Release Blitz: The Painted Phoenix by Sarah Kay Moll #GayRomance #Thriller

Title: The Painted Phoenix

Author: Sarah Kay Moll

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 20, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75200

Genre: Contemporary thriller, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, literary/genre fiction, criminals, crime syndicate, children, family drama, pansexual, polyamorous, open relationship, mental illness, artist, lawyer, tattoos, dark, depression, PTSD, HEA

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Synopsis

With paintbrush in hand, Nate Redfield takes a city full of ugliness and makes it beautiful. His quiet, empty life is a refuge from a harrowing past, and although he has nothing to love, he also has nothing to lose. Standing up to the syndicate is a good way to end up with a hole in his head, but Nate is not afraid to die.

For once in his life, he’s going to do the right thing, even if it kills him. And it probably will.

But the most dangerous criminal in the city—a man whose sadism and ruthlessness have become local legend—decides to spare Nate’s life. On the streets, Ras is a cold-blooded syndicate enforcer, and makes no apologies for it. But he pursues Nate with a tenderness like nothing Nate has ever known. While no amount of violence could compel Nate to betray his moral compass, love leaves him defenseless.

The vibrant portraits Nate paints tell every story but his own: a lost little girl who thinks of him as a father, a lawyer who tempers justice with compassion, a crime boss and an art thief, and the killer who stole his heart. Ras offers him the love he’s yearned for all his life, if only he is willing to close his eyes to the violent truth. But his story is not one of compromise. It is the story of an indomitable spirit, rising like fire from the ashes of his past.

Excerpt

The Painted Phoenix
Sarah Kay Moll © 2020
All Rights Reserved

The Cat Scratch Club. 2005
Ink on paper

Nate Redfield knows he’s going to die. He’s known it for a while now—woken up with it, gone to sleep with it, held it near to his heart. It’s not suicide, not exactly, but it might as well be. He might as well be putting a gun in his own mouth when he pushes open the doors to the Cat Scratch, the seedy strip club where Alan DiCiccio conducts his business.

He walks past the stage, strippers swaying, sliding their G-strings down their long, supple legs so a handful of men can spend their Friday afternoon appreciating the view. The bouncer at the back of the room gives him a nod and steps aside so he can push open an unlabeled black door and walk into what serves as DiCiccio’s office. Behind him, the bouncer’s heavy footsteps follow, and then the door clicks shut.

“You’re late,” DiCiccio says. “I hope you’s got some extra cash to make up for it.”

DiCiccio looks Mafia, through and through, with a New York accent and an unnecessarily formal black suit. But he’s not Mafia. There is no Mafia in this city, only the syndicate with a monopoly on crime and the muscle to keep it that way. DiCiccio works for them, so Nate does too. Or he did, anyway. Until today.

“I quit,” he says, and with those two words, his heart begins thumping, fast and heavy like someone’s banging the hell out of a snare drum in his chest.

“You quit?” DiCiccio leans forward over the scattered cash and bags of white powder on his desk to stare at Nate. “You fucking quit?” He looks up at the bouncer. “Bobby, am I hearing this shit right?”

“He said he quit,” Bobby responds. He’s a tall, beefy guy with stubble and a couple of big gold rings Nate imagines he wears just for the scars they leave on his victims. “You heard him right.”

“Okay…” DiCiccio draws the word out. “I’ll humor you, Nate. Why the fuck do you think you’re going to quit sellin‘ for me?”

Nate is silent for a moment, gathering his courage. “’Cause it’s wrong,” he says, standing still to give away no hint of the fear scrabbling inside him like some desperate animal.

“Oh, it’s wrong, is it?” DiCiccio puts his hands behind his head, leaning back in his chair. “You think it’s wrong, Bobby?”

“No, boss. I think it’s his fucking job.”

“That’s right. It’s your fuckin’ job. Which I gave to you as an especial favor to my friend Troy. And now you come and you throw it in my face.”

“You told me the pills wouldn’t hurt anybody,” Nate says. “You said they’re not real drugs, and it’s not gonna hurt anybody that bad. But that’s not true. And I’m not gonna do it anymore.”

He thinks of the girl who used to buy from him every Tuesday, dark eyes, a bitter laugh. She was found dead from an overdose just a few days ago, and since then, Nate has been building his courage for this confrontation. He’s not going to walk away alive. But better him than another person like her.

“Nate, look. I like you; I really do. You’re a nice guy. But you come here and you tell me you’re not gonna do your job, and you really leave me no choice. You get what I’m sayin’?”

“Yeah.” Nate’s high voice comes out rough and raspy.

“No.” DiCiccio shakes his head. “I don’t think you do. What I’m sayin’ is that you get out there and you do your fuckin’ job, or Bobby here’s gonna have to fuck you up.” He puts his elbows on the desk and leans forward. “You understand that?”

Nate looks at the glinting rings on Bobby’s right hand, so thick and heavy he might as well be wearing a pair of brass knuckles. Nate’s not afraid to die, but he wishes it wasn’t going to hurt so much.

“I get it,” he says.

DiCiccio shakes his head sadly and glances at Bobby, jerking his head at Nate.

Bobby nods, solemnly, like they’re making a bank transaction—not playing around with someone’s life—and that just pisses Nate off.

A hot wave of anger crashes over him, and as Bobby approaches, he lunges forward, driving his fist into Bobby’s gut and then bringing a knee up hard between the hitman’s legs. Bobby makes a sharp, wounded noise, going to his knees, and Nate drives a hard kick to his ribs. He’s been in enough fights to know how to move and how to make sure the other guy isn’t getting back up anytime soon.

“That’s enough.”

It’s not DiCiccio speaking, but a low melodic voice Nate’s never heard before. He steps back from the groaning thug on the floor and looks up. A man stands in the doorway, his messy dark hair falling over his forehead, and he smiles at Nate. It’s the damnedest thing, this smile. It doesn’t fit the situation at all. It’s the kind of friendly, amused smile he might give Nate if they were walking their dogs in the park and the leashes got tangled together. It’s strange and surreal and almost familiar. And the adrenaline is stretching seconds into minutes into hours and highlighting every detail of this man who—Nate somehow just knows, from his arrogant stance and the tilt of his chin—now controls every aspect of the situation.

“Who would like to explain to me what’s going on?” the man asks.

“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, Ras,” DiCiccio says. “Make a little noise next time you walk in a room, you sneaky bastard.”

And Nate freezes, his earlier fancies iced over with fear because this is Ras, second in command to the syndicate boss and meanest motherfucker in the whole city. He’s heard a lot of talk about Ras—anyone who’s spent time in the criminal underworld has. The gossip rags love him. Their stories are sensational and exaggerated, but the rumors Nate hears on the streets—tales of sadism and deadly skill—make him think there is some truth to them.

“DiCiccio.” Ras doesn’t sound happy to see the drug dealer. “What’s all this?”

“Motherfucker attacked me,” Bobby moans as he picks himself up off the floor. “The little faggot fights dirty.”

Nate winces. He’s used to that word, but it still wounds more deeply than any other.

“He attacked you, did he?” Ras sounds unamused.

“He thinks he can quit,” DiCiccio says. “He comes in here givin’ me some bullshit story ‘bout how what we do is wrong, and he’s just not gonna do it anymore.”

The corner of Ras’s mouth twists upward, and he glances at Nate. “What we do is wrong. I can hardly fault him for being honest.”

“I’m not doin’ it anymore.” Nate’s mouth feels dry and sandpapery as he waits for Ras’s response.

“Great for you, you’re a big fuckin’ hero.” DiCiccio rolls his eyes. “You got any last words, big fuckin’ hero?”

“Fuck you,” Nate growls, anger coursing through him so hot he doesn’t feel the fear anymore—it’s burned away like a paper shell around something hard and relentless as iron.

DiCiccio raises his gun in one sallow hand. The bang of the gunshot is so loud Nate can almost feel it, a tangible burst of pressure. But nothing hurts. Nate looks down and is startled to find himself intact.

DiCiccio drops the gun and stumbles forward, collapsing on the carpet. A pool of red seeps out from under his head, a bright spatter painting the far wall.

Ras has holstered his gun, but clearly, he can draw so fast he may as well still be holding it. He turns to Bobby and raises an eyebrow.

“I swear to god I had nothing to do with it,” Bobby says, backing away as Ras approaches. “DiCiccio was the one who stole from you. I told him not to. I told him!”

Nate’s not stupid, he knows this isn’t going anywhere good. So while Ras pulls a little knife from his pocket, he darts out the door, sprinting for the parking lot. He draws in a shaky breath when the sunshine falls over him, so bright and carefree, but he can’t spare even a trembling second because he’s got to fucking run for it. He zigzags through alleyways, ducks into stores, and indiscriminately boards busses and trains, traveling across town in the wrong direction for a couple of hours before he feels safe enough to get on a train headed home.

He’s not an idiot—he knows that in this town, no one can watch a syndicate enforcer do a hit and walk away. He’s probably only delaying the inevitable, and as he watches the shining city outside the windows of the train, he wonders if he’s ever going to see it again. It seems fraught with fragile beauty, the blinding splashes of light reflected in storefront windows and the metal of the cars streaking by on the interstate.

In his entire life, he has only ever had one true love, so it makes sense that as he nears the edge of his lifetime, he has only one regret. He left her behind because he had no other choice, but he could no more stop loving her than he could stop his blood from flowing through his veins. And even when his heart has beat its final rhythm, that love will endure. He knows that much is true, even as he believes in nothing else.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon

Meet the Author

Sarah Kay Moll is a wordsmith and an amateur homemaker. She’s good with metaphors and bad with coffee stains, both of which result from a writing habit she hasn’t been able to quit. She lives a mostly solitary life, and as a result, might never say the right thing at parties. She’s passionate about books, and has about five hundred on her to-read pile. When she does go out, it’s probably to the library, the theater, or the non-profit where she volunteers.

Sarah lives in a beautiful corner of western Oregon where the trees are still changing color at the end of November and the mornings are misty and mysterious. She spends her free time playing video games and catering to her cat’s every whim.

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Ruthless Sentinel by Lynn Burke #contemporaryromance #crimefiction @AuthorLynnBurke

Title: Ruthless Sentinel
Series: Vicious Vipers 2
Author: Lynn Burke
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: February 20, 2020
Cover Design: Designs by L~
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Working security for my MC brother, I’m tasked with protecting a crooked judge who targets his willful daughter with emotional abuse.
She’s beautiful. She’s confident and has a backbone of steel, but I recognize the pain in her eyes.

She distracts me from my job, and echoes of Pop’s taunts of my being a failure fester in my head.

But I will prove him wrong.

I will withstand our connection, the relentless pull between us.

I will protect her family—her—from the unknown enemy, even if it costs me my soul.

*This is the second book in the Vicious Vipers MC series and may be unsuitable for someone under 18 years of age. HEA guaranteed, however, secondary characters make appearances in other’s stories. Reading in order is recommended.

A blast of cold air hit my face, but my breath caught for an entirely different reason as subtle lilac and vanilla scents swirled around me.
Giada Burtonelli stood on the granite stoop, coat gaping open to reveal a jade-colored dress that wrapped around her body, cradling the type of tits I wanted to fuck. Tiny, tucked waist, perfect for the span of my hands. The skirt’s center split to display the top of her thighs, inches from the apex of where I bet heaven lay in wait—much too fucking short. Toned legs, tanned and smooth, led to spiked heels porn stars wore while getting their asses fucked.
My dick jolted, and I clenched my jaw against the combustion of lust that roared to life in my balls. Lifting my focus off her hot as fuck body to her face didn’t help matters. Eyes, green as spring grass, sharp as a damn Samurai sword, pierced through me with the type of instantaneous connection that robbed a man of his identity. Her full lips parted on a quick intake of air as her focus moved upward over my body to meet my gaze.
I’d seen pictures. Knew she’d be beautiful, but I didn’t expect my breath to be ripped from my lungs or the hairs on my body to stand at attention because of the energy crackling between us.
“You’re late!” Burtonelli barked from behind me.
Giada’s eyes hardened as she lifted her pointed chin, her ruby red lips thinning into a line.
I moved back, fucking tongue-tied.
“Hello to you, too, Father.” Low and husky, her voice thickened my dick even more.
“Could you make an effort to be on time just once, Giada?” Burtonelli moved toward her, his scowl raking down over her. “What the hell are you wearing?”
“Oscar,” she snipped her reply, her eyes flashing.
“You look like a whore. Fitting, I suppose, since you can’t seem to keep your legs closed to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who shows interest in you.”
I blinked, but her façade didn’t crack. Not the first time she’d heard such a thing, I expected as my fists clenched, but not my monkey…
Her father stalked past her. “I specifically said to be on time,” he continued. “You know how important this night is.” Stomping down the granite stairs toward the waiting limo in the circular drive, he muttered about people contributing to his campaign and what they might think of his daughter’s inappropriate attire—and the fact it was too late for her to change.
“You look lovely, dear,” Giada’s mother said, stepping forward, hands outstretched.
Kiss, kiss—fake as hell, before Mrs. Burtonelli hurried after her husband as though he tugged her along with a leash.
Marisa came next to greet her sister, her face pained as though empathetic toward Giada being her father’s verbal punching bag, but it was Cristian’s infectious grin and grabby hands to hug her that brought a smile to Giada’s face.
And Christ, what a smile. Dimple, flashing white teeth, eyes alight with enough joy to slam an uppercut into my gut, stealing my breath again.
I stared as they hugged, jealousy slithering in like a damn snake to wrap coils around my stomach and squeeze. Possessiveness wasn’t something I’d felt before, but fuck if I didn’t recognize its gut-twisting presence—even if it was her brother putting his hands on her.
Stretching my neck side to side, I tore my attention off the two siblings whispering to one another and glanced at Greed who watched me with a smirk on his face.
I scowled and spun to follow Marisa outside. I should have been the first into the night even though Burtonelli’s personal guards already awaited us in the circular drive out front, but everything about Giada distracted me.
My scowl deepened. Focus.
The plan had been for Greed to ride in the limo with the family while I took shotgun in the lead car, but I decided on a change while scanning their gated property in the darkening sky.
Three Burtonelli guards, including their driver and head of security who’d been placed beneath my command for the duration of the contract, stayed positioned where I’d commanded along the drive. All of us were connected by top of the line ear pieces provided by Tellier Security.
The driver stood by the car’s back door as Mrs. Burtonelli slid inside, the other two packing with heads swiveling where they waited by the cars boxing the limo in.
Hairs on my neck stirred, but without any sense of impending danger.
Giada.
I could feel her focus on my back like a soft caress, a whisper of fingertips along my spine, but I didn’t turn, even after the mansion’s front door slammed shut.
Fighting off shivers and my body’s distraction from my job, I strode toward the limo, waving the driver away. Cristian moved into my periphery as I pulled up by the opened door, and he slid in behind his oldest sister.
I feigned disinterest as Giada neared in a cloud of sweet, subtle lilac laced with vanilla.
My hand moved on its own, offering her assistance even though I continued to scan the property, senses beyond alert, my body strung fucking tight as hell.
Her smooth fingers danced across mine, and I gripped tight in sudden need to yank her close. Soothe the hurt her father had inflicted that she’d tried to hide behind a mask of who-gives-a-shit stubbornness.
I turned my focus on her face—she stared up at me, her eyes wide and lips parted. Currents raced through our clasped fingers, straight to my dick.
“Giada!” Her father’s annoyed call from inside the limo jerked her attention off me, and I grit my teeth while she bent down to get into the limo and join her family.
I released my hold on her hand and fought the need to watch her ass as she climbed into the limo. Greed approached, his inquisitive stare on my face.
“I’m riding with them,” I told him, my tone not welcoming argument or question.

© Lynn Burke 2020
Lynn Burke is a full time mother, voracious gardener, and scribbler of spicy 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.
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Olivia

Wanting him had to be a sin…

He saved me from the darkness, but by then I could never go back to the light. His eyes haunted me. When I’m given the choice to offer up my body for one month in exchange for my brother’s life, I don’t even hesitate. It’s dangerous, this dance we’re in, and I can’t look away. But will it be enough?

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Olivia was mine.

She stood there trembling in the dark, wounded, and that’s when I knew I had to have her. I would protect her, from our families and even from myself. But when fate handed her back to me on a silver platter, I couldn’t let her go. Her place was in my bed. All I had to do was survive long enough to keep her.

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