Nathaniel Blood BrotherHood Series ( Final Book ) Release Day 12/26/16

Beth Snow had been given a death sentence. The doctors had only given her six months to live. She didn’t want her parents to have to watch her die, so she packed up everything she had in the new motorhome and hit the road.

Nate knew she was coming. He’d been dreaming of her for months now, and all the dreams where they were battling Benton had turned out the same— with Beth’s death. How could he take a mate to just watch her die?

The battle to save the earth was reaching its peak for Rembrandt’s Blood Brotherhood. Everyone’s dreams had become prophetic, and either Benton would die, or they all would. Would they find the missing piece to their strategy to defeat the monster once and for all? Live or die, they were all in it until the bitter end. What happens next? Find out in the final installment of the Blood Brotherhood—Nathaniel.

Kobo   Coming Soon 
Note: 18+. Does not have to be read in order. Can stand alone. Full length novel.

Fantasy, Demons & Devils

1800 years ago…

It was time for him to die. Rembrandt was ready. He had put up a good fight and nearly died twice that day, but now he was done and he was ready to die on the battlefield with the rest of his brethren. Death would be merciful, he would finally be with his wife and children. 

A being clad in black had other ideas. Rembrandt was meant to help him fight his cause and to help right a wrong that his kind had brought to this world. He gifted the reluctant Rembrandt with a taste for blood and immortality…and more…so much more.

Back to the present…

Rembrandt had had enough. He was over this life 1800 years ago and now he was just sick of it. The creatures he fought, the malefactors, kept growing in numbers and he couldn’t kill them fast enough to keep up. He had fought the battle alone all these years and he wasn’t sure he even wanted to anymore. 

Skylar Manning was just trying to be nice. The mysterious man dressed in black was hanging around after closing…again. It was the third time this week. Only this time he grabbed her arm. Her world changed forever.

Suddenly she found herself hunted by shadowy figures with razor sharp teeth, and into the arms of a warrior who craved her as much as she did him… 

Vicki Carver had seen all the carnage from what appeared to be some kind of battle and just stopped long enough to see if the big man was alive or dead like the rest of them. That large broadsword in his hand had her keep her distance. Pitching a pebble or two at his face should arouse him if he was indeed still alive.

Davis Brown was thoroughly exhausted, but he couldn’t ignore the small stones pelting his face. If it was more malefactors to fight he’d just have to let them do him in. He was too tired to fight again so soon. To his surprise it was a woman―not just any woman―but a feisty vixen who was not only beautiful but could see the malefactors. That meant that she was either magical or one of them―a warrior―his mate….
Vicki had her own demons to battle and to be thrown into a mystical battle with Rembrandt’s warriors to save their world from being overrun by malefactors wasn’t anything she had planned for, much less this mate business. Who did he think he was anyway? But she couldn’t seem to resist the hot, sexy man that brought her to the compound….

Leonard Earl wants no part of Rembrandt’s rag tag team of saviors. Before the cancer he’d been happy teaching children. But when the mysterious man in black shows up in his hospital room and heals him, he has no choice but to join the group. No one says he has to like it.

Jamey has been on her own awhile. It doesn’t take her long to figure out she is different, and that the malefactors can’t change her into one of them. Since the malefactors have taken over her town, she spends her days picking them off with her bow and arrows, or delivering food and water to the remaining survivors. 

Jamey’s body is also a “host” to a dragon that has been with her for as long as she can remember. He protects her and keeps her safe…. The dragon is leading Jamey to the man he is destined to transfer to. He tells her together they will balance. Jamey is willing to take the dragon wherever he needs to go, but the man she wants no part of…. She will miss her friend.

Leo is none too happy to find out that Jamey is bringing the dragon to him and the discovery that she is his mate. He’s already had a woman break his heart and wants no part of this mate business. He takes the dragon to save her life, but that’s where it ends…or does it?

The malefactors are increasing in number and they need to stand together to defeat them. Jamey sees her chance and takes it to defeat their enemy. Will Leo make the ultimate sacrifice to save her? Find out in the next installment of Blood Brotherhood―Leonard.

Christopher hadn’t been with Rembrandt’s group long. With their combined efforts there were fewer and fewer monsters to fight. His mate had died a long time ago, so he volunteered to go with Skylar to look for some “newbies”. When they arrived at the warehouse the new ones were acting very strange.

Kate had been scouting out the building when a large crate just suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Curiosity had her standing in the shadows when she saw two warriors come up the stairs and approach the crate. When they became aware of her presence, the man shifted into the largest cat she’d ever seen and pinned her to the floor with his large paws.

Kate was more than any of them had bargained for, and Chris soon discovered that Kate was his true mate, that the other woman never was. And when they fought together they were downright scary.

With their enemies Ward and Nolan dead, there was no one left to keep Benton, the huge monster they’d created, in line. Benton had lost his mind a long time ago, but one thought remained constant…he wanted Rembrandt dead….

Richard James is a very old vampire and was already an immortal when he joined Rembrandt’s team. Old grievances and heartaches, committed decades ago, still haunt him today. The murders of his mate and brother can be placed on a single culprit—Lucia Alverez.

Ryiah isn’t happy. It’s do as her sister says or suffer the consequences. She can handle the beatings, but being locked up in a cell again with no sunshine or earth is more than she can bear. Ryiah is fae and needs these things to survive. So when her sister says to bring her her mate, Richard James, the second lord of the Highlands castle of Ireland, that’s what Ryiah sets out to do.

Vampires and fae are mortal enemies. The blood of the fae is like an intoxicating drug to a vampire, turning the vampire feral. Rick knows immediately that the beautiful woman is fae, but that’s not the problem, there are other fae at Rembrandt’s compound and Rick has no problems being around them. But this one…there is something different about her….

From the moment he touches her, he knows that she’s his mate…the mate he didn’t want…and to make matters worse, she is the sister to his mortal enemy—Lucia Alverez….

1. Rembrandt – 
2. Davis – 
3. Leonard – 
4. Christopher –
                                                                  Happy Reading , 

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The motor home coughed a couple of times but continued down the road. Looking in the rear-view mirror, she wondered what she’d been thinking picking something so fucking big to use to get away. The thing was top of the line, sure, but for just her, it was too much. Simply too much of everything. Pulling into the gas station, she had to smile. She was filling this sucker up every ten minutes, it felt like. “I’m certainly doing my part in stimulating the economy by using this.” The lines were short, so she pulled into the bay closest to the road. Stretching her neck before getting out, she felt a stab of pain in her heart and sat very still to see where it went next. When she felt nothing more, she stood up and made her way to the pumps.  Beth knew that should her heart shut down while she was driving, she might hurt someone else when she crashed. It was why she was very careful and took precautions that were well beyond what older people did when they were told they had a bad ticker. And she had about as bad of one as there was. She’d been dealt a bad hand, as her grandma used to say. Beth Snow was going to die because of her heart. Not because it was broken, which in a way it was, but because it was enlarged…too big to function properly. It would happen much sooner than anyone could have guessed, especially her and her family, but it was going to happen and she wanted it to happen on her terms. It was the reason for this trip. The lie behind going to see some sites before she settled down.  Beth wanted to be as far from her parents as she could when the time came. She knew her mom would be…her mom and her dad would be devastated. She knew he still would be, but she didn’t want him there when it was done. That wasn’t right either. She wanted them both there, but was trying to spare them the pain of it. It’s not that they were mean to her. No, never that. But they did have a way about them that would bring out the worst in each other. Her mother was controlling, manipulative, as well as whiney, and she had been since Beth was little. She didn’t like when things were not going her way, and she did something about it, even to the point of being rude and nasty.  Her mom, Ruth, would get something in her head, or she’d want someone to do things her way. Then when they disagreed or didn’t meet her expectations, she’d do it herself. That never went over well in their neighborhood, and it had caused some horrible fights, with the police being called in and her dad having to pay some fine, bail her mom out, then apologize to whoever it was she had upset.  Even her dad wasn’t immune to her mom’s manipulative behavior, and when he didn’t do something or say the right thing to her, she would want Beth to call him and make him do whatever it was that week. Like that was ever going to happen. Beth was the daughter, not her babysitter, and certainly not her dad’s task master. Her dad, Lyle, was a quiet man. He had worked hard for the money that Mom spent to keep up with the neighbors. And even though he had retired some years ago, they didn’t want for anything and had made sure that as their only child didn’t ether. But as

soon as she’d turned eighteen, she’d gotten out in the world on her own and had made herself as independent as she could. She had made a good living at it as well by following in her dad’s footsteps and becoming an engineer like he’d been. But leaving them like she had, that was the smartest thing she’d ever done, she thought. For a lot of reasons. The last face to face conversation with her mom had sealed that deal. “I don’t understand how you think this is going to make you get any better. Just let us go with you and keep you on the right track to getting well. It’s not like we have anything to do. Your father hasn’t worked in several years.” Beth could have pointed out that he’d retired from his job but still had a very good income. And when they wanted something, he’d go find something fun to do to pay for it and not touch their savings. She looked at her dad and could see while he was hurt too, he sort of understood because this was, after all, her mom. “Tell her, Lyle. Tell her that she needs to let us go with her so she can get better. We can’t make sure that she’s doing what it takes for her to get well if we’re not there.” “Ruth, I think that she’s right.” Her mom turned her back to him, and Beth knew that later her mom would tell her dad how he was wrong to have said those things and that he should have agreed with her. “This will be good for her. Kinda wish I’d taken a trip like this when I was younger. See a little of this big world before things get all hinky. But she needs this and I think she’s doing what she needs to. Not just for her, either.” Hinky. What a wonderful word to say his little girl was going to die. “I’ll send you post cards and when I can, I’ll call you once a week. I really do need this.” “Well, I hope you know that you’re both wrong in this. I can’t make sure that you’re eating properly or that you’re taking care of yourself if you won’t allow me this. Bethany, you know as well as I do that you’re going to need me to make sure that you’re doing all the right things to get well.” Her mother put her hand on her arm and hugged her. “You need me now as much as you did when you were a little girl and had the flu. Just tell us where you’re going and we’ll travel along with you. There’s a good girl.” “Mom, I’m not going to get well. I’m going to die. And soon. You know this. The doctor told us that there is nothing he can do for me. Not even a transplant is going to help me now. It’s too late for me.”  Beth wanted to take the words back but her mom slapped her, something that she’d never done in all her life. Without another word, her mom turned her back on her too and went into the house. Beth was sure that, even though she was upset with her, her mom had gone in and started packing her things to go anyway. “Go, baby. Go now before she comes out here and loads her things up in that home of yours while we stand here, and is aghast that she’s ready before you are.” Beth hugged her father, knowing deep inside of her heart that it would be the last for them both. “I love you, baby girl. I have loved you since the moment you took your first breath, and will well after you take your last. Be careful and have fun.” When he let her go, he left her too. She’d seen the tears then, streaming down his face, and had gotten into her moving home and left. That had been six months ago. According to her doctor, Beth had only one or two of the six to eight months he’d given her to live left.

The gas pump popping, signaling that it was finished giving her fuel, startled her from her thoughts. Putting the handle back in the little slot, she looked around while the receipt printed. She would have to find a place to rest soon, a campground that would take her big rig, and settle in for a few days. She might even go and see some of the sights while she was here, she thought, and got into the camper with her small paper. Starting the engine, she let her broken heart mend a little as she made her way back into the traffic. The campground was quiet this time of year. She supposed that most vacationers had had their fill of camping by now. Late winter was not really a go to a place in a motor home kind of time. Smiling to herself, she watched as snow started to fall as she fixed herself some soup and then settled down to enjoy it. Beth didn’t bother with the television, and if asked, she did not even know if she could turn it on. It was the quiet that she wanted. The books that she’d picked up here and there were on the shelves that didn’t have some souvenirs on them. A pretty stone that she’d gotten in a national park. A pinecone she’d picked up at a roadside picnic area that she just couldn’t resist. All of these things and the rest were all labeled and dated. When someone came to get her home someday, she knew that her dad would enjoy these bits of her trip. And the pictures on her computer were all in files as well. She’d been sending him emails with them attached when she had service. Beth was pragmatic about things, she thought. She was going to die, that was a done deal. But she wasn’t going to wallow in self-pity, nor was she going to roll over and let it take her. She was going out doing the things that she wanted. Just the way her dad had taught her to be. Happy to the end. It was nearly nine when she decided to call home. If her mom answered she’d never get to speak to her dad, and Beth was disappointed when she picked up the phone. After telling her several times that yes, she was taking her medicine, and sure she was resting and eating well, her mom started in on where she was and how they could meet her there. “We bought a camper like yours the other day. It’s very beautiful. The same color and everything. It’ll be hard to tell us apart when we’re in the campgrounds together.” Beth felt her belly churn up. “You father thought it was a bad idea, but I told him that if you needed us, we should be ready. So we’re ready for you to tell us where you are so we can join you. Of course, you’ll have to wait there for us. It would be silly for you to go on and us not be with you, after all the trouble we’ve gone to.”  “Mom, why did you make Dad buy a motor home when I told you that I wanted to do this on my own?” Her mom said she’d done no such thing. “You said he didn’t want to but you told him to. Sounds to me like you made him.” “Well, if you’re going to be nasty about it, Bethany, perhaps you should just come on home and we can settle this here and not shouting at each other on the phone.” She told her that she wasn’t coming home. “I think that’s a wonderful idea, now that you mention it. I nearly forgot that it was Christmas in a few weeks. Either come home, so we can be together as a family, or we go there. It’s up to you, dear. It’s not that difficult for you to give me directions, is it? I’ll have your father map them out too, just to make sure we can get there in a reasonable time. You know how he is. But I’m thinking that if you come

back here, that would be wonderful too. You’ve been gone for so long. Also, I tried to get your things out of storage but the man in charge said no. He even called the police on me, if you can believe that. You’ll have to tell him that it’s all right for me to get in there. That way, when you get back here, everything will be just how you want it.” “No. I don’t want you bothering my things. I’m not coming back there, and for sure you are not going to come here. I know how you are, as does Dad. Mom, I’m not going to let you know where I am, nor am I going to do whatever else you have on that list in your head that no one messes with. I’m going to do this on my own, in my own way.” Her mother laughed then, that twittering sort of laughter that made her think her mom was humoring her. “Mom, can I speak to Dad? Please?” “He’s busy tinkering with the motor home. I told him that he should just let someone who knows what they’re doing mess with things, but he gets something in his head and he won’t stop until I have to make him.” Beth heard some paper moving around. “Now, I have a map and paper right here. Tell me what state you’re in and I can figure out from there how we can—” “Mom, Dad is an engineer. I’m pretty sure that he could do a better tinkering job than most of the people who actually built that thing could.” Her mom huffed. “I’d very much like to speak to Dad. I want to find out what you did to him to make him do this for you.” “What a thing to say to your own mother. You make it sound as if I stand over him with a whip and order him about.” Beth said she did. “I don’t know what you’re on right now, but you’ll not talk to me that way, Bethany. I am your mother. And don’t think I’ve not noticed that I don’t have that address yet.” “I know that you’re my mom. And he’s my dad. Now put him on the phone or I’ll hang up and you’ll not know what the doctor said to me.” There wasn’t any doctor, and she had no different news than she’d had six months ago. But her mother lived on having as much information as possible on her illness, as she called it, so she could tell all her friends. Beth was sure that every person in any place her mother went knew as much about her heart condition as her own doctor did. “Mom?” “I don’t think you’re being very civil to me, Bethany. And as soon as we get there, I’m going to make sure you realize how badly you hurt me. If you want to talk to your father, then fine. There is no reason for you to get snippy with me.” She heard the phone slam down on something hard and smiled. Beth was sure that, even though they had a cordless phone in every part of the house, her mom never went beyond the five or so feet from the base that she had done when there had been corded phones in the house. And Beth would bet all her money on the fact that it would never have occurred to her to take the cordless out to her father so that she could speak to him. Then when they were finished using the phone, no matter where they were when that occurred, she would put it right back in the cradle like she had always done before. “Hello, baby girl. How is life treating you?” And just like that, the weight of the world was lifted off her shoulders. When she started crying, she heard him speaking again. “Oh honey, don’t cry. I’m here for you. And if you give me just a minute, I’ll talk to you in my office.”

She heard her mom telling him not to be stupid, that she would like to hear the lies he was telling their daughter and to stay right where she could hear him. Mom even told him that if he did go into his office, he’d better not shut the door. Beth smiled when she heard it shut and the lock turn. “Dad, she’s going to be really pissed at you when you get back out there.” He only laughed and asked her what was going on. “Nothing. I just heard that Mom made you buy a camper. I’m so sorry.” “Don’t be. If things keep going like this, I might just start living out there in it. It’s a nice sucker. Have you worked out how the extensions come out yet? I swear to you, things get more and more complicated than they need to be.” She’d forgotten to extend the sides again. Not that it mattered…she had more than enough room. “I got the propane tanks filled today. Then I got me a few groceries to stash in it. I didn’t tell your mother, but I got them. I got the fridge all hooked up and cold. I even installed some solar panels on the top of it so that the batteries can be charged when we’re not using them. I’m betting you haven’t even turned on the telly, nor have you used that impressive stove that it has either, have you, darling?” “No. To all of it. But I did notice that I have one, if that makes a difference. And the microwave has been wonderful for my many flavors of soup, too. But if I were you, Dad, I’d do that. You should just get up one morning while she’s in bed and take a trip. Maybe not return.” He told her that he’d think on that. “I miss you, Daddy.” “And I you too. Are you feeling all right? Taking care, aren’t you?” She told him she was, just tired a lot more. “Yes, that’s what they told us would happen. You just take it easy. Oh, before I forget, I got me a cell phone today. I’ll give you the number and you can call me. I put it on vibrate so she doesn’t know about it, but I wanted to be able to talk to you when you wanted.” After she wrote down the number, they talked for another twenty minutes. By the time she closed off the connection, Beth was exhausted. As she was getting into bed, she realized that not once did he say that he wasn’t going to take off, nor did he ask her where she was. Beth loved her parents, but her dad was her world. ~~~ Remy looked at the sky and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Every day he expected Benton to come to them, show himself off, but nothing as yet. It had been nearly two weeks since the earth had let them know that he’d risen, and in that two weeks, none of them had dropped their guard. He looked over when he heard the clash of swords, and saw that it was a near war between Nate and Skylar. Both of them had come a long way in working out their differences. Mostly he thought it was due to Rick making the man come out of his shell, but Nate now joined them in more activities, and he had just started to have meals with them. He ate a great deal all the time because of what was done to him on the other realm, but he was getting that under control as well.  Whey, his own little faerie, he’d told Remy, landed on his shoulder, and Remy asked him if things were going well.

“Yes, my lord. And thank you ever so much for the greenhouse. It has cooled tempers a great deal to have something to keep busy with.” He told him that it had been Ryiah’s idea and Whey nodded. “I have a request, my lord. We should like to plan a party when the spring comes. We have not had one for a very long time, and I think it would be a good thing.” “Spring is several months away. You think you need that much time for me to approve it now?” He told him that he did. That flowers had to be ready for such an event. “I see. Well, yes, a party would be great. I was wondering about the tree. Have you found us some decorations for the big one that’s going up?” “We have. Oh, so many that will grace the tree. Some of the fireflies, they’ve said that they’d be our lights on it, and that will be a wonderful sight as well.” Remy tensed up when he saw Skylar hit the ground. “She is well, my lord. The earth, it takes good care of her should she fall again. See, even now it helps her to rise up. She will never be harmed in this play.” “I think she falls just to get me to run to her aid. What do you think?” Of course Whey disagreed with him, saying that Skylar wasn’t that mean. But when she turned and winked at them both, Remy laughed. “I think we’ve been had, Whey. My lovely mate is playing with our emotions.” “Women do that well, I think. My own bride, she is making me silly with her ways. Did I mention that the queen has picked us to work with the newborns when it is time for them to be born?” Remy nodded. He’d been told that at least twenty times an hour for the last several days. “She finally put up the list. Margo and I will be working with the roses. Such an honor, roses.” Remy had learned a great deal about flowers and faeries. First of all, not every bloom was filled with one of the tiny babes. The flower had to be kissed by a faerie that the queen had chosen. And while many worked for her, only a select few could give the flowers the babes that would eventually work for her too. Also, and this one was a shock to him as well, brownies were the babies that were forgotten or missed. Some of them would fall into the earth when the flower opened, but a great many of them would take wing as soon as the sun opened the blooms and find themselves a place to work with and for children. This was where imaginary friends came from. The brownies would live with them until the children no longer needed them. Remy wondered still if a child born of this current world would ever not need them.  “I meant to ask you. When the brownies are no longer needed by the children, what do they do? I mean, they’re still around, correct?” Whey assured him that they were. “But where do they go?” “To live with the elders of your kind. There are a great many of them—the elders, I mean—that have no one but the brownies that come to visit them. Some stay until they pass on, others visit and talk with a few at a time. The brownies serve a great function in your world that humans at a certain age never know about.” Remy thought that was the nicest thing he’d heard in a long while, and told his friend that. “Thank you, my lord. Should you see one, an elder, watch how they smile for no reason. It is the brownie telling them a story so that they will not be sad.”

Remy decided that he’d make sure to thank the queen for such a service to the humans, both young and old. As they made their way to the couple that were still at play, Remy decided that he’d very much like to have a few of the little people come and live with he and Skylar. When they were finished with the war, he wanted to settle down and have a houseful of them around. Mostly to talk to—they were extremely intelligent—but also because they made him feel good. Not just physically, but also mentally. “I’ve something to show you when you have a moment.” Remy told Nate that now was a good time. “It’s my tat. The one that I was telling you about. We’re to have company. And I’m not sure what to do about it.” “What do you mean? Benton? He’s coming?” Nate shook his head and pulled his shirt over his head and turned. The tat was moving, and Remy was nearly sick with it. When it settled, he didn’t see much until Skylar pointed out that there were twelve now, not eleven on his back. “Your mate is coming? Is that what you’re telling me? Good job, Nate. You’ll be happy as—” “No, a woman is coming. Just because every other female that has come here has turned out to be someone’s mate, doesn’t mean that she’s for me. I don’t know what I’d do with a mate.” When he started to ask him again what he meant, Skylar put her hand on his arm. She told him to wait. “I’ve things to do, so I thank you, Skylar, for the lesson.” When he was gone, Remy looked at Skylar for an explanation. “He is so large, have you noticed that? And with his size comes certain things that frighten him.” It took him a moment to understand. His size would frighten most men, he thought. Then he thought of all the things that might make a mate be fearful of you. “He thinks to harm her during sex.” Even though it wasn’t a question, she told him that was it. “I don’t see him hurting her. Whatever has happened to him, he won’t harm her. He must know that it’s not possible should he even think he would.” “He’s aware of that. He won’t want to harm her, but he’s terrified that he will. He’s fearful of crushing her.” It took Remy a minute to get what she meant and his face heated. “Even after all the ways you have taken me, against any hard surface you can put me on, you still get embarrassed when I talk about sex with you? Remy, you’re a child at heart, I think.” “I’m a man that isn’t used to such talk from someone. While you and I have a healthy relationship, I try my best not to think of the rest of them having it. Aye, I know that they do, like rabbits, but I don’t think about the physical aspect of it.” When she giggled he smiled at her. “You’re such an old man. I think that’s what I love about you. How you can be so prudish one minute and like a sexed crazed animal the next?” She wrapped her arms around him and he held her to his body. She looked at his shoulder and he only just remembered they had company. “Whey, ‘tis time you found your own mate.”  The little faerie laughed and said he would do just that. When he was gone, Remy lifted his mate into his arms and took them to their room. It was time to show his little woman just how sexed crazed he really was. “I love you, Rembrandt. With all that I am.” He kissed her then and felt his heart fill with her words. “When you touch me like this, even when you need it as much as I do, I

can’t think of a single reason for us to be apart. I need you as much as I do air in my lungs.” Remy thought him the luckiest man in the world. And when she kissed him, he felt his heart fill once again with her love and nearly wept with his need for her. Before he took her to the bed, he pulled her back from him just far enough to get her attention. He needed her to understand something that he’d been thinking about for days now. “I should like to have many children with you. Not to replace the ones that I lost, but to have our love bonded in a way that I never had with my first mate. She was everything to me, don’t get me wrong, but you are so much more. Watching you grow fat with a child of ours? You cannot know what that thought does for me.” He kissed her again and watched her face. “Remy, I swear to you that sometimes the words that come from your mouth are enough to melt even the coldest of hearts.” He grinned at her. “Yes, having children with you, watching you play with them and hold them, is all I think about when I’m alone. When I see you with the other children in the compound, I want to have you fill me with one of our own. To have a son or daughter would fulfill me in ways that I never thought possible, so long as you are there beside me to help me nurture and love them.” “And I shall be, my love. For the rest of all our lives.” He lifted her chin up to see her beautiful face. “We have avoided the conversation that has been haunting us for days now. Would you like to discuss it now?” “No. Not yet. I know what I want to do in my head, but not in my heart just yet.” He understood that. It was the same for him. “After. I want to talk about it after.” “All right.”  Taking her to their bed, he stripped her down to her bare skin. Each part of her, every inch of her skin, was marked by some unknown magic. Kissing her now, he knew that someday they’d know what they were here for, why something had chosen them for this task. But for now, at this moment, he wanted to make love to his mate. Remy knew they had plenty of time to talk about the other.  Sliding his cock deep into her, he grinned when she screamed out her first of what he knew was going to many releases. He too would enjoy her. For now, they were just a normal couple having an afternoon of fun.

Landon Justice Series book Four Release Day 5/16/16


Landon Logan is a man haunted by a tragedy that he blames himself for but didn’t do. No one can convince him otherwise–especially his well-meaning Grandda who happens to be dead. Landon is a necromancer.

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

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

Dillon’s happiness is short lived when her past reaches out to bite her, and she and Landon become pawns in her father’s evil scheme. When Dillon’s father has Steele’s new baby kidnapped, all bets are off.

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Chapter One 

Landon could see the people below him walking around the quad like nothing was going on. There was a lot going on so far as he could see, and it made him nuts to think that no one else in the world could see and hear what he could. He glanced over at the letter he’d gotten from his parents’ attorney this morning and then back out the window. Happy birthday to me, he thought.
It occurred to him then, and not for the first time, that he should just jump. End his life. It wasn’t much of one…even at nine he knew that. And now…he figured that everyone might be a little better off if he did. He knew now that his parents thought so. They seldom, if ever, had anything to do with him other than to tell him what a disappointment he was to them, and that they wished they’d given him away as soon as he took his first breath. They certainly knew how to make him feel good. Picking up the letter again, he read it aloud.
“I’m to inform you, Landon Michael Logan the Sixth, that your parents have taken steps to not allow you back into the family home. Should you try, you will be arrested on sight. If you attempt to contact my clients, you will be arrested and charged with trespassing. They have, in their words, written you out of their lives.
“Provisions have been made for your care. You will be allowed to finish your school years there at the academy, and so long as your grades are not below par, you will continue to have money in your account should you need it, but this is limited to what they feel is necessary, not you. Tuition, as well as your books, will be paid for out of that fund as well.
“At this time you have not been taken out of their will. They feel that doing so will make it so that, should they pass away too soon, you will not be cared for in a manner in which they have said. In addition, they feel it would be an embarrassment to their good name should they cut you out without anything and people were to find out about it. But there are rules that apply to you for the rest of your youth that you must abide by, or there will be nothing. You will not, however, inherit anything from their estate.”
Landon knew that his name, or that of his parents, would have opened any doors for him should he want it to. But for him, it had only been a name. Nothing much to brag on, and certainly nothing prideful about it as with other families he’d seen at school since he’d been here. As long as he didn’t ask for or expect any comfort or love from the two people in the world who were supposed to provide it for him, Landon had hoped that they’d forget about him. Apparently, they had not. His father was abusive, both physically as well as verbally, and his mother a tyrant, only out to get what she could from others and never give a dime back, even when it was expected of her. His parents were the perfect couple for each other as far as Landon was concerned. Picking up where he left off, he read the rest of the letter.
“At that time you turn eighteen you will be given a lump sum of cash. This money will be all that you will receive from the estate. You will not under any circumstances tell anyone of this settlement, nor will you ask for more. There simply is nothing for you.
Then when you are twenty-five you will receive the rest of your money as has been willed to you by your grandfather. In the event that your parents should die at any time before the dates mentioned in this letter, this accounting will be carried out by their attorney and there will be no more funding after such time. At this time, you are their child in name only. A full accounting of the rules will come to you when it is time.”
If they died? He was pretty sure that they would if any of the things around him were any indication. There were dead walking around all the time. Landon looked over at the man who was standing there staring at him. His grandfather, he’d told him the first time he’d come to him, was the only man in the world that Landon had ever trusted.
“They disown you?” Landon nodded. “Selfish shits. What do they think you’re going to do as a kid? Find you a job or something? Not likely. I didn’t leave them that money…I didn’t leave it so they could be cold and heartless to you.”
“I’m pretty sure they think they have enough reasons. You know what kind of person I’ve been.” His grandda, a Landon too, only shook his head. Landon looked out the window again and continued. “I’m thinking of joining you. I just don’t know what I have to live for anymore. I think Mother and Father would be much—”
“You’ll do no such thing. Why do you want to go and do something stupid like that? You think they’re going to mourn you? They will not. They’d have to have a heart to do that, don’t you think?” Landon said he was tired of it all. “Yeah, I know that feeling. Got me a terrible case of the tiredness until I realized that you could see and have a nice conversation with me. What am I to do if you’re not around? Now that I got you here and I’m not ready to stop talking to you as yet.”
Landon watched a boy he knew running across the quad, with a bunch of the older boys chasing him. Two weeks ago that had been him. Since then he’d been hiding out in his room, only leaving when he absolutely had to.
“They’re not nice here. I mean, I’m not either, I guess, but they’re cruel to each other and even to themselves. I’m betting that not one person would care. I even doubt anyone here would notice me for days after I was gone. It wouldn’t be me that brings them looking, but the smell of it.”
“That’s enough there, Landon. I don’t want you feeling sorry for yourself. You should just get your ass to class and forget all that other crap. You know I got me a powerful need to see what lies that history teacher is telling you kids. If I was alive, I’d tear him a new ass, let me tell you.” Landon smiled and thought that a smile shouldn’t be painful like this one was. “Landon, son, don’t do it.”
He pulled the gun out of his pocket and held it in his hands. He heard the sharp intake of breath and wondered what his grandda would do if he were just to look him in the eye and use it. Landon had bought it several days ago, and had been surprised at how easy it had been to do so. His grandda came to stand beside him and Landon put it out to him, knowing that he couldn’t touch it, wanting him to see how serious he was about ending his life.
“They don’t like me. They never have. I know that I’ve not been the best of kids, but I only wanted them to see me. See that I’m a person too. But they never did, not when I was good nor when I was bad. I can’t take this anymore, Grandda.” His grandda told
him that he could see him. “It’s not the same. I wanted them to say they love me. That they want me in their lives. But what do they do? They send me a letter from their attorney and have him tell me that I’m not to ever come home again.”
The longer he stood there saying nothing, the more appeal it had to just put the gun in his mouth and pull the trigger. He knew that he could do it. He’d even read up on how his head would look when he was done. Not that it mattered really, but he did want to just end his life. Looking up at his grandda when he said his name, Landon knew that it was time.
“Goodbye, Grandda. I’m so glad that I had you in my life.” Putting the small gun to his head, he closed his eyes. Pulling the trigger was as easy as opening the door, and he knew that he’d be dead long before he hit the floor. But nothing happened. Pulling the trigger again and again, he opened his eyes to see his grandda looking at him.
“Got me ways of making sure you’re safe.” He asked him what he meant. “Took me a person and had him come in and take the bullets out for you when I saw that you had it. Can’t lose you, boy, you know that. You’re all I have in this here entire world, dead or alive. I can’t let you do this because of them. I had him take them out and put the gun back where you had it. Throwing them bullets away was the best thing I’ve done for anyone in a very long time. I can’t be letting you do this to yourself, Landon. You’re my grandson and I have a need for you to be around for a bit longer.”
Landon threw the gun at the ghost. He, of course, didn’t move, but Landon’s anger spiraled out of control. As he began tearing things up, curtains from the windows, his sheets from his bed, he began screaming how his life was his own and no one else’s. Then he saw the candle. Grabbing it up, he looked for matches as his grandda begged him to stop.
He wasn’t sure what happened then. Landon woke up with his head spinning and the room he was in filled with smoke. The curtains were burning, as were his sheets and his books, and the letter from his parents’ attorney was there as well. As he started for it, to…he had no idea, he heard the first screams and knew that the fire had spread. He’d caused the building to fill with smoke and now people were going to die. Because of him.
Landon had no idea how he’d gotten into the hallway. He was sick with the pain in his head, and his arm was hurting as well. Tumbling a few times as he tried to make his way down the smoke filled hall, he started pounding on doors to see if someone needed help out. The third door he came to was hot, but he opened it anyway. Pushing hard on the door nearly had him passing out, but he finally managed to get it open enough to see the boy lying in front of it.
Dragging the boy out by his legs wasn’t easy. He was heavy for one thing, and Landon was sick now. Throwing up twice as he moved down the hall, he noticed that there was blood in his puke, and that scared him. Not that he wasn’t ready to die, but that the boy with him would as well. Getting him to the stairs, he sat down, trying to get his bearings. Two boys came up the stairs toward him, their hands full of something that looked like trash bags. He pleaded with them to help him.
“Help me get him out of here.” They said they had things to do. “But he’ll die. I can’t let him die like this. Just help me get him out of here.”
“Sucks to be you, I guess.” They were laughing as they made their way around him and to the next flight of stairs. Landon had no idea who they were or why they were in this part of the building, but he could see that they’d escaped being burned by the fire and soot had gotten them. Their bodies were dark with it.
“Follow me.” He looked at his grandda as he stood over him, his body floating just about a foot from the stairs that he was on. “Going down with your burden is going to be easier than going up. Just make sure that you pull him by his arms and not his legs. You don’t want to hurt his head any more than it already is. Come on, son, you can do this. I’ll get you out.”
“I hurt him.” His grandda asked him how he figured that. “I set the fire. He wouldn’t have been hurt if I had just jumped like I wanted to.”
“You didn’t do this, Landon. Not you. Them others, they did this, not you.” Landon nodded and said that he had the candle and it had caused it. “No, you didn’t. You might have been in the blast when it…why do you think you had a thing to do with this fire?”
“I set it. It’s what I was going to do when you hit me.” He told him he’d never touched him, that he’d been knocked out of the room before Landon had found the matches, that the explosion or whatever it had been had done it. “I must have found them then. I set fire to my room.”
“You didn’t, I tell you. You didn’t do anything.” Landon picked up the boy’s legs and started down the stairs again, knowing that he was going to go to prison for this. And wouldn’t that just make his parents thrilled. “You didn’t do this, boy, I swear to you.”
The next explosion rocked him. Hitting his head again, Landon knew a new kind of fear. The staircase was filled with flames now, and he was going to be burned alive, he just knew it.
Landon sat up in the bed. The dream of that fateful day as a child coming back to haunt him every night was taking its toll on him. His body was covered in sweat, and he could hear the echo of his screams in his head. Whether or not he had vocalized them, he wasn’t sure. But it was bad enough that they were in his head. Again. Sitting on his bed, the shaking began and he pulled a blanket from the floor, soaked now with his sweat.
Wrapping the blanket around him to keep the chills at bay some, Landon made his way to the bathroom to warm up. He nearly fell twice on his way, and had to go to his knees once when the tremors nearly had him throwing up. His body was frozen now, his head pounding so hard that he had trouble thinking beyond getting warm. Once he was in the bathroom, he turned the water to its hottest setting, and with his back to where the mirror usually hung, he leaned against the tile wall.
“I’m here, boy.” He nodded, knowing that his grandda would never leave him no matter what he’d done now or back then. “You gotta talk to somebody, Landon. You can’t keep this up. You’re killing yourself.”
“I’m fine.” Grandda snorted. It was no less than he expected of him. “You never did tell me how you like the house. Did you find your way around all right?”
“I like it right fine, and don’t change the subject. Get yourself cleaned up and come on out here, and we’ll have ourselves a pow-wow, you and me.”
There was no point in arguing with him. His grandda had been telling him what to do since he’d been about three and no one else was talking to him. Or listening to him. When he realized that not everyone could see what he could, Landon had lashed out, hurting those that might have helped him but letting his anger at being alone most of his young life keep everyone away. He’d figured that would keep his heart safer. Not that it had.
Stepping into the hot water, he was warmed immediately. From experience he knew that he’d be doing the same thing again tomorrow, so he turned the water to a relatively cooler temperature so that in the morning his skin wouldn’t be tender from his abuse today. Scrubbing his body several times, Landon leaned against the wall and thought about his life.
He was nearly twenty-nine years old, next week as a matter of fact. And it had been almost twenty years to the day since he’d blown up the building he’d been staying in, as well as two kids that he talked to daily, ones that haunted him still. And in all that time, since he’d been released from the hospital a month later, he’d not spoken a word to his mom and dad. That was until recently, when their attorney had reached out. They wanted to speak to him.
Getting out after washing his body again, he dried off, still not looking in the mirror. He would have had it removed as he had in every other place he’d been in, but he’d not figured out how to do it. Someone had adhered it to the wall, and other than busting it to get it down, he had yet to get it out of this room. Landon figured that he didn’t need any more bad luck.
Looking at his body was a constant reminder of that day. The scars, old and faded, seemed as fresh and raw as they had then. No pain was there any longer, but he did feel it all the same. Steele had been the only one to see them, and he’d told him that they were barely noticeable. But Landon knew they were there. And always would be.
Going to his bedroom again, he opened the huge closet and had to grin at what was there. Or in this case, what wasn’t there. The thing was as big as most bedrooms, holding not just things on hangers, but drawers for shoes and cufflinks, as well as watches and under things such as tee shirts and his boxers. Right now it had three tee-shirts hanging there, two pair of jeans that had seen better days, as well as a black suit in a bag that he’d not opened in more years than he could remember. Pulling out the worst looking of the shirts, he pulled it over his head after he’d put on his boxers and a pair of jeans. This was his attire on his day off. He headed to the kitchen, where he knew his grandda was waiting.
Logan, what most people called him, watched his only grandson move around the kitchen ignoring him. He was fine with that…for now. As Landon pulled out a big box of those flakes of corn he liked to eat, Logan suggested gently that he get him a banana to go with it.
“No thanks.” They both eyed the fruit that had been in the bowl turning darker and darker since Addie had brought it to him a few days ago. “I have to go into town today. Are you going to be joining me?”
“I don’t think so.” Logan was sort of afraid of the town. There wasn’t really anything there that would hurt him, but he didn’t like all the people. It was why he’d never met any of the others that Landon worked with. Logan just did not like the living. He’d barely tolerated them when he was one of them and avoided them even now. But he didn’t want the same for his grandson.
After he ate, Logan watched Landon put his things away and clean up the counter. He’d been alone too long, Logan thought. The boy was a better housekeeper than most women he knew. And when he finished drying his one bowl and spoon, Logan looked at the sad state of affairs that was his cabinets.
“You gonna get you some dishes today? Maybe a pot or two. I heard you telling that other man, Mitch, that you wanted him to come on by and have some dinner with you. What you planning to do, share the one plate you have and that bowl?” Landon said nothing, but Logan was used to that. That was another thing he didn’t care for, his grandson being so lonely. “You call that attorney back?”
That got a reaction. Not the one he wanted, but enough that Logan could see that he was thinking about it. He needed to get this resolved if for no other reason than to show his mom and dad that he wasn’t nearly as bad as they’d always thought. Or worse yet, as bad as they always told him he was. Landon was a good man; a great one as far as he was concerned.
“I didn’t plan on it. In fact, I’d forgotten all about it.” Sure he had, thought Logan, and I can pull a rabbit out of my ass. “I’ll call them tomorrow.”
“You’ll do it now. You might have won one of them clearing house things, and they might give it away should you don’t call and claim it.” They both knew it was his parents, and Logan had a feeling he might know what they were gonna say. He’d been visiting them too. “Landon, call the man and get it done.”
“I don’t want to.” He sounded five, and before Logan could point that out to him, Landon continued. “They want to see me. And then they want to sit me in a chair and point out all the things I’ve done since I saw them last. Twenty years is going to be a long list, don’t you think? I’m not ready for that. I don’t know that I ever will be.”
“You’re a damned grown man. What do you think you would do if they try to sit you in the corner like a child? You answer me that.” Landon said he had no answer. “Didn’t think so. You don’t like the way they’re treating you, then you can leave. But you’ve no way of knowing shit unless you go there and talk to them. For all you know, they could be wanting to welcome you back with open arms.”
“You know that’s not ever going to happen.” Logan knew that too. But a man could hope, couldn’t he? His son and that wife of his had done them both wrong. “And what do I do, Grandda, when they ask me what I’ve been doing with my life? Do I tell them I start each day with you harping on me? Do I say that I work with a bunch of men just like me that talk to the dead? I’m sure that’ll go over just fine.”
“I don’t know why not. You’ve made a living at it. And from where I’m sitting you’ve done a fine job at that too. Not the living part, but the money part. Why, you never have touched that money they paid you. Building yourself up from nothing, now look at you.” Landon snorted. “You don’t no more live than them ghosts you help. Hell son, when was the last time you were laid? I’m thinking it’s been a long while.”
“I’m not talking about my sex life with you. Especially not you. Christ.” He got up and put a load of wash in the washer as he continued. “In the event you didn’t notice, I just purchased this house and it’s taking up a great deal of my time.”
It was two more pairs of those ratty jeans he wore and five work shirts. He’d hang them on the bar when they were washed up and pull them down when he needed them. Work shirts never made it to the upper levels all that often.
“Yeah, I can see that. Laundry and dishes. Yesterday you run that vacuum cleaner until I plum thought you were going to wear a hole in the carpets. Then you dusted. If you ever want to change jobs in the future, you can make a right fine domestic.” Landon said nothing, but the shirt in his hand wasn’t going to survive the anger he was holding in much longer. So of course, Logan decided to push him a little harder. “You should get you one of them blow up dolls to screw. That way you can shove it in the closet when you’re satisfied and not have to think about it anymore. Much like you do most of your friends.”
The shirt ripped and hung limply in his hands. Logan wanted to get up and hug the boy. Hold him like he was sure no one had done in more years than was right. Logan watched his grandson struggle with his temper and his hurt.
“If I go and do this, you’ll go with me? See what they really are so that I can move on with my life?” He said that he would. There was no point in telling him that this might not turn out the way he thought, because they both knew better. But Logan was forever hopeful. “All right, but you’ll meet the others too. It’s a fair trade for what you’ve been doing to me all these years.”
“I can do that. But what about them boys? You gonna do something about them too?” Logan wanted to tell him to vanish them, but knew that he’d not do it. Landon had been tormented by the Bobbsey Twins, as Logan called them, since the fire.
“I don’t know. You know that they come and go as they please.” He did at that. Never here more than it took for them to upset Landon. Then they’d move on to some other trouble. And it mattered little to any of them that Logan knew just what had happened that day, and it had not been the way that Landon thought. And those damned boys knew it too.
The phone call from that pansy lawyer had upset Landon. Logan wanted to go through the device and choke the living shit out of the person on the other end. But he just sat there knowing that someday, not only would Landon listen to him about that day, but his son and daughter-in-law would as well. He’d been there. Logan had seen what had gone on that day and what had happened to cause it all. And it was not Landon. It had never been the boy. He also knew why he wasn’t there for his only grandchild, and he was gonna enjoy seeing their reactions to that coming out too.
Landon called to set up the talk. That’s what he knew it was gonna be too, a talk. He hoped that Landon would get in a few words of his own. Maybe a fuck you or a fuck off would be nice as well. Landon sat down when he closed his phone.
“I have to go there at one. They have an appointment open for me and I’m to meet him at the parents’ house. I have an appointment to go to my parents’ house.” Logan stood up to leave with him, not that it mattered. He could pretty much go where he wanted when he wanted to. “You really don’t have to go, Grandda. I was only…I was pissed off, and I didn’t mean you’d have to go. There isn’t any point in both of us having to suffer.”
“I want to. I need to.” Landon looked like he was going to say more. But Logan had a feeling he didn’t want to know what it might be. “I can see how well that son of mine aged. I’m thinking not so well. What do you think?”
“I think I’d rather you just pull my nails out with a pair of plyers than to go and see them both. And if you want to know the truth, I’m sort of sick about going there.” Logan knew that as well. “When this is done and you see what you need to see from them, you don’t bring them up to me again. Promise.”
“I promise, but on the condition that you have an open mind and don’t be going in there with your head up your ass.” Landon said he wasn’t make any kind of promises. “Then I guess I can’t either.”
As they made their way out of the house and to his truck, Logan had a shiver of dread. What if, his mind kept saying, and the list was too long for him to try and work out. What if Landon’s parents were as cruel as they’d always been? What if they were only bringing him there to hurt him again? The closer he got to the house, waiting on Landon, the more dread he felt. This was a mistake, he knew it. He just hoped the letter that he’d sent out would help his grandson more than he could.

Darin The Pride Of The Double Deuce Release Blitz & Winner Announced 4/18/16

Mercedes Crosby is a veterinarian and a damn good one. She’s just what Susie Douglas needs on her horse ranch, and Mercedes wants nothing more than to take the job and get out from under the thumb of her ex-husband, Nash Crosby. But trust in people is something Mercedes lost the moment Nash forced her to marry him at gunpoint. If the job sounds too good to be true, it probably is….

Darin Douglas is struggling to make ends meet as he opens his new bed and breakfast, The Douglas House. He has his first booking coming in in a few days and wants everything perfect, so he brings the family in to sample the first menu and to show off his new place. His brothers bring the already reluctant new Vet with them to dinner to meet the rest of the family, Darin and Zack. Darin met the Vet’s young daughter earlier that day and already loved the little girl, but he is surprised but not disappointed when his cat recognizes Mercedes as his mate.

Mercedes, on the other hand, is scared witless. She had found out a few hours before that paranormals really existed and she was living among them. Now, this big handsome brute is telling her that she belongs to him and his cat…ah, hell no.

Nash Crosby isn’t finished with his ex. They aren’t divorced until Mercedes and that brat of hers are dead….

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Chapter 1
“Nope and double nope. I’m not going to do that for you, and I’m even more surprised, or pissed off you might say, that you even asked me to. Where do you get off asking me to…? I do not kill animals because someone is tired of them. Nor do I know anyone that might if I don’t. Christ man, what if that were a child?” Mercedes went to the door and opened it for the man and his dog. “Get out. And if anything happens to that dog, and I do mean anything, I’m going to have you brought up on charges.”
“For a dog? Fuck woman, it’s a dumb animal. Nobody gives a shit if they get hit by a car. And if you think I give one shit about what kind of charges you think you can put on me, then you’re way stupider than I thought you were.” He jerked the dog along behind him as he made his way to the counter. With a short nod, Mercedes knew that her receptionist would take care of the man. And the dog.
Closing the door behind the two of them, Mercedes sat down on her chair and closed her eyes. This had been one hell of a week and it was only Tuesday. When her phone rang, she didn’t even bother moving to answer it. She knew that someone would pick it up. As she sat there, Mercedes thought of her life so far.
She was a nearly thirty divorced mother of a ten-year-old little girl. No house, no car, and she was still paying off her ex-husband’s debt like she’d had a thing to do with it. When she’d gotten her divorce from him he’d put a great many credit cards in her name and maxed them out. Nash hadn’t been too happy that she’d been upset about him beating her to shit all the time. Go figure.
While she had a good job, there was little in the way of income that was free and clear for her, and she doubted even if she lived to be ten thousand that she’d ever see that day. She didn’t have a car, no money for extras like socks or a thick winter coat, and some months she didn’t even have enough food for both her and her daughter to eat.
When a knock at the door startled her to sit up, she nearly begged to be left alone. The bundle that came in the open door made her feel like she was queen of the world. Seeing Bonnie changed her mood just like that.
Bonnie was her life, and the fact that her father had had to give up all parental rights to her was the best thing that had ever happened to either of them. Holding Bonnie in her arms as she told her about her day, Mercedes wondered what the hell had happened to her to land her in such a state?
“You’re not listening to me.” Mercedes told her that she’d had a day and a half. “You work too hard. When do we get to go on that vacation? Soon, right? Can we leave tomorrow instead of Friday? I don’t have any homework to turn in because of it being nearly Thanksgiving and all.”
“It’s not a vacation, but a job interview. I told you that.” Bonnie nodded and handed her the things from her backpack. “This farm that we’re going to, it might not be anything that we want. Or something might go wrong and I’m not good enough for them.”
“Never going to happen. You’re the best.” Mercedes wished she had half the confidence in herself as her daughter did. “I’ve got my things all ready to go. And I even
washed up your jeans for you so you could pack. I just have to put them in the dryer when we get home.”
“Our ride isn’t to arrive until Friday morning. So no, I don’t think we can leave earlier. Besides, we have to close up the apartment before we go, and since I’m working late tonight, we’ll have our work cut out for us tomorrow as it is. You can wait the extra day.”
There was a car coming for them. Mercedes wasn’t really sure what that meant for their travel plans, but Palmer had assured her that they were a very nice family with a great many horses that would need her help. Mercedes wondered how she and Bonnie were going to survive a trip all the way across the United States in a car, but they’d endured a lot together and this would be just one more thing. And Bonnie thought it was going to be an adventure.
Milly, the receptionist, came to the door to tell her she had a phone call. After telling Bonnie to keep it down, she answered the phone. She was both surprised and nervous to hear Palmer on the line.
“Hello, darling. I do hope you’re ready for this trip. I know that everyone here is excited to meet you. I’ve told them so many good things about your work ethic.” She told him that she was. “Good. Good. The car will pick you and Bonnie up at nine on Friday. Then you’ll be taken to my plane and brought here. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do. And we’ve put you two up in the bed and breakfast. You’ll be the only ones in it, and I’m sure you’ll give us some feedback on that as well. It’s new to the area. One of the families that you’re going to be working for owns it.”
“I thought we’d be driving.” He said that would take too long. “I see. And when we get there, what if things don’t work out? I mean, this is just an interview. I want to be able to come back if there is a problem.”
Palmer was quiet for some time, and she wondered if he was going to tell her that there wasn’t an interview any longer, but they were bringing her out anyway. When she said his name, he asked her to hang on a moment, as he had someone in his office.
“Are we going to fly out?” She told Bonnie that it looked like it. “I’ve never been on a plane before. Do you think they’ll have movies and stuff?”
“You’re taking your things with you so you can watch what you want anyway.” The line clicked again, and she started to ask Palmer if everything was all right when a woman spoke.
“Yes, everything is perfect. Hi, I’m Susie Douglas. My husband and I own the Douglas Ranch. I think there’s been a mistake.” Mercedes felt her heart break, and she told her that she understood. “Now don’t be getting your panties in a twist. I didn’t mean to say that you’re not going to come out, but I think we forgot to tell you that we’ve already hired you. Palmer said you were the best and, to be honest with you, we sure could use the help. While most of the horses aren’t sick, some of them are breeding and it’s been a little hard on us getting to them in time.”
“How many horses are we talking?” Silence on the other end made her think that there was more than the dozen or so she’d thought were there. “Mrs. Douglas? How many do you need me to come and see to?”
“See to? Not that many, a couple of hundred I guess. Not that many are breeding, but we need to get them a clean bill of health so they can be sold, and that’s been hard on Jimmy, the local vet, to do. He isn’t all that nice to the ponies either, so that doesn’t help. But there are quite a few of them that are sold, and we need someone to come out and say they’re healthy before they leave.” Mercedes asked her daughter to go see Milly as Mrs. Douglas talked about what they needed.
“I don’t think this is going to work out.” Mrs. Douglas asked her why not. “Because I won’t sign off on a health questionnaire knowing that you’re selling less than healthy animals. I might be down on my luck, but I won’t lie to help you make money.”
“Good.” Mercedes frowned at the phone and started to ask her what she meant by that when she spoke again. “I didn’t ask you to sign off on their health records, did I? Nope. What I said was, I needed the paperwork to say they were healthy. Now to you that might sound like the same thing, but I will tell you that I can tell when a horse is sick or not a hell of a lot faster than you’d ever be able to. And as for you being down on your luck, I understand that as well. But I have no intentions of selling off our good name for a few extra bucks.”
“I’m sorry.” The woman at the other end laughed. “I think we might have gotten off on the wrong foot here. I’m not sure what’s going to happen there, but if you’ve changed your mind then I can—”
“You’re coming. Now, if you want. As far as I’m concerned you’re hired, and we’ll put you to work tomorrow if you want to get on that plane tonight and get here. We’re about done in here. And with the number of horses we have, you might want to quit anyway.” Mercedes asked her again how many she had. “At any given time there are as many as four thousand horses here. Double that in cattle, and we’re bringing in a few extra animals to help out with the children as well.”
Ten thousand animals? What the hell were they running out there? A breeding ranch? But Mercedes remembered that Palmer had told her that they were running a racehorse ranch, where men who had more money than brains came to buy stock.
“I have a daughter, you know that, right? She’s all I have in the world and I have to see to her needs first and foremost. We don’t know anything about the area or schools. I have no transportation either. Then there is housing and where we can live. Are there doctors in the area that are trustworthy?” Mercedes was making herself notes. A big dollar sign made her pause enough to ask about her salary. “I have to make enough money to get us settled. We have bills and we’ve been trying to pay them off.”
“Hang on a second.” When she was put on hold again, she thought that the woman was going to tell her that she’d have to make due. But Mercedes had already determined that she needed to make more than she was here or there was no point in leaving to move them across the states. “Okay. My husband and I are coming to you. Tonight. I know that you have to work until around five and that you’re probably getting ready to pack and shit, but we’ll come out there and talk to you. Bring the contract you can have looked over too.”
“I don’t have an attorney, Mrs. Douglas. And I can’t afford to find one to look over this contract. I’m trusting you won’t screw me over, because Palmer said I can trust you.”
She laughed, and Mercedes wanted to tell her again that she didn’t think this was a good idea.
“We’ll be there around four-thirty. Someone is making us reservations at the hotel and we’ll have dinner. Palmer said he’d come, too, just to break the ice.” Mercedes told her fine, but she wasn’t making any promises. “No worries. And my name is Susie. Mrs. Douglas is too formal. We’ll see you in a bit.”
After putting down the phone, she sat there for a few minutes. The woman was like a tornado, and Mercedes wondered what it would be like working for her. More than likely she’d be swept up in whatever she had going on. If she worked for her, Mercedes thought there would never be a dull moment.
Susie hated to fly. And even more she hated to meet with new people. But this woman, for all her problems, was going to come and work for them. Susie had no idea why it was so important to her, but she needed Mercedes there on the ranch to help out. Looking over at the family that had come with her, Susie wondered if this had been a bad idea. She decided this was the best way to scare the poor woman to death if she wasn’t already afraid of them.
“You should see her little girl. That Bonnie is a sweetheart. And something of a gifted child. That’s another reason that she’s so far behind on things. Putting Bonnie in that private school is costing her big time.” Susie only nodded at Palmer. There was more to it than that, but she was going to wait for Mercedes to tell them. Gerard had had someone look into the woman before she’d agreed to hire her. “She doesn’t like the shortened form of her name, by the way. I’m not sure what that would be, but she won’t answer to anything but Mercedes. I think her ex called her anything but her first name and made it sound like a curse rather than an endearment.”
“He’s not going to be happy with this. I have a feeling that he’s sort of possessive of his ex-wife and tries to rule her regardless of the papers that say he can’t.” Gerard leaned back in the seat they were in as he continued. “The man has to be loving that Mercedes is getting him out of debt. And the fact that he can go by her place once in a while to let her know what a disappointment she was to him. The man is going to have to learn to live without his punching bag sooner or later.”
“He’s going to be no problem as far as we’re concerned. And if he makes a nuisance of himself, we’ll take care of him.” Mason nodded as he handed them a file. “There are some things on our new vet that I want to make you all aware of. First and foremost, she’s good. Damned good, as a matter of fact. Top of her class in college. No problems from any of her clients. And the firm that she works for thinks a great deal of her. But that could be because they run her into the ground for little to no extra help in the financial department. She wants to be partner and they know it, so they fuck her when they can.”
Susie glanced at Gerard and when he nodded, Susie spoke quietly. “I want to also make you aware of the things going on in her personal life. Her ex-husband is hurting them more than just with him coming by her place and knocking her around a little. He’s somehow gotten access to both her place she’s staying and her bank accounts. I think that he has someone watching her for him when she’s at home. And more and more lately, he
dips into her money when he finds that she has more than he thinks she should. He has buddies at the bank. Also, he’s hiding funding from her. He gave up all rights to his daughter, but he’s not paying child support to her because he claims he has no money.” Palmer asked her how she knew this. “I’ve seen her. Once. I traveled out there to have a little talk with her to try and feel her out, and I never got past the first touch of her. Her problems aren’t going to go away soon.”
They were aware of what she and Gerard could do. Not all of it but a great deal. Some of it was just too fucking scary to share. Like the fact that they could touch a person and then know the people that they’d had contact with, the ex-husband being one of people that Mercedes had been touched by that day. The man was going to be an issue whether she moved out where they were or not.
“Do you think he’s going to be a problem then?” Susie nodded, and Mason leaned back on the seat again. “A police problem or a leap problem?”
“Both,” Gerard told them as he continued with the information they’d gotten from her. “He’s not going to be happy when he finds out that she’s moving. He likes her under his thumb. And he does have her there. Mercedes is afraid that he’ll take her daughter from her and that he’ll hurt her. Not legally, but simply to take her because he knows that it’ll hurt Mercedes. He doesn’t want her either, but he likes having control over Mercedes. The only reason she was able to file for divorce was because he was in jail just long enough for her to get a judge to grant her one, and when he got out, he was fucking pissed.”
“And the money that she owes, is it because of the divorce or something more?” Palmer didn’t look like he needed anyone to answer him, and when he spoke again, she was sort of proud of him. “He tried to ruin her. Or has he?”
“Close to it. She lost her house, her car, and can’t get a loan. When she told me that she couldn’t afford an attorney to go over the contract we’re taking her, she wasn’t kidding. They have nothing. Less than nothing. Next month the school that her daughter goes to is going to tell her that they can no longer carry her. She knows this, but can’t stand the thought of losing it for her little girl. It’s not only a good school, but a safe place for her too.”
“We’ll bring her back with us.” Susie nodded at Palmer. “If I have to pack her up myself, I’m bringing her back with me.”
“We all will. But I think we’re going to have to go at this slowly. Think of her like a skittish horse or cow. She’s terrified to trust anyone anymore, and when this ex finds out she’s flown the coop, he’s not going to lay back and just let her go.” Mason asked her what she meant. “He’s a man used to getting his own way. He’s Nash Crosby.”
Palmer didn’t have any idea who that was, but Susie knew that Mason did. And so did Ed. Ed Clarke was the one that had told her and Gerard about him when she’d asked him about the divorce papers that she’d had sent to her. Crosby wasn’t just bad news, but he made her own father look sort of saintly.
“Nash is…how should I say this? He is a man who is used to getting his own way, but it’s more than that. He’s a thug. And the worst kind of one. When he was younger, there was speculation that he might have been involved in the car accident that took both
his parents’ lives and that of his sister. Six months after they were gone, his grandmother died in a house fire.” Ed looked at his notes as he mopped his brow with his handkerchief. “Then about eleven years ago, he married Mercedes Gillespie. Her family had some money, but not a great deal. Mercedes was in her last year of veterinary college and making a name for herself even then. By all accounts, Mercedes didn’t care for the man, had on several occasions gone to the police about him. Then one day there was an article in the paper that they were to be wed. Six months later, Bonnie was born.”
“You think he raped her, got her with child, and then forced her into marrying him? That might have worked some years ago, but not now.” Mason looked at Palmer when he laughed nervously. “Please tell me that I’m wrong about this.”
“You’re not. And she might not have married him had her father not been ill at the time. His death happened a few months after they said their vows. We think he might have been hurting her father, and that might be the reason that he got her to say yes. I guess we won’t know for sure until she tells us.” Susie didn’t even look at them as Mason continued. She knew, but it wasn’t her story to tell.
“So we’re here to bring her to safety, not hire her.” Mason told Palmer that they were going to hire her, had already as far as he was concerned. “Then I don’t understand. Why all this cloak and dagger stuff? I really like this woman, but why do we need to know about her personal life like this?”
“She’s going to be living on one of the ranches and we don’t want anyone hurt. We have to consider what sort of baggage she’ll be bringing with her in the form of that ex of hers.” Gerard continued as Palmer agreed with him. “And if she’s not happy, the horses and the cattle will know it. We can’t have her stressed out when the horses have enough of that on their own.”
As they were landing, she sat next to Gerard again. Susie had only touched the woman once, but it was enough to bring her to tears over what she was going through. Not only was the woman in desperate need of a break, but she was on the verge of losing even her home if her ex had anything to do with it. Nash was going to be a problem for them all.
The hotel was nice, and she wished that Darin had been able to come with them. He’d been hitting all the B&B’s around the country to find out what he wanted in theirs. The construction was nearly finished on the building, and the decorators had already finished up on three of the floors. In about a month, less she thought, they’d have all the rooms ready and Darin would have Douglas House up and running.
The restaurant, too, was nearly complete, and the new chef had been thrilled to death to take over the lower level for his own. Susie was still trying to keep herself from freaking out every time a bill came in, and finally, Gerard had told her not to open them anymore. It was expensive to start from scratch, and he assured her that they would be fine.
The business was going much better than they’d ever hoped it would, too. They were selling horses almost faster than she could train them. Several ranches had made the trip to their ranch to not only buy, but to place an order for other horses as well. Their monthly income was by far more than most people made in a lifetime.
They had expenses too; huge straw and hay bills, vet bills in the five figures weekly. Grain and feed was being delivered daily, and they still had to supplement that with an extra truck once in a while. But she was doing something that she loved, and they were doing well with it.
As soon as they were settled in their room, she called Darin to let him know about the room, even sent him a few pictures. Calling the doctor to ask her where they could meet, Susie was surprised when the little girl answered the phone. After telling her who she was and why she was calling, Bonnie started to cry harder. The noise in the background had her reaching for the others as the little girl sobbed in the phone.
“My daddy is here now, and he said that we weren’t going anywhere. I don’t know how he figured it out, but he’s really mad at us.” Bonnie cried harder when something sounded like it broke behind her. “Can you please come here and get us? Hurry, please? I don’t want him here.”
“They’re coming. Where are you? Can you see them?” She told her that her mommy had told her to hide. “Good girl. You stay on the phone with me, and my family will take care that he goes home. Then you’re going to come here with us and we’re going to go to my house. We have a lot of ponies, and they’re excited about you coming out.”
Susie thought it important to keep the child on the line. She was afraid, and so was Susie. When another crash sounded very close to the phone, Susie brought up the trip again.
“Mommy said that we’re going to fly away if we can.” Susie told her that would be wonderful. “And that I can see the cows and horses that she’s gonna take care of. If you hire her.”
“She’s already hired.” There was a scream and then a man yelling for the little girl. “Don’t go to him, Bonnie. Your mommy won’t like it if he takes you from her.”
Bonnie screamed, and the line went dead. Before she could reach for Gerard and the others, Gerard said they were there, and for her to call the police. She picked up the phone again with shaking hands and dialed the number. They said that they were on their way and that someone had already called them.
“There’s a little girl in the house. She’s ten and terrified. I think someone is trying to hurt her.” The dispatcher told her that they were on the way, and would be there soon. “I hope so.”
Susie was just going to go to them when she heard from Mason. He used the phone to contact her, and that terrified her more than she could have thought. When he spoke, his voice was calm and even, but she knew that he was beyond pissed off.
“I’d like for you to meet us at the hospital. The bastard has…we’re still trying to find the little girl, but the woman is beaten to shit.” Susie said she was leaving now. “Have our things packed up by the staff, and everything taken to the airport. We’re not hanging around to see if he comes back to finish the job.”
“How bad is she?” Mason said that the medics were there now, but she was talking to them. “She’s gonna be worried about the bill. Tell her that she’s insured as of three days ago when we hired her. And have the bills sent to our house.”
“I’ll take care of it.” She thanked Mason and asked to speak to Gerard. “He’s talking with the police, honey. As soon as he’s done…he’s fine, but he got hurt too.”
She felt her legs shake, then she had to sit down. As she slid to the floor, she felt his touch, Gerard’s touch, and his love as it surrounded her. Susie knew that Mason was still speaking to her, but the only person she cared about right now was the one in her heart and head.
I’m fine. It’s a good thing that he hit me. She asked him how. Because he assaulted me, and even if our vet doesn’t press charges, I’m going to. This way he’ll be in jail still by the time we land at home.
So you’re telling me you took one for the team? He didn’t say anything. How badly are you hurt? And so you know, I’m going to do ten times worse when I see you.
Only a black eye and maybe a broken nose. She growled low at him. If you want, I’ll let you beat me a little before I take you hard on the floor. After, of course, I eat you.
I dislike you very much right now. He laughed. Come here to me, Gerard. I need to see you for myself.
I love you as well. When we’re done here. Meet us at the plane. We’re out of here. She felt his anger. Sharp enough that she could almost taste it. We have her. She came out when her mom told her to. The little girl has been hurt too. I’m going to kill this bastard.

Andrew Book Five Lanning’s Leap Series Release Day 4/4/16

Andrew Lanning was happy when they shut down the family search and rescue business. He hated it because it was rarely ever a rescue, just bodies and that was too depressing. But now he had to find something else to do. Being a man of leisure left him too much time to get into trouble, so he purchased a floundering cable company to occupy his time. But when he started poking around the business, the things he found made no sense. The sales, all of them, stemmed from one computer and there were over a hundred employees….
Laci Wintermute was caught in the middle of what she thought was a grocery store robbery, but found out quickly that she was the target of the would be robbers all along. What she couldn’t figure out was why. And those idiots weren’t the only ones after her either, they didn’t seem to stop coming. So she did the only thing she knew to do―she ran. She ran until she ran out of money, acquired an assumed name and took a job at a small cable company….
The fate, Sonya, was determined to destroy the Lanning family, even from the grave….

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18 Months Ago
Laci looked in her rearview mirror and let out a long sigh. Finally, her aunt was asleep. She wasn’t sure how much more she could take of her maiden aunt traveling with her, but she’d not been able to leave her behind and Laci wasn’t sure that either of them would have survived had they not had each other to depend on. Not that her aunt was all that helpful, but she was her responsibility.
The trip—it had really only started out as a small trip—had been to go to the market. It had turned into a nightmarish run across the states. That had been eleven days ago. Much longer than she wanted to think about moving so far from her job, her home, and everything she’d left behind. But there wasn’t any way for her to stay there when people were trying to kill her.
Laci had arrived home that day to see her aunt sitting outside of the house in her wheelchair with her pocket book on her lap. Not a purse but a pocket book. She needed to run into town for a bit. Just to pick up her prescription, she’d told Laci, and a gallon of milk. Laci had no idea how her aunt drank so much milk, but every day her aunt would either have her pick some up on her way home or she would meet her, as she had that day, ready to go get it. More often than not, even if she called home to see if there was anything her aunt Jeanie needed, they’d end up making a trip out of the house to get milk and just one or two other things.
The store had been crowded. The holidays were over, but it was the first of the month. Never a good time to go to a store, and certainly not a good time to be out and about for any reason. Her aunt Jeanie never cared if Laci had to park in the far lot. Her chair was her throne, and she didn’t care how far Laci had to cart the groceries.
Laci remembered thinking that she was glad then that she’d cashed her check. Aunt Jeanie got her pension each month, but as far as Laci knew she never spent any of it. Certainly not around the house for things so mundane as food and power, anyway. Laci was paying for everything, including her aunt’s medical bills that her insurance didn’t cover, as well as any personal things that she needed. Laci was making it each month, but it had been getting harder and harder to make ends meet. Then they’d gone to the store.
The cart was being pushed around by her aunt in one of those electric chairs. Aunt Jeanie loved it, Laci knew. Riding around without having to struggle with her wheels on her own put her in a particularly good mood that day. Laci also thought that her aunt used the time at the store as a social thing, being that she pretty much stayed at the house while Laci worked all the time. They were just rounding the canned vegetable aisle when the cart stopped moving.
“Is it the battery?” Laci had no idea and said that to her. “Perhaps that’s it. The battery. Go and find me someone that can change it out, or you can go out and get my own chair. I need to be here for a bit longer…to get the things that we need. You’ll have to push me if you do that. We only need a few things.”
“I’ll find someone.” As she eyed the cart with over a dozen un-needed items in it, Laci wondered how the hell this had happened every time. Each time they only needed milk, the grocery bill would amount to right around fifty bucks. It would be more if there were only a few items in addition to the milk.
Laci only wanted to go home, put her feet up, and take a short nap before she had to go back to her other job. Life was decidedly harder since her parents had died and she’d taken over the care of Aunt Jeanie. Laci made her way to the front of the store when she realized how quiet it was.
She was nearly halfway up the aisle to the front desk when she saw the two men. One of them had a mask on; the other was standing with his back to her. But he wasn’t covering his face. It took her several seconds of just standing there to realize that he was holding someone in front of him and he had a gun to their head. Moving to the back of the aisle again, she never turned but backed up one step at a time, keeping her eyes on the two men. She needed to get to her purse and her phone where her aunt was to call the police.
“Going somewhere?” The blunt end of something touching the back of her neck had her stilling. The man, because there was no doubt it was a man, laughed. “Come on now. You want to join the party, don’t you?”
“Not particularly.” He hit her with the gun but only hard enough to make her see stars and not knock her out. Moving when he gave her a shove, Laci tried to think. “If you’re robbing the place, you’d be better off just leaving the customers alone. The only reason that most of them are here is because it’s the first of the month.”
“We don’t really care about the money. There is something more here that we’re to pick up. A bigger pay off.” She nodded and stopped when they reached the offices. “Stand still and I won’t kill you right now.”
The office, really just an open area that sat about two feet higher off the floor than the rest of the store, was full of people when she was shoved into it. There was a wraparound desk in it, a safe that was currently closed, as well as four people standing and three sitting with their hands on their heads. Two were bleeding out on the floor, and Laci could see that they weren’t going to make it. Laci looked around for her aunt. Thankfully, she wasn’t anywhere near here.
Laci took a quick inventory of the men holding guns. Two had handguns, one a rifle, and the other one was behind her still, and she knew that he had a gun but nothing more. The odds were too great for her to get brave, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to jump if the opportunity presented itself. She’d been trained in hand-to-hand combat, how to use a gun, and to know when to stand back and let the chips fall.
One of Laci’s jobs was that of a security officer. The other two—one an antique buyer, the other a sales associate that sold grave plots to people—did not help her as well right now as the first one did. She knew the make and model of the gun, the kind of ammo it held, as well as how many shots it would fire before it would need a new clip. She also knew that it would do a world of hurt on anyone that was on the receiving end of it. Death would be about the only option should it hit you in any major part of the body. The man behind her spoke finally, and they all turned toward her.
“Found this one wandering around the store. I thought we put them all in the freezer. But here she is, right here just out in the open for us. This is her, right?” That explained the quietness of the store, Laci thought. But she had no idea what he meant by singling her out. “We got what we came for, so we can leave now, right?”
“I have a suggestion.” She was hit in the head again. “That fucking hurt. Stop doing that and I won’t have to hurt you.”
He laughed again, which she figured he was justified in doing since he had the gun. Laci was tall, lanky, and looked like a good wind would blow her over. But she was strong, agile, as well as trained to take on the bad guys when necessary. When he hit her again, she’d had enough.
Grabbing his arm, she flipped him over her head and then used the momentum to jerk his arm around and snap it. As he was screaming at her, she used his own finger to shoot and kill the mask wearing guy and then hit the other one before he had a chance to fire back. As she ran for cover, shooting the man on the floor once in the head, she made her way to the back again.
Her aunt was just where she’d left her, sitting in the aisle with a broken chair. But she had a man holding a gun to her head when Laci slid to a stop at the end of the aisle. Laci had started for her when a bullet whizzing by her had her ducking for cover again. It more than likely had been the injured man from the front offices. Laci dove behind the meat counter just as the man with her aunt came after her.
Laci sat here, her back to the counter, and thought about what the fuck had just happened. Robbery. That was clear, but why wait until now, when the store was over crowded with people to pull it off? And what had they meant when they said that they’d gotten what they came for? Checking the clip in her gun, she’d nearly wet herself when one of the men laughed close to her.
“Laci? Where are you? Come on out now. We just wanna talk to you.” Laci had thought her grandmother had given them her name when the man continued and wondered why she’d do that. “Come on now, don’t make it harder on yourself. We know that you’re her. Someone told us you were gonna be here, and damned if they weren’t right this time. We kept missing you before. But I have to tell you, the lure of making some extra cash on this by robbing the place is gonna work out so much better for us. This way they’ll think it a simple job, and the fact that you were our intended prize won’t ever come out.”
She had wanted to ask them what the hell they wanted her for, but she heard the sirens at the front of the store again. The men started cursing, and she waited there. One of them surely was going to finish the job. And when he’d come through the swinging doors at her, she fired four times before she saw him fall back. The police were the next to talk to her, telling her to drop her weapon.
“You should have stayed there and let them talk to you. Those men weren’t gonna hurt you none.” Her aunt was awake apparently and still fussing with her over things. “What harm could it have done you to talk to the police either? Then I’d not be sitting here with my ass hurting like it is.”
“I’m sure that had they killed you, you’d be bitching about that too.” Aunt Jeanie huffed at her. “The police were not who they said they were. I’ve told you that like fifty times already. They weren’t cops.”
“So you keep telling me. He was in a uniform, wasn’t he? What else was he supposed to be?” Laci said nothing, the story too old for her to care to repeat herself now. “And now they’re all looking for you and you’re gonna drag me along with you.”
“Thanks, Aunt Jeanie. I’m so glad that you care so very little about what happens to me. And I’ve told you, several times now, that I can drop you off anywhere you want. Just say the word.” Another huff. “No? Then I would suggest, since you made me go to the store in the first place, that you keep your mouth shut.”
It really wasn’t her aunt’s fault that those men were chasing her. But blaming her would keep her off her back for a little while, and Laci wanted the quiet time. There had been little to none of that as they’d set out on this mad dash for safety.
When she’d traveled as far as she could for one night, Laci pulled into a rest stop and parked the car. She was broke. All the money she’d had on her was now gone. Her credit cards weren’t safe, not that she could use them with them all maxed out like they were. And Laci had watched enough television to know that not just the good guys could track that, but the bad ones as well. Until she could figure out what the hell was going on, she wasn’t trusting anyone.
Closing her eyes, Laci tried to relax enough that she could sleep for a little bit before moving again. But almost as soon as she drifted off, she saw the face of the “cop” when he’d told her to kick her gun to him.
“I’m not going to hurt you, Laci.” It had taken her almost too long to realize that there wasn’t any way for him to know her name. “Come on, miss. Just toss the gun this way and we’ll get you out of here before those men return.”
“Will they?” He nodded and looked to his right. She couldn’t have seen what was behind him, but she had a feeling that she might not want to know anyway. “Did you have back up coming? If so, I’d really like to wait for them.”
“They’re dead.” He grinned at her when she asked him who. “You are too smart and that might get you hurt. Why can’t you just do as you’re told and come out of there and let us get on with the day?”
“I think you’re not an officer, are you?” He shook his head and moved into the room, pointing the gun at her. “What is going on? Why are you looking for me?”
“I was just told to find you, kill you, and then bring your dead carcass to them.” She asked him who again. “Don’t know his name. But you’re too valuable, he told us, to leave running around like you are. Come on now, you can’t kill me. I’ve done not one thing to hurt you.”
Laci had had a feeling that there might have been a “yet” at the end of his statement, but a sound behind him had him turning and her firing at the same time. The bullet had caught him in the shoulder, and he fired twice before she managed to kill him.
Laci opened her eyes when she saw the man’s face in her memories, the neat little hole in the center of his forehead where she’d hit him. Calming her heart down again, she wondered what kind of prison terms she’d get for killing three people, all of them bad
guys. She sat there, staring off into the dark, and tried to think what had made anyone want to kill her. Shifting on the seat so she could lie down, Laci felt the overwhelming urge to cry. Not that it had done her any good so far, but that didn’t lessen her need to do it.

Cormac HARRISON AMBUSH book two Release Blitz & Winner Announced 2/8/16

Cormac Harrison, Mac to his family and friends, has a good thing going. He has a brand new home, a successful business, and is truly happy with the direction his life is heading.

Andi Collins can’t seem to catch a break. The last time she’d encountered her father, she’d ended up in the hospital. Now, Stormy Harrison, is giving her a break and helping her get back on her feet. So when this big handsome man tells her that she’s his mate she’s scared to death.

Mate. She’d heard the term before. And what it meant. She would belong to him. Not just him, but whoever he wanted to sell her to. Andi reached for the door handle, thinking that rolling from a moving car would be better than being passed around like a napkin at a banquet hall.

“Don’t do that.” He reached for her hand just as she touched the handle. “Please, just listen to me and I’ll explain.”

“I don’t need you to explain. I know what mate means. My friends at school, they told me what happens when you become a mate to men. And what they didn’t tell me, my father and aunt explained the rest. Mates use you, and then when they’ve had enough, they pass you around to all the other men they know. I won’t have it.”

The car suddenly stopped. Her seatbelt cut into her neck, and she nearly hit her head on the dash it stopped so abruptly.

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Chapter 1  
“It says right here that this is the way we are supposed to do it. Not the way you’re showing us. I need for you to back away from the equipment and let me do it my way. That’s what is going to work,” Elton grumbled. Mac wondered if he found Stormy and asked her to shoot this man, if she would do it. Of course she would, he thought. And would smile while doing it. “You can’t tell me that your way is better when I know better. You’re just trying to mess things up for me.” “Oh, but I can and I am. There is nothing saying that we can’t improve on the way this line is run. And this way, the way that you’ve been doing it up until now, is why this business is losing money. And losing money is the best way for them to close down and for you to be out of a job.” The man only huffed at him, pointing out yet again that the instructions said that his way was the most efficient way. “Yes, it might have been, fourteen years ago when you had this equipment put in. But short of putting in an entire new work line, you’re going to have to trust me on this. I know better.” “So you say, but I’m under the opinion that you don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know why you were hired in the first place. You know nothing about this production line, and as soon as I can convince my bosses—and I will—that you have this all screwed up, we’re going to go back to doing it the correct way anyway.” Mac stood up straighter and felt his cat run along his skin. “You can get huffy with me all you want, but I know what is best for this company. I’ve been working here since their father opened the doors, and I’ll be working here long after they’re bored with it and go about their business.” Mac said nothing, but moved away from the man as he pulled out his phone. He had to talk to someone who was reasonable, and dialed the first number on his phone. When Storm answered, he had to smile. From the sound of her voice, she wasn’t having any better of a time than he was.  “Did you know that when you put a box on the line that there are all kinds of infrared lights that can read not only what’s in the box, but even where the fuck it’s supposed to be going? That the system is specifically made to do just that?” He told her he did, as a matter of fact. “Well, smart ass, did you know why it’s not working here at Ship It? The reason why we were called in to fix it?” “The machines aren’t calibrated? The lights are too bright around it to let it be read properly? There are any number of reasons for it not to work.” She snorted at him, something that he’d come to love about her. It conveyed so much, her snort. “Why is it not working at Ship It?” “They turned it off. I mean, like they just went to the line, tore out all the wiring, and then turned it off at the computer system when it kept telling them that it didn’t work. Not only that it wasn’t working, but also exactly where it wasn’t working. And now you have to ask me why they would turn off a multimillion dollar piece of very important equipment when they advertise that that’s what they use to get your packages to you on time?” He started to laugh, telling her he had no idea. “It didn’t 
match their uniform shirts that they’re required to wear when they work. The red—and this is no fucking lie—the red clashed so badly with the orange shirts that the owner’s daughter complained. Because she picked the color and hated the way it looked when the boxes went by. How fucking stupid do you have to be? I’m not kidding you. It’s a good thing you made me leave my gun at my house when you sent me here. Otherwise, we’d be calling in the big time lawyers that I’d need for a lawsuit. Someone would have been dead about ten minutes ago. What’s up with you? Did you tell them what they have to do to improve their work situation?” “Pretty much the same thing you’re running into there. This guy in charge while the family is still learning the ropes said that his way is right because that’s the way they’ve been doing it for years. I’m pretty sure that this guy doesn’t even own a computer or a smart phone. It wasn’t the way he was raised or some shit.” Mac moved to his temporary office at the plant and began gathering his things. Time to meet up with the family soon, and he had to get back home anyway. “I’m going to take the next flight out after I get finished with the family. If they want us to come here again, it’s going to be when that guy is gone. Or they’re fucked.” “Good luck. And don’t forget about tomorrow. I have that meeting with my attorneys and you have to sign the paperwork on the building we’re buying there.” He nodded, then told her he’d be there. “Also, my friend is going to start working tomorrow, too, full-time. If you have a minute, go by the Home Cooking and see if she’s settling in all right for me. Riordan and I won’t be home until day after tomorrow, as we have to swing by the White House for a minute.” He thought of that. Swing by the White House like it was right on the way home from the grocery. Stormy would even be able to go on up to the family residence once she was there, and hell, more than likely she and Riordan would be having dinner there with the president, and maybe even a drink or two.  “I’ll take care of it for you on this end. Where am I meeting the attorneys for the building? And I can’t tell you again how much I hate that you’ve done this. I could have just gotten a loan for it on my own. You didn’t have to buy it for the shop I have in mind.” She snorted again and he smiled. “I wonder if when you have children that’ll be their answer to everything you ask them, too.” “More than likely. But since your mom and dad are telling me now that they’re going to be baby-sitting every chance they get, I’m pretty sure that your mom will get them out of the habit. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to not tell them to do it around her as much as they can. You know, just for fun.” Mac didn’t doubt that for a single minute.  Mac had to meet with the new owners of one of the oldest toy firms in the downtown area of Atlanta. They’d been shipping out retro toys for the last several decades, getting them cheaply and helping fill a lot of stores opening up with their new line. But they were behind in their shipment dates, so much so that they’d called him to see what was wrong with their line. It only took him ten minutes of working the line to know what the problem was. But Mac had worked for the two weeks he said he would. The bottle neck in the entire operations was due to one man.  
He was shown to the office of Byron and Noreen Stokes as soon as he entered the building. “We were hoping to see you before you left. I understand that you’ve been working on getting our lines right. I hope it wasn’t too much trouble for you.” Byron smiled at him. “Elton Coltrane called a few minutes ago. He said that you’d left there in a huff and that he didn’t think you’d figured out anything. I’m pretty sure that you’d be a little more professional than just leaving when you couldn’t find what was wrong. I’m sure you tried.” “Is that what Elton told you? That I didn’t find anything wrong?” Bryon looked at his sister and then back at him, nodding. “I see. Well, I am a professional, as you said, but if you have some time, I’d like to go over my findings with you.” “Of course.”  Mac was led to a large conference room with a table big enough for his family to have dinner at. Noreen was the younger of the two siblings, but Mac knew that she was the one with the business sense while her brother was the one with the big ideas. Which blended well with the two of them. She’d also been the one to talk to him all those weeks ago. He handed them both the printouts that he’d brought with him. “I want you to know that I’m impressed with your line of product and your pricing system. The receiving department is top-notch as well. The way you bring in the goods and catalog them means that anyone coming into this building can pull up a number for the product and go right to the warehouse to find where it is. You have a good team of inventory control as well.” Noreen said that her father had always been a stickler for keeping things organized. “It shows in your work here. The line is good. A little outdated, but will run you for a few more years before I would recommend that you replace it. I would suggest that you put in a labeling system that also runs your lines. That way when you have a box go to the store, you can be assured that that’s where it went.” “Why do I think that the ‘but’ you’re about to tell us is going to be costly?” Mac told him not at all. “The way that Elton talked, you were disappointed in the way things were going here and that he thought you were going to tell us it was a lost cause. He seemed to think that you were under the impression that we should just close up and be done with the entire thing. We can’t do that, if that’s what you’re going to say. Our father built this company on nothing but a handshake. If we can make it work, that’s what we’ll do.”  “I see. You paid me to give you the truth. And I think, in detail, you were told that I’m a man that seldom beats around the bush about things. And if you can’t handle that, we won’t be able to work together, correct?” Again the two of them looked at each other before nodding. “All right then…you want this company to prosper and continue to be a viable company, then fire Elton. I mean, not tomorrow or next week, but today, this minute.” “Really? Elton? I mean, I know that he’s sort of set in his ways, but he’s been working with us since Dad died. Seriously, I don’t think we could have gotten this far without him. And I know that my dad thought a great deal of him. I mean, he did have 
his issues with him, but he’s been working here for all of our lives.” Mac nodded. “I don’t even know if we can fire him. I mean, he and Dad were good friends, and he’s been at all our birthday parties since…. I’m sorry, Mr. Harrison, but I think you should reconsider that suggestion. He’s a good man and works very hard.” “Fine.” Mac stood up and gathered his things, including the paperwork that he’d given them. As he was putting everything back into his briefcase, he told them what he was going to do. “There won’t be any charge for me coming here other than expenses, and my secretary will see that you’re given a full accounting of—” “Wait. I mean…you’re just going to stop there? You’re not going to suggest anything else for us? You were there for two weeks. Surely you had to have found the real reason for our production lines to go so slowly.” Mac told them he had, it was Elton. “You mean to tell me that one man, a single man, is responsible for us losing sixty-four percent of our production time line?” “No.” Mac pulled on his jacket and picked up his things. He could tell that they were relieved, but it was going to be short lived as soon as he spoke again. He almost hated to tell them. “Elton is responsible for eighty-six percent of your slow down. And if he’s not taken off the line and forced into retirement, then you will lose more every day until you fail. And you will, at the rate you’re going.” Mac was nearly to the door outside when he heard someone call his name. It was Elton. Mac had had enough of the man for one day, so went out to get in the car and go home, but Elton followed him. And the man looked like he had received his Christmas bonus as well as a tax refund all in the last ten minutes. Elton walked up to him as he waited for his car and put out his hand to shake it. Mac just looked at it, then at the man he’d left hanging. “I could have told you that they’d not do anything about me. I’m sure that you told them that it was me that was hurting things. I’m their go-to man when they need answers. And they don’t know shit about what I do or what goes on down on the line, and that’s the way I want it. I’m not going to let them change a damned thing, just so you know. When they fail—and I’ve no doubt that it’ll be sooner rather than later—I will own a nice business.” Mac didn’t look at the couple that walked up behind Elton, nor did they speak. He did, however, ask Elton what he was talking about. “The will. I know for a fact that it states that once the business closes down that all the original members of the staff will be able to purchase the company for what the fair market value is. And when this is done, the fair market will be considerably less than what it is today, don’t you think?” “So you want this company to fail. After all the work that Mr. Stokes put into making this a valuable firm for his children, you’re going to let it fail so you can take it from them.” Elton smiled and nodded. “And what are you going to do with it once you own it? Call in some help and get it up and going again? That’s not very fair of you, now is it?” “Their daddy left them all the money. All of it. He didn’t even consider us people who did all the work for him.” Elton laughed as he continued. “There was a time I might have been willing to get things going in the right direction, but they called in 
professional help instead of asking me what the fuck was wrong with things. I could have told them that, don’t you think?” “You mean that you shut down the lines four times a day when you want to take a nap? That you have been known to sabotage the boxes before they were loaded on the truck so that the customers would be pissed enough to cancel orders?” Elton nodded. “I guess you have a hard heart there, Elton. Whatever will you do now?” “Do? I won’t have to do anything. They kicked your ass out, didn’t they?” Mac said nothing, but he knew that Noreen was pissed off. Byron moved back, heading to the building. “What are you going to do, Mr. Harrison? I’m sure that this is a blow to your little company too, isn’t it? Not being able to make this work for them. But I’m glad to see you leaving with your tail between your legs. It does my heart good to see another firm fail. It’s what I live for.” “I think I did all right here, if you want to know the truth, Elton. Just fine indeed.” His limo pulled up just as security was coming out of the building. “You, however…I don’t think you’re going to be cashing in on anything. You have a good day, Elton. I’m sure that things are about to look…well, differently for you.” Security was talking to Elton as his car pulled away. Mac could have gone back in, he supposed, talked to the Stokes about the rest of his findings, small things that he was sure that they would find once Elton was gone. But he wanted to go home. Now. He had a new home he was having fun in, a new sister in Riordan’s wife that was working with him, and he wanted to go and see his mom and dad. ~~~ “You find her yet?” George Collins looked up at his son, Jim, and felt a twist that touched his heart. How a man could have such an idiot for a kid, he thought. A moron that didn’t know shit from anything. He wished now after all these years that he’d taken his sister Hester’s advice and just left him somewhere. Now he was too old for that shit and he was stuck with him. “That bitch that called the law on me, thinking that I had no rights to my own daughter, will be next. I don’t cotton to being treated that way by nobody. You hear me?” “Yes, sir, I’ve been looking. If they stowed her away, they sure ain’t saying much. Aunt Hester, she’s about to have ten kinds of fits over this. She said you should have taken better care not to get caught.” George nodded. He sure should have. “When she comes down here, I’m telling you right now heads are going to be split if she don’t get her way. She said for you to get home.” His sister, Hester Casey, was a force, she was. He loved her to the end of time, but she was a mite on the scary side when she was upset. Even when she was in a fairly good mood, he tried his best to keep away from her. George was afraid of her, plain and simple. Not just a little either; she’d beaten him so badly he almost couldn’t lift up his beer when the mood struck her. “You tell her that you got this. Tell her that I’m okay and that once we get Andi back home, we’re gonna chain her to the floor like she done told us we should have months ago. She might not have any money coming in, but we’ll have food cooked for 
us.” Jim asked him how they was gonna have food if Andi didn’t work. “You just let me worry on that, fool. I don’t rightly know just yet, but I’ll get it figured out.” Six months ago they’d had their welfare cut. Not just him, but Hester and Jim too. The government got it in their head that they had to work some for the money. Hell, if he wanted to work, he’d find him a job. But so far as he was concerned, when you start paying somebody for not working, you can’t just up and take that from them. It just wasn’t the way that things were done in his family. None of them had found gainful employment yet, whatever the fuck that was, and he wasn’t about to go look for it either. Not that Jim could. He was as stupid as they came. But George’s family was on a protest. They weren’t gonna find them a job until the government got their shit together and put things back the way they were. George had been stuck in jail for three days now. He was getting food regular like. Not nearly as much as he wanted, but he was getting it. No beers either. They had some fool rule about that. Why a man couldn’t be enjoying his leisure was beyond him. He looked up at his son and wondered if it was too late to do something about getting rid of him. Probably.  “Dad, they said you might be going back to jail, the one real far away. That having that gun was against the rules. I thought you said to me that rules don’t work on us. That we was special or something.” He told Jim he wasn’t gonna go nowheres so long as he was breathing. “But if you do, what’s gonna happen to me? I can’t be living with Aunt Hester. She don’t like me none. I was thinking when we find Andi I might go see if she’ll let me stay with her. She’s gotta be nicer to me than Aunt Hester is, don’t you think?” “Nobody likes you, son. You’re stupid and you ain’t worth the sex that we had to make your ass. Your momma, God rest her lazy-assed soul, she done should have known better than to birth you and that ignorant daughter. Now look at me, stuck here and nobody to help me out.” George stood up and glared at his son, who backed away. “You find Andi, tell her to get her ass down here and tell them folks that she fell again. And that the gun was hers. I ain’t going back to jail. I ain’t, you hear me?” After Jim left him to have another look for his sister, George thought of his lot in life. He wasn’t stupid, but he was lazy. He’d admit that to anyone who asked him. And he didn’t care much for his daughter or his son, but he’d been given them and he had to suffer with having them. His wife, he’d tolerated her some, but she’d given him Jim and then a useless daughter, then up and left him with them like he wanted to be taking care of them for the rest of his life. Hester…well, Hester was his big sister, and he knew better than to mess with her. “Mr. Collins?” He nearly missed hearing his name and stood up in his cell to see who might be thinking he was a mister anything. “Are you Mr. Collins? George Collins?” “I am. What you want? In case you missed it, if you’re selling something, I ain’t got me no money. If you’re lawyering up for somebody, can’t help you there. I don’t rat out my buddies.” The man said nothing. There was something about him that just told you 
that he was untouchable, and that had George moving back when the man walked up to the bars. “What is it you want of me?” “I’m here to tell you that Andi Collins is off-limits to you and your family. She’s in a good place, and you’re to stop harassing her from now on.” George just stared at the man. “And if you’re caught within one foot of her, I’m going to bring a hell down on you so hard you won’t be able to lift a hand to bring whatever shit food you eat to your mouth.” “You can’t tell me what to do with my own kid. I know my rights. I brought her into this fucking world, and she’ll do as she’s told.” The man said nothing. “Who the fuck do you think you are, anyways? I know she ain’t bringing the law down on me. ‘Cause if she can afford you, in your expensive suit, then she’d better be getting her ass down here and bailing me out. I’m her daddy, damn it.” The man only stared at him. George wanted to flip him off, his favorite pastime when things didn’t go his way, but he had a feeling that if he even lifted his hand to do so, then he’d be hurting bad. Worster than he was right now. “Stay away from her or pay the price.” As the man walked away, George could feel his bravery coming back to him. But before he could open his mouth to curse at the man, he was standing in front of George with his hand around his throat, lifting him up off the floor. The man changed. Not just his body but his face, and even his fingernails at his throat seemed to bite deep into his neck. George looked into his eyes then; they sort of captured him. The man’s eyes had darkened to an almost black, and George felt his bladder just let go when he saw the fangs there on his lip. “Stormy said that if I wanted, I could play. I might just yet anyway. Would you like that?” George shook his head. “Too bad. Go near Andi again and I will kill you. Not a threat, you dumb fucking idiot, but a promise. You know that I’m telling you the truth too, don’t you, moron?” “Yes.” George wanted to cry. He knew something, a feeling of fear like he’d never felt before. “I won’t bother her no more.” “Good. See that you don’t.” As he was dropped to the floor, the man straightened his suit sleeves and then his tie. “You might want to tell your son and that sister of yours to behave too. I’m not in the mood to have to come back out in the sunlight to wipe this family out of their miserable existence. And you’d do well to remember that if I have to come back, you will be dead. Understand me?” George nodded. Long after the man had left him, George stayed on the floor. Lots of things were going through his mind as he lay there. The man had had fangs. He wanted to think that was just a figment of his addled head, but he had a feeling that they were as real as rain. And the man had lifted him up like he was nothing more than a bothersome flea. George knew that he was big. Not muscled—those had never been a part of his body in any way—but just plain fat. When he was younger, he’d been heavy. As he grew, so did not only his waistline but his entire body. George figured he weighed a good four hundred pounds. And the man had lifted him up with a single hand. But the 
longer he lay here, just thinking and letting his mind wander, the less and less of the man he could remember. “I gotta stay away from my daughter. I don’t know why, but I gotta.” Nodding to himself, he stood up. He’d pissed himself…not the first time. But this time he could almost smell the fear in his urine. “Couldn’t get off the floor, that’s all. Happened before, when that chair of mine wouldn’t lift me right. Can’t be nothing more than that.”  He knew that there was something there that he had to remember besides not bothering Andi again. Fangs? Nobody had fangs except them people faking it, like he’d seen on television. He also had a feeling that he’d been flying too. But that wasn’t right either, was it? Sitting on the bed, unmindful of his wet pants, he frowned. When he thought of Andi again, he felt a little pain in his head when he thought of making her ass pay, but it went away after a minute or two. “She’s gonna pay. That she is.” Nodding, stretched out on the bed, he felt sticky. And when he moved around, the bed groaned. It was scary there for a minute. The bed he was using creaked a bit more than he liked. Sitting on the side of the bed, he pulled off his pants and underwear and took them to the sink. He’d get more later, but these were just stinky. Laying them on the sink, he went back to his bed. He had some thinking to do. 

Christopher By Kathi S Barton Release Day & Winner Announced 1/25/16

Christopher hadn’t been with Rembrandt’s group long. With their combined efforts there were fewer and fewer monsters to fight. His mate had died a long time ago, so he volunteered to go with Skylar to look for some “newbies”. When they arrived at the warehouse the new ones were acting very strange.
Kate had been scouting out the building when a large crate just suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Curiosity had her standing in the shadows when she saw two warriors come up the stairs and approach the crate. When they became aware of her presence, the man shifted into the largest cat she’d ever seen and pinned her to the floor with his large paws.
Kate was more than any of them had bargained for, and Chris soon discovered that Kate was his true mate, that the other woman never was. And when they fought together they were downright scary.
With their enemies Ward and Nolan dead, there was no one left to keep Benton, the huge monster they’d created, in line. Benton had lost his mind a long time ago, but one thought remained constant…he wanted Rembrandt dead….

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Chapter 1  
Christopher sat on the cold concrete and leaned his back against the hard wall behind him. His body temperature had finally leveled out, but not enough that he could go without some sort of fan or other form of cooling agent to keep himself from roasting all the time. He looked over at the woman who sat next to him. She was covered in as much blood and gore as he was. The battle, like most of them, had not been a pretty thing. And they seemed to be getting worse all the time.  Usually he would simply do his job and then go back to his room. He was spending a great deal more time out and about with the rest of the people in the house, but for the most part, he loved being alone. But Chris really enjoyed talking to Vicki…he thought she was a hoot. “The next time the alarm goes off, I’m going to hunt it down and tear it apart.” Chris said nothing as Vicki sat there with her eyes closed and continued. “I swear to you, as soon as this crap is done, I’m out of here and finding a nice warm beach to lay on for about ten years. I’m going to eat ice cream for every meal, and wear a dress with high heels when I fucking want to. Which I might add, I have never wanted to before now; but that’s not the point, is it?” “Do you think it will?” She asked him what he meant without looking in his direction. “End. Do you think this will ever end? Because I have to tell you, it doesn’t feel like it on most days.” Of late he’d been feeling like it was the same shit every day. Get up, fight, shower, eat, and then go to bed, only to have to do it all over again the next day. He knew that there were fewer and fewer of the monsters, but they were no less vicious in their pursuit of trying to kill more people. And that was another thing. There were fewer and fewer humans around as well. “Hector wants us to find some newbies if we can.” Chris looked up at Skylar when she spoke, and wondered not for the first time if any part of her body wasn’t tatted up. He was pretty inked up himself, but most of his had been there before any of this had gone down. Skylar even had them on her face and neck. But for some reason, he still thought she was beautiful. “There is a new project going on across the way. Who wants to go with me?” “I will.” Chris stood and helped Vicki up as he turned to Skylar to ask her how they were going. Her wings spread out and he backed from her. “I’d rather take a car if it’s all the same to you. Nothing against your flying ability, but I would rather just drive.” “And how would that be fun for me?” He nodded and found himself wrapped up in her arms and soaring dizzily into the deep blue of the sky. “Are you getting along any better, Chris? You seem to be less inclined to stay in your room. I’m glad for that. It’s fun having you around more.” He wanted to ask her why she cared, but they were currently several hundred feet in the air if he were to piss her off. Which, he supposed, he’d managed to do more often 
than he liked to think about. But right now, she would more than likely drop him on his head. “I don’t really mind being here. But….” He couldn’t put into words how much he hated what he was doing. He was pretty sure that she got it, but he didn’t know how to convey it to her. “I was famous once. An entertainer, as you know. Women would throw themselves at me. Panties, bras, sometimes even money. Men too, but that wasn’t going to happen. And now look. Not only am I pretty much just a normal person, no one cares much that I was once considered the most sought after male in the world.” “Whine much?” He only winced at her words, still not comfortable enough with the rest of them to be his usual self. His old self would have flashed her his smile, winked at her, and told her that was what made him so irresistible. “Nate and I had a conversation about you the other day. He thinks you’re a blowhard. Whatever did you do to him to make him hate you so much?” “Breathed? I don’t know. Now there is a whiny person. He’s not coming out of his room for anything, is he?”  Before he could ask her what the two of them had talked about—or actually argued about—they were landing. Chris looked at the malefactors and wondered why someone would do this to humans. He’d heard the stories, but he knew that there had to be something more than that. When they entered the building where a small group of them were, Chris thought that they’d made a mistake about them being here. But then he saw the groups as they walked around like…. Chris turned to Skylar when it occurred to him what he was seeing. “Have you ever played one of those first person shooter games?” Skylar said that she had played on her phone a few times, but not lately. “Yeah, no cell service. But when you’re playing and have to leave the game—I don’t know, to take a piss or something—when you return, your guy will be walking straight into a wall, his feet still moving as the monsters or whatever are clawing at him or blowing him to bits with their guns. That’s what they look like, a game version of sleep walking.” They stood watching the dozen or so of the monsters do just that…walk into a wall and continue moving their feet toward some unknown place, but staying where they were. One of the men, walking around rather into things, had a large gash in his head where his head kept hitting the fire alarm signage just where his head was. Over and over the guy would do this until he was dead, Chris supposed.  Chris moved toward them just as a creature moved from between two of the pillars holding up the other floors. Neither he nor Skylar moved as the thing, just as clumsy and stupid as the malefactors, moved about the room. Chris thought he might have been an adherent at one time, but now he’d lost some of his color and he was no longer in charge. As he knocked a desk over and then tripped several times when he tried to stand and keep moving, neither Chris nor Skylar moved to help him. As soon as he got to whatever he’d been working his way toward, he stopped and turned, almost as if he were a solider on a march and he was at the end of his area. “Why didn’t he trip into the desk before? I mean, it’s obvious that he’s been doing this same thing for a while. Why hadn’t he tripped up before?”  
Chris started to tell Skylar that he didn’t know when it occurred to him. “He’s making a circle. See? Judging by the footsteps that he’s made in the dirt on the floor, the circle’s getting smaller with each of his trips around the room. It looks like he started out on the perimeter, then tightened his circle an inch or so with each pass—or I guess square, because of the room—more each time.” They both watched him and the people in the room as a second thing occurred to Chris. “Do you hear that? That small hum, like there is power somewhere?” As they spread out, looking for the power grid like those they’d been destroying every time they heard one, Chris moved to the second floor and paused. He’d learned a great deal over the last couple of weeks working with these people, and one of the things was always to be thinking outside the box. But the one in front of him, as big as a nice sized SUV, had him pausing and wondering what sort of shit was about to go down now. The box was addressed to him and Skylar. Skylar came up behind him and asked him what he was doing. “I don’t have a clue, but all I can think about is that movie that had the big lamp leg in it. Remember that movie?” “Yeah. Christ, I love that movie. We should see if we can find it somewhere while we’re out. I bet Remy hasn’t ever seen it.” Chris said nothing. Remy was one scary mother fucker, and the man seemed to exude strength all over his body. To think of him watching that movie, eating his beloved popcorn, was just too weird. “What should we do?” The handwriting was old world, the script on it something that he’d seen Remy use when he had to make notes on something. The man would take an hour to write out something that Chris would have just scribbled on a piece of paper. Remy told him that to do something right was to take your time with it. You never knew who was going to look at it. Chris supposed Remy was right, but there were times when he just wanted to take the paper from him and write the note himself. This looked like it might be from Bob, another old world guy. “You think this is part of the gifts that Bob said would come to us when we needed them?” Again, Chris had no answers and said that to Skylar. “Well, do we open it? Leave it for another day or what? I’m not all that keen on getting my ass kicked by whatever is in that thing, are you?” The big dragon had left them a letter a while back. Well, not them, but Leo and Jamey. It had said that when they needed it, something would appear. But this thing wasn’t addressed to his workmates, but to him and Skylar. He glanced at Skylar when she asked him again if they should open it. “I don’t fucking know. You’re in charge.” That got him a hard knock to his head that hurt like hell. “I’m all for having enough shit going on. If we open that, and I’m not saying that we should, what’s to say that it’s not filled with some more of these things that plan to eat our faces off?” “You are no longer allowed to come with me on these things. You are one freaked out cat.” He felt the cat stir along his skin and Skylar smiled at him. “What if there is a gorgeous young woman in there that will satisfy your every desire and then some?” 
Chris felt his heart twist up. He wasn’t going to find his other half. He’d done that already, and she was now dead. Thanks to him. But before he said something that would get him knocked on his ass this time, he moved toward the huge crate. Whatever was in that thing couldn’t be as bad as losing your mate. There was a note attached to the top of it, and he knew immediately that it was indeed from Bob the dragon. The handwriting couldn’t have been from anyone but him. Not that he could read the script there, but he knew it was from him. Pulling one of the bright orange straps off the top of the box, he handed the note to Skylar and put his sword back on his body. Things had gotten shit weird when he’d gotten here. He’d had tats before, but nothing like he’d gotten the day after arriving. He and Remy had been in the sublevels of the compound, sparring. And when Remy had—he wanted to think it was innocent on his part, but he wasn’t sure—but when Remy had put out his hand to help him stand up after being knocked on his ass, the most incredible pain had taken him to the floor again. That was when he discovered the sword at his back and the guns, big ones, on different parts of his body. The lid, like the crate, was made of wood. And when it slid off the opening, he moved back while the dust settled around them. It occurred to him, too late, he realized now, that he more than likely should have thought this through a little better. “Nothing?” He wasn’t sure and told Skylar to stay back while he checked. “In the event you didn’t notice, I’m as strong as you are. And I can fly out of the way if the thing really does try and eat our faces off.” “Yeah, I noticed all that. But if this shit is going to kill one of us, I’d rather it was me so you can go back and warn the others. I really don’t care to have to explain to Remy that I let you fucking get your ass handed to you.” She took a step back and told him she was sorry. Chris turned to look at the crate again, thinking he needed to get a grip on his temper. “So am I. But please, just stay back out of the way in case there is something in here that has bloodletting on his mind.” Moving closer to the crate, he looked inside. It was dark, which he supposed he should have counted on. But that was all he could see. Just an inky blackness that suddenly made him think of his heart. As he peered harder inside, his cat, never very friendly to him anyway, snarled at him.  “Do you suppose he knows something that you don’t?” Very possible, and he told Skylar that. “I see. And do you normally ignore him when he might be trying to tell you something? Or do you feel, like most men, that you know more than your counterpart?” It was right on the tip of his tongue to tell her to fuck off. He knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, that not only would it piss her off more than she seemed to be right now, but that it would also get him in trouble with Remy. The man was very protective of his mate. Just as he was thinking fuck it and started to tell her off, a sound…a low keening sound…came from the depths of the darkness of the crate. ~~~ Kate watched the couple as they stood by the crate. It had arrived…well, arrived might have been the wrong term for how it had gotten there, but it had appeared 
sometime in the last twenty minutes. The thing, like the people downstairs, had just sort of come into the building like it had every right to be there. She’d been hanging out, sort of living here, for a month now when she couldn’t get back to her place before it was too dark out. It was quiet, and the things on the lower levels never ventured up here when they came around. But today this crate had arrived, and then the creatures below, almost at the same time. The sound that had emitted from the box had been there before too. Kate had even gone close enough to the crate to see if someone, a person, was inside, but all she heard was rumblings and an occasional bump on the wall. She had wondered what it was, but not enough to open it and see. The man opening the box made her want to hide deeper in the shadows, just on the off chance that it wasn’t going to be a nice wedding gift for the two of them, and instead something that would most assuredly kill all of them. Kate moved back further when she saw the man stiffen. Then the sides of the crate fell away. “What the fuck?” Kate moved out of the shadows again—not close enough that she thought they could see her just yet, but she, too, was curious about the contents of the box—when the woman yelled and stepped back. What she wasn’t prepared for was the man shifting into a big black cat. He seemed to know she was there even before Kate could think that the cat might come at her. As she turned to run, the cat, bigger than any that Kate had seen in the zoos when they had existed, came after her. Kate knew about paranormals and other shifters being big, but this cat was much larger than even them.  She knew in that moment that he was a different kind of shifter, and she didn’t want him close enough to touch her. But by then, it was too late. When she was pinned to the floor, his big body over hers, she was terrified that he was going to hurt her. He couldn’t kill her, she knew, but pain was pain. She looked up when a shadow moved over her face. The woman was there, and she looked amused for some reason. When she knelt beside her, Kate saw that like the man, she was tatted well beyond what she thought of as a social norm. “I’m Skylar. This lug on you is Chris. And you would be?” Kate said nothing. “Ah, the strong silent type. Okay, I get it. But he’s not going to let you up until we get some answers or whatever is in that box comes out and tears us a new ass. But hey, it’s completely fine with me.” Kate could have gladly gotten up and murdered her. But Skylar only stared at her as she stood over her. The man, the cat really, growled low and Kate looked at him. Even as a cat, he had the most incredible eyes. They weren’t the dark color that she’d seen on cats. Shifters usually had the same color of eyes as their other bodies did. Browns usually, an occasional green or blue if the shifter had been turned. But Chris had blue eyes. Just as blue as the oceans she’d seen over her lifetime. And as she watched them, Kate was sure that she could see large animals, some of them as ancient as she was, moving in them. With a shake of her head, she tried to think how to get out of this mess. “We have movement.”  
Kate was suddenly free. The cat, Chris, had moved off her, but not away. He was close enough that she could touch him, his dark fur touching her arm that he was closest to. Her fingers burned to run all over him for some reason. But when the noise started again, she looked over at the crate as the couple was doing. A bundle of cloth inside the crate moved. She supposed it might have been moving all along, but since she’d been on the floor, the building’s walls below them could have caved in and she’d not know it. Well, she would, but that wasn’t the point right now. When it moved again, the cloth falling away, the first thing she thought of was that it was a tiny paw. The second was that whatever it was, it wasn’t alone in the blanket that fell open. Then it occurred to her what it was. Well, what they were. Puppies. There were about ten or so of them, and they came bouncing out of the cloth on the floor and toward them like they’d been ordered to do so. As soon as they were near her, Kate couldn’t help it…she pulled one of the little creatures to her face and it licked her. “Chris, I’d very much like for you to be a man again.” Kate wondered at the tense sound of Skylar’s voice, but was too excited to have the wiggly puppies coming to sit all over her legs. She could see now there were eleven of them. Eleven roly poly little balls of fur. “Remy is coming. He said to stand down until he and the others get here.” Stand down? They were puppies for heavens sakes. But when one of them went to stand by Skylar, she moved away from it like the thing was going to tear at her leg. Kate wondered if the woman had ever had a dog in her life. Laughing, she called the pup back to her and loved on him to sooth his hurt feelings. “Why would they be in such a big box?” They both looked at her as she stood up. “The box came this morning and I wondered about it, but as it wasn’t addressed to me, I didn’t bother opening it.” “Who are you?” Kate wasn’t going to answer that. She of all people knew enough about magic, and there was little doubt in her head that these two were covered in it, and that names were kept close. “I’d really like for you to tell me what the hell you have to do with all this.” “I had nothing to do with them. Are you afraid of them? Because I’m pretty sure that you can pretty much squash them if they look vicious to you or something.” Kate reached down and picked up the one currently sitting on her foot. “They do look like they might rip your throat out, don’t they? Do you suppose they have something more than just their milk teeth? Perhaps they have five inch long incisors that will tear at you too. I know, you’re afraid of their claws. Let me see…oh yeah, I can see how these little things could tear into your flesh while they chew at your throat.” “I don’t like you very much.” Kate shrugged at Skylar, not really carrying if she did or didn’t. There were a lot of people that didn’t like her, and right now, having this woman not liking her might be a blessing. Kate put the dog down and headed for the stairs.  “Where the hell do you think you’re going?” 
“Home.” She didn’t stop as she made her way down the stairs. They’d try to follow her, but she doubted very much they’d be able to for long. Kate had powers of her own, and she wasn’t the kind of person that many would fuck with.  As soon as she was on the lower level of the building, she paused when she looked at the creatures. She heard rather than saw the big cat come up behind her. He didn’t move to knock her down, but watched her as she kept an eye on the creatures. “There is something wrong with them. They’re not like the others, are they?” He said nothing, but moved to stand closer to her. Kate moved away and he stayed where he was. “I don’t mean the fact that they’ve been changed into something, but there is something else here. Like they’ve had their brains sucked out for the most part and they aren’t able to function. Just look at them. Someone has hurt them other than just being the creatures they were.” The man that was walking into the wall fell over. His head had a large hole in it, and a part of his brain was still hanging on the sign that had at one time proclaimed there was a fire extinguisher below it. It had long ago been taken by someone, she guessed. Moving to the door, avoiding the creatures, she was just going out the door when a huge man landed in front of her. Remy, she’d bet, and she started to back up enough so that he’d not touch her. But she fell backward, the cat behind her getting caught up in her feet, and she went down. And for the second time that day, he landed on top of her. “Get off me, you moron.” The cat didn’t move, but Remy laughed down at them both. “You think this is funny? I don’t. Call off your animal and let me go. I have places to be.” The movement out of the corner of her eye startled her. Just as the big bird—or whatever the fuck it was…the thing—came swooping down, she reached her hand up and grabbed Remy by the leg. Pulling it out from under him, Kate lifted her other hand and blasted the creature just as it put out his claws to no doubt grab up and kill someone. More than likely her. No one moved as the big bird like thing screamed in pain as it died. His feathers, if that was what they were, burned brightly, the gaping hole in his chest bled badly, and she knew from experience that it wouldn’t last that much longer. Kate looked at Remy when the big cat finally moved off her. “You know what that is?” She told him she’d seen them around as she stood up. “And you have some sort of power that makes it so you can kill them. What are you? Who are you?” “There’ll be one more. They travel in pairs.” The sky darkened over her head and they all looked up when she did. “That’s his mate, I think. The male attacks first. Not sure why…he’s the weaker of the two. Then the female will come in and take whatever is left after he…he kills his prey. Usually humans. They don’t touch the other creatures.” “Malefactors.” She asked him what that was. “The creatures. The ones that are walking around now. These are a little…I’d say slower, but I’m not sure that’s all it is. What do you know about them?”  
Skylar spoke before Kate could. “She said she knows nothing. But they’re being drained again. And here, this is what Bob sent us.”  The little puppies were now in a box that Skylar handed to Remy. They scrambled out and were all over him when Kate decided that she’d had enough cuteness for one day, but before she could move to take off, the big cat stood in front of her. “I don’t want to have to hurt you.” The cat yawned and Remy laughed behind her. Kate turned to him then. “Tell him to leave me alone. I saved your ass. I don’t owe you anything.” “No. You do not, and I thank you for saving me. But for some reason I have a feeling you saved your own butt and not mine. Is that true?” Kate said nothing, but felt her fear of this man double when he stood up. Even having a puppy in his arms did not lessen how much she was afraid of him, nor lessen the fact that she knew that he’d try to kill her and never put the little dog down. “I’d very much like for you to say you’ll come back to the compound with us. I have many questions for you.” “No.” He nodded, and before she could guess what the hell was going to happen next, she felt powerful arms around her and she was soaring up in the sky. Mother fuck, Skylar had her, and she wasn’t going to be happy when she figured out what Kate was. “I won’t stay there. Wherever there is.” “Maybe, but now that I have your scent, you won’t be hard to find again.” Kate didn’t tell her that it wasn’t going to work either, but held on as they made their way across the city. It was different seeing this city with someone carrying you. The only time that Kate had this view was when she was flying herself.  As soon as they landed, Remy and the box of puppies did as well. There were children in the yard, and as soon as the little dogs tumbled out of their temporary home, the children—about a dozen of them—came running. Kids and puppies went together like they were meant to be. As soon as she was let go, Remy took to the sky again to no doubt get Chris. Kate looked at Skylar. “I won’t stay.” Skylar nodded and turned to the building. Kate stood where she was, not really feeling the need to chase after the woman and tell her again that she wasn’t going to stay. Things were…they weren’t out of her hands. She would give them what information they might want about the bird things, but that was all. Nothing else was any of their business. 

Riordan: Harrison Ambush Release Day & Winner Announced 10/19/15

Recommended for 18+ Erotic Shapeshifter Romance. Book 1 of the Harrison Ambush Tiger Shifter Series. This full length novel can be read as a stand-alone. 

Harrison Ambush 
1. Riordan 
2. Cormack – Release date 2/8/2016 
3. Aedan (Coming Soon) 
4. Darcy (Coming Soon) 
5. Liam (Coming Soon) 
6. Ennis (Coming Soon) 

Riordan Harrison can’t believe it. Everyone is pissed at him and he doesn’t see what the fuss is all about. All he did was tell the woman that she was his mate. He couldn’t help it that his tiger caused him to pin the woman to the counter and she proceeded to throw him to the ground and cover him with sticky pastries. Now, no one will talk to him, including his secretary. He hasn’t claimed the woman yet, and it is all seeming like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. 

Storm Browning, Stormy to her friends, is a wounded war hero. She’s done her duty and just wants to live a quiet life―run her little bakery without any hitches. The majority of the men she commanded in the war had been shifters so she wasn’t surprised when the big oaf sniffed her out claiming that she was his mate. But that doesn’t mean she has to agree with it. What else could she do? He had to go. He’d hightail it and run anyway when he saw her scars―they all did. She couldn’t emotionally handle that, not again at any rate. 

But if Riordan is going to get back on everyone’s good side, he’ll have to make peace with the woman. Even though he thinks he’s innocent, he’ll go for a visit and maybe apologize, but after he gets there things go from bad to worse. Stormy is targeted for assassination and he’s in the line of fire…. 

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Winner of a mystery paperback is Neena Martain  Please check your email for info on how to claim your prizes 
Happy Reading !!!!!!!!!!!!
Chapter 1  
He’d wanted to get to his office and change into a clean shirt, but his mom had been waiting for him. And when she’d ordered—yes, she’d ordered—him to sit, he did. This day could not get any worse. He was sure now, however, that it was about to. “Your dad told me that you got into a fight with the local baker. And when you tried to molest her, she fought back. Would you mind telling me why you thought it was a good idea in the first place to have a public and very…well, colorful, fight in my favorite place to get bread?” “It’s nothing. Just a misunderstanding on her part. Her temper was out of control for no reason and she started throwing a fit. I’ll take care of it tomorrow. Can I go now?” She told him to sit again. “I needed something from her, and she got mad at me. It’s nothing, I assure you.” “Yet here you sit covered in jelly and custard, and all you have to say for yourself is it wasn’t your fault.”  Riordan wanted to point out again that he hadn’t done that much to her that warranted her having a temper tantrum, but his mom did not look like she was going to listen. It was women, he decided, that had the foul moods all the time. Men were not prone to acting like the world was coming to an—  “Riordan, if you don’t answer me, I’m going to use my favorite rolling pin on your thick head, and then I’m going to be even madder at you. Because I’m sure rather than knocking sense into your head, all it’s going to do is crack this wood.” “She’s my mate.” Her foot started tapping, and he tried to think. But his dad came in then and sat down and started laughing. “Ask him. He was right there when she got it into her head to start hurling Danishes at me.” “I was there, love. And she did. But I’m thinking it might have been due to what he said to her and the way that he was pressing her against the wall with his big body. That’s not what she called him…let me see, what was it? Ah yes. I believe she called him a hulking monster that had no more brains than…well, love, you get the idea. I will say that her mouth and language are a little on the rough side, and she made her point quite…loudly. But she did toss him around like he was nothing more than the child he was acting like. I would have kicked his butt, too, but her friends, two elderly women who would have made me think…well, they had it under control, sadly.” His mother huffed at him, and her foot took on a speed that had him thinking he was as good as dead. His dad cleared his throat, and he looked at him. “Son, you have a bit of jelly hanging off your ear that looks like one of them dangling earrings your mother likes to wear.” “She won’t let me clean up.” He knew that he’d spoken loudly when his dad cocked a brow at him. “I’m a grown man. Not some teenager that has gotten caught with a girl in the back seat.” “No, you’re a grown man, or so you keep telling me, that has made your own mate so angry with you that she’s thrown her hard-earned product at you and has threatened to have you arrested if you come near her again.” Riordan looked at his mother as his dad continued. “And if you want us to treat you like you’re all grown up, I would suggest that you begin to act like it. This is no behavior for a man who is in charge of a large corporation, as well as one that hits the papers more often than not because he’s such a humanitarian and a calm and level-headed man. You were not very level-headed, nor calm, today. What do you think they’d put there now if they were to see you like this?” He knew just what they’d say. He’d fallen off his rocker. But as his parents continued to talk, he thought about the woman. She’d been…she’d been perfect, except for her temper. And if 
she was going to be his mate, that thing was going to have to be simmered down a bit. There was no way he could have her flying off the handle like a harpy when she got her panties all in a bunch. He’d only gone in with his dad because he’d heard him go on about the place. All he’d talked about for the last month was the way this bakery made cheese Danish, and how they were flaky enough to make you beg for more. He’d even gone on to say that he wanted to invest in the place. And that was another reason Riordan had gone with him. No one was going to take his family for a ride. As far as space was concerned, the shop had it. The wraparound counter seemed to scream at you to come and look what delights were there. It was well lit, the glass sparkling clean, and the baskets were overflowing with an array of pastries and breads that made his mouth water. Even from the doorway he could smell the yeast and jellies, blackberry and strawberry. A coffee station sat on one side to the room with a carafe of water for tea, it said, and baskets of tea flavors that had him wanting to check them out. The two women behind the counter seemed to be working to their own music. They moved and slid around each other as if they’d been doing it for years, and not just the month that the shop had been open. They laughed with their customers, handed out samples big enough to look like a serving, and gave small ones cookies hand over fist. Whoever their marketing manager was had it right. The only way to make money was to spend a little.  A woman had come from the back with a tray of the most beautiful loaves of bread he’d ever seen. Then he’d gotten her scent. And Christ, it had been all he could do not to— “Riordan.” Riordan looked at his mother. She had been talking to him, and he had missed it all. “I asked you three times now what are you going to do to repair this. Because you will, or so help me, I’ll make you wish that you had.” “Repair what?” She bounced the rolling pin—her favorite—in her left hand like she was thinking it was his head. He had to think what he had to do to make her soften her glare. A glance at his dad was no help, as he was laughing again. “I don’t know what I did wrong that you think I need to fix. You should talk to her about what she’s going to do about telling me she’s sorry.” Riordan thought he heard his dad say, oh brother, but he wasn’t sure, because at that moment his mother slammed the pin down on the table so near to his arm he thought that she had cut that pretty close. But then…maybe she’d been trying to hit him. When she went to the door and opened it, he sat there, not sure what to do. It was Sunday after all. “Get out.” He looked at his dad, who was not only no longer laughing, but looked a little scared himself. “Get out of my house right now and don’t return until…until…get out of here right now.” “Mom?” She pointed out, and he had no choice but to move out or something was going to befall him that was going to be talked about in this family for the next couple of generations, if not forever.  Riordan moved out the door and turned to ask her what he’d done. But the door slamming in his face made him feel stupid…and a little pissed off. He was thirty-five years old, not some kid.  As he made his way to the truck, his brother, Mac, pulled in the drive. Riordan didn’t even bother stopping to warn him, but got in his own truck and left. “They’re all nuts.” Riordan turned the radio up as loud as he could to drown out his thoughts, then turned it down. He was pissed, but blaring his music wasn’t going to make it go 
away. Instead, he lightened his foot on the accelerator and tried not to drive angry. That was all he needed to do, have an accident that would make his mom really mad at him. Riordan liked to think of himself as a cool and very rational man. He thought things through before speaking, his plans were flawless when he put them out for people to see, and he never did anything on the spur of the moment. He liked order, planning, and a calendar. Doing things off the cuff or sly, as his brother, Ennis, called it, was not his way of working, not in business or his personal life. The calendar on his phone was as filled as the one on his secretary’s. The ones on his computer in his office as well as his house were updated daily. And if there was something that had to be canceled or moved, he’d go over the entire month to make sure that it didn’t conflict with something else. Riordan was a man who did not like surprises. And finding out that the woman in the shop was his mate had messed up his entire schedule for the day. “What did she think she was doing throwing me out?” Riordan wasn’t sure if he meant his mom or the woman, but they both had done it. “It’s Sunday, after all, and we have dinner as a family. Was this worth Mom getting all upset and telling me to leave? No, it was not. This is her fault, too. The bakery woman’s.”  As he drove to his apartment downtown, he thought about the way she’d felt pressed against his body, and wondered not for the first time what she would feel like wrapped around him naked. He had to adjust his cock for the third time since getting in his truck. She’d been coming from the back room, her arms loaded with loaves of bread, when she’d taken a short stumble. His only thought was to keep her from falling when he caught her scent. Then she’d told him to let her go, and he’d had to taste her. And just like that, her temper flared, and he could only stare at her. Who knew that being pissed off could be so sexy? As he reached for her again, having put the bread on the counter, she’d backed up quickly. Putting up her hands to warn him off, he thought, did nothing to slake his need, and he backed her up more until she was pressed against the wall. Burying his nose into her neck had made him hard as stone, and he could think of nothing else but taking her to the floor and coming deep inside of her. Except that she’d unmanned him with her knee, and that had him dropping like a stone. Then the projectiles had started flying. He’d been hit in the head with several of them before he could stand up. When he reached for her again, this time her hand was filled with more Danish, and he felt rather than saw her move. He was on his back and looking up at her before he could catch his breath. Then one of the older women was standing over him with a large knife in her hands. “I think you have overstayed your welcome, young man.” He nodded but was afraid to move. “You can crawl out on your belly or get up and walk out. Either way, she wants you gone. And I’m thinking that she might be right. I don’t want to have to stab you to get you going. Unless you want me to.” “I need to talk to her.” The woman told him he’d be better off talking to the door, which he’d better be going through rather than talking to her right now. “Can I at least have her name? I can call her later so she can tell me what she thought she was doing by this mess. Don’t you think she overreacted, even just a little?” “No, I don’t think so.” She pointed to the door again, and he got the idea that he was going to get nowhere with her. As he made his way to the door, his dad was paying for his purchases as if nothing at all had happened. He was going to have a talk to him as well. The man would surely have his side on this. 
Only he hadn’t. Not only had he laughed at him the entire way home, but he’d not agreed with him at all. Not about the woman being nuts, or about her blowing things out of proportion, nor did he think that she’d done a thing wrong. Riordan was going to go down there first thing Monday, which would mess up his entire morning, just so she could apologize to him. This was no way to start a relationship. ~~~ Storm washed down the wall where blueberry jam had stained it. She’d have to find the paint can in the basement to touch this up. The strawberry had washed off a good deal easier, but it was fresher. She thought that she’d grabbed that tray last when he’d— “You scrub much harder and the wall will fall over. You thinking about that man?” Storm nodded at her aunt. “Yeah, he was a big guy. Pushy as hell, but a big one all the same. Can’t seem to understand why you’re all pissy with him. You’re hurting now, aren’t you, child?” “Just a little, nothing I can’t handle. He mentioned that I was his mate.” She looked at Aunt Lynn when she huffed. Storm wasn’t sure if it was because she knew she was lying about the pain or about the man. Either way, it was a moot point. “I don’t have…he can’t be my mate. I don’t want him. And he won’t want me once he sees what is under my clothing.” “No one is more concerned with that than you are.” Storm knew that her aunt had never seen her body since she’d come home, so said nothing. “You still seeing that doctor? The one that says you need to have those drugs to help you sleep? You gotta see someone about that pain, too. We both know you’re hurting.” “You know that I’m not seeing him.” Aunt Lynn nodded. “I know that the VA pays for it, but it’s stupid to take them when all they do is make me weirded out. I was sleeping no better with them than I was without. But I do go and talk to that lady shrink. She’s not too bad.” The doc had been all right until about a week ago, right after Storm had told her that she wasn’t going to be able to see her again due to her having a job now. It was as if she’d taken it personally. Storm knew that she had to see someone or be back in the hospital again, but she was trying to stand on her own two feet instead of depending so much on her family. It wasn’t like she had to work for the money, but she needed to work to keep her body from tightening up. “That man, do you suppose he’ll come back here?” Storm didn’t turn around as she spoke to look at her aunt, but heard her huff again. “The man that he came here with is a nice man. I like him. But as far as I’m concerned, I really could care less if that fucking bastard darkened my doorstep again.” “Sally and I will keep him in line now that we know about him. I’m thinking he will be back. He didn’t strike me as a man that would give up too easily.”  Storm had thought the same thing. But before either of them could say anything else, the bell over the front door sounded and Aunt Lynn went to answer it. Storm Browning was a woman that few people knew well. She preferred it that way, more now than before she’d joined the army. She supposed her upbringing had had a lot to do with that…at least the first ten years of her life. Now her memories were nearly too much for her to deal with, and she had a shitload of them. Few of them nice ones. Her men, nine of them when she’d gone in country—overseas—had been her friends, but they were all dead now. All but her. As she made her way to the oven again when the timer went off, she tried her best not to think of that day and what had happened. Instead, she thought about how many cookies she had left to bake. The board that Aunt Lynn had put up for her was filled. It felt good to see so many orders there, but it made her a little nervous too. If she was in too much pain, she knew that either of her 
aunts could bake for her, but she wanted to keep them from having to lift so much. They were in their late seventies, both of them, and they were actually her great aunts. All the family that she had in the world. The cookies were put onto the cooling rack, then she put more on the parchment paper to bake as the first batch cooled. She had a system. It wasn’t a great one, but it worked for her. Stretching her arm above her head to hear it pop, she had to hold onto the table when the pain took her breath away. Storm made her way to the cabinet where she kept her medications. It was time for the next round of drugs anyway, and she thought that having a pain pill was in order this time. Moving slower now that it was getting later in the day, she sat down on the seat she used when she decorated if anything needed her attention. Since the man had left her, her back had been throbbing and her legs felt like rubber. Her body hurt now, and not just a little. There was more baking to do, and then there were the dishes to wash, but Storm wasn’t sure she could do either without lying down for a bit.  Going to the front of the shop, she saw that her aunts were busy and went to talk to the man at the counter. He grinned at her when she welcomed him to The Bakery. “Nice name. Simple and right to the point.” Nodding, she waited for him to order or tell her what he wanted. He was dressed well, expensively, and he had a face that made her think she’d seen him before. “I need to get three loaves of rye and two of sourdough. And I’m supposed to ask you if there are any…let me see what Mom called them before I make a fool of myself.” She got his bread for him and put them into the long loaf bags she’d just gotten in. They were generic, but they served the purpose. He was still talking on his phone when the next man came to the counter. Storm wanted to ask him to wait for her aunts, but he looked like he needed more than what was on display. “You Sergeant Major Browning?” Storm nodded, but looked around to see if anyone else had heard him. “I was told to come on down here and see if you could use some help. The lady at the VA, she said you were looking for someone to help wash up.” Taking him to the back room, she sat him on the chair she’d been in and asked him when he’d last eaten. He told her that it had been a couple of days, because the shelter wasn’t open on the weekends. And he hadn’t cared for the meal they had on Fridays either. “It’s Monday. What’s your name, soldier, and don’t lie to me again.”  He straightened up in the chair and nodded to her. “I’m PFC Daniel Gunning, but I go by Danny. I don’t have no problems with drugs or nothing. Just nightmares and so on. I get to where I can’t leave my place. And when that happens, I lose my place in line at the food pantry. It’s been a couple of days since I’ve…leaving the apartment kind of gives me the willies.” She knew that feeling. “I heard from Nurse Mason that you were looking to find someone to come in some days and help out by washing up. You mean dishes, I’m suspecting.” “Yes.” He looked around the room, then stood up…much easier than she could have today. She sort of envied his ease. “You can start today, but I’m feeding you first. And if you object then you can think of it as an order.” He nodded and moved to the table in the back of the kitchen. Storm went to the front to get a loaf of bread, and the man from earlier was still standing there. When she told him she was sorry, he winked at her. “I saw you were busy. You going to hire him, Sarge?” Nodding, she told him not to call her that. “All right. But what were you, if you don’t mind my asking? Air force? Army?” 
“Special Forces. Did you ever find out what your mom wanted?” He told her that he needed a dozen filled donuts, he didn’t care what flavors. As she filled his order, all she could think about was the man in the back.  He’d be a great help should he be able to show up to work daily. She knew how hard it was for her just to get out of the bed some days, the pain was so bad. When she had the thirteen donuts for the man, she let Lynn ring him out. But he stopped her before she could go to the back again. “Are you sure it’s a good idea for you to hire him? You don’t seem to know anything about him other than someone sent him to you.” She pulled away from his touch on her arm. “I’m sorry. I just—” “I can take care of myself. I have been for a very long time. While I appreciate your concern, trust me when I tell you that he should be more afraid of me than I am of him.” He nodded and then looked over her shoulder. She didn’t have to look to know who stood there. He might have just been hired, but Danny was a soldier first and foremost. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve had a bang-up day so far, and I’d really like to be left to my own council.” “I’m sorry.” Storm nodded and moved to the back room. The man left a few minutes later, and Storm made Danny a sandwich. She also cautioned him about helping her out when he thought she was in trouble.  “I’m hurting, like you, but I can handle myself. There is no reason for us both to get into trouble with some over protective shit that thinks because I don’t have a dick between my legs that I’m one of them fainting hearts.” Danny grinned at her. “Next time, you just let me handle it. But if someone fucks with my aunts, you have my full permission to kick some ass, all right? And don’t call me by my rank here. It’s Storm, or Stormy if you wish. I left that all behind a while back.” “Yes, sir.” He bit into his sandwich and finished chewing before he spoke again. “You’re that CO that got all those guys out, aren’t you? I heard about it when it happened. I’m really sorry.” “I don’t talk about it. And if you want to continue working here, you won’t either.” He nodded again. “I’m not trying to be a bitch—well, I am, but I don’t want to think about it anymore. The nightmares plague me as well.” “Yes, sir, I’m betting that they do. If you, you know, need to talk, I can listen to you. Won’t say a word, just be here for you.” He took another healthy bite, then continued. “I might need you, too. I won’t mean to, but I might just need to…I get them willies I was telling you about, and you might have to talk to me. About nothing if you want, but I get myself scared to death sometimes. I won’t hurt you, but I do get scared.” “I’m here.” He nodded, and she walked to the board. She had no idea what it said at that moment; her eyes were filled with tears. Storm wasn’t the whiney kind of woman. She wasn’t even one to lean on people, even if she was falling over on her face with the need to. But there were times that hot tears could make her feel more alive than anything. After a bit, she heard the water at the sinks turn on and Danny start to hum to the music that was playing in the front of the shop…soft country music that her aunts both loved to hear, and sometimes even sang to. Storm pulled the first of the orders down just as Aunt Lynn came into the back room. She had the nightly list of things that they were running low on up front.  “We’re taking what is left to the shelter.” Nodding, Storm made a mental note to save some food for Danny to take home with him when he left. But her aunt handed her a sack that she could smell the bread in. “How’s your back, sweetie? Want me to stay and help?” 
“I’m going to go up in a bit and take a little nap.” Storm was pretty sure her aunt knew it was a lie. “Then I’ll work on some of this and the front stuff.” “Don’t work too much, honey. We’ll make do with what we have, and tomorrow is a half day too, so we might be able to make it.” Storm nodded and locked up after her aunts left. Going to the back room, she started measuring things into the big mixer. It was going to be a very long night. 

My Muse

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about their Muse lately.  I’m sure as writers at some point we have all looked to this person for something.   Not just for guidance but to be someone we can blame when we are eating ice cream and vegging out in front of the TV when we should be writing.  I have.

Mine is a male.  That in itself is an exception rather than the norm.  He is a combination of Jimmy Steward, George Clooney and Brad Pitt all rolled into one.

I used to think there were several people in my head telling me what to do – I mean write.  But I’ve come to realize that it’s just him.  He lines up the characters in each story, gets them to the scene on time, and they practice what they plan to say.  He does this until everyone is happy and then he moves on to the next one.

He also designs the back drop or the set.  This is one of his specialties.  Once the characters move on and I’m allow to write the story, all I need to do is close my eyes and I can see where they are.  Everything is crystal clear from the bubbles in the bath tub reaching up to the ceiling, their rainbow of bright colors shimmering in each one to the warmth of the thick terrycloth towels warmed by the heat of the towel rack and the steam from the water.  I can smell the flickering candles that are in the crystal bowls and the scents of the couple in the tub basking in their afterglow of making love.  I can feel the texture of their hot skin and the nap of the rug on the floor beneath their feet.  Colors so warm and inviting that I want to touch the richness of them.

The characters themselves are given this much detail too.  I know the slope of the nose to the mound of a breast.  Muscle tone and fullness of mouths and lips after torrid kisses or more.  The strength of fingers and the feel of them touching the other person’s cheeks, or the soft feel of the newborn cradled in the mother’s arms.  Rich and vivid details that are there for me to simply put to paper for me to share.

My Muse very much the task maker I’ve discovered.  He can and has rapped my finger with a ruler faster than my first grade teacher had many years ago.  When he takes the time to work out all the details for me, he is very firm on it going the way he wants it.

I’ve tried once or twice – okay lots of times – to nudge him in a different direction.  But he won’t have it.  Oh he’ll let me think I have, going so far as to let me get really into the new story line before he stops it.  And it stops dead too.  Not another word for any of his other stories either.

See, I write more than one at a time.  Usually different story lines altogether too.  Right now I’m working on book two and four of a human series about six brothers, book eleven of the vampire/wolf/magical series and all the while a new story is being set up too.

How do I keep them straight?  Well that’s a whole other blog.  Maybe I’ll share my insanity about that next time.

Anyway . . . they just come to a complete standstill.  Not a word, not a scene not even a single thought about any of them until I go back to my nudge and start over from there.

The other week I had a silly thought about moving the scene from the hospital to the office.  Seemed to me to be more private – silly me.  It was going great!  Words flowing like water, decorations and sets described well and three days into it – SLAM!  The door was shut and nothing.

I knew what he was doing.  He was being cantankerous and he also knew that he would win – he always does, so why not now.  I thought to go back a single chapter and try from there.  Then after letting that stew with no results, I went back another then another.  Eighteen thousand, two hundred and three works deleted later and I was back on track – his track.

Did I learn anything?  Sure, who wouldn’t?  Will I do it again?  And at the cost of possibility more words?  Well, I can say emphatically . . . nope.  Well, maybe.  Okay, yes I will.  Yes, I know I’m that stupid.  But pushing the envelope is what made me start putting pen to paper.

I love pulling out all the filled and filling steno pads filled with stories.  I love collecting the pens I empty when I write, the ink used up and the pen rendered useless.  And I love seeing the story as it develops, the characters coming to the end of whatever and simply coming together.  It’s like the window is opened and all the sunshine is invited in because my Muse made it right.

Now, why you ask yourself is my Muse such a weird combination of men?  Jimmy lends stability to the mix.  He’s the one that makes it happen in the stories and brings in the serious element.  George is the humor side of the Muse.  He give Duncan the one liners and makes them work (Duncan is in all eleven of the Aaron’s Kiss series).   George is also the inspiration of the snarky women and sarcastic wit.  Brad lends . . . well let’s face it, every woman needs a little yummy in their life and my Muse thinks it’s great.



I have a blog page.

Today is my first blog!!!  I have to figure this thing out, so bare with me for a few days.

I have been writing a book.  Actually, I have written one stand alone book, and finished two and working on number three in a series.  I’ve never had so much fun in my life.  I find releasing the characters in my head onto paper is such a rush, that I find I can sit for hours and write much to the annoyance of my husband. lol

I have hired an editor to tell me whether or not I suck at it – as I said to him, I’m sure he has a much nicer way of telling me not to quit my day job, and am excited about what he will tell me.  Well, excited isn’t quite right, there’s also terror, scared, happy and overwhelmed.  We’ll see.

Well, not so bad for a first time if I do say so myself.  Talk at you later.  Kathi

Wood Nymph