Book Blast & Giveaway: Fierce Fantasy Collection

 

 

FIERCEGrab your copy now for just .99 cents!

Fierce fantasy collectionFIERCE: Sixteen Authors Of Fantasy with Mercedes Lackey
For a limited time only!

Join epic fantasy legend Mercedes Lackey and fifteen additional New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors on the adventure of a lifetime!

Over one million words and sixteen realms of fantasy brought together for your reading pleasure. Discover courageous characters fighting for justice and order. Journey between kingdoms of dragons and lands of anarchy as tales of magic and mayhem unfold.

Grab it today, before it’s gone!

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Find out more information about the bundle on novelbundles.com!


About the Authors and Titles:

Mercedes Lackey – Moving Targets

Stuck watching over four Herald trainees on circuit, Elyn is at her wits’ end—and that’s before a town asks for help with a ghostly infestation.

Michael G. Manning – The Blacksmith’s Son

A journey to discover the secrets of his past reveals a magical heritage and embroils Mordecai in a deadly battle for the future of mankind.

K.F. Breene – Chosen

Prophecy has foretold that when war threatens the world, the Chosen will appear to help the Shadow Warriors reclaim their stolen freedom and lead them out of the Land of Mist.

Morgan Rice – A Quest of Heroes

Thorgin, an outsider and a dreamer, fights to become a warrior in an epic quest that finds him at the center of a maelstrom of royal plots and counterplots that threaten him and everyone he loves.

Michael James Ploof – Whill of Agora

When Whill learns the truth of his lineage, he sets out to face his father’s murderer, but what he learns along the way will change his life—and the realm—forever.

Daniel Arenson – Requiem’s Song

Weredragons, men call them. Monsters. Cursed ones. People who can turn into beastly reptiles. Together they will forge a nation.

Kate Sparkes – Bound

When a young woman accidentally saves the life of an enemy Sorcerer, she finds herself drawn into a world of magic that’s more beautiful, more seductive, and more dangerous than she ever imagined.

David Adams – The Pariahs

Two sellswords—a half-elf and a half-orc—find their war over before it even begins. But trouble is stirring on the home front, conflict which threatens more than just their lives.

Amy Raby – The Fire Seer
Taya must use her fire visions to investigate a series of murders, but the Coalition of Mages has partnered her with her old nemesis, the man who used to bully her when they were young.

C. Greenwood – Magic of Thieves & Betrayal of Thieves

In a province where magic is forbidden, young Ilan, born with the powerful gift of her ancestors, has only one hope for survival—concealment.

David Dalglish – The Weight of Blood

When half-bloods Harruq and Qurrah Tun pledged their lives to a death prophet, they only sought escape from their squalid beginnings. Instead, they become his greatest disciples, charged with leading his army of undead.

K.J. Colt – Bear Heart

In the savage lands of Ruxdor, young Klawdia must fight the champions of four rival clans to defend her future as the first female chieftain.

Shae Ford – Poison

A bandit girl is taken from her home and thrust into a complex world of lords and ladies, where she learns that she must kill to survive.

Endi Webb – The Maskmaker’s Apprentice

Masks of legend. Masks of power. Those who dare to wear them trifle with the old powers and risk ruin and mayhem. But a young apprentice maskmaker cannot contain his curiosity, and accidentally unleashes a deadly terror upon an unsuspecting world.

Michael Wallace – The Dark Citadel

A slave boy and a young queen lead an alliance of spies, servants, and merchants to stave off the encroaching armies of a dark wizard.

Terah Edun – Blades of Magic

As an unstoppable war breaks out, a young girl enlists in the military to unravel the secrets surrounding her father’s execution.

 

 

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Cover Reveal: Still Life by A.M. Johnson

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Title: Still Life
Author: A.M. Johnson
Genre: New Adult
Cover Reveal: March 4, 2015
Release Date: April 2015

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Cover Designer :

J.E.B. Johnson

jebjohnsonart@gmail.com

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Synopsis

Still Life (Forever Still Series #1}

Loss… a word Elizabeth Haddington knows only too well. Despite the tragedies she’s endured, she’s been able to rise from the adversity she’s faced and begin her life again. Being a self-assured and strong woman, she knows she doesn’t need anyone to make her whole.
Hate, pain, and twisted memories are all Sawyer Bryant’s ever known. He’d slowly lost who he was and what he should’ve become. His only escape was the military… Eight years later, as an ex-Navy SEAL, he’s forced to confront his father and their disturbed and violent past.
Then one day, his life is turned upside down, when he glimpses a woman singing in her car at a set of traffic lights. Thinking he’d never see her again, amazingly he finds her performing with her band at the local bar. This chance encounter brings these two lost souls together. Once Sawyer gets a taste of her melodic voice, there’s no turning back.

For Elizabeth, when she meets Sawyer… she realizes she’s fallen hard. But is this really love she’s feeling or does love build slowly over time?

What happens when fate turns things around on you, creates flashes you can’t turn from… moments that will shape your life?
They are faced with the choice of darkness surrounding them or to rid themselves of the guilt and pain and move toward the light.

This story is about life’s moments. How they can make you or break you, and one man’s hope that… Love, won’t judge him.

 

Still Life Teaser

Author Bio

Amanda M Johnson is originally from Florida. She now lives in Utah where she is a Full-Time Nurse. She is, however, always first a mother and wife. She began to love reading at a very young age and toyed with the idea of writing ever since she can remember. She loves all things romance. Amanda is inspired by the indie romance community as a whole and embraces the title book whore with great pride.

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Blog Stop: Fighting Silence

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Meet Till & Eliza in Aly Martinez’s newest fighter series!

Look for my review, coming soon!

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NOW AVAILABLE
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1CF0YEq
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Lhhn62

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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.

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Excerpt

“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.

 

About the Author:

fighting silence author

Aly Martinez

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.

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Double Cover Reveal for two new releases by Len Webster

Title: What We’ll Leave Behind
Author: Len Webster
Release Date: June 23, 2015
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One chance meeting on a white beach in Thailand would set their story in stone.
Eighteen and fresh out of high school, Stevie Appleton is about to embark on a form of freedom she has never known. When offered the chance to go to Thailand to celebrate the end of high school, she takes it. What she doesn’t know is that saying yes would lead to meeting him.
Having just finished his Bachelor, Julian Moors can’t wait to party away the last three years of university. All he wants from his holiday in Thailand is to relax on the beach, drink and have the time of his life. However, the moment his eyes land on the beautiful blonde reading on the beach, he knows he can’t stay away. All his other wants no longer matter. What does matter is getting to know the girl behind the mockingbird.
Enter Stevie and Julian’s memory vault.
No names. No past. Just right now.
Seven days to fall in love.
Seven days until their end.
Seven days until they both wake up heartbroken.
And four more years until they meet again.

“So, who was the girl you were talking to on the beach earlier today?” Dean asked, nursing his beer.

Julian scanned the area around the makeshift dance floor and bar. No Blondie. He knew the moment he walked away he should have asked for where she was staying. But no. He went for the ‘you’re going to miss me when I’m gone’ approach. But it seemed to turn out to be the ‘I’m walking away and I’ll lose you’ goodbye. A move only made by an idiot.

Staring at the bonfire, he pouted. “Just a girl.”

Dean let out a low laugh. “Sure,” he slowly dragged.

“What?” Julian raised a brow.

“Mate, I’ve seen you in clubs and on campus. Never seen you stumble like you did. You’re normally in and out with the phone numbers,” Dean explained.

“Whatever,” Julian sighed, knowing his mistakes. “Have you spoken to Willa?” he asked, trying to change the subject.

From the corner of his eye, he noticed Dean shake his head.

“She’s giving me the silent treatment after our fight. She hasn’t been herself since we got here.”

Turning his head, Julian stared at Dean and smiled at the concerned glint in his eye. “Maybe you should leave the beach party and go home to her?”

“She’ll probably tell me to go away.”

“Trust me, go talk to her,” Julian instructed.

“I don’t think—”

“Don’t think. Do.”

Dean passed Julian his beer and nodded. “Okay. I’ll go see what’s wrong with her.”

Julian didn’t bother to look if Dean was walking back to the villa. He knew deep down that Dean loved Willa just as stupidly. Fools are the ones in love. And love is for the fools.

Fools, fools, fools.

But wait.

I’m a fool.

Not a ‘love’ fool.

But one of those fools who wait.

“Excuse me, you haven’t seen my friend have you?” her voice asked.

Julian froze and a smile instantly crossed his lips. He quickly turned around to see Stephanie in a white summer dress that hit her knees. She tilted her head and raised a brow at him.

You’re here, Stephanie.

“Your friend?” he asked, his smile not yet disappearing.

She nodded. “Yeah, he’s this annoying idiot. He wouldn’t be hanging out with you. You seem too serious by the way you’re glaring at that fire.”

Pursing his lips, he nodded his head at every word she said. When she stopped talking he let his eyes roam her face. Taking in the glint in her eyes, her cute nose and her plump lips. He kept his stare on her mouth longer than necessary and he knew that.

I’m going to kiss you, Blondie.

I don’t know when.

I don’t know how.

But I will.

His heart twitched at the thought. Friends kissed. He was sure one would be harmless. Clenching his eyelids tight together, Julian ignored the desire in him to want to kiss her right here, right now. It was all superficial. He enjoyed her exterior. The interior, her personality, was one he was going to take his time learning. She had already fascinated him with her book choice and her smart mouth. He wanted to know more.

“Julian,” she said his name so perfectly it was like each letter was voiced carefully.

Once he opened his eyes, he pushed his desired thoughts away. The hesitant look in her eye screamed ‘friends.’ In the end that’s what they’d be. But he’d be damned if he missed out on the knowledge of what her lips were like on his.

Baby steps, Julian.

“I didn’t think you’d come,” he confessed.

Stephanie shrugged. “You wanted me to come for some reason. And well, my roommate booted me out of the room. I don’t know where the other girls are so I thought what the hell.”

“This feels like a booty call. I am offended,” he teased.

She shook her head. “That was lame.”

“Do over?” he asked.

“Not on your life,” she sassed.

Shoulders sagging, Julian spun around and looked back at the fire. “You’re kinda mean, Blondie.”

Seconds passed and she stood next to him, also staring at the flames. “You should be used to it. We’re friends, remember?” 


 

Title: What You Left Behind
Author: Len Webster
Release Date: June 30, 2015
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No amount of white sand or distance could bury their past.
Some things are just never meant to be forgotten.
When Julian Moors returned from Thailand he left behind all his belongings, his father and only brother in Melbourne and moved to Sydney. One girl shattered his world and left him with more questions than answers.
Behind the persona, Stevie Appleton tries to outrun her past. Nightmares and memories have started to collide, putting her future and her heart at risk. No one can know the secrets she tries to keep locked away, even if it means betraying the people she loves the most.
Everyone has a story but not everyone has a past quite like Stevie and Julian.
When they meet years later, don’t expect a happy ending. The past holds skeletons and not even these skeletons can be buried.

Looking across the dance room, Stevie noticed Rob standing alone by a table. Guilt settled in the pit of her stomach. It was hard for her to let go of her past and be with him. Something about his eyes and his smile reminded her of the man she left behind all those years ago. Being together was meant to make Jewel, the woman from the bar, jealous but somehow Rob fell deeper. And as hard as Stevie tried, she couldn’t make herself to fall in love with Robert Moors.

Julian.

His name made her flinch. She tried not to remember that name but it had always been hard to. Stevie rubbed the back of her neck at where she had his initial tattooed. It was a spur of the moment decision that he had chosen to do in order to leave her comfort zone. Looking back, she should have had it removed but she couldn’t get herself to do it. Somehow they were the better chapters in her life, even though it was chapters she wished she could just forget. There were days when she wondered if he kept her initial tattooed on his chest. According to him that was where her name belonged. She was foolish to believe him then. They were just a ‘summer fling.’

The times after Thailand had been her darker times. Only her stepbrother, Jarred Harper, brought her back. When she left for London, she vowed to never let her secrets about Julian and Thailand to ever be revealed to Jarred. Sighing, Stevie placed the envelope on the table next to her and glanced back at Rob. It wasn’t something she wanted to do, to tell him it was over, but she couldn’t stay with him. She never had a problem being with men, that she knew well, but Rob was different. Rob was an exception.

If only I met him first, then maybe things could have been different.

Rob had never looked at her the same since she had called it quits. But Stevie knew why he hadn’t. Since he laid eyes on Alison O’Connor, Stevie knew things had changed. No matter how much Rob tried to hide it, she knew he was attracted to the young Sydney socialite. And that secret smile he directed towards Ally as she danced with her little cousin, CeCe, confirmed it.

Shifting her focus back at Noel and Clara dancing, Stevie was envious. Just the way Noel looked at her best friend with such love made her jealous. It was disgusting how jealous she was. She was happy for them but a love like theirs was only for the privileged and the pure. A love like theirs was only for them and no one else. Everyone who watched were intruders. Outsiders looking in.

“It’ll happen for you.”

Turning her head, she instantly smiled at the man next to her. His freckles had always made her smile. If she ever wanted to make someone proud, it would always be him.

“Big talk for someone who already has it,” she said.

Jarred sighed and then gave her a tight smile. “Stevie, don’t be so hard on yourself. What they have, what Annie and I have, you’ll have it someday. You’re a good person that made a mistake. Don’t punish yourself for the rest of your life. You deserve love, just don’t run or you’ll miss out.”

I already had it.

I already ran.

I already missed out.

The guilt weighed heavy on her chest and threatened the resurfacing of the memories she had. She had left him. She gave him no reason or chance. She just wanted to vanish.

I was afraid to be in love with him.

I was afraid that maybe he could love me.

It was too spontaneous.

It didn’t make sense.

“I don’t deserve love, Jarred. You were in London. You saw what kind of person I really am. What I’m really capable of,” Stevie said, remembering those nights he had come to rescue her.

 “Don’t. You’ve come a long way since then. You were lost. I don’t judge you base on those times. I know what a kind hearted person you are. You are responsible for that,” Jarred said, pointing at Noel as he kissed his wife.

It was the only thing she had ever done right in her life and that was making sure Clara found her way back to Noel. Convincing Liam had been easy. All it took was alcohol to get him to open up. Clara had been a tougher task—she had almost given up her happiness for Liam’s.

“I didn’t do anything. It was all them.”

Jarred snorted. “You were the one to convince Liam to go to Boston. You know Clara is forever grateful to you.”

Stevie focused down at the envelope and then back at her stepbrother. “I’m going to miss her,” she confessed in a small voice.

Placing a hand on her shoulder, Jarred nodded then said, “Me, too. You know, one day, someone is going to want to love you the way Noel loves Clara… maybe even more.”

Stevie’s heart ached. She wanted a love like theirs but she knew she never deserved one. Not when she had it. Not when she decided it was better to walk away than feel it. And after that last morning in Thailand, she had decided she never wanted to feel anything as intense as she did with Julian. No matter how much she had wanted to.

The truth is, Len Webster is a romance-loving Melbournian with dreams of finding her version of ‘The One.’ She calls Australia home, but secretly wishes a man with a beautiful accent would whisk her away. She’s been called a hopeless romantic and a firm believer of happily ever afters, which she doesn’t object to.

Having just completed her Bachelor in Business and Commerce, Len can be found daydreaming of her next Europe adventure or swooning over Mr. Darcy. Her best friends are a hot cup of tea, red velvet cupcakes, a warm jumper and her MacBook, ready to write to her heart’s content.

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Book Blast & Giveaway: The Rules in Rome

Rules of Rome

The Rules in Rome

With Hitler’s forces firmly entrenched in Europe, countless heroes seek to end the madman’s reign. Bastien Ley is one of the best. Working in Italy for the Office of Strategic Services, he’s been tasked with sabotaging German convoys. When his team kills an officer headed for Rome, the man’s similarity to Bastien is undeniable, and seeing an opportunity to turn the tide of the war, Bastien makes a bold decision: he will assume the dead officer’s identity. He becomes Dietrich, an Iron Cross–wearing German officer—an ideal position from which to infiltrate the Nazi ranks in Rome. To help with his stressful assignment, his superiors send him a reinforcement in the form of the lovely Gracie Begni, an intelligent and eager radio operator with absolutely no undercover experience.

With a gulf of resentment between them, these two agents must find a way to portray a couple in love. Soon their reluctant alliance becomes much more as Bastien and Gracie find themselves getting lost in their feelings for each other. But as they engage in battle against the deadliest foe the world has ever known, the pair quickly realizes their love may be doomed. As the Rome Gestapo threatens to destroy all they’ve worked for, will Bastien and Gracie survive their charade?

 

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Excerpt

“Everything about you screams wholesome religious American. Have you even been kissed before?”

 

Gracie ran her left thumb along the inside of her ring finger. There wasn’t a ring there, not anymore. “Yes, I’ve been kissed before, Captain Ley. But I don’t see how that’s any of your business.”

 

Ley stood and walked over to her, holding a hand out. She took his hand and let him pull her to her feet. “Let me guess. Something like this?” He leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers for a few brief moments.

 

When he pulled away, she could still feel the imprint of his mouth. Surprised but remembering his question, she nodded. Ley’s kiss had been a lot like Michael’s: soft, sweet, and affectionate.

 

“In Italy, if you’re pretending to be my girlfriend, I’ll be kissing you often but not like that. Like this.”

 

He slipped one hand to the back of her neck, the other to her waist, and pulled her close for another kiss. She was startled at first but soon realized she didn’t want to resist. His lips were insistent and inviting, making her heart race. She was glad when Ley’s hand moved from her waist to the center of her back, because her legs were starting to feel unstable. She wanted to fall into him, into his kiss. The way he maneuvered his mouth over hers was making her lose all sense of place and time, and she found herself wishing he’d never stop. When he began to pull away, she wanted to lean her head on his chest and catch her breath, but then she remembered she’d just met Ley and wasn’t even sure she liked him.

 

She took a step back, staring at him, wondering what had just happened.

 

“You see, that won’t do at all,” Ley said. “The Gestapo will be all over you. You’re acting like you’ve never been kissed before.”

 

Gracie sat on the sofa, her eyes still fixed on Ley. She hadn’t ever been kissed like that.

 

Praise for The Rules in Rome

Readers who hunger for a great espionage thriller with an extra helping of romance will devour The Rules in Rome. A.L. Sowards is at the top of her craft with this terrific WWII suspense novel. It is definitely a book not to be missed!

Gregg Luke, author of Bloodborne and Deadly Undertakings

 

The Rules in Rome has it all. Romance, adventure, and epic themes illustrating the unconquerable human spirit. From the moment Gracie met Bastien, I knew I would love this book. He’s the perfect hero, Gracie is his match. I fell in love with these characters over and over again. Thank you, Sowards, for another fabulous read!

Stephanie Fowers, author of the Twisted Tales Trilogy and Jane and Austen

 

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SowardsAuthor A.L. Sowards

A.L. Sowards has always been fascinated by the 1940s, but she’s grateful she didn’t live back then. She doesn’t think she could have written a novel on a typewriter, and no one would be able to read her handwriting if she wrote her books out longhand. She does, however, think they had the right idea when they rationed nylon and women went barelegged.

Sowards grew up in Moses Lake, Washington. She graduated from BYU and ended up staying in Utah, where she enjoys spending time with her husband and children or with her laptop. She does not own a typewriter. She does own several pairs of nylons.

 

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Ends 3/15/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Release Day Blitz: Bring the Rain

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Bring The Rain by Lizzy Charles

YA Contemporary Romance

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Synopsis

 

One summer to make the choice of a lifetime…

Everything is waiting in Paris for Autumn—her new home, her mom, the Louvre, and a life where she can experience art, and not just look at it. But to get there, she’ll have to survive the summer in the least colorful place she can imagine — her father’s Oklahoma cattle ranch

Autumn finds the perfect summer distraction in Colt, the one cowboy hotter than the July sun. But Colt is her father’s ranch hand, and he won’t go for the Manhattan-style fling that she’s used to. The closer they become, the more she questions which side of the ocean she belongs.

Then her father reveals an unforgivable secret, and Autumn’s illusions shatter. Will the secret destroy everything? Or could Oklahoma hold the greatest masterpiece of all—a love that could mend her heart?

 

 

BTR release teaser

 

 

Excerpt

Light arms make for easy dancing, even to drawn out country tunes. Turns out, cowboys aren’t bad dancers. They know where to put their hands on your waist to help you sway. They share well too, making sure a new hat accompanies each tune. When my chest burns, I know I’ve hit my limit. “Sorry,” I say to the only guy at the party wearing a baseball cap. “I need a break.”

“I can take you outside if you want?” This brown-haired-brute’s eyes are a bit swollen, and lips raw. I swear I saw him making out on the steps during my last spin on the dance floor.

“No thanks, I’m good on my own.” I quickly zigzag through the crowd and slip out the back kitchen door. If it wasn’t for the couple making out in a hammock, I would’ve barreled right into the gray weave. There’s a deserted tree a few hundred yards out from the house. Brushing my ballet flats through the crisp grass, I do a quick snake check. Phew. I take a seat, tilting my head toward the sky. The darkness is alive and glittering.

I breathe out, the beauty above. Stars like this never happen at home. Here, Hercules and the dippers are too obvious. And, with a jostle of my memory, I can find the Queen and the Dragon too. I wish I had my paints and a canvas so I could try to capture it. I’d make my own Starry Night, but my brush strokes would be looser here than Van Gogh’s.

A breeze moves through my hair, reminding me to take a deep breath. It instantly relaxes me; somehow one breath here is better than any oxygen bar in the city. I hate to admit it, but that’s another thing this place has going for it. It’s so much easier to breathe here.

“Can I join you?” a husky voice says from behind. I turn to find a tall, broad-shouldered, sandy-haired cowboy leaning against the tree. He doesn’t wait for my answer; rather he slinks down the trunk to sit next to me. His eyes turn toward the sky, but, even though I know it’s rude, my eyes can’t leave his face. His nose is almost perfect. It’d be easy to sketch with a soft pencil.

“Andromeda,” he interrupts my artistic vision, pointing up at the sky. “The Greater Bear,” he traces the outline in the air. “And my favorite…”

“Oh, please don’t say something about your big dipper.” I put the yellow cup to my lips, finishing my third refill. It slides past my throat. Finally, the beer’s tasting good now.

“Actually, my prime constellation is Aries, the ram. That line though? Golden. I’ll use it next time.”

“A goat?”

He smiles with a silent laugh and shrugs. “Sounds lame,” he turns toward me. His eyes sparkle and my heart jumps into my throat. His jaw is strong and chest obviously solid under his white button down shirt. “But it’s not.” He flips over my hand, tracing the constellation on my palm. Tingles crawl up my arm.

Now, this is a real cowboy.

“Aries is Zeus, in disguise. Ordinary, but full of power. Cool, huh?”

He lets go of my hand and returns his gaze to the stars.

My heart sinks. I want him to look at me. I’m not letting this cowboy get away. I lean in, close to his ear. “What kind of power?” I whisper. After Mom ditching me for Paris, I could use a little fun, and, as my hand caresses his rock hard biceps, I can’t help welcoming a distraction.

He doesn’t answer yet also doesn’t move away from my touch. Good. I take a deep breath and leap. If he didn’t like me, he’d have moved away already. I kiss the stubble on his jaw and he stills like a statue so I flip my leg over him, sliding onto his lap. The constellations spin. I nibble at his lips. His breathing deepens. Those full lips though? They don’t even flinch. I pull back, repositioning to press my lips down his jaw line and then make my way up toward his earlobe.

“It’s not fun if you don’t play,” I whisper.

He laughs, allowing my lips to return to his. He responds now, kissing me with a soft, steady pressure and pulling me close to his rock hard chest. I’ve never been held so securely. My heart trembles and my muscles melt.

“Okay darlin’,” he says, pressing his lips against mine, giving me a kiss that reminds me of chocolate and lemons, before gently helping me off his lap. “I think it’s time we go.”

“Sure,” I whisper. The ground becomes wavy water and my hand disappears in his as I struggle to stand. Take me away cowboy.

He lifts me, giving me his arm to lean on as he leads me through the house, passing Gina and Peter making out on the stairs. He stops, pulling Gina away too.

“Colt? What’re-ya-doin’?” she slurs.

He drops my hand, and it burns with the absence of his touch. “Do you have a ride home Gina?”

She shakes her head as Peter pulls her back to the step next to him. “I drove Autumn.”

Colt unwraps Peter’s arms. “Which is why I’m taking you both home.”

Peter stands up. “Hey man, if she wants to stay, she should.”

Colt only has to point to him and say, “Peter. Come on, you know not to try that with me.” Peter nods, holding his hands up in some mysterious man exchange.

“Fine,” Gina stumbles like a turkey into Colt’s arms. So funny. I laugh so hard, my goose noise sneaks in too.

“Was that a chortle?” Colt lifts his brow with a cocky grin.

“Chortles are very sexy.” I throw my shoulders back.

He laughs as he wraps his arm around Gina to support her and takes my hand, leading us out the front door. “Into the truck, girls.”

It’s warm in the truck, and with Gina to lean on, comfy too. Sleep takes me away with a few bumps of the road. Gina’s shoulder is soon replaced with a leather jacket. The smell lulls me in and out of sleep with Colt’s whistled tune. My shoulder rocks and I wake. He reaches behind me, propping me up.

“Want some?” He hands me a yellow cup of that watered down beer.

“Thanks.” I say. I am so thirsty. I put the plastic to my mouth, taking a small sip. The liquid slides past my tongue. This must be from the bottom of the barrel because it doesn’t taste right. It’s thin and a struggle to swallow. First goal of the summer, do not spit on the hot cowboy.

“Like it?”

“It’s super watery.”

“Yeah.” He laughs and my stomach tickles with the sound. “Have a few more sips.” He holds the cup back to my lips.

I sip again. It’s horrid, laced with iron and something else that I can’t pinpoint. It’s so hard to slide past my throat. What is he, like, trying to drug me? I hold the liquid poison in my mouth.

Wait. What if he is trying to drug me? Holy crap. While he’s focused on the road, I reach for the door handle, trying not to shake. I’m in a truck with a total stranger with his muscles of steel, in the middle of nowhere. What’s wrong with me? I’d never let this happen in New York. My heart beats in rhythm with the buzz in my ears. I need an escape plan, like now.

He flips off the headlights. We’re in complete darkness except for the stars. I glance out the window; a light from a lone farm-house is about a mile away. No one will hear me scream.

We’re completely alone.

 

Other books by Lizzy Charles
Available NOW!

Effortless With You

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1GgZN38

Perfectly Messy

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Ccwuup

 

Author Bio

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When Lizzy Charles isn’t scrambling to raise her two spunky toddlers or caring for premature and sick babies as a neonatal intensive care nurse, she’s in a quiet corner writing or snuggled up with a novel and a few squares of dark chocolate. She married her high school sweetheart, a heart-melting musician, so it’s no surprise she’s fallen in love with writing contemporary YA romance novels.

 

Connect With Lizzy

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Twitter: @LizzyCharles_

Website: http://www.lizzycharles.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7149579.Lizzy_Charles

Email: LizzyCharlesScribbles@gmail.com

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Cover Reveal: Remember Tonight

Title: Remember Tonight

Author: Chelsea Landon

Release Date: March 13, 2015

Find on Goodreads

The summer Alanna Rodger turned eighteen, she thought it would be just like the rest of the summers spent on her parent’s farm in Amarillo Texas. That was until champion bull rider Callan James returned home.

Everyone in town knows about the James’ boys and why they disappeared four years ago.

Everyone but Alanna.

She’s warned to keep her distance but there’s something about Callan’s allure that has her wanting a closer look to unravel all of the reasons that he left — ensuring he stays long after his eight seconds in this town are up.

And when he finally does leave town, she knows exactly where to find him.

There’s nothing that can stop her from wanting him… even the four year age difference won’t prevent her from pursuing him. When Callan can’t get past the age difference, he does everything within his power to show her just how dangerous his lifestyle is.

Can she break through his rough exterior?

“I’m not asking for that. Just give me tonight.” I breathed against his lips. The shift in his demeanor reminds me he is a bull rider, all heart, all go with a confidence only they have.

“Don’t hate me for leaving in the morning…” his voice shakes as he speaks, never more vulnerable as he’s ever been, making sure I know what this is going to be.

“I could never hate someone like you, Callan.”

He swallows, his breathing coming a little faster now. “I’m not having sex with you just because you want me to.”

“But—”

Callan shakes his head. “What I will do is show you that there’s more than just being with someone physically and getting off.”

“I…” I swallow. “Uh…”

“You need to believe you’re worth it. Because you are.”

No one has ever said that to me. Even Jackson. But we were young when I was with him. I was fourteen and he was sixteen. He was my first everything and then before I had a chance to really love him, he was taken from me.

His head is down, staring at the weathered wood when he pushes himself from the tractor.

As he walks toward me, his hands are on the hem of his dark shirt, yanking it over his shoulders. I’m begging for his kiss and he’s not denying. His shirt drops behind me on the hay bales, steady and sure palms cupping my cheeks and a kiss so heavy I’m drowning in him.

He takes my body in his hands, a slow descent to the floor of the barn. He sets me down on the hay bale where his shirt is and then kneels before me. I watch the muscles in his stomach and arms as he does so, flexing with each movement. His knees spread once he’s on the ground, sliding against the dirt of the floor.

His hands are on me, rough and wild but yet steady and patient like he’s memorizing a beautiful canvas before him. He’s showing me there’s more than giving my body to someone. I feel it because it’s an emotion, a feeling. His fingers move to the band of my jean shorts, sliding across my exposed skin to meet in the middle to the button. My eyes are on his but he’s not looking at me, he’s watching my body curve around his. His jeans are still on, as mine are, when he grinds his hips into mine and I feel his arousal, hard and straining against his jeans.

His mouth finds mine, eager but controlled. I feel so much right then. Not just sexual frustration but something so much more when I kiss Callan. He gives his heart when he kisses me like this. Everything he says and does shows that. He’s giving now. There’s no teasing anymore. I know this when he gets the button of my shorts undone with one hand.

He’s not rushing, he’s slowly loving. He moves both hands from my waist and lower to the backs of my knees hooking his hands around them. He brings both my legs to rest on his left shoulder. His head moves to the side pressing my calf against his hot ear. He takes his hat off next with his right hand and puts it over my face, laughing.

It smells like him. Dirt and grass but there’s that distinct leather cowboy smell that melts me on the inhale.

I remove the hat to see him staring at me. There’s a slight grin but it’s more that intensity in his eyes that gets me. It’s like the night I met him. I take the hat and place it on my chest. Callan smiles knocking it away and puts his hands back on my hips dipping his fingers inside the waist band of my shorts. He gives me a wink and I lift my hips for him. Slowly he pulls them down and up over my thighs as his knuckles graze my skin. When they’re at my ankles, he tosses them near his hat on the floor.

I’m not sure what he’s going to do next but his mouth is lingering on my skin over the bruise on my calf that’s forming.

“Does it hurt?” he asks, still looking at the bruise.

“No.” I tell him bending my knees and sliding them down his bare chest. He stops grabbing my ankles and spreading my legs for him.

“You’re trouble.” He says when my legs are spread and my lower half is now completely bare for him.

“You’re torture…” Callan’s mouth twists, a half grin that fades quickly as his eyes drop, his fingertips moving and squeezing my upper thighs as he groans, a low throaty sound I want more of.

 

A stay-at-home mom, Chelsea spends her days drinking entirely too much caffeine, baking sugar-sweet treats she never eats, playing on Pinterest, and jotting down notes for her novels. A dreamer at heart, she’s been creating happily-ever-afters. She’s a lover, a writer, a dreamer, would rather type than speak, wants to remember everything, loves lots of ice in her drinks, and is slightly introverted.

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Release Day Blitz: To the Max by Elle Aycart

to the max release day blitz

 

Happy Release to Elle Aycart!   

To The Max is NOW LIVE!  

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to the max... High

Blurb

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.”

 

to the max now available.

 

Bowen Series Reading Order

More than Meets the Ink (Bowen, #1)

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1BHLGvQ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1AddDA2

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1DjeSLD

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1BLgSg5

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1yVS0xC

Heavy Issues (Bowen #2)

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1ymbIUo

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1yZFYrN

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1vn91q6

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1tN4oEo

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1DjiFbW

Inked Ever After (Bowen, #2.5)

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1yVIYkq

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1AddNYq

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1DshXJJ

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1HB27mj

Kobo: http://bit.ly/16duB52

To The Max (Bowen, #3)

Releasing 2/10/2015

About the Author

Elle

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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.

 

 

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Blog Stop & Giveaway: Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things

diamond rings (1)

diamond rings are deadlyDiamond Rings are Deadly Things by Rachelle J. Christensen
Adrielle Pyper knows how to plan a wedding, and she is especially good at pleasing bridezillas. But when her biggest client and best friend is murdered just three days before the wedding, Adri’s world falls apart. She moves to the resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho, and starts from scratch. Thanks to Adri’s impeccable taste and unique style, she lands two celebrity clients, and her business seems headed for success–that is, until someone vandalizes the specialty wedding dresses she imported from overseas. The race is on to uncover a secret hidden within the yards of satin and lace before Adri becomes the next victim. With a delightful blend of mystery, toe-curling kisses, humor, and spine-tingling thrills, Diamond Rings are Deadly Things is a romantic suspense novel that will keep you turning pages long into the night.

 

 

 

 

 

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Praise

“I love Rachelle J. Christensen’s stories and characters, and Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things is another thrilling mystery to add to my collection. Don’t be surprised if you have to stay up all night to finish he book!” ~Rachel Ann Nunes, author of Before I Say Goodbye

Diamond Rings are Deadly Things pulled me right in from the first page and held me captive until the very end. Great characters, a compelling plot, a surprising twist at the end … Rachelle Christensen knows how to craft a great mystery. ~Tristi Pinkston, author of the Secret Sisters Mysteries

A cunningly crafty mystery with just the right mix of romance. Readers won’t be able to get enough of Adrielle Pyper, stunning party-planner turned heroine. ~Nichole Giles, author of Descendant

 

Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things

Excerpt from Chapter 4

The bike paths of the Sun Valley area were never lonely, and the paved trails topped my list of reasons to live there. With the ski slopes in view and the lush scent of evergreen forests filling my nose, it didn’t take long for my sluggish body to feel energized.

As I neared the first mile of my run, I couldn’t help but wonder if I might see him again today. I chided myself. Several times in the past few weeks, I had sprinted past “the hottie”—as Lorea had named him. She had been teasing me mercilessly since I told her about my encounter with the sexy, sculpted runner. Denial was my best defense when Lorea asked me why I had been so diligent in my running lately, but I found myself looking for him more than I cared to admit.

And there he was, rounding the next bend with his hat on backwards, chrome sunglasses reflecting the fading light. Maybe he was bald. I had never dared turn around and look for fear he might catch me ogling him, but I secretly hoped he used the hat to keep the sweat out of his eyes instead of to prevent sunburn of a shiny scalp. As he drew nearer and I watched his delts flexing in tandem with his six-pack abs, I decided baldness would be just fine.

When I first mentioned him to Lorea, she said she might have to take up running, if only to stop me from making a fool of myself. Three or four runs a week was enough for me, but I wondered how many nights found him pounding the pavement. Bright yellow running shorts with a black racing stripe sans shirt revealed his muscular body. So hot. My heart sped up as the distance between us disappeared.

I tried to suppress the goofy grin threatening to cross my face by reminding myself that my cheeks were flushed dark red and I hadn’t shaved my legs for two days. Who was I kidding? I was a sweaty mess. All the same, I couldn’t resist staring at those chrome sunglasses as he ran past, wondering what color his eyes might be.

Great night for a run,” he said between breaths.

Yeah, it is.” I lifted my fingers in a wave. Inside I screamed, He talked to me! You idiot, all you could say is, yeah, it is? Oh well, he had initiated conversation. I couldn’t wait to tell Lorea.

I wondered what the chances were that I might bump into him somewhere else in town—fully dressed. The Ketchum/Sun Valley area wasn’t a metropolis—the population was less than four thousand—so it could happen. Calm down, Adri.

I thought about my own appearance. The large black sunglasses I wore covered one of my best features. People always commented on my dark brown eyes, remarking how they contrasted nicely with my honey blonde hair. My soft curls were hidden when I pulled my hair back into a ponytail. There was a chance he would recognize me, but could I pick him out of a lineup? I hoped so. I found myself smiling for the rest of my run.

When I returned home and showered off, my thoughts strayed to Dallas versus “the hottie.” It was nice to think of something besides wedding dresses and I didn’t need to make a decision yet, especially since I’d only been asked out by one of the guys. All the same it was fun to imagine possibilities. The pillow on my bed looked so inviting, but I knew I needed to start unpicking that hemline. Instead of sleeping, I washed my hands thoroughly, gathered my seam ripper, and lifted Natalie’s heavy dress.

 

 

rachelleAuthor Rachelle J. Christensen

Rachelle J. Christensen was born and raised in a small farming town in Idaho. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in psychology.

She enjoys singing and songwriting, playing the piano, running, motivational speaking, and of course reading. Rachelle has an amazing husband, five cute kids, three cats, and five chickens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Website * Facebook * Twitter

Blog * Goodreads * Craft Website

 

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 2/25/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Book Blitz: All of It by Kim Holden

Title: All of It

Author: Kim Holden

Release Date: Nov 24, 2013

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Seventeen-year-old VERONICA SMITH has it all: a loving family, a funky car named Jezebel, and a plan to go to college after graduation.

On the first day of senior year, she meets DIMITRI GLENN–a mysterious transfer student with gray eyes and a mischievous smile who seems determined to win her heart. But there’s something odd about Dimitri, leading Veronica to wonder if there’s more to him than meets the eye.

Before long she finds herself in a whirlwind romance that seems too good to be true–until a series of devastating events leaves her questioning everything.

It’s not until she chooses to think with her heart instead of her mind that she can rise from the ashes to learn the truth of their connection.

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Dimitri’s face is peaceful and angelic as he rises to help me put my coat on. “Thanks for coming over tonight, Ronnie. You don’t know what it meant to me. I feel like this is the first time I’ve been able to breathe in months.” He lifts his hand, but hesitantly stops just short of brushing my cheek. He smiles and lowers it. “Can I walk you to your car?”

My heart is soaring and my palms are sweaty. “I’d like that.”

We walk slowly down the long driveway, our bodies so close that our arms brush against each other. I think back to the first day of school and smile; personal space is so overrated.

He opens the driver side door and stands behind it at a safe distance so as not to make the situation awkward. I throw my bag through onto the passenger seat and stand with one hand on the door and the other on the steering wheel. When I look up at him he’s staring down at me. His eyes glitter in the streetlight.

It’s at that moment that my life comes into focus, like flipping a switch. The entire world tilts back onto its axis. Call it an epiphany; the rare type of realization that changes your life absolutely. I need this man in my life. I need him like I need air and water. He is part of me—my past and my future. Since the day we met I’ve given my heart to him … piece by piece. And it’s at this exact moment that I realize he has all of it. My heart is no longer mine; it belongs to him and always will.

I can’t help but smile.

He returns the smile—his beautiful smile. “What?” he asks softly.

“Thank you for being you, Dimitri.”

Not much escapes him and I know from the look in his eyes that he understands. He nods humbly. “You’re welcome.”

I duck down into the driver’s seat and look back up at him. “Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.” I don’t know if it’s a question or a declaration, but it’s hopeful.

He winks. “You can count on it.”

Slowly he shuts the door and moves to the sidewalk. I wave and pull away, watching him in my rearview mirror as he begins to fade into the distance. He stands there glowing under the streetlight like an angelic statue. When I turn the corner, he’s gone.

Life is sometimes … an epiphany.

Some of my favorite things: reading, writing, the two coolest guys on the planet (my husband and son), my bicycle (my husband built it for me), Facebook (I’m fairly certain it’s an addiction at this point), iced coffee (hazelnut), and music (LOVE the 1975, Dredg, the xx, Haim, Manchester Orchestra, Teenage Bottlerocket, and 30 Seconds to Mars).  I also love dreaming. Big. Writing a few years ago was an elusive dream until I grabbed ahold of it with both hands and refused to let go. Keep following YOUR dreams. Be brave and do epic!

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