Catnapped R.J. Blain
(Magical Romantic Comedies, #14)
Publication date: May 11th 2021
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Urban Fantasy
When someone steals Diana’s cat, a former lab animal rescued from death’s door, she calls on one of the most dangerous beings in the universe for help. Cutting a deal with the devil isn’t the smartest move, but there’s no way in hell she’ll abandon Mr. Flooferson the Magnificent to his fate.
Teaming up with the son of a demon, an angel, and one hell of a woman might push Diana to the limits of her courage and sanity. Unless she wants to sell her soul to the devil, she must cope with her new partner, make the most of a bad situation, and find out who stole her cat and why.
What she learns will forever change humanity–and lead to a battle destined to forever change the heavens and the devil’s many hells.
What would you do for your beloved kitty? Diana is willing to do anything, even if it means making a deal with the devil. The story builds with one earth shattering revelation after another. By the end, Diana—and the world— will never be the same. The characters were colorful and well-written. Even though I haven’t been reading this series, I didn’t feel lost. Overall, it was an entertaining read and I enjoyed every minute of it.
*Dislcaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until satisfied.
Four years ago, I walked away from the man who owns my heart.
When he stalks into my rescue clinic with his beloved cat, I’m more than a bit shocked. Elias Galanis is everything a woman could possibly desire in a man. A successful doctor, scorching hot, and oh-so-good between the sheets. He’s also my ex-fiancé.
When he proposes trying us again, I’m hesitant. Second chances aren’t my thing. We didn’t work for a reason. He swears I’m still the one, and the more time we spend together the more I’m convinced I haven’t gotten over him.
Can I let go of the past? Or will old fears and insecurities drive him away forever?
You’re Still the One is a sexy standalone romance featuring a shoe-obsessed veterinarian, an irritably attractive ex-fiancé, and a meddling cat.
Some say superheroes wore capes. For me, I didn’t get to quick change in a phone booth. Oh no. Instead, I was trotting through a torrential downpour from my car to The Fancy Paws Society & Rescue in nude Molono Blahniks. Sure, I informed my two co-founders that I would be at Texas A&M giving a lecture on small animal anesthesia all day, but apparently, this emergency just couldn’t wait.
The water sloshing inside of my new babies made me whimper, but I didn’t stop. Our on-call vet tech, Stacie Greene, opened the back door for me with a mixed expression on her normally cheerful face. My concern immediately turned off from my annoyance at my potentially ruined heels to focus on the possible furry life in danger.
“I thought I told Ivy I wasn’t available and to send any emergencies to the clinic?” I asked, bustling past her toward my office. Inside, I would find my lab coat along with a secondary pair of low heels made for being on my feet all day. They would also be dry.
“She’s aware of that but told me you’d want to take this case.” Stacie followed me, holding the iPad we used for client charts to her chest. “It’s a possible obstruction from how the owner describes his symptoms over the past two days.”
My heart dropped, and my stomach clenched. Obstruction of anything coupled with a time-lapse of more than twenty-four hours didn’t sit well with me. I kicked off my heels, slipping into the more veterinarian-appropriate ones waiting inside of my office door. After quickly gathering my stethoscope from the top drawer and grabbing the white lab coat with my name embroidered across the left breast pocket, I nodded to Stacie.
“Let’s go see what we are dealing with.”
“Oh, one more thing.” Her freckled cheeks flushed a bright scarlet. “The owner is super-hot.”
I rolled my eyes. It now made perfect sense why Ivy allowed him to come here instead of the clinic, but now wasn’t the time to send her a scolding text. I had a cat with a possible obstruction to save.
“So sorry for the wait,” I announced after giving three quick knocks on the door to the examination room. “I was giving a lecture at A&M and had to fight the traffic to get over here. What seems to be the …?” My voice trailed off while my gaze took him in from head to toe.
Stacie hadn’t been lying. The man before me was drop-dead gorgeous. He was tall, broad, well-muscled underneath his black V-neck T-shirt with slightly disheveled blond hair. His sea-blue gaze widened on mine, making me feel exposed.
Houston, we have a problem.
Not only is Mr. Hot and Sexy eyeing me up the way I’d just ogled him, but we both knew what the other looked like. Naked. Because we’d been together before. And not just together-together, but engaged.
“Elias.” I broke the awkward barrier first, swallowing hard. With one glance at the gorgeous Ragdoll sitting patiently on the steel examination table that looked suspiciously like my own cat at home, I knew I wasn’t dreaming.
“Hey.” He cleared his throat, wiping his palms on his jean-clad thighs. “Ivy told me this would be okay since it’s an emergency.”
Well, Ivy and I would be having a long discussion later about why she should’ve sent my ex-fiancé to the clinic.
Seeing his cat, though, one I’d lived with and loved on, melted my heart. “What seems to be the issue with Obi?” I walked over and let the male cat sniff my hand. He rewarded me with a gentle rub, giving me the okay to scratch his neck.
“His favorite toy has gone missing.” His low baritone sent goose bumps over my flesh. I had to force my body to behave. “And he hasn’t eaten or really drank anything in two days.”
“What about the litter box?” Instinct moved my hands to Obi’s—short for Obi Meown Kenobi—stomach area, where I felt around gently.
“He’s used it but only to pee.” Elias rubbed a hand over the back of his neck. This side of the usual cool, confident human doctor wasn’t one I’d been privy to much. “I haven’t seen any number twos in twenty-four hours.”
My gut tightened, but I nodded, keeping my face neutral. “What kind of toy is missing?” Stacie moved to Obi’s opposite side to hold him in place while I adjusted the stethoscope in my ears to try to search for any gut sounds.
“It’s a Nerf ball.”
Both Stacie and I exchange a look across the stainless steel table. Nerf guns—and more specifically, their bullets—were notorious for creating bowel or stomach obstructions in cats. Sometimes, they threw them up. Other times, the family would make a sad and startling discovery a few days later. If an owner made it to the vet on time, we could perform surgery to hopefully remove and repair any damage.
“How big?” I ask.
He made a ping-pong-sized shape with his thumb and forefinger. “He’s had it forever, and never once has he tried to eat it.”
“Well, I’m going to suggest we do an ultrasound to find out exactly where this ball, or what remains of it, is located.” I gave the cat another scratch. He purred like nothing dramatic was happening around him. “Once I find whether it’s still in the stomach or has passed through to the bowel, I’ll know if we need to operate or not.”
Elias nodded. “Whatever you have to do, let’s do it.” He stepped closer to me, reaching out to take his cat’s head in his large hands. The smell of sandalwood and lemon wafted over to me, bringing with it a flood of memories. “He’s my little buddy.”
“I know, and we’ll do everything we can for him.”
Instead of letting Stacie go and grab the ultrasound machine, I practically flew out of the room to get it myself. My heart raced, not just because of my attachment to the cat behind the door but also because of the man who’d stolen and subsequently stomped on my heart. Four years hadn’t been enough time to get over him, obviously. Out of sight and out of mind only worked if I couldn’t see him. And now that I had, mixed emotions I’d fought so damn hard to tuck away wanted to come spilling to the surface.
No. You have a patient who needs your entire brain, Piper, I scolded myself, grabbing the machine to wheel it over to the examination room. Focus and you can break down later over a nice glass of merlot. Too bad Elias wouldn’t be joining me for that much-needed glass.
“All right.” I re-entered the room and noticed Stacie already had the fluffy boy turned over on his back. She was laughing as she shaved some of his hair.
“He thinks this is just the greatest.” She chuckled, shutting off the clippers. “What a laid-back cat.”
“He’s the best,” Elias agreed. The pensive, worried expression he wore stabbed at my soul. My gaze moved down to his left hand, noticing the absence of a ring. But he was a doctor, so he may not wear a ring at times due to his line of work.
“Let’s see if he’ll tolerate this without sedation.” I flipped on the ultrasound, and Stacie took her position as the technician while I wielded the wand. “Okay, little Obi, let’s see what kind of mess you’ve gotten yourself into.”
Starting in the stomach, I waited for the organ to come into view on the black and white screen. Almost instantly, my fears dampened. Just to be on the extra-cautious side, I moved onto the bowels, taking my time to double and then triple check. Obi sat calmly, purring up a storm as Elias rubbed his nose.
“Best patient I’ve ever had.” I smiled, pulling the wand away with a flourish. “Bad news, his favorite toy is no longer, but the good news is it’s still in his stomach.” My gaze met his. “I can give him some medication to induce vomiting, and he should be able to bring it up. However, I will want to keep him overnight to monitor him and make sure he doesn’t have any complications. Since he hasn’t gone to the bathroom in a few days, we need to make sure his back end is working properly.”
Elias breathed out a sigh of relief, and his signature, sexy-as-hell smile lit up his face. “Fantastic.”
Stacie cleared her throat behind me, and I noticed my left hand was clutching the ultrasound cart. She arched one brow at me, pulling the only object away from me that kept my knees from buckling. I hated how he still managed to crawl under my skin. Even as I glowered at her back, she left us alone in the room.
He opened his mouth to speak, but I moved around the exam table and pulled a bottle from the medications cupboard. “You won’t want to put him back in his carrier until we’ve got the pieces up.”
“I think since the tech is now gone, you can drop the professional act, Piper.” He spoke my name like a prayer, and my hands froze. “How’ve you been?”
“Oh, you know.” With trembling fingers, I continued to fill the syringe with the right dosage of medication. “Made partner at a clinic and founded this rescue. Living the dream. How about you?”
“I’ve also made partner in my office and doing much of the same.” Without looking at him, I knew he was running his fingers through his soft hair like he always did when frustrated. “I didn’t mean to make this awkward. I just didn’t trust anyone else with Obi, and Ivy said it wouldn’t be an issue.”
Spinning on my heel, I gently ran a hand over Obi’s back to distract him. “It’s not an issue at all.” My hand carefully rested on Obi’s head, giving him a scratch before scooting closer to aim the needle at his shoulder. “Just a pinch.” Before he could think about bolting away, I rubbed over his opposite shoulder and hugged him to my chest. Glancing down, I smiled. Obi’s bright blue eyes stared up at me in betrayal.
“Sorry, buddy.” I smirked, stroking over his shoulders. “You’ll thank me in a few minutes.”
Sure of my aim, I clicked the timer on my phone to wait for the fruits of my labor. I glanced up to meet Elias’s intense gaze. “No, it’s no trouble at all. After all these years, I’m glad you still trust me with your cat at least.” I didn’t mean for the comment to come out sounding as bitter as it did. The pinching of his brows and tightening of his jaw gave me the impression he hadn’t expected it either.
“It’s been four years, Elias,” I stated with a sigh, crossing my arms over my chest. “What happened between us is done and over with. Ancient history. You’ve gotten your partnership and so have I. We’re both doing exactly what we wanted to do.”
He didn’t speak for a moment as he studied my gaze to try to find the lies buried deep beneath the surface. I silently prayed he didn’t find them because they were there, taunting me. For a moment, I believed our conversation was over. And then he did something so totally and completely him that I almost gasped.
He crossed the few feet between us, stalking me with intentions I couldn’t be sure of. Heat flooded my core, and my palms grew sweaty. Four years apart or not, I knew this man like the back of my hand.
“Elias,” I warned.
“Don’t tell me what to do, Piper,” he retorted, barely raising his voice above a graveled whisper.
One of his hands reached out toward me. My heart jumped, lodging itself in my throat and stealing my speech. If he made a move, I’d be helpless against him. No matter how high the walls I put in place, he knew the exact footholds to take in order to tear me down. He’d always been my kryptonite. Always. He was the one who got away.
The heat radiating off his body warmed me even more. He made me forget about being nearly soaked and irritated in the driveway. And I sure as shit didn’t care about my shoes right now.
Before he opened his mouth to say the words I knew would penetrate through my steel armor, the familiar hurk, hurk, hurk sound of a cat drew both of our attention. There, on the exam table, Obi threw up a strange colored pile of yellow and tan. Multiple pieces of the Nerf ball made its star appearance. The cat licked his lips, swallowing hard, and stared at both of us like he was expecting some kind of applause. Not a few seconds later, he was heaving again. Leave it to a cat to completely and totally ruin the moment.
Kylie Stewart has been writing short stories and books all her life. She was influenced by her Scottish heritage to become an independent British history buff and has a small library dedicated to Tudor history and Arthurian legend. From contemporary, to fantasy, to the historical, she loves to write dangerous, passionate, raw romance that will make you dread to see the pages dwindle.
She works as an audio book narrator and voice actor when she isn’t writing. Kylie lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and fellow voice actor Eric Rolon, her son, and their three cats Asuka, Oliver, and Haru.
Ivy Stone is a young mother striving to make ends meet and provide for her little boy, whose father disappeared before he was born. She’s tired, and her sole dreams of a better future are for her son.
Alexander MacMillan Jr. never could forget about the gorgeous girl with whom he spent a wild night four years ago, but a pole dancer just wasn’t a match for the heir of a wealthy estate owner. Since he couldn’t have her, he drunkenly sought left and right, straight and gay, for a love that never happened.
When Alex’s father demands that he marry a woman to save the family name, and Alex discovers his naughty secret has started working for a millionaire neighbor, he quickly schemes for an arranged wedding at his birthday party. But will she accept to be his bride?
See photos that inspired me to write the book onPinterest
A couple hours later, when the sun stood high and bright in the sky, the sound of horseshoes came from the garden. Paul had dozed in the hay, enveloped by the soft jacket lining and lulled by happy bird songs and the rustling of leaves outside, but the commander’s return had him sit up against the wall.
A refreshing breeze rustled Alex’s hair as he reached the Hampton beach. He filled his lungs with salty air, his gaze sweeping the vast Atlantic and looking for spots on the horizon. No ships today, but endless, foam-topped waves of dark blue water rolling toward the shore in a deafening sound.
The more he thought of it, the clearer it became to him. What he essentially needed was a wife for a day, a bride for show to stop the fucking gossip. And once he’d proven to everybody he was a ‘normal’ guy and the guests had gone home, he could return to his nocturnal activities—only keeping them a little more secret from now on.
He unbuttoned his shirt and tied it around his waist. Flames of fire licked his skin, but he was used to being outdoors, and anyway, he didn’t intend to stay out very long. Just needed a breather.
At this hour, few people came to the beach. It was too hot. He scanned the perimeter and saw only a small kid running after a ball down the neighbor’s property.
Wait, wasn’t that…?
Yeah, he recognized the cap and the Superman shirt. And if that was Ivy’s kid, then she couldn’t be far. Alex’s heart jumped in his chest.
The little boy shouldn’t be out in the sun now, though, after having suffered from the heat earlier.
“Hey!” Alex waved.
He was too far away for the kid to hear him. He hurried over, and at the same time, Ivy appeared on the wooden walkway at the bottom of Fremont’s garden.
His breath caught. Her movements made the denim dress mold her svelte yet generously curved body. She may be wearing simple clothes, but they did a poor job of hiding the sexy treasures beneath. Blood rushed to his cock. Thank fuck his tied shirt covered it.
Strikingly beautiful without make-up, loose hair blowing in the breeze, she shook off her sandals and dipped her toes in the sand. At the sight of her son playing with the ball, she broke into a white-toothed smile and chuckled. She looked happy, instantly making Alex feel the same. He sizzled inside, his pulse beat faster. He had missed her so fucking much, and here she was back in his life!
When she turned and noticed him, her laugh faded to a dim smile. She recognized the guy in the limo earlier, not the one with whom she’d slept all night. He could tell from her discreet, polite reaction. It must be because he wore shades, and maybe his beard did its part in concealing his identity, too. If she knew he was her lover from four years ago, her gaze would tell.
He would never forget. Memories flashed in his mind. At the bar, he’d asked if there was any chance they could go somewhere, and she’d taken his hand with an alluring smile and led him to an empty dressing room. There, she’d done a strip show just for him in front of the vanity mirror, its white light bulbs giving the impression she was on stage. Then she’d undressed him, and they’d had wild sex in all kinds of positions, laughing and chatting and screwing over and over again. What a night!
“Hello,” she said, walking toward him.
His heart skipped a beat. “Hi.” Should he tell her who he was? How would she react if he did?
She stopped at a mere five feet away, but still showed no sign of recognition. Mind-boggling. “Thanks for helping out earlier. It was very kind of you.”
“Oh.” He lifted a hand to wave it off. “No worries. The kid looks better.”
“Danny? Yeah, thank God. We’ve had a great lunch, and now he’s playing again like nothing happened.”
“Glad to hear that. He shouldn’t be out too long in the sun, though.”
A frown, like she disliked being told right from wrong. “I know. We’re just checking out the beach. And I forgot my hat and sunglasses, so we’ll go right back”—she pointed over her shoulder—“in a minute. Do you have children?”
“No.” He’d love to have one, though. Kids were great fun, but as a notorious party animal, he wasn’t exactly laying the foundation for a family. He diverted the disturbing subject. “Are you settling well?”
She nodded. “Mr. Fremont’s a gentleman. He’s made sure everything was nice and ready for us in his gorgeous mansion. He’s having a nap, now, that’s why we’re—” She raised her hands, palms up, and tilted her face toward the sun. “Aw, I love it.”
And I love how sexy you look when you do this.
Like when she was coming with her cunt wrapped around his cock in the dressing room, moaning and arching her back, swollen tits pointed in the air.
About the author
Lea Bronsen likes her reads hot, fast, and edgy, and strives to give her own stories the same intensity. After a deep dive on the unforgiving world of gangsters with her debut novel Wild Hearted, she divides her writing time between romantic suspenses, dark erotic romances, and crime thrillers.
Glory -– Who up and moves to another state where they don’t know anyone and don’t have a job or a place to live? Me, that’s who. When I heard Devil’s Fury was running an underground clinic for women like me — victims of boys pretending to be men — I knew I had to be a part of it. What I didn’t count on was falling for an alpha biker with a heart of gold or turning to mush every time he holds my daughter. There’s more to Wolf than most people realize, and now that he’s decided I’m his and he’s mine, I’m holding on and never letting go. I won’t even let a killer stand in the way of my happily-ever-after.
Wolf — When my ex left for greener pastures I should have been broken-hearted. So why wasn’t I? One look at the angel who walks into Church and I know… Glory’s meant to be mine, and so is her adorable little girl. Just one problem. Well, two. She’s skittish — she’s been badly hurt by men before, and I’m not exactly a prize. I came back from the war broken physically and mentally. I know Glory can do better. But I always get what I want, and I want Glory. When someone tries to destroy my new family, I know I’ll do whatever it takes to keep them safe… even if it means letting Glory see the darkness inside me.
WARNING: Wolf’s story is part of the Devil’s Fury MC series and contains some violence, bad language, sensitive issues, and adult situations. Guaranteed happily-ever-after, a baby who will steal your heart, no cheating, and no cliffhanger.
I’d lost my mind. What sane person picked up and moved to another state without having a job lined up, all because they wanted to volunteer for an underground clinic, which could lead to imprisonment? Me, that’s who. Although, I now questioned exactly how sane I was. My daughter, Sienna, wasn’t quite a year old, so she didn’t understand what was happening. As long as I fed her on time, and maintained her routine, she didn’t much care where we lived. She did need a roof over her head and I didn’t have housing figured out.
My hands trembled as I followed Tank through the Devil’s Fury clubhouse. Until the second trimester of my pregnancy, I hadn’t even known him, or his wife. Emmie had become a good friend since then, and when I’d heard what the Devil’s Fury wanted to accomplish, I knew I needed to be a part of it.
“Let me do the talking,” Tank said. “You’ll know when you need to speak up.”
“All right. I won’t get in trouble for being here?” I asked, looking around.
“No. You’re with me, and that’s enough. Only my brother is expecting me, so we may not get a warm reception when we first walk in. Their bark is worse than their bite, at least where women are concerned. Just don’t fuck up and you won’t have anything to worry about.”
Right. Because that didn’t make chills skate down my spine. Exactly what would they do to me if I did fuck up? I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.
Tank pushed open some double doors and strolled inside with me on his heels.
“Don’t start the party without me,” Tank said, a smile in his voice.
A man stood at the head of the table, and I assumed he was the club President. I didn’t know much about the way a place like this worked, but Tank’s wife had gone over the basics. I eyed the man’s cut. Badger — President. Yep, I’d been right. I tried to hide the way my hands trembled and hoped no one realized I was out of my depth right now.
“Motherfucker,” Badger muttered. “I should gut you for barging into Church uninvited.”
My stomach clenched and I gave Tank the side-eye. I hoped he was right about these men not getting angry and taking it out on me. I’d defend myself, but I doubted I was much of a match for the guys in the room. And gut him? Did he mean literally?
“Technically, I had an invitation from your VP, and I come bearing gifts.” He reached over and yanked me from where I’d stood partially behind him. I winced and wanted to rub my arm. “Meet Glory.”
“We don’t allow club whores in Church,” one of them said. I eyed his cut. Demon — Sgt. at Arms. Same rank as Tank. Which meant I needed to toe the line, according to Emmie. However, I’ve never been good at doing what I should.
Tank winced and I felt my face flush. A club whore? That’s what they thought? I wanted to scan my clothes, thinking maybe I’d dressed wrong. No. Jeans and a heather gray tee. Nothing overtly sexy about what I had on. In fact, my shirt was even on the loose side.
Anger sparked inside me. Emmie had explained what the club whores were, and how these men didn’t respect them, not even a little. They used them and tossed them aside. And this asshole thought I was a club whore?
I jabbed a finger in Demon’s direction and snarled. “I’m not a fucking club whore. You try to put your dick anywhere near me, I’ll rip it off.”
Badger sat and leaned back in his chair, apparently settling for the show. I hoped like hell there wouldn’t be one. I’d been warned not to let these men push me around and at the same time, I had to act respectful. It was a fine line, and I hoped I didn’t cross it. Even though being around men still scared the crap out of me at times, I didn’t want them to think I was too soft. They needed to know I could handle myself in this world. If I couldn’t prove myself to them, I could be asked to leave.
Demon stared down his nose at me.
“First off, I have a woman so I wouldn’t want my dick anywhere near you. Second, you point at me again, and I’ll –”
Badger cleared his throat and shook his head, giving Demon a look that clearly said shut up. The Sergeant-at-Arms clamped his lips shut and glared at me. I folded my arms and stared back, faking way more bravery than I actually had. I hoped no one noticed I was shaking.
“Introduce Glory, Tank,” someone else said.
“Glory has a four-year degree in biology and was accepted into medical school. She only attended for one semester before she had to quit and stay home,” Tank said.
“Why did you have to quit?” another man asked. Blades was stitched on his cut.
“Fuck that. She doesn’t even look old enough to be out of high school.” The man partway down the table leaned forward, a ghost of a smile crossing his lips. “No offense.”
I looked up at Tank, knowing this was the moment he’d mentioned. The time I’d knew I needed to speak. They needed to hear my story, understand why I was here and why I needed to help in any way I could. I faced the table of men.
“I graduated high school when I was fourteen, then finished my four-year degree in three years. I was seventeen when I was accepted into medical school. The reason I dropped out is personal, but considering why I’m here, I’ll share it with you. I was walking across campus one night when two guys dragged me off into the bushes. They hit me several times, nearly knocking me out, then took turns raping me.”
I scanned the room, stopping on each brother for a few seconds before moving on to the next. I dared for one single man to utter anything about me deserving it, or any other bullshit I’d already heard a million times since the incident. Several gazed back at me with sympathy. Others looked furious, but I didn’t think it was at me. No, I thought they wanted to track down the two men who’d hurt me, and if I had names for them, I’d gladly let them do their worst. I doubted I was their first, or their last, victim.
“I have a daughter as a consequence of that night. No one found me for thirty-six hours, and by the time I was treated, it was too late for the morning-after pill to be as effective. They treated me for STDs and sent me on my way.” I took a breath and my fingers clenched and unclenched at my sides. “My parents threw me out when I refused to have an abortion. Sienna, my daughter, is developmentally delayed but she’s an angel. No matter how she was conceived, I’m lucky to be her mom.”
“You dropped out to take care of your kid or because you were scared to be on campus?” another man asked. I checked for a name, needing to make sure I could recognize these men later. Ripper.
“A little of both,” I admitted. “I’m eighteen, in case anyone wondered. Almost nineteen. Tank heard about your project to help rape victims and thought of me. We met at the OB-GYN when I was there for a check-up during my pregnancy, and I spilled my story to his wife.”
The VP, Slash, narrowed his gaze at Tank. “Anything I need to know, brother?”
Tank shook his head. “Got a vasectomy when the girls were about two years old. Those three are more than enough. We were just there for a routine thing. Emmie didn’t want to go alone.”
“You want to help as what? Medical staff?” Badger asked me.
“After having been the victim of two rapists, I can understand where these women are emotionally and mentally,” I said. “I have enough training to help with the basics, but you’d still need a licensed doctor or nurse practitioner. I’m CPR certified, and I’ve been taking some online nursing classes. I just haven’t been able to do the hands-on part because of Sienna.”
“She’ll need a place to stay,” Tank said. “Any objections to letting her use one of the apartments?”
“They only have one bedroom,” Ripper said. “She needs more space if she has a daughter.”
I wanted to smile. These men had no idea the conditions I’d been dealing with since finding out I was pregnant. A one bedroom behind a fence? Seemed more like paradise to me. Having two bedrooms was a luxury, and not one I necessarily needed. As long as I had a roof over our heads, could keep Sienna cool in the summer or warm in the winter, and keep us both fed nothing else mattered.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Harley Wylde is the International Bestselling Author of the Dixie Reapers MC, Devil’s Boneyard MC, and Hades Abyss MC series.
When Harley’s writing, her motto is the hotter the better — off the charts sex, commanding men, and the women who can’t deny them. If you want men who talk dirty, are sexy as hell, and take what they want, then you’ve come to the right place. She doesn’t shy away from the dangers and nastiness in the world, bringing those realities to the pages of her books, but always gives her characters a happily-ever-after and makes sure the bad guys get what they deserve.
The times Harley isn’t writing, she’s thinking up naughty things to do to her husband, drinking copious amounts of Starbucks, and reading. She loves to read and devours a book a day, sometimes more. She’s also fond of TV shows and movies from the 1980’s, as well as paranormal shows from the 1990’s to today, even though she’d much rather be reading or writing.
You can find out more about Harley or enter her monthly giveaway on her website. Be sure to join her newsletter while you’re there to learn more about discounts, signing events, and other goodies!
The only thing better than riding a cowboy is submitting to one.
On her own for the first time, Skylar Wedgeworth has no idea what to do about it. She’s torn between behaving like the hard-working mom she’s dedicated her life to being…and embracing her fascination with the erotic world of lust and submission she has long put second.
That’s where The Ranch comes in. And with it, Caleb Cash.
The injury that cut short Caleb’s pitching career just before he joined the majors, then his wife walking out on him have made Caleb question everything about himself, and he hasn’t had a partner since.
There’s no denying the heat between them when Skylar checks into the erotic lifestyle club Caleb and his six best friends opened in the Montana mountains, but for things to go further than their physical connection, Skylar has to learn how to put herself first and Caleb must be willing to trust a new partner with his heart…
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of anal sex, outdoor sex, the use of sex toys. There is reference to body modification, sports injury and implied abortion.
Oh, they were high up now.
Ev had brought Skylar to Open Air Skydiving to get her mind off things, just as she had taken her white-water rafting, dancing and drinking, hiking, and movie binging, but it turned out that things had taken Skylar’s mind off skydiving and she was very suddenly hit with the realization that she was about to jump out of a plane.
Sweat ran down the cotton shirt pressed to Skylar’s back by the bulk of her diving gear and the attached diving instructor. She leaned over to hear what her best friend was saying.
“Of course you miss her.” Ev had to shout to be heard over the roar of the small plane’s engine and the whirling wind that beat against metal. This wasn’t a good idea. Why had she thought it was a good idea? “You know that’s okay, right? You’re allowed to miss her.”
It was just the rush of air coming from the open door that had Skylar’s eyes watering behind the plastic goggles they’d been given when they checked into Open Air Skydiving Center just outside of DC earlier that afternoon. Just the air pressure and not the pressure behind her eyes, or anything ridiculous like that.
“I know,” Skylar shouted with more conviction than she felt. How was it she could be more than ten thousand feet above the ground and still feel this sense of malaise? “I was just hoping that sunshine and hot men would make me forget about it for a while.”
That had been the plan. A jaunt around Greece—exploring the coasts and the beaches, visiting some of the world’s most beautiful historic sites, getting tan and drinking local wine until the day she returned to the city—all with the hope that their home wouldn’t feel quite so quiet when she got back.
“You know that Callie is totally going to take on the world, right? Don’t think of it as your little girl going off to college. Think of it as…as the next step toward her Nobel Peace Prize.” Ev raised her voice even more to be heard. She leaned close and put her hand on Skylar’s, and goodness if Skylar didn’t need the kind of comforting touch Ev brought, even if it was slightly inhibited by the two diving instructors strapped to their backs, diving instructors who were now communicating that their jump point was coming up.
“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea…” The words were swallowed by the sound of the instructors moving about the cabin of the plane. Then Skylar was right there, standing over the world, her stomach somewhere at her feet, and the sweat she had been feeling a moment ago cooling into a panic that made her shiver.
“Are you ready?” her instructor asked, but the words were swallowed up on the wind and he didn’t give her a chance to respond before her feet were no longer anchored to the floor of the plane, before none of her body was anchored to the plane, but out in the open air, nearly three miles above the ground, a dizzying display of city and farmland and highway spreading out around them like the rug Callie had had in her room when she’d been a child.
Wait until she told Callie…
Callie would think this was the coolest thing Skylar had ever done.
With that thought in mind, Skylar spread her arms and relaxed her body enough to let the wind buoy her. Her heart pounded faster than the whirling plane propeller above them and her mouth was open in an eternal scream. This was terrifying, this was stupid, this was….
Her instructor pulled the cord and the parachute yanked them back, pressing hard against Skylar’s body and knocking the air from her chest for a moment. In a moment they were floating above the Virginia farmlands, a million tiny barns and homes and buildings coming into focus as they followed the natural course of the air. This was peace, somehow, in a tumult of chaos. In a whirlwind of everything that had happened these past weeks, she somehow felt at peace miles above the solid ground and wished, fleetingly, stupidly, that she never had to touch down again.
When her feet hit the ground, she stumbled but didn’t lose her balance and a rush of adrenaline coursed through her body. She wanted to dance, to swim across a river, to go back to Greece and figure out exactly what she had run away from by coming back from her Mediterranean adventures nearly a week earlier than she had planned and allowing Ev and her partners to toss her into every available adventure within three hours of the city.
As if she could hear her thoughts, Ev touched down a few hundred yards from Skylar, whooping and hollering with the same delight that raced through Skylar’s body right now. Soon they were disentangled from their chutes and Skylar was running over to Ev, wrapping her in a hug and swinging her around. Adrenaline made picking up her friend easier than expected and she could almost see how mothers could lift cars off their children in emergencies.
“That was wild!” She was definitely shouting but Ev didn’t seem to realize. “Let’s go again!” Ev laughed, wrapped her arm around Skylar’s waist and half-pulled her to the facility to drop their diving suits off and grab their bags. When they returned to the parking lot, it was to find Ev’s partners, Lucas and Quinn, waiting for them against a large black SUV.
Quinn Langston and Lucas Vallejo were Ev’s husbands and friends from back when they had trained at Quantico together. It had been nothing more than a momentary blip for Skylar to accustom herself to their relationship. Not only had the three been thick as thieves for a decade and the transition an easy and natural one, but Skylar’s own love for Ev went back even further, and she was never going to begrudge her happiness, no matter what form it took.
Ev had been there since the beginning, since Skylar had been pregnant and alone and desperate for a job, any job. Ev had just moved to DC the summer after graduating from Columbia University, before her training at Quantico, and they’d shared night shifts, and morning shifts and lazy afternoon shifts all summer long, sweating their asses off and working their calves to hell in the City Street Diner, across the street from George Washington University Hospital.
It had formed an impenetrable bond between the two of them, two young women trying to make it in a world not designed for them, and though Ev had gone on to save the world from evil at the FBI and Skylar had created her own successful business from the ground up, they had never lost touch.
Ev had been there the day Callie was born, been the one Skylar had put on her emergency forms, the one Skylar had called when the going had gotten really rough. It shouldn’t have come as a shock that Ev the grown-up, now in her late thirties and balancing two relationships and an incredibly successful career, would be able to see exactly what was bothering Skylar without skipping a beat. Well, almost everything that was bothering her.
“I’ve never seen you look more gorgeous in my life,” Lucas teased as the two neared the SUV. He was pretty gorgeous himself, all honey words and thick dark hair that Ev had disclosed one drunken night he very much liked pulled. Beside him, Quinn’s stoic expression cracked slightly, and he leaned down to kiss Ev before wrapping Skylar in a hug. It felt like having a brother back and some of the adrenaline of their trip through time and space faded slightly.
“Did you enjoy yourself?” he asked. Quinn was the most reserved of the three, and while they’d been waging a war against Skylar’s demons since she had returned from Greece early without an explanation, he’d given her the most space to process things, to be herself. She knew he had secrets of his own and appreciated his methods and gentleness as much as she did Lucas’ flirtatious humor and Ev’s open warmth.
“It was amazing,” she said honestly. For five minutes, she’d been able to stop thinking about Callie, about her empty apartment, about the what if of what she had run away from in Greece.
“Night’s just getting started!” Lucas chimed in, wrapping his arm around Ev’s waist and leaning in very, very close. “We have reservations at Little Cuba in”—he made a show of checking his watch—“ten minutes.” Little Cuba had the kind of festive atmosphere that was just perfect for a night out after jumping from a plane and Skylar had to appreciate the extent to which her friends were going to help her feel good.
It might help if I explained what the problem is.
Because she hadn’t exactly told Ev that it wasn’t so much the sense of being lost at sea with Callie in her first year of school on the other coast that had her in a funk. That had been why she’d left for Greece in the first place. But what she had found there…
Gemma Snow loves high heat, high adventures and high expectations for her heroes! Her stories are set in the past and present, from the glittering streets of Paris to cowboy-rich Triple Diamond Ranch in Wolf Creek, Montana.
In her free time, she loves to travel, and spent several months living in a fourteenth-century castle in the Netherlands. When not exploring the world, she likes dreaming up stories, eating spicy food, driving fast cars and talking to strangers. She recently moved to Nashville with a cute redheaded cat and a cute redheaded boy.
GEMMA SNOW IS GIVING AWAY FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN AND GET A FREE EBOOK FROM THE AUTHOR! Notice: This competition ends on 18TH May 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.
Cyprus Reid is an enigma who courts the spotlight while carefully maintaining her mystique, intriguing legions of fans with her stylistic lyrics and a voice that brings many to tears. Even more intriguing than her all-male entourage is the fact that people are dying to get to her… literally.
To ex-Navy SEAL-turned-government intelligence operative Jason Giles, Cyprus is either a victim of an elaborate conspiracy, or the most fiendish killer since Jack the Ripper. Sure, the victims had shady pasts and shared a connection to a strange incident at Mount McKinley some fifty years ago, but that doesn’t mean they deserved to die, seemingly drained of life while engaged in acts of wanton carnality.
Jason is sent to discover the truth, but what he finds is more seductive, more intriguing, more enticing than a mere boy in a dress. What Jason finds is the existence of The Coven. And once they discover you, there is no going back.
“Ms. Reid, you are looking perfect tonight. Look this way, please!”
“Ms. Reid! You are an inspiration! I love you!”
“Ms. Reid! Ms. Reid! You are a goddess!”
“You are a dirty tramp, and you seduce men into worshiping you, you nasty slut!”
“You stole my husband, you bitch!”
“I hope you rot in hell!”
And Cyprus, as usual, ignored it all.
The flashing bulbs temporarily blinded her, but she ignored the minor inconvenience as well, as she moved with her customary style and grace down the wrinkled red carpet that had been rolled out for her visit.
She turned and flashed one last mysterious smile at the gathered crowd, both the hateful and the adoring fans, and silently made her way into the safety of the hotel.
“Ms. Reid?” She looked up at the oh-so-proper, British-accented voice, realizing absently that it was the hotel manager.
She paused, giving the short, balding man her full attention, noting how he flushed a little at her scrutiny.
The doors behind them closed with a <em>whoosh</em>, muting the noise and shouts of the crowd, though bulbs continued to flash as paparazzi desperately tried to get that winning shot of one of the world’s most beautiful and renowned vocalists.
“Um.” He cleared his throat, tugging at his collar as he shifted from foot to foot, more like an adolescent than a grown man. “Security has been tightened on your floor as you requested. Also, you are the only occupant of the twenty-seventh floor, though we can easily accommodate you and your entourage in the penthouse suite.”
“Thank you and that will be all,” a tall, long-haired man spoke, towering over both the manager and Cyprus. “Though we appreciate the hospitality you and your staff have provided thus far, Ms. Reid does not prefer the penthouse or any of the presidential suites. The twenty-seventh floor is perfect for our needs.”
The manager froze, staring at the man as if suddenly noticing his presence and that the sheer aura surrounding Cyprus had rendered the world blind to anyone else around her.
But then, that was part of her mystery.
Cyprus Reid never traveled with fewer than five men, five painfully handsome, dominating men.
How anyone could ever not notice them was a complete mystery, but usually they managed the neat theatrical trick of fading into the background. Once they decided to be seen, however, a blind man couldn’t miss them.
Each stood over six feet tall — five perfectly formed men, each unique and differently beautiful in his own way, who made it a point to surround and protect Ms. Reid from any and all activities that could be considered dangerous, especially keeping any unsavory fanatics at bay.
The one who spoke to him — Unus, he had discovered — the one with long, dark hair, appeared to be the spokesman for the rest of the group. If there was anything to be settled, this one was the one to do it.
He stood before the manager, his perfectly cut Savile Row suit doing nothing to hide the raw masculinity and barely leashed savagery that seemed to glow from his eyes.
The other four, all mystery men of different ethnic backgrounds and styles, moved in closer, alert to any trouble that might develop.
“V-v-very g-good, s-sir,” the manager stuttered, growing nervous now that all that male power was directed toward him. He reached into his pocket, then took a quick step back as all the men moved forward, hiding Cyprus behind a wall of muscle.
“It’s just the electronic key card,” he quickly explained, sweating under his collar as if suddenly fearing for his very life. “Just the key. No one else besides our head of security has a copy.”
“Your head of security?” the man asked, leaning forward, getting closer so that the manager could make out small, very fine tribal tattooing along his hairline, down in front of his ears, and down into the collar of his shirt.
“Jason Giles,” the manager explained. “Very good, comes highly recommended. He is securing the twenty-seventh floor as we speak. Ms. Reid’s safety is our chief concern.”
A slim, dusky hand reached between the two of them, halting any movement the tall man might have made and pulling him back into line.
He conceded to the smaller female whose hand now rested on his arm, nodding once. “Ms. Reid is exhausted…”
“Oh, excuse me!” The manager snapped back into host mode and hastily directed the small party to the private elevators. “These only stop at executive floors, like the twenty-seventh,” he explained, while placing the card against a small scanner.
The doors immediately opened, and he quickly ushered them inside. The men immediately surrounded Cyprus protectively. Within seconds, they were whisked to the proper floor, and all exited into the plushly carpeted, brightly lit hall.
“As requested, Ms. Reid’s room is in the center. The rooms on either side of her are prepared for occupancy and can be accessed only though the interior doors that are in Ms. Reid’s main suite. All others are closed off and locked, both electronically and by physical means. This floor is as safe as Fort Knox.”
That said, he led them to a door where another man, one with nearly white-blond hair, stood at attention.
Instantly, the men were once again on high alert, their bodies tensing as they formed a barrier between Cyprus and the unknown man.
“This is Jason Giles,” the manager introduced. “He is head of security, hired exclusively for your safety during this visit.”
“An honor.” Jason spoke softly, his eyes going to the odd collection of men who surrounded the artist.
“We thank you.” The long-haired spokesman for the group eyed the strange male carefully. “But your services, though appreciated, are not needed.”
There was steel in that voice only a dead man could miss. The undercurrents flowed strongly and were rife with testosterone.
“Be that as it may,” Jason replied, “I remain your first line of defense. If something gets out of hand, I will do my best to quell it before it even makes it this far. And if you have any issues, no matter how minor, be sure to let me know. Any extra security is a must. We all have to protect the beauteous Ms. Reid,” he added, with barely veiled sarcasm.
“If you think –” the now disgruntled leader of apparent party-toy men began, but a slim hand pressing against his arm stopped him again.
Huffing and visibly fighting to control himself, the man nodded and stepped aside.
And Jason got his first glimpse of the real-life Cyprus Reid.
Stephanie is a USA Today Best Selling, multi published, multi award-winning author, Master Costumer, handicapped, wife and mother of two.
From sex-shifting, shape-shifting dragons to undersea worlds, sexually confused elemental Fey and homo-erotic mysteries, all the way to pastel-challenged urban sprites, Stephanie has done it all, and hopes to do more.
Stephanie is an orator on her favorite subjects of writing and world-building, a sometime teacher when you feed her enough tea and donuts, an anime nut, a costumer, and a frequent guest of various sci-fi and writing cons where she can be found leading panel discussions or researching varied legends and theories to improve her writing skills.
Stephanie is known for her love of the outrageous, strong female characters, believable worlds, male characters filled with depth, and multi-cultural stories that make the reader sit up and take notice.
How would you feel when the man you have known and loved for the last five years is not who he said he was? That everything he ever told you was all a lie.
An accident changed our lives forever and now I have to bring him back to us because he doesn’t remember our life, our family or us. One minute, I was just a regular girl from India married to a man she loved, and the next, my life has changed completely because I’m married to an English Duke, who doesn’t remember me.
My name is Aaliya Singh Talbot and I will do whatever it takes to bring my husband back from the darkness and into the light.
I will make him remember no matter what I have to do!
I will make him remember everything – beneath all the lies!
In a heartbeat, I know it’s me. I jerk awake and sit upright on my bed, my heart roaring against my ribcage. My hand trembles as I push my long hair back from my damp forehead. He can’t be dead; this was just a dream! I chant that thought while taking huge calming breaths. This is the third time this week I’ve woken up like this, feeling like he’s gone. The fact that I’ve lost all touch with him screams inside me that something is drastically wrong else he’d never be silent for this long; his phone would never be switched off like it has been this last week. I shut my eyes, anxiety weighing me down. How long should I convince myself there is a reason for his silence?
I grab the photo frame from my bedside table. It is a picture of Damien and I from our honeymoon. His arm is around me and both of us are smiling into the camera, the waves of the Indian Ocean crashing behind us.
I run a finger along his face, tracing that bearded jaw, visualizing him in my mind’s eye. Those striking grey-green eyes that sparkle whenever they rest on me, that heart-stopping smile that almost always makes me melt. I miss him! I miss being tucked under his chin when he hugs me. I miss his scent and I miss how his strong arms and tall frame wrap around me when we sleep, making me feel protected and cherished. This is the first time we’ve been separated for so long and perhaps that’s what is making me anxious. I shake my head. No, something is wrong. I can sense it.
God! Please let him be safe, I pray.
Love is a strange yet powerful emotion that hit me when I least expected it and swept me off my feet without me even knowing it. And now, five years later, it is the faith I have in that love that makes me believe he would never leave me without contact—unless he was in trouble.
Fear for him slithers like a poisonous snake across my veins but I have to tamper it down because I have one more reason to remain sane, to stay anchored to the belief that Damien will be fine, no matter what. I breathe in deep, letting the familiar hum of the air conditioner soothe my nerves before I slide off the bed. My feet hit the cold marble floor and I head to the other bedroom where I tip toe inside.
My darling little boy—an angel with his mouth open and a tiny hand clutching his rather overlong hair—is sleeping in his cot. A small smile skates across my lips and my heart warms as I stare at him for a moment before lifting him carefully and putting him on my shoulder. He wriggles for a moment but soon relaxes in my arms, his nose digging into the side of my neck. I inhale his soft, sweet fragrance, and shut my eyes for a few seconds. Rian is ten months old and the love of our lives. Reluctant to let go of him, I hold him for a second longer before I gently tuck him back in his cot and caress his beloved face, so similar to his father.
My cell phone rings and I run to my room, glancing at the clock that shows that it’s three in the morning. I pray fervently that it’s finally him calling. Please God, let that be my husband!
I lift the cell, scanning the caller id and my shoulders slump.
“Gabriel!” I breathe into the phone. “Where is Damien? It’s been a week since I heard from him. One whole week with his phone switched off and you giving me a different excuse each time I call. I’m scared, Gabe. You can’t even begin to imagine the thoughts running through my mind.”
His silence only fuels my fear.
“Gabe, please,” I plead. “Where is he?”
“Aaliya, he…he’s been in a car accident!”
“No! God, no!” I shudder. “Is he-”
I swallow against the pain in my throat and try again, because I need to know. “Is he fine? Please tell me he’s alive!”
“Aaliya, he’s fine. He was in a coma for a week. He’s just woken up now.”
“One week!” I gasp out. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Tears burn my eyes, threatening to spill over. “His trip to London was planned for two days not ten, Gabe. I’ve lived in terror this last week ever since I lost contact with him. You knew how worried I was and yet you fed me with one excuse after the other. How could you keep his accident from me? I deserved to know, Gabe.”
“Don’t you dare try and placate me!” I yell, unable to hold it back any longer. “You should’ve called me the minute he was admitted to the hospital.”
“Aaliya, I’m sorry. I truly am!” His voice comes out broken. “This is hard for me too. I didn’t tell you because he told me to look after you and Rian first if anything happened to him. I never imagined that he’d meet with an accident so soon after. You may not understand this now, Aaliya, but I did this to protect you both.”
“Protect us from what?”
Gabe sighs. “How much do you know of the English aristocracy?”
My fist squeezes tighter around my phone. “I don’t care about the damn English aristocracy. Tell me about Damien. How is he?”
“Like I said, he’s fine now. He woke up a few hours ago. He’s injured his head, but he will be fine. There’s a lot to tell you, Aaliya. Damien hasn’t told you entirely who he was…is.”
“What do you mean, Gabe? Don’t talk to me in riddles. Besides, I know who he was…” I shake my head. “…he is. I know about his life in England. So, stop trying to tell me something else.”
I’ve known Gabriel Westcott for as long as I’ve known Damien, which is five years now. He is Damien’s best friend, his business partner and was his best man at our wedding. Since Damien was an orphan, Gabe was also the only person to attend from Damien’s side. This last week he’s given me one excuse after the other regarding the silence from Damien and now he’s feeding me some nonsense about my husband that I refuse to believe.
“Damn it, Aaliya. You need to listen to me!” Gabe shouts. “Damien is the second son of the Duke of Kittridge. He returned here to England ten days ago not on a business trip, like he told you, but because his father and brother died in a car crash. He came for their funeral and because of his new responsibility. Damien is now the Duke of Kittridge.”
“No!” I whisper, dropping down on the bed. “That can’t be true. He would have told me. No! I don’t believe you.”
“Google it. Now! It’s K I T T R I D G E.”
He spells the word as I grab my laptop and open Google and type the letters. My eyes widen in shock. Oh my God! The cords in my neck strain as I stare at the images on the screen. There are dozens of pictures of Damien. He’s at a funeral. He’s with an older woman. Another picture shows him with his arm around a younger blonde woman, comforting her. Who are these women? What in the hell is going on? I read tweets on him.
“The new Duke of Kittridge”
“Missing son returns after five years”
“The Devil Lord is now the Devil Duke”
The Internet has the whole history of Damien; it knows things I’ve never known. My Damien is not Damien Alexander, as I’ve always known him; he is Damien Alexander Talbot, now the Duke of Kittridge.
“How…how is this possible?” My voice trembles. “How could I have not known?”
“I will explain it all to you, Aaliya. But first, you need to come to London as soon as you can. Can you organize to leave Rian with someone for a few days?”
“I’ll bring him with me. Damien will want to see him.”
“Aaliya,” Gabe lowers his tone and my heartbeat accelerates yet again, “he doesn’t remember you. He has no memory of the last five years of his life, which includes Rian and you.”
Did he just say that? No! It can’t be true. But I know to the core of my being that it is true. This is why my instincts have been roaring at me since the last few days. My stomach plummets, the hollowness spreading through every inch of my body. A whimper escapes my mouth and I press a hand on my lips to stop myself from screaming.
About the Author:
Sapna Bhog is an author from India who writes contemporary and historical romance novels. As a self-proclaimed die-hard romantic, her books are filled with swoon-worthy heroes and feisty heroines who clash all the time, but do get their happy ever after. Sapna has always surrounded herself with books and when she is not writing she is reading. Originally from Dubai, she now lives in Western India with her husband, kids and a Siberian Husky. Sapna gave up a successful IT career and took a foray into writing and has never looked back since. Her favourite pastimes are reading, writing, traveling and shopping—not necessarily in that order. She loves to hear from readers.
Wedding Photographer Chloe Hart has just been dumped when she receives a mysterious gift — a painting of a handsome knight in a heavy gold frame worked with what appear to be magical sigils. She promptly hangs the painting up in place of her cheating ex-boyfriend’s portrait.
That night, she has the most delicious dream of Lord Radolf of Varik, the medieval conqueror who has just seized her castle. He seduces her in a red-hot encounter that makes her forget all about ol’ what’s his name. The next night, Radolf is back, this time as the captain of a pirate ship. Night after night, Radolf and Chloe act out some deliciously erotic scene from her favorite guilty-pleasure romance novels. And every single dream seems utterly real, down to the last scent and taste.
What Chloe doesn’t realize is that what’s all fun and games for her is desperately serious for Radolf. He’s been a prisoner for eight hundred years in the castle of a witch, and he can’t escape until he can find a woman who cares enough to free him. Is Chloe that woman?
Even as the two begin to fall in love, a new and horrible fear grips Radolf: what will the witch do to Chloe?
Chloe Hart eyed the newspaper with all the enthusiasm of a woman surveying a dentist’s chair before a root canal. “Don’t be a wuss, Chlo’,” she muttered to herself, and picked up the paper.
Gripping it like a club, she marched back into the house to the kitchen table, where a bracing cup of coffee and a Danish waited to fortify her for the coming ordeal. She tossed the paper on the table, plopped down in her chair, and picked up the mug. An incautious sip scalded the tip of her tongue.
At Chloe’s lisped obscenity, Rhett Butler looked up from his Tender Vittles with an inquiring “Meow?”
“Ignore me, Rhett,” she managed around her boiled tongue tip as she unfolded the newspaper with a series of grim snaps. “Just having a bad morning.”
Happy to comply, the muscular black tom settled back down over his bowl. Like his namesake, he frankly didn’t give a damn. But as she’d told her dog-loving buddy, Amanda Rice, there was something to be said for blunt feline honesty.
Chloe paged past a murder, a house fire, and a really spectacular pileup on I-26 to reach the account of her personal Waterloo. She found it on page four in section C.
The bride smiled her familiar grin from a dozen yards of tulle and seed pearls, clutching a bouquet of white roses that cascaded to her silk-covered knees. Chloe could almost hear her mother sniff that a woman with three kids had no business in that much white. From a professional standpoint, she herself thought the composition was a little off; the tilt of the bride’s veiled head and the position of her flowers didn’t quite lead the eye in the proper flow.
“That’s what you get for using a cheap photographer, you backstabbing bitch,” she muttered at the photo. “Then again, if I’d shot you, I wouldn’t have used a camera.”
Without bothering to read the description of the wedding — she wasn’t that big a masochist, thank you — she closed the newspaper and looked at Rhett. “As God is my witness,” she drawled in her best mock-Scarlett O’Hara growl, “I’ll never be a sucker again.”
Knuckles rattled the storm door. Chloe looked up in surprise. Amanda wouldn’t bother to knock, and she wasn’t expecting anybody else. “If that’s Debbie and Chris, stopping by to beg for forgiveness on the way to the honeymoon,” she told the cat as she got up to answer it, “You have my permission to attack.”
Rhett yawned and twisted around to lick his furry backside.
She looked back at him. “Or you can do that. Does express the general sentiment pretty well.”
Chloe opened the door to find a man in a familiar brown uniform, a huge box tucked awkwardly under one arm. “Delivery,” he said, and juggled his electronic clipboard into her hands.
She took it and signed her name in the window, eying the package. “Wonder who that’s from?”
He shrugged, supremely indifferent. “Looks like a picture to me.”
It did have the right dimensions — four feet across and more than a yard wide, but only three or four inches thick. Curiosity piqued, Chloe accepted the heavy parcel and hauled it inside as the delivery truck roared off. She tossed it down on the kitchen table and went in search of a pair of scissors to attack the packing tape. “If it’s a portrait of the bride and groom,” she told Rhett as she dug through the kitchen drawer, “your litter box is gonna get filled with little bits of photo paper.”
Ripping off a strip of the heavy brown cardboard, Chloe lifted her brows at the intriguing sight of bare, tanned chest and a tight male nipple. “I take it back, Rhett,” she murmured. “Somehow I don’t think this is going in the litter box.”
Ten minutes later, the box lay ruthlessly demolished on the floor, and the oil painting it had contained stood propped on the kitchen table.
Chloe stared reverently.
The knight sprawled in sleep across a tumble of rich sable fur, one hand resting on the jeweled hilt of a sword. It looked as if he’d stripped and fallen asleep after a battle.
He was a big, blond Viking of a man, his hair cropped short, a neat beard framing his lush sinner’s mouth. His starkly handsome face looked as though it had been carved by God’s own chisel, but if so, He’d been in a hurry. There was something a bit crude and brutal in the angles of the knight’s cheekbones and big, square chin. Luckily, those features were balanced out by a regal Roman nose and thick blond brows. The whole effect was intensely masculine — and just a little intimidating.
So was the rest of him. He had the build of a man who’d spent his entire life swinging a blade in an era when losing could cost you your life. He’d cut it close a time or two; his brawny body was slashed here and there with scars that reminded Chloe of a tiger’s stripes.
“Really big hands, too,” she purred under her breath, eying his long fingers and broad palms. Unfortunately, one of the pelts lay across his hips in a pool of sable, preventing her from determining if the interesting bits lived up to those hands.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angela Knight’s romance writing career began in 1996, when she realized her dream of romance publication with Red Sage’s Secrets anthology. She is a New York Times best-selling author of more than fifty novels, novellas, and ebooks, including the Mageverse and Time Hunters series. Her career spans twenty plus years. Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine gave her a Career Achievement award in Paranormal Romance, as well as two Reviewers’ Choice awards for best erotic romance and best werewolf romance.
Angela is currently a writer, editor, and cover artist for Changeling Press. She also teaches online writing courses with SavvyAuthors.com. Besides her fiction work, Angela’s writing career includes a decade as an award-winning South Carolina newspaper reporter. She lives in South Carolina with her husband, Michael, a thirty-year police veteran and detective with a local police department.
Lindsey likes being a police detective, and she also likes being a werewolf alpha and a good leader to her pack. What Lindsey doesn’t like is the trickster who has decided to court her in the middle of a series of uncanny murders.
Eris likes his bow, well-fletched arrows, and the werewolf alpha who claws at his heart with her werewolf claws, metaphorically speaking. Yet, law enforcement seems to have an issue with a trickster deploying arrows, and Lindsey is ever the diligent detective.
While bodies grace the streets of Fairview, Eris has decided to win his werewolf’s heart. All he needs to figure out is how to make the stubborn alpha into his lover.
Lindsey decides to team up with St. John Investigations, the best in the business of supernatural oddities in all of Fairview, to get to the bottom of her paranormal murder mystery, but she will have to deal with the trickster all by herself.
Will Lindsey overcome her fear of commitment, and will Eris overcome his urge to shoot people? Can the St. John Investigations B-team help solve the series of crimes, and why is there a bear? Find out in this mysterious murder comedy. Warning: Contains sentient and very horny office furniture.
Like any hunter, Eris enjoyed perching. He was doing it — perching on a fire escape — and watching the alpha bitch below who’d snatched his heart in her werewolf claws. Eris held his bow loosely in his hand as Lindsey, all serious Fairview Police detective with her tight ponytail, took in the corpse. It was a nice, distracting corpse, which made it even easier for Eris to remain unseen.
“The fuckery,” Lindsey was saying. It was quite some fuckery indeed. Not that the sight of a torn ribcage particularly troubled Eris, nor the sight of a Dumpster and a good chunk of the sidewalk decorated with guts. But he could agree with Lindsey’s judgment. It is probably wise to get used to agreeing with her. She will expect it, once I woo her, Eris thought. Of course, Eris had dated a hellhound before, like most archers, but a werewolf alpha was a different kind of fletching altogether. I think I might be looking forward to agreeing with her, Eris thought.
A pigeon landed next to Eris, interrupting the newly found agreeable state of the archer’s mind. The pigeon’s pink claws curled around the iron banister, and he looked at the archer with hungry bird eyes and made a pigeon noise while the alpha bitch discussed the bloody fuckery with the medical examiner who was poking and prodding the corpse.
“I don’t have any food,” Eris told the pigeon.
The pigeon stared with his beady eyes and cooed.
“Seriously. I don’t. Go away. I’m perching here.” Eris shifted a bit and adjusted his grip on his bow.
The pigeon did not move. Eris’s bow hand was beginning to feel the tingling need for an arrow, no matter how scrawny the pigeon’s feathery ass was.
“Go. Away.” He was being nice, wasn’t he? Surely even a Fairview pigeon could appreciate that.
The pigeon was being stubborn, however. Down below, Lindsey was cursing some more before she told the medical examiner to let her know the moment the autopsy was done. Then, the alpha bitch pulled out her phone.
“You know, I don’t hate pigeons, but your kind really shouldn’t be all this territorial,” Eris said.
The pigeon cooed.
“Fucks and feathers,” the archer said. Below, Lindsey ended the call and walked away from the fuckery. “Looks like I’m getting coffee. So long, pigeon.”
Eris, rather than descending, went up. Archers like him had an easy way when it came to high ground, and their kind rarely fell, if ever. And Eris felt pretty sure he knew where Lindsey was headed.
The pigeon stared after him. Then, his territory successfully defended, he cooed once more.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. Connect with Alexa on Facebook or Instagram, follow her on Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter!
My friend’s brother needs an academic assistant and I need a job. Problem…jocks are my weakness. Seriously. I lose my ability to speak coherently around muscle-bound hotties. Oh yeah, I lose my inhibitions too—not a good look for a guy with a genius IQ. So what am I going to do about Simon?
Finishing college isn’t high on my list of priorities, but my future in professional football is looking bleak. I need a plan B or C, and I could use some help navigating life as an undergrad. Topher is perfect. He’s also a little strange…but in a good way. And I like the way I feel when I’m around him—as though anything is possible. Maybe if we follow our hearts, we’ll find what we’re looking for. But that means changing the rules…
Following the Rules is a MM, bisexual awakening romance starring a lovable nerd, a cool jock, and some extracurricular fun.
I served us both a slice of each kind of pizza and slid a plate his way, gesturing for him to help himself to the cheese or whatever else he might want.
“I don’t care about money,” I said around a mouthful of food. “Eat up. This is tasty, but it won’t be as good when it’s cold.”
Topher flashed an anxious sideways smile and took a mouse-sized nibble. “Mmm, that’s delicious.”
I washed down my pizza with a healthy swig of wine, nudging his knee as I swiveled to face him. “Are you okay?”
He wiped his hands on a napkin and drained half his water, setting it on the island with a decisive thud. “Yes, I’m just a little nervous.”
“Nervous? Oh. I’m sorry.” I frowned and before I could rein my tongue, blurted, “You seemed fine when we were joking about tiny gorilla penises, and hell…you saw my dick and—”
“I wasn’t joking. I was reciting a fact and as far as your penis is concerned…”
I twisted to face him, unable to contain a mischievous grin.
“Yes? I’m waiting,” I singsonged, biting into the ham and pineapple pizza.
“I told you, Simon…I was simply doing the math,” he replied matter-of-factly. “Six and a half inches.”
Topher narrowed his eyes, his features softening in amusement. “Six and three-quarters, max.”
I scoffed and hooked my thumb under the elastic waistband of my sweats. “Wanna see?”
“No! Geez. You know, it’s very difficult to stay on topic with you. And staying on topic is the only way this will work.”
“Okay, fine. Back to dick size. What animal has the biggest schlong on the planet?”
He gaped at me for a hot second. “The blue whale. It’s estimated to be seven to ten feet long.”
“Although I don’t know that it’s ever been measured during intercourse. Or if that’s even possible.” He reached for his pizza with his brow knit in concentration as though pondering whale dick…as one does.
“Whales are huge. It makes sense. What about land animals?”
“Elephants. They’ve legitimately measured specimens in excess of thirty-nine inches.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.” I snort-laughed. “Christ, I’m feeling very inadequate with my mere twelve inches.”
“Six,” Topher scoffed. “Look, before we get sidetracked again, I just want to—”
“I’ll pay you double.”
I sighed as I picked up my wineglass. “I don’t want to fail. No…it’s more than that. I need to look smart. I can’t come across as the fuckup wide receiver who got dumped from the NFL and blew the cushy back-door admittance to a prestigious university by failing his first semester. I thought I might be able to muddle through with a few pointers from George, but it’s going to take more than that. I need a real assistant.”
Topher widened his eyes, then blinked in disbelief when I named an exorbitant salary. I had a hard time keeping my own expression. What the hell was I thinking? Did I really need an assistant?
I didn’t know, but I needed…something.
“Oh, that’s a lot of money,” he whispered breathlessly.
“It’s the going rate for a personal assistant. Ironically, I never had one while I played ball, but I need the help now. I want the best, and George says that’s you.”
Topher smiled. “George didn’t say he was the best?”
“Actually, he did. But we can’t be in the same room for an hour without wanting to take a swing at each other.”
“You and George fight?”
“Not as much now that we’re older, but…yeah, I guess we still fight. We don’t have much in common.”
“You and I have even less in common,” he replied.
“That’s a good thing. Trust me, it’s better for me that you don’t know that I slept with a teddy bear until I was thirteen…or that I still have that damn bear for reasons unknown.” I gave a self-deprecating chuckle, then sipped my wine and set it on the island. “So…are you in? Make me smarter, Toph. I need your brain!”
He stared at me for a long moment, inclining his head. “Okay.”
“Yes!” I fist-pumped the air as if I’d just scored a touchdown and held out my hand for a high five.
Topher left me hanging for a few long seconds before gently tapping his palm to mine. I grabbed his wrist to hold him steady for a redo. The contact was light and breezy…and spontaneous. But that was how I rolled. For a guy who played professional football, it was nothing.
Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.