Release Blitz & Excerpt: ★Love The Way You Lie★ by Skye Warren

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Love the Way You Lie (Stripped #1)
Genre: Dark Romance
Author: Skye Warren
Release Date: March 12, 2015
Photographer: Sara Eirew (http://on.fb.me/1yq0nSa)

LoveTheWayYouLie-SkyeWarren-1600x2400A dark romance about the lies that lead us down…I’ll do anything to get safe, even if that means working at the scariest club in town.

I’ll do anything to stay hidden, even if it means taking off my clothes for strangers.

I’ll do anything to be free. Except give him up. When he looks at me, I forget why I can’t have him. He’s beautiful and scarred. His body fits mine, filling the places where I’m hollow, rough where I am soft.

He’s the one man who wants to help, but he has his own agenda. He has questions I can’t answer. What are you afraid of?

You.

Buy Links
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Excerpt

In the first moments onstage, I’m always blinded.

The bright lights, the smoke. The wall of sound that feels almost tangible, as if it’s trying to keep me out, push me back, protect me from what’s going to happen next. I’m used to the dancing and the catcalls and the reaching, grabbing hands—as much as I can be. But I’m never quite used to this moment, being blinded, feeling small.

I reach for the pole and find it, swinging my body around so the gauzy scrap of fabric flies up, giving the men near the stage a view of my ass. I still can’t quite make anything out. There are dark spots in my vision.

The smile’s not even a lie, not really. It’s a prop, like the four-inch heels and the wings that snap as I drop them to the stage.

Broken.

A few people clap from the back.

Now all that’s left is the thin satin fabric. I grip the pole and head into my routine, wrapping around, sliding off, and starting all over again. I lose myself in the physicality of it, going into the zone as if I were running a marathon. This is the best part, reveling in the burn of my muscles, the slide of the metal pole against my skin and the cold, angry rhythm of the song. It’s not like ballet, but it’s still a routine. Something solid, when very few things in my life are solid.

I finish on the pole and begin to work the stage, moving around so I can collect tips. I can see again, just barely, making out shadowy silhouettes in the chairs.

Not many.

There’s a regular on one side. I recognize him. Charlie. He tosses a five-dollar bill on the stage, and I bend down long and slow to pick it up. He gets a wink and a shimmy for his donation. As I’m straightening, I spot another man on the other side of the stage.

His posture is slouched, one leg kicked out, the other under his chair, but somehow I can tell he isn’t really relaxed. There’s tension in the long lines of his body. There’s power.

And that makes me nervous.

I spin away and shake my shit for the opposite side of the room, even though there’s barely anyone there. It’s only a matter of time before I need to face him again. But I don’t need to look at him. They don’t pay me to look them in the eye.

Still I can’t help but notice his leather boots and padded jacket. Did he ride a motorcycle? It seems like that kind of leather, the tough kind. Meant to withstand weather. Meant to protect the body from impact.

The song’s coming to a close, my routine is coming to an end and I’m glad about that. Something about this guy is throwing me off. Nothing noticeable. My feet and hands and knowing smile still land everywhere they need to. Muscle memory and all that. But I don’t like the way he watches me.

There’s patience in the way he watches me. And patience implies waiting.

It implies planning.

I reach back and unclasp my bra. I use one hand to cover my breasts while I toss the bra to the back of the stage. I pretend to be shy for a few seconds, and suddenly I feel shy too. Like I’m doing more than showing my breasts to strangers. I’m showing him. And as I stand there, hand cupping my breasts, breath coming fast, I feel his patience like a hot flame.

This time I do miss the beat. I let go on the next one, though, and my breasts are free, bared to the smoky air and the hungry eyes. There are a few whistles from around the room. Charlie holds up another five-dollar bill. I sway over to him and cock my hip, letting him shove the bill into my thong, feeling his hot, damp breath against my breast. He gets close but doesn’t touch. That’s Charlie. He tips and follows the rules, the best kind of customer.

I don’t even glance at the other side of the room. If the new guy is holding up a tip, I don’t even care. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who follows rules. I don’t know why I’m even thinking about him or letting him affect me. Maybe my run-in with Blue made me more skittish than I’d realized.

All I have left is my finale on the pole. I can get through this.

This part isn’t as physically strenuous as before. Or as long. All I really need to do is grind up against the pole, front and back, emphasizing my newly naked breasts, pretending to fuck.

That’s what I’m doing when I feel it. Feel him.

I’m a practical girl. I have to be. But there’s a feeling I get, a prickle on the back of my neck, a churning in my gut, a warning bell in my head when I’m near one of them. Near a cop. My eyes scan the back of the room, but all I can see are shadows. Is there a cop waiting to bust someone? A raid about to go down?

My gaze lands on the guy near the stage. Him? He doesn’t look like a cop. He doesn’t feel like a cop. But I don’t trust looks or feelings. All I can trust is the alarm blaring in my head: get out, get out, get out.

I can barely suck in enough air. There’s only smoke and rising panic. Blood races through me, speeding up my movements. A cop. I feel it like some kind of sixth sense.

Maybe he feels my intuition about him, because he leans forward in his seat.

In one heart-stopping moment, my eyes meet his. I can see his face then, drawn from charcoal shadows.

Beautiful, his lips say. All I can hear is the song.

I’m not even on beat anymore, and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because there’s a cop here and I have to get out. Even if my intuition is wrong, it’s better to get out. Safer.

I’ll never be safe.


The last note calls for a curtsy—a sexy, mocking movement I choreographed into my routine.

Like the one I’d do at the end of a ballet recital but made vulgar. I barely manage it this time, a rough jerk of my head and shoulders. Then I’m gone, off the stage, running down the hallway. I’m supposed to work the floor next, see who wants a lap dance or another drink, but I can’t do that. I head for the dressing room and throw on a T-shirt and sweatpants. I’ll tell them I feel sick and have to leave early. They won’t be happy and I’ll probably have to pay for it with my tips, but they won’t want me throwing up on the customers either.

I run for the door and almost slam into Blue.

He’s standing in the hallway again. Not slouching this time. There’s a new alertness to his stare. And something else—amusement.

“Going somewhere?” he asks.

“I have to… My stomach hurts. I feel sick.” I step close, praying he’ll move aside.

He reaches up to trace my cheek. “Aww, should I call the doctor?” His hand clamps down on my shoulder. “I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

I grip my bag tight to my chest, trying to ignore the threat in his words. And the threat in his grip. I really do feel sick now, but throwing up on him is definitely not going to help the situation. “Please, I need to leave. It’s serious. I’ll make it up later.”

He’ll know what I’m saying. That I’ll make it up to him personally. I’m just desperate enough to promise that. Desperate enough to promise him anything. And he’s harassed me long enough that I know it’s a decent prize. I’m sure he’ll make it extra humiliating, but I’m desperate enough for that too.

“Please let me go.” The words come out pained, my voice thin. It feels a little like my body is collapsing in on itself, steel beams bending together, something crushing me from the outside.

Regret flashes over his face, whether for refusing my offer or forcing me that low. But this time he doesn’t let me go. “There’s a customer asking for you. He wants a dance.”

About the Author
Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of dark romantic fiction. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely romantic.

 

Release Blitz, Excerpt & #Giveaway: ★With Every Heartbeat★ by @lindakage

It’s release day for With Every Heartbeat by Linda Kage!! I love this new adult romance and I simply adore this series, so I am so excited to share it with you!! Linda is sharing an excerpt AND a giveaway, so be sure to read all the release day festivities!

About The Book

*New Adult Romance*

**Explicit Scenes and Language**

I used to think everything was black and white, truth or lie, easy or hard, that if I could just escape my strict, overbearing, abusive father, my life would be perfect. But since I’ve found a reason to risk his wrath and leave, to help a friend in need, I’ve come to realize everything I thought I knew is wrong.

Friends have their own agenda, honesty comes with a dosage of lie, easy doesn’t even exist, keeping secrets sucks, and love…love is the most painful thing of all.

Maybe if Quinn Hamilton hadn’t asked me to skip classes for the day and help him pick out an engagement ring for my best friend, I wouldn’t have fallen for him so completely on that sunny Tuesday afternoon and I wouldn’t feel so conflicted. But I did, and I can’t take it back, no matter how hard I try. So I have to deal with the fact that even I’m not as good, or honest, or caring as I’d always thought I was, and no matter what I do next, someone’s going to get hurt. Probably me.

-Zoey Blakeland

*Don’t worry! The hero and heroine are not cheaters.*

Buy Links
Excerpt

As I swept inside the front doors of the library, I started grinning. Even the possibility of getting to see him had my blood pounding with excitement. I didn’t have to search; I went straight to our spot. But as I turned down the aisle of books that led there, I slowed to a stop. He wasn’t there.

My shoulders slumped. But then a breath later, two arms slid around my waist, making me squeak in surprise. I was pulled back against a hard chest I’d recognize anywhere.

“You came.” His voice was filled with wonder before he spun me around.

His smile created a buzz that echoed through my entire body. I grinned back and touched his dimple; my lips hurt from stretching them so far. His own smile widened. And then he was pulling me up to his level and kissing me.

“God, Zoey. I can’t resist you in a pair of jeans or even shorts. But a skirt—” He shook his head even as his palms caught my bare thighs and smoothed their way up the outsides, right under my skirt. “You want to kill me, don’t you?”

About the Author

lindaLinda grew up on a dairy farm in the Midwest as the youngest of eight children. Now she lives in Kansas with her husband, daughter, and nine cuckoo clocks. Her life’s been blessed with lots of people to learn from and love. Writing’s always been a major part her world, and she’s so happy to finally share some of her stories with other romance lovers.

 

 

Giveaway

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Pre-Release Blitz: ★Hell’s Kitchen★ by @_callie_hart & @LiliStGermain1

Hell’s Kitchen (Hell’s Kitchen #1)
Author: Hart Saint Germain
Release Date: March 3, 2015

*From International Bestselling authors Callie Hart and Lili St. Germain comes a tale of two families co-existing in a melting pot of violence, murder and drugs in the seedy underbelly of New York City*Hell’s Kitchen

Theo and Sal Barbieri are brothers, tasked by their Mafioso father Roberto with a very clear purpose: kidnap Kaitlin McLaughlin. The beautiful daughter of Roberto’s Irish enemy. It’s high time Kaitlin was punished for her father’s sins—not to mention, her own.

And Operation: Kidnap Kaitlin is a roaring success… until it isn’t. When Kaitlin escapes into the busy streets of New York City, it’s a race against the clock to find her before Sal and Theo become the hunted.

Zeth Mayfair has traded his life as a hitman for a quieter existence, but it isn’t long before the past catches up with him in the form of Roberto Barbieri. Will he succumb to the lure of power that Roberto is offering? Or will he retaliate by killing every last Barbieri in New York to get them off his back?

Jason Ross is running. Woken in the night by a tip that the Gypsy Brothers are coming for him, he packs a bag and gets his girlfriend the hell out of dodge. Arriving in New York City in the midst of a heatwave is one thing, but being tailed by an entire drug cartel is another.

Worlds collide in Hell’s Kitchen as secrets come to light and sins are punished. Because we might be different in the light of day, but in the darkness, we’re all connected somehow.

Hell’s Kitchen is a serial comprising three volumes: Hell’s Kitchen, Tribeca and Bleecker Street. Volume One releases on March 3rd with a limited-time sale price of 99 cents

Meet some of the players…

Excerpt

“What time they due to land?” Sal asks. He loops a tie, pre-knotted and ready to go, over his head.
“Twenty minutes.” With traffic the way it is, we’ll be there in ten.

Sal tightens the tie around his neck, placing the ridiculous fucking chauffeur’s hat on his head. He tucks his hair back behind his ears. He needs to cut it, but will the bastard listen? Hell, no. He never listens to a word I say. “Are you ready?” he asks.

I take my eyes off the road, arching an eyebrow at him. Who the hell does he think he’s talking to? I’ve been doing this job longer than him, after all. I’ve never blinked. Never not been ready. He gets the point pretty damn quickly.

“All right, man, I’m sorry.”

When we arrive at the airfield, we’re directed to hangar twelve, no questions asked. Paddy McLaughlin’s own men would have arrived around now—if we hadn’t already beaten the shit out of them and handcuffed them to a pillar inside an old cardboard factory down on the wharf—so we’re expected. Kaitlin McLaughlin’s plane is delayed. I’m already bored and itching to go by the time the private jet touches down. Sal climbs out of the car and leans against the front passenger door, waiting for the prissy Irish princess and her entourage to exit the plane. When she does, we’re in luck.

Normally, Paddy doesn’t send his little girl anywhere without two personal bodyguards. Today, she’s only accompanied by one. Sal taps the hood of the car as he goes out to take her bags. I have the engine purring in anticipation as he opens the back passenger side door for her and she climbs inside.

Huge sunglasses cover her eyes. That full mouth of hers is perfectly visible in the rearview, though. “Where the fuck is Ray?” she asks. Her father may be first generation Irish, but Kaitlin was born and raised in the States—she sounds like a spoiled little Yank bitch.

“Mr. McLaughlin needed him for something else. He sent us instead.”
She slides the sunglasses down the bridge of her nose, peering at me over the car’s half-raised privacy screen. “And who are you?”
I give her a tight-lipped smile, doing my best to keep my tongue in my head. We need the bodyguard to get in the car, and then we’re golden. Until then, I’m Jerry, the friendly town car driver. “Jerry. My buddy there, that’s Gareth. We’re new.”

“I can see that.” She makes a low, humming sound at the back of her throat. She sounds like she approves. Sorry, sweetheart. I don’t touch crazy pussy. But I will introduce you to my old man, all the same. He just can’t wait to fucking meet you.

The door behind me opens and I feel the car dip as someone gets in—I didn’t notice before, but the lone bodyguard with Kaitlin is a woman. Must be the chick Roberto was talking about. I get a good look at her in the rearview and find myself taking a second one for good measure. She’s blisteringly hot. Maybe in her mid-twenties? Long dark hair, tied back into a braid. High cheekbones. A mouth to rival Kaitlin’s. Her tits strain against her tight black shirt as she twists to put on her seatbelt. You can tell she works out; her clothes fit her far too well for her not to know she looks good in them, too.

Just like Kaitlin, she asks, “Where’s Ray?”

“Busy doing something for Daddy,” Kaitlin informs her, which saves me from spinning the lie again.
“Okay. Straight to the bar, then.” The body guard’s head doesn’t even lift, but she’s a professional. She assesses me in the mirror just as I’ve assessed her. I pretend not to notice as Sal folds himself into the passenger seat.

“Of course.” I press the button for the privacy screen, raising it the rest of the way, blocking out all sound from the back of the car. Sal turns and gives me one of his wicked, crazy-ass grins. He’s enjoying this already. “All right, then, big brother. Let’s do this.” He leans forward and hits a button on the dash—and every single door on the town car automatically locks. “No backing out now.”

I burn out of the hangar to the sounds of muffled thuds from the back of the car. The bodyguard’s not stupid. She’s heard the doors locking and knows something isn’t right. “Motherfucker! Open this up right now!”

Normally there’s an intercom in these cars, but this one’s different. Sal and I smashed the shit out of this car’s intercom with two lump hammers and ripped out the wiring. We also lined the roof with lead. The girls in the back aren’t striking up a conversation with us any time soon. And they aren’t making any phone calls to dear old Papa McLaughlin, either.

As I head back toward the city, the shouting from the back gets louder. It’s accompanied by the dull thudding of feet trying to smash out the privacy screen. Sal raps his knuckles against the glass, grinning again. “Bitch sounds crazy back there. I don’t think she likes the modifications we’ve made.”
I allow myself a small smile as we hit the George Washington Bridge, heading back toward North Manhattan. So far Operation: Kidnap Kaitlin has been a roaring success. Sal pulls out his cell and starts tapping into it with quick fingers. “Telling the old man we’re on our way?”

He nods. “Bastard better give us credit where credit’s due. He’s probably still organising his own fucking birthday party. Meanwhile, we have just successfully taken our mark hostage. We’re on the homeward stretch.”

The fucking homeward stretch.

The thing about saying you’re on the homeward stretch is that often it’s like waving a red flag at a bull. Fate must hear that phrase and decide to fuck over the poor schmuck who was dumb enough to utter it every single fucking time. It’s only seconds after Sal’s parted with those words that the electric window behind me—the bodyguard’s side window—shatters. We knew the bodyguard would be armed, but we didn’t expect anyone to be shooting out the damn side windows. An eruption of fragmented diamonds explodes sideways, spraying a bright yellow smart car with a million shards of glass. The sound of the firing gun is almost deafening.

“What the fuck?”

The smart car veers sideways, smashing into us; I press my foot to the floor, grinding my teeth at the sound of screeching metal and more hammering from the back as I swerve through the traffic. Sal twists in his seat, pulling his gun and pressing it to the glass of the privacy screen. His finger’s on the trigger. “She’s going fucking crazy. I’m gonna shoot the bitch.”

About the Author

Callie Hart

Callie has experienced many changes throughout her life, and gone through many ups and downs that have all worked towards shaping and molding her into the person she is today: fun loving, active, social, and hard working. The only thing that has remained a constant throughout her life is writing. Creating characters who will tear your conscience in two is a favorite pastime of Callie’s. There are few real saints and sinners in her books; more often, the denizens of her stories are all very human. Broken, flawed, and always with the potential for redemption.

Despite the subject matter being markedly hot and heavy in comparison to the stories she wrote in elementary school, there will always be an element of fairytale to her work.

Lili Saint Germain

Lili writes dark romance, suspense and paranormal stories. Her serial novel, Seven Sons, was released in early 2014, with the following books in the series to be released in quick succession. Lili quit corporate life to focus on writing and so far is loving every minute of it. Her other loves in life include her gorgeous husband and beautiful daughter, good coffee, Tarantino movies and spending hours on Pinterest.

She loves to read almost as much as she loves to write.

 


Excerpt Reveal: ★Fighting Silence★ by @AlyMartinezAuth

“Hi.” I stood up off the bed as he started climbing through the window.

His eyes went wide when he saw me, causing him to momentarily lose his balance on the windowsill and go crashing to the floor. “God. Damn,” he cursed as he rose to his feet while taking in my new wardrobe. “You… I…um…” His hand went to his lip.

He was rooted in place only a few steps away, but his eyes traveled over every inch of my body and back again.

Till was speechless. I had never felt so empowered in my life.

“Are you okay?” I feigned concern as I slowly approached.

“Not even close,” he told my breasts, making me giggle.

After sliding a hand under the edge of his T-shirt, I raked a fingernail over each of his abs before dipping it into the waistband of his jeans.

“I’m sore today,” I announced, closing the distance between us. My breasts were pressed against him, but he still hadn’t even attempted to touch me yet. I had plans to remedy that. I smirked then stood up on my tiptoes, kissing the base of his neck. “Make me sore for tomorrow too.” At the last second, I darted my tongue out to the hollow dip at the base of his neck. It was meant to tease him, but as the taste of his skin hit my tongue, I was flooded with memories of taking more of him in my mouth. The moan escaped before I’d even felt it coming.

A loud rumble shook his chest, but that was the only warning I received. Suddenly, I was off my feet and sailing through the air. Just as I landed on the bed, Till crashed on top of me. His mouth roughly landed on mine.

“Tell me we can’t do this again,” he demanded as his hands found my breasts.

“We’re definitely doing this again.” I arched into him.

“It’s gonna get so messy, Eliza. Please.” He groaned as I reached into the front of his jeans.

“I’m okay with messy,” I breathed, guiding his hand from my breast and into my panties.

“Fuuuuuck” he cursed when he discovered just how thorough I’d been with the razor earlier. His finger pressed inside me as his body traveled down the bed and settled between my legs, stripping my panties off during his descent.

He added another finger in a less than gentle but overwhelmingly intoxicating, rhythm.

“Tell me to stop, Eliza. We can’t do this again.” He grazed his teeth on the inside of my thigh.

“We’re already doing it.”

“Tell me to stop.”

“No.”

“It’s going to ruin us.”

“If you don’t stop talking, you’re going to ruin this.”

“I’m serious.” He kissed the inside of my other thigh, his fingers never faltering in their steady pace.

“So am I. Stop trying to talk yourself out of this while your fingers are buried inside me.” I threaded a hand into his hair and gave it a gentle tug.

“Goddammit. Tell me to stop!” he demanded one last time, but his fingers sped before twisting in the most delicious way.

I decided to give him what he wanted, but only because I knew he wouldn’t follow through.

“Stop.” I rolled my hips forcing him even deeper.

“Well, it’s too fucking late now.”

I would have laughed, but his mouth sealed over my clit and stole my breath, words, thoughts, and orgasm. My body shook as he pushed me higher even while I was falling. It shouldn’t have worked like that, but whatever voodoo magic Till Page was working with that night was all right with me. He didn’t stop swirling his tongue until I used his hair to pry his mouth away.

“Too much!” I cried.

He looked up with a wickedly proud grin. His hand disappeared, and seconds later, his cock replaced it.

Pre-order Fighting Silence 
RELEASE DATE: February 23rd, 2015
About The Book
Sound is an abstract concept for most people. We spend our lives blocking out the static in order to focus on what we believe is important. But what if, when the clarity fades into silence, it’s the obscure background noise that you would give anything to hold on to?I’ve always been a fighter. With parents who barely managed to stay out of jail and two little brothers who narrowly avoided foster care, I became skilled at dodging the punches life threw at me. Growing up, I didn’t have anything I could call my own, but from the moment I met Eliza Reynolds, she was always mine. I became utterly addicted to her and the escape from reality we provided each other. Throughout the years, she had boyfriends and I had girlfriends, but there wasn’t a single night that I didn’t hear her voice.

You see, meeting the love of my life at age thirteen was never part of my plan. However, neither was gradually going deaf at the age of twenty-one.

They both happened anyway.

Now, I’m on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life.

Fighting for my career.

Fighting the impending silence.

Fighting for her.

Every night, just before falling asleep, she sighs as a final conscious breath leaves her.

I think that’s the sound I’ll miss the most.

About the Author

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.

After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.

Release Blitz, Excerpt & #Giveaway: ★To The Max★ by @AycartElle

To the Max 
Author: Elle Aycart
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 10th
About The Book

Forensic accountant Annie Griffin has always suspected she’s a bit jinxed, so when she finds herself 35, single, temporarily homeless, and pregnant on a technicality by a gigolo, her fears are confirmed.Adrenaline junkie and professional stuntman Max Bowen needs a house-sitter to watch after his pets while he’s out of town. Annie needs a place to stay. Standard quid pro quo. No biggie. She can handle that, whatever hellhounds he owns. Until Max, the most sought-after bachelor in the county, comes back ahead of schedule and suddenly she’s roommates with a 27-year old sex God who turns out to be so much more than what she expected.

Max might have had the attention span of a humming bird on crack when it comes to women, but that was before Annie. Her quirkiness and sweet contradictions soon captivate him, not that she’s inclined to give him the time of the day. With his reputation preceding him, he knows the odds are badly stacked against him, but he will do his best to prove her that he’s what she needs, stuck-up socialite grandmothers, doomsday preppers, groupies, pregnancy hormones, and repentant biological dads be damned.

Excerpt

Chapter One

“You know, if the idea behind a midnight wedding was to discourage people from attending, I think we can fairly say it hasn’t worked,” Annie Griffin heard from behind her.

Shit, busted.

She whirled around so fast, she not only got a dizzy spell but almost fell from the hammock she was sitting on. Thank God someone with a very strong grip reached out and steadied her.

“Wow, careful there.”

As she regained her balance, Annie lifted her gaze to find Max Bowen, the groom’s younger brother, smirking at her. She brought her hand to her thumping heart. “Jeez, you scared me, Max.”

“Sorry,” he said, his light eyes sparkling with amusement. “What are you doing here?”

They were in the unlit part of the backyard, as far away from the wedding reception as possible without actually leaving the Bowens’ property.

“I’m in hiding. Go away.” She shooed him, peeking around to make sure no one had followed him. “You always have a string of girls attached to your hip. Soon they’re all going to be gathered here giggling, drawing attention, and I don’t want to be found.”

Her duties as bridesmaid were done. Tate and James were already on their way to their honeymoon; she could disappear in good conscience.

“Hey,” he complained, sounding offended. “I may need to go into hiding for a while too.”

She gave him a disbelieving look. “You? Why?”

Max loosened his tie and, unfastening the first button of his shirt, sat beside her on the hammock. “Why? Because my ass has been pinched so many times tonight, I swear I can barely feel it anymore.”

Annie stifled a giggle. “Your ass is sore?”

“Like you wouldn’t believe,” he said, breathing out slowly and running his hand through his shoulder-length hair.

She locked eyes with him, realizing too late he was smiling less than three inches away from her face. The sight of him all but knocked the wind out of her. Max in faded old jeans and a tee was breathtaking. In a tuxedo? A total heart-stopper.

She wasn’t too fond of blond men, but Max was in a league all his own. With model-perfect masculine features, wicked blue-green eyes, and his usual weeklong golden stubble, Max was sexy as hell. Add to his Hollywood looks his laid-back disposition, kick-ass body, and roguish smile, and, well, it was almost impossible not to drool in his presence. A fact the charming devil knew very well and played to his full advantage.

Annie wasn’t sure how, but she managed to break eye contact. “I think the senior contingent from Eternal Sun Resort might be the ones primarily responsible for your ass condition.” She got it that both Mr. Bowen and Tate’s mom lived down there—were neighbors, in fact—but they should never have told the other residents about the wedding. The Bowen brothers were popular enough in the greater Boston area. No need to bring reinforcements from the South.

“Probably.” Max pondered for a second and then grinned at her. “I should just count my lucky stars those ladies are on the short side and can’t reach my nipples, huh?”

Annie burst into laughter. God, Max was such a clown. Although on that one he might be right. “I hear they chartered a bus and made regular stops along the way from Florida to Boston to pick up their granddaughters and nieces.”

And who could blame them? It was not every day that one of the Bowen brothers tied the knot. The standard guest plus one had transformed into guest plus ten. Not to mention the groom’s wedding party, which alone was a sight to behold. All those hunks in tailored tuxedos, standing tall and proud and yummy. Talk about eye candy. She must have gotten a couple of extra cavities tonight just from staring.

Max smiled. “That would explain it. This is the first wedding I’ve attended where there are more people crashing the damn event than actual guests. James should’ve hired his own security company to guard the place.”

He should have, but judging by the way he’d looked, he’d been so over the moon lately that he probably hadn’t thought about anything besides putting his ring on Tate’s finger.

Max seemed to be able to read her mind. “Yeah, I know my brother is in married-man bliss, but there is Cole and me to think about. Well, okay, just me now that Cole is engaged,” he conceded with a rueful grin. “But seriously, with how fiercely protective Cole is of Christy, and the mean right hook she’s developed, I’d say some guests would have thanked him for the extra protection too.”

“Please. Christy is a pussycat.” Nevertheless, Annie sure relished the yellowish remnants of the black eye Rose was still sporting, which, by the way, she’d totally deserved. A real pity no one had gotten that on video. “And you, mister, don’t need protection from women.”

If anything, it was the other way around. He was the ultimate ladies’ man. He’d never hurt for female attention before, but now with James married and Cole engaged, Max was getting so much action he was gorging on it.

His cheeky grin lit his face. “True, under normal circumstances, but that back there is a bit overwhelming, even for me.”

Annie was about to answer, when suddenly Max moved, making the hammock rock like crazy. “What are you doing?” she squeaked, gripping the net hard.

“Lying down. I need to give my poor, abused ass a respite. Come on,” he said, patting the spot near him. “Lie down with me. I don’t bite.”

Oh, she wouldn’t bet on that.

She warily eyed the net. Forget the spiky high heels she was wearing and the skintight bridesmaid’s dress, which was the shit but didn’t allow for much movement. She’d spent three hours in the beauty salon getting her unruly mop of hair pinned up and adorned with dozens of tiny white flowers. “If my hairdo gets tangled in that, I won’t be able to yank it free without looking like the modern version of Medusa.”

“Here.” He stretched out his arm and offered it as a pillow.

Annie doubted this was a good idea, but she was so tired. “I’m not that great with hammocks. I may roll us both over.”

“I’m a professional stuntman. I think I can handle a hammock.”

Well, he had a point there. She’d seen him on the big screen doing the craziest things. Not to mention his fondness for extreme sports.

“I’ll keep us steady,” he insisted. “Come on. You’re messing with the center of gravity by sitting there.”

She hesitated for just a second, then shrugged. “Fine. But I’m not too coordinated. Don’t come crying to me when we find ourselves on the grass, Mr. Hotshot Stuntman.” She slowly moved to lie beside him.

It was a two-person hammock, but he was so big and his shoulders were so damn broad, he took more than his fair share of space. She rested her head on his arm and tried to keep her body at a distance from his, but he was much heavier and her whole left side ended up glued to his right.

“Comfy?” he asked.

Actually, yes, but that was beside the point.

“Hmm…”

She tried separating herself from him, but gravity and his massive body worked against her. The more she moved away, the more the net bounced her right back against Max.

“Not that I’m complaining, but you’re rubbing against me. Anything you want to tell me, Miss Griffin?” he asked, his words laced with laughter.

This was the closest she’d ever been to Max. She could feel every flex of his muscles, his warm breath tickling her face. In spite of herself, his low, deep rumble and hard body had all her girlie parts tingling, which was so inappropriate on so many levels, she refused to even think about it.

She cleared her throat, trying to sound outraged. “Of course not. Besides, you’re way too young for me.” Eight years younger. Not to mention that at thirty-five, Annie was a good decade older than the women Max usually dated.

“Sure, you’re ancient. Now stop squirming, Ace. You’ll break your femur, and at your age any fracture could be fatal.”

She saw the smirk on his face and went to elbow him, but there was not enough space between them to get a good jab in.

“Watch it. You could easily dislocate a shoulder. I hear all you have to do is sneeze, and there goes the hip.”

“Oh please. Just shut up,” she said, unable to contain her laughter.

Annie hadn’t had much contact with Max before. But since Tate and Holly had started to hang out together, and Christy and Cole had become an item, the Bowen brothers and their crew had ceased to be a bunch of gorgeous guys she admired from afar and had become permanent fixtures in her life. It was hard to get used to such an overabundance of panty creamers, but she was coping. With the occasional panic attack, but she was coping.

Chuckling himself, he pinned her by his side and turned his gaze to the sky. “Settle down and look up, Ace.”

Bossy guy, she thought, but she found herself obliging him. “Wow,” she whispered as she took in the view.

“Everything looks better from a hammock, doesn’t it?”

It sure did. “I’m going to take one to the Friday-night outdoor movie instead of sitting on those wooden chairs. The Arnie marathon they’re running won’t be better, but at least the hammock will improve my viewing experience.”

“I hear they’re preparing a Mel Gibson marathon for next year.”

“That’s marginally better.”
His low voice rumbled in the night. “How do you figure that?”

“More rom-coms, less commando crap. Plus, I could stand to see his milky-white ass again in Braveheart.

She felt him turn to her and shake his head.

Max lowered a foot to the ground and kicked, gently rocking the hammock. They lay there in silence for a long while, enjoying the view. She should have been more freaked about being there with Max Bowen, but the truth of the matter was she didn’t have the energy to get herself worked up.

It had been a very hectic day. The wedding had been beautiful, and everything had gone according to plan—more or less—but it had been taxing. For a while she’d felt dizzy and out of breath from the excitement and the place being packed. And then there had been the cake. Annie loved cake, even risqué ones, but she must have eaten the poisoned piece intended for Tate—or Christy—because, boy, the little sucker had repeated on her. Now though, away from the crowd, her gaze on the black sky, gently rocking, she felt totally relaxed and at ease.

“The wedding was beautiful,” she said.

“Aunt Maggie and Tate’s mom really thought of everything.”

“Except for the electrified fence around the yard.”

Max chuckled. “Yes, except for that. I could have done without the impromptu conga line during the reception too.”

“Come on, Max, you rocked the conga line.”

It had been one of the highlights of the night, second only to seeing Tate all but run down the aisle and kiss the living daylights out of James before the priest had gotten a word in, that amazing green dragon tattoo swirling on the small of her totally exposed back. Ah, and the dance of the best man and the maid of honor. There had been so much tension rolling off Jack and Elle, it was palpable.

“Did you see Elle’s face when the bouquet hit her on the head?” Annie asked.

Max nodded. “Epic. I hope the photographer got it. That picture is so going to the wall of fame in Rosita’s.”

Elle hadn’t looked happy the bouquet had defied physics, changed trajectory in midair, and landed on her head while she’d been standing beside her date—Kai, a gorgeous Japanese American full of tattoos. Jack hadn’t looked much happier either. It wasn’t clear if his displeasure had to do with Kai or the bouquet. Both, probably. Not that Jack himself could talk, considering the exuberant blonde he’d had perched on his arm.

“So, why are you in hiding?” Max asked, turning his captivating gaze on her and disrupting all her thoughts. God, the guy was stunning. And this close, there was all the olfactory and tactile data to deal with. Even in his relaxed position, Max oozed masculinity and testosterone. His smell, a mixture of aftershave, clean sweat, and a hint of tobacco from the cigar James had given him, was so male it gave her goose bumps. She couldn’t explain it, but to her, Max smelled like summer and sunshine. Even now, in the middle of the night.

She sighed and turned her face up to the sky. “I’ve been in the dating arena long enough to know that when your date starts talking about himself in the third person, it’s time to hide.”

The hammock shook with his muffled laughter. His hard body too.

“Not to mention the more he drinks, the more arms he grows. And the more his eyes bulge every time he sees a pair of boobs. It’s bad enough that he’s spent the last two hours talking to my nipples, but ogling other women’s goodies on top of that? Gross.”

Steven was a coworker from her office. She’d gone out with him once this past month. The first date hadn’t turned out too horribly, so she’d given it a second try. Bad, bad idea.

He tsked. “Moron. Doesn’t he know your goodies are the best?”

She felt her face flame. Then she realized what he was probably referring to. “You’re talking about the candy basket from the fund-raiser, right?” A couple of weeks ago, for the annual town fund-raising dinner, her candy shop had donated a basket of gourmet candy, which Max had bid on and won.

“Those goodies too.”

God, he was such a shameless flirt. Gorgeous, charming, easygoing. Pity when it came to women, he had the attention span of a hummingbird on crack. Which was irrelevant, really. Not only was he totally out of her league, but there was the age difference to contend with. Eight years might not seem like much, but in mind-sets, they were light years apart. Annie was ready to settle and marry, and Max was… Well, Max was most definitely not. He wasn’t playing the field; he owned the damned field.

“Behave,” she admonished him.

“I am, Ace. I am,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve been meaning to tell you those chocolate things were fantastic.”

“You liked them?”

He nodded. “Don’t misunderstand me; traditional candy is great, but this new shit you’re bringing…mouthwatering.”

Annie smiled, pleased as all hell. She’d inherited the little candy shop in Alden five years ago, when her mom remarried and moved to Ohio. Annie already had an office job in Boston, but she hadn’t wanted to close the place down. So she’d hired a girl to run it during the week, and Annie took care of Saturdays and the odd afternoons when the girl couldn’t.

The shop had barely been turning a profit. With the extra salary to foot, Annie had decided to upgrade the whole concept. Along with jelly beans and candy canes, she went for a more sophisticated line, sporting gourmet chocolates and truffles from Brussels, strawberries with champagne and white-chocolate frosting, and all sorts of products for special occasions.

“Remember to come ready to tweet.”

He winked at her. “Don’t worry. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the whole shebang.”

“You have all of those?”

“Actually, no, but I’ll sign up. How did you think of the whole concept?”

“Honestly? I didn’t. Christy did.”

One day, brainstorming while chatting with Christy about how to reach more customers, her friend had come up with the idea of using Twitter. The shop Sweets had become Sweets and Tweets, and clients got a discount if they tweeted on the spot about the goodies they were buying. Word got out about the new products, and in no time they had people coming from Boston to get their sugar fixes or to buy treats for special dates. This past Valentine’s Day had been crazy. The line had gone all the way to the street and around the corner.

Max smiled. “My future sister-in-law is a charming geek.”

“That she is.”

Annie and Christy had met in college and had kept in contact ever since. A bit over six months ago, Christy had taken a sabbatical from her job as a software engineer and moved temporarily from LA to Alden to get away from her ex-fiancé. Now she was engaged to Cole Bowen and ran Alden’s library. Funny how things changed.

They swung in comfortable silence for a while longer.

“So, I have to ask,” he said after a long pause. “How often do you end up in hiding during your dates?”

She snorted. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I’d be hiding in the bathroom right now if I could be sure that the Women Only sign would stop that self-absorbed pompous ass from entering.”

Annie was an active dater—an optimist. Yeah, the world was full of frogs, but there were princes out there. She just had to persevere until she found hers; it was a matter of probabilities, pure and simple. Easier said than done. A romantic at heart, she’d always kept faith that everyone got a happily ever after, but with the luck she’d had lately and all the frogs she’d had to deal with, she’d begun to suspect “everyone” just didn’t include her.

Max barked out a laugh. “Self-absorbed pompous ass?”

Annie nodded. “Aka Steven.”

“You’re dating the wrong guys.”

Didn’t she know it.

Not that Max would understand her predicament. The guy went through women like most men went through potato chips, a handful at a time. He charmed girls out of their panties as if it were an Olympic sport. Nevertheless, Annie hadn’t heard a single complaint from the female population. Far from it.

“What about the stud gala? Did you end up in hiding there too?”

Annie stilled. “How did you know about the gala?”

“You kidding me? I heard Cole grumbling about you guys buying the gala invitation for Christy. Then I had to listen Tate complain about not getting one. And then James growling and threatening Elle with bodily harm if she dared to buy one for Tate.”

She cleared her throat. “That wasn’t a date. But, no, I didn’t end up in hiding then.”

No, sir, not at all.
“Guys, what are you doing there?” a woman asked.

Annie turned her head to see Christy and Cole approaching.

“His ass was hurting and he needed to lie down,” Annie blurted, tensing. Under somebody else’s scrutiny, lying there with Max felt suddenly awkward.

Christy looked confused. “What?”

“Never mind,” Annie mumbled, clumsily hauling herself up and out of the hammock. Max followed her much more gracefully, holding her when her wobbly legs and the rocking made falling on her face a very distinct possibility.

“How’s it going?” Max asked his brother. “Is the party winding down already?”

Cole looked toward the reception and grimaced. “Nope,” he muttered. Then he turned to Christy. “We’re eloping.”

She smiled widely. “Sure, let’s elope to Vegas.”

Cole’s expression tightened. “I’m not getting hitched by Elvis,” he warned, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and bringing her front to his side.

“Who said anything about Elvis? I was thinking more along the lines of Captain Kirk.”

“So not happening.”

Christy, bless her heart, ignored him and smiled even wider. “Or Spock. We could book the Star Trek package, marry with a Vulcan and a Klingon as witnesses. And wire the chapel so that our friends could follow the wedding through the Internet. Wouldn’t that be a blast?”

He kissed her hard, then whispered against her lips, “I love you, baby, but no fucking way.” If his expression was anything to go by, it was a good thing Cole loved Christy to pieces, because he sure as hell wasn’t a man to be led by his dick, much less into a Star Trek wedding.

“Elope all you want, but I’m organizing your bachelor party. Imagine all I could do with Vegas as the backdrop,” Max said, to which Cole grimaced even more strongly.

“Here you are,” Annie heard someone say.

Shit. Steven, aka Pompous Ass. Her stomach roiled and realization dawned. Oh God, the spell of sickness she’d experienced during the reception? Apparently it had nothing to do with the crowded yard or the cake. She’d reached a milestone—her dates were physically making her sick. Way to go.

Max came closer and whispered, “Is this the guy?”

She nodded and turned to Steven, who was obnoxiously grinning.

“Ready to dance with the king of the night, darling?”

He was now close enough that his sugary smell reached her. Nausea rose in her belly. Trying not to cringe, she took a step forward, frantic for an excuse.

Suddenly, someone tugged her hand from behind. “Sorry, man,” Max apologized. “The prettiest girl in this wedding owes me a couple of dances, and I’m ready to collect.”

Max twirled her and wound her in, winking. “Let’s give him a show,” he whispered. Before she could react, Max wrapped one hand around her neck, the other around her waist. Exaggeratedly bending her backward, he placed his lips over hers.She hadn’t regained her breath or her bearings when he pulled her up for another spin.

Oh God, too much movement.

“I’m not feeling good,” she managed to get out. Then she leaned over and threw up all over Max’s shoes.

* * * *

“Okay, spit it out, Annie,” Holly prompted, tapping at the table. “I’m the dispatcher for the sheriff’s department. Whatever it is, I’m sure I’ve heard worse. Although, if memory serves, Ben switching teams on you was a DEFCON3 emergency. I truly have no clue what possible planetary disaster DEFCON1 could refer to.”

Annie glanced around, making sure they were alone in the terrace. Then, trying not to hyperventilate, Annie uttered those two tiny words, the ones that had her freaked out of her ever-loving mind.

Holly, Christy, and Sophie gaped at her, totally shocked. Thank God they’d been sitting; otherwise her friends’ behinds would have had very close encounters with the floor.

“Definitely DEFCON1,” Christy mumbled and Sophie assented.

“Pregnant? What do you mean pregnant?” Holly asked, sounding stupefied.

“Pregnant,” Annie choked out. “As in knocked up.”

“How? When? Who?” Then, before Annie could answer, not that she was too eager to answer anyway, Holly continued, “Please don’t tell me it’s Steven’s.”
At least there was that: a positive side of this whole mess she hadn’t thought of. “Eww. You nuts? I didn’t have sex with Steven.”

Her friends let out a collective sigh of relief. “Thank God,” Holly muttered.

Annie had been about to chide them for even thinking she’d had sex with Steven after just two dates, but she saw the irony in her predicament and decided to bite her tongue.

“If it isn’t his, then…?” Christy asked, motioning with her hand for Annie to go on.

Annie cleared her throat. “Remember the StudsRus.com gala a while back?” she said with a grimace. “The nice Italian escort I met there? Luigi?”

Complete silence.

Annie had attended the yearly gala in Christy’s place. The most prestigious escort agency in Boston had hosted it a month ago at the Ritz Carlton downtown. The girls had managed to buy an invitation for Christy’s birthday, after her vow to get professionally laid, but once Cole had heard about it, he’d put a damper to the whole plan. So they had drawn straws, and surprise, surprise, Annie had won.

“You’re shitting us,” Sophie said.

Annie shook her head. No, she wasn’t shitting them. She wished she were, but she wasn’t.

It had been a great night. Magical, with all the candlelight, the unending flow of expensive champagne, and the great company. That it was a masquerade ball had also added an extra layer of magic and privacy that had been exhilarating.

Apparently StudsRus.com’s escorts were highly sought after. They traveled all over the country accompanying clients, some of them very powerful people, to high-profile events. They were not only gorgeous; they were extremely well educated and charming. One of the escorts she’d met that night was a dark-haired, handsome man by the name of Luigi. One thing led to another, and she most definitely had not ended up hiding in the bathroom.

Holly cursed. “What about the whole stash of condoms I put in your purse? Didn’t you think of using them?”

“I used condoms; I swear I did.”

“How exactly did you use them, sweetheart?”

“What do you mean, how did I use them? How does anyone use condoms? Are there so many different ways of using them?” Annie asked, out of breath, her tone of voice rising. She was freaking out. Big-time. But all in all, she thought she was entitled to. “I certainly didn’t put them on my head as new-age hats.”

“Did it break?”

She shook her head. If it had, she would have gotten the morning-after pill, and she wouldn’t currently be about to pass out.

“Are you sure it’s not a false alarm?” Sophie asked, trying to calm her down.

“No false alarm. Five peed-on sticks and two blood tests confirm it. I’m pregnant up to my eyeballs,” Annie said as she, very ineffectively, fanned herself with a napkin. Damn hot flashes. Before she found out about the pregnancy, she’d been having so many of them, she’d even considered going to the doctor to make sure she hadn’t entered some sort of freaky early menopause. Wouldn’t that have been a laugh.

“How did this happen?” Holly asked.

Sophie waved at her. “The usual way?”

“Not helping, sweetie.” Holly chastised Sophie with a look and then turned to Annie. “If you used condoms, how did you get pregnant?”

And here was where it got embarrassing. “It seems there’s an infinitesimal chance of getting knocked up if you start rolling the condom on, realize it’s inside out, and then turn it the right way. Drops of precum get onto the outside of the condom, and voilà, if the semen is of quality and has great mobility, you’re in deep shit.” Annie looked at them, fidgeting. “I was a bit nervous, and there wasn’t too much light…”

She should have left the logistical details to the pro.

All the head shaking she’d done when women in her office got pregnant out of carelessness, and look at her: knocked up on a technicality.

Sophie whistled. “Wow, some super-duper power sperm those studs have, huh?”

“Tell me about it,” Annie muttered.

“Could it be someone else’s?” Christy asked.

“It’s either Luigi’s or an immaculate conception.”

The good thing about getting laid so seldom was that she could pinpoint the conception date with 100 percent accuracy, which meant that if her baby was as anal as she was, he or she should be born in the early hours of March thirty-first.

Holly looked at her, worried. “I hate to say this, honey, and I know these guys are the best of the best, but did you get checked for diseases?”

“Yeah, no STDs.” That was what she’d done first once she’d found out about her pregnancy. And hadn’t that been fun, explaining to Alden’s only doctor, the same one who had treated her all her life, why she needed testing for STDs right after he told her she was pregnant. “All I got from the superstud is a baby.”

“At least you had a valid excuse for throwing up on Max the other night,” Christy said.

Annie cringed at the memory. Talk about making an ass out of herself. The most sought-after bachelor in the whole state was being sweet and offering her a way out so she wouldn’t have to dance with Steven, and what had she done in exchange? She’d puked her brains out all over his shoes, messing his pants too. Well, on the flip side, the second she’d started throwing up, her oh-so-attentive date had all but run in the opposite direction.

Max, on the other hand, had been very nice and understanding. He’d even joked that if he’d been saddled with a date like Steven, he would’ve been puking too.

“Does Luigi know about any of this?”

“Nope. And I never got a last name, so I don’t know how to contact him.” Or even if she wanted to.

Annie had been dazzled by Luigi, who had been so not what she’d expected. He wasn’t a young, buff stud with more muscles than brains. No, he was in his mid-to-late thirties, sophisticated, elegant, and a great conversationalist. She wasn’t a knockout, but she was pretty enough. And so far her body was holding its own against gravity and time, if one could ignore the expansionist tendencies of her ass. Still, Luigi favoring her company had kind of blown her mind. Between that, the alcohol, and the privacy the masks offered, she’d just let go. In the morning, though, she’d panicked and, much to her shame, run out on the guy before he even woke up. How the hell was she supposed to face the proverbial morning after when she had slept with a professional escort in his spare time? At least she thought it had been in his spare time. She didn’t even dare consider he’d been working and she’d stiffed him of his fee. That was just too much.

“It seems Italian escorts are in fashion. StudsRus.com has eight Luigis on staff. I’m going to have to ask them for pictures.”

If the conversation at the doctor’s had been fun, she shuddered to think about the one with the stud-agency receptionist.

She might never find Luigi again, and she couldn’t say she felt particularly sorry about it. After all, she didn’t know the guy. But a man had the right to know he was a father. And although she didn’t need a husband, the thought of raising a kid all by herself sucker punched her. Money was not an issue; she had a good job, the shop was doing well, and she still had the untouched trust fund her paternal grandparents had created for her. They hadn’t trusted her flighty father, and thank God for that, because the man was already on his fifth bimbo wife, who was bleeding him dry like three of her predecessors.

So financially she was more than covered, but there were other things to consider. Some mornings it took her forever to decide whether she wanted to have cornflakes or honey puffs—how the hell was she going to choose a school for the kid? He or she would be old enough for junior high by the time Annie had made up her mind.

“You know, I somehow envisioned embracing motherhood differently. Not at thirty-five, without a partner, and knocked up by a gigolo who might or might not be named Luigi.”

After all, maybe Luigi was just his stage name.

“It beats the hell out of a sperm bank, which is what I can see in my future,” Holly muttered.

They were silent for a while. Then Annie sighed. “I’m so screwed, guys. I’m a forensic accountant. What do I know about kids?”

“You own a candy store. I’d say you’re already ahead,” Christy offered.

Well, there was that.

“I should have never gotten up on that flower pot after you,” Annie said to Christy. “You got the good stuff. I got…backlash.” Annie covered her face with her hands. “This is so unfair. You and Cole are the ones humping like rabbits all the time. Me? It was just once. One little screw. Why me? The universe hates me.”

She should have suspected there was some mega cosmic catch to it when she’d won that gala invitation. She never won anything. Ever. On the contrary. She was that jinxed.

Holly interrupted her mental rant. “Wait a second. What do you mean, only once? Wasn’t he, you know, up for a rematch?”
“It was good, don’t misunderstand me, but let’s just put it this way: when an overpriced European escort isn’t working, he starts snoring after the deed.”

“Are you sure he was a member of StudsRus.com and not some nutcase impersonating a stud, like in True Lies?” Sophie asked.

Oh crap, she hadn’t thought of that possibility. Annie panicked for a second, then shook her head. “No, can’t be. He knew everyone there.”

“True Lies?” Holly repeated.

“You know, the waiter in that Arnie movie, the one who got chicks by impersonating a spy,” Sophie explained.

Christy frowned. “A waiter? Wasn’t he a car salesman? I—”

“People, people. Concentrate,” Holly interrupted, out of patience. “I told you to quit with the outdoor movies.” She turned to Annie. “Are you going to keep it?”

Annie looked at her friends. “Forget the fact I’m thirty-five and my clock is ticking. What are the chances of getting pregnant like this? One in a frigging billion. This baby hasn’t been born yet, and it’s already a damn superhero. Of course I’m keeping it.”

Bowen Series Reading Order

More than Meets the Ink (Bowen, #1)
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1DjeSLD
Heavy Issues (Bowen #2)
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1vn91q6
Inked Ever After (Bowen, #2.5)
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1DshXJJ
To The Max (Bowen, #3)
Releasing 2/10/2015
About the Author

After a colorful array of jobs all over Europe ranging from translator to chocolatier to travel agent to sushi chef to flight dispatcher, Elle Aycart is certain of one thing and one thing only: aside from writing romances, she has abso-frigging-lutely no clue what she wants to do when she grows up. Not that it stops her from trying all sorts of crazy stuff.

While she is probably now thinking of a new profession, her head never stops churning new plots for her romances. She lives currently in Barcelona, Spain, with her husband and two daughters, although who knows, in no time she could be living at the Arctic Circle in Finland, breeding reindeer.

Giveaway

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#TheSlayer is coming! ★The Viper★ Spotlight & #Giveaway with @Kele_Moon

It’s week 4 of my Kele Moon Spotlight and countdown till The Slayer and we’re just one step closer to Chuito. This week I’m spotlighting THE VIPER, which marks the first book in Kele’s Untamed Hearts series.

(In case you’ve missed the cover and blurb reveal for The Slayer, you can check it out HERE! But please be prepared to lick your screens. Don’t say I didn’t warn you 😉 )
Catch up on all the previous posts here:

Now back to business. As you all already know, I absolutely ADORED The Slayer. But The Viper is what truly got me sucked into this new series. If you haven’t read the Battered Hearts but want to read Untamed Hearts, I strongly recommend reading them in order. The Viper is what will really introduce all the characters of this series to you. (And I’m telling you all now, Nova is mine! I’ve called dibs and it’s not up for negotiations)

In The Viper, you’ll meet Chuito’s cousin and best friend, Marcos. If you’re not going to be lusting after him after just one chapter, then we aren’t reading the same book. May I present exhibit A?

Watching a hot girl come was his drug of choice. When other guys his age were sinking into drugs or alcohol, he was sneaking into girls’ bedrooms and going down on them.

Yeah. Exactly. I rest my case. You can read my full review for The Viper HERE. And keep scrolling down for a tempting excerpt from this book. Plus don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a print or an ebook copy of THE VIPER!!!About The Book

The Viper 
Untamed Hearts, #1
Author: Kele Moon
Genre: Erotic / Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 19, 2014

Marcos Rivera is a fighter. A gang member. Someone who has seen the dark side of humankind and survived. He has lost family and gained enemies. He has stolen cars and destroyed hearts, stripping one for money and the other for pleasure. His past is haunted and his future is bleak.Until her.

Katie Foster is a high school history teacher. Smart, strong, and sexy. She is a woman Marcos shouldn’t want. Shouldn’t touch. Shouldn’t love. He met her in Garnet, a backwards, hick town that’s the last place in the world he wants to be, but he finds himself going back for a taste of the forbidden.

Katie represents all that is good in the world, and Marcos knows he’s nothing but trouble for her perfect life. He fights and he screws. He commits crimes and he breaks the rules. He will never change and he will never escape his gang lifestyle.

Or can he?

What happens when two different people from two very different walks of life risk it all by giving into the passion that threatens to consume both of them? Can a woman who only knows how to play it safe give her heart to a man who lives hard and loves harder?

Will she survive The Viper?

Excerpt

“You’re not exactly a ten, Katie.” Grayson laughed cruelly, reminding Katie why she left to begin with. “No one is going to love you for your mind like I do, not in this town. I’m your best option, and I don’t understand why you did this to us.”

“I think she’s a ten,” a man called from behind them.

Goose bumps danced over Katie’s skin, and she wasn’t sure why until she craned her neck to look toward the direction of the low, male voice. Her body must have recognized what her mind hadn’t caught up with, because walking over to them was Marcos Rivera. He was wearing sunglasses and a baseball hat, but it was undeniably him. She could see the snake tattoo on his arm from there.

He looked larger than life in the late afternoon sun with those impossibly broad shoulders and large, bunched biceps covered in tribal tattoos. She couldn’t help but notice that every inch of him seemed wound tight and ready to jump—like a tiger stalking prey. She blinked, understanding for the first time all those warnings Jules had been leveling at her in regards to Marcos.

This wasn’t the kind, handsome angel from the crash site.

This Marcos looked deadly.

He took off his sunglasses when he stopped in front of them. His light gaze rested on the steely grasp Grayson still had on her arm. “This is the part where you let her go.”

“Excuse me?” Grayson huffed in that annoying superior voice of his that had always embarrassed Katie when he used it in public, usually toward someone parking their car or waiting on them at a restaurant. “This is my wife and—”

“Ex-wife,” Katie corrected before Grayson could finish. She was still staring at Marcos in shock, unable to believe he was really standing there in front of her. “What are you doing here?”

Marcos broke the dangerous staring contest he was having with Grayson. He let his gaze run over her hotly for one long moment, making more goose bumps dance over her arms. A small bit of the tension eased out of his powerful frame, and the look in his beautiful eyes became warm just like she remembered. “I got your messages.”

“My messa—” Katie cheeks heated when she realized what he was talking about and her voice was a squeak of acknowledgement. “Oh.”

There was a quiet moment between them, one charged enough that Katie was actually breathless to be in his presence again after so long. Strangely enough, she could feel it off Marcos too. That electric fission of need so overwhelming it actually showed on his face and translated into something tangible enough that even someone as romantically challenged as Katie could sense it. As if remembering they weren’t alone, Marcos cleared his throat and turned back to Grayson, his eyes narrowed in warning once more.

“Yeah, I’m gonna have to insist you get your hands off her.” He eyed Grayson’s hold on her arm pointedly. “Now.”

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Blog Tour, Excerpt & #Giveaway: ★The Science of Attraction★ by @veritymjacobs

THE SCIENCE OF ATTRACTION
Author: Verity Jacobs
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 26, 2015

Kate Ramsey is at the top of her game.She’s the hot new recruit at the most prestigious research institute in Germany, and she’s determined to live up to the hype — even if it means working day and night. Stress relief comes in the form of a no-nonsense affair with her neighbor, who also happens to be the director of the institute. Who says sex should be anything more than a contract between two people who have other things on their mind?

So when Tom Baker saunters into her life, Kate is understandably upset to see this well-oiled machine splutter and seize. Tom is young and smart, and far too pretty for his own good. Kate can’t help but be drawn to him, even if giving in to the attraction would mean risking everything she’s worked for.

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BOOK TRAILER

Storyboard for The Science of Attraction: http://www.pinterest.com/verityjacobs/the-science-of-attraction/
Excerpt

Scar

“So, what are we drinking to?” Tek asked, flopping down on the remaining chair.

“Well, I’m drinking to beautiful women and summer sun.” Tom grinned and held his bottle aloft, leaning back and catching my eye again.

“I’m drinking to five days away from the bench,” Margot added wryly.

“I’m drinking to being near the freakin’ water again, even if it’s just a pebbly old sea,” Tek said, his Antipodean beach snobbery shining through.

“And I’m drinking to keeping you all out of trouble,” I said, raising an eyebrow.

“Now why would you want to do a thing like that?” Tom said, winking as he clinked his bottle against my glass.

“Because you obviously need it,” I shot back, looking over at him and instinctively, foolishly, holding his gaze.

“Do I?” he said, his voice low. It took me a second to realize that Tek and Margot had started up their own conversation. I was well and truly trapped in a Tom bubble.

I took a breath and somehow managed to tear my eyes away from his, shifting my focus downward. But of course, that was no better.

“Where did you get this?” I asked, reaching out without thinking to stroke the scar that stretched across the width of his forearm.

“Mountain biking with my brother,” he said softly. And then, “It looked a lot more impressive when I was eleven.”

I smiled and rubbed my fingertip back across the white stripe, ignoring the voice in my head that was telling me not to. It was soft and indistinct anyway, garbled no doubt by half a bottle of wine.

“It still feels a little funny to the touch,” he continued, “especially when you— Ah!”

His gasp shot straight through me, and I realized with a start that I was grazing the surface of his skin with my nails in a slow caress.

“—do that,” he finished, and somehow I couldn’t help but look up again.

Big mistake.

“It feels kinda great,” he said, “but it also drives me nuts.”

There was something about this statement that stripped all previous conversation of its innocence. Something about the pairing of pleasure and pain that left me short of breath.

“You have a brother?” I said faintly, reining in my hand and blinking a couple of times in a vain attempt to reset my head.

“Yeah, I do,” he said. “He’s a year older, we’re pretty close.” He took a swig of beer and smiled sidelong at me, a smile that seemed designed to absolve my sins, even as it inspired new ones.

About the Author

Verity Jacobs is a reformed scientist, who left the lab when she fell in love with writing about love. She lives with her husband and baby girl in London, where she dreams by day and writes all night long. She is addicted to the heart flutters and stomach flips of the fictional romance world.

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Release Blitz, Excerpt & #Giveaway: ★Floored★ by @MelanieHarlow2

Title: Floored (Frenched Series Book #3)
Author: Melanie Harlow
Genre: NA, Contemporary Romance, Humor
Release Date: February 5, 2015

Erin Upton is too embarrassed to tell the cops what she was really doing while her townhouse was burglarized, especially since the first officer on the scene is former nuisance next door Charlie Dwyer. Where’s the justice in the world when a neighborhood know-it-all grows up to be six-foot-three inches of solid muscle with gorgeous green eyes and a slow, sexy please-arrest-me-now-officer smile? It’s bad enough she’s wearing her robe and slippers—did he have to notice her fuzzy hand cuffs on the bathroom sink?He’s arrogant as he ever was, which is fine by her—she’s too busy with her dance studio’s grand opening to make time for a man. But they keep crossing paths, and when Charlie offers to help her put in new flooring at the studio one night, things go from hammering nails to hammering each other in a hurry. And about those hand cuffs…

They agree it’s a one-time thing. But when that becomes a two-time thing, then a three-time thing, Erin starts to wonder if maybe she and Charlie could be a life-time thing. Her best friends Mia and Coco found love in unexpected places. Is it finally her turn?

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Excerpt

“Stop it. I’m not perfect. I’m not what you think.”

Charlie tilted his head. “No?”

I licked my lips. “You think I’m a joke. The “Teacher’s Pet. The Homecoming Queen. The Goody Two Shoes who likes everything just so, everything neat and clean. Well, I don’t, you know. Like everything clean.”

Charlie said nothing at first. But his stillness told me he was intrigued. A lovely little ache blossomed between my legs.

“You like some things dirty. Is that what you’re saying?”

“Yes,” I whispered, butterflies rioting in my belly.

“I’m not sure you do.”

“Try me.”

Slowly, he came off the counter. Bracing my hands behind my hips, I opened my knees, and he stepped between them, sliding his hands up the tops of my thighs. He was so tall, I had to tilt my head back to look at him. Up close his chest was even more imposing, and his shoulders seemed to dwarf mine. Gooseflesh rippled down my arms, and my breaths came fast.

By contrast, Charlie seemed completely in control. His breathing was slow and measured, his hands moving over my hips and beneath my sweatshirt. His eyes stayed locked on mine as his palms slid up the sides of my ribcage and back down, spanning my waist. “Such a tiny little thing.”

“Scared you’ll break me?”

“Yes.” In the near dark, his blue eyes looked black.

“Do it.”

In less than a second, Charlie pulled off three moves that had me gasping for air—he yanked me to my feet, turned me around, and kicked my heels apart so my legs were spread and I was bent over the island, arms pinned behind my back. His legs pressed the backs of my thighs, and his hips pushed against my ass.

He was hard.

The power went out completely.

Oh my fucking God.

“Panting, I lay my cheek on the cool marble, unsure of what to do next. Between my ears, the message was this is scary. Between my legs, it was this is hot.

“No, don’t give up. Fight me. Come on. Struggle.” His voice was different now—deeper, quieter even, yet more intimidating.

Adrenaline coursed through my body, my heart pounding with fear, with arousal, with shock. I tried moving my arms—he pulled them tighter, clamped my wrists harder. I tried moving my legs—he pinned my hips against the marble, his erection pushing firmly into my flesh. I flexed my fingers—he laughed softly.

“That’s it. Try everything. Scream if you like.”

I couldn’t scream even if I wanted to. It felt like the darkness had weight, like it was bearing down on my back with a force stronger than gravity. Breathing required all the lung strength I had, and I wasn’t even sure I could keep that up.

“Tell me I’m hurting you.”

He was hurting me.

But I liked it.

He yanked my arms mercilessly behind me. “Tell me.”

“You’re hurting me,” I said weakly.

“Tell me to stop.”

“Stop.” Don’t stop.

“Tell me you don’t want this from me.”

“I don’t—want this—from you.” Each word was its own struggle. I meant the words, and yet I didn’t. I wanted him, but knew I shouldn’t. And was this only a game? Was he just testing me? Or, worse, was he back there laughing at me in the dark? I had no way to tell.

“Good girl. You don’t want this from me, sweet thing.” He backed off slightly and somehow imprisoned both my wrists with one of his hands. The other one snaked around to my belly.

And down the front of my pants.

Don’t miss the rest of the FRENCHED series

Frenched (Frenched Series Book #1)

When Tucker Branch, playboy heir to Branch Bolt and Screw, screws and bolts a week before their wedding, Mia Devine wants nothing more than to crawl under her newly monogrammed sheets and plan a funeral for her dignity. But her friends convince her that bitter tastes better when it’s drowned in Bordeaux, so Mia grits her teeth and packs her bags, determined to make the best of her luxurious Paris honeymoon—alone.She never planned on meeting Lucas Fournier.

The easygoing bartender’s scruffy good looks and less-than-sympathetic ear annoy her at first, but when she takes him up on his offer to show her around the city, she discovers that the romance of Paris isn’t just a myth.

Nor is the simultaneous O.

The last thing Mia needs is another doomed love affair, but since she only has a week, she figures she might as well enjoy la vie en O with Lucas while she can. But each day—and night—with Lucas is better than the last, and suddenly her heart is telling her this is more than a rebound fling.

Is it just the seduction of Paris…or could this be the real thing?

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Forked (Frenched Series Book #2)

Twenty-eight year old Coco Thomas knows the recipe for disaster:1) Agree to plan last-minute engagement blowout for spoiled Mafia princess before you realize her choice of caterer is Nick Lupo, a despicably gorgeous young chef with a hot new restaurant in town, a reality TV show victory, and a romantic past with you—one that did not end well.

2) Strike a deal with Nick in which you agree to spend a weekend with him in exchange for his services, under the strict conditions there will be no talking about the past, no second chances, and definitely no sex.

3) Violate all three conditions within 24 hours and spend two glorious days remembering what made you fall for the sexy, egotistical bastard in the first place, and why it hurt so much when he broke your heart.

Add one road trip, plenty of good scotch, and endless spoonfuls of chocolate cake batter drizzled over your body and licked off inch by oh-my-God-yes-right-there inch, then just admit it.

You’re totally FORKED.

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About the Author

Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her lipstick red, and her history with the naughty bits left in. She lifts her glass to readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI.

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Excerpt Reveal: ★Rebel★ by @_callie_hart

Excerpt

“You think you use your brain when you’re having sex?”

Rebel’s pen freezes on the paper. He turns, then, towering over me, my face level with his belt buckle. It’s as though I can literally feel the heat rolling off his body. He’s intimidating and overwhelming, his presence a powerful force to be reckoned with.

“Oh, Sophia. I use my brain. Every time I sleep with a woman, I’m using my head to figure out what she likes. How she likes it. What I can do to have her screaming my name until her throat’s raw.”

COMING FEBRUARY 9
About The Book
Rebel and Sophia’s story.The first of a three part series. This novel contains a small snippet which has already been released in the Owned: An Alpha Anthology, however it is followed by a full story installment.

Sophia

Sometimes, you don’t mean to become another person. Sometimes the choice is made for you, and pretending is the only thing that keeps you going. When Alexis Romera is taken and her kidnappers find her fake ID in her purse, she must become Sophia in order to keep her family safe. Revealing her real identity to the man she’s sold to would be easy enough, but can she trust him? Hell bent on revenging the murder of his uncle, Rebel doesn’t seem all that interested in playing things safe.

In fact, nothing about the secretive, dark and brooding MC president seems safe at all.

Rebel

What do you do when the man who raised you is murdered, and the only witness is kidnapped girl who’s being sold as a sex slave? You buy her, of course. As president to the most powerful motorcycle club in America, Rebel isn’t lacking in power. There are strings the man can pull, and entire criminal organisations and corporate businesses alike would fall to their knees. However, along with such power comes intense interest. The DEA have their eye fixed solely on the MC…and they’re just waiting for Rebel to trip up.

Getting Sophia to testify is the only way to bring the Los Oscuros cartel down. The beautiful, dark haired, dark eyed woman is belligerent and uncooperative and unlikely to bend to his will, but Rebel has a few tricks up his sleeve to make her compliant–he’ll charm her until she’s bending over backwards to please him.

Of course, falling for her might cause a few hiccups along the way…

About the Author

Callie has experienced many changes throughout her life, and gone through many ups and downs that have all worked towards shaping and molding her into the person she is today: fun loving, active, social, and hard working. The only thing that has remained a constant throughout her life is writing. Creating characters who will tear your conscience in two is a favorite pastime of Callie’s. There are few real saints and sinners in her books; more often, the denizens of her stories are all very human. Broken, flawed, and always with the potential for redemption.

Despite the subject matter being markedly hot and heavy in comparison to the stories she wrote in elementary school, there will always be an element of fairytale to her work.

Excerpt Reveal: ★MANWHORE★ by @authorkatyevans

 
MANWHORE by Katy Evans
Excerpt

I look very different than the girl Saint met in his office. But I don’t feel any different. My nerves are frayed to the edges as I give my name to a bouncer at the entrance and I’m allowed into the club, every part of me snug and tight in my dress as my black heels hit the floor.

Whereas M4 was all museum-like, the Ice Box is pure dark decadence. Ice sculptures sit on pedestals around the room. Cages with body-painted dancers hang from the ceiling. A bar with white and blue lights stretches from one wall to another.

Strobe lights flash across the space as I get jostled by the crowd. The bass thumps as the song “Waves” by Mr. Probz plays for the dancing crowd. Drinks are flowing on shiny silver trays, and the drinks are so adorned—by fruits, olives, salt glitter or colorful liquid swirls—they’re like artworks. This isn’t a normal swanky club. It’s the rich boys’ club and everywhere you look are beautiful people wearing beautiful things.

“I met him! God! When he said hi I thought I’d faint…!”

My nerves eat at me as I hear that, because I know for sure they’re talking about him. Trying to breathe, I wind deeper into the club, wishing for Gina so bad I ache. The room is packed with women, some clearly on the hunt, others already paired with someone, a few hanging out with their friends. I breathe slowly, in and out, telling myself I can do this. It’s just a club. I can have some fun. It’s been a while since I’ve gone out to a club, and never a club like this, but it doesn’t matter. I can interview people, and if I’m lucky, I can do more than that.

After scanning the area and trying to find the best spy-spots, I go to the top level and that’s when I get the best look at what’s happening downstairs at the most crowded corner.

And speak of the devil. My heart stops a beat when I see that dark head of his, and that loathed, burning knot in my stomach squeezes with a vengeance. I swear no one in my life has ever made me this nervous.

He sits with his arms stretched out behind him, a wine glass and two women vying for his attention as he chats with his friends. His masculine face is illuminated in certain angles when the lights flash—his beauty unprecedented.

Okay. Breathing. Do I want him to know I’m here or not?A watery sensation seems to spread down my limbs as I force myself to go downstairs. I wind a path to the ladies’ room and worm myself through the throng of bodies toward a wide mirror above a set of modernist floating sinks. A group of women preen at themselves while I look our reflections. To my right, a woman pouts her red lips, and to my left, her friend pouts her pink ones. Me? I’m still me, but I look extravagant, like I was born here. I look very different than the young girl in coveralls he met. Will he even recognize me like this?

“You going to the after-party?” Red Lips asks Pink Lips as they retouch their lipsticks.

“No key yet.”

“Lookie lookie.” Red Lips waves a keycard in the air.

There’s squealing in the room and she tucks the key into her bra. “Mine!”

“So there’s an after-party?” I ask them.

“At Saint’s penthouse,” one says, nodding.

“How do you get invited to this party?”

“A hundred keys are distributed during the evening.”

A sudden thought of stealing the very key she’s just tucked into her bra flickers through my mind. I mean, it’s just a key. It couldn’t possibly be a felony.

“Babe,” she tells me, “stop giving my key the eye! I’ve been waiting three years to get a key like this. Go and work your ass out there if you want one. Only the finest asses make it.”

“Thanks,” I say, turning to look at my ass in the mirror questioningly. Gina says I’ve got a great ass. It’s perky and the perfect handful, some would say. But would Saint say that?

I sigh and lean against the wall, then I spot all the little writings on an open stall door. I narrow my eyes, forcing my focus.

Malcolm for my baby-daddy

I sucked Saint’s cock

Tahoe rammed me right here

Callan licks cunt like a caveman

I head back into the noise and try to find a good spot for spying when I see him again. The two women won’t leave his side and now my stomach for some reason feels jumpy, annoying me. One of the blondes takes a shot from the waiter, licks the rim, and then adds salt.

Saint edges back and watches her with an expression of casual boredom, but his lips are curled, as if he’s having some fun.

I’m so engrossed watching—a little too fascinated and a little bit disgusted—I don’t realize a guard has walked up to me until he’s right in my face. He signals to the back of the room—to where Saint’s best friends are now watching me. Saint isn’t even looking my way. Oh no, he’s too busy being entertained, still wearing that almost-bored smile. Maybe they need to take their tops off to get him excited?

All three men fit in perfectly with the lavish surroundings, but I can’t look at the other two. Only at Malcolm. Malcolm’s dark good looks blend with the shadows like Hades in his own little corner of hell.

Suddenly he laughs over something one of the blondes does and he turns a little, his eyes landing straight on me—and stopping there.

I feel his stare like a hit of adrenaline. I want to look away, but I can’t, I feel trapped. I don’t know if I made this up but I could’ve sworn his chest jerked as if he sucked in a breath.
Does he recognize me?

Do I want him to?

Suddenly the atmosphere is so heavy I can’t breathe. My lungs feel like rocks and I really can’t breathe. As he rakes me in one fast, complete sweep of his eyes that makes my stomach grip nervously, he takes in my pumps up to my long blonde hair, and I become aware of my dress hugging the top of my thighs, my hips, my abdomen, my breasts and even my ass. Oh god. I force myself to follow the guard in his direction, every step accelerating my heartbeat. In that black suit and without a tie, the top button of his shirt open and his hair a bit rumpled, Saint is the embodiment of luxurious and decadent and sin. He is Sin Itself and I feel like an absolute…virgin.

He stretches his long legs out before him, his stare fixed on mine without any seeming inclination to move away.

“Mr. Saint,” the guard clears his throat. “The gentlemen had me summon her.”

Although his smile doesn’t waver, the look on his face is completely remote and unreadable.

“Here she is, gentlemen,” the guard then tells the other two—the blond and the copper-haired men looking at me like lunch.
“Tahoe,” the blonde says.

“Callan,” the copper-haired says.

Saint merely pats the blondes on the butt and sends them on her way, then he reaches out to take my elbow somehow in an instinctive gesture that brings me a strange sense of comfort. I don’t know anybody else here, so when he tugs me to his side, I go down and sit next to him on the edge of the long booth.

And that’s when he leans his dark head over to me and murmurs, “Malcolm.” His voice is so deep and rumbling, I shiver.

“Rachel,” I lamely offer.

He raises his eyebrow and stares at me. What are you doing here, Rachel? he seems to ask.

I’m wondering what to say, when Tahoe lifts his drink and drains it. “You’re up past your bedtime.” The Texan oil baby. Oozing charm, drawling out the words.

I don’t know why but I’m acutely aware of the position of Saint’s body in relation to mine. He just straightened fully in the booth and somehow shifted so his arm is very noticeably stretched out behind me.
“Like they say, no rest for the wicked,” I answer Tahoe with an extra-wide smile, my heart pounding over Saint’s nearness.

Suddenly I can smell him. Just him. Among all the mingled scents in the room, it’s Saint somehow in my lungs, in every breath. He radiates a vitality that draws me like a magnet. It unnerves me but something in his presence, so close to me, soothes me too.

“Apparently there’s a dress code—Saint had to drop his tail and horns at the door,” Callan jokes as a waiter sets a drink before me.

“Oh yes.” I tug the hem of my skirt self-consciously, “I had to drop half my dress.”

“Did you now?” Tahoe asks.

“T.”

One word, one letter, from Malcolm.

“Yeah, Saint?” Tahoe returns, lifting his eyebrows.

“Dibs.”

I almost spit out the drink. I cough and slam my hand to my chest, and Saint calmly reaches out to take my drink from my hand and sets it aside. “Okay?” he asks, ducking his head and peering into my face.

I give one last cough and squeeze my eyes shut and nod, and when I open my eyes, Saint is the only thing I see. I find him staring at me in such a penetrating way I can feel the stare in my bones.

“Did you just get to the party, Rachel?” he asks.

As he waits for my reply, he reaches for my cocktail and extends the glass out to me. His wrist is thick and looks so strong, so golden, his skin smooth, his arm dusted with a little bit of hair as I cautiously take it from him, our fingers brushing.

Tahoe reaches for his coat pocket and waves whatever he extracted in the air. “Saint! May I?”

Excitement leaps in my chest when I realize it’s the key!

“Not happening, that’s not her scene,” Malcolm murmurs besides me.

“Aw! Come on, let me give her a key. She’s a dime, man,” Tahoe drawls.

I’m so disbelieving, I’m not even breathing as Malcolm slowly stands. I follow him up, staring up into his face in confusion.

“What do you mean it’s not my scene?” I demand. I feel like there’s no gravity when he stands so close to me. I’m dizzy. Confused. And unexpectedly hurt.

For the first time since we met, he looks at me like he’s actually losing his temper…with me. He leans closer and puts his lips close to my ear. “Trust me when I tell you, it’s not your scene. Go home,” he whispers. He sends me a look laden with warning and walks away, blending into the crowd.

Tahoe and Callan stare at me, speechless. “That’s a first,” Tahoe mumbles and heads away.

I feel myself burn in humiliation and confusion. Worse is that, when I go outside, the same man who drove us around the day before walks over to me.

“Miss Livingston, a pleasure to drive you,” he says, hanging up his phone as if Saint just called him. He is a huge man, with a bald head, an earpiece, and no expression. A second later, he’s opening the car door of the Rolls for me.

Seriously?

Did Saint call him just now and ask him to escort me home?

Aware of people staring and seeing me being led to Saint’s car, I climb into the back of the car and I murmur my thanks simply because it’s not this man’s fault.

The car smells new and expensive and, like him. A bottle of wine and water bottles ride with me. There’s music in the background and the temperature is just right. The perfect luxury of it all tempts me to run my hands down my dress and look down at myself in confusion. What is wrong with me?

I feel as if he pulled the rug from under me and reminded me what I’m up against. The top of the species. Somebody ruthless.

I can’t take the heat in the back of my ears and on my cheeks. I sag on the backseat and set my forehead on the window. Focus, Livingston! Exhaling, I grab my phone and try to write down all the details about what I saw, but I can’t right now. I just can’t do anything but ride here, in his car, wondering why I feel so vulnerable.

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RELEASE DATE: March 24th

book #1 of ‘the manwhore series’Is it possible to expose Chicago’s hottest player—without getting played?

This is the story I’ve been waiting for all my life, and its name is Malcolm Kyle Preston Logan Saint. Don’t be fooled by that last name though. There’s nothing holy about the man except the hell his parties raise. The hottest entrepreneur Chicago has ever known, he’s a man’s man with too much money to spend and too many women vying for his attention.

Mysterious. Privileged. Legendary. His entire life he’s been surrounded by the press as they dig for tidbits to see if his fairytale life is for real or all mirrors and social media lies. Since he hit the scene, his secrets have been his and his alone to keep. And that’s where I come in.

Assigned to investigate Saint and reveal his elusive personality, I’m determined to make him the story that will change my career.

But I never imagined he would change my life. Bit by bit, I start to wonder if I’m the one discovering him…or if he’s uncovering me.

What happens when the man they call Saint, makes you want to sin?

About the Author

Hey! I’m Katy Evans and I love family, books, life, and love. I’m married with two children and three dogs and spend my time baking, walking, writing, reading, and taking care of my family. Thank you for spending your time with me and picking up my story. I hope you had an amazing time with it, like I did. If you’d like to know more about books in progress, look me up on the Internet, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Email: authorkatyevans@gmail.com
Copyright © 2015 · Dirty Girl Romance

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