FBI Special Agent Riley Mathews works alone and for good reason. She’s gone to great lengths for years to keep her identity, as the daughter of a deceased president, a secret but the truth is about to be revealed. With a killer on the loose and dead bodies piling up, it’s up to her to untangle the web of lies left behind. When the psychopath pulls her strings, there’s little else she can do but follow the killer’s clues. These clues bring her face to face with the realization that these murders are anything but random. They are personal.
Agent Sam Gray can think of better ways to spend his time than playing tour guide and chauffeur to a cocky agent in town to review files. When the evidence and bodies start to pile up around her, it’s only a matter of time before she’s next in line. Trying to grab the killer’s attention would be a challenge for most, but not Sam. A simple write-up in the Daily Times will do the trick, even if the information is fabricated and tilted in his favor. Shifting the killer’s attention to him is exactly what he’s after.
With her secret exposed, Riley needs to work fast to find the killer before Sam’s name is added to his list. Fighting her attraction to the sexy agent wasn’t hard in Hell, but in Paradise, where fewer clothes are the norm, is proving to be a bit more challenging. Keeping her eyes on the ball and not his body becomes more difficult with every passing day. When the evidence starts pointing to people from her past, together they must take a trip down memory lane – in an attempt to find the killer before he strikes again.
“She has something to tell you. Do you no’, lass?” Maddock said, prodding her closer to Brochan.
Fenella looked miserable as she twisted the skirt of her dress in her hands. “Iona isnae comin’.”
Brochan’s eyebrows lifted to his hairline. “What do you mean she isnae comin’? We were to be wed a half hour past.”
Fenella cast a glance around before moving closer. She leaned in until her lips brushed his ear, making him grow even warmer. Her voice was soft as she whispered in his ear, the soft puff of her breath wreaking havoc on him.
“She isnae comin’,” Fenella whispered. “She’s run off with a businessman from Glasgow.”
Brochan leaned back and looked down at her, thinking the lass surely must be jesting. Where in the hell would Iona have met a man from Glasgow? It wasn’t like she travelled any further than the neighboring town. And if she’d run off with him, did that mean she’d been seeing him secretly this entire time?
“I know she didnae want to hurt you, Brochan, but she said she fell in love and didnae know how to break things off with you. She’s held it all in until this morning. She left an hour ago.”
“If you’ve known for an hour, lass, why didnae you come and tell me before I stood down here waiting like a bampot? I’ve been made a fool by the entire town, and it could have been avoided if you’d spoken up sooner. People will be laughing about this for ages.”
Her cheeks flushed. “I didnae mean any harm, Brochan. I was scared to tell you, truth be told. I didnae want to be the bearer of bad tidings on your wedding day, or what was supposed to be your wedding day. I know Iona didnae mean any harm, but she had to follow her heart. You can understand that, right? I mean, you’d do the same if your roles were reversed?”
Not hardly. If he were to claim the woman he’d always wanted, he’d have to take Fenella as his wife, and that was never going to happen. Just because taking a younger bride had worked out well for Alasdair, his alpha, it didn’t mean it would work out well for Brochan too. But Christ! He loved the lass more than his next breath and always had. He’d run off more of her boyfriends than he could count, always threatening to rip them to shreds if they darkened her door again. He might not be able to claim her for himself, but that didn’t mean he wanted someone else to have her.
His gaze took in the hungry onlookers, each of them hanging on their every word. Bunch of vultures. They would gossip over this moment for days. Weeks. Hell, possibly months or longer. If Iona were present, he’d wring her neck for putting him in his position. Blowing out a breath, he calmed himself before his beast could rise to the surface. The last thing he needed was to shift in the middle of the church, especially after Fergus’ lapse in judgment not too long ago.
“It’s no’ your fault, Fenella. This is between Iona and me, and she was just too chicken shit to come forward and talk to me herself. You donae need to fret over it. What’s done is done. It’s no’ like you can bring her back, and even if you could, I wouldnae marry her now for all the money in the world. She’s made her bed, let her lie in it.”
Fenella nodded and reached for him, but he held himself stiff and refused to succumb to her charms. If he took her in his arms, it would all be over. With his current state of mind, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to hold back. He wouldn’t mean to do it, but he’d claim her for certain. There were worse things, he supposed, than living the rest of his life with the woman he loved, but he didn’t want to condemn her to a life of secrecy. She deserved a man who didn’t have to hide his true nature, and children who wouldn’t turn into tigers. If she married him, her life would be one big lie.
That had been fine for Iona, except that she hadn’t known what he was. He’d thought to tell her after the ceremony but before he claimed her. Not that it was a sound plan because so much could have gone wrong, but it was a moot point now. Iona would never learn his secret; he’d never claim her; and now that she was gone, he no longer had a reason to be around Fenella. That was both a blessing and a curse. He’d no longer have to hide how he felt about the young lass, but at the same time, being around her was like feeling the sun on your face. He’d miss that.
“You should go home, lass,” he told her. “I’ll let everyone know there willnae be a wedding today, or any day.”
“Are you sure you donae want me to stay?” she asked uncertainly. “Most of these people are my friends and family. They might take the news better from me.”
“I’ll be fine, lass.”
She nodded and hesitantly walked back up the aisle. When she was out of sight, Brochan heaved a sigh and faced the gathered men, women, and children who were waiting for a wedding that would never take place. God give him strength, because all he wanted to do right now was go get shit faced somewhere until the humiliation was over. No one left Brochan Kinley! Well, until now. He felt the sting of Iona’s rejection, even if he had been doubting their suitability just moments before she’d stood him up. It was the way she’d done it that rankled. If she’d come to him before now, let him know she was having doubts, that she’d met someone else, then he’d have happily walked away and left her to her life. But no, she had to jilt him at the altar. Bitch.
“You’re probably wonderin’ about the delay in the wedding,” Brochan said in a loud voice. “Well, there isnae going to be a wedding. It seems the bride has found herself another groom. Unfortunately, she forgot to tell the rest of us.”
Skylar (Book 1)
Shop owner Skylar Love and her family have lived on the same island her ancestors discovered several centuries ago. Her life isn’t perfect, but it’s hers. After dumping her lying, cheating boyfriend, she isn’t surprised when her brother tries to bribe their best friend to take her out on a pity date.
Multimillionaire Luke Tanner made his fortune in New York, building his pharmaceutical company from the ground up. With an upcoming birthday and a longing to return to the one place where he can be himself, he goes home to Love Island to find the family and friends he left behind. His best friend’s sister, Skylar Love, has always been off-limits, an unspoken code between friends. When he gets home to find her all grown up and single, he knows it’s time he stepped up his game before someone else snatches her up.
With plans to build a lab on the Island and move back home, he finally talks her into a date. When the date goes south and someone tries to kill them both, winning her heart takes a backseat to keeping them both alive while they figure out the mystery of who’s behind the threat.
Declan (Book 2)
Sherriff Declan Love is a straight arrow. Everything is black and white in his line of work. Using his ability of a human lie detector to catch criminals has made his professional life a piece of cake. So naturally when his sister’s best friend, Olivia Parks, starts to avoid his questions and is seen around town on dates with men he doesn’t know, he’s left with little option but to find out what she’s up to, if nothing more than to save her from the heartache sure to follow.
Shop owner Olivia Parks is tired of sitting on the sidelines waiting for Declan Love to ask her out. When her best friend, Skylar Love, starts planning her wedding, it’s even more apparent that Olivia will always be stuck in Declan’s friend zone. Time is ticking to find the perfect wedding date, and she is seriously out of practice. With the help of friends, Olivia is determined to prove to herself once and for all that she can be a desirable woman, even if Declan is too blind to notice.
Flynn (Book 3)
Flynn Love knows a thing or two about women. When he loses a bet to his buddy and is forced to play tour guide and babysitter to the man’s little sister, he’s warned she can be a handful and is always attracted to losers. Flynn has one job: show her around her new home on Love Island and scare away the creeps while winning her over with his charm. Should be a piece of cake, right?
Mia Stewart has had a tough time of late with break-ins at her home and a mugging that sent her to the emergency room. The universe is conspiring against her and screwing her at every turn. When her boss offers her a job at his new lab on a luxurious island to continue her research, she jumps at the chance to sneak away from the troubles plaguing her and leave them behind.
When trouble follows her to the Island and threatens her new life, she’ll rely on the one person her brother trusts to keep her safe, even if the two clash in every way but sexual tension.
Reed (Book 4)
Reed Love is more than a computer genius and hacker extraordinaire thanks to his DNA. He has a love-hate relationship with the invisible pop-up boxes that appear around everyone he meets and the ease with which he can access that data. Pictures, financial data, passwords, it doesn’t matter what the information or how deep in the web strangers try to disguise it. Reed has access, and these boxes dance in front of him, enticing him to look.
Handler Avery Malone enjoys life and traveling to exotic locales to keep the operatives under her charge safe and out of trouble. She thrives on adventure and the pressure of being the one person who calls the shots.
When Reed Love, the brother of one of her operatives, shows up on her doorstep with messages about encrypted thumb drives and going underground, she knows she’s going to have her hands full getting to the truth.
Rain pounded the tin roof of the cabin, lightning streaked across the sky and thunder rumbled, rattling the windows. The storm was unlike any he’d seen before, and Whittaker had seen plenty of storms in the four hundred years he’d roamed the earth. The only benefit the storm provided was a lack of sunlight, allowing him to ramble around the house regardless of the time of day. It had been so long since he’d seen the sun that he no longer missed it, not like he had the first hundred years of his existence.
The storm continued to rage outside, the darkness impenetrable to all except night creatures like him. As he scanned the tree line, he noticed something out of place. A small, white speck in the distance lying on the ground, one he hadn’t noticed moments before. He watched intently, his breath hissing between his teeth when he realized it was a human. How one had managed to climb so far as to reach his cabin he had no idea. Regardless, he knew there was no way a fragile human would survive the storm.
Opening the cabin door, he rushed outside, reaching the prone figure’s side in seconds. He stared down in amazement at a small, pale woman. Her clothing and hair, plastered to her body, left little to his imagination. Lifting her gently into his arms, Whittaker ran back to the cabin, slamming the door behind him.
As he stood dripping all over the floor, he gazed at the creature in his arms. Her breasts pushed against the material of her dress, now made transparent by the weather. Hardened nipples peeked at him through the sopping material, making his cock come to instant attention.
He felt like a schoolboy, unable to control his baser urges. Moving to the bedroom, he laid her on the bed and stripped her soaked dress from her body. His gaze skimmed over her glistening skin, from her full breasts to the curls at the junction of her thighs. Without thought, his hand reached for her, gently cupping a perfect breast. Her skin was cold, reminding him that she needed a towel and something warm to wear.
With a mental shake, he brought himself back to the here and now and sprang into action. Grabbing two large, fluffy towels from the bathroom, he dried her skin and wrung the water from her hair. While she slept, he would clean her clothes. He rummaged through his drawers until he found a black tee for her to wear. Slipping the garment over her head, he reluctantly covered her delectable body.
He wondered how she came to be so far up the mountain without shoes or underthings, and in a dress, no less, but all that would have to wait. He only hoped she didn’t catch a fever from being in the rain for so long.
He looked down upon her for a moment longer, admiring her pale skin and dark hair. She looked like the quintessential English rose, dainty, delicate, and breathtaking. While her eyes had yet to open, he imagined they would be something soft like a hazel or maybe even a blue.
His gaze took in her form. She wasn’t slim like the current fashion called for, but she wasn’t fat either. No, she was what most in this modern time would call plump, but to Whittaker she was mouthwatering, and he didn’t mean her blood. It took every ounce of willpower he owned to walk away.
He pulled the bedroom door closed behind him and moved silently through the small structure until he reached the laundry room. A powerful windmill and large generator on the property gave his cabin the energy it needed for electricity, allowing him the creature comforts so far from civilization. At times like these, he was thankful for having modern inventions on hand. The washing machine and dryer would make short work of cleaning and drying the thin garment in his hands.
Once finished, he moved back to the living room to watch the storm again. Perhaps the rain would keep his mind off his strange guest, and more importantly, help him keep his hands to himself. Her blood sang to him, but it was her body he wanted most.
Lucas “Blaze” Thompson inhaled a lungful of nicotine before tossing the butt on the ground and putting it out under his Harley Davidson boots. Blowing out a cloud of smoke, he braced his arms on the porch railing and stared off into the night. Behind him, the raucous sounds of laughter and revelry could be heard as his brothers celebrated their latest score. They’d managed to steal ten kilos of cocaine from the Stingers M.C. and had turned around and sold it for $250,000. It wouldn’t last long, not with the rate they went through booze and marijuana, and the occasional score of heroin, but it would add to the coffers for a little while.
Truthfully, selling drugs left a bad taste in his mouth, but he supposed it could be worse. There were clubs known for prostitution and human trafficking, and he definitely wasn’t down with that shit. At least the party girls who came to their clubhouse were there of their own free will, even if half of them were hoping to become someone’s old lady. Not that Blaze was about to take sloppy seconds as his old lady, not when the party girls fucked everyone in the club, sometimes more than one at a time. He didn’t kid himself and think his mate would be virginal, but as far as he was concerned, the party girls were just one step up from whores. He had absolutely no respect for them, and when he took a mate, he was going to respect the hell out of her.
He reached for another cigarette but paused as he felt a small hand slide up his back and under his cut, the long nails slightly scraping him through his tee. Blaze didn’t know how the female had gotten the drop on him, but it wasn’t like him to be so careless. At the very least, his grizzly should have alerted him to the woman’s presence, especially since one whiff told him it was the one female he wanted to avoid.
“I’m not in the mood, Celia.”
“That wasn’t what you said last week, when you were fucking me against the hallway wall. As I recall, you didn’t say much, but you sure worked me over with that monster cock of yours.” Her hand snaked around his waist and groped him.
Blaze pried her hand away, careful not to hurt her, even though he’d have loved nothing more than to crush every bone in her body at that particular moment. The woman was downright lethal—not in a sexy way—and he knew she was trouble for the club…and him. But she sucked cock like a pro, so his brothers were ignoring his warnings. He’d caught her in the Pres’ office snooping around, but she claimed to have gotten lost on the way to the bathroom. He didn’t buy her bullshit for a moment. She was either working for someone, or looking to score. Either way, she had no business hanging around the Steel Riders, and he’d love nothing more than to boot her out on her ass.
“I fucked you,” he admitted. “Once. It’s never going to happen again.”
Fire lit her eyes for a flash of a second and then she was all syrupy smiles and simpering coos as she rubbed his chest. “You know you don’t mean that. We had a good time. It can happen again, whenever you want. However you want.”
He growled, the sound rumbling from his chest, as he bared his teeth at her. He felt his bear rise up inside of him. “I will never want you, Celia. And if you think I’m going to claim you, you couldn’t be more mistaken. I’d never take a whore like you as my mate.”
Her lips tightened and anger brightened her eyes. “So I’m not good enough for you? Good enough to fuck but not to claim?”
“You’re here to scratch an itch. Nothing more. If you want a white picket fence, you need to look elsewhere. No one in this club is going to be stupid enough to sign on to a life sentence with you.”
She drew her hand back and let it fly, but he caught it in a bruising grip before it could make contact with his cheek. He squeezed, not hard enough to break bones, but enough to get his point across. Blaze didn’t let go until she winced, then he dropped her hand and watched as she took a step back. There was hatred in her gaze as she stared up at him.
“You’re going to regret tossing me aside,” she said.
“No. What I regret is ever fucking you to begin with.”
Her cheeks flushed as she turned on her heel and stormed back inside, probably to tell his brothers what a big meanie he was. And more than likely, someone would fall for her story and take her to bed tonight. What she needed was a final send off, with her tail tucked between her legs for her treachery. There was no way Celia had been in that office by mistake. And there were plenty of drugs to be had around the club, so that only left money. She had to have been looking to steal from them. Maybe she was after the $250,000, or maybe she wanted more than that. What she didn’t know was that they seldom left cash lying around; it was locked up tightly in the safe in the boardroom, and even she wouldn’t be stupid enough to wander into that place.
Blaze shook out another cigarette and lit it up. He inhaled deeply and held the breath a moment before blowing the smoke out. He could practically feel the nicotine give him an extra charge just from that one puff. His ma had been after him to quit for years, but it wasn’t like he was going to get cancer from it, not with his shifter abilities. She should just be thankful he’d kicked his heroin habit before it had really gotten its hooks into him. He’d watched some of his brothers detox from that shit and it wasn’t pretty.
Truthfully, he didn’t know what the future held for him at this point. He was an officer with the Steel Riders M.C. and his brothers were his life. But he couldn’t ignore the emptiness he’d been feeling lately, the dull ache inside that told him something was missing. Yeah, he had a great time—drinking, smoking, and fucking anything in a skirt, but lately that wasn’t enough. He’d never dare voice his feelings or his brothers would call him a pussy and question his ability to hold the position of Sergeant-at-Arms. Blaze was known for his take-no-prisoners attitude and ability to beat the shit out of a man without blinking. And he regretted nothing he’d done for the club over the last twenty years.
He was pushing forty now. Maybe it was time to settle down. Blaze had always thought he’d know his mate when he met her, that there would be some instant pull, some recognition on his part, but what if that was just a fairy tale? What if he’d wasted all these years waiting on something that might not ever happen when he could have found some nice girl and settled down years ago? Assuming he could find a nice girl who wouldn’t mind his lifestyle. Not too many good girls wanted to link themselves to a biker for more than one night.
Yeah. That’s what he wanted. Some prim, proper, buttoned-up woman who looked like a librarian on the outside, but fucked like a wild cat. If he closed his eyes, he could almost see her. It was enough to get his dick hard. With a grunt, he put out his cigarette and contemplated his next move. He could go back inside, join the merriment and get laid once or twice by the random girls inside. Or he could call it a night and head home.
When Bailey meets Alex, she doesn’t expect more than a steamy one-night stand from the sexy-as-hell biker. His bedroom eyes. His wicked smile. His sinful body. How could she possibly resist? She can’t keep her hands off him or her mind off the delicious things she’d like to do to him. Then her world comes crashing down. When Alex walked back out of her life, he left something behind. She can’t deny there are sparks between them, and he’s phenomenal between the sheets, but she isn’t so sure the bad boy is daddy material.
Alex hasn’t been able to get Bailey off his mind since their wild and wicked night together. Those lush curves. That soft skin. And a man could drown in those seductive eyes. But he’s never been one to go back for seconds, no matter how tempting a morsel she may be. And yet, when she storms back into his life, with rather earth-shattering news, he can’t help but acknowledge the way his heart kicks in his chest. One night might not have been enough.
Alexis Duvall has been writing stories all her life. She was first published in 2010, but that story is now out of print. Writing is a passion, however, and one that couldn’t be ignored for long. These days, you’ll find Alexis either with her nose in a book, or sitting at her computer writing about sexy heroines and the alpha males they can’t help but love. She has a fondness for writing about billionaires and bikers, with a possible stepbrother thrown in here and there for good measure.
A woman on the run. A man with a tragic past. Neither are prepared for what fate holds for them.
New Orleans, 1895
Pain pierced her side as her bare feet slapped against the ground, her legs churning as she ran for all she was worth. Her heart raced as she glanced over her shoulder. Lilian had escaped Madame Giselle, but she knew there were men after her, could feel their breaths on the back of her neck as they ran her to ground like a fox. It had been sheer luck that she’d managed to slip away from the owner of Louisiana’s premium brothels and auction mart. Her feet pounded harder against the unforgiving sidewalk, her lungs ached as she panted for breath. Lilian’s family may have sold her to Madame Giselle, but that didn’t mean she had to sit there and take whatever the woman dished out. She’d been complacent as long as she’d thought one single man would own her, but after hearing that she was to be housed in the main brothel as a common whore, she’d dug deep and found the courage to escape.
She raced through the streets of New Orleans, clinging to the shadows, hoping to put the infamous Storyville far behind her. Sweat beaded on her brow as she chanced another glance behind her Lilian rounded a corner and recoiled off something hard and unyielding. Losing her balance, she tumbled to the ground, her breath leaving her in a whoosh as she sprawled on the sidewalk. Just five more minutes and she would have been free! She scurried backwards, away from the outstretched hand. Momentarily dazed, she was taken aback when someone brushed the hair out of her eyes.
A man knelt beside her.
“Are you all right?” he asked, concern etched on his handsome face, his chocolate gaze holding a tinge of worry.
Lilian nodded, still unable to speak. His kind eyes took in her rumpled clothes, what there was of the barely-there dress, and he reached out to finger her long red locks. He seemed harmless enough, but it was hard to tell these days. He couldn’t be completely respectable or he wouldn’t have been walking into Storyville. What was he doing on foot anyway? His clothes were far too fine for someone who lived in the area.
“Are you in trouble? Are you running from someone?” he asked.
Before Lilian could answer, she heard shouts coming from around the corner. They were close and getting closer. If she didn’t get up and move, they’d catch her for sure. And Lilian refused to be caught! Lilian shivered in revulsion just thinking about the fate that awaited her if she returned to Madame Giselle. A different man every night, their hot, sweaty bodies pressing her down into some filthy mattress. Her skin crawled and begged for a bath just thinking about such things.
The man glanced over her shoulder and helped Lilian to her feet. Wrapping an arm around her waist, he pulled her close. Lilian knew he was a stranger and she shouldn’t trust him, but something about him called to her. The gentleness of his touch, perhaps, or his softly spoken words. He seemed like a kind man, despite the fact he appeared to be heading into Storyville, probably looking for an evening in a whore’s bed.
With his strength surrounding her, he began to lead Lilian away from Storyville. She could still hear the men behind them, and she worried that they might cause trouble for the gentleman, and he couldn’t be anything less than with his fine manners and clothes. Lilian didn’t want him to get hurt just for being a Good Samaritan.
“Are those men after you?” he asked softly, as he helped her into a nearby carriage.
She swallowed hard. “Yes.”
Once they were settled, he tapped on the roof and the carriage lurched forward. She could hear the clip-clop of the horse’s hooves, pounding in time with her heart, as she sank back into the soft seats. The soft velvets seats of the well-sprung carriage bespoke wealth, something she’d never had and would never experience beyond this moment.
“You need to tell me why so I’ll know what I’m up against.” He studied her intently.
“I ran away from Madame Giselle.”
He didn’t look surprised, exactly, but she could tell he’d been hoping for a different answer. “You’re a…”
“Not yet. My family sold me to her last week. She’s been grooming me for the business, but I don’t want that life. I’d rather die in the gutter somewhere than make her rich by lying on my back night after night.”
He set his jaw, a steely determination entering his eyes. “Then you won’t live that life.”
“I wouldn’t have minded so much if she had planned for me to be with just one man, but… the thought of working in one of her brothels was more than I could take. So I ran away.”
“Well, you’re safe now. I won’t let them harm you.”
“You can’t stop them.”
“If I can’t convince them to leave you alone, I’ll just purchase you from Madame Giselle.” His gaze caressed her and she shivered.
Series: Sophie Masterson/Dixon Security
Publisher: Coastal Escape Publishing
Being a psychic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Clairvoyant abilities? Not if I can help it.
Until recently my only problem was finding work. Now my plate is full of cold cases where the dead are multiplying, the clues are disappearing, and the hunky cop assigned to play babysitter is a nonbeliever.
Solving the case and keeping my secret seems near impossible especially when the dead expect me to be their voice and set the record straight.
Kate is a USA Today Bestselling Author who has lived in Florida for most of her entire life. She enjoys a quiet life with her husband, Michael and two kids.
Kate has pulled all-nighters finishing her favorite books and also writing them. She says she’ll sleep when she’s dead or when her muse stops singing off key.
She loves creating worlds full of suspense, secrets, hunky men, kick ass heroines, steamy sex and oh yeah the love of a lifetime. Not to mention an occasional ghost and other supernatural talents thrown into the mix.
Tiger shifter Alasdair Macleod is alpha of his ambush and clan chief of the Macleod clan. At forty, he’s given up on finding his mate. He’s had his share of willing females, but finds them all to be grasping, greedy bitches who are willing to do anything to claim a place in the alpha’s bed.
Kenzy Ross thought her boyfriend, Evan Macleod, had skipped out on her, but then she discovers that he’s passed away. Things are about as bad for Kenzy as they can get. She’s eight months pregnant, has lost her job, and has now been tossed out of her home. What else could possibly go wrong?
When Alasdair tracks down Kenzy, he intends to give her a piece of his mind, warn her away from the Clan Macleod, but one look into her troubled eyes and his tiger wants to roll over and purr for her. She’s more trouble than he bargained for, but he can’t very well leave her to live in her car.
Will something that starts as an act of heroism turn into something more?
Kenna McKay is a lover of all things Scottish—especially men in kilts! There’s just something sexy about Scotsmen. The Scottish burr, perhaps? Their rugged good looks? Maybe it’s not just one thing, but everything combined into one mouthwatering package.
Kenna didn’t start out wanting to be a writer, but she’s loved the written word for as long as she can remember. Writing stories from a young age, it wasn’t until 2014 that she decided she wanted to be a published author.
Kenna loves to interact with her fans! You can find her on Twitter and Facebook!
High School senior Lily Rhodes has been in love with her brother’s best friend nearly all her life. When nineteen year old Jake joins the Marines and is shipped overseas, she worries she’ll never see him again, and wishes she’d been braver before he left. Lily vows that if Jake comes home, she’ll tell him how she feels. But when Jake is injured by an IED and is discharged from the Marines, he comes home changed, bitter and broken. Despite the fact he’s loved Lily for the past three years, he no longer feels worthy of someone like her. Not one to back down from a challenge, Lily knows the best things in life are worth fighting for.
Lily carried the food to the kitchen and got down a plate for her father. She knew if she just gave him the containers, the food would sit uneaten on his desk. Giving him a plate and fork seemed to make a difference though. Shrimp fried rice, orange chicken, and lo-mein covered the dish. She snagged a bottle of water out of the fridge and carried it down the hall to her father’s office. The door remained open from her previous intrusion, but he was clicking away again, hard at work.
She set the plate down on his desk along with the water. Her dad didn’t break stride with his writing, looking almost feverish with his obsession. The thunder boomed overhead, and the lights flickered for a moment. It was enough to make her father pause, at least long enough to hit the save button, and then he glanced her way.
“Sorry, Lily. I didn’t realize you were there.”
“It’s okay, Dad. I brought you some dinner. I decided to go to the store first so will eat mine when I get back. The clouds coming in are getting darker, and I want to get there and back before the worst of the storm hits.”
“I should go with you.”
She knew that wasn’t what he wanted to do. The quick darting of his eyes from her to his screen and back again was all the assurance she needed that he wanted to keep working on his book. Considering the drought he’d recently been through, where he barely wrote a few hundred words a day, she knew he needed to spend his time writing while the story was speaking to him.
“It’s fine, Dad. I’ll be there and back before you know it.”
“Be careful, Lily.”
“I will,” she promised before easing out of the office and closing the door.
Lily went to her room to retrieve her purse and keys, before slipping out through the garage door and walking over to her white, gently used Honda Civic. The car had been a present from Jake and her brother for her sixteenth birthday. It had been a one-owner car, with hardly any miles on it, despite the fact it was now nearly ten years old. Several of her friends at school had received brand new cars for their birthdays that year, but Lily had thought hers was far more special, just because Jake had helped pay for it. He’d been a junior, and she had wondered where he had gotten the money, and she’d probably never find out. She knew Riley had used part of his inheritance from their grandparents.
As she backed out of the garage, the sky seemed to open up, and the heavens rained down as the storm intensified. Her wipers worked overtime as she drove the narrow, twisting road into town. The parking lot at the grocery store was nearly empty, and she wasn’t really surprised. Aside from her, who in their right mind would go shopping in this weather?
She pulled into a parking space and reached into her floorboard for an umbrella, only to realize she had taken it inside the other day and never put it back. With a groan, she rested her forehead on the steering wheel and blew out a breath. She wasn’t looking forward to getting soaked. The sky lit up with a triple streak of lightning as thunder made the ground tremble under her car. Lily pulled her hood over her head before opening the door and dashing through the rain to the front of the store.
When she stepped inside, the cool air made her shiver as she pushed back her hood. Her clothes were drenched and sticking to her body as she got a shopping cart and started down the first aisle. She didn’t want to get too much since she’d have to load the car in the rain, but she wanted to make sure there was enough food, snacks, and drinks to last at least a day or two, in case the storm didn’t break.
She tried to stay away from sweets, except for the occasional pint of ice cream, but she threw in some Oreos and a half-gallon of milk, along with some seasoned turkey breasts, a sack of potatoes, and a can of carrots for dinner tomorrow. Thinking ahead, she also grabbed a frozen pizza for lunch the next day, and then stopped in the coffee aisle to feed her father’s addiction. A twelve-pack of grape soda rounded out her shopping spree, and she headed for the checkout.
The clerk looked bored as she scanned Lily’s items and sacked them. Lily loaded the shopping cart and paid for her purchases, then pushed the cart to the door. The rain looked like it had slackened a little and she made a mad dash for the car, the shopping cart bumping and jolting over the uneven pavement. She popped her trunk and quickly loaded everything, before pushing the cart off to the side. Usually, she would put it in the cart return, but that was seven spaces away, and she was already wet enough.
Lily cranked the engine and blasted the heat, trying to chase away the chill she still felt from the cool air in the store and then getting wetter on the way to the car. Turning on her lights, she pulled out of the space and headed for home. She’d barely turned onto the road before the sky turned an ominous black and green mixture that scared the crap out of her. A moment later, the rain got so heavy that she could barely see through the windshield. The road was too narrow for her to pull over and wait for the weather to clear, but she did slow her pace and turn on her flashers.
As Lily went around a particularly sharp curve, headlights cut through the darkness and nearly blinded her, causing her to jerk the wheel. The tires slipped and slid as they tried to gain traction. Lily’s heart raced in her chest, beating so loudly she could hear it pulsing in her ears. Her hands scrambled on the wheel, trying to get control of the vehicle; the on-coming car smashed into the driver’s side of her car, knocking her off the road and down the incline. Her car tumbled and rolled, slamming Lily’s head into the window and steering wheel several times.
Finally, it came to rest at the bottom of the gorge. Blood dripped into Lily’s eyes, and she tried blinking it away. Everything blurred and swayed until it all went black.