Leandros by Michelle Hasker #futuristic #NewRelease #SecondEdition #PNR #scifi #aliens #shifters @changelingpress @Michelle_Hasker

Leandros (Leandros 4)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Sahara Kelly
Genres/Themes: Box Set, Futuristic, Sci-fi, Paranormal, Alien Encounter, Shapeshifters

 

Cade knows Sairah is his mate, but she’s been raised on Earth. What he doesn’t know is how to convince her she’s not only an alien, but a lion shifter, as well.

When Matt’s best friend and boss finds a mate, it means a lot more lonely nights for him — until he meets Stacey and realizes his mate has been right under his nose the whole time. But a man with a past like his and no future doesn’t deserve a woman to love him. If only the sexy, stubborn woman would take no for an answer.

Jacob finds himself on trial for a crime he hasn’t committed… yet. Even worse? With his mate under suspicion, only one thing can save them now. The whole truth.

Publisher’s Note: The Leandros Collection contains the previously released novellas Sairah’s Salvation, Matthew’s Redemption, and Dana’s Release.

 

Get it at Changeling Press

pre-order at retailers for April 26th

   

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Michelle Hasker
Excerpt from Sairah’s Salvation

Sairah moaned and rolled on her back as hands slid over her. Questing hands that had explored every inch of her body for the past few months. Hands that brought her to the pinnacle of desire and thrust her into orgasms so intense she woke entangled in drenched sheets.

But she wasn’t asleep. Not yet. She’d just closed her eyes when the sweet scent of magnolias drifted into her bedroom. How is this possible? Can he be real? Is tonight the night he fulfills my fantasy? God, I wish!

Opening her eyes was out of the question. He might vanish and she’d be left alone. Again.

Sairah gasped as nimble fingers pinched her nipples until they hardened. Tingles raced through her body as her lover worked his magic. He brought her to the edge, then changed tactics and drew her back to that edge time and again, not letting her crest. All coherent thought fled.

With a moan, she arched into his touch, praying this time she’d find release. Her mouth opened wordlessly as shivers raced up her spine. Sairah fisted her hands in her sheets and turned her face, burying it against her pillow. The urge to demand he fuck her was almost overwhelming.

The sound of a baby crying pierced the air, bringing her out of the fantasy with such force she fought to catch her breath. Her pussy ached, and her nipples were swollen buds.

Sairah sat up with a gasp and looked around. All trace of her lover had vanished, but the scent of the blossoms remained. Had he really been here?

Another wail brought her out of bed before she could contemplate more about the realistic dream. Sairah tugged on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt as fast as she could. She pulled on her sneakers, grabbed a flashlight, and ran outside.

What is a child doing outside at this time of night? And behind my house no less!

The sound brought back memories she’d rather have left buried. A neighbor’s child had been four when she’d wandered out of her backyard and into the forest. By the time they found her body she’d been missing for days. If she could prevent something terrible from happening to someone else’s child, she would. No matter the cost.

Sairah dodged a thorny branch and delved deeper into the forest. The warning her neighbors gave her last week when she moved in raced through her mind. Never go into the woods. Especially not alone, and never at night. Evil lurks in there.

Sairah heard the cry again and shivered, suddenly cold. Worry and fear urged her deeper into the trees. She squeezed between two oak trees, trying to follow the narrow path that led from her backyard into the dark woods. At least the full moon gave her some light to see by, but the trees and bushes hid rocks and roots that slowed her progress. It was no wonder people disappeared in here. They probably wandered in circles until they starved to death.

She didn’t know what evil they spoke of, but if there was even a slight chance that a child could be in danger, she would risk it. Her life would be a small price to pay to spare a family from the agony of losing their baby. She didn’t have much to lose anyway.

The sweet scent of magnolias tickled her nose, reminding her of her dream man. The tall, blond man who set her flesh on fire and ignited desires that terrified her in their intensity. In her dreams, a group of strangers surrounded them as he cupped the side of her face and pressed his naked body against hers until she woke quivering with need.

Suddenly everything grew quiet. Sairah snapped out of her daydream with enough force to make her stumble. While she crouched and rubbed her stinging palms on her jeans-clad knees, she listened to the eerie silence. Usually a predator caused a silence such as this. Maybe the stories of wild cats were true. Cats didn’t frighten her, but dogs did, and there were also rumors of wolves in these parts. Sairah would rather take her chance with a cat any day.

A twig snapped on her left. She turned slowly, hoping it was just a squirrel. On the ground a few feet away she noticed something small and unmoving. It lay in the shadows, making it difficult to identify. She shone the flashlight at the area but couldn’t make anything out.

As Sairah stepped closer to it, the scent of blood and feces grew stronger until it became unbearable. She pinched her nose to shut out the offensive odor. Sairah nudged the small furry mound with her foot. The head rolled to the side so that lifeless black eyes stared at her from the familiar face of a raccoon.

Sairah released her nose and covered her mouth to stifle the scream that rose in her throat as she backed away from the dead animal. What had done this?

A growl came from her right. Sairah turned with as little motion as possible, and looked for the source of the noise. She spied a dark shape under a small pine tree. A large, grotesque wolf-like creature crept forward and stopped just outside of the shadows. At least she thought it was a wolf. It was larger than any she’d ever seen either in captivity or in the documentaries on television. Its beady black eyes were focused on her, sending shivers skittering up her spine, and not from the cold this time.

When the creature took another step toward her, panic flared as the moonlight illuminated it. Long, black hair covered it from the top of its head to the tip of its tail. Its ears stood up as if it was listening to something. Sairah held her breath and listened, but the only sound she could hear was the thundering of her heart as it slammed in her chest.

The ears lowered and its mouth opened, revealing large, white teeth. Teeth that dripped with fresh blood. Her heart leapt in her throat as she turned and ran, fear overriding common sense as she fled through the forest, the giant wolf right on her heels.

Sairah pushed her body to its limit, ignoring her burning lungs and calves. She raced through a thorny bush, scraping her arms and legs through her jeans and T-shirt as the briars snagged her.

After tearing herself free, she continued to run. Twigs snapped beneath her feet. Branches smacked her face and caught in her hair. She didn’t know if it was her imagination or if she really could feel the creature’s hot breath on her neck, scorching her sensitive flesh, but either way she didn’t stop to check.

The panting sounds the wolf made grew closer each time she stumbled. Unable to stop herself, Sairah chanced a look behind her and tripped. The flashlight flickered and went out when it hit the ground, bounced and skittered away. She went down hard, landing on her left arm. Sairah cried out as intense pain swept through her.

Cradling her arm close, Sairah tried to stand up, but tripped on the root again and fell back down. A low growl reached her ears, and Sairah looked up into the evil eyes of the beast less than five feet away.

In slow motion it rose on its hind legs and walked toward her as a human would. Bones and muscles shifted until the creature resembled a hairy man with a long, narrow face.

“My God,” she gasped and tried to push herself backward in the cold, damp leaves.

It was a werewolf. Only, those creatures weren’t supposed to exist. They were bedtime tales or movies made to frighten people. How could this thing be real?

A half-human, half-wolf hand closed around her ankle, claws digging into her flesh. She felt around in the dirt with her right hand until she found a stick. She prayed it was long and sturdy as she lifted it out of the leaves and stabbed at the beast with it. The werewolf howled in pain as she slammed the stick into its face. Temporarily free, Sairah scrambled up and ran as fast as she could, praying the moon would go behind the clouds so the creature would revert to full human form. Or was that just something made up for the movies? Her thoughts veered to the fantastical as she ran for her life.

 

More from Michelle Hasker at Changeling Press

 

Jennifer and the Alien Badass by Jessica Coulter Smith #awardnominee #scifi #aliens #RomanceBooks #singlemombook

 

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Available from Changeling Press and online retailers!

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2018 Jessica Coulter Smith

A perky blonde behind the reception counter smiled brightly at her. “May I help you with something?”

Penny, her tag read. “Penny, I need to speak to someone about someone who recently entered the bride program.”

The receptionist’s eyes went wide. “Oh, we can’t discuss our candidates. Not unless they left permission during the application process. You could check with records and see if your name is on the approved list.”

Jennifer ground her teeth. “And where is Records?”

Penny pulled out a map and highlighted the way, then handed it over. Following the neon line, Jennifer made her way through the station, trying not to scowl at every alien she passed. It wasn’t their fault her daughter had run off to get married to some stranger on another world. When she reached Records, the alien behind the counter smiled at her.

“My name is Zwyk,” he said. “Is there something I can help you with?”

“I think my daughter joined your bride program and I’m trying to find out if she’s already been sent to your world.”

His eyebrows rose. “I see. And your daughter’s name?”

“Lila Montgomery.”

He tapped away at his computer, a frown marring his face before he looked up at her again. “Mrs. Montgomery, I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you where your daughter is right now.”

“It’s Miss,” she bit out. “So, either you really don’t know, or she did join your program and said you couldn’t tell me where she was.”

He looked pained, which was all the answer she needed. It felt like steam was going to billow out of her ears at any moment. They’d allowed her baby to sign up, and now they wouldn’t even tell her if she’d made it to their planet safely. Assholes. No, that wasn’t completely fair. It wasn’t entirely their fault. Lila was just as much to blame for this mess, if not more so.

“Who is in charge?” Jennifer asked.

“Tyril. He’s…” Zwyk looked over her shoulder and pointed. “Over there.”

She turned and looked, seeing two aliens having a discussion in the middle of the station. One was taller and broader than the other, his hair was long and thick; a rather sexy eye patch covered one eye. The smaller one was dressed nicer and looked more… tame. She glanced from one to the other again, and hoped it was the tamer looking one that was Tyril. The taller one looked like he could break her in half without breaking a sweat.

Jennifer approached them and the taller one stopped mid-sentence to look her way. Though he only had one eye, his gaze was appreciative as he took her in from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. A sexy smirk graced his lips when he met her gaze. Oh lordy. Now that was a man who was sexy as fuck and knew it. She forced herself to look away and focus on the smaller of the two.

“Are you Tyril?” she asked.

He nodded and gave her a pleasant smile. “If you want to apply for the bride program, the application center is at the front of the station.”

“I’m actually here about someone who already signed up.”

“I’m afraid we can’t divulge information about our potential brides without their permission. You’ll have to speak with Zwyk and see if you’re on the approved list.”

Jennifer folded her arms under her breasts, pushing them up, and stared at Tyril. His gaze momentarily dropped to her chest before he looked up again. Good. She had his attention, or at least part of her did.

“My daughter received something in the mail from this station, and she’s been missing for over a week. Your precious Records person won’t tell me a damn thing and I demand to know if my daughter is safe. Do I need to go to the police to file a missing persons report, or is she not on Earth anymore?”

Tyril’s eyes widened a little. “Your daughter? We would never allow someone underage to…”

She held up a hand. “Lila is eighteen and grown enough I suppose, but sometimes she still acts like a child. Much like now. She disappeared only saying she was going to a friend’s house, packed enough clothes for a week, then made sure her friends wouldn’t tell me where she was, and she wouldn’t answer her phone. I found the opened envelope under her mattress and the letter inside was missing. I guess if she’s off-world that would explain why she’s not answering her phone.”

Tyril looked sympathetic. “I want to help you, but I can’t. We have rules in place for a reason. If she did sign up for the program and didn’t put you on the approved list of contacts, then there’s nothing I can do.”

Tears of frustration welled in her eyes and her hands clenched into fists. “So I’m just supposed to wonder for the rest of my life what happened to my only child?”

The taller of the two moved closer. “You have a daughter old enough for the bride program?”

“Yes.” Jennifer bit her lip. “I know she’s technically an adult, but she’s my baby. She’s all I have. Isn’t there something you can do?”

“The only way any human is going to our world is as a potential bride, or part of an already mated pair,” Tyril said, his gaze sliding over her. “And as you’re old enough to already have an adult child, I doubt either is a possibility for you.”

Jennifer’s cheeks flushed with anger, and without thought, she hauled back her hand, made a fist, and punched him right across his jaw. Tyril stumbled back a step, his eyes wide and incredulous, as his hand cupped the injured area.

“You hit me!” he said in outrage.

“And I’m going to kick you in the balls next if you don’t help me,” Jennifer said. “And I’m not old, dammit. I’m only thirty-eight.”

Tyril cupped said balls and took another step back.

The one-eyed alien smiled broadly. “I like her.”

“Call security,” Tyril said. “Someone needs to escort her from the premises.”

“I’m not leaving until you tell me where my daughter is,” she shouted at him.

“You’re a menace,” Tyril said.

Jennifer growled and advanced on him, whacking his biceps with her open palm before cracking her other hand against his cheek. They were not going to keep her child from her.

The sexy alien behind her gave a full-belly laugh and wrapped an arm around her waist, hauling her back against his rather impressive chest. His body shook with merriment as Tyril glared at them, looking more than a little irate at her attack. She supposed she should be thankful he hadn’t tried to hit her back. While he might not be as built as the alien holding her, he wasn’t exactly weak looking either. One punch probably would have knocked her out.

“I believe you’ve met your match, Tyril. Why not tell her what she wants to know? She’s fierce and doesn’t seem to be taking no for an answer,” the sexy alien said.

“Stay out of this, Siril. We have rules. Policies. I can’t go breaking them just because she wants to know where her daughter is. If she’s not on the approved list, I can’t even confirm whether her daughter was here or not.”

Some of her anger deflated and she felt utterly helpless. “You can’t even tell me if she was accepted into the program? I just want to know that she’s safe. Do you have children? Wouldn’t you want to know if they were okay?”

“I do not,” Tyril said, but some of the anger seemed to drain from him. “I’m truly sorry, but I can’t help you.”

“I’ll help you,” the alien behind her said.

 

Check out other books by Jessica Coulter Smith

 

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.”

Molten (Box Set) by Kira Stone #scifi #aliens #alienencounters #GayRomance #LGBT #NewRelease @changelingpress

 

Mostly humanoid, definitely alien, sentient liquid metal.
Not what Dolan had hoped for in a lover.

 

Molten (Box Set) (Molten 4)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres/Themes: Action Adventure, Box Sets, Futuristic, Paranormal,
Sci-fi, Alien Encounters, Gay

 

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Mostly Humanoid, definitely alien, sentient liquid metal. Not what Dolan had hoped for in a lover.

Molten: Condemned to serve as an indentured miner on a backwater way station, intergalactic translator Dolan knows more about Molten, the liquid metal that fuels Parkeet station, than most. So when he’s ordered to mate with a being that on first contact looks like a pool of the stuff he’s been mining, he’s less than enthusiastic. But his alternative is death.

More Molten: Dolan and his Molten lover, Zian, are on a mission — collect the bits of Molten that have been blown all over the galaxy. Can they rescue the younglings and return them to the Molten home world without blowing up this universe — or their relationship?

Molten Mayhem: Trapped in an escape pod with his mate’s future dependent on him, anger and the need to find Zian drive Dolan to escape, but time is against him. Will Dolan’s rescue bring the couple together or will it separate Dolan and Zian for good, and signal doom for the Molten race?

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Kira Stone
Excerpt from Molten

I started stroking my schel — cock to many of you humanoids — and let my brain drift to sexual places I’d enjoyed in the past. My one and only session with the Orgasmatron. Threesome sex with the male twins from Fortunas Delta. And the one that just made my toes curl — a yearly fuck from the demon sex club on Trios.

And then there was him. The one I’d never had but always imagined to be somewhere. The one I looked for in every crowd. The one every other encounter failed, if only marginally, to equal.

Though I became instantly hard and ready to rock, the egg chose that moment to melt. Deform. Puddle.

Nothing will put a wilt in a creature’s sexual enthusiasm like having your partner disintegrate before penetration, let alone afterward. Unless, of course, that’s how they get off. But I’d never come across one who did that, and I didn’t feel that was the case with my egg partner.

The egg did this kind of melting thing, and then this pulsing thing, and then it just kind of ran together and began to rise. Not even a ripple crossed its surface as it took on another shape. That action alone should have told me something important but I didn’t figure out what until later.

When this organism finished re-morphing, it was my turn to collapse. Faint, really. For what I saw before me was not an egg, but the male of my dreams. No, I don’t mean the kind you have when you shut down for an hour in the rejuvenation chamber and wake a bit sticky. I mean the real mental fantasy I had when I was, err, egging on the egg. The perfect male I’d pictured but never met.

Now I know anything on Parkeet Station is labeled as humanoid as long as the being has at least two arms, two legs, one head and walks vaguely upright. All other details are optional and haphazard.

This humanoid was the best formed being the known multiverse had to offer. He had these golden eyes that fluttered open and closed with waves of emotion, and hair that hung in bronze streaks braided with gold to his waist.

His forehead had become so blue it was nearly black, but the color softened as it headed down his body until the tips of his toes were solar flare white. Plus he had all the right pieces in all the right places. So fucking gorgeous I couldn’t breathe. Didn’t breathe. Until my body reminded me that if I wanted to go on looking at him I required oxygen.

So I did that breathing thing again, and he still remained. My living dream. And, see, the thing is, he doesn’t really exist. My dream is just that. There’s no being I’ve seen in any dive, slave auction, or any other palace that resembled this creature. But there he was, standing in front of me, so he had to be real, right?

A morphing egg. One who knew what I liked. Egg sex then became not only possible, it just had to happen or my brain would implode. The concept of hearing “no” from those incredible azure lips just — no, not going there.

I stood and pointed at my chest, thinking I should at least attempt to introduce myself. “Dolan.”

It… he… turned his head as if considering this. “Xzavia’n.”

Right. The word sounded exotic and sexy, but he could have been talking about his mother for all I knew. But for now, I considered that his name. “Hello, Xzavia’n.”

His mouth crooked in a smile and I had the feeling he was trying hard not to laugh at my pronunciation. “Zian,” he supplied.

OK, that sounded like a name and one I could handle. I took another step closer to him and brushed my thumb against his cheek. His skin was extraordinary. Not plastic, not fur, and yet both. “Hello, Zian.”

He reached for my face and I anticipated a similar gesture, but he ran his fingers through my hair, tugging my face close to his, and kissed me. Deeply. Leisurely. As if exploring my mouth had no equal pleasure.

Loved by the Elite Commander by Jessica Coulter Smith #scifi #aliens #alienencounters #SFR #eroticromance @changelingpress

 

She’s the only hope for my people, our salvation.
I never thought I’d fall in love with her.

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Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Karen Fox
Genres/Themes: Action Adventure, Futuristic, Sci-fi,
Alien Encounters, Alternate Universe, Single Parent/Pregnancy Romance

 

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My people are dying out, and if my generation doesn’t find compatible mates soon then my people will become extinct. When I hear of a race called Humans who are capable of breeding with Elorian males, I know we must find some and convince them to mate with single males on Elora.

Their home planet is too far from my own, but a ship of slaves crash-landed on X-2 five hundred years ago and many were of the Human race. It’s there I know I’ll find the females who will save my kind.

It never occurred to me that I would be the first to claim a mate, or that she would have been so horribly abused. Despite her horrific past, my sweet Marcy gives me a chance, and now that she’s mine I will do anything in my power to protect her.

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Jessica Coulter Smith

The sun on the unforgiving planet beat down, making it hard to breathe. My parents were long gone, and there was no one left to protect me.

The colony I called home was a lawless place where men dominated and females were no better than slaves. I knew our history, had heard of my ancestors and how they’d been captured on another world, taken into slavery. Then the ship had crash-landed here, and the survivors had created a new home.

The alien slavers had died, but the slaves had all lived. Mostly Human, though there were a few other races that seemed peaceful most of the time. The others kept to themselves and didn’t interfere.

My mother had told me stories about Earth, the world our people had come from, and how wonderful it had been. The stories had been passed from her mother, and so on all the way back to the original Humans who had landed on X-2. There had been something called television and movies, music, and tall glass buildings that reached up into the sky.
She’d said that women had the same rights as men on our home planet, and were given a voice even when selecting leaders. It seemed a bit strange to me, not having known any of those things, but it was nice to think there was a place like that out there somewhere.

Our current home was a nightmare. The red dirt coated everything, and the sun stayed bright and hot for all but a few hours out of each day. Unlike the Earth my mother had spoken of, women here had no rights of any kind. Whatever a man told us to do, we had to comply immediately or face the consequences. Some of my friends had learned the hard way exactly what that meant, and bile rose in my throat as I thought about it. Each punishment was made public to make an example of the woman who had dared to disobey. It didn’t matter if a man asked you to fetch him food, or strip off your clothes. We weren’t allowed to say no to anything.

I’d heard of females running and hiding. I didn’t know how true that was, or if they were even still alive if they had managed such a feat. The only shelters I knew of were the crude homes and buildings of our small village. Sometimes I wished there was a place I could hide as well. Men didn’t take wives, like my mother had said happened on Earth, and those who did choose a female to bear their children didn’t remain faithful to them. Women were cattle to be used as the men saw fit. Breeders, or a thing to play with.

I felt Bruce’s hand slide up my arm as he crowded me. Revulsion filled me, but I knew better than to pull away. I’d been his favorite for a while. Not his ‘only’, by any means, but his favorite. I’d have gladly given that honor up to someone else. The brute never cared if he hurt me, and I sometimes felt like he got off on making me scream. My body still wore the bruises he’d left the last time he’d forced my submission.

Better me than some of the others, though. In this lawless society men didn’t temper their needs for any reason, which meant even the teen girls were fair game. My mother had assured me on our home world something like that would have been cause for punishment, that men could be imprisoned for the things they did here. I often wondered if what she said was true, or merely a story to give me hope that life could be better.
There were times I wished both the aliens and slaves on the crashed ship had died that day rather than live like this another moment. Bruce’s hand tightened on me and he turned me to face him.

“You’re going to serve drinks to me and my friends tonight, Marcy. And you’re going to be a good girl, aren’t you?” he asked.

Like I had much of a choice. I nodded and refused to meet his gaze.

“Good.” His hand petted me some more. “After our card game, we’ll all have some fun.”

Oh, God! Anything but that! I knew exactly what he meant. It wasn’t uncommon for Bruce to have game nights, and after they were well and truly drunk, they’d take turns with whatever woman had been serving them that night.

I tried not to tremble or give away my fear and disgust. By some miracle, I’d never gotten pregnant, but sooner or later that luck would run out. I’d either give birth to a daughter who would face the same fate as me, or a son who would become a monster. I couldn’t stand the thought of either scenario.

“Go brush out your hair and come to my place. Don’t be late,” he said.

Just as quickly as he’d arrived, he was gone. My body sagged and I couldn’t stop the tears that tracked my cheeks. I couldn’t do it! Not again. There was so much I’d endured since I’d turned sixteen and caught a man’s eye, but I knew I was slowly losing my mind. I should be grateful.

I’d been late in becoming a woman, my body not changing until much later than the others. Had I developed curves and begun my monthly bleeding at an earlier age, I doubted the men would have waited until I was sixteen. A few women in our small colony had already broken and taken their lives. I knew if I had to endure much more, I would follow in their steps. I refused to believe that my life was supposed to be like this.

I crept into the hall of the cracked and crumbling building we called home. As silently as I could, I managed to flee into the hot air outside. A breeze caressed me and gave me the courage to move forward.

Freedom! That’s what I tasted, what I smelled… No matter what happened, I wasn’t going back! I silently made my way through the winding path of crumbling buildings until I reached the outer wall. The guard at the gate had his head slumped, probably having had too much to drink.

I ran, my bare feet digging into the soil and broken bits of rock that served as a road to the other alien settlements. The original survivors had broken off into groups, and set up colonies on this small, dry planet. The trees beckoned, their brown and orange leaves crackling in the air, and I pushed myself, not daring to look back and only moving forward. I ran until my lungs burned and my legs ached. Pain pierced my side and I didn’t think I could go much further.

A few land vehicles had been salvaged from the crashed ship and still ran even all these years later. The Human colony had one, as did two other settlements. I heard one approaching and crouched, hoping to blend in with the scratchy branches and dead leaves lining the roadway. My heart pounded so loud I worried they could hear it.

A hand covered my mouth and I was jerked against a large, hard body.

“Quiet,” a male voice said in my ear. The accent was different from anything I remembered hearing before, and my body tensed, but I knew better than to fight. If anything, my life had taught me that to deny a male would only end in more pain and suffering.

The hovercraft drove past and the male holding me moved further back into the dead foliage. Once the sound of the patrol was gone, I was released. I stumbled, nearly falling to the ground, but the guy caught me, holding me against his broad chest. I stared at it a moment, then blinked and blinked again.

His broad gold chest. My panic rose again as I realized that none of the survivors on this world were gold.

I whimpered, but my upbringing in this hostile place had taught me not to fight. I hung limply in the stranger’s embrace and hoped that if he wanted to kill me, that it would be quick and painless. The fact I’d never seen anyone like him before made me tremble, and I worried about what would happen to me. When had a new race of aliens landed on X-2?

The sheer size of him was intimidating, as he towered over me and was rather broad. Not from fat, because his arms and chest appeared to be thickly muscled. His eyes seemed like liquid gold as I looked up at him. Long black hair cascaded over his shoulders and down his back, with a braid on either side of his face. His jaw was covered in a short beard and there was a scar along one cheek. Something flicked against my ankles and I looked down, gasping when I saw a long, slender tail. I’d never seen anything on two legs with one of those before. It was golden like him, with a puff of black at the tip. As I studied his face again, I realized there were three ridges across his brow that looked like some sort of hard plating.

“You’re safe now, female,” he said. “My name is J-Ril, and I mean you no harm.”

 

 

The Triad’s Pet by Marteeka Karland #DarkFantasy #scifi #bisexual #NewRelease @changelingpress @marteekakarland

The Triad has taken Arryn to be their pet, but Arryn has other ideas in mind.

The Triad's Pet (The Outcasts 2)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Marteeka Karland
Genres/Themes: Dark Fantasy, scifi, Bisexual, multiple partners

A feisty outcast

Arryn’s life has always been awkward. The daughter of a traitor and his pet, the only reason she is allowed to continue to live in the village is because of her exceptional talents in both healing and engineering. Even still, she knows how to pick her battles and lives a contented life.

A triad pledged to another

Being taken as a pet is one thing, but to be taken by a trio of men who have pledged to be the promised of another woman is intolerable. Perhaps the impression Arryn made when she saved Storm’s life was a strong one, but she certainly didn’t sign up to be a pet. Dealing with her budding feelings for the three warriors is hard enough, but knowing she can never have them is enough to break her heart. Not that she’d ever let it show.

A village under siege

When danger is deliberately brought into their midst, it’s up to Arryn to direct her men. But how can a pet convince three stubborn warriors to trust in her unique abilities?

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Five pet peeves from Arryn…

  1. Arrogant assholes
  2. Ignorant assholes
  3. Bossy assholes
  4. Assholes who think she’s less because she’s a woman
  5. ANYONE making her a pet

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Marteeka Karland

The battle in the distance had everyone in the village on edge. Not a single person here didn’t have someone in that fight. Even our kings, the Triad, were in this one because we all knew it was a fight for the city. A fight to the death.

“Arryn! You’re needed at the wall! The mechanism on the main catapult is frozen!” That was my best friend, Lassa. She was the fastest runner in the village and, at times like these, she was needed everywhere.

I wanted to protest — organizing medical supplies and a place to bring the wounded was necessary, too. But Lassa was already off to carry the next message. Besides, Lorgan, our village healer and head of the Council of Elders, had made it clear he didn’t want my input. He needed it, though. When the wounded started coming in, assuming we weren’t overrun and invaded by the opposing tribes, he was going to have a mess on his hands.

Oh, well. Not my fight.

Yet.

As I hurried off to the wall, I noticed the shift in the breeze. Now it came from the sea rather than inland. Never a good sign. Off in the distance, a black cloud loomed menacingly and lightning flashed, filling me with dread.

As if the fates had heard my fear and misgivings, I heard soldiers gathering near the city gates. In the midst of them was one of our Triad. The other two were already on the battlefield. One always stayed back to see to the city defenses. If the last king was readying to enter the fray on the battlefield, things were bad indeed.

I watched as the tall man on a tall horse directed soldiers with every expectation he would be obeyed without question. His hair was black as night, his skin bronzed and glinting with sweat. Plate armor encased a powerful chest, leather his arms and legs. The powerful steed he rode had guards for the king’s legs built onto the saddle that acted as additional armor. Though I’d lived here most of my life, I did my best to stay away from anything to do with the ruling factions. I knew who the kings were, the Triad, but I wasn’t sure which was which. I thought this one was Asher. They were important people and, because of my shady background, I tended to avoid them.

His sharp gaze scanned the ranks at the wall, calling several soldiers to his side and snapping orders. He’d readied a contingent of cavalrymen to go into battle. Then he looked up… directly at me. Clear blue eyes caught my gaze. Held me captive as easily as if he’d wrapped those brawny arms tightly around me, as if he’d been completely aware of me and where I was no matter what was going on around him.

The hard planes of his face were starkly beautiful, with masculine lines that seemed to have been designed to take a woman’s breath. If I’d actually been the type of woman affected by men like him, my heart would be beating faster, my breath catching in my throat. Instead, I’m sure I was just out of breath, my heart pounding from hurrying through the village. Had to be.

Then he nodded once in my direction, actually acknowledging me, before swinging his mount around and charging onto the battlefield with his men.

“Get over here, girl!” one of the guards snapped, completely shattering the spell King Asher had woven around me. The soldiers were usually courteous, but urgency stripped everyone of niceties. I understood and respected that, not taking offense in the least. “The pin won’t release the break!”

As I approached at a run, I could see the problem. “The spring’s melted!” I shouted to him over the din of soldiers. “Get the payload off and I’ll replace the spring!”

Easier said than done. The payload was a cauldron of flaming oil. Even as I told him what to do, I realized that wouldn’t be possible. “Never mind,” I muttered, snagging an iron bar next to the hulking catapult. All I had to do was release the break. Which was controlled by the spring. The heat from the payloads they’d been firing had melted the spring. That didn’t happen with proper maintenance and care in loading the payload. Either someone got in too big a hurry, or no one had maintained the equipment. During the heat of battle, that was understandable.

I swung the iron bar with all my might. It took three tries before another guard snagged it from me and gave one mighty swing, snapping the spring free. When it finally broke free, the brake handle flipped up, the recoil knocking me on my ass into the mud when I jumped out of the way, but the arm swung, sending the flaming projectile hurling through the air. I didn’t notice where it went because I’d had to scramble to my feet and was frantically trying to free the broken bits of the release lever to get at the spring and break.

The soldier in charge of this engine was hurrying to bring me the parts he knew I’d need. Tools were already scattered around where men had been attempting to solve the problem.

I worked as swiftly as I could, repairing what I’d broken as well as replacing the vital spring that allowed the weapon to launch. I have no idea how long it took — seemed like forever — but finally, I was able to give the go ahead. “Test the fucker!” I shouted.

Soldiers cranked the wheel, creating tension. The sling was empty, but we couldn’t risk loading it before it was tested in case I’d fucked up.

“Release!” the guard snapped. The arm let go and swung upward in a smooth motion. Without another word, the soldiers began cranking the wheel again, readying the catapult for its payload.

They loaded another cauldron, filled it with oil, then set it ablaze. The guard gave the command to release it and, again, the weapon functioned exactly as it was supposed to. He turned to look at me. Nodded once, then turned his attention back to his duty.

I was the one everyone went to when things broke. The only problem was, I was a nobody. The bastard daughter of a traitor and a pet not his own, most thought me incapable of anything good.

My mother had been a nomad. Captured and sold as a pet, she’d run off with my father, having his child shortly before they’d landed in our village. Years later, my father, having worked his way up as a tradesman, betrayed the Triad by showing an enemy scout how to navigate the maze leading from the village to the Triad compound. He’d been jailed for a trial that had taken months when most times justice was swift and sure. In the meantime, the Council of Elders had given my mother to Lorgan, the head of the Council, in anticipation of my father’s execution. Things had gone horribly wrong after that. It was said that my mother “forced” Lorgan into what was considered “deviant behavior.” Lorgan had convinced the council to sentence my mother to death. At least, that was the official account. I had no idea what had happened immediately following that horrible incident, but my father, having been found guilty of the charges against him, had been exiled instead of executed.

That left me on my own at eleven years old, so I learned to fend for myself. By the time I was sixteen, I could fix anything. Which is how I’d come to design reinforcements for the city wall four years later. But, I mean, what could anyone expect? Their plan was piss poor and mine wasn’t.

While I was at the catapults, I hurried to inspect the area where the wall crossed the river. If there was a weakness in the defenses, it was here. Instead of building with the river on the outside, the elders had wanted it inside, so there was a ready supply of fresh water, which meant the iron gate was the only thing preventing invaders from breaching the city walls. It was fortified with guard towers and all kinds of weapons, but from the looks of things, every man not needed to operate crossbows and catapults was outside on the battlefield. There were a few soldiers on the battlements, but they were mostly boys in their teens. All of them looked terrified. This was why I’d insisted on making sure the design of the wall over the river was strong. I knew the Elders would demand all the defensive strength be focused on the main part of the city. Had the builders followed the original plan designed by some fuck dumber than dirt, we’d have been screwed the second the enemy engaged that section of the wall.

Looking through the grate to the battlefield beyond, it seemed like the fight was still far off. If they broke the lines, however, any enemy who’d studied the layout of the village would know the river was the weakest point and would charge it with everything they had.

I picked up a rock and threw it at one of the boys on the wall. Missed. Tried again. Didn’t make it to the wall that time. Fuck. I was definitely not warrior material. “Hey!” I yelled, waving my arms over my head. “Hey, hey!” One of the boys turned around. Cristiano, his name was.

“Arryn? What are you doing over here! The catapult’s messed up! They need you at the gate!”

“I fixed it, Cris. How is it looking from your end? Can you hold them if they break the line?”

The young man looked around, fear on his face. “I don’t know, Arryn. We’ve got weapons ready, but if it comes down to it…” He shook his head. “All I know is, I’m scared now and we’re not even in the fight.”

“Hold them together, Cris,” I said, scanning the inner wall for anyone I thought might be able to help. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“I’d sure love to have Granda here about now,” the younger man commented. “He isn’t very strong in a fight, but he’s a fierce leader.”

Which was a great idea. We needed something more at the river than the iron grate, but in this situation the men on the wall needed an experienced leader worse. “Drop the reinforcements!” I called to Cris. “It’s the best stationary defense you’ve got for the river.”

“We’re not supposed to do that except when it’s imminent we’re going to be charged,” he called back.

“Do you think your men can get the heavy son of a bitch in place if the enemy breaks the lines? Because you’ll need to be firing at them with everything you’ve got.”

“I’m on it,” he said, as I knew he would.

With one last look at the wall, I sprinted off to the main gate. The largest contingent of guards and soldiers was there. If there was a plan in place to defend the riverside, someone there would know.

“Where have you been, Arryn?”

That angry voice belonged to Lorgan. Head of the Council of Elders and all-around dumbfuck, Lorgan was all about making himself look good. He never wanted me anywhere around unless he was about to fuck something up. Or needed someone to clean up something he’d already fucked up.

Much as I wanted to make sure he wasn’t actually killing anyone with his horrible techniques, if the river wall wasn’t as fortified as it could be, the entire village could be in jeopardy. “Not now, Lorgan,” I said as I sprinted by. He sputtered and swore at me but didn’t bother to give chase. Which was my test as to if he was actually about to kill someone with ignorance. If Lorgan was in real trouble, he wouldn’t let up. I’d have to deal with him later, but right now, I had more pressing concerns.

“Who’s in charge?” I’d reached the main gate, out of breath and panting. Sweat dripped from my forehead into my eyes. My thin, sleeveless dress clung to my damp skin and my wine-red hair stuck to my face and neck uncomfortably. The soldiers were in full leather armor. As hot and miserable as I was, they had to be even worse.

“Arryn!” That was Hadin. Third in command of the city watch and training to be a captain in the Triad’s guard, he took his job very seriously. One of the reasons he’d make a good leader.

“The defense at the river. Those boys are good and throwing their heart into it, but really need a strong leader.”

“Cristiano is on it. He’ll be fine.”

“Just one experienced soldier, Hadin. Please. Just one.”

Hadin glanced in my direction before turning back to the group of men who’d begun to gather around him. Hadin was one of the few of the villagers in a position of power who actually took me seriously. “I don’t have one, Arryn. They’ll be fine. It’s not likely the Blackheart soldiers will break the line in any event. Especially if we keep pounding them with fire bombs.”

“Cris is asking for help. He’s a good guard but knows he’s in over his head.”

“No doubt because you asked him if he was overwhelmed,” Hadin snapped. “The city is under attack. We all have a job to do. Including you, Arryn. I suggest you get to yours and leave me to mine!” The man normally wasn’t so snippy, but I understood and would never hold it against him.

I also knew better than to argue. I’d expressed my opinion and Cristiano’s fears. That was all I could do. At least, it was all I could do here. My philosophy? Why waste time arguing that could better be spent doing something about the problem?

Whirling, I ran to the inner wall. Our city was formed in a circle. The Council of Elders and their families lived in the center, which was walled off. The theory was, if the city were ever under attack, women and children from all over the village would gather inside the inner wall and be protected from invaders. At least that was the argument the elders had put forth to have it built in the first place.

It was also a last line of defense for everyone. In reality, the elders generally locked themselves in, hunkered down, and expected everyone to protect them and their families. For the most part, any women and children who were not helping the soldiers and healers huddled just outside the inner walls in hopes that, if the outer wall was breached, those behind the inner wall would let them in.

I knew better.

At the festival square, the entrance to the inner wall, I found Cristiano’s granda, Malachi. Though the older man was completely white headed and missing a leg below his knee, with his tall, muscular frame, he was still a commanding presence.

“Take the little ones to the underground shelter,” he said, his voice booming. The shelter was supposed to be used for food storage, but I could see some of the items not heat sensitive were stacked outside the shelter entrance next to the wall. “Any woman who wants to go with them would be most welcomed and appreciated. My Tessa can only control so many of the little varmints.”

He sounded put out, but I knew Malachi wanted every single woman and child in that shelter and would use any means necessary to convince them, even making it seem like Tessa was too frail to care for the children on her own. Not that Tessa needed the help. She was a force of nature.

“Cris needs you, Malachi,” I said without preamble. “At the river wall.”

Instantly, the old man’s gaze seemed to burn through me. “Are they under siege?”

“No, but they need a steady hand to guide them.” Malachi met my gaze with a level one of his own. “They’re scared. If they come under attack and panic…”

“You make sure everyone who needs to be there gets into the shelter,” he said. “Tessa can handle it once they’re all inside, but some of them will try to stay outside to help their men.”

“Do you need help getting to the wall?”

He gave me a look that said, If you ask me that one more time

“Never mind. Stupid question.”

He grunted in satisfaction and snagged his crutches. The man really shouldn’t have been able to move around as easily as he did, but he could move as quickly as a man half his age with both legs. Of all the people in the village, I admired Malachi and Tessa the most. Not only were they intelligent and hardworking, but they were fierce in their protection of those they considered family. The gods knew they’d been there for me when I needed them desperately.

Tessa ushered women and children inside the shelter. She looked frail and damned near helpless, but I knew better. So did everyone else, but it still worked. No one she ushered inside refused her.

“You should stay with me,” Tessa said decisively. “We could use your calming influence with the children.”

I blinked. “Tessa?”

“I mean,” she plucked at her apron, “I want you to be in here with us. Where it’s safe.”

“You know I can’t,” I said gently. “Is something wrong? Is there something you need you’re not telling me?”

The older woman sighed, dabbing at her eyes with her apron. “I’m just getting emotional in my old age.” She gave me a watery smile. “I have seven children and twenty-four grandchildren. None of them pull at my heart the way you do, child. I love them all, but I worry over you when I shouldn’t.”

“I’ll be fine, Granma,” I said, giving her the title all her grandchildren used. “You know I’m needed in the city.”

She pursed her lips. “Just don’t you let that Lorgan push you around. Someone needs to pull that man down a peg or two.”

I grinned. “I’m sure you’re the very one to do it, Granma.” I kissed her on the cheek. “I love you, Tessa. Take care of the young ones.”

“I love you, too, Arryn. Take care of yourself.”

I had just given Tessa a hug and closed the door to the underground shelter when I spotted Lassa running toward me. In the distance, it seemed like the sounds of battle were growing louder. As if an army were approaching the city.

Impossible!

“Release!” Haden’s shout penetrated through the din of battle closing in around us. Several flaming cauldrons were launched from the eight catapults along the walls. The big crossbows on the top of the walls were loaded with flaming arrows, which also released. A barrage of flaming arrows from archers behind the walls were shot as well. Which meant the city’s soldiers were close to the wall, likely in retreat.

Never had the Triad been bested in a direct battle for the city. My heart pounded. Just as I was about to head to the river to make sure the water grate was as fortified as it could be, I saw a group of riders enter the city at a gallop, heading for the healer’s tent. The doors were closed once more, indicating they were standing their ground outside.

“Protect the Triad!” a voice called. Which was odd. I’d never heard of the Triad putting their protection over any of the men they led. The trio always led the regiments into battle. One at the front, one with the cavalry, and one with the siege engines…

How could I be so stupid! King Asher had left the wall. None of the Triad had replaced him with Hadin. Which meant one of the Triad had fallen. That was what Lorgan had been fussing about. The king must not have been at the healer’s tent yet when Lorgan called for me. A runner would have been sent ahead to give notice for the healer to prepare; otherwise, had Lorgan needed my help with this particular problem, he’d have run me down immediately. He’d likely thought he could handle it on his own but wanted backup. The man they’d just taken into the healer’s tent was one of our kings.

Fuck.

MORE BOOKS BY MARTEEKA KARLAND

Erotic romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of.

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.