Scratch/Havoc (Duet) by Harley Wylde #MCromance #NewAdult #SingleMom #paperback @HarleyW_Writer @changelingpress

Scratch/Havoc (Duet) (Dixie Reapers MC Box Sets 6)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

Scratch (Devil’s Boneyard MC 2)
Clarity: I’ve been on my own since I was sixteen, and I’ve fought to make a life for myself and my son. Being homeless certainly wasn’t in my life plan, so when a gruff, sexy biker offers help, how can I possibly say no? I know deep down he’d never hurt us. It just never occurred to me I’d fall in love.

Scratch: The young woman and kid I find sleeping outside my club’s chop shop make me feel things I shouldn’t. She’s younger than my daughter, but there’s fire in her soul, and she leaves me wanting things I shouldn’t. Like a new chance at a family. What the hell would she want with a man thirty years older than her? I’ll slay her demons, bury the monsters from her past, and then I’ll do the one thing I thought I’d never do… claim an old lady, then make her my wife.

Havoc (Devil’s Boneyard MC 3)
Jordan: I spent a year in prison for a crime I admittedly did commit, but I had a good reason. My brothers have abandoned me, and there’s nowhere for me to go. Until the hottest man I’ve ever met decides to be my knight on shining Harley. Havoc isn’t at all what I’m used to, but maybe he’s just what I need.

Havoc: When I find out the same prison that nearly killed me was trying to cover up another incident, one involving the woman I can’t stop staring at — fury flows through me. Whatever it takes, I’ll keep her safe. Whoever hurt her will be coming, and I’m ready. No one touches what’s mine, and Jordan may not realize it but I’m not letting her go.

 

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Also available in paperback!

 

Praise for Scratch (Devil’s Boneyard MC 2)

“I’m glad that Scratch found someone. He seemed so lonely… Clarity’s life was so messed up. Thank goodness for the Devil’s Boneyard MC and Scratch. They set everything to rights and then some. These two were so meant for one another.”

— 5 Stars from Jan’s Reviews, Goodreads Review

“Harley has done it again! This was one of my favorites of hers and if I could have given it 10 stars I would have! Hot, steamy and just the perfect amount of dirty with a younger woman, older man whirlwind MC romance! I can’t wait for what’s next!”

– 5 Stars from Mama Little, iBooks Review

 

Praise for Havoc (Dixie Reapers MC 3)

“Mrs. Wylde has really outdone herself this time! This book is simply amazing! I love tough as nails Jordan, she was perfect for Havoc. This book had everything: mystery, chemistry and action. And not to mention sexy times! I hope you continue to write all about of the other men in the club, especially Cinder. I am eager to get his story! Grab this book now, you won’t be disappointed at all. And if you haven’t checked out the Dixie Reapers you definitely need too!”

— 5 Stars from AmandaGail, Amazon Review

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Harley Wylde
Excerpt from Scratch

I had no one. My mom had died when I was two, and when my dad remarried, he’d chosen a woman who liked to pretend I didn’t exist. Soon enough, my dad decided I didn’t exist either. Once his new kids starting popping out every few years, I was pushed to the side, and eventually I left. I’d been sixteen when I’d hit the streets, and no one had come looking for me. I was sure that my dad was relieved I was gone. It hurt, but crying over it wouldn’t change anything.

I’d thought I was doing okay when I found a man about five years older than me who offered me a place to sleep and help getting a job. I should have known not to trust him. Things had been fine for a while, but then he’d started asking to be repaid for his kindness. Blowjobs mostly, except for the night he was high on who knows what and decided to take more than I was willing to give. Caleb was the result of that night. Once I’d found out I was pregnant, I’d taken off. Even though the man hadn’t touched me again, I hadn’t wanted to take any chances.

A women’s shelter had helped at first, even found me a job and a place to live. Things had been going pretty well, until two months ago. The little thrift store where I’d been working shut down without notice. I’d had enough in the bank to keep our tiny apartment for another month, and then the money had run out and I hadn’t been able to get another job. So we slept where we could, ate what we could, and just tried to survive.

The church over on Pine Avenue would let me take a shower and would give me a dress out of the donations to wear for interviews, and the nice lady who worked in the church office would watch Caleb for me. I’d applied to every place in town that was hiring, and no one had wanted me. Our situation was bleak, but as long as we had each other, then I’d keep fighting. If Caleb weren’t with me, I might have given up by now. Or decided to join the ladies who worked the street corner on the other end of town. But I’d been a virgin when Caleb’s dad had raped me, and I couldn’t bring myself to take that step. Not yet. I didn’t think badly of the women who made their living that way, but I didn’t think I could do it.

An auto repair shop was just a few more steps away, with a large enough doorway that Caleb and I could hide in the shadows and get some sleep. I checked the hours on the window and saw it wouldn’t be open for at least five more hours, which meant I could rest a little. I’d learned to sleep lightly, so that I’d wake up at the first sign of trouble, or whenever Caleb stirred. I was always scared I’d sleep so hard that he’d wander off and I’d never see him again. Hunkering down into the corner of the doorway, I settled Caleb on my lap and used my backpack as a pillow. My son snuggled against me and closed his eyes.

I didn’t think I’d been asleep for more than an hour when I heard a loud rumble. My eyes opened as a single headlight focused on us, making it hard for me to see. I held a hand up to my face, and shielded Caleb with the other. The light stayed on, but I could barely make out a shadowy figure dismounting from what I’d figured out was a motorcycle. The man approached and loomed over us.

“This is private property,” he said, his voice deep and raspy.

“I’m sorry. We’ll go,” I said, struggling to stand.

I could feel his gaze raking over me. I managed to get to my feet without stumbling, got my backpack straps over my shoulders, then hefted Caleb into my arms.

“Where are you going to go?” he asked.

“Doesn’t matter. I’m sorry we trespassed,” I said. I hitched my backpack a little higher over my shoulder and clutched Caleb to me. I tried to step around the large man, but he reached out and placed a hand on my shoulder.

I froze under that touch, tensing and waiting to see what would happen. Is this where he offered me a place to sleep in exchange for the use of my body? Wouldn’t be the first time I’d had that offer made to me, and I doubted it would be the last. I would do anything for my baby to have a place to rest and food to eat, or nearly anything. We’d struggled and things were bad, but I didn’t think I could handle having strange men touch me. Not after Caleb’s dad, or more like sperm donor. I didn’t think he would come after Caleb, even if he knew my baby existed, but I’d decided not to take any chances. Thankfully, I hadn’t seen him since we’d left. For all I knew, he wasn’t even in town anymore.

“Christ, you don’t even look old enough to have a kid,” he muttered.

My chin raised a notch. “I’m nineteen. Well, almost nineteen. Not that it’s any business of yours.”

I saw a flash of white teeth as he smiled in the darkness. “All grown up then, aren’t you? Eighteen, nearly nineteen, and think you know everything I bet. Why are you sleeping in the doorway of my business?”

I glanced behind me before facing him again. “I told you we didn’t mean to trespass.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“We didn’t have anywhere else to go,” I admitted softly, my arms tightening around my son.

“There’s a lot of expensive equipment in there. Going to steal anything?” he asked.

I felt fire ignite inside me and I clenched my teeth a moment. I might be broke, but I wasn’t a thief!

“No!”

“Come on.” He walked up to the doorway I’d just vacated, then he unlocked the front door and pushed it open.

I hesitated. I didn’t know if I could trust him, and figured my chances were better out here in the open than inside, but what if he was going to offer food for Caleb? Or maybe there was a couch in the waiting room and he’d let my baby rest there for an hour or two. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, but at the first sign he was going to be a perv, I was out of there.

I stepped inside as he flipped on the lights, and I blinked at how bright they were. There was a beat-up leather couch with duct tape holding it together, and a scarred table with a few magazines on top. But the man didn’t stop in the front room. He kept going, so I followed at a slight distance. If I needed to run, I wanted a head start.

He entered a small, cluttered office and turned on a lamp. It glowed softly, the light dim, but there was a huge couch on one wall that looked a little too inviting with its overstuffed arms. It was leather, but unlike the one out front, it didn’t have so much as a scratch on it that I could see. The man pulled a blanket off the back and motioned toward the couch.

“You can rest here a while. I can either lock you in and reset the alarm, or I can stay until you’ve had a chance to rest. I’ll leave it up to you. But know that if you steal so much as one thing, I will track you down,” the man said.

I focused on him and noticed he wore one of those black leather vests I’d seen the local bikers wearing. Scratch — VP was stitched on the front. He was an older man, a bit of gray at his temples and in his beard. I was horrible at guessing ages, but if I had to, I’d place him in his late forties or early fifties. He had the kind of eyes that looked like they had seen far too much, like he’d fought wars I could only imagine but was still standing. He was strong, his muscles stretching the sleeves of the T-shirt he wore, and his jeans encased muscular thighs. He could easily overpower me, and yet he hadn’t come close to me since grabbing my shoulder earlier.

“You can lock us in,” I said. “We won’t take anything.”

He nodded and looked at Caleb, who was yawning on my shoulder.

“When’s the last time the two of you ate?” he asked. “And I mean real food, not something you’ve scrounged from somewhere.”

More from Harley at Changeling Press …

International Best Selling Author!

Short. Erotic. Sweet. Harley’s other half would probably say those words describe her, but they also describe her books. When Harley is writing, her motto is the hotter the better. Off the charts sex, commanding men, and the women who can’t deny them. If you want men who talk dirty, are sexy as hell, and take what they want, then you’ve come to the right place.

Where to find Harley Wylde…

Harley’s Website

Harley on Twitter

Harley on Facebook

 

 

RENEGADE (Devil’s Boneyard MC) by Harley Wylde #MCromance #bikerbooks #BIKERS #NewAdult #singlemom #NewRelease #preorder @HarleyW_Writer @changelingpress

 

Renegade (Devil’s Boneyard MC)

by Harley Wylde

Publisher: Changeling Press

Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Darby: At fifteen, I thought I knew everything. Having been in foster care all my life, not much scared me. I’d already faced monsters parading around as upstanding citizens. But life hadn’t prepared me for a biker who would lure me in, kidnap me, and abuse me for five years. I got Fawn out of it, my precious girl, and a lot of bad memories. Being tossed into a dumpster and left to die wasn’t at the top of my list, but Renegade found me. I’ve never had a man be kind to me or my daughter before — especially not a biker — and I’m not sure what to think. I want to trust him, but I don’t want to give him my heart only to have him turn out like every other man I’ve ever known. It would break me.

Renegade: I lost my family a long time ago, and I vowed I’d never have another. I still have Nikki, my baby sis, and that’s enough. My club is a family, but that’s different. I trust them, and in my own way I love them, but it’s not the same as having a wife and kids. I’ll never go down that path. Then I found Fawn and her mother, Darby, thrown away like unwanted trash. Yeah, Fate’s laughing her ass off right now. They’re in my home, and slowly worming their way under my skin. Hearing their story is enough to make my blood boil and send rage flooding through me. I’ll exact revenge for all they’ve suffered, and then they’ll truly be free, able to move on without fear of being taken again. Except… I might not want to let them go.

WARNING: This story contains violence, bad language, and really hot sex. While there are abuse themes, nothing is told in great detail.

 

BUY LINKS
Amazon (Universal): http://mybook.to/RenegadeDBMC

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/renegade/id1477846416

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/renegade-109

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/renegade-harley-wylde/1133186518

 

Available at Changeling Press on September 6th (around 9am EST):

https://www.changelingpress.com/renegade-devil-s-boneyard-mc-6-b-2921

 

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EXCERPT
© 2019, Harley Wylde

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

I fucking hated this time of year. The pumpkins and shit didn’t bother me, it was more the memories attached to the month of October that got to me. Today especially. My parents and brother had been gone for fourteen years but time didn’t make the pain lessen any, which was why I was at the liquor store restocking my beer, rum, and picking up a bottle of vodka. Time didn’t heal all wounds, but at least alcohol would numb me enough to make it through to tomorrow. I knew my sister, Nikki, still had trouble with this day as well, but she’d suffer on her own or with friends. I didn’t see her as often as I’d like, but I tried to keep her away from the club. She garnered too much interest when she came around, and I didn’t want to beat on my brothers.

I set the items on the counter and the woman popped her gum and held out her hand. I took out my wallet and pulled out a few twenties, but she shook her head.

“ID.”

“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” I demanded. “I’m forty-four years old and I don’t look old enough to buy this shit?”

“Sorry. I don’t make the rules.” She pointed to the sign behind her. We have the right to refuse service for any reason. ID will be required for all purchases.

I growled as I jerked my license from my wallet and threw it on the counter. The last thing I needed right now was someone hassling me over my purchase. It wasn’t the first time I’d been carded and wouldn’t be the last, I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with it right now. While it was the law to card everyone, I’d noticed none of my brothers who actually looked their age ever dealt with this shit.

The woman looked at the ID, scratched at the surface, and gave me one of those disbelieving looks.

“It’s not a fake,” I said. “Who the fuck fakes the age of forty-four?”

My mother had once said that there would come a time I would like looking younger than my actual years. So far, that hadn’t proven true. It was fucking annoying.

She handed the license back and took my money, then rang up the alcohol. By the time I was walking out of the store, I was livid, but I knew it wasn’t really the woman’s fault. She’d been doing her job and not intentionally hassling me. It was just this shitty day. I’d brought my truck, knowing what I wanted to buy wouldn’t fit in the saddlebags on my bike, and stashed the rum, vodka and two cases of beer in the back seat, then pulled a can from one of the boxes. Before I could pop the top, a sound drew my attention. A scuff or scratching noise. I set the beer down and slowly crept toward the side of the building, pausing at the corner. Might just be a stray scrounging for food, or it could be trouble. A liquor store at night had a tendency to draw in the bad elements. Wouldn’t be the first time the place had been robbed, or someone had been held up in the parking lot.

There was a shuffle and something kicked a can. Dog? I listened harder and heard what sounded like a human’s footsteps. I reached for the gun at the small of my back, pulling it before I edged around the building, my finger on the trigger guard of my Sig. Very little light pierced the darkness, but I saw a small shadow moving. It wasn’t very big. I didn’t know if I was about to be ambushed by someone trying to hide themselves, or if there was actually someone in need of help. Moving in closer, my heart nearly stopped when I saw the dirty face of a little girl. Long, red hair hung in a tangle down her back, and I noticed her feet were bare. A quick glance didn’t show anyone else in the area, but I was hesitant to put away my weapon. Wouldn’t be the first time some asshole used a kid to lure in a victim.

“Is your mom or dad here?” I asked, trying to keep my tone as non-threatening as possible.

The little girl pointed to the dumpster and began walking that way. She stopped in front of it and lifted a hand to the opening on top. I braced myself in case someone leapt from inside to attack, but as I neared the metal container and peered inside, my breath stalled in my lungs. Holy shit!

“That your sister?” I asked the girl.

She shook her head.

“Your momma?” I asked again, barely believing the woman who was likely dead was old enough to be a mother. Then again, maybe she just aged really well. At first glance, I’d thought she was maybe sixteen or seventeen. Wouldn’t be the first time a kid had given birth, if she really was as young as she appeared, but I hoped that wasn’t the case. Kids should have a chance to be exactly that — kids.

The little girl nodded.

“All right. I’m going to put my gun away and I’m going to get your mom out of there. Can you step back so you don’t get hurt?”

She stared at me a moment before shuffling back a step, then another. It was eerie that she hadn’t said a word, but at least she’d obeyed. I climbed the side of the container and reached inside, pressing my fingers against the pulse point in the woman’s throat. I exhaled sharply when I realized she was still alive, and carefully extracted her. She shivered in my arms, her body barely covered except for the dried blood and bruises coating her skin. Her clothes were cut or ripped, exposing enough of her that I worried what might have happened to her. I hoped whatever asshole had done this to her would suffer.

“I’m going to get your mom some help. Can you follow me to my truck?” I asked the little girl.

She slowly approached and reached out to grip my jeans. She held on as I carried her mother to the front parking lot. The door to my truck was still ajar. If it weren’t for the club’s colors I’d added to my tailgate, someone likely would have boosted it. Most people around here didn’t want to fuck with the club and gave us a wide berth.

I balanced the woman as I shoved the alcohol to the floor, not even caring at this point if the damn vodka and rum busted other than the fumes it would create. Whatever these two had been through was far worse than the demons I fought on this day every year.

“Get in. I’m going to buckle your mom up front,” I told the little girl.

 

ABOUT HARLEY

 

HarleyWyldeShort. Erotic. Sweet. Harley’s other half would probably say those words describe her, but they also describe her books. When Harley is writing, her motto is the hotter the better. Off the charts sex, commanding men, and the women who can’t deny them. If you want men who talk dirty, are sexy as hell, and take what they want, then you’ve come to the right place.

Harley Wylde is the “wilder” side of award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith.

 

Website: http://harleywylde.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HarleyWylde

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/HarleyW_Writer

Harley at Changeling Press: https://www.changelingpress.com/harley-wylde-a-196

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Intergalactic Brides Vol. 2 by Jessica Coulter Smith #scifi #aliens #RomanceBooks #ebook #paperback @changelingpress

Intergalactic Brides Vol. 2 (Intergalactic Brides 20)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Karen Fox
Genres/Themes: Box Set, Futuristics, Sci-Fi, Alien Encounters, Alternate Universe,
Silver Fox, Single Parent/Pregnancy Romance

 

Three aliens intent on finding their mates. Three human women willing to risk everything for a chance at happiness…

Charlotte and the Alien Ambassador: When her father demands she take her sister’s place in a bride exchange on another world, Charlotte decides to embrace her future. She knows it’s her last chance to find happiness, and she’ll do anything to grab it with both hands. The ethereal woman who steps off the shuttle holds Borgoz spellbound. She’s everything he’s ever wanted, and the one thing he can never have.

Hazel and the Alien Biker: Kicked off his home world after losing his mate, Reyvor has made a place for himself on Earth, spending his nights cruising the streets on his Harley. But a commotion outside his motel room just may turn out to be his saving grace. Hazel is hesitant to trust anyone again, but Reyvor is determined to make her his. What’s an alien to do when all he wants is a loving family to call his own? He’ll break down her defenses one by one, until she melts against him and begs for his kiss. Can he claim the feisty Hazel and her three little girls without completely losing his heart?

Jacie and the Alien Bodyguard: Stupid. Careless. Jacie has called herself ten times a fool. Now she’s pregnant and alone. When a tall, sexy hunk of alien male meets her at the shuttle station on his world, Jacie feels the stirrings of desire — even though that’s what got her into this mess in the first place. But there’s something about Barimere that’s different, and she doesn’t mean the scars on his face.

An alien warrior intent on fighting his attraction. A human female determined to bring him to his knees. What could possibly go wrong?

 

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also available in paperback

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Jessica Coulter Smith
Excerpt from Charlotte and the Alien Ambassador

“Are you Charlotte Mayweather?” the male asked.

She nodded. “Why can I understand you and not anyone else?”

“I, along with quite a few other males on this planet, have learned your Earth English. However, to make sure you can understand everyone around you, I’m going to implant you with a translator. I’ll also implant you with a sensor that will allow you to make purchases on our world. When you select a mate, he will pay for whatever you buy between now and then. Once your mating is approved, you’ll be added to his accounts everywhere in Terran Prime.”

“Thank you for explaining how everything works. I’ve been a little lost.”

He frowned. “May I ask a personal question?”

She nodded.

“Your voice is different from anyone else I’ve encountered from Earth. Are you from a special region?”

“I’m deaf.” She pointed to her hearing aids. “These allow me to hear a little, but it’s like listening to someone talk under water. I don’t always catch everything. And, while it allows me to hear a little, I can’t always tell how loud I’m speaking.”

“Understood. Perhaps, after you’ve found a mate, they will permit me to run some tests and see if we can restore your hearing.”

“I was born deaf. My mother had preeclampsia when she was pregnant with me, and I was born early. Some of the bones inside my ear didn’t form correctly. A doctor tried to explain it to me once, but I didn’t understand the terms he used.”

The doctor nodded. “Well, we’ll take care of those implants today and if you decide you wish me to run tests later, then that’s what we’ll do.”

She meekly followed the doctor into a back room and stretched out on the table at his direction. He explained the procedure to her before giving her some gas to put her to sleep. When next she woke, her wrist and the back of her ear hurt a little, but otherwise she couldn’t tell she’d had anything done.

Charlotte found the other male pacing in the lobby.

“Can you understand me now?” he asked.

She nodded.

“I have a translator, so I understood everything you told the doctor. You’re not Charity Mayweather, are you?”

“Charity is my younger sister.”

The Terran’s face flushed with anger. “Your father lied to me. He said he was sending Charity here to find a husband, not her deaf older sister.”

She felt shame burn through her as she realized she was about to be cast aside again. Charlotte knew she should be accustomed to it by now but it still hurt, knowing she wasn’t good enough for yet one more man.

“If you send me back to Earth, I’ll be homeless,” she said. “My father said if I didn’t come here and find a husband, I would be thrown out of the house and all my accounts would be closed.”

The Terran muttered something, raked a hand through his waist-length hair, and then faced her with his hands on his hips. “I’m Chief Councilor Borgoz and you’ll be staying in my home. You may not be the sister I was expecting, but I’m not about to leave you stranded here. Especially with your condition.”

“I’m deaf, not stupid.”

The harshness of his face relaxed into an apologetic look. “I didn’t mean to imply that you were stupid, but there are many dangers on a new world for anyone, much less someone who can’t hear. I didn’t mean to make you feel unwanted or as if you were a burden.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time in my life I’ve felt that way.”

His gaze narrowed. “Your father made you feel unwanted?”

“And my sister. Be thankful she didn’t come in my place. She’s a spoiled, selfish brat who always has to get her way or she screams and throws things.” It felt good to be honest about her sister without fear of being punished. Everyone always treated Charity as if she was a princess, and Charlotte was tired of it.

“Right. Well, let’s get you settled. I’m sure you’ll want more things than what you brought with you. Once you’ve had a chance to put your belongings away, I’ll take you shopping for anything you had to leave behind.”

“I don’t need much. As long as you have something to wash with, I’ll be fine. I have enough clothes to last a week before I’ll have to do laundry.”

“An Earth week is seven days, correct?”

She nodded.

“A Terran week is eleven days. You’ll need more clothes. Things are different here on Terran. We don’t have machines in our homes to launder our clothes, and the shop in town that handles it is usually busy. You’ll want as many outfits as possible.”

He crooked his elbow and she curled her hand around it, watching as he hefted her bag as easily if it contained no more than feathers.

Charlotte tried to take in the scenery as they walked through Terran Prime. Borgoz explained that, while he had a vehicle to maneuver through the city, he thought she might like the walk to stretch her legs after such a long shuttle ride.

When they reached his home, her jaw dropped as she stared at the massive structure. She’d lived in a mansion all her life, but Borgoz’s home surpassed that of her father’s by a fourth floor and probably another twenty feet in width. She tried not to stumble over her feet as he led her up the stairs and into his home. Charlotte looked everywhere, not wanting to miss a thing.

Borgoz handed her bag to another male, and they followed him up the stairs to her room. It was twice the size of her bedroom at home with doors that opened onto a balcony overlooking a garden. It was gorgeous, and for the first time in her life she felt lucky. She was glad her father had sent her here, and had hope that her future would be bright and wonderful.

She turned from the fantastic view to find Borgoz studying her. Charlotte couldn’t guess his age. There were no wrinkles on his face, but the silver in his hair told her he was probably forty at the least. But then, she didn’t know how Terrans aged. For all she knew, he was pushing seventy like the vile old man her father had tried to force her to marry.

Borgoz was a handsome man. His purple eyes were dark like a pansy and quite beautiful. Those eyes were taking her in, and she wondered if he found her lacking like everyone else in her life. If she’d known she was coming to a palace, she may have dressed a little nicer for her trip. She tugged on the hem of her tank and wondered if she should change clothes before going shopping with him. He was being kind enough to give her a place to stay, the least she could do was not embarrass him in front of his people.

“I’ll come back in thirty of your Earth minutes to see if you’ve finished unpacking. If you’re hungry, we can stop for a bite to eat while we’re out and then go shopping. Don’t hesitate to ask for anything you need. If you can’t find me, Helio will help you,” he said, indicating the other male.

“Thank you.”

Borgoz gave her a regal nod and then he exited with his servant.

Left alone, she quickly unpacked and changed into a pretty sundress so she would be appropriately attired for an outing with someone so important, then she spent the rest of her time admiring the view. Charlotte hoped she’d get a chance to walk through that garden and admire the petals of the vibrant flowers close up. This world was amazing and full of new and wonderful things. She couldn’t wait to explore as much of it as she was allowed.

 

More from Jessica Coulter Smith…

 

Cowboy (Bad Boy Romance) by Harley Wylde #MCromance #bikerbooks #RomanceBooks #NewRelease @changelingpress @HarleyW_Writer

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Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres/Themes: Contemporary Romance, Western, Second Chance Romance,
MC Romance, Silver Fox, Single Parent/Pregnancy Romance

 

Jacey’s my everything, and I will do anything to keep her safe.
Even go back to the Dixie Reapers.

 

Jacey: Marrying Beck was a mistake, one I can’t get away from no matter how much time passes. I can’t leave him. It’s not just that running might cost me my life. I have no idea what he would do to the kids if I weren’t here to protect them. I can’t leave them vulnerable to a monster like him. I’ve never once strayed from Beck, even when he’s broken bones and done unspeakable things to me. My life is one never-ending horror movie. But now I have Ty… he’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a man, and I’m not sure I’m strong enough to walk away.

Ty: The beautiful, sweet mom who comes to my ranch has a haunted look in her eyes that I want to chase away, and bruises she tries damn hard to hide. Kissing her might have been a mistake, but maybe it wasn’t. I’ve wanted Jacey Lane since the day I first saw her, and knowing her husband abuses her just infuriates me. Ty the cowboy might not be able to do much of anything, but Cowboy the Dixie Reaper sure as hell can. If keeping Jacey safe means I need to go home, then so be it. My brothers will stand beside me and help me guarantee that Beck Lane never draws another breath.

WARNING: Domestic and sexual abuse are mentioned. There’s some violence. And yes, there’s sex. Lots of consensual, hot, over the top sex. If you aren’t up for a romance that deals with the darker side of life and will steam up your e-reader, then you should give this book a hard pass.

 

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EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Harley Wylde

Jacey

His lips were warm and firm against mine. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d truly been kissed, and I’d never had a kiss as memorable as this one. The feel of Ty’s arms around me, his strength, made me want to melt against him. His tongue flicked against my bottom lip and I opened, letting him in, needing to taste him. Ty fisted his hand in my hair, not tight enough to hurt but just enough that it turned me on.

I hadn’t felt desire for anyone in a really long time, or had anyone desire me. His mouth devoured mine as he walked me backward until I pressed against the wall. I could feel the hard ridge of his cock as he pushed his hips tighter against me, and my panties grew damp. I wanted to rub against him, to beg for more. I hated to admit that I’d never had an orgasm, not even self-induced. How pathetic was that?

But I had to put a stop to it. This. Whatever it was. What we were doing wasn’t right, no matter how much I wished it could continue. I’d let things go too far, and I knew it. My only excuse was that Beck had been in rare form last night, even worse than usual. I lived with a monster, a man who made me do horrible things and wouldn’t hesitate to end my life. I was terrified of him, with good reason, and I was trapped in a nightmare. Just once, I wanted a moment of happiness. A few minutes where I was desired and treated with care. Didn’t make it any less wrong, but I could never regret this moment with Ty. I’d gladly burn in the eternal fires of hell for just this one taste of Ty, to have him hold me just once.

Pulling away, I placed a hand on his chest. His heart was thumping every bit as hard as mine. It was the first time we’d crossed the line, and it would have to be the last. My heart ached as I fought to say the words that would bring it to an end. I wanted him, more than just physically, but I knew it could never happen.

“Ty, we can’t.”

“I know, but I couldn’t resist anymore. Do you know how long I’ve wanted to kiss you?” He moved his thumb in a slow caress along my jaw. “Ever since our eyes met that first time, I knew you were special.”

“I’m married, Ty.”

He snorted and ran a hand through his hair. “I’ve met your husband. You can do better. And I honestly wouldn’t call what you have a marriage. More like a hostage situation. You and I both know you’re just too scared to leave him.”

“Be that as it may, we’ve been married for twelve years. We have two kids! It’s not like I can just walk out.” I knew it was a feeble attempt at putting things back to friendship level. Guilt ate at me. Even though I didn’t love Beck anymore, hadn’t for a long time, I was still a married woman. At least on paper. I hadn’t had a true marriage with Beck in a really long time, if ever. What Ty said was true. I was scared shitless to leave the monster I’d married. I’d tried it before and paid dearly. I wasn’t sure I’d survive the next attempt.

“That isn’t a good enough reason to stay married, Jacey. You were only eighteen when you met Beck, just out of high school. People change. I know you aren’t the same, though I have my doubts Beck was ever anything other than rotten to the core, and it’s time you moved on. You can’t tell me you’re happy with him.”

I knew the feelings I’d been developing for Ty were wrong. At least, by society’s standards they were. In my heart, I knew that the love I felt growing for Ty could never be anything but incredibly right. He was just so sweet… so good to me. Far different from the way Beck treated me. There were times I’d close my eyes and imagine what life would be like if Ty were my husband and not Beck. It was the only way I could stay sane, to take a trip to another world, even if it was only in my mind. A place where the man lying next to me loved me and treated me right. Not someone who left bruises and humiliated me. No one knew about the pictures and videos. Or I didn’t think they did. It was stupid to daydream about a life with Ty maybe, but it helped.

His jaw firmed. “I’ve seen the bruises. I know you try to hide them, but I don’t understand why. He should be in jail. Men like him don’t stop with one hit, Jacey. If he’s done it once, he’ll keep doing it.”

Ty was right and I knew it, but that didn’t change the fact that I was legally married, and I couldn’t afford a divorce anytime soon. And it wasn’t just the bruises. Beck’s depravity went way deeper. Regardless of how it looked, I stayed to protect my children. Beck had threatened to take the kids if we ever split up. I was sure he’d do it, too. To the rest of the world, he was a hero, the type of man you could count on and call in an emergency. That’s the Beck the public saw. No one knew what he was like behind closed doors. I knew a very different Beck. I knew the monster. The man who would make his wife pose naked so he could sell the pictures online, minus my face of course. Couldn’t have anyone finding out what he was up to. I’d refused once, and only once. I hadn’t been able to leave the house for nearly a week he’d beaten me so badly. After that, he’d started taking videos and selling them. I was beyond humiliated. It was one thing to do that sort of thing because you wanted to, and another to have it forced on you, and by the man who was supposed to love and cherish you.

“Please understand, Ty. There’s nothing I can do right now.”

Or ever, for that matter. If I tried to leave, he’d haul me back and beat me again. Maybe next time he’d kill me. Then my kids wouldn’t stand a chance. At least I could do my best to shield them when Beck went into one of his rages, which happened more and more frequently. And as long as he had me to pose for his little side business, then I didn’t have to worry about him using our kids. I didn’t think for one second that he loved our daughter and son. I wasn’t sure Beck was even capable of the emotion. Whatever mental issues caused his problems, they were getting worse and I worried that he’d be completely unstable soon. Not that he’d admit he had a problem, and he’d somehow lied his way through the psych evaluation for the department.

Ty sighed. “You know I love Jackson and Danica like they were my own. It eats at me knowing the three of you are with that asshole.”

I smiled. Ty was amazing with my kids, and not just because he spoiled them rotten. He had befriended them, and had even let the kids ride the stable mounts free of charge. Both of my children had fallen in love with horses, just like I had as a little girl. And I worried they were falling a little in love with Ty too, much like their mom.

“Those kids took to riding like ducks to water. They earn their keep, helping with the horses. Hell, I wouldn’t charge you for Reaper, but I know you wouldn’t accept my offer.”

I looked away, feeling a flash of insecurity. Money was a touchy subject for me. Beck gave me enough to cover the stable fees for Reaper each month, and to buy groceries. Honestly, I didn’t know why he let me keep Reaper, except it made him seem like a doting husband. If I needed clothes or shoes, I practically had to beg for them. He always seemed to have plenty of money for whatever he wanted, though. Like a new gun, a night of partying with his friends, or anything else that struck his fancy. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if he bought some time with prostitutes, although I didn’t know why when he’d just take whatever he wanted from me. He didn’t know that I asked my doctor to test me regularly for STDs in case Beck gave me something. After Jackson was born, I’d also been sneaking birth control so I wouldn’t get pregnant again.

“I should be paying you for their riding lessons,” I said.

“I don’t want your money, babe. If I need more money, I’ll go back on the circuit.”

“Do you think I want to see you get hurt?” I cupped his cheek, moving in close again. His crisp, clean scent teased my nose, and I wished I could burrow into him. When his arms had been around me, it was the safest I’d felt in a long time. I’d give anything to feel that every day…

More about Harley…

 

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

 

Scorpio (Blood Moon MC) by Ashlynn Monroe #MCromance #bikerromance #singleparent #RomanceBooks @changelingpress @ashlynn_monroe

 

It’s way too comfortable having Scorpio and his sweet baby girl around.
How can I ever let them go?…

 

Scorpio (Blood Moon MC 1)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres/Themes: Action Adventure, Contemporary, 2nd Chance Romance,
MC romance, Single Parent/Pregnancy Romance

 

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Scorpio: I grew up in foster homes, and I promised myself once I became a man I’d always be in charge of my own fate. One female changed all of that — and I had to change her diapers! I never planned on raising a daughter, but the stripper I knocked up last summer never told me she was pregnant until she dropped off my kid at the club. Thank God the president’s hot goddaughter is great with kids. But I’m starting to care way too much about Rami and her cobbled-together family. When my being there puts them in danger, I have to make some hard decisions.

Rami: Being a single mom to my own little boy is hard, but when a biker from my brother’s MC needs help with a newborn, I can’t turn him away. Family is the most important thing in my world. I learned a long time ago loving a biker isn’t easy. Trouble is, it’s way too comfortable having Scorpio around! How can I ever let him and his sweet baby girl go?

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Ashlynn Monroe

By the time I made it back to the club it was almost dark. My heart leapt with a quick, painful thump of panic. I took the stairs two at a time. My brow furrowed, but I tried to keep my face neutral. I didn’t want my brothers to think I didn’t trust them with my kid, but I didn’t.

I shouldn’t have rushed off after Brandy, or whoever she really was. I should have focused on the baby. Worry gnawed in my belly when I opened the door and saw Rooster sitting at a table pouring himself shots.

“Where’s the kid?” I’d failed not to sound enraged. The old guy had promised me he’d look after her.

Rooster chuckled. “Don’t worry. The baby’s in good hands. She’s with Youngster’s sister. Best damn lady I can think of to watch over the little thing.”

I tried to remember Youngster having a sister. The memory of the angelic blonde mourning her father came to mind. “Blonde and pretty? Right?”

“Sure is, not as blonde these days, but a looker. She was Cat Man’s only daughter and he protected her. No one disrespected her. When her daddy got shot, I promised him I’d look out for her and I’ve been keeping tabs on her all these years. When I say you should trust her — trust her.”

I nodded. “Okay, but the mother skipped town. What do I do now?”

“Baby Girl’s got a job and needs you to pick up the kid, so pick up your kid. After that, it’s up to you. Just take the kid to a hospital or something and tell them the mother dumped her here. Lie, say the father isn’t in our club and none of us know where to find him. They’ll get the kid somewhere safe.”

I shuddered. Somewhere safe was not always somewhere a kid would want to grow up. Maybe things had changed, and a nice family waited to give the baby love, but the possibility of what I’d gone through happening to the baby gave me pause. I had my hand on the door handle all ready, steps away from getting the kid, giving her up, and forgetting today ever happened, but I froze. My feet felt like they’d grown roots into the floor.

“What is Baby Girl’s real name?” I hoped Rooster remembered it.

“Rami. Rami Jones. She’s a hell of a special woman, more than fender fluff, and you treat her with respect when you show up at her door or I’ll kick your ass.”

I didn’t let the old guy see my grin. “Noted, duly noted.” Rami Jones had to be a hell of a woman for this old guy to be so protective of her. I hoped she’d been kind to my daughter. My throat tightened. My daughter. Those words blew my mind. I was barely capable of taking care of myself. How would I handle a baby?

Rooster was right. I needed to take her to a hospital or the police department. She’d be safer with professionals. No matter how sensible that seemed, the idea of leaving the baby with a stranger hurt. I’d never had a family, but it felt wrong to do that to another person.

* * *

Rami

I peeked out through the peep hole when I heard the knock on the door. Leather and tattoos? This had to be the father. He was a Blood Moon, so I opened the door. “Hello.”

“Hey, are you Baby Girl — Rami Jones?”

“I am. You the dad? Scorpio?”

“I am.”

This was awkward as fuck. I didn’t want to hand Nicola to a stranger, but I had no authority to keep her. “What do you plan to do?” I still hadn’t opened the door all the way. The chain remained in place.

The guy was hot, strong, I tried not to stare at his tattooed muscular arms. My mouth went dry despite my knowing better. Yes, if it wasn’t for my vibrator, I’d be celibate. But a biker was the last thing I needed.

“Lady listen, thanks, but I got this. Let me in.” He paused. “Please.”

I stood there with my hand on the lock and indecision in my heart. Sighing, I slid the chain and opened the door. “Come in.”

Scorpio filled the small entry way with his massive body. I’m curvy and average height, so feeling small was totally weird. “Where is she?”

 

Scratch (Devil’s Boneyard MC) Now Available! #NewRelease #MCromance #NewAdult #OlderHero #MayDecember @changelingpress @HarleyW_Writer

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Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genre(s): Guilty Pleasures
Theme(s): MC Romance, New Adult, Silver Fox

 

He just wanted to give the struggling single mom a hand up.
He never thought he’d fall for her.

Clarity — I’ve been on my own since I was sixteen, and I’ve fought tooth and nail to make a life for myself and the son I never planned to have. Caleb is my entire world, despite the circumstances of his birth. Being homeless a second time certainly hadn’t been in my life plans, so when a gruff yet sexy biker offers a bit of help, how can I possibly say no? Doesn’t hurt that the older man is easy on the eyes, and he’s so good with Caleb. I’d thought I wasn’t able to trust anyone ever again, but looking into his eyes, I know deep down he’d never hurt us. It just never occurred to me that I’d fall completely in love with him.

Scratch — The young woman and kid I find sleeping outside my club’s chop shop make me feel things I shouldn’t. Hell, she’s younger than my damn daughter, but it’s obvious she’s been to hell and back, and she’s still fighting. There’s fire in her soul, but the gentle way she treats her son leaves me wanting things I shouldn’t. Like a new chance at a family. What the hell would she want with a man thirty years older than her? When I took her home with me, I never counted on wanting to keep her. I’ll slay her demons, bury the monsters from her past, and then I’ll do the one thing I thought I’d never do… claim an old lady, then make her my wife.

WARNING: Contains anal sex, bad language, and scorching hot scenes between an older man and much younger woman. There are abuse themes that may make some people uncomfortable.

 

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All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2018 Harley Wylde

I had no one. My mom had died when I was two, and when my dad remarried, he’d chosen a woman who liked to pretend I didn’t exist. Soon enough, my dad decided I didn’t exist either. Once his new kids starting popping out every few years, I was pushed to the side, and eventually I left. I’d been sixteen when I’d hit the streets, and no one had come looking for me. I was sure that my dad was relieved I was gone. It hurt, but crying over it wouldn’t change anything.

I’d thought I was doing okay when I found a man about five years older than me who offered me a place to sleep and help getting a job. I should have known not to trust him. Things had been fine for a while, but then he’d started asking to be repaid for his kindness. Blowjobs mostly, except for the night he was high on who knows what and decided to take more than I was willing to give. Caleb was the result of that night. Once I’d found out I was pregnant, I’d taken off. Even though the man hadn’t touched me again, I hadn’t wanted to take any chances.

A women’s shelter had helped at first, even found me a job and a place to live. Things had been going pretty well, until two months ago. The little thrift store where I’d been working shut down without notice. I’d had enough in the bank to keep our tiny apartment for another month, and then the money had run out and I hadn’t been able to get another job. So we slept where we could, ate what we could, and just tried to survive.

The church over on Pine Avenue would let me take a shower and would give me a dress out of the donations to wear for interviews, and the nice lady who worked in the church office would watch Caleb for me. I’d applied to every place in town that was hiring, and no one had wanted me. Our situation was bleak, but as long as we had each other, then I’d keep fighting. If Caleb weren’t with me, I might have given up by now. Or decided to join the ladies who worked the street corner on the other end of town. But I’d been a virgin when Caleb’s dad had raped me, and I couldn’t bring myself to take that step. Not yet. I didn’t think badly of the women who made their living that way, but I didn’t think I could do it.

An auto repair shop was just a few more steps away, with a large enough doorway that Caleb and I could hide in the shadows and get some sleep. I checked the hours on the window and saw it wouldn’t be open for at least five more hours, which meant I could rest a little. I’d learned to sleep lightly, so that I’d wake up at the first sign of trouble, or whenever Caleb stirred. I was always scared I’d sleep so hard that he’d wander off and I’d never see him again. Hunkering down into the corner of the doorway, I settled Caleb on my lap and used my backpack as a pillow. My son snuggled against me and closed his eyes.

I didn’t think I’d been asleep for more than an hour when I heard a loud rumble. My eyes opened as a single headlight focused on us, making it hard for me to see. I held a hand up to my face, and shielded Caleb with the other. The light stayed on, but I could barely make out a shadowy figure dismounting from what I’d figured out was a motorcycle. The man approached and loomed over us.

“This is private property,” he said, his voice deep and raspy.

“I’m sorry. We’ll go,” I said, struggling to stand.

I could feel his gaze raking over me. I managed to get to my feet without stumbling, got my backpack straps over my shoulders, then hefted Caleb into my arms.

“Where are you going to go?” he asked.

“Doesn’t matter. I’m sorry we trespassed,” I said. I hitched my backpack a little higher over my shoulder and clutched Caleb to me. I tried to step around the large man, but he reached out and placed a hand on my shoulder.

I froze under that touch, tensing and waiting to see what would happen. Is this where he offered me a place to sleep in exchange for the use of my body? Wouldn’t be the first time I’d had that offer made to me, and I doubted it would be the last. I would do anything for my baby to have a place to rest and food to eat, or nearly anything. We’d struggled and things were bad, but I didn’t think I could handle having strange men touch me. Not after Caleb’s dad, or more like sperm donor. I didn’t think he would come after Caleb, even if he knew my baby existed, but I’d decided not to take any chances. Thankfully, I hadn’t seen him since we’d left. For all I knew, he wasn’t even in town anymore.

“Christ, you don’t even look old enough to have a kid,” he muttered.

My chin raised a notch. “I’m nineteen. Well, almost nineteen. Not that it’s any business of yours.”

I saw a flash of white teeth as he smiled in the darkness. “All grown up then, aren’t you? Eighteen, nearly nineteen, and think you know everything I bet. Why are you sleeping in the doorway of my business?”

I glanced behind me before facing him again. “I told you we didn’t mean to trespass.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“We didn’t have anywhere else to go,” I admitted softly, my arms tightening around my son.

“There’s a lot of expensive equipment in there. Going to steal anything?” he asked.

I felt fire ignite inside me and I clenched my teeth a moment. I might be broke, but I wasn’t a thief!

“No!”

“Come on.” He walked up to the doorway I’d just vacated, then he unlocked the front door and pushed it open.

I hesitated. I didn’t know if I could trust him, and figured my chances were better out here in the open than inside, but what if he was going to offer food for Caleb? Or maybe there was a couch in the waiting room and he’d let my baby rest there for an hour or two. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, but at the first sign he was going to be a perv, I was out of there.

I stepped inside as he flipped on the lights, and I blinked at how bright they were. There was a beat-up leather couch with duct tape holding it together, and a scarred table with a few magazines on top. But the man didn’t stop in the front room. He kept going, so I followed at a slight distance. If I needed to run, I wanted a head start.

He entered a small, cluttered office and turned on a lamp. It glowed softly, the light dim, but there was a huge couch on one wall that looked a little too inviting with its overstuffed arms. It was leather, but unlike the one out front, it didn’t have so much as a scratch on it that I could see. The man pulled a blanket off the back and motioned toward the couch.

“You can rest here a while. I can either lock you in and reset the alarm, or I can stay until you’ve had a chance to rest. I’ll leave it up to you. But know that if you steal so much as one thing, I will track you down,” the man said.

I focused on him and noticed he wore one of those black leather vests I’d seen the local bikers wearing. Scratch — VP was stitched on the front. He was an older man, a bit of gray at his temples and in his beard. I was horrible at guessing ages, but if I had to, I’d place him in his late forties or early fifties. He had the kind of eyes that looked like they had seen far too much, like he’d fought wars I could only imagine but was still standing. He was strong, his muscles stretching the sleeves of the T-shirt he wore, and his jeans encased muscular thighs. He could easily overpower me, and yet he hadn’t come close to me since grabbing my shoulder earlier.

“You can lock us in,” I said. “We won’t take anything.”

He nodded and looked at Caleb, who was yawning on my shoulder.

“When’s the last time the two of you ate?” he asked. “And I mean real food, not something you’ve scrounged from somewhere.”

 

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