Switcher’s Rhapsody by Kate Steele #futuristic #ActionAdventure #scifi #aliens #alienencounters #LGBT #GayRomance #NewRelease @Kate27Steele @changelingpress

Switcher's Rhapsody

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Angela Knight

 

Tarl Mengs, navigator of the Starship Brizo, never expected his vacation would end with a near crash landing on a backwater planet like Peldar. Resigned to days of boredom while his shuttle is repaired, an unexpected meeting with a cute and sassy Adarian lands Mengs in a world of trouble. It seems Switcher has stolen a prize from a pack of poachers who will do anything to get it back.

Stranded and on the run, Mengs and Switcher face life threatening danger to save a species on the verge of extinction. And that’s the easy part. Who knew wrestling with a budding relationship would be even harder!

Publisher’s Note: Switcher’s Rhapsody takes place in the same world as Kate Steele’s Gimme Shelter (Set in Stone).

 

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Copyright ©2019 Kate Steele

Mengs took another sip of his drink. The liquor was raw and burned its way down Mengs’ throat. Not exactly top-shelf stuff, it still managed to quench his thirst and complement the food, a local meat and root-vegetable dish he’d chosen for his evening meal. His expectations were again exceeded as the food turned out to be just as tasty as something Kyle, the Brizo’s chef and jack-of-all-trades, could cook up.

Upon emerging from Devenes’ front door earlier in the evening, Mengs had noted the increase of activity on the street. It seemed the town was nocturnal in nature. Storefronts down the way, including the game parlor, were lit up, and a lot more pedestrians were visible on the roadways.

The bar, Similfis, was filling up. The atmosphere was laid-back, the lighting mostly murky but brightened here and there by a few stray beams from overhead. The smell of food drifted in from the doorway to the kitchen located behind the bar. It was underscored by the tang of various liquors, the burn of some kind of organic substance being smoked and the subtle mix of natural musk and artificial fragrances emanating from the men and women who came to eat, drink and socialize.

Unhindered by the lack of bright light, Mengs kept careful watch on the action. So far it was peaceful, but when liquor and various beings mixed, trouble could be no further away than the use of one unfortunate word. Music played over a sometimes-scratchy sounding audio system. No live band here and no room for dancers. Similfis provided the basics. Food and drink, with the emphasis on drink. Anyone wanting other entertainment found it elsewhere.

As Mengs finished his meal and polished off his drink he noted one of the two bartenders headed in his direction. The man carried a bottle. The same one he’d poured Mengs’ drink from. When he reached the table, the man pulled out a chair. He tipped the bottle, refilled Mengs’ glass and set the bottle on the table.

Mengs took a sip of his newly poured drink. “Thanks.”

“Welcome. You’re new around here.”

Mengs set his glass down. “Yep.”

“Gulrian.”

“Yep.”

“Name?”

“Mengs.”

“Similfis.”

“Ah. Owner.”

“Yep.”

Mengs studied the man. The native peoples of Peldar were humanoid, or as close to human as made no difference. Similfis appeared to be somewhere in his mid-forties, a strong-built man with a full head of salt-and-pepper hair. His eyes were brown, their expression shrewd. Mengs knew he was being sized up.

“Don’t say much, do you?” Similfis asked.

“I don’t know you.”

“Same here, so fair enough. I’d like to know why you came specifically to my place.”

“Recommendation from one of the Fratkin. Said it was a place where there’d be no trouble and I could leave in one piece.”

“Ah. Reputation is everything. I mean to keep mine.”

“I’ve no intention of interfering with that.”

“Happy to hear it. Enjoy your evening.”

“Thanks.”

A smile played on Mengs’ lips as he watched the man rise from his chair and walk away. He respected a being that took a hands-on approach to business. Similfis was a no-nonsense kinda guy who ran a tight ship. Reminded Mengs of his captain, Zen Ahbramez. Tough and dependable. Mengs leaned back in his chair and relaxed a bit more. Safe bet was nothing untoward would go down here this evening.

As Similfis rounded the end of the bar and took his place behind it, a slim figure ghosted in through the front entrance. Curiosity stirred and Mengs mused. Male? Female? The being kept mostly to the shadows with distance between itself and any other in the bar. Now and then, for only a second or two, it moved close to a patron whose attention was on their companions. He or she drifted in, then slipped away unnoticed.

At one point the being glided through a beam of light. Despite being somewhat hidden by a hood, Mengs caught a glimpse of a fine-boned face. His eyes widened. Male. Adarian. Though there were a few obvious off-worlders here, this was unexpected. What the hell was an Adarian doing on Peldar? Adar was across the galaxy and Adarians, unless they worked a job off-planet, were known for being somewhat insular. Mengs hadn’t noted any ships in orbit, and this young male was dressed like a native.

Though his curiosity was engaged, Mengs forced himself to relax and slump in his chair. If this male were anything like the Brizo’s second-in-command, Serk, he’d be ultra-sensitive to anyone paying him too much mind. Serk claimed his species began their evolution as predators in the jungles of Adar, and no matter how far they were now from their primitive roots, those predatory instincts had remained intact.

Sure enough, the Adarian melted into the shadows and halted his light-footed prowl. Mengs felt the weight of his regard for a brief moment before the Adarian turned away and left the way he came in. Quick, quiet and unremarked.

A slow smile curved Mengs’ lips. Pickpocket. He’d bet his last credit on it. The way the young man drifted from customer to customer, probably taking just a credit chip here and there, not enough to be missed — in, out and gone. Oh yeah. Mengs would bet anything the young Adarian would be counting his take later if he weren’t doing it already. And that thought stole Mengs’ amusement. Why was he here? Why so down-and-out he had to steal to get by?

It was a puzzle Mengs had no pieces he could use to solve. He found unsolvable puzzles annoying. If the opportunity presented itself he just might seek some answers.

 

More from Kate at Changeling Press …

Kate’s love of books started from the moment she read those fateful words: run, Spot, run! It took her awhile to discover that she didn’t have to just read and imagine, but that she could also write stories and so here she is writing romance and loving it. Like chocolate – her ultimate favorite food, with pizza running a close second – writing became addictive. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary or science fiction about werewolves, otherworldly creatures or the average Joe, she can’t get enough.

As for the everyday details, Kate lives in a turn of the century house located in the midst of Indiana farm country, and is kept company by family, along with demanding dogs, contrary cats and a pair of occasionally sweet, and definitely noisy, lovebirds. When not writing, she reads, is an enthusiastic grower of iris, and a fanatic fan of Japanese manga and anime.

Website: http://www.katesteele.com

 

 

Brewer’s Mark (Devil’s Outlaws MC) by Lynn Burke #ActionAdventure #MCromance #bikerbooks #MafiaRomance @AuthorLynnBurke @changelingpress

Brewer's Mark (Devil's Outlaws MC 4)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

Reagan “Brewer” de Jager might look soft as a teddy bear, but his stint as a sniper in the SEALs hardened him into a lethal killer. The fact that his wife cheated on him while he was deployed makes him unable to trust. Cold hearted and empty, he sets his sights on his next mark — until one look into her eyes slays him.

Ex-CIA agent Nova Smego wasn’t nicknamed Black Widow by her superiors without reason. Underestimated for her petite form, she’s quick with her fists and lethal with a blade or a bullet. She joins a hitmen-for-hire team in the hopes of exacting revenge on the one who ruined her career. When the Outlaws eliminate her team to rescue one of their own, Nova is kept alive — and tied to her captor.

There’s a reason Brewer couldn’t end her, and while she plans her escape, she fears losing her heart to the chemistry sizzling between them. The Outlaws issue Brewer an ultimatum: pull the trigger, or find common ground to trust one another and avoid the Outlaws’ demand for her life.

 

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Copyright ©2019 Lynn Burke

Nova

My heart pounded in my ears, but the heightened sound of gunshots from downstairs broke through the muffled thumps of my rushing blood. I yanked open the roof’s trap door and peered into the attic below, my night vision goggles making the cold evening seem like a spring morning teeming with vibrant green.

No life stirred below from what I could see — unlike the unexpected team of three men who had stormed our safe house, it was quiet as mice in a cupboard.
I slid down the ladder, the flesh wound on my arm aching. Adjusting my grip on my rifle, I pointed the barrel at the door and breathed slowly through parted lips.

Shots sounded again, but quieter as though they were in the basement where we kept the girl we’d been hired to hold. The senator who had dished out the cash for us to take care of his “little problem” had arrived a few moments earlier than the man who’d shot me. Another two must have slipped in the front door.

Teeth clenched against the pain in my arm, I wondered again why I hadn’t aimed for the face of the man who had shot at me after taking out our two northern sentries. The bastard had gotten one shot off — enough to make my arm mostly useless.

I eased the attic door open and peered into the farmhouse’s hallway. Light shone from the stairwell around the corner to my right, so I flipped my goggles off and let them slip to the carpeted floor.

Adrenaline coursed through me as I crept forward, and even though I hadn’t gotten off more than a single shot or moved more than twenty feet from my sentry position on the roof, my lungs fought for oxygen.

As an ex-CIA operative, I should have had more control over my nerves. As a battle-hardened bitch, I certainly shouldn’t have allowed my shot at the man slinking up on the house to fly wayward.

Weak.

Lips pursed against disappointment in myself and the stinging pain, I approached the corner. A body whipped around in front of me, a meaty paw grasping my rifle’s barrel before I could swing it up.

Tall — wide shoulders —

I threw a punch to the kidney of the back lit man, putting all my strength behind me, but my fist merely earned a grunt.

The rifle flew from my grasp, and I shot out a combination punch, the third getting caught in the other damn paw of the huge man.

He dropped my gun and I blocked his grab for my injured arm, landing a half assed blow to rock hard abs that bounced my hand back at me.

I dipped as he reached for my free hand, trying like fuck to smash into his sternum with my injured arm.

The fucker snickered. “Got anything else, little girl?”

I growled and punched again, the beast’s body a solid wall of rock I had no chance of conquering.

He grabbed my wrist. “Enough.”

My world flipped, and I found myself face down on the floor, the carpet burning along my cheek as he wrenched my arms behind me. I kicked. Attempted to pull from his grasp — and he sat on my thighs, trapping them between his own. Fuck, he was big.

“Enough,” he snarled again, and zip ties tightened around my wrists. “Second floor clear,” he said, and I closed my eyes, finally stilling at the professionalism his words indicated about the team with him.

Fuck.

Heaving for breath I clenched my eyes shut.

They must have come for the woman locked in the basement. Men with earpieces, men who knew how to use their guns.

Another muffled shot sounded below us, and the man yanked me up, his hold loosening a bit on my good arm as I stood beside him. My back to the light, I peered up at my captor.

Hair, black as night, eyes blue as the summer’s sky…

My heart skipped and my adrenaline spiked again. Hot. No, gorgeous. Tall and solid, just how I used to like my men.

“Let’s go.” He yanked me down the stairs, his hold on my arm keeping me from tumbling down after him.

One of my team members lay sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, hazel eyes overtaken by dilated pupils that stared into whatever the fuck afterlife he’d believed in. I bit back my whimper, all thoughts of my hot-as-fuck captor erased from my mind.

“Sit.” He pointed at the wall beyond my friend’s feet, and I fought back tears and choking fear while doing as told, sliding down along the wall onto my ass while holding his stare.

Footsteps sounded from the kitchen. Another mountain of a man carried the woman from the basement, his hold gentle, his eyes tender while peering down at her. He lifted his gaze to my captor.

“Sniper from the roof,” my gorgeous attacker all but bit the words out.

“Why the fuck is she still alive?” the mountain asked while setting the woman onto her feet.

My captor turned his focus on the windows flanking the front door a few feet away. “Gunner’s here,” he muttered rather than answer his friend.

Headlights glinted across the entryway’s walls, illuminating the interior briefly, allowing me a quick study of the man looming beside me. Blood dripped from his arm from the bullet I’d put in him, splattering onto the hardwood floor, and I grimaced as my arm sent a shot of pain clear to my fingers, as though wanting to share in his.

My scowl deepened even though my insides warmed from the round, hard ass mere inches from my face. Perfect for sinking my teeth into. Perfect for grasping with my heels while he buried his length inside me. I craned my neck upward, taking in his broad shoulders, the muscular neck that disappeared into hair my fingers itched to touch.

Fuck.

 

More from Lynn at Changeling Press …

Lynn Burke is a full time mother, voracious gardener, and scribbler of hot romance stories. A country bumpkin turned Bay Stater, she enjoys her chowdah and Dunkin Donuts when not trying to escape the reality of city life.

Website: https://www.authorlynnburke.com/

Blog: http://authorlynnburke.blogspot.com/

 

 

Gimme Shelter by Kate Steele #Futuristic #scifi #AlienEncounters #LGTBbooks #Gay #shifters @Kate27Steele @changelingpress

Gimme Shelter (Set In Stone Multi-Author 8)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Angela Knight

Captive of a violent warrior race, deliberately injured and set adrift to die alone in space, Shanrem De Nebral is rescued by Zen Ahbramez and the crew of the starship Brizo.

For Shanrem, raised to be nothing more than property to be sold to the highest bidder, the freedom, friendship and love he finds aboard the Brizo is more than he ever dreamed of. But even the best of dreams end, and for Shanrem there’s nothing but trouble ahead.

With the near perfection bred into him in ruins, his own people would rather see him dead than returned and the Dukati warrior who owned him wants him back. To keep Shanrem safe and sheltered within his loving embrace, Zen’s strength and resolve will be tested to the limits.

Publisher’s Note: Gimme Shelter (Set in Stone) takes place in the same world as Kate Steele’s Switcher’s Rhapsody

 

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or pre-order for August 9th at:

   

 

PRAISE FOR GIMMER SHELTER

“A daring starship captain and an abused ex-slave who thinks of himself as worthless are at the center of some exciting turmoil that enables one to fullfil a long-term promise to himself and the other to find his courage. Their story had me cheering them along as I was enjoying the world, far in the future, these guys live in.”

— Serena Yates, Rainbow Book Reviews

“I loved the overall arc of the story. Ms. Steele does a great job of making me feel very connected to her characters and invested in them. I felt so very much for Shanrem… a great read any one who loves to fall in love should read.”

— 5 Stars from Redz, Redz World Reviews
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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Kate Steele

When the hangar bay doors were again secure, the safety zone doors automatically opened and Zen and Clay headed toward the shuttle. A chime informed them of an incoming transport. Both men paused and looked back as the bioport’s interior doors slid open. A tall man and a slim woman stepped out. Without a word, Clay handed each of them a holstered scorch pistol.

“Dukati shuttlecraft. Latest design too. We salvaging this baby?” Meral Jackson, ship’s engineer, asked as she belted on her weapon. Her hazel eyes twinkled with good-natured avarice. “I’d love to get my hands on her.”

“Why does something so innocuous sound so lewd coming out of your mouth?” Doc’s thin lips were pinched in a grimace as one eyebrow rose.

Jackson grinned. “Can I help it if I admire a shapely hull?”

“Shouldn’t you concentrate on getting the hatch open? Serk’s last report gives the passenger approximately seventeen minutes before the oxygen runs out.”

“Seventeen minutes? Piece of cake. I’ll have it open in less than two.”

Doc’s snort of disbelief brought a speculative gleam to Jackson’s eyes. “Wanna bet?”

“Bet what?”

“Five greens at the next poker game.”

“A hundred and twenty-five credits?”

“You in or out?”

Doc aimed a squinty-eyed scowl at Jackson. “In.”

“Time me.” Jackson turned her attention to the shuttle and dug into her tool pouch, which was perpetually attached to her by a cross-body strap.

Directing a look of sympathy toward the ship’s main medical practitioner, Zen shook his head. “I’m pretty sure you’ve been suckered, Doc.”

“We’ll see.”

As Zen watched, Jackson found whatever she’d been looking for and set to work. Muscles flexed under the smooth tanned skin of her bare arms as she punched a series of keys on the flat, rectangular unit she held in her hand. A slight turn of her head brought her profile into relief and set a few glimmers of light chasing through the strands of her blonde pixie-cut.

Having learned at her father’s knee from the time she was old enough to pick up a sonic wrench, Jackson knew her way around a multitude of ship types and systems. Zen had little doubt the shuttlecraft door would give her any trouble.

From the small unit she held in her hand, a continual series of chirps issued as a cycle of colored light beams played over the closed shuttle hatch. As the seconds passed, one by one each beam turned green.

“Twenty seconds,” Doc warned.

“No worries. It’s… done!” Jackson’s announcement was triumphant as the hatch slowly lifted. Stepping back, she made way as the steps began to lower.

“Damn,” Doc cursed softly. “Don’t you have anything better to do than practice breaking and entering?”

“For your information, nothing broke and no, I don’t. As ship’s engineer I see to it the Brizo performs like a Xanasian courtesan being paid double. Smooth and compliant.”

“You’d know.”

“A girl’s gotta have her fun.” Jackson’s unabashed wink brought a quick grin to Zen’s lips and snort of amusement from Clay.

All four of them quickly sobered as the now fully opened hatch ceased all movement. Zen motioned Jackson and Doc back. Weapons drawn, he and Clay approached the yawning hatch. Touching the small, round and flat metal disc attached to his collar, Zen voiced a soft question. “Serk, any change in the scans?”

“None, Captain. All readings remain within normal parameters. The passenger hasn’t moved. Nothing on long range scanners.”

The shuttle’s inner lights were dim, the interior shadowed, with no sign of the passenger. About to take a step forward, a quick negative motion from Clay stopped Zen in his tracks. Zen gave way and allowed his security officer to precede him. Clay went aft where the last scan placed the shuttle’s passenger. As soon as Clay stepped within the murky interior of the shuttle, Zen lost sight of him.

His own foray into the ship was accomplished without incident and he turned to the fore and the ship’s controls. Each space along the way was examined, between and under seats in case something had remained undetected. Every unoccupied space was clear and the shuttle quiet as a tomb.

Reaching the ship’s controls Zen gave them a quick once over. Except for the blinking lights indicating the failing life support system, everything else seemed in order.

“Captain?”

Zen touched his communications disc. “You find our guest?”

“Yeah. Can you bring up the lights? We need Doc in here on the double and he’s gonna need ’em.”

“Right away.”

Zen called Doc and Jackson in and adjusted the lighting while waiting for Jackson to join him at the controls. “Do a thorough exam on all systems, Jacks,” Zen ordered when she appeared. “Make sure this thing can’t be traced. Something doesn’t seem right here. Why would the life support fail? This shuttle’s so new the paint’s barely dried.”

“I’m on it, Zen.” Jackson seated herself at the controls and began running ship diagnostics.

Leaving Jackson to her work, Zen made his way back to Clay and Doc. The closer he came, the more pungent the scent. The coppery tang assaulting his heightened sense of smell weighed heavy on the still air. Doc was squatting near a body, his med scanner beeping and flashing in a way Zen could tell bode ill. Side-stepping Clay, Zen was able to take in the full picture. He drew in a sharp breath. What once had been a vision was now covered in blood and lay still as death on the deck.

The shuttle’s passenger was male. In contrast to the obsidian darkness of his softly curling hair, his skin was bone white. Sweat dampened bangs adhered to forehead and stuck there. His full lips were slightly parted and his finely chiseled, androgynous features were slack. His almost too-delicate-to-be-male appearance was emphasized by his current condition.

He wore a pair of near-diaphanous pants that hugged his body from the waist down like a second skin. Other than a pair of wide, embossed silver bracelets that encircled his wrists, his upper body was nude. The man lay on his stomach, his back clearly visible, the damage done to it horrendous. Thin strips of skin had been peeled away leaving raw open wounds that had bled profusely before clotting. Rusty spatters of blood had soaked into his pants, as well as the matted curls that touched the back of his neck.

Shock, fury and the raw reminder of a familial tragedy pummeled Zen in equal measure at the sight of such torture being visited on someone who appeared to be little more than a helpless captive. His hatred of the Dukati — something that was branded into his very soul — twisted within him.

 

More from Kate at Changeling Press …

Kate’s love of books started from the moment she read those fateful words: run, Spot, run! It took her awhile to discover that she didn’t have to just read and imagine, but that she could also write stories and so here she is writing romance and loving it. Like chocolate – her ultimate favorite food, with pizza running a close second – writing became addictive. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary or science fiction about werewolves, otherworldly creatures or the average Joe, she can’t get enough.

As for the everyday details, Kate lives in a turn of the century house located in the midst of Indiana farm country, and is kept company by family, along with demanding dogs, contrary cats and a pair of occasionally sweet, and definitely noisy, lovebirds. When not writing, she reads, is an enthusiastic grower of iris, and a fanatic fan of Japanese manga and anime.

Website: http://www.katesteele.com

 

 

Vasquez and James Vol. 1 by Lou Sylvre #ActionAdventure #GayRomance #NewRelease @Sylvre

Vasquez and James Vol. 1 (Vasquez and James 1)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

 

When badass meets artist, sparks and bullets fly. Blazing romance, chilling suspense, enduring love…

Loving Luki Vasquez: Renowned but reclusive weaver Sonny Bly James masters color, texture, and shape in his tapestries, but when he meets Luki Vasquez, an ex-ATF agent and all-around badass, his heart and desire spin out of control. The heat between them won’t be denied. United by danger, can Sonny and Luki put fear and anger aside, and fight together to save Sonny’s nephew and their own lives?

Delsyn’s Blues: Devastated by loss, Sonny James listens to a voice singing the blues from beyond the grave. Convinced he’s failed in an all-important life task, he tries to shut out Luki Vasquez and love just when he needs him the most. But when Luki finally breaks through Sonny’s fortress of grief, it’s just in time for the newly reunited couple to face a new, violent, escalating danger.

Finding Jackie: When Sonny James asked Luki Vasquez to marry him, Luki’s “yes” was accompanied by a request — a wedding in Hawaii. Months and many trials later, their hilltop island ceremony is poignant and funny, and every bit as beautiful as they’d hoped. The honeymoon is all sex, surfing, and sunshine… until Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew is kidnapped by a sadistic killer. When it all comes to an ultimate showdown with evil, it’s not only love at stake, but their lives.

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Lou Sylvre

Bright clothes, sunburns. Summer had arrived, and Port Clifton was awash in tourists. Since Juan de Fuca Boulevard constituted most of the town, they had nowhere else to go. They chattered and milled about, and Sonny Bly James wasn’t in the mood for chatter or milling because he was worried about his nephew, Delsyn, who always stayed gone for days, but who should have come home by now. Sonny quickened his long-legged strides and slid through the crush, trying to disturb the air as little as possible on the way to his truck.

Then he saw a man.

Which in itself wasn’t unusual, but this man, an islander, maybe Hawaiian, by the look of him, lounged cool and beautiful in loose summer whites, half-sitting on the fender of an ice-blue Mercedes, a strip of sand beach and the blue straits for a backdrop. Dark chestnut curls shining; straight, white teeth softly teasing a lush, plum-red bottom lip. His eyes, startling pale blue against brown skin, roved all over Sonny; the islander made no effort to pretend otherwise, and besides, Sonny could feel them. Their touch trickled over him like ice water, exciting every nerve he had, even those he’d never heard from before.

Which scared Sonny, a recluse by choice — and, he knew, because he’d always managed to be socially… well, clumsy. So, he turned to the weapon that had been his first line of defense since adolescence, when all the reservation had noticed that their star young grass dancer didn’t mind being gay: a smart mouth.

“What are you looking at?”

Even though the islander had responded by looking away, Sonny knew he hadn’t — couldn’t have — intimidated him. The stranger might have been a few inches shorter than him, but judging by his physique, and despite his laid-back manner, Sonny guessed the man could have dropped him with a cold look and a slap. It would have been less of a blow if he had. Instead, he freed his lower lip from his teeth and spoke.

“I beg your pardon.”

Sonny wanted to let a whole raft of words spill out, starting with “I didn’t mean it,” and ending with “so kiss me, now.” But the man’s attention had turned away. A baby in a stroller dropped a floppy brown bear at his feet. The young mother looked frazzled, at her wit’s end, carrying another child and trying to keep a third from making a dash down the boulevard. The islander squatted down — a graceful move — and picked up the bear. Right before Sonny’s eyes, his icy exterior melted, and though he didn’t smile and couldn’t pass for cheerful, he somehow seemed kind. He handed the stuffed creature back to the baby, who seemed to like him. She expressed her gratitude by spouting a number of syllables that all sounded a lot like “da.”

Sonny, angry with himself for blowing his chance to meet this chill but beautiful stranger — who might be trying to hide a kind heart — pretended he hadn’t seen. He turned his faux-stoic shoulder and walked away. A little shaky, perhaps; already sorry. Three strides and he heard a voice, unexpectedly scratchy, even hoarse.

“Hey.”

Sonny turned.

The man took a deep, lovely breath, flashed his cold-fire eyes at Sonny, and said, “I have coffee most mornings at Margie’s. In case you’re interested.”

* * *

Margie’s it was, then, the very next day. Sonny had weighed the wisdom of that, thinking it might be better if he didn’t seem so anxious.

But hell, he thought, I am anxious. Nothing about me is un-anxious.

He took the truck — which his Uncle Melvern had left him when he died a year ago and which functioned as a good luck charm. After he pulled over to the curb a half-block from Margie’s, he forced the clutch to cooperate, wrestled the column shift into first, and shut the engine down. Sort of. It kicked and spluttered, backfired, and groaned to death. He really, really hoped that the man he had come to meet had not heard that. He wanted to make a good impression. He crashed his shoulder into the door to get out, slammed the door twice to shut it, then paused to look in the side-view mirror. Some other person spoke out of his mouth — or at least that’s how it felt.

“Sonny,” it said, “here’s your chance. Don’t blow it.”

Great. A confidence builder.

The wooden sign attached over the arched brick entry said “Margie’s Cup O’ Gold,” but nobody ever called the cafe anything but just plain Margie’s. The elegant door — leaded glass set in oak panels — had been pushed open and held there with a shoe. All that stood between Sonny and whatever fate awaited him inside was a wooden screen door, the old-fashioned kind; it might have been there since the block was built in the 1890’s. He crossed the threshold wearing a smile for Margie, then reached back just in time to stop the screen from slamming behind him. “Hey, Marge,” he said, maybe not quite as loud as usual. He glanced around lazily, as if he weren’t looking for the man he’d come to think of as “the islander.” He didn’t see him. He let out a long breath that he must have been holding, wondering if he felt disappointed or relieved. He walked, casually he hoped, across the expanse of black and white parquet floor.

“Well,” Margie said, hand on hip and scolding in ringing tones. “Hello, Sonny. You’re here awfully early.”

“Margie, usually people don’t give other people a hard time for being early.”

“Shush, Sonny Bly. What do you want? Never mind, I already know. You and your fancy coffees. What’s wrong with a good old-fashioned cuppa, eh? Now that young man that came in a little earlier — real nice-looking fella; I think you’d like him — now he just ordered coffee, black and sweet. There’s a man that knows what he likes, I say.”

She’d nearly finished making the latte by the time she stopped. That was one thing about a conversation with Margie. Sonny never worried about what to say, because he was pretty sure he’d never get a chance to say it. But this time she had him a little dumbfounded. She’d said, “that nice fella,” with a sly glance out of the corner of her eye. Sonny figured she was on to him, but he couldn’t decide whether that was good or bad.

She cleared up those muddy waters as soon as she handed over his latte. “He’s around the corner, dear. The last table. Don’t worry, you look fine.”

Which left Sonny absolutely certain he should have worried more about how he looked.

There he was, the islander. Same skin, same lips, eyes, even hair. Of course. But the rest of him was dressed in a posh business suit, a light gray summer fabric so finely tailored that he might have been born in it. “So why the getup?” Sonny asked.

“Ah,” the stranger remarked. “A way with words.”

He didn’t have to say that. Sonny was already giving his forehead a mental smack. He stared at his coffee for what seemed like, maybe, a hundred and twenty-four years. He’d all but decided to bid an embarrassed farewell and beat a retreat, when the islander spoke.

“I have to go to work in a while,” he said. When Sonny looked up he added, “That’s why the getup.” No smile went with the words, but his eyes danced, like they were laughing — or maybe teasing. He reached halfway across the tile-topped table, holding out his long-fingered, manicured hand.

Sonny stared at it.

The islander said, “I thought maybe introductions would be a good place to start. I’m Luki. Luki Vasquez.”

Embarrassed again, Sonny blushed, which — he knew from experience — made his off-brown skin look purple. But in an act of sheer bravery, he put his own dye-stained and calloused hand out and took hold of Luki’s. Somehow, what felt like gibberish came out sounding like his name. “Sonny James.”

Luki leaned back when the handshake was done, draped his left arm casually over the back of the chair… revealing a bit of leather strap that might be part of a shoulder holster and something sort of gun-shaped half hidden under his jacket.

“Is that what I think it is?”

 

 

Irish (Devil’s Boneyard MC) by Harley Wylde #MCromance #bikers #NewAdult #interraciallove #pregnancy #singleparent @HarleyW_Writer @changelingpress

 

Five years is a long time to think about someone.
Now she’s back, and I can’t let her walk away.

 

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Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres/Themes: Action Adventure, Dark Fantasy, New Adult, Silver Fox,
Contemporary, Interracial, Single Parent/Pregnancy Romance, MC Romance

 

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Janessa: I’ve been in love with Seamus since the day I met him, even though I’d been fourteen at the time. Now that I’m an adult, I’m ready to go claim my man. Maybe I was stupid thinking he’d wait for me, or maybe I just really wanted a fairytale ending. Seeing another woman in his arms hurt like hell, so I ran…straight into trouble.

Irish: I met a girl years ago one who had me spellbound despite her young age. I kept my distance, knowing it was so damn wrong to be attracted to her, but looking in her eyes I could tell she had an old soul. Now she’s back and all grown up, so what did I do? Something stupid. I kissed another woman. When I hear Janessa’s been attacked, it feels like someone has ripped out my heart. Whatever it takes, I’ll make it up to her, and I will get justice for her one way or another.

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Harley Wylde

Irish

Fuck me! I hadn’t seen Janessa Rodriguez in so damn long. It still blew my mind that she’d walked into the Devils’ clubhouse. I felt like a complete and utter shit for hurting her the way I had, but it was the right thing to do. If her dad even thought I’d looked at his little girl with any kind of interest, I’d be a dead man. Even though I’d kissed the slut sitting on my lap, after Janessa had walked out, I’d dumped the woman on the floor. I was disgusted with myself.

The years had been really fucking good to her. She still had a pretty olive complexion and dark hair that looked so damn soft. She’d sprouted breasts that were more than a handful since the last time I’d seen her, and hips that screamed she was definitely all woman now. All it had taken was one look and I’d been hard as hell, and not for the woman who had been in my lap.

Janessa had been gone a few hours now, and I figured she was back home where she belonged. I closed my eyes, trying to block out the image of her standing in the doorway, all those gorgeous curves. But it was the look of anguish in her eyes that would haunt me forever. I hadn’t been a saint a day in my life. After meeting the Reaper’s daughter, I’d felt like I was in a downward spiral. She’d been just a kid, a teenager, and my reaction to her had sickened me. So I’d started screwing any woman who offered. Now I was wishing I hadn’t done that.

I’d never counted on her showing up here in Devils’ territory. It had been five years, and I knew she was a grown-ass woman now, but I’d figured her daddy would have her locked up somewhere secure. Away from men like me. Hell, he might have even asked a Reaper to marry her just to keep her safe. Did he even know she’d come here? She had to have been looking for me. I just didn’t understand why. Yeah, she’d plagued my thoughts since the day I’d met her, but surely she hadn’t been waiting for me all this time. Had she? I’d known when she turned eighteen because my VP had made sure I was aware. Maybe he’d thought she’d be the one to tame me, or had just hoped for some sort of reaction. I hadn’t made it a secret that I didn’t plan to settle down. Even knowing she was legal, I’d not had the courage to go after her, though, and had kept my distance. Now I was second-guessing that decision.

The clubhouse doors flew open and Scratch came inside. He never showed up on party nights, not since settling down with his wife and kids. The look on his face told me something was seriously wrong, and all my brothers went on alert. But he ignored every last one of them and came to me. I just couldn’t tell if he wanted to hit me, or console me.

“We need to talk,” Scratch said. “Somewhere quiet.”

“Something wrong, VP?” I didn’t think I’d screwed up lately. Well, other than hurting Janessa.

“Church. Now.”

His tone demanded I obey. I followed Scratch to the back of the clubhouse and through the double doors at the end of the hall. I took a seat and Scratch leaned against the opposite wall, staring at me with his arms folded and a fierce look in his eyes.

“Did I do something?” I asked.

“There’s been an accident.”

I sat up straighter. “Clarity? The kids?”

The VP had an awesome wife and kids, and any one of us would lay down our lives for them. But if Clarity were in trouble, I didn’t think Scratch would be standing in front of me.

He shook his head. “My family is fine. This isn’t about me, son. It’s about you.”

“I don’t understand. You know I don’t have any family here, except the Devils. What’s going on?”

Scratch rubbed at his beard, then sat down in his usual seat. “A blue truck was found along the road heading out of town. It had gone off the road and crashed into a tree. The driver isn’t in good shape, but there are signs that something else happened.”

I still didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. I didn’t know anyone with a blue truck. I wished he’d just tell me what the hell was going on. The suspense was going to drive me crazy.

“The truck had a Harley Davidson sticker on the back. And Alabama plates,” he said.
My gut clenched and I gripped the table. The only person I knew who had been in this area with Alabama tags would have been Janessa.

“The Highway Patrol called Cinder, but he didn’t answer, so they tried me next. They thought maybe the driver was related to someone at the club. They found a wallet in a purse. What I want to know is what the fuck Janessa Rodriguez was doing in Devils territory unannounced, and why didn’t someone tell me she was here?”

Oh, God. It suddenly hurt to breathe.

“Janessa,” I said, my voice cracking. “Is she… will she be okay?”

“Someone beat that poor girl half to death, ripped up her clothes…”

I couldn’t help it. I leaned over and threw up.

“She wasn’t sexually assaulted,” Scratch said, “if that’s what you’re thinking. The assholes did piss on her, though. Cut her up, beat her all to hell. They’re hoping to run DNA and figure out who did this to her, but if they aren’t in the system, then it won’t do much good. In the meantime, they haven’t been able to contact her next of kin.”

My heart felt like someone was trying to rip it from my chest. I stood and pulled my keys from my pocket. “I’m going to see her,” I said.

“Son, the only reason I can think of for that little girl to be here at all was to come see you. What the fuck happened? Why was she on a road headed south and not going back home? Or an even better question, why the fuck wasn’t she with you?”

South? I didn’t know. I’d seen how devastated she was when she’d left, and it was my fault. I’d done that to her. I’d thought she’d go home, get on with her life and find some guy her dad would approve of, maybe go off to college or some shit.

“She came here,” I said. “I didn’t talk to her. I was… I was with someone. A club slut. She saw the two of us and she left.”

Scratch cursed and leaned back in his chair. “When Tex wants to remove your balls, I’m not standing in his way. That was a shitty thing to do, Irish, and you damn well know it. That girl was completely hung up on you from the moment she laid eyes on you. Hell, anytime I go see my daughter and grandkids, she still asks about you, even though you never went after her when she turned eighteen.”

I hadn’t known that. Yeah, he’d brought up Janessa from time to time, but I hadn’t known that she’d asked about me, still thought about me. I’d figured when she turned eighteen and I kept my distance that she’d move on. Scratch had only brought her up in passing after that point, almost as if he were feeling me out, but I hadn’t understood why. Until now.

“She’s at the county hospital. You know I have to call the Reapers, right?” he asked.

“Just… give me enough time to see her. Wait twenty minutes before you call. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I need to make things right with her. Is she awake?”

“No. She was unconscious when they found her, and when I got the call, she hadn’t woken yet. You need to prepare yourself. From what I hear, it’s pretty bad.”

I gave a quick nod, then stood up. I stared down at the puke on the floor but Scratch waved me off.

“I’ll have a Prospect clean that up. Go see your woman and hope you don’t have to say goodbye while you’re there,” he said. “And, Irish?”

I met his gaze.

“Despite what you think, that girl is your woman. Don’t fuck it up again.”

 

Operation Bliss by Cynthia Sax and Ashlynn Monroe #scifi #NewRelease #multiplepartners #bisexual @CynthiaSax @ashlynn_monroe @changelingpress

 

Doctor Arely Sampson fights to save her fellow crewmembers
even as an alien fever burns inside her.

 

Operation Bliss (Operation Bliss 5)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres/Themes: Box Set, Action Adventure, Futuristic, Sci-fi,
Bisexual and More, Multiple Partners, Voyeurism, Men and Women in Uniform

 

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The crew of the Galactic Alliance exploration vessel Bliss has discovered many uncharted worlds. They’ve faced many dangers. Yet nothing has prepared them for the new threat burning through the crew like fire. Lust. When they rescue a dying alien, they have no idea he’s infected with an undetectable pathogen that will attack the crew through their most primal desires.

Publisher’s Note: The Operation Bliss Box Set contains the previously published novellas Dr. Feel Good and Sexual Healing by Ashlynn Monroe and Skies on Fire and The Search Is Over by Cynthia Sax.

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Cynthia Sax and Ashlynn Monroe
Excerpt from Dr. Feel Good

Dr. Arely Sampson, ship’s Medical Officer, jumped as the emergency warning sirens screamed out. She nearly dropped the vial of blood she’d just taken out of the centrifuge. With shaking hands she put it down and took off her gloves.

“Incoming priority message,” VI, the ship’s AI computer, informed Arely in her slightly flat, albeit incredibly human voice.

Arely tapped the smart fabric on the arm of her uniform. The fibers lit up and the captain’s image appeared. “Doctor, we need your team to shuttle bay three,” Captain Zahara ordered. “We’ve run across an Emergency Escape Pod. We’re reading one life form. VI has swept the pod and reports the occupant is alive, but life signs are weak. We’ll need your crew to secure the pod and transport the patient directly to isolation.”

“We’ll be there right away, Captain.” Arely grabbed her scanner and her med kit. She tapped her comm again. “Lt. Tamalia, get a team together and bring the decon unit to shuttle bay three.”

“The security team is already on the way,” the lieutenant replied.

In the corridor Arely paused momentarily to glance out a starboard porthole. A robotic arm was attaching to the EEP and drawing it toward the shuttle bay doors. She broke into a run. “Level Three,” she told the elevator as she stepped inside.

Thirty-six seconds later, she exited on the level she’d requested.

“The decon unit is ready, and there’s a security crew waiting on the dock,” Lt. Tamalia replied to her unspoken question.

She nodded as they jogged toward the shuttle bay. “Understood.” Arely turned on the portable scanner.

“Cargo bay doors are now closed and atmosphere has been returned to normal,” VI reported. “You may enter.”

“Good, let’s do it.”

Six Bliss crewmembers dressed in bio-hazard suits burst in to surround the small emergency pod. The doors sealed tightly behind them. Lt. Tamilia ran a scan of the door to verify the seal was airtight. The decon tube was ready to transport the alien. A bright light danced over the smooth metallic surface as VI scanned the pod. The pod opened and Arely got her first look at the very naked, very male body inside. Her eyes widened as she noticed the length and girth of his penis. Even limp the thing was impressive!

Arely pushed the unprofessional thought away and focused on what was important. The alien lay very still. For a moment, she thought he might be dead but then the scanner bleeped. He was alive. Barely. She gazed down at the expanse of pale flesh folded inside the emergency escape pod. He was far too large for the small space.

She stepped closer and the armed security detail made room for her near the decon unit. The alien’s tall, muscular body twitched, and she took a quick step back. The others around the pod reacted immediately. She could hear the whirl of stunners coming off standby.

“We’re going to need to take the tube to the medical bay,” Arely informed the group.

The Chief of Security, Nikili Berak, gave her a sour look. The handsome man’s mouth twisted. “Doctor, I understand your professional curiosity, but I cannot jeopardize the Bliss so you can study this creature.”

“Creature? According to VI’s readings, this being is humanoid and sentient. Per the 3056 act of medical reciprocity any Galactic Alliance ship is obligated to provide medical aid to all sentient beings we encounter. We will transport him to my med lab.” She glared back at the roguish Mobian. His people were fierce warriors, and he had a body that made her woman side purr — even as his professional side irritated her.

“Absolutely not.”

Emelia’s Soldiers by Isabella Jordan #AdventureRomance #scifi #bisexual #multiplepartners #NewRelease @changelingpress @isyjordanauthor

Two gorgeous soldiers want to save Emelia from the web
they’re caught in. But can they let her go?

 

Emelia's Soldiers (Ghost Unit 1)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Angela Knight
Genres/Themes: Action Adventure, Scifi, Bisexual,
Multiple Partners, Men and Women in Uniform

 

Tired of being taken for granted, Emelia Drake decides to confront her latest loser boyfriend. Instead of the satisfaction she hoped for, she finds herself caught in an elaborate and dangerous web.

Nick Cormac and Chase Turner seek to protect an innocent woman from the web of darkness that’s shattered their lives. The survivors of dark experiments and torture at the hands of a mercenary who wanted to create a legion of superior soldiers, Nick and Chase are part of an elite, highly-skilled group intending to stop the mercenary once and for all.

They know Emelia is too good for them and their world, but that doesn’t change the fact that they want her. Will they be able to keep her safe? How can they ever let her go?

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Nick, Chase, and Emelia: What are your favorite movies?

Nick: I enjoy a good comedy. The Deadpool movies are pretty good. I like Zombieland – and that’s got a sequel coming out this year, right? Zombie movies are fun.

Emelia: (Laughs) You never watch anything with zombies. You liked Zombieland. That’s it. You bitch every time Chase or I want to watch The Walking Dead.

Nick: The Walking Dead is depressing, and I haven’t been into that show since that old farmer guy died.

Chase: I still watch it but yeah, I’ll give you that. Hershel’s loss was one we never got over.

Nick: But for me? Comedies. The Big Lebowski. Bridesmaids. The Hangover movies.

Chase: Real intellectual stuff. (laughs with Emelia)

Nick: (Mouths) Fuck you.

Chase: I like a good spy or espionage flick now and again. I like the James Bond movies, even the old ones when you catch them on.

Nick: Two words. Reality television.

Emelia nods.

Chase: (Blows out an exhale) Yeah, right. I watch Dateline when I can’t sleep at night. What else is on?

Emelia: We have Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu… so like a million other things honestly.

Chase: (play shoves Emelia) I like Game of Thrones, but it feels like it hasn’t been on for like ten years.

Emelia: Me too!

Nick: It’s okay. It’s a lot to keep up with.

Chase: You think? For two years, you thought Tywin Lannister and Stannis Baratheon were the same dude.

Nick: Who?

Chase: (laughs with Emelia) For me, anything but historical movies or chick flicks. Those are her arena.

Emelia: (rolls her eyes) I watch things besides chick flicks.

Nick: Like?

Emelia: I loved Creed 2. And the first one.

Chase: Because you think that Creed guy is cute.

Emelia: Michael B. Jordan is beautiful.

Nick: Mm-hm. (Chase shakes his head)

Emelia: Game of Thrones hardly qualifies as a chick flick.

Chase: You like the guy who got his hand chopped off.

Emelia: Jaime Lannister is beautiful. (Shakes her head at her two guys grumbling) I also like the Great British Baking Show, Stranger Things. Oh, and I like True Detective.

Nick: Do you even know what that is?

Emelia: Yeah, I mean, I’ve just finished the first season with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. That was really good.

Nick: The second season was good too.

Chase: They did more?

Emelia: There’s a third season too.

Nick: We should watch it. I’ll re-watch what I’ve seen.

Chase: Sounds good to me.

Emelia: Sounds like a date. Wait, weren’t we supposed to be talking about movies though?

Nick: You mentioned Creed. We’re good.

Chase: Wanna watch True Detective later?

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Isabella Jordan

Emelia Drake’s heart dropped as she spotted Scott’s car parked at a seedy-looking bar on the outskirts of the city. Amy, her coworker who lived nearby, had mentioned seeing Scott’s very distinctive Camaro at the bar several times lately. Emelia wouldn’t have been curious except that over the last several days, she hadn’t had a lot of luck reaching him. Once he explained his phone’s battery had died. Another time he was out of range, working with some new client.

It had been a month now and she’d barely seen him. Emelia tried hard to give him the benefit of the doubt, she really did. Scott was an architect, and a good one. It was one of the reasons she liked having him as a boyfriend, shallow as it was to admit. But who was she kidding? Scott had cheated on her before. A couple of times. And the chants of “if he does it once” from well meaning friends were really starting to get old.

So, Emelia had gotten home from work, downed a couple of small glasses of bourbon for courage, and decided to go for a ride. In her gut, she knew she’d find him. She always did.

This time, though. This time she wouldn’t sit out in the parking lot staring at his car in tears. She had no intention of driving away in shame and waiting until he got tired of the other woman and came back to her. No. Not this time.

Climbing out of the car, Emelia braced herself. She was going to look so out of place in there. Here she was in her pencil skirt and blouse, kitten heels and her hair up in a neat twist. Why hadn’t her dumb ass changed clothes?

But she just had to do this. She had to face him down. Just once.

Because this was over.

Yanking open the door, she walked into a classic smoky barroom, filled with rougher people than she normally kept company with. Emelia mentally shook her head. What was Scott doing here? It usually pained him to converse with anyone making less than a hundred grand a year and he was here?

Some old rock tune with a heavy bass blared above the din of conversation around her. She tried to see if she could spot him there. She was half-praying that she wouldn’t, that it was an incredible coincidence, that someone had a Camaro just like his. She could go home, crawl into her bed, and just hide  there for a day or two.

When her heel caught on a rough board, Emelia almost went flying, but strong hands steadied her as she regained her balance. Turning, she glanced up at her rescuer and just stared. Steel blue eyes met hers set in a truly handsome face, all strong-jaw and nice lines with a scruffy beard and thick, wavy dark hair that just touched his shoulders.

Damn. Why had she never come here before?

“Thank you,” she told him, truly grateful that he saved her from making a spectacle of her self earlier than she intended.

“You okay?” he asked, his gaze raking her over.

Emelia nodded, looking him over, too. He was all muscles covered in denim and leather and…

She needed to focus. Find Scott. You’re not here for the hot biker dude.

“Yeah, thank you,” she told him with a smile. She left him there, watching as he took a seat across from a blond who was even bigger than he was and just as gorgeous. The blond’s eyes lit up with amusement. When he caught her gaze, he winked at her.

Jesus.

When she reached the very back of the bar, she spotted Scott in a booth, wearing a leather jacket she’d never seen before, with a T-shirt and jeans. That was new. Snuggled up against his side was a very attractive woman with a head full of flame-red ringlets, big green eyes, and ruby-painted lips. She laughed at something Scott said, and he answered by pressing a kiss just under her ear, nuzzling under her hair.

Emelia’s heart sank. Well, okay then.

Across from them sat a huge guy with a military haircut and his back to her, so she couldn’t get a good look at him. Now what are you going to do, genius?

It had been a mistake to walk in. Especially when she knew what she’d find. Just as she knew she’d let him come crawling back to her when he was done with the Julia Roberts wannabe.

And it was at that moment Scott spotted her.

His dark eyes widened. Shocked, he abruptly jumped up from the seat, throwing the redhead off in a way Emelia would have found comical if circumstances were different. “Emelia, what are you doing here?” Scott asked in a not-so-steady voice. His eyes were glassy and red, and he wasn’t entirely stable on his feet. He’d been drinking. A lot.

Emelia smiled, wanting to come across as sassy and empowered but not quite hitting that note. “I saw your car outside.” She jerked her thumb in the direction of the bar’s entrance. “I thought I’d stop by and say hi.”

“Is this your girlfriend?” The redhead was beaming at her from the seat, her chin propped in one hand. “She’s so… sweet. Don’t you think she’s sweet, Alex?”

The military guy glanced over his shoulder at her, his dark gaze roaming over her in a way that made her cringe. Then he smirked at her. “Yeah.”

Scott’s gaze shifted from Alex to Emelia and back again. Licking his lips, he returned his attention to her. He looked nervous. Somehow, she didn’t think it was because he’d been caught by his girlfriend snuggling up to a redhead.

“I’m going to be out for a while tonight,” Scott told Emelia. “Why don’t you go on home and I’ll call you tomorrow? Yeah?”

Something was wrong. Usually when she confronted Scott about any of his little side bitches, he’d be furious. That has been part of the reason confronting him in a public place had seemed like a good idea. As pissy mad as he usually got, in public he wouldn’t be able to throw things at her or swing at her as he normally did. Not without risking someone would get the police involved.

Now Scott just seemed… worried. What had he gotten himself into?

Emelia nodded, uneasy. “I’m going to take off. Don’t worry about calling me,” she said in a shaky voice. “I’m good.”

The line was meant to mark her exit. Just as she turned around, a hand caught her elbow. She looked up in fear as Alex rose from his side of the booth, his grip on her firm. He was a big guy, towering over her. The smirk he wore just made it worse. “So, does that mean you’re available now, sweet thing?” Alex drawled, his grip tightening around her bicep.

Emelia yanked on her arm to pull free. His fingers flexed. Now it hurt. “Let me go, please.” Emelia forced herself to meet his gaze. “Please?”

“Hey, man,” Scott jumped in at that point. “Hey, she’s—”

Alex held up his other hand to cut him off. “I’m just going to walk her out to her car. It’s a rough neighborhood. I just want to make sure she’s taken care of.”

The redhead’s grin widened, and Emelia’s stomach dropped. “I’ll be fine,” Emelia told him as forcefully as she could manage.

Alex lowered his face, his dark, mean eyes glaring into hers. “I insist.” Alex walked around her and then proceeded to pretty much drag her away from the booth. A quick look back showed Scott just watching, with his mouth hanging open.

Emelia struggled, trying to pull free. When the front entrance came into sight, she decided she’d just start screaming. No way she was going to let the man drag her out of the bar and do who-knew-what with her.

Abruptly, the man came to a halt in front of her, causing her to run into his back. Something had surprised him enough to loosen his grip and Emelia yanked back the moment she felt it, pulling free of him. As she made it around him, she realized it was the blond man who’d been sitting with her rescuer who’d stopped them. And while Alex whoever-he-was was a big guy, he had nothing on the blond blocking his exit. The hot guy with long, dark hair stepped in front of her, shielding her from Alex.

“You’re in our way,” Alex growled at the taller man.

The man had sky-blue eyes, a strong jaw, and blond hair cut short. His shoulders were as wide as church doors and his muscles had muscles under a heavy, worn leather coat, shirt and jeans. He cut an intimidating figure as his glare locked with that of the guy who’d been trying to drag her out of the bar.

“I’m not blocking your way,” the blond corrected him, tipping his head in Emelia’s direction.

She felt much safer tucked behind the broad back of the dark-haired man. Her palms were pressed to his back and he felt muscly, too. Damn.

“She’s with me,” Alex told him, his voice low.

“You with him, sweetheart?” the blond asked her.

Emelia shook her head. “No, I’m not.”

“Guess that means she’s with us,” the brunet said, grinning over his shoulder at her. “You with us?”

Emelia didn’t know these two anymore than she did Alex, but the vibes she got from them felt much safer. She was willing to chance it. “Yes,” Emelia said loud enough for Alex to hear.

Alex’s glare had her heart lurching in her chest. After a meaningful moment, that intense gaze shifted back to the blond. “My mistake,” he said, his lips pressed into a thin line. When he headed back in the direction of Scott’s table, she released the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.

The two men waited until he was out of earshot before herding her back to the booth where they’d been sitting. The dark-haired man seated her between himself and the wall.

“How you fellas doing?” A tall waitress with curly hair smiled at them as she stopped at their booth.

“A couple more,” the blond motioned to the mostly empty glasses on the table before them. “What about you, sweetheart?”

Drinking was the last thing she should be contemplating but she was going to need to calm down, to get her mind around what just happened. “A Whiskey Sour, please.”

The waitress nodded. “Be right back.”

“You okay?” the blond asked, the concern in those bright blue eyes seeming genuine.

Emelia nodded. “I will be. I think.”

“What are you doing here?” the brunet asked meaningfully.

She blew out a sharp breath. “Confronting a cheating boyfriend?”

The two of them exchanged a look. “That was your boyfriend?” The brunet jerked his thumb in the direction of Scott’s table.

Emelia shook her head. “I don’t know the big guy. Scott’s my boyfriend. Was my boyfriend. He’s the one back there all over the redhead.”

“Do you know the woman?” the blond wanted to know.

Emelia shook her head again.

“Well, sorry about that,” the brunet said slowly. “But you might have bigger problems now.”

“Why?” Then she stopped, remembered how uneasy Scott had seemed at her arrival. “He’s gotten into something he shouldn’t have, huh?”

Again, the two men exchanged a look.

“You can tell me.” Her relationship was definitely over now. Whatever was going on between him and redhead and Alex? She wanted no part of that.

“Yeah, he’s gotten himself into something he shouldn’t have,” the brunet went on. “Problem is, they’ve seen you now.”

“So?” Emelia thanked the waitress who came back with the round of drinks. “I don’t have anything to do with it.”

The blond held up a hand to halt their conversation until the waitress left.

“You do if they think they can use you against him,” the blond explained.

“Excuse me?” Emelia stared at him as she worked on her drink, enjoying the way it burned into her stomach. “I don’t think they missed the part where I showed up and found him cuddled up to another woman. I told him not to call me. It’s over. Done. Whatever is going on there doesn’t involve me.”

“It does if they think they can use you to motivate him to do something they want,” the brunet continued. “Do you know anything about them? Why he’s with them?”

“Are you undercover cops or something?” Emelia wanted to know, fear creeping into her head. “Why all the questions?”

“We’re the ones who are going to get your ass safely out of here, so don’t worry about it,” the blond snapped. “Do you know anything about them?”

The impatient tone got her attention. “No, I don’t.” Emelia forced herself to meet his gaze. “Scott’s an architect. He’d been telling me that he was putting in a lot of hours with a new client, a woman. He’s designing some sort of special building for her. That’s what he told me. I really haven’t heard anything from him for weeks, so I found him here and decided to confront him. Guess it wasn’t my best idea.”

“You’re in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the brunet told her. “I’ll give you that. What’s your name?”

She looked from him to the blond and back, ultimately deciding that it was in her best interest to be nice. “Emelia,” she told him. “Who are you?”

“He’s Nick,” the brunet offered. “I’m Chase.”

Emelia worked on downing her drink, trying to calm the riot of thoughts in her head. She’d shown up to confront her loser boyfriend. His cheating ways had apparently led him to get involved with some people he should have avoided. What happened now? All she really wanted to do now was go home, call in sick for the rest of the week and feel sorry for herself with more bourbon and ice cream.

Something told her she wasn’t going to get her wish.

“Thank you,” she said after a moment. “Whatever’s going on, you didn’t have to keep him from dragging me out of here, but you did.”

Something like admiration lit Nick’s eyes and he nodded.

The brunet, Chase, sat back on the booth seat, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. Emelia stiffened but she didn’t protest. “Can I go home now?” Emelia hated the pitiful note in her own voice.

“Do you live close by?” Nick asked, scrubbing a hand over his jaw.

Emelia shrugged. “I’m about three miles away. I’ll be okay to drive.”

Nick shook his head. “I’m sure you are, but if he decides to look for you, it won’t take him long at all to find you.”

Emelia’s heart ached in her chest. “Why would he? Apparently, I don’t matter to Scott.” Oh, that hurt to admit. And come find her? How insane was what they were telling her? They couldn’t be right, could they?

Chase’s gaze locked with hers. “Doesn’t matter to them. And Alex seems like the type of guy who’d make the most of his mistake.”

Emelia didn’t mistake his meaning. What if he did come looking for her? What could she do? Both men watched her reaction while her mind reeled.

“Hey,” Nick got her attention, pulled her out of her mind. “Sorry. Not trying to scare the shit out of you. Just trying to be realistic. I’m sorry you stumbled into this, but you did.”

Whatever it was, it was real. She’d felt so uncomfortable at Scott’s table when she’d gone back there to face him. Something had been off about the entire situation. What if they were right? What if she was in danger?

“We’ll keep you safe,” Nick told her…

 

MORE BOOKS BY ISABELLA JORDAN

 

Isabella Jordan is the alter ego of an otherwise stressed out web designer, programmer, and internet junkie. When she’s not trying to perfect her own personal caffeine IV drip, she enjoys spending time with her family, doing volunteer work, and writing. She loves creating new stories of all kinds and chatting with readers and friends.