged up the way that he was, but as soon as Nolan touched her, he knew what she was to him. Her body, warm and strong, leaned into his even as he buried his nose into her neck. Christ, his body screamed at him, she was his. Licking her throat, tasting her, he could hear her moan, but when his head was jerked up by his hair, all he could do was stare at her.
THE BENTLEY LEGACY 
1. MICAH – http://smarturl.it/micah 


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Meet Kathi Barton, author of best selling novels such as the Force of Nature series and Ryland of the Golden Streak series. She lives in Nashport, Ohio with her husband Paul Barton, an amazing and talented potter. Kathi likes to spend time with her eight grandchildren. she writes to relax and have fun. Also, she and Paul can be found at auctions in the summer months.

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Coleen signed her name to the last page and closed the thick file that had been handed to her. The man across from her, Harry Mercer, hadn’t been a bastard; he could have been, but he was nice to her. She thought that might have hurt most of all. When he asked her if she had any questions, she wanted to ask him why her, but she knew he’d have no more answers to that than she did. “No. I’m going to go live with my grandma, try to get my life together and get a job. They’re taking most of my money, so I’ll have to live very frugally until I win the lottery.” She meant it as a joke but it failed miserably, much as her life had. “How can I make arrangements to pay you back?” “I told you, I’ve made an arrangement with the firm I work for, and this will be a probono case. You have enough to worry about right now, Ms. Greer. And don’t forget, you have to have whomever you work for contact us so that we can make arrangements for the money to come here. And then we’ll disperse the payments that we’ve lined out for you. You’ll be all right. How about we go and celebrate that this is going to be behind you soon?” She told him she just wanted to get out of town. “When do you leave? Not right away, I hope.” “Today. I’ve had to sell my house and my things, so I don’t have anything left here. Grandma has room for me for the time being, and she’ll need help with my brother’s little girl.” She smiled when she thought of the little tike. “She’s a handful, Grandma said. Sweet, but a little energetic for a seventy-year-old to handle.” “I bet she is.” Coleen realized that she was taking up this man’s time, and he’d given her a lot over the last few weeks. “Coleen, are you going to be all right? I know that you didn’t cause any of this, but the law is the law. I think we’re lucky that I was handed this information rather than some other firm. They might have taken you to the cleaners. If you have any questions now or later, just call me. No other lawyer is going to be able to answer them like I can.” “I understand. I thought we were divorced. Apparently I should have looked better at the paperwork he sent me back.” The man nodded and smiled. She didn’t think this was funny, but he might have just been thinking how sad she was. “Thank you so much. You’ve been very kind. I’m not…it’s been a long time since someone has gone out of their way to be nice to me.” As she left the big building, she did wonder what she was going to do now. Her car was loaded with her entire life. And she had just enough money in her purse to pay for gas and as little food as she could eat to get to her next landing spot. Micky hadn’t been a bastard when they’d been married, but this had simply come out of nowhere. The man had been a fruitcake, sure, but she’d never have thought him to have had the brains to have pulled this shit. And now that he was dead, she couldn’t go and find out what he’d been thinking. No one had said a word about the divorce paperwork. She hadn’t thought a thing about it until she’d been summoned to the courthouse under the guise of being the only 
living relative to one Mick Greer. When she’d produced copies of the divorce papers that she’d filed to show that she had nothing to do with his debt, they had produced the paperwork that had been filed at the courthouse. It had been fake; nothing about it even made sense. It looked as if Micky had rambled on for several pages about a baseball game that he’d bet on, then about the house that he’d wanted to buy with the money had he won. No one had checked it at the courthouse when she’d taken it to be filed, and she was still legally married. For as much as she found that hard to believe, it was the debt that he’d run up in her name that had floored her. She had no cell phone…the service had been cut off days ago. There wasn’t any way for her to call Grandma and let her know she was coming either. Her money would have to last her the week it would take her to drive there. And calling her would be too costly. So Coleen got into her car and started her trip. Why she had married Micky was a mystery to her. She had been working in Vegas at the time as a dealer, trying to save up her money, and had woken up not only married to the man who had bothered her all night, but also in a house that wasn’t hers…as well as naked. When she tried to get away from him, she realized that she was trapped. Quite literally. He’d cuffed her to the bed. His plan, he’d told her, was to marry her—well, any dealer—and have them stack the tables in his favor. When she’d told him she couldn’t and wouldn’t do that, he’d slapped her, and did so repeatedly over the next several days. When she finally was able to get away from him, he’d tracked her down and told her again what she needed to do for him, and when she’d refused this time, he ended up sending her to the emergency room. Coleen spent the next four weeks hiding and being hurt. It wasn’t until she was able to get to the station house and press charges that she was able to get the divorce started. It had taken her another year and a half to get him to sign the papers. Then seven months later he was dead.  She had figured out at some point he was a little off. He’d had lists of things that he wanted her to do for him. One of them was to rob a bank, and another had been for her to run in the Miss Universe pageant. It took her an hour to make him understand that by marrying her, he’d fucked that up. She was no longer single. Micky wasn’t a bad man, just not very smart. That’s why this entire thing with the bills had surprised her. Turning up the radio to drown out her thoughts, she tried to think at what point she’d become such an idiot. Coleen had gone to college, graduated with honors with a culinary degree, and had been on her way to making a name for herself. She only worked part time at the casino to make some extra money for herself to buy her first home. Then after she’d gotten that, she’d wanted a newer car. That had never happened, along with a lot of other plans that she’d had. All because she’d been the fancy, as he’d called her, to a man that had no idea what he was up to most of the time. And now he’d ruined her from the grave without giving her any idea why he’d done it. Coleen wasn’t sure if she’d really been his fancy or someone that had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. But it was the only reason she could come up with for him marrying her. She oftentimes wondered if he’d drugged her too. Not even the chapel that she’d supposedly gone to could believe it when she’d been brought in. The man who 
ran the place, an Elvis impersonator, had told her she had seemed intoxicated and not really into her new husband. There were no recordings of the nuptials, and the marriage had been filed correctly. Coleen wondered, not for the first time, if things would ever go her way. “I’ll never trust another man, that’s for sure.” She looked at the radio when it just popped twice and went out. “See? Can’t even trust a fucking car.” Coleen drove until she was simply too tired to go on. Pulling into a rest area, she made her way to the bathroom with her things and cleaned up. It was the best she could do, she knew that; but she still would love to have had a nice deep tub with a million bubbles. After brushing her teeth, she made her way back to her car to sleep for a few hours. At the rate she was going, she was going to need to be hosed off outside when she got to Ohio before her grandma would allow her into the house. As soon as she closed her eyes, the tears started. They were useless, she knew that. As much as she hated to shed them, there was just no stopping them these days. She wasn’t depressed, but really sad. How had things come to this? It was a question that she had no answer for. Coleen wasn’t even sure there was one. For the next fifteen years, more if she didn’t get a job soon, the law firm would be taking more than half of what she made. It didn’t matter if there were tips involved; she’d have to declare a percentage of whatever the check would be even if she didn’t make that much in tips to cover it. Micky had put her in debt for over a hundred and fifty-three thousand dollars. Lucky for her, or them, they only wanted to collect half. Like she had twenty-six thousand dollars just laying around. “And let’s not forget the funeral costs. The fucking bastard even stuck me for that.” Why he’d needed the best of everything was beyond her, but Harry had shown her what the bill had come to, as well as a prearrangement form that he’d filled out at some point. That was another thing that surprised her. Micky had seemed to live in the now, not ever thinking of the future.  Who was going to give a shit if he was in an oak casket with silk trim when he was in the dirt? That was another twenty-three thousand dollars, because he’d decided that instead of just calling hours like a normal person would have, he wanted a wake, with steak and lobster served to his mourners. Had Coleen had any idea she would have put a stop to it. But at the time she thought she wasn’t his wife and was not responsible for his bill. Selling her home and cashing in all her money had only paid a few bills. The rest, every charge card that he’d forged her name to, every charge that he’d put to every store along the strip, was now something that she’d be paying forever, it would seem. All because she was pretty, he’d said.  As the sun was coming up on yet another fucked up day, she gathered her things and went to the bathroom to clean up again. Coleen got a soda from the vending machine, and looked longingly at the overpriced candy bars there. Turning her back on them, she went to her car and started out again. Her plan was to eat only at lunch, and then at a buffet. It was cheating, she knew, taking carry out at those kinds of restaurants, but it might be the only way she could eat decently for the next week. 
It was going to be a very long week too. And she’d be on the road for Christmas, which was only a few days away. Crying again as she started out, she realized that she needed to get a grip on herself. She wasn’t a whiney person, had never been one to let people walk all over her, but she was as stressed as she’d ever been, and felt like the weight of the world was around her neck. Coleen just wanted one or two things to go her way. She thought even that was too much to ask. ~~~ “Christmas is in three days. Are you ready for it?” Tony wasn’t sure how he was supposed to be ready when all he had to do was show up with some gifts and be cheerful, but he nodded at Micah. “Did you even decorate your house?” “I just moved in about an hour ago, so no, I’ve not decorated. And since it’s just me living there, I don’t really care to go to the trouble of putting up a tree by myself and then having the job of taking it down again.” Micah nodded and Tony realized he was distracted. “Did you get the elephant that I sent you? I also managed to snag a snake or two. They should arrive by courier sometime on Christmas morning. I think Reggie will love it, don’t you?” “Yes, yes. What did you get for Grandma and Grandda? Did you get the luggage set that I told you about?” Tony thought this was just too much fun. He told him he’d gotten them four sets. And that he’d made sure they were the ugliest colors that the store had had. “And did you wrap them or have them wrapped? I want this to be perfect.” “It’s going to fail. All of it is going down the tubes with you right at the end of it. They’re going to be calling the holiday fucked up day rather than Christmas after this, all because you failed.” Micah looked at him as if he’d just found out he was there. “Are you back now? If you’re going to berate me about something, the least you can do is pay attention to me.” “It’s the girls’ first Christmas, and we just heard that the little boy that we were going to take for the holidays might come to us permanently. His parents just don’t want him.” Tony told him congratulations, but he still wasn’t sure that Micah was paying attention to him. “How can someone just say, ‘I don’t want a part of my body’ like that? I mean, it’s their child. Created by them with passion. I just don’t understand how anyone can do that. She was leaving the hospital and said she wasn’t going to take him at all.” “The child will be better off with you guys anyway…you know that as well as I do. And he’ll be loved, not just by you but all of us.” Micah nodded. “What’s really eating at you? You’re acting like a man who is going to the gallows, not getting ready for the best time of the year.” Micah didn’t look as if he was going to answer, but Tony could wait him out. Something was bothering him, and until he got some help with it, he was going to stew himself into being sick. Tony had been doing that a lot himself lately…worrying about shit he had no control over. “Before I forget to tell you, Bethany and Amanda said to tell you that they’re going to join us for Christmas Eve dinner. That was really great of Reggie to invite them.” Micah nodded and said he liked them both. “Did you get her anything? Amanda, I mean?” 
“I did. I’m sure all of us did. She’s come right into our hearts like she belonged there. Her dad is going to get to come back early too. Hardship discharge. Reggie is swinging it for him. And he’s going to be honorably discharged too. Don’t tell them, it’s a surprise to them all.” Tony knew that it was hard on the elderly woman raising a little girl. He’d been talking to Bethany a lot lately. The woman was really worried about her granddaughter too, the one coming home soon. “Did you get the cell phone delivered to Coleen, her granddaughter, like you said you were going to?” “Yes. We have no idea where she might be, but I had one sent to each of the bigger cities along the route she told Bethany she was taking. They’ll use them for something if they don’t find her, but they’re watching for her. I have a friend that is supposed to give her some cash, and I’ve reimbursed him for taking it to all the places where the phones are. I don’t know if the police will find her, but hopefully she’ll hook up with them and not break down on some secondary road. I can’t imagine going on a trip that far without some sort of way to contact people.” Micah said had he known, they could have sent the plane for her. “Yeah, I thought of that too. Hopefully she’ll be able to contact Bethany soon and she’ll feel better. Now tell me what has you all twisted up. It’s not just this little boy either.” Bethany had shared with him how broke her granddaughter was. And why. Her exhusband had done a number on her. She’d had to sell her home and everything of value that she’d owned, and it still hadn’t been enough. Even the cell phone had cost much more than Coleen could handle at the moment. But when she arrived, if she did, there was not just a place for her to live, but a job too if she wanted it. The news that she had some cooking experience had made Elroy Baker jump right on hiring her, sight unseen. He just hoped the man wasn’t taking on more than he could handle with this girl. Tony didn’t much care for the new chef, and thought him a lush. “I’ve been worried over Mom.” Tony asked him what had been going on with Mom. “She’s doing too much. I think she might be spreading herself too thin, and I’m worried that she’ll get sick.” “I think she’s happy working at Faerie Tales and Dreams, don’t you?” Micah said she was but that was not what he meant. “Then I don’t understand why you’d think she’s overworking herself.” “She also works at the shelter, at the school, as well as helping us out with the girls when she’s here. Did you know that she and Grandma had a fight the other day?” Tony said that he’d been unpacking and not heard. “Grandma wanted Mom to slow down and to take it easy. I guess they were working on the Christmas thing for the pack when Mom just keeled over. Grandma said it scared her to death. Mom insisted she was fine, but Grandma was too worried to let it go and made a big deal out of it, and Mom blew up at her. I asked Mom about it and she got angry with me too.” “You have Chris or one of the others look?” Micah shook his head. “I’d be talking to someone who can have a look without Mom knowing. I know that it’s underhanded, but it worries me too that she fell over. Was she hurt or anything?” “No, she just said she was tired and got a little dizzy. I know that we’re all immortal, but that doesn’t lessen the fact that she’s our mom and not well.” Tony agreed. “I was 
wondering, since you’re almost the baby and all, if you’d go and talk to her. She likes you a great deal more than she does me right now.” “Oh, so you want me thrown under the Mom bus. I see how you are.” Micah said he was worried. “I am too, but what if she takes all my gifts back? I saw my name on a lot of those packages under that tree. I’d love to be strong enough to open them.” “I’ll make sure you get them.” They both laughed. “So you’ll do it? You’ll talk to her and find out what’s going on for us?” “Yes, I will…but you owe me.” Micah told him anything. “You might not think that’s such a good idea when I figure out what it might be.” “To know that Mom is only tired and not sick, I’ll do it. Even dance naked in the streets if that is what you want.” Tony thought that had some merit to it, but only smiled. “Christ, you have no idea how much better this has made me feel already.” “She might just tell me to fuck off too.” Micah said he didn’t think she would. “Why? Because you think she has some sort of different love for me? I’m pretty sure that she loves us all equally.” “She does, but you’re her baby boy. Well, second baby boy. She has special feelings for you on that score.” Tony told him he was full of shit. “That too.” When he left for his new home, he thought about his mom. She was the best, always there for them, and kept them straight. Any of them could go to her for anything and she’d tell them not what they wanted to hear, but what they needed to hear about whatever problem they had. Tony decided to go and see her, just to see if she was really doing all right. He pulled up in front of Faeries Tales and Dreams, where he knew she’d be; or would be soon enough. The nursery/greenhouse was busy. He’d known it would be even before it had opened. Being the week before Christmas and a new place in town, people were coming in to see what sort of things they might be able to get last minute. His mom was at the cash register ringing out a woman who had two carts full of things. He kissed his mom on the cheek and started to wrap the pretty little ornaments in the tissue paper on the counter. “Maybeth, you remember my boy, Tony. Tony, this is Sarah’s mom. She just came in to see if we had any more of the furniture for the gardens.” Tony thought it looked like she might have cleaned them out, she had so many of them. “I was just telling her about the summer items we have coming in. You going to put any pots on your porch?” “I don’t know right now.” He started to tell her just what he’d told Micah, he’d just moved in, but he looked at her face. She was making a sale and he was fucking it up for her. “Yes. I want to get them, but I’m not sure how many right now. I’ve got a big wrap around porch that I think can hold about two dozen; don’t you think, Mom?” “Oh yes, and around your back deck too.” He nodded, not sure what went on a back deck that didn’t go on the front, but she smiled at him. “You should see his home, Maybeth. It’s a beautiful sight to behold. I’m hoping that he’ll have some decorations up for next Christmas; we have so many here to choose from.”  He looked around. The place looked like a grocery store when a big storm was going to hit. The shelves were a little bare; the trees that had been decorated were devoid of 
much more than a few items. The shelves for the faerie items, a huge hit for the nursery, were mostly empty as well; even the displays had been picked clean. He looked again at the cart that his mom had yet to empty. The woman had spent a great deal of money here, and his mom had been responsible for it, he knew it. After Maybeth left with a promise of being called when the new shipments came in, he hugged his mom.  “You came here just to give me a hug?” He told her of course. “Yes, well, pull the other leg. I’m not buying it. Which one sent you, Micah or Reggie? Or was it your grandma? I’m sort of upset with her too.” He sat on the counter and smiled at her. “Spill it, young man, I’m too busy to mess with you.” “You have no idea what my house looks like, because every time I want you to come out, you’re off on some project. And when I invited you to lunch yesterday, you didn’t show.” She told him she’d forgotten, but had been busy. “Yes, I’m beginning to see that you’re really busy. With other people.” “Don’t try that guilt on me. I have a life too. Or I’m trying to make me one. So what if I fell over? It’s not that big of a deal. I’m sure you have as well at some point lately.” He told her that he’d not fallen since he was a baby, and she knew it. “I’m just trying to be helpful to Pip and her new venture.” “Micah wanted me to come and see what’s up. I think he thought I’d come here, talk to you a bit, and you’d just tell me. You won’t, so I’m not even going to try that way. But I am going to find out what’s going on. And you are not trying to help Pip. You’re avoiding things, and I want to know why.” He could see her temper rising, but he didn’t let it get to him. She was his mom and like the rest, he was worried about her. “Mom, that’s not going to work with me and you know it. You can bluster and be pissy all you want, but I’m going to know why you’re avoiding us and getting sicker by the day for overworking yourself.” “Micah and Joey have their families all set. Nolan and Rylee get along so well that I’m not sure that they even finish a sentence when they’re together. Burke loves his new job and his mate, as it should be. He takes such good care that she’s happy and not depressed all the time, and I love him all the more for it. Garth is out making money hand over fist. You have a new home that is all complete and not in need of a mother’s touch. Even your grandparents have their own things going on. Howie has his own business ventures going on. Since the nursery opened Katie has been in more flower clubs than I knew existed. And here I stand, all by myself, feeling like I’ve missed the boat somewhere along the line.” He told her he loved her very much. “And I love all of you, but I miss your father.” That surprised him. His dad had been gone almost twenty-two years, and she was now missing him? Tony knew there was more, a lot more, but he stood up and hugged her to him. “My home needs you very much. I have the things I want in it, but it feels cold and lonely. It’s why I wanted you to come out. I have boxes everywhere, but I don’t want to unpack. I feel lonely too.” He lifted his mom’s chin up and looked at her. “Why are you missing Dad so much right now, Mom?” 
“He would be so happy with all that you boys are doing. He’d be helping with decorations in the yard like he used to do. There would be menus going around, things that you boys like the most, and how we were going to incorporate them into the meal. The grandchildren would be spoiled with gifts; not that I haven’t done that, but I find myself thinking of him with each purchase and it saddens me.” Tony felt his own sadness take him a little. “I’m trying to keep busy so that it doesn’t hurt so much that I feel like a fifth wheel right now.” “Oh, Mom, you are anything but a fifth wheel. You hold us together; you have always held us together. Dad would be so proud of you.” She wiped at his tears and hers. “Mom, I love you so much. I don’t know what I’d do without you in my life. And that being said, I need for you to take a break, come to my house, and show me how to put a lap blanket on the back of my couch so that it looks homey, not staged. How to put my canisters on the counter so that they don’t look like I stood across the room and tossed them there. And for the love of all that is holy, can you please tell me what I’m supposed to do with five bedrooms, and a living room that looks like I could host a thousand people in it?” “Oh, my dear boy, you are the very best.” He told her that he knew that. “I’m sorry. I guess I should tell everyone else that I’m sorry too.” “Nah, let them stew around about it for a while. But I really think you should take it easy. Not quit working, because I know how much fun you’re having, but come back to us. We need you to.” She nodded. “And since I know there is someone here that can take over for you, why don’t you come out to my house, have some dinner, and help me out? I hate the way my house feels so cold.” “You just need a woman’s touch.” He nodded. “I’m sorry, baby. I truly am. But I’ll help you out. No telling when you might find the right girl.” He had to tell her, soon he knew, that his own mate had died. As she went back to find someone to take over for her, he looked around again and had to smile. The trees were already redecorated and the shelves looked as full as they’d been on opening day. Magic could really make a place look good, he thought. He wondered what it would look like when spring rolled around. Christ, this place would be beautiful.


Rider Lanning’s Leap Release Blitz 9/19/16

Graham was just trying to make her father happy. She didn’t know what his obsession with the Lanning family was, but she would go with him to visit the Lannings to appease him. The last thing she expected to find there was a mate, and it seemed her father knew all along. Graham was beyond pissed–she was set up.


Rider just wanted her to go away before he could claim her. It had been foretold that when he found his mate, that the one hunting them would find them and many of the Lanning family could die as a result. He didn’t want to lose anyone, especially his mate. He would die himself before he let that happen.

Their nemesis Sonya’s reach was long, even from the grave. But even her death won’t stop what’s coming. She started the wheels of fate turning centuries ago, and they’re picking up speed. Can all the Lannings come together to stop it before it’s too late? Find out in the conclusion to the Lanning’s Leap Series–Rider.


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Prologue
“Once you have put the magic in the safe, I wish for you to come to me. And no messing around either. I have things to do.” Allister nodded but said nothing. He knew the woman to be mad as a hatter, and he did not wish to make her angered again. She had a tendency to kill what made her mad, no matter how much she might need them later. “You screw this up for me, Allister, and I swear to you I will rain a blood bath on you that you’ll feel for decades. Once we have all the Lannings dead, then you will be paid for what you’ve done here.”
He had no idea how that would work. If she killed him, which was what she had implied, then there would be no feeling for decades. Not to mention she’d never get the safe to open if she did kill him, bloodily or not. He smiled to himself when he thought of that little clause he’d put on it.
“As you wish, my lady.” He moved slowly, but his body wasn’t nearly as old and frail as he let her think that it was. The less she knew of him, the better. Sadly, she knew too much as it was. Sonya, a hard taskmaster on her best days, had not been happy when he’d told her that his only child had died. “Once the safe is open the magic will go to the one that deserves it, just as you have ordered.”
“Yes, when the Lannings are no more and I am queen, the person who opens the door here will be my right hand man. We will rule the kingdom as one. I’m sick to death of those upstarts. From the beginning they were trouble to me. Imagine, not wanting to help me take over the kingdom. We all know that I would make a better queen than Kendra. Her being picked over me is just not right.” Allister nodded again. “And when you come to me, I will expect you to bring me her head, do you hear me? I wish for proof of what you have said to me.”
“There is no head, my lady. As I have told you, my child was burned at the stake some days ago. Her death, it has taken a great deal out of me. But there is no body left to bring you even a small portion of it.” Sonya looked as if she didn’t believe him, so Allister changed the subject. “The monies that you told me to make for you, they’re all from different time periods. There are instructions on what can be spent and what cannot. The person who opens this, they will be warned. I hope you realize that should they spend the money that is there before the dates it was in use, there will be hell to pay. You know this, I’m sure.”
“Never you mind about what I know or not.” He knew she had no idea. The women could barely think her way out of any trouble, much less know the way cash would work in the future. He did, but he wasn’t going to tell her that. “As I have said to you, I have all the power in the world, both worlds. When this is completed, and the Lannings are all dead and cold in their graves, I will rule both worlds.”
“As you wish, my lady.” She eyed him hard. “I wish only for you to get what you deserve. And as surely as I am standing here, I’m sure that you will.”
“Thank you.” Allister watched her carefully. “When you’ve finished, come to me. I will be at my home. Then we will discuss what happened to your daughter. I’m glad that
she’s dead, if you want to know the truth of it. Her being alive, it was going to mess up my carefully laid plans. And that has happened enough of late.”
Allister knew just what part his daughter had played in Sonya’s game. It was why he’d taken care that the woman never touched his only child. But right now, he wanted nothing more than for Sonya to go away and leave him to his task. It didn’t differ much from the one that she had set upon him, but he hoped for a better outcome. The money had come from the future. Allister hadn’t manufactured it as he’d told her, but had gone to the twenty-first century and had traded some of his furniture and other items that fetched him a grand price for the cash. The future was so different than the time he now lived in that Allister had been tempted to stay there and never to return here. But there were things afoot, things that he had to see to the end so that his daughter could live. And live she would.
Graham was his child, and even though he’d told the upstart that she was dead, she was as alive as him. Hidden away so that no one, not one person, could harm her the way he knew Sonya would. Allister had sent her away, far away into the future so that she’d be safe from this monster here. He’d also taken it upon himself to make sure that no matter what, the Lannings would live. At least he hoped that he had.
When the last of the magic had been put in the large safe that he’d brought from the future with him, he closed it up and leaned heavily upon it. It was time, past time really, for him to finish what he needed to do for all mankind. Especially those that were of the magical nature such as him. Going to the mirror, he spoke to the woman that he knew would someday open the safe with a man he’d never met in person. Nildale, the king of the genjar, would help a great deal, this he was sure of. He summoned the woman there and smiled when her face appeared for him.
“I shall be dead soon. Much sooner than I had hoped. But I have left you something. It’s there in the safe for you to use should you…you will need it. There is a man that will come to you. He will offer you so much but ask for nothing in return. Take his knowledge. You will need it. You are the soul of my magic. And when you are able to understand all, you will also understand the reasons behind the things that have been set in motion for you.” He thought of the woman he’d met briefly while there making the arrangements that would save so many. She was going to be stronger than any he’d ever encountered. And she’d keep his child safe. “Laci Lanning, you are going to save a great many people. And Nildale, the king, he will help you understand.”
Going back to his bed after putting a spell on the mirror to keep it safe as well, he closed his eyes. Allister hurt in more places than he’d thought there were names for; the lifting and toting were hard on an old man like him. Reaching for his child, their connection so strong that there was no need for his mirror, he smiled when she appeared before him as a shadow of herself.
“You do know that I know nothing of this world. And that there are things that go fast here that scare me, Father.” He nodded and smiled bigger. “She has been there then? This monster you are saving me from?”
“Yes. She has come and gone. You will be safe where you are. Do not go to the Lannings until you feel the safe is opened. They will need your knowledge of magic and
a bit more.” She nodded and looked away. The pain of their parting hurt him even more than he could say. “Graham, you will be safe for me?”
“Yes. I will be. So will you.” He said that he would be gone soon enough. “Nay, Father, you will not. I have decided that you will come to me.”
And just like that, he stood in the little house that he’d purchased for his child to keep her safe. Sitting down, he looked at his daughter and wondered, not for the first time, how she’d become so strong.
“She will find you with me here.” Graham simply told him she would not. “Yes, she will. Her magic is powerful, or so she says. You must return me to my time so that she does not find us together and destroy all that I have set up for you.”
“Sonya will not only not find you, but she will fail at her attempts to follow you here. Her mind does not work as ours does. It is full of her own self, and she will think you have done something to yourself and will almost forget you by tomorrow.” Allister didn’t think so. Sonya wasn’t strong, no, but she was evil. “I will protect you, Father. Trust me.”
“I do.” After he was shown to his room, a room that would only be found if he allowed it, he laid down on the big bed. There were many luxuries here, more than he’d imagined when he first arrived. When he was alone again, he thought of the precautions that he’d made for his child, and wondered briefly if him being there now would make a difference.
The Lannings were…. He willed himself to their home, a shadow of himself, so that he could watch them. He had no doubt that they’d survive this time of strife, but who he feared for most was the man called Rider.
Allister knew that the man was a good one. A bit of a worrier, but that was all right too. Allister knew that his own child would be tempered by this man, his level head and strong will would keep her safe. He watched the man now with his family, and hoped with all that he was that he’d be a good match for his only child. And that he’d keep her safe from the one that wished her dead. As surely as he stood there watching, knowing that Sonya was now dead in the time that Rider lived in, he also knew that the monster that lurked in the darkness would come for his child.

Burke Bentley Book Four Release Blitz 5/30/16

Burke Bentley’s decision to quit the hospital and go into practice with his brother was the best decision he’d ever made. With the daily pressures gone, he could do what he loved to do most –be a doctor.

Piper Cordale, Pip to her friends, just wanted to bust her friend out and go. She didn’t handle people well and needed to be on her way, but fate had other things in store for her. Her friend’s gorgeous doctor, Burke, insisted that he was her mate. Pip didn’t have a mate, nor did she want one. The chore of breathing in and out was hard enough.

But when she saw Burke’s nephew, Shane, sitting all alone, she reached out to him, and they formed an instant bond. She was fae and told the boy if he ever needed her, all he needed to do was call out and she’d be there.

When the unthinkable happens, and Shane and his brother Walter are targeted by a madman, can Pip reach his side fast enough? Is she strong enough to save them both?

The Bentleys must band together like never before to protect their young and pray that it’s enough….

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THE BENTLEY LEGACY 
1. MICAH – http://smarturl.it/micah 
Chapter 1
Burke stretched his neck and heard it pop twice before he leaned back in his chair. The ding of his computer, telling him he had an email, didn’t even faze him. He was beyond exhausted, but as happy as he’d ever been in his life. He looked up when he felt someone in the room with him. Nolan smiled as he sat down across from him.
“What did he weigh?” Burke just slid the file over to him without moving much. “Wow, you were almost dead on. Nine pounds, ten and a half ounces. Christ, you might have hit the all-time record with this one.”
“He was a bear to get free.” Burke smiled again. “His daddy is about to bust his shirt, he is so proud. But I have a feeling that Momma is going to be saying no a lot more now that they have a son. Seven little girls and now a boy. I don’t envy that little guy.”
Burke had been worried for a bit when the baby had been breach. But the mom, a tiger, had told him to fix it. Burke did and then twelve minutes later, little Cartwright James had come into the world screaming his head off.
“You’re settling in okay, right? I know it was hard for you at first.” Burke nodded at Nolan and told him he thought he was. “When you came out of your office that first visit, I thought you were having a heart attack.”
“I did too, to be honest. I wasn’t used to people being so frank about why they were there. And then when he showed me his arm and told me that he’d cut it doing something so mundane as chopping wood on his farm, it was all I could do not to call the cops, thinking of foul play.” Burke sat up in his chair when his computer dinged again. “I’ve been getting emails since Monday from the hospital. I’ve only read the first couple of them, but it looks like they’re wanting me to come back at any cost. What do you suppose is going on?”
“I heard from Mom that there was a shake up about some of the surgeons. Something about a rotation schedule. To be honest, didn’t really listen. What are they wanting you to do? Come back part time?” He told him what the one email said. “They want you to come back as chief of the hospital’s emergency room? Wow, there really must be some shit going down. What are you going to tell them?”
“Nothing. I mean, as I said, I’ve not read more than a few of them, but even after the first one, I knew that I’d never go back. I love this job. I like what I’m doing. And I know that I’ve only been doing it for about a month, but I feel like I’ve found my dream job.” Burke heard the computer again and turned off his speakers. “Mom told me that next week we’re going over to her house for a little pre-Thanksgiving test tasting. I have no idea what that even means.”
“It means that she’s going to try and cook up something strange and she wants us to approve it. I hate pre-whatever meals.” Nolan stood up. “I have two more patients tonight, then I’m done. What about you?”
“I’m done. I have a few notes to make, but I have nothing to rush home for just now, and I thought I’d hang a few more things up. I finally got my things out of storage yesterday.” Nolan nodded and told him not to be late tonight. “Nolan? Will you do me a
favor? I’d like to find me a house. Nothing on the scale that you guys have, but something sedate and sort of smallish. Do you happen to know of a realtor, or someone selling?”
“We don’t do smallish and sedate in this family. Haven’t you learned that by now?” Burke was afraid he’d say that. “But it would be my pleasure. Do you have any ideas? Other than I’m assuming close to home?”
“Yes, close to home. I don’t want to build. I have no desire to pick out carpets and wall shit. Just a house I can go to when I want to unwind, as well as a nice yard. Shane gave me a list, but I think the kid has it in his head that all of us Bentleys need giant homes. The two that he showed me were as big as your house.”
Nolan laughed as he made his way out the door. But when he stopped and looked at him, Burke felt his cat run along his skin. “Are you happy, Burke? I don’t mean with coming to work with me, but in general terms, are you happy?”
“I think so. I’m lonely most of the time. Not so much anymore because I can see the family more because I have a better schedule. Did you know that Walter has been popping over a lot? Well, he and Shane sometimes, too. And I’m telling you right now, that car you helped him buy has that kid thinking he’s king of the world. And I guess he comes home from college a little more too since he got it.” He knew he’d not answered his brother’s question, not really, and changed the subject before he could ask him anything else. “I’ll see you at Mom’s at six for dinner. Then maybe we can go on a run if you and Rylee aren’t too busy.” Nolan told him it was a date.
When he was alone, Burke pulled out the boxes that he’d brought in on Monday. Then he got himself a bottle of water and his tool box. He smiled when he looked at the name that was engraved on the top. It had been his dad’s, one that Burke had gotten for him when he’d been about ten. Running his fingers over the crooked letters that spelled out Dad, he thought of his father again.
Burke and his father had been close. Not as close as he and Micah had been, but almost. His dad, Grandda, and he would meet up once a week to go fishing, even if his dad had to miss a little overtime to do it. It had become their time. Then one day, it had only been him and his grandda.
“He loved you.” Burke told Grandda that he knew that. Burke’s father had been killed a couple of years before, right around Thanksgiving. This time of year as a matter of fact. “Didn’t think I’d outlive him, never dreamed of it. And here I am, sitting with my grandson, feeling both our grief overwhelming us.”
“Grandda, I think he knew that he was going to die.” His grandda had nodded but said nothing as they both sat there with their poles forgotten in the water. “He told me that if I did nothing else in life, that I should be happy. No matter if I wanted to be a homeless man. Just so long as I did something that made me feel good and happy.”
“He sure did love what he did.” Burke knew that as well. “My boy Micah told me once that being a cop like I had been was one of his greatest pleasures in life, besides marrying your momma and having you boys. I wish all the time that he’d not been killed and that he was right here with us. I worry about your momma too.”
“She’s really sad. And I hear her crying all the time too.” Grandda had nodded and blew his nose in his handkerchief. “I don’t think she wants to live anymore. Her heart is just too broken.”
“No, but she will. Now she will.”
Burke had heard them talking. Mom was telling his grandma and grandda that she wasn’t fit to be their momma anymore. She didn’t have it in her to want to go on. Grandma had sobbed hard, and Grandda got mad at her. Burke wasn’t sure what had happened after that. He’d been called away by one of his brothers.
And she had gotten better after that. Flourished even more since the grandchildren had come along, as well as the three wives of his brothers. Burke took out the first framed picture and smiled. It was the one they’d taken at the charity event last month, all of them standing in their finest and happy. There were others of them as a family…the babies, as well as Shane, were in them. But this one, the one taken of them sitting at the table all together and smiling when someone asked them to turn to them…Burke thought it was his favorite.
Burke was just putting the nail in the wall for the last framed picture when there was a knock at the door. Telling his assistant, Margaret, to come in, he turned to her when she didn’t speak. The man at the door with a knife to Margaret’s throat had him reaching for not just Micah, but all of his family to tell them what was going on.
You know him? He told Garth that he did not. We’re coming. I’m with Tony, and Micah and Reggie are close too.
The man started talking to him, using Margaret as his shield. “You go over there.” Burke did what he was told and moved with his hands up. “Where is she? I want you to bring her right on out here now.”
“Her who?” When he hit Margaret with the knife butt, Burke felt his cat run along his skin. “I’m trying to be helpful here, but I don’t know who you might be talking about. And that being said, I can’t bring her without that information.”
“Captain McClure. I want her now.” It took him several seconds to remember who he was talking about. Rylee, Nolan’s wife. “You tell her that she needs to come and see what she’s done to me.”
“All right. I’ll do that for you if you let Margaret go. She’s done nothing to you.” He told Nolan what was going on and he asked for the man’s name. “You just tell me who you are and I’ll call her right now. No funny business.”
“You fucking damn well right there won’t be no funny business. I want her here, and if you think I’m giving over this woman, then you’re stupider than them bastards at the hospital.” He told Nolan what he’d said. “My name is Franklin. They won’t treat me no more.”
“What is it you need treating for, Mr. Franklin?” He told him that his first name was Franklin. “All right then, Franklin, what is it that you need treatment for?”
“I got me a wound.” Burke nodded as he made his way to his desk. There was nothing there that he could use against a knife, but he was going to be calm and cool about this. “They said that it’s not nothing they did, so they ain’t gonna help me out.”
“Can I look at it? I’m not sure what you thought that McClure could help you with, but I’m a doctor.” He nodded and held the knife tighter to Margaret throat. “You hurt her and I won’t have anyone to help me treat you. And I won’t, either, if you don’t let her go.”
“She said that we could get fixed up. But that guy down there said no. He said that it wasn’t related to the army.” Burke asked him what place he’d gone. “Down to the new place that has been helping us out. You know, the Micah Bentley place.”
“Yes, I know the place. I work there, as well as one of my brothers. He’s the one that started it.” Franklin looked as if he didn’t believe him. “Nolan, he’s my brother and a good doctor too. He did that for you. And if someone turned you away, I’ll find out why for you.”
“I hurt.” Burke nodded and moved a little closer. Franklin was looking weaker now, his face pale. Burke could feel something wrong with him but not what. It wasn’t until he felt Chris touch his mind that he knew.
He has something on his spine, a cut along with a few other injuries. He had to escape. But to be honest, I don’t know what that means. His mind is all jumbled up. They won’t treat him because he’s got other issues. Mostly that his mind is hurting. They thought him too depressed to help. But the doctor there is being dealt with as we speak. Your mom is there at the clinic now. Burke could almost feel sorry for whoever it had been. Your brothers are nearly there, but I’ve told everyone to wait. You have this under control, don’t you, Burke?
He told her he hoped so, but to send in Rylee if that was okay with Nolan. The man was a human, and he might not know that he was a panther. Instead of pretending to use the phone, he told him that he’d contacted his brother.
“I want McClure here. She told me I’d be all right.” He told him how he was related to her. “Oh. Then she’s coming here?”
“Yes, but I won’t let her come in here until you let Margaret go. You’re scaring her, and I really like her. I need her to work with me.” Franklin said he was right sorry. “I know you are. Just let her go and I’ll have a look at your back. Then when Rylee gets here, you can talk to her.”
He staggered back from Margaret, who turned and slapped Franklin. When he just stood there, his face looking sort of sad, Burke asked her to set up a room for them. She nodded once and started out of the room.
“You do something like that to me again, Franklin, and you will think that Rylee is sweet on you when I’m finished with your old body.” Franklin looked at him when Margaret left the room. “Rylee is on her way.”
“I think that nurse is mad at me.” Burke nodded. “I want you to know that I only came here on account’a I knew the Captain was here sometimes. I heard tell that she hangs out here. Guess nobody knew that she had herself a husband that worked here too.”
“She’s married to my brother, Nolan.” He knew he was repeating himself, but Burke was trying to get his thoughts together. When Margaret came back to say that Rylee was here, Burke put out his hand. “I want the knife. And any other weapon you have on you. I’ll not have you trying to hurt her when’s she’s done us both a favor.”
“I like her.” Burke said he did as well. And when he put the knife in his hand, he asked him if there was more. “They took it from me when I went to the hospital once. Said I was unfit to carry any more. I was fit to carry when I had a bullet in me and they was needing me overseas, but now that I need to get some help, I’m unfit.”
“You come on along then and we’ll work in this.” He saw Rylee just as he was guiding Franklin into the room. He asked for one minute and she nodded. Burke went in and saw that Margaret had gotten his shirt off already. Burke wasn’t prepared for what he saw on the man.
~~~
Pip searched up and down the long building, trying her best not to cry. Franklin had been missing for four days now, and she was sure that he’d been arrested again or murdered. When the young man who had been trying to keep up with her finally did, she asked him again if he’d heard that he was here.
“His name isn’t on the list, miss. You said he could write, and he’s just not there.” She’d been confused by that when he’d asked her if he could write his name. He explained that there were plenty of men there that could not. “Mrs. Bentley is with the doctors now or I’d ask them if they—miss, you can’t go in there.”
She’d seen the room earlier where a bunch of people were closed off in a room. Pip knew they were mostly doctors and other staff. Why they were having a meeting now was sort of mind boggling to her since there were people everywhere that needed help. But she was missing the only man she’d ever loved, and one of them had to know where he was.
The door opened easily. She’d been sure it would have been locked. And when she walked in, she almost had the feeling that they were expecting her. Which wasn’t possible, as she’d only just gotten into town. A woman sitting at the head of the table was laughing, but the older woman who looked to be in charge just stared.
“I’m trying to find out if my uncle has been here. I heard from someone at the VA that he’d been…well, he escaped. They’re not very good at keeping him safe, and I’ve tried my best to get them to understand that he hates to be tied down, but they don’t listen. I’ve had to take on two jobs as well as move here to try and get him to be signed over to me.” She looked around the room. “I’ve shared too much. But I need to find him.”
“What’s his name?” She told the older woman. “Ah. We were just talking about him. Come on in, dear, and have a seat. And so you know, we know just where he is and he’s in good hands.”
“I want to go to him. Now if you don’t mind.” The woman nodded but didn’t move. “Perhaps you didn’t get it. I want to go get him and take care of him. Wherever he is, it can’t be safer than when he’s with me.”
“He’s with my son, Burke, who is taking care of him. He broke into Burke’s offices and demanded to see a woman by the name of Captain McClure. That would be my daughter-in-law, Rylee.” She asked what this man was doing for him. “He’s a doctor. Burke said that he’s doing some minor surgery on him now, and that he’d have him brought here in about thirty minutes.”
Before she could think that she was light headed, she was sitting in a chair with her head between her knees. The shoes in front of her were expensive and looked comfortable. For a moment she wondered what it would cost to have something like that, and heard someone laugh. Pushing against the hand that held her, she looked at the face of the younger woman that had been seated.
“You all right now?” Pip nodded. “Here, you drink this juice and I’ll tell you what I know. Franklin Bradshaw was here earlier today. And yesterday, from what we’ve been able to piece together. He was turned away both times.” Pip emptied the tall glass of orange juice and realized it was fresh with pulp, the best kind.
“Why? I mean, you have your doors open for anyone, correct? Not that he should have been out and about on his own, but I thought this place was for people like him, vets.” The woman nodded. “I’m Piper Cordale, everyone just calls me Pip.”
“Chris Bentley.” Pip looked around then back at the woman. “Yes, my family owns and runs this place. That’s why we’re taking care that your uncle gets the best care now and that the people who turned him away are dealt with. Not everyone is cut out for helping the lost.”
“I’ve been trying to help him, but he’s a lot to handle. I suppose he’d say the same thing about me.” Chris nodded. “And you should know that I’m not his niece but his friend. For some reason it’s easier to get someone to listen to me when I say that I’m related to him. Franklin hasn’t anyone left, and I’ve been trying to make things easier for him.”
“At what cost to you?” Pip said nothing but played with the condensation on the now full glass. “Does he know what you are?”
“No. I don’t think so. I mean, he might have at one time, but his mind is a little fuzzy at time on details.” Chris said nothing. “That other woman, she said that her son was working on him. Can you tell me what happened to him?”
“He was injured when he tried to get away from the hospital. Burke said that in addition to the wound at his back, he also had bruising around his wrists and ankles. He said it looked to him like they tied him down.” She said they had to at times to keep him from hurting himself. “No, that’s not why they do it and you know it. It’s why you’re trying to get him to come live with you. Please don’t lie to me, Pip. We won’t have a good relationship if you do.”
Pip looked at her. “I’m not sure what you mean by that, but I really don’t think we’re going to be best of buds, do you? I mean, you know as well as I do that I’m broke.” Chris cocked a brow at her. “Yes, I know what you are and who you are. And I’m also pretty sure you can read my mind. Not that I have much in the way of secrets. But if you want to know something then don’t rape my mind. Ask me.”
“All right. And the only thing that I got from your head was about my shoes. By the way, they’re very comfortable. When I touched you, all your emotions came to me and I can’t stop those. Also, I wanted to make sure that you were all right as well.” Pip nodded. “You’re not, are you? All right, I mean.”
“No. I have issues as well. Chronic Major Depression, or CMD as my file says on it. It’s what brought the two of us together all those years ago.” Chris asked her how. “I was
ready to jump. I had no idea he was there as well, on the building I mean. And when I lifted my hands off the railing that I’d been holding onto, he grabbed me from behind. No matter how much I fought him to be let go, he hung onto me like it was his business. I wasn’t able to shake him for another year and a half.”
“But that didn’t stop you, did it?” Pip pulled her sleeves down over her wrists and said nothing. “Franklin told Nolan that you were his niece just now. He asked me to have you be there when they come in.”
“Is he going to be all right?” Chris said that he was now. “I need him in my life as much as he does me, I guess. If anything were to happen to him…. I just don’t want anything to happen to him, that’s all.”
“Is it what you are that has you so depressed?” Pip just shrugged as she emptied the glass of juice again, only to have it full when she sat it on the table. “If you want something different, I can get it for you.”
“Cranberry.” The glass, which had been full of orange juice, was now filled with a dark red, blood like juice. Picking it up, Pip moaned as the flavor and the richness rolled over her tongue. Almost as soon as she set the glass down, it was full again. “Thank you.”
“You could have done it on your own.” Pip just shook her head. The depression, coming in waves more and more lately, nearly had her falling to the floor. But a touch from Chris and she could feel it dissipate. Not leave her; there was only one way for that to happen, but it did lessen a little. “How long have you been off your meds?”
“Five years, six months, and twenty-nine days. Since I lost my insurance, along with my job, when I couldn’t function at work when they fucked with my dosage. It happens at times. The place where I got my medicines wasn’t the best of places, and I don’t think they got the dosages just right when I picked them up. It had happened before.” Pip smiled at Chris. “I guess it’s what you are that makes it so I can’t lie to you.”
“No, you don’t want to lie to me.” Chris stood, and so did Pip. “They’re here. Nolan, my brother-in-law, is with Burke and would like for you to hang back a little until they get Franklin in a room. He’s afraid that if you show, he’ll get upset again.” Pip nodded. “Rylee is with Franklin as well. He knows her from the service.”
“His boss, I guess.” Pip sat down again when Chris told her she’d be back. The glass filled when she’d emptied it again. She was going to be buzzing soon if she didn’t stop. But as a faerie that hadn’t had any for a while, she was getting it while the getting was good. And she had a feeling that despite what Chris had hinted at earlier, she’d not be seeing the grand witch again.