Welcome to the book tour for A Town Called Why by author Rick Lenz. Read on for more info and grab a copy today!
A Town Called Why
Publication Date: February 21, 2023
Genre: Mystery/ Suspense/ Private Detective
Simple justice or an eye for an eye? Half-Apache cop confronts pure evil.
Colleagues of Frank Gaines, a half-Apache, Arizona desert town police detective, know him as a courageous man. Gaines doubts that. He suspects he’s afraid of not behaving courageously. He goes into therapy. This creates a new problem: he is falling in love with his therapist, a striking, full-blooded Apache woman, Sunny Kacheenay, granddaughter of a great shaman, who has mystical gifts of her own.
A distant maternal relative of Gaines dies by shotgun blast. Against her own best professional instincts, Sunny is forced to tell Gaines that by ancient, ancestral law, his sacred duty is to find, torture and kill the murderer.
Jokingly, Gaines tells her it’s not the 1800s anymore.
Sunny doesn’t laugh.
In the process of trying to hunt down the most malignant villain Gaines has ever heard of, he begins to test his courage for real and to recognize his true feelings about life, love, and courage.
When Rick Lenz retired as a stage and film actor (playing opposite Ingrid Bergman, John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Walter Matthau, Peter Sellers, etc.), his passion for drama refused to retire with him. Although he was an actor most of his life, he is also a seasoned writer. His plays have been produced Off-Broadway, on PBS television, and in regional theatres across the country. Rick’s memoir North of Hollywood was called “masterful” by Writer’s Digest. His first novel, The Alexandrite was named “one of the best books of the year” by Kirkus Reviews. Bret Easton Ellis called it “almost impossible to put down.” Rick’s books have won several awards, including, Readers Views (first place), the Chanticleer Somerset Grand Prize for Literary, Contemporary and Mainstream Fiction, an IPPY Award, and a Foreword Book of the Year. Most recently, his time-travel love story Hello, Rest of My Life was a 2022 Silver Nautilus Book Award winner (fiction), and Eric Hoffer Award finalist (fiction). He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Linda and an ever-shifting array of animals.
Most prisoners believe their punishment is unfair, but for Ryan Tarkett, it’s true. While serving his sentence, an attack sets off a chain of events and forces Ryan to speed up the timeline on an insane escape plan. Spurring him on are memories of his past, his one love, who he met in juvie, and the driving desire for freedom. When Ryan believes he has nothing left to lose, escape from prison becomes the only option.
Ryan’s desperate journey isn’t easy as he tries to evade capture. Past regrets and confusion about his sexual orientation dog him as he deals with the loss of Thomas. When a stranger gives Ryan the chance at a new life, somewhere he might begin to feel safe, he may learn to trust again.
But in his mountain hideaway, Ryan feels as if he is being watched. Something lurks in the surrounding woods. Flashes of a figure give the impression he is being followed or, worse, hunted. Alone and lonely, Ryan fears he is losing his mind. When his new shadow seems intent on sticking around, Ryan starts to suspect this is no ordinary Wolf.
Prisoner is a different kind of love story, where a mystery waits to unfold.
Prisoner 793 lay on his cot in his cell, staring up at the rough joint that drew a harsh line across the concrete ceiling. His eyes traced the stone seam, and by now, he knew every bump and divot of the rugged line. Immeasurable minutes of his life had been spent with his eyes affixed on the thing while contemplating his time. Because of all he did not possess, other than a bundle of letters, this was something he had plenty of. Time there was measured in years still left to serve. Twelve down, and thirty-eight to go. Thirty-eight years to look forward to staring at that same ragged seam across the ceiling they hadn’t even taken the time to trowel smooth when they built this godforsaken prison.
His bed, this meager cot, with its navy-blue ticking, was a place he both hated and would defend to the death because it was his. Prisoner 793 had spent the better part of the last two years on this cot, and he would not let some new chester come in and try to take it. Hell, he wouldn’t let anyone take anything from him, and neither would his cellmate, who he internally called Big Bastard.
It was a place that 793 had earned, this thin bed on the top of the double bunk. Big Bastard had kept his bottom bunk with just a look, and he might have grunted once the first day a new, unwelcome prisoner was added to their cell. The new guy didn’t even consider it, tangling with the bigger man, so he’d looked above, to 793’s cot, to him, the lesser of the two evils in the room. Now, the new guy slept on the floor temporarily on a flat mat that kept him from freezing solid in the night. The surface was always cold, even cool-to-the-touch on nights in mid-August. They kept it cold in prison to keep men tamed.
During summer days, the floor just sweat, making everything smell worse than it already did. But this new man was there for something the warden liked to call “overcrowding,” and for the last three months, 793 had fought the same man. Clearly, the problem wasn’t going away. Not until the warden got the additional funding he’d been lobbying for to add yet another wing in this constant effort to house more men.
These floor mats had a crinkling, silver film that rustled every time one of the transfers shifted in their sleep or even took a breath. It had put Big Bastard in a foul mood for three straight months, and more than once, he’d huffed, gotten up, and kicked the shit out of the new prisoner who couldn’t be still or breathed in or out too loud. Big Bastard hated the guy. He either liked or simply tolerated 793, who hadn’t slept on a mat, not once. From the first day 793 had arrived at this medium-security prison, he’d handled business and secured his cot with his fists.
It was like anywhere. When you transferred into a new place, you started over. But before, at his first prison—a maximum-security federal penitentiary called Supermax, deep in the south of Louisiana—793 had fought and lost many times. With every loss, he’d slept on something less than desirable. It was there at Supermax that 793 began working out in his cell. When he’d earned privileges, he started lifting weights in the yard until he could fight with a properly placed fist, a fast elbow, and a debilitating knee. These were the skills required to win and keep the cot for himself. It had taken a few pretty good ass-whippings for him to figure out just how to fight—because fighting in prison was its own kind of animal.
This new inmate, Dean Harrold, had narrower eyes than most, hardened thin slits that seemed to always tell on him. Harrold had serious issues with authority and had killed his father during a domestic dispute. His father, who had worked high up in the government, had friends who hadn’t taken any mercy on his murderous son. Dean Harrold was a lifer with nothing left to lose. Harrold was a muscular guy, on the tall side, but he fought with his anger rather than any real skill. He was bigger than 793 but less than Big Bastard. Harrold was never satisfied with anything and constantly complained. He was entitled and mouthy, irritating, even to the guards. Dean Harrold was just a prick.
Big Bastard had already beat him with a shoe until Harrold understood he had to keep his trap shut. The beating had been insulting and demeaning, and Harrold simmered over it like a scorned woman as the shoe-shaped bruise darkened down his cheekbone. Big Bastard was currently in the hole for it, as Harrold had snitched, and the cell was quieter afterwards. Harrold continuously gave 793 the stink eye and made crude comments. This happened so often 793 would just get his eyes closed, and pop them back open as Harrold spouted off more of his hate. Harrold was pissed that 793 hadn’t tried to stop the beating.
“Useless mute,” Harrold had barked up at him.
Harrold was going to die in here; he was only a year older than 793, just twenty-eight, and would never be a free man again. He wasn’t lucky, but he hadn’t gotten the death penalty—the big bitch—so that was something. Still, 793 didn’t care for him.
But Harrold was here now, this last stop in life. He worked in janitorial services, and word was he might be moved out of their cell by the end of the week. Friday couldn’t come soon enough. Funny that he never attempted to sleep on Big Bastard’s cot while he was gone. He begrudgingly slept on the mat, most likely thinking 793 would rat. He wouldn’t have had to. Big Bastard would have known; he’d been there far too long for anyone to pull one over on him. Number 793 hoped Harrold would be gone by the time Big Bastard got back from the hole, and they could both get back to their somewhat normal peace and quiet.
GiGi DeGraham lives, plays, and learns in New Orleans. She is a proud southerner and enjoys fixing up old houses and writing. Most of her story and character ideas develop while sanding and painting. She loves to roller skate and has a favorite author-named cat called Irving, after Washington Irving. You’ll always find her with an audiobook in her ear and listening to everything narrated by Kirt Graves.
GiGi prefers the outdoors when the weather permits, going on rock and fossil hunts or visiting local rock shops. Otherwise, she’s clacking away at her keyboard until the wee hours. GiGi firmly believes downtime should be spent on a porch swing. GiGi is a life-long supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.
Determined to overcome the dark secrets she helped reveal three years ago
when she rescued a baby from a locked car and ran away, Xandra Byrd is now a
student in criminology at the local community college and an accepted part
of her biological family. Still, she struggles to escape the demons of her
dysfunctional childhood. But when the woman who helped put her family back
together is murdered, and she and her brother implicated in the crime,
Xandra must return to the dark side of human nature in search of a killer.
Will she solve the mystery and clear her name, or will she become the next
About the Author
J.E. Irvin is the author of five mystery/thriller novels, a two-time winner
of the Whodunit Award, and a member of SistersinCrime, Central Ohio Fiction
Writers, Buckeye Crime Writers, and the Ohio Writers Association. Irvin, her
husband, and their two cats reside on the edge of a nature park which serves
as inspiration for her work. For more about the author, check out http://www.janetirvin.com and sign up for her newsletter as well as updates on
future Byrd& Crowe mysteries.
What do you do when the legal system refuses to deliver justice?
Conducting her own investigations and trials, she’s out on the hunt,
righting wrongs in honor of the victims and their surviving families.
Outlaw revenge has its perils and she’s soon in the fight of her
Sometimes a killer’s own survivors also go on the hunt.
Having kicked their hornet’s nest, Izzy is desperate to take them
Does she have what it takes to battle off her own demons?
Can she stop those who want her dead?
About the Author
Greg Jolley earned a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San
Francisco and lives in the very small town of Ormond Beach, Florida. When
not writing, he researches historical crime, primarily those of the 1800s.
Or goes surfing.
A wave of gruesome executions in Shanghai cripples a top-secret CIA
operation in China and points to an informant who has been selling secrets
in Hong Kong. Jim Keenan, a handsome and ambitious prodigy at the CIA meets
Laura Bowman, a brilliant and alluring rising star inside the FBI’s
Counterintelligence Division. Together they set out to capture the informant
and are shocked to discover an Al-Qaeda plot against the United States
involving stolen nuclear weapons. An unlikely source divulges China’s
involvement in the plot, and in a frantic race against time, Agents Keenan
and Bowman must unearth what Beijing knows before it’s too late. Two if By
Sea is an electrifying international spy thriller that will leave the reader
intoxicated and asking for more.
About the Author
Peter Levesque is an international supply chain expert and author with more
than thirty years of experience living and working in the Asia Pacific
Region. He is the past Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong
Kong and currently serves on the Board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in
Washington, D.C. Levesque is the author of The Shipping Point, The Rise of
China, and the Future of Retail Supply Chain Management, and has been
featured on CNBC, BBC, Bloomberg, the New York Times, and the Wall Street
Journal. He resides in South Florida and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with his
wife, Lisa, and their three children.
Alex McKenna & Death Is Not The Beginning Vicki-Ann Bush
(Alex McKenna, #4)
Published by: Parliament House
Publication date: September 20th 2022
Genres: LGBTQ+, Paranormal, Suspense, Young Adult
In the fourth and final installment for the series, Alex faces his most difficult case yet—the school bully.
For two years Kyle tried to make Alex’s life even more complicated than it already is. Choosing to single him out for his psychic abilities and other life events, the angry teen took every chance he could to challenge Alex’s well-being.
Despite the constant insults, when the bully is murdered and comes to him for help, Alex sets aside the past to help a soul in need. Searching for the killer, Alex uncovers a truth that answers the question why he was the victim of Kyle negative attention, and the answers that will set them both free.
Alex glanced up to the hovering apparition and raised his chin slightly left toward the door. He hoped the spirit would follow, but instead, it quickly vanished, so he took the cue and let it go. Clasping Margaret’s hand, he ushered them from the store.
Outside, the fragrance of freshly cut grass and blossoming tulips tickled his nostrils. A perfect Spring day. The young couple had strolled the fifteen-minute walk into the small village at the center of Floral Park, taking advantage of the warmer climate.
“It’s super nice out.” Alex smiled.
“It is. I love Spring. Hey, what happened in there?” Margaret asked.
“What do you mean?”
“I thought you spotted something.”
“I did. But they didn’t want my help.”
“Huh. Did you get a good look at what it was?”
“I didn’t know them, but it was definitely an older man. I’d say somewhere around my gram’s age.” Alex glanced over his shoulder back at the store.
“How come?” Alex raised a brow.
“He’s in a drug store for eternity? Why? What keeps him there? Why doesn’t he cross over?”
“You sound like me.” Alex chuckled.
“Well, it was bound to rub off some time.” She lay her head on his shoulder.
“I’m just glad that’s over with.”
“I know.” Margaret gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
Rounding the corner at the end of the block stood a structure Alex struggled with for most of his seventeen years. Coming from a lineage of witches whose roots were planted in Italy, the paradoxical blend of spells and Catholicism baffled him. He chose to believe in spirituality, embracing his ancestors and calling on them in times of need.
Alex let Margaret’s hand slip through his fingers. Across the street, directly in front of the church, was a small park with a handful of benches. His gaze focused on the ornate stained glass adorning the round window above the sturdy oak doors. What the hell? Without care, he stepped into the road and in front of an oncoming car. Luckily, Margaret’s scream freed him from his trance in time for him to jump out of the way. A loud screech from the tires of the irate driver didn’t completely mask the language he yelled from the window.
Margaret rushed to his side and pulled Alex to a bench facing the building that had captivated his attention a few moments ago.
“What the hell?” Margaret slapped his arm.
“Sorry. I don’t know what came over me.” Alex glared at the church. “That’s not true.”
“Okay, spill.” Margaret scooted back and crossed her legs.
“Wait, where’s my bag?” Alex nervously looked around.
“Crap. It’s over there.” Margaret pointed to the asphalt.
“I’ll get it.” Alex motioned to stand.
“Oh, no you don’t. One near-death today is enough. I’ll get it. Stay here.”
Normally he’d argue the issue, but he didn’t trust himself either. The range of emotions creeping along his veins and occupying dread in his gut burned a volcano of doubt in his psyche.
Margaret halted at the sidewalk’s edge and turned her head from side to side before venturing into the middle of the road. She snatched up the bag and scurried back to the bench.
She stretched out her arm to hand the bag to Alex, “Thanks.”
“I’m just that kind of girlfriend. Risking life and limb for the guy I love.”
Alex rolled his eyes.
“Now, where were we? Oh, I remember, you were gonna tell me why you froze in the middle of the goddamn street.” Margaret knitted her brows.
“Once again—sorry. When I saw the church, I had a vision. The building was destroyed like a bomb or something had incinerated it. The darkness crept along the walls. It was like…a living thing.” Alex shuddered.
“Yup, just another day in the world of you.”
Originally from New York, Vicki-Ann currently resides in Nevada. Writing Young Adult paranormal, she finds inspiration from events that have been in her life for as long as she can remember. Inheriting her sensitivity to the supernatural from her family, they continue to be an endless source of vision.
She thinks she might be losing her mind…but she knows she’s losing her heart.
Poised. Elegant. Lovely. The local press loves to write glowing stories about Lana Fitzhugh, the youngest sibling and only sister of the famous Minnesota Fitzhugh family. But Lana’s past holds secrets, pain and shame…so much that she’s unworthy of a relationship with any good man, especially her brother Fitz’s close friend Mac. Keeping her distance from him is the right thing to do, so why can’t she stop thinking about him?
Finally settling into his first new job after long months of recovery from a severe injury, when Joe ‘Mac’ MacKenzie meets Lana Fitzhugh, the former Navy pilot thinks things might finally be looking up for him. His friend’s little sister is gorgeous, kind and makes his heart and body come alive again. But after they share an explosive embrace, she pushes him away so hard he’s still reeling.
When tragedy plunges Lana into the unexpected role of guardian to a preschooler, odd coincidences begin to happen…and grow increasingly more sinister. As Lana begins to fear that she herself might be the source of the danger, Mac doesn’t hesitate to return to help her. The only thing better than the joy they discover as a makeshift family is the passion they find in each other’s arms, but the unknown menace still grows closer every day. Will they be able to move beyond the past to grab for a future together?
“I have to admit that I’m impressed by how well you handled all the questions from the police about Brock Templeton,” Lana said grudgingly. Joe ‘Mac’ MacKenzie was already much too cocky, and his ego hardly needed any stroking. Watching him with the officers, though, had been like watching a master. She could easily see how he’d earned so many promotions and honors as a Navy pilot.
He shrugged, not taking his hands off the wheel, but the small smile he gave—and why couldn’t he be a little less handsome?—was self-satisfied. “It’s the accent,” he answered, really laying it on thick. “Like my daddy said, a Southern man tells the best jokes and is always welcome at any dinner table or gatherin’.”
She snorted, and not the usual elegant sniff that sometimes escaped but a full-on nasal rattling noise. “You sound like Tom Hanks’ cousin from the deeper South—like, the Mariana Trench of Alabama.”
“Oh, no, ma’am, not Alabama—perish the thought! My family’s pure Georgia. How did you guess I was from Mariana Trench, though?” he teased. “My granddaddy was mayor of Mariana Trench, as a matter of fact.”
She raised one skeptical eyebrow. “Matter of fact, eh?”
Her heart felt like it beat double-time at Mac’s charming grin, flashing like the Cheshire Cat’s as it was lit periodically by the streetlights they passed. Lana Fitzhugh, you of all people know better than to get your head turned by a handsome, charming man, she scolded herself. He’d shown himself to be overbearing, jealous and possessive when he’d fired one of the caterers on the spot earlier in the evening without even consulting her. But you didn’t disagree with his decision, the annoyingly honest voice in the back of her head forced her to acknowledge. The caterer had actually been making her uncomfortable, but it had been her problem to deal with, not Mac’s.
“Would I lie to such a stunning creature? You wound me, ma’am, straight to the core.” He pretended to be hit by a bolt to the heart, and she couldn’t help the burble of laughter that she tried to stifle. He was just so ridiculous. He was smart, funny and seemed truly dedicated to helping other men and women who’d recently left the service. Several times over the past few weeks as she’d worked closely with him to plan that night’s fundraiser, she’d found herself liking him in spite of her better judgment.
The party had been an unqualified success for the worthy veteran’s charity that Mac and Fitz, her second-oldest brother, had become very involved with. Well, she mentally amended, it was practically perfect until Brock Templeton, Fitz’s fiancée’s ex-boyfriend, made a scene, insulted Clara and drunkenly confessed to trying to cause her to ‘accidentally’ lose their baby. Brock had clammed up when they’d gotten to the police station, but, thank goodness, Mac had already recorded everything on his phone.
“I know that Fitz and Clara will really appreciate your getting the police to agree to take their statements tomorrow. They don’t like to leave baby Hope for too long,” she answered, sobered by the recollection of the night’s events.
“I’m certain they’ve checked in on Miss Hope, but I do believe they may be doing some, uh, private celebrating of their engagement, too—or, at least, on behalf of lonely single dudes everywhere, I hope they are. It’s not every day that a man gets the woman he loves to agree to marry him.” Mac’s voice was light, but there was something sad behind his tone, just below the surface.
“No…no, it’s not,” she agreed, snapping her mouth shut when she realized she sounded wistful. She had plenty to be grateful for, especially now that Fitz had returned to their lives, bringing the lovely Clara and Hope, shaking up the household and breaking their oldest brother, Drew, and Lana herself out of the cold, boring routines they’d fallen into. “Clara is just lovely—and Hope, too. I couldn’t be happier for them,” she enthused, perhaps a bit too heartily.
Mac quirked one side of his mouth up in a wry smile. “You’ve convinced me…but are you sure you’ve convinced yourself?”
His insight surprised her.
“I suppose you’re right…but please don’t think it’s about Clara, because she really is wonderful. I truly am happy for them.” She paused, forcing herself to be truthful. “Maybe a little envious, too. A long time ago—God, when I was so young and arrogant, self-assured to the point of naiveté and convinced of my own completely irresistible self—I made some really awful decisions.”
If he’d said anything, she probably wouldn’t have continued, but he remained silent, waiting.
“I ended up with a badly trampled heart—let’s call it pulverized instead of broken—and it cost me my best friend and years of my relationship with Fitz, too.” Suddenly uncomfortable with just how much she’d revealed, she gave a weak laugh. “I’m sorry I said that…burdened you with that. You didn’t ask for my life story.”
Mac touched his hand to her thigh for an instant before returning it to make a hard turn with the steering wheel. “Whatever happened, it sounds like you learned a lot from it, although I’m sorry it sounds like it caused you so much pain,” he replied in a low, earnest voice, so different from the light, teasing tones he usually used with her. “And, Lana, nothing you could ever tell me would be a burden,” he finished, clearing his throat. She wondered if he was equally uncomfortable with what she’d revealed.
Taking pity on him, she deliberately lightened the tone. “I bet you say that to all the young debutantes,” she answered. “Does it ever work?”
Mac’s laughter was a surprised bark. “Touché, Miss Fitzhugh. It might shock you to learn that I have, indeed, known my fair share of debutantes, including my two sisters.”
“Now, that is unexpected,” she agreed, although now that she pictured it, she could definitely see Mac all dressed up in a gray afternoon suit, flirting shamelessly and fetching lemonade for some pretty young thing. “Does that mean you can dance? You never asked me once tonight.”
They stopped at a signal so that his face was half in the light and half out, but the expression on the half she could see was distant. The silence between them became thick and uncomfortable. Lana knew she must have mis-stepped, but she wasn’t certain how.
“I don’t think I can dance anymore—or at least not like I used to,” he answered at last, his voice gruff. “I lost my right leg below the knee about eighteen months ago now.”
Lana sucked in a sharp breath. She’d known Mac and Fitz had met in a military hospital, and she’d noticed that Mac walked with a limp, but she’d never wanted to pry, figuring that Mac would tell her about his injury if he wanted her to know. She’d never imagined he’d lost part of his leg entirely.
“Horrified? Tempted to feel sorry for me?” Mac sounded defensive. “I’ve had to deal with just about every type of reaction.”
She touched his shoulder gently. “Nope, just surprised, since I didn’t know,” she answered quietly. “I can’t even begin to understand how difficult recovering from an injury like that would be, and I admire your charity work even more now.”
The enclosed space of the small front seat of the car felt suddenly intimate, especially so late at night, as if the two of them might be the only people awake in the city—or maybe in the world.
They pulled onto the long driveway—well, really a small, private lane—that led to the main house of her family’s compound—Fitzhugh’s Folly, as it was widely known, given how outrageously expensive and ostentatious it had been when her grandfather, Pat, had built it.
Tonight, it looked cavernous and dark…forlorn. Or maybe that’s just me, Lana thought, but recognizing the source of her melancholy didn’t make her feel better. Her oldest brother, Drew, had opted to stay at his high-rise apartment downtown to save time before his morning meeting. Her grandfather and Roger, who was ostensibly their butler but really a member of the family, along with being her grandfather’s long-time companion and probably his closest friend, had gone to bed early, so the lights had likely been out in their wing since ten o’clock or so.
Fitz and Clara were staying in the large separate guest house—which was actually the original house on the property—so Lana would be alone in the north wing of the main house. She should have been comfortable with it—in fact, she was very used to it, since at least three or four nights a week she had the mansion practically to herself, with its multitude of bedrooms, sitting rooms and other various spaces for practically every conceivable purpose. She often relished the solitude, after needing to be ‘on’ for so much of her charity work, which was no easy feat for a natural introvert who would have been happy just reading and drinking tea. Tonight, though, she felt a pang of loneliness.
Before she knew it, they’d pulled up to her front doors. They were tall, made from a thick, dark wood, and the whole impressive entryway looked forbidding, shrouded in darkness.
“They don’t leave the front lights on for you?” Mac asked, breaking the silence and some of the tension.
Lana wished they did, but they weren’t that kind of family. “I often get home late, and my grandfather is surprisingly frugal, so…” She shrugged, looking away. “I’m accustomed to it.” She could feel Mac’s gaze, but she refused to turn toward him. “I go in the side door, anyway.”
Before she could tell him not to, Mac had gotten out of the car and come around to open her door, offering her his arm. He still looked impossibly handsome in the fading moonlight. It was so cold at the tail end of mid-November that his breath puffed out of his mouth in white clouds, but he looked unruffled in his pristine dress uniform.
“Let me walk you there?” he asked. When she hesitated, with one leg on the ground and one still in the car, he spoke again. “So I’m certain you’re safe.”
With a swift bolt of comprehension, Lana realized he must be doing this—ensuring her safety—for Fitz, as a favor to her brother, which made total sense. They hadn’t totally repaired their relationship as brother and sister, since that would take a long time, but they’d made some good headway, and Fitz had always been protective of her when they had been younger. So why do I feel so disappointed? she wondered.
“Since you insist,” she agreed, unable to keep the snap of annoyance from her voice entirely. Still, holding onto Mac’s solid, warm arm, inhaling his distinctive scent, so smooth and comforting, like masculine soap and cinnamon and detergent, she wasn’t sorry not to be alone. No…it was more than that. She wasn’t sorry that Mac was the specific man she walked with.
Across the lawn, she saw a light come on in the guest house, which she recognized was in baby Hope’s room. Silhouetted on the shades, she saw a curvy woman’s figure rocking a child, and a larger outline as a man came up behind her, enveloping them in his shadow with a hug and leading them away from the window. The peace and serenity of the domestic scene, along with recollections of the love that she’d seen on their faces every time Fitz and Clara looked at each other and at tiny, perfect Hope, made her heart hurt, because she knew she would never have anything like it—and didn’t deserve it, anyway. Tears filled her eyes. As their steps slowed when they neared the side entrance to her area of the house, she kept her face averted from Mac so he wouldn’t see.
“I’m here safely, so you can report back to Fitz that you did your duty,” she answered, more coldly than she’d intended.
“Hey, now,” Mac answered, turning toward her in front of the side steps and urging her chin up with one strong but gentle finger so he could look at her face. “I never do anything I don’t want to do—not anymore, in any case—and I wanted to see you to your door safely for myself, so I wouldn’t worry.” He studied her, and she had the uncomfortable sensation that he saw much more than she’d wanted. “Are those tears, sugar?”
“No,” she denied in a thick voice, but her body immediately betrayed her as two droplets fell from her lashes and traced icy paths down her cheeks.
“Oh, darlin’, I’m sorry. Not quite sure what I did or said, but I never meant to make you cry,” he murmured in a deep, sincere voice, and Lana thought that she could have forgiven him just about anything, if there’d been something to forgive.
“It’s not you,” she answered. “It’s just that I feel so…alone sometimes, you know?” she admitted.
“God, yes,” he replied, with feeling. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close into his body, so tightly that something he had pinned to his uniform pressed into her cheek. In spite of the tiny prick of pain, she felt safer and warmer than she had for a long, long while. “You’re not alone now, Lana.”
She tipped her head back, and she wasn’t sure whether she pushed up toward him first or he lowered his head, but somehow he closed his mouth over hers, and it was sublime. At first, his lips were gentle—surprisingly soft for such a brave, tough ex-military pilot—but when she moaned, he deepened the kiss, and she savored his spicy taste, a little like the coffee they’d drunk at the police station, but mostly just his own unique flavor.
She pushed herself against him, feeling his hardness rise, thick and long, against her stomach, and he tangled his hands into her updo, dislodging bobby pins, which made tiny metallic pings as they landed on the steps. He caressed her tongue with his, claiming her mouth in bold strokes until her nipples tightened against his chest as she imagined how he would claim her with other parts of his body.
When he finally raised his mouth from hers, his breathing harsh and uneven, she noticed they must have walked together right up to the wall of the house, and her back was cold against the bricks. The rapid puffs of her breath mingled with the clouds of his, and he leaned his forehead against hers.
“I’m sorry… I got a little carried away,” Mac said, and they still stood so close that she could feel the quick rise and fall of his chest against her breasts.
“No, no…I was just as into it, maybe more,” she said, then flushed with embarrassment. “I didn’t mean…well, you know. I’m sure you could tell that I was enjoying it, but of course we shouldn’t have done that.”
Mac took a step back. “What do you mean?”
Lana bit her lip, feeling like she wished the ground would swallow her up. Where was some handy quicksand when you needed it?
“Well, like you said, I’m sorry, too.”
Mac shook his head. “No, darlin’, I’m not sorry it happened…only sorry we went so fast.”
When she looked up into his face—so handsome, perfectly formed with strong lines and eyes that she couldn’t make out clearly right now in the low light but that she knew were a startling deep green and probably blazing with emotion—she wished she dared to trust herself again with a good man, a kind man, a true friend like Mac. Being with someone like him wasn’t in the cards for her, though. That kind of man wanted more than she could give—more than she was capable of giving anymore.
She put her hand on his chest. “Mac, there can’t be anything more between us. I can’t be with someone like you.” She tried to be gentle, but she rushed her words as thick tears rose in her throat.
Mac took another step back, breaking all contact between them. “Someone like me, huh? Why did I think you were different?” His voice was hollow, resigned…but the tone was underlaid with hurt.
“That’s not—” she started to explain, but he cut her off.
“You know what, Lana? Don’t say anything you might regret. I’ll stay away from you, and you can stay away from me from now on, but no matter what, we’ll still have to see each other sometimes, and I don’t want it to be any worse than it has to be.”
Lana felt as if he’d slapped her, but she forgave him for lashing out. He didn’t understand, but explaining might make it more painful. As Fitz’s closest friend, he was bound to cross her path in the future at important events.
“If that’s what you want,” she agreed, her voice low and sad.
“Does it matter what I want?” Mac’s laugh was mirthless, and he started to turn away. “No, hold on. I’m gonna say one more thing first, because I vowed that if I ever started to feel for someone again, I would say the words out loud—not leave confusion or doubt.”
Lana braced herself for whatever he was going to say, but his words were more surprising for their tenderness than anything else.
“It sounds like we don’t feel the same way and maybe you won’t thank me for saying this, but no matter how you feel, I care about you. I was beginnin’ to think I might be able to care pretty deeply and that maybe you could, too.”
She winced at the raw tone of his voice.
“That doesn’t change overnight. Truth is, for a man like me, that doesn’t really change, period. So if you’re ever in trouble or hurting—no matter everything we said tonight—you can call me and I’ll be there. That’s it.”
His offer stunned her, and letting him turn around and walk away, back into the darkness that was beginning to streak gray with the first light of the coming dawn, was one of the worst things she’d ever forced herself to do. He’d be better off without her, though. She knew it, and he’d recognize it, too, in time.
She’d thought her sad, shredded heart was incapable of feeling anything anymore, but now she learned—too late—that she must have been mistaken. If it had truly been destroyed, it couldn’t hurt so darn bad now. She hurried inside the massive house, her steps echoing off the walls and floors of the empty rooms, and cried for everything that might have been.
Aurora is originally from the frozen tundra of the upper-Midwest (ok, not frozen all the time!) but now loves living in New England with her real-life hero/husband, two wonderfully silly sons, and one of the most extraordinary cats she has ever had the pleasure to meet. But she still goes back to the Midwest to visit, just never in January.
She doesn’t remember a time that she didn’t love to read, and has been writing stories since she learned how to hold a pencil. She has always liked the romantic scenes best in every book, story, and movie, so one day she decided to try her hand at writing her own romantic fiction, which changed her life in all the best ways.
You can find out more about Aurora at her website here.
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Welcome to the book tour for the latest thriller by Shira Shiloah! Read on for more details and a chance to win either a paperback edition of the book (US) or a digital edition (International)!
Expected Publication Date: September 20, 2022
Genre: Paranormal/ Medical Thriller/ Suspense
Dr. Amir Hadad, a successful radiologist, hears an intruder. Hiding in the dark, the stranger whispers, “I can’t rest.”
Alarmed and unwilling to risk his family’s safety, Amir contacts the police. Only there is no trace of an intruder, no marks of forced entry. If there is a stalker afoot, the police cannot find him.
As the days wear on and Amir continues to hear the same disembodied voice speaking to him, he worries about his sanity. The Irish lilt has escalated from pleas for help to threats unless Amir helps the voice find rest – and revenge.
Inspired by true events set in Naperville, Illinois, Dr. Shira Shiloah takes readers through suspenseful twists and turns in her latest novel. GRAVE INTERVENTION, a paranormal medical suspense, blurs the lines between real and imaginary to expose the hidden side of a historical suburban town.
Camille remained on the couch, her expression sad. He could tell she’d been crying and saw the episode “Death of a Goldfish” was streaming. He thought her grief would’ve let up by now; two-and-a-half years in, the depression showed no sign of leaving. He wished she’d see a therapist. He’d broach the topic again with Viva; maybe she’d listen to her sister.
“Let’s get Mommy,” he whispered into Sami’s ear, and she squealed with delight. He put Sami on his shoulders and said, “One, two, three… attack the Mommy… here we come.” He walked behind the couch and bent at his waist so both he and Sami could hug Camille. “Give Mommy kisses. So many kisses.”
Camille reached for them, pulling them into an embrace with each arm, and taking Sami onto her lap. “Cuddle puddle,” she said. She kissed them both. “How was your day?”
Yer lady’s a grand feen.
The voice. He heard the words clearly. He surveyed the room and saw the front door was closed; no one was there but the three of them. He turned behind him and glanced at the hallway leading from the garage into the foyer.
“Did you hear that?” Amir whispered.
“Hear what? You’re scaring me.” Jaysus, her legs. You lucky bastard. “Take Sami now. Get in the car.” He went to the kitchen,
grabbed his phone and a carving knife from the drawer. “Go.” Camille gathered their coats from the laundry room, set Sami on the washing machine and put shoes on her. “Come
with me, Sami. Daddy wants us to take a drive.” Camille carried her and Sami dropped her doll while reaching for her father.
“I’ll be right there, baby. I have to get dressed. Go with Mommy.” He watched from the garage entrance as Camille strapped Sami into her rear facing car seat in the back of the Tesla SUV. She held her palms up to him.
“Where am I going?”
“Go to Malnati’s, order for us. I’ll be right there.” He closed the garage door after they drove away, and went inside. He walked from the kitchen to the den. Sami’s toys and dolls were scattered on the carpet. Another episode of Mister Rogers’ had started. He turned off the television. The room had turned colder. Amir checked the front windows, all were sealed. He shivered.
Yer lady’s grand.
“Come out where I can see you, you psychopath. Who’s there?” Amir dialed 911 on his phone. “Police. I have an intruder.” He put on jeans and a sweater, grabbed his coat and wallet, and went out the front door holding the carving knife.
Dr. Shira Shiloah is an anesthesiologist and author of the debut thriller, Emergence, that details Dr. D.K. Webb, a neurosurgeon who intentionally maims and kills his patients in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Shiloah bring both a personal and professional perspective for what may happen when a sociopath holds a scalpel.
She felt like she was underwater. Floating in emptiness, with no ground to stretch her toes out for, and no air to swim toward.
It was endless… but not in a peaceful way. Someone had told her once that drowning was peaceful, that the brain gave a sense of euphoria as the lungs filled up with water, but Beth had never felt anything like that.
No calm. No peace.
Just a flickering memory of panic, and an absolute fear of the surface.
Survival was supposed to be an instinct, and she knew she should want to reach the surface. To breathe air again, to stop suffocating in the dark… but all she ever did was dive deeper. The deeper she went, the easier it was to block out the flickering glimpses of the things happening above. All the sounds, the textures, the sensations. The things that were so much worse than drowning.
But it got exhausting to stay down when her body wanted to be buoyant, wanted air, wanted freedom. A constant fight, a battle for depth whenever the water got rough and the waves turned the distant surface into chaos.
It was happening again.
That steady rise to the surface that brought back the panic, heart pounding in her ears as she became aware of the world outside the water. She wanted to dive down, to hide from the pull, but she was so fucking tired — and then there were the voices.
Muffled, blurred by the water for a while… until she got closer. As the light grew brighter, and she started to feel, she could hear them. Too many.
His voice always stood out the strongest, even though it was always calm. Cold and calm. Just like the water farther down, where she was safer… but she wasn’t safe up here.
Surfacing was always bad. Always.
If she reacted, if she made a sound, then they’d know she could. Then the storm on the surface would just get worse, it would be harder to swim down with the water too rough. Harder to hide.
Despite her best efforts to avoid it, the light got stronger, the world coming toward her, and she clenched her teeth tight to stay silent, to avoid the urge to scream or fight.
And then she broke the surface, instinctively pulling at the cable around her wrist, tethering her to the bed — but it was better to be connected to the bed. Out of the bed was always worse. Out of the bed meant there might be someone new, somewhere new, which always meant pain.
Although the surface was always painful, and she did her best to brace for it as her mind joined her body, as her eyes focused on the light and she felt the texture of sheets against her back and thick plastic around her wrist and –
Curtains. Pale purple.
A poster of a boy band.
She was home.
She kept forgetting that she was home, that she didn’t have to stay under anymore, didn’t have to fight the surface or feel the panic. Of course, knowing it didn’t keep her heart from racing, or her nails from digging into her palms as she pulled at the zip-tie around her wrist.
Jennifer Bene is a USA Today bestselling author of dangerously sexy and deviously dark romance. From BDSM, to Suspense, Dark Romance, and Thrillers—she writes it all. Always delivering a twisty, spine-tingling journey with the promise of a happily-ever-after.
Rob’s current goal in life? Do not eat people. That’s easier said than done when you’re a kelpie in the service industry. While Rob pursues his goals from behind the bar, a stranger walks in, and Rob catches the man’s scent. Yet, patrons are not for eating, and it should have ended there… except when Rob smells that delicious scent again, the beautiful stranger needs help.
Bertrand wants to fit in, but because he’s part Fae, part Elf, and grew up human, he’s not really at home in either human or supernatural society. Still, he likes being a reporter and following a story all the way to its conclusion. The story he’s pursuing when he walks into Rob’s bar one night is one of supernaturals going missing, and Bertrand seems to be the only one who cares.
Meeting Bertrand might just shift Rob’s life goals. Coming face-to-face with a kelpie stallion might be enough to help Bertrand see where he fits in perfectly. Except Bertrand doesn’t really know what to make of Rob, and also, Bertrand’s missing persons story is bigger than even he envisioned. It’s turning into a case of abduction and trafficking he needs to unravel before he can even think about Rob’s advances. The story will lead Bertrand to some dark places before the year is out.
The daytime drinkers with the incipient beer bellies were getting louder. Rob was just about to get back to gutting his lime in order to suppress thoughts of gutting those three when the door opened once more.
The icy air tickled Rob’s nose with the smell of the season turning, of snowdrops shaking off the weight of frozen water to sing of longer days and sun returning to the world.
But the man walking into the Ragdoll wasn’t a sprite. He was — glamoured.
Rob, who knew how to use a glamour even if he turned into a carnivorous horse who could break hearts without prettying himself up with magic, could tell. The glamour wasn’t exceedingly strong on this man.
Out of the corner of his eye, Rob saw the mage look up briefly, noticing the same thing, but then dismissing it. She’d have been able to see through it easily enough, and since she didn’t react further, Rob could be sure the man who smelled of snowdrops didn’t have any openly nefarious intentions.
But the man… Rob’s mouth was watering, and he watched as the new patron pulled his fur-trimmed hood back from his golden locks and pried his snug gloves off his long fingers. He had to be part Fae. Rob was pretty sure just from his looks, but with a glamour that hid what he was, Rob couldn’t tell precisely.
The man looked shifty, though. Rob had misspent his youth lingering in pools, ponds, and really any body of water that didn’t have a kappa infestation. He’d done it in order to lure humans and whoever wanted to be lured, so he knew what shifty looked like quite intimately.
The glamoured patron wasn’t the let’s-drown-them-and-eat-their liver type of person, not that Rob would ever admit to anyone that he himself had ever been that person. The man wore glasses. They misted up in the warmth of the Ragdoll, and he had to pull them off, revealing a set of hazel eyes that brimmed with intelligence. Without the glasses, he wasn’t too blind to find one of the quiet corner tables, where he deposited his large frame in a chair that looked flimsy under him.
Because yes, the man looked like the kind of person Western directors with a bottomless budget would cast for the role of a Greek hero or an intergalactic hero. Rob liked a man who could hold his own in a fight, and he shivered at the thought of this one’s thighs pressing into Rob’s sides when he was in his horse form. He shivered at the thought of this man riding him.
Kyle grabbed a menu and made his way to the man while Rob watched.
The new patron was interested in the soon-to-be beer-bellied. He glanced past Kyle and seemed too distracted to properly examine the menu, but Kyle nodded and scribbled something on his notepad.
“Hey, boss.” Carla, Rob’s strawberry blonde half-succubus bartender, had snuck up on him and was clapping him on the shoulder.
“Please don’t startle me,” he told her. “And also, hello. You are early.”
“Well, I figured you might need the extra pair of hands,” she said and gave his still unharmed lime a pointed look.
“I was getting to that,” he told her, frowning.
Carla sighed. “Can I say something?”
“Can I stop you?”
She crossed her arms in front of her beautiful succubus chest. “What do you think?”
“Well, let’s have it.”
“You, boss, need to get laid. It might be, I don’t know, a shifter thing. I swear it’s like you guys molt or something.”
Rob sliced the lime in half neatly and let it bleed its acidic last on his cutting board. “Carla, dear. I turn into a horse. I do not molt.”
She raised her finger to forestall a lecture. “Changes nothing. You need to bang someone.” She tapped her nose with a finger, the nail painted fire-engine red. “I can tell.”
“I’m stressed because I’m tending bar when I shouldn’t be tending bar,” Rob said.
She waved that off. “Pfft. You’re happy for Ilya, admit it. Maybe ask that witch if he has a brother?” she asked and wiggled her eyebrows.
“He’s the sole Fey heir, and you know that as well as I do,” Rob said. “Also, I do not need to urgently bang a witch.” Rob kept his voice down, because he was not easily shaken, certainly not by the suggestion that he was in need of sex. Rob was accomplished. He had the occasional one-night stand, because (just like Ilya) he looked good behind the bar, almost as good as he did as a horse with his hooves in a lake, his mane dangling in the water, and the moon hitting his shiny coat just so.
Yes, if Rob wanted to find a warm body to put his cock in, he could do just that, but the succubus was overreacting. It was a thing with ‘cubi, assuming that one needed to have sex all the time or else one’s health — mental or otherwise — was in danger.
“Did you just daydream about fucking Aaron?” Carla asked.
Rob made quick work of the lime. “I did not, and I reject the idea.” Although the witch was a big strong man under that coat he wore all the time. But no. Going there was no good — even if from the looks of it, Aaron had very nice shoulders.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. Connect with Alexa on Facebook or Instagram, follow her on Twitter or TikTok, and subscribe to her newsletter!