When you’ve been deceived your entire life and everyone suddenly wants to use you for their own purposes, how do you know who to trust?
Annika thought not knowing her parents was rough, but knowing the truth is even worse. She has always felt out of touch with everyone around her. Since she was a teenager, she’s seen impossible things. When she’s suddenly attacked by shadowy creatures, the truth come out, and it changes her life. It appears Annika has an out-of-this-world destiny, and if that wasn’t crazy enough, she’s beginning to accept the fact she’s an alien.
It helps that she has some friends to see her through. Cas, her best friend, is bitter that in the chaos he lost his birthright to be her magical protector, Jai is crazy and trying to make his death wish a reality, and Mikol is…hers. Her guardian is the only part of her insane new life that makes sense. The feelings growing between them are forbidden. But rules don’t stop Annika from wanting more than his ability to shield her from the darkness. When Annika is with her hot-as-hell bodyguard she knows what it is to really be human.
Can she save a distant planet from a tyrannical ruler and find a way to be with the man she loves?
Content Warning: contains sex scenes and some violence
“Forgive me,” Mikol spoke softly. The sensuality in the way he said the words brought a moan from her lips.
Heat filled her cheeks as she struggled to control her reaction to him. Horrified, she couldn’t meet his eyes. Having him near her was amazing. The strange contentment radiating from Mikol was suddenly euphoria. She never wanted him to leave her again. The weirdness reminded her of hearing a troubled classmate describing getting high when they were freshmen. This sensation was like being high on Mikol.
He moved closer and knelt beside her bed. He was so large and male that he seemed out of place in her pink sanctuary. He tilted her face up so that she gazed into his big brown eyes. Annika bit her lip. Her breathing came out in erratic little pants. She wanted to lean forward and kiss him. He pulled away enough that she realized she was moving toward him unconsciously and stopped.
“The creature who attacked you was an assassin sent to kill you. They know you’re here and they’re strong enough to cross the portals. Your spirit—what makes you Annika, and gives life—was almost consumed.” He paused as his tongue darted out and moistened his lips. He took a deep breath. “We have to go. Your parents understand it’s time to run. You were never destined for this world. Greatness, beyond anything Earth can offer, awaits you.”
Drama much? She blinked several times, waiting for him to crack a smile or for someone to jump out and shout “gotcha”. But he wasn’t kidding. No one could say something so wild and keep a straight face for this long unless they were serious.
“I don’t understand,” she answered, and scrubbed a hand down her face.
He touched her cheek with such tenderness her eyes watered. “You will, in time all will become clear.”
There was incredible comfort in the way his fingers ran down her cheeks. He wiped away the moisture from her eyes with the pads of his thumbs as he cradled her chin.
The soft shushing sound he made reminded her of how someone might comfort a child, but his countenance promised that wasn’t how he saw her. Attraction. The emotion hit her as if someone had thrown it at her. Somehow, she knew he was feeling it and so was she.
“Close your eyes and breathe with me,” he ordered.
She closed her eyes, and he touched her chin. He pressed his index fingers lightly against her temples. They breathed in and out. Her heartbeat synchronized with his. She didn’t question it. Mikol calmed her.
“There are many things you will learn, but for now I need you to trust me. Can you trust me?”
How could she not when his voice was compelling her to? She didn’t like this. Somewhere deep in her rational mind, she knew his calming her was wrong and he was messing with her head.
“Stop,” she pleaded as she opened her eyes to look at him.
He ran the tip of his index finger over her lip. She noticed the tattoo around his eye seemed to glow. “If only I could. Come, there is clothing for you in the bathroom. I know it looks strange, but you must get dressed. Our time is running short.”
Ashlynn Monroe has been dreaming up stories all her life. She started to put them on paper at thirteen, but it wasn’t until she was thirty that she decided to share them with others. She’s a busy mom with a full time job, fantastic friends, and a unique sense of humor. She’s just a regular girl who’s in love with the idea of happily-ever-after. She’s honored to be multi-published by some of the best electronic publishers in the industry. Ashlynn survives each day by dreaming up her next tale of romance.
Thank you so much for hosting me! I loved writing this book and I hope that readers will enjoy reading it as much as I adored the process of writing it. I am working on a novella sequel to this novel, Ella’s story. Enjoy Reality Hero, I can’t wait to hear what you think. I love reader email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Blurb: Can reality TV handle a reluctant superhero bachelor, ten attention-seeking women, and one evil villain?
Dina Dell’s career as a television producer has hit bottom. Desperate to save her job, she comes up with the idea for a reality show called I Want to Date a Superhero. But the only superhero bachelor she knows is the only man she’s ever loved—Zane Blair.
Zane was once a normal human, but a traumatic childhood incident mutated him, along with Dina’s sister and their friends. Dina was the only one who escaped without any superhero abilities. And while she might be the “normal” one, that only left her feeling like more of an outcast.
Her lack of powers put Zane in danger. Knowing that it was only a matter of time before someone used her to get to him, she left, breaking both their hearts in the process. After all the pain she caused him, will he be willing to help her now?
Then an old enemy emerges, putting Dina’s plans on hold. When her superhero friends are the ones who need help, Dina just might learn that sometimes little Miss Average can be a hero too.
Zane looked at Dina in disbelief. Before he could stop himself, he was crushing her to him in a desperate kiss. His mouth ravished her with primitive savagery. Dina melted against him. Her lips parted and he slid his tongue into her mouth. She tasted so damn good. Feeling her body against his was an incredibly heady sensation. He never wanted to let her go. Her tongue slipped inside his mouth and explored. Zane growled and held her close for a second longer.
He pulled back, searching her expression for any sign that she was ready to admit they belonged together. Her wide eyes gazed up at him, and her lips parted slightly. She flushed, looking incredibly sexy. Just looking at her made his cock stiffen.
She put her forehead against his chin and closed her eyes. “You’d better go before someone comes to investigate how I am.”
He pushed back from her. She was a damn stubborn woman. He must like to suffer, because that was part of her appeal. He’d always loved a challenge. “Someday, I won’t obey your every command, Di.”
He had no idea just how much those old feelings still lived inside of her. She opened the door, this time he didn’t get it for her, and she ran up the stairs and into her building like the chicken she was. Her inner voice made clucking sounds the whole time she fled. Nothing terrified her quite like her longing for him. She wondered if he knew it and hoped he didn’t.
She’d never get any rest and she had a mountain of work so she sat down and started going over everything. There was a lot more to putting on good TV than just turning on a camera. The phone rang and she jumped. Her hand slapped around on top of all the papers on the desk until she found her cellphone buried under them. Her eyes were so blurry that she didn’t even bother to look at the caller ID.
“Hello,” Dina said.
“I’ve never been ashamed of you until today. Dina, how could you? You know Zane would never let you down. You used his feelings to abuse his good heart. I’m so angry with you that I don’t even know the right words to express it. If you needed something, why didn’t you talk to me first? I could’ve helped you. We could’ve come up with something different.”
There was a pause. Dina didn’t know what to say. It was a small relief when Ella continued.
“He hates the media, and now he’ll not only just be on your show, but the tabloids will eat him alive too. They’ll do all they can to find out his secret identity. You know the lies those rags print. This will start a feeding frenzy.”
Dina knew she deserved the tongue lashing, so she said nothing. She had no defense, because her twin was right.
“Call this off. Please, as my sister, do this for me and save the best man in the city from this horrible mistake. I know how you feel about him, and you know how I feel about him. We both know how he feels about you.”
There was another pause. Dina’s throat closed. She knew, and it tore at her heart.
“Are you still there?” Ella sounded annoyed.
“Yes,” Dina whispered brokenly.
“When you left, you ripped out his guts. Don’t destroy his life. He still loves you.”
“I know.” That was what made asking him to be on the show so damn hard.
“I don’t know why you turned your back on us, but you owe him. We all do. He’s the best of us. We’ve lost Aaron. Don’t take Zane away too. If he’s exposed, God only knows what will happen to him—us. Don’t do this, Dina.”
She bit her lip. She wanted to tell her sister she’d come to her senses, but it was too late.
“Ella, I’m so sorry. I hate myself, but it’s too late. They’re already airing the promos on the network, and the casting call went out. In the morning, I’m going to have dozens of women begging me to be on this show. Zane and I have been over for a very long time. We both know which one of us is in his life. You should be with him, not me. I’m his Achilles heel.”
“Being in his life isn’t the same as being in his heart, sis. He’s always loved you, and while we look alike, I’ll never be you. He wants you.”
Dina Dell sat in the conference room waiting anxiously. A huge lump began forming in her throat. She knew things weren’t going to go well, yet she held hope old Ervin might be feeling generous. Her past hip and innovative programming ideas had once made her his most valued employee. Now she was hanging onto her job by a thread. That’s how the television business is: unforgiving. She was the mastermind behind top rated shows such as Kid Exchange and Please, Someone Marry my Mother.
Unfortunately, the wellspring of creativity had run dry. For the last year, every show she’d produced had been ratings disasters, if her productions had even been lucky enough to air at all. Dina saw the writing on the wall, and with the network making major cuts to combat the economic slump, she knew the axe was coming down…on her head.
Watching the wily old codger walk toward the room through the opaque glass, even without seeing his face, she knew he was on the warpath. His body language said it all. His fists were clenched and his shoulders were tight. He lumbered down the hall as if he were preparing for murder—the murder of her career. Ervin threw open the door with dramatic flair.
“My Cat is in Charge? Really? Really and truly? Dear God, Dina. You honestly thought this was going to make good television? Who’d ever watch this? What happened to that brilliant brain of yours? Did you have a head injury? Did you have a stroke? Did someone hit me in the head, and this is all some coma-induced nightmare? What could possibly keep me from canning your sweet little ass right now?”
“Well, the sexual harassment lawsuit over your ‘sweet ass’ comment for one, and two, I have an idea that’ll blow your mind. I swear it. This one will put the network on top again. When the big boys hear the premise, neither of us will ever have to worry about our jobs again.” She paused and took a deep breath. Sweat ran down her face, but she resisted the urge to swipe at it, just in case he didn’t notice. Oh God, can he see that I’m lying? “That whole cat thing was just to get your attention for this. I swear the network will be kissing your ass after this airs.” Dina was lying through her teeth. She had nothing that she could produce. Her only idea was one she could never actually use without destroying people she cared about. The cat thing was the most creative idea she’d had in months. Plenty of people loved cats. Someone would want to watch a show about families letting their furry feline make major life decisions. Oh fuck, that is awful. Crap. Hold it together, girl. The old man can smell fear. She gulped in another lungful of air.
He cocked a bushy, gray eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest. Waiting. She took a breath. Folding her hands, she put them in her lap so he wouldn’t notice them shaking. Closing her eyes, she exhaled slowly. It was time to pull out the dramatics. She’d been around enough TV personalities to have picked up a thing or two about acting. Okay, maybe if I lie well, he won’t send me to spend the rest of my life living on the street and rambling incoherently about my glory days working in television. The desperate thoughts sent her heart racing. She opened her eyes and regretted it. Ervin was staring at her. He still hadn’t said a word, but she could see curiosity in his expression. Good. He’d taken the bait, too bad she had nothing to reel him in with.
“I respect you, Ervin, but I’ll take this idea to another network if you don’t want to hear it.”
His eyebrow rose. “Okay?”
He was giving her one last chance. She opened her mouth to condemn the one person who really mattered to her. Her mouth went dry and she shut it. Biting her lip, she closed her eyes. There was no more waiting, she had to do it, even if this idea cost her what was left of her soul. She looked up at her mentor.
“What if I told you I had a superhero who was willing to star in a new show? Would you want me to run with that?”
His watery eyes bulged, then he recovered and a scowl replaced his shock. “You’ve made this network some serious money, but that’s in the past. For the last year, you’ve been a harbinger of series death. Whatever you’ve touched around here has turned to steaming piles of…crap. Your ideas stink. Once upon a time, I called you the Queen of Reality TV. What happened to my amazing, rising star? Why are you pushing terrible, idiotic, horrible programming? Everything you’ve done lately makes me want to stick sharp pencils in both my eyes so I can’t see them, and scratch off my ears so I can’t hear them. Then I’d rip the hair out of my head so the pain can distract me from the memory.” His face was turning from red to purple. She cringed. This graphic assessment of her talent left her queasy. He glared at her before opening his mouth, as if to speak, then closing it again. The old man ran a hand through what was left of his straggly gray hair and pinned her with a less than friendly look. She tried to stand her ground, but under the weight of her mentor’s ire, she crumbled. Her shoulders slumped, and she couldn’t meet his eyes.
“If I didn’t respect you so much, and love you like the daughter I’m glad I never had, I’d have put you out of here six months ago. I put my sweet ass on the line for yours this morning with the network, so don’t screw me. I swear this cat thing made me want to stick a firecracker up my nose and blow my head off.”
She winced, Ervin was never one to spare feelings, but ouch…harsh. His dramatic criticism felt completely deserved. He was right. She did suck. The old coot’s face was still red from his tantrum.
“If this thing works out, I’ll be the queen again. So cool off before my only supporter has a massive heart attack and dies. Just think about your wife, and how much she’d like to spend your life insurance money.” The words seemed to calm him down, but not much.
“You’re giving your only supporter the heart problems, so last chance, kid. Turn the dung into gold or you’re fired.” He whirled around, leaving the same way he came in: abruptly. She could almost see him wiping her self-respect off his shoes as he marched away. If she screwed up this time, her career was finished. Dina genuinely worried about his health. For all his bark, he wasn’t a bad guy. He’d given her a good start in the industry. She’d been the one to screw it all up.
Dina sat quietly looking at the blank, smooth tabletop. She nibbled her lip and fought back tears. She had the perfect idea, but it was going to be a hard sell. Oh, it’d be easy to get the network interested, they’d love it. Old Ervin would respect her again. Masses of television viewers would praise her. Yet she’d hate herself…probably until she died. The only person who could star in this thing was the one person she loved the most. He was the only person she’d ever intentionally hurt. The person who could save her was the one who’d given Diamond City almost everything, and now she was going to ask for one last thing—his heart.