Publisher: NineStar PressAuthor: Mell Eight
Release Date: May 17, 2021
Format: ePub, Mobi
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Word Count: 19900
Sex Content: N/A
Warning: Mention of human trafficking of children
The coup should have been simple: oust the tyrannical regents and restore the rightful heir to the throne. No one expected the rightful heir to be dead, or for his younger brother to be missing. The search for the missing prince is important, but not as important as putting the destroyed country back together. At least, that’s what Aiden thinks until he stumbles on a terrible crime ring and a pair of beautiful green eyes that might just derail everything he’s been working towards.
Publisher: NineStar Press
Author: Isabelle Adler
Series: The Castaway Prince, Book Three
Release Date: May 17, 2021
Format: ePub, Mobi
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Word Count: 25300
Sex Content: Explicit
Orientation: Bisexual, Gay
Identity: Cisgender, Genderqueer
Warning: graphic violence, illness, murder, war, mention of past bullying, death of secondary characters, homophobia and transphobia (expressed by the antagonist)
Having returned to the continent following Warren’s illness, Stephan and Warren are certain they’ve escaped the notice of spies from Seveihar and are ready to build a new future for themselves. However, their quiet life is shaken once again when they receive a message from Stephan’s sister, Nessa. She begs him to return home and help her stand against their older brother, Robert, who is abusing his power by oppressing his subjects and starting an unnecessary war with the neighboring country of Esnia.
With dark family secrets coming to light, Stephan is faced with a difficult choice between safety and happiness in exile with the man he loves, and his duty as a prince to protect his people from tyranny. And yet, amid all the dangers, the greatest risk he might face is a broken heart…
Publisher: NineStar Press
Author: Vincent Traughber Meis
Release Date: June 14, 2021
Format: ePub, Mobi
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Category: Literary/Genre Fiction
Word Count: 88400
Sex Content: Non-Explicit
Warning: addiction, child abuse, depression, drug alcohol use addiction, overdose
In the 1960s, Midwestern boy and Boy Scout, Nathan delivers newspapers and mows lawns. Nathan uses his cover to move about yards and sneak into the homes of his neighbors, uncovering their secrets.
In high school, one of the local misfits introduces him to diet pills, which help him overcome his shyness. In an amphetamine high, he meets Cindy, who he hopes will steer him along the “morally straight” path of the Boy Scout Oath he swore to.
Nathan is infatuated with a young doctor down the street, Nicholas (Dr. B), who embodies all the things his mother would love him to be. On one of his secret forays in Dr. B’s house, he hides in a closet and witnesses his idol having sex with man while the wife is out of town. Dr. B’s affair leads to tragedy, forcing the doctor to leave town.
At college in New Orleans, Nathan meets a group of rebels and expands his drug use. Marc, a bisexual Cajun charmer becomes Nathan’s first male sexual experience, but promptly leaves town.
Nathan has a chance encounter with Dr. B, who has moved to New Orleans. Dr. B is in a relationship, but still closeted. Frustrated by Dr. B’s cool reaction, Nathan goes on a six-month binge of amphetamines and anonymous sex. On one night of debauchery, he overdoses and ends up in the emergency ward.
Nathan’s near death rallies Dr. B and Nathan’s other friends to force him into rehab. On the way home from work, Nathan witnesses the gruesome aftermath of the 1973 Up Stairs Lounge fire that devastated the gay population of New Orleans. As a result of the fire, Dr. B’s live-in boyfriend leaves town, freeing Dr. B to explore his feelings for Nathan.
Cyprus Reid is an enigma who courts the spotlight while carefully maintaining her mystique, intriguing legions of fans with her stylistic lyrics and a voice that brings many to tears. Even more intriguing than her all-male entourage is the fact that people are dying to get to her… literally.
To ex-Navy SEAL-turned-government intelligence operative Jason Giles, Cyprus is either a victim of an elaborate conspiracy, or the most fiendish killer since Jack the Ripper. Sure, the victims had shady pasts and shared a connection to a strange incident at Mount McKinley some fifty years ago, but that doesn’t mean they deserved to die, seemingly drained of life while engaged in acts of wanton carnality.
Jason is sent to discover the truth, but what he finds is more seductive, more intriguing, more enticing than a mere boy in a dress. What Jason finds is the existence of The Coven. And once they discover you, there is no going back.
“Ms. Reid, you are looking perfect tonight. Look this way, please!”
“Ms. Reid! You are an inspiration! I love you!”
“Ms. Reid! Ms. Reid! You are a goddess!”
“You are a dirty tramp, and you seduce men into worshiping you, you nasty slut!”
“You stole my husband, you bitch!”
“I hope you rot in hell!”
And Cyprus, as usual, ignored it all.
The flashing bulbs temporarily blinded her, but she ignored the minor inconvenience as well, as she moved with her customary style and grace down the wrinkled red carpet that had been rolled out for her visit.
She turned and flashed one last mysterious smile at the gathered crowd, both the hateful and the adoring fans, and silently made her way into the safety of the hotel.
“Ms. Reid?” She looked up at the oh-so-proper, British-accented voice, realizing absently that it was the hotel manager.
She paused, giving the short, balding man her full attention, noting how he flushed a little at her scrutiny.
The doors behind them closed with a <em>whoosh</em>, muting the noise and shouts of the crowd, though bulbs continued to flash as paparazzi desperately tried to get that winning shot of one of the world’s most beautiful and renowned vocalists.
“Um.” He cleared his throat, tugging at his collar as he shifted from foot to foot, more like an adolescent than a grown man. “Security has been tightened on your floor as you requested. Also, you are the only occupant of the twenty-seventh floor, though we can easily accommodate you and your entourage in the penthouse suite.”
“Thank you and that will be all,” a tall, long-haired man spoke, towering over both the manager and Cyprus. “Though we appreciate the hospitality you and your staff have provided thus far, Ms. Reid does not prefer the penthouse or any of the presidential suites. The twenty-seventh floor is perfect for our needs.”
The manager froze, staring at the man as if suddenly noticing his presence and that the sheer aura surrounding Cyprus had rendered the world blind to anyone else around her.
But then, that was part of her mystery.
Cyprus Reid never traveled with fewer than five men, five painfully handsome, dominating men.
How anyone could ever not notice them was a complete mystery, but usually they managed the neat theatrical trick of fading into the background. Once they decided to be seen, however, a blind man couldn’t miss them.
Each stood over six feet tall — five perfectly formed men, each unique and differently beautiful in his own way, who made it a point to surround and protect Ms. Reid from any and all activities that could be considered dangerous, especially keeping any unsavory fanatics at bay.
The one who spoke to him — Unus, he had discovered — the one with long, dark hair, appeared to be the spokesman for the rest of the group. If there was anything to be settled, this one was the one to do it.
He stood before the manager, his perfectly cut Savile Row suit doing nothing to hide the raw masculinity and barely leashed savagery that seemed to glow from his eyes.
The other four, all mystery men of different ethnic backgrounds and styles, moved in closer, alert to any trouble that might develop.
“V-v-very g-good, s-sir,” the manager stuttered, growing nervous now that all that male power was directed toward him. He reached into his pocket, then took a quick step back as all the men moved forward, hiding Cyprus behind a wall of muscle.
“It’s just the electronic key card,” he quickly explained, sweating under his collar as if suddenly fearing for his very life. “Just the key. No one else besides our head of security has a copy.”
“Your head of security?” the man asked, leaning forward, getting closer so that the manager could make out small, very fine tribal tattooing along his hairline, down in front of his ears, and down into the collar of his shirt.
“Jason Giles,” the manager explained. “Very good, comes highly recommended. He is securing the twenty-seventh floor as we speak. Ms. Reid’s safety is our chief concern.”
A slim, dusky hand reached between the two of them, halting any movement the tall man might have made and pulling him back into line.
He conceded to the smaller female whose hand now rested on his arm, nodding once. “Ms. Reid is exhausted…”
“Oh, excuse me!” The manager snapped back into host mode and hastily directed the small party to the private elevators. “These only stop at executive floors, like the twenty-seventh,” he explained, while placing the card against a small scanner.
The doors immediately opened, and he quickly ushered them inside. The men immediately surrounded Cyprus protectively. Within seconds, they were whisked to the proper floor, and all exited into the plushly carpeted, brightly lit hall.
“As requested, Ms. Reid’s room is in the center. The rooms on either side of her are prepared for occupancy and can be accessed only though the interior doors that are in Ms. Reid’s main suite. All others are closed off and locked, both electronically and by physical means. This floor is as safe as Fort Knox.”
That said, he led them to a door where another man, one with nearly white-blond hair, stood at attention.
Instantly, the men were once again on high alert, their bodies tensing as they formed a barrier between Cyprus and the unknown man.
“This is Jason Giles,” the manager introduced. “He is head of security, hired exclusively for your safety during this visit.”
“An honor.” Jason spoke softly, his eyes going to the odd collection of men who surrounded the artist.
“We thank you.” The long-haired spokesman for the group eyed the strange male carefully. “But your services, though appreciated, are not needed.”
There was steel in that voice only a dead man could miss. The undercurrents flowed strongly and were rife with testosterone.
“Be that as it may,” Jason replied, “I remain your first line of defense. If something gets out of hand, I will do my best to quell it before it even makes it this far. And if you have any issues, no matter how minor, be sure to let me know. Any extra security is a must. We all have to protect the beauteous Ms. Reid,” he added, with barely veiled sarcasm.
“If you think –” the now disgruntled leader of apparent party-toy men began, but a slim hand pressing against his arm stopped him again.
Huffing and visibly fighting to control himself, the man nodded and stepped aside.
And Jason got his first glimpse of the real-life Cyprus Reid.
Stephanie is a USA Today Best Selling, multi published, multi award-winning author, Master Costumer, handicapped, wife and mother of two.
From sex-shifting, shape-shifting dragons to undersea worlds, sexually confused elemental Fey and homo-erotic mysteries, all the way to pastel-challenged urban sprites, Stephanie has done it all, and hopes to do more.
Stephanie is an orator on her favorite subjects of writing and world-building, a sometime teacher when you feed her enough tea and donuts, an anime nut, a costumer, and a frequent guest of various sci-fi and writing cons where she can be found leading panel discussions or researching varied legends and theories to improve her writing skills.
Stephanie is known for her love of the outrageous, strong female characters, believable worlds, male characters filled with depth, and multi-cultural stories that make the reader sit up and take notice.
My friend’s brother needs an academic assistant and I need a job. Problem…jocks are my weakness. Seriously. I lose my ability to speak coherently around muscle-bound hotties. Oh yeah, I lose my inhibitions too—not a good look for a guy with a genius IQ. So what am I going to do about Simon?
Finishing college isn’t high on my list of priorities, but my future in professional football is looking bleak. I need a plan B or C, and I could use some help navigating life as an undergrad. Topher is perfect. He’s also a little strange…but in a good way. And I like the way I feel when I’m around him—as though anything is possible. Maybe if we follow our hearts, we’ll find what we’re looking for. But that means changing the rules…
Following the Rules is a MM, bisexual awakening romance starring a lovable nerd, a cool jock, and some extracurricular fun.
I served us both a slice of each kind of pizza and slid a plate his way, gesturing for him to help himself to the cheese or whatever else he might want.
“I don’t care about money,” I said around a mouthful of food. “Eat up. This is tasty, but it won’t be as good when it’s cold.”
Topher flashed an anxious sideways smile and took a mouse-sized nibble. “Mmm, that’s delicious.”
I washed down my pizza with a healthy swig of wine, nudging his knee as I swiveled to face him. “Are you okay?”
He wiped his hands on a napkin and drained half his water, setting it on the island with a decisive thud. “Yes, I’m just a little nervous.”
“Nervous? Oh. I’m sorry.” I frowned and before I could rein my tongue, blurted, “You seemed fine when we were joking about tiny gorilla penises, and hell…you saw my dick and—”
“I wasn’t joking. I was reciting a fact and as far as your penis is concerned…”
I twisted to face him, unable to contain a mischievous grin.
“Yes? I’m waiting,” I singsonged, biting into the ham and pineapple pizza.
“I told you, Simon…I was simply doing the math,” he replied matter-of-factly. “Six and a half inches.”
Topher narrowed his eyes, his features softening in amusement. “Six and three-quarters, max.”
I scoffed and hooked my thumb under the elastic waistband of my sweats. “Wanna see?”
“No! Geez. You know, it’s very difficult to stay on topic with you. And staying on topic is the only way this will work.”
“Okay, fine. Back to dick size. What animal has the biggest schlong on the planet?”
He gaped at me for a hot second. “The blue whale. It’s estimated to be seven to ten feet long.”
“Although I don’t know that it’s ever been measured during intercourse. Or if that’s even possible.” He reached for his pizza with his brow knit in concentration as though pondering whale dick…as one does.
“Whales are huge. It makes sense. What about land animals?”
“Elephants. They’ve legitimately measured specimens in excess of thirty-nine inches.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.” I snort-laughed. “Christ, I’m feeling very inadequate with my mere twelve inches.”
“Six,” Topher scoffed. “Look, before we get sidetracked again, I just want to—”
“I’ll pay you double.”
I sighed as I picked up my wineglass. “I don’t want to fail. No…it’s more than that. I need to look smart. I can’t come across as the fuckup wide receiver who got dumped from the NFL and blew the cushy back-door admittance to a prestigious university by failing his first semester. I thought I might be able to muddle through with a few pointers from George, but it’s going to take more than that. I need a real assistant.”
Topher widened his eyes, then blinked in disbelief when I named an exorbitant salary. I had a hard time keeping my own expression. What the hell was I thinking? Did I really need an assistant?
I didn’t know, but I needed…something.
“Oh, that’s a lot of money,” he whispered breathlessly.
“It’s the going rate for a personal assistant. Ironically, I never had one while I played ball, but I need the help now. I want the best, and George says that’s you.”
Topher smiled. “George didn’t say he was the best?”
“Actually, he did. But we can’t be in the same room for an hour without wanting to take a swing at each other.”
“You and George fight?”
“Not as much now that we’re older, but…yeah, I guess we still fight. We don’t have much in common.”
“You and I have even less in common,” he replied.
“That’s a good thing. Trust me, it’s better for me that you don’t know that I slept with a teddy bear until I was thirteen…or that I still have that damn bear for reasons unknown.” I gave a self-deprecating chuckle, then sipped my wine and set it on the island. “So…are you in? Make me smarter, Toph. I need your brain!”
He stared at me for a long moment, inclining his head. “Okay.”
“Yes!” I fist-pumped the air as if I’d just scored a touchdown and held out my hand for a high five.
Topher left me hanging for a few long seconds before gently tapping his palm to mine. I grabbed his wrist to hold him steady for a redo. The contact was light and breezy…and spontaneous. But that was how I rolled. For a guy who played professional football, it was nothing.
Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.
The only thing better than riding a cowboy is submitting to one.
On her own for the first time, Skylar Wedgeworth has no idea what to do about it. She’s torn between behaving like the hard-working mom she’s dedicated her life to being…and embracing her fascination with the erotic world of lust and submission she has long put second.
That’s where The Ranch comes in. And with it, Caleb Cash.
The injury that cut short Caleb’s pitching career just before he joined the majors, then his wife walking out on him have made Caleb question everything about himself, and he hasn’t had a partner since.
There’s no denying the heat between them when Skylar checks into the erotic lifestyle club Caleb and his six best friends opened in the Montana mountains, but for things to go further than their physical connection, Skylar has to learn how to put herself first and Caleb must be willing to trust a new partner with his heart…
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of anal sex, outdoor sex, the use of sex toys. There is reference to body modification, sports injury and implied abortion.
Oh, they were high up now.
Ev had brought Skylar to Open Air Skydiving to get her mind off things, just as she had taken her white-water rafting, dancing and drinking, hiking, and movie binging, but it turned out that things had taken Skylar’s mind off skydiving and she was very suddenly hit with the realization that she was about to jump out of a plane.
Sweat ran down the cotton shirt pressed to Skylar’s back by the bulk of her diving gear and the attached diving instructor. She leaned over to hear what her best friend was saying.
“Of course you miss her.” Ev had to shout to be heard over the roar of the small plane’s engine and the whirling wind that beat against metal. This wasn’t a good idea. Why had she thought it was a good idea? “You know that’s okay, right? You’re allowed to miss her.”
It was just the rush of air coming from the open door that had Skylar’s eyes watering behind the plastic goggles they’d been given when they checked into Open Air Skydiving Center just outside of DC earlier that afternoon. Just the air pressure and not the pressure behind her eyes, or anything ridiculous like that.
“I know,” Skylar shouted with more conviction than she felt. How was it she could be more than ten thousand feet above the ground and still feel this sense of malaise? “I was just hoping that sunshine and hot men would make me forget about it for a while.”
That had been the plan. A jaunt around Greece—exploring the coasts and the beaches, visiting some of the world’s most beautiful historic sites, getting tan and drinking local wine until the day she returned to the city—all with the hope that their home wouldn’t feel quite so quiet when she got back.
“You know that Callie is totally going to take on the world, right? Don’t think of it as your little girl going off to college. Think of it as…as the next step toward her Nobel Peace Prize.” Ev raised her voice even more to be heard. She leaned close and put her hand on Skylar’s, and goodness if Skylar didn’t need the kind of comforting touch Ev brought, even if it was slightly inhibited by the two diving instructors strapped to their backs, diving instructors who were now communicating that their jump point was coming up.
“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea…” The words were swallowed by the sound of the instructors moving about the cabin of the plane. Then Skylar was right there, standing over the world, her stomach somewhere at her feet, and the sweat she had been feeling a moment ago cooling into a panic that made her shiver.
“Are you ready?” her instructor asked, but the words were swallowed up on the wind and he didn’t give her a chance to respond before her feet were no longer anchored to the floor of the plane, before none of her body was anchored to the plane, but out in the open air, nearly three miles above the ground, a dizzying display of city and farmland and highway spreading out around them like the rug Callie had had in her room when she’d been a child.
Wait until she told Callie…
Callie would think this was the coolest thing Skylar had ever done.
With that thought in mind, Skylar spread her arms and relaxed her body enough to let the wind buoy her. Her heart pounded faster than the whirling plane propeller above them and her mouth was open in an eternal scream. This was terrifying, this was stupid, this was….
Her instructor pulled the cord and the parachute yanked them back, pressing hard against Skylar’s body and knocking the air from her chest for a moment. In a moment they were floating above the Virginia farmlands, a million tiny barns and homes and buildings coming into focus as they followed the natural course of the air. This was peace, somehow, in a tumult of chaos. In a whirlwind of everything that had happened these past weeks, she somehow felt at peace miles above the solid ground and wished, fleetingly, stupidly, that she never had to touch down again.
When her feet hit the ground, she stumbled but didn’t lose her balance and a rush of adrenaline coursed through her body. She wanted to dance, to swim across a river, to go back to Greece and figure out exactly what she had run away from by coming back from her Mediterranean adventures nearly a week earlier than she had planned and allowing Ev and her partners to toss her into every available adventure within three hours of the city.
As if she could hear her thoughts, Ev touched down a few hundred yards from Skylar, whooping and hollering with the same delight that raced through Skylar’s body right now. Soon they were disentangled from their chutes and Skylar was running over to Ev, wrapping her in a hug and swinging her around. Adrenaline made picking up her friend easier than expected and she could almost see how mothers could lift cars off their children in emergencies.
“That was wild!” She was definitely shouting but Ev didn’t seem to realize. “Let’s go again!” Ev laughed, wrapped her arm around Skylar’s waist and half-pulled her to the facility to drop their diving suits off and grab their bags. When they returned to the parking lot, it was to find Ev’s partners, Lucas and Quinn, waiting for them against a large black SUV.
Quinn Langston and Lucas Vallejo were Ev’s husbands and friends from back when they had trained at Quantico together. It had been nothing more than a momentary blip for Skylar to accustom herself to their relationship. Not only had the three been thick as thieves for a decade and the transition an easy and natural one, but Skylar’s own love for Ev went back even further, and she was never going to begrudge her happiness, no matter what form it took.
Ev had been there since the beginning, since Skylar had been pregnant and alone and desperate for a job, any job. Ev had just moved to DC the summer after graduating from Columbia University, before her training at Quantico, and they’d shared night shifts, and morning shifts and lazy afternoon shifts all summer long, sweating their asses off and working their calves to hell in the City Street Diner, across the street from George Washington University Hospital.
It had formed an impenetrable bond between the two of them, two young women trying to make it in a world not designed for them, and though Ev had gone on to save the world from evil at the FBI and Skylar had created her own successful business from the ground up, they had never lost touch.
Ev had been there the day Callie was born, been the one Skylar had put on her emergency forms, the one Skylar had called when the going had gotten really rough. It shouldn’t have come as a shock that Ev the grown-up, now in her late thirties and balancing two relationships and an incredibly successful career, would be able to see exactly what was bothering Skylar without skipping a beat. Well, almost everything that was bothering her.
“I’ve never seen you look more gorgeous in my life,” Lucas teased as the two neared the SUV. He was pretty gorgeous himself, all honey words and thick dark hair that Ev had disclosed one drunken night he very much liked pulled. Beside him, Quinn’s stoic expression cracked slightly, and he leaned down to kiss Ev before wrapping Skylar in a hug. It felt like having a brother back and some of the adrenaline of their trip through time and space faded slightly.
“Did you enjoy yourself?” he asked. Quinn was the most reserved of the three, and while they’d been waging a war against Skylar’s demons since she had returned from Greece early without an explanation, he’d given her the most space to process things, to be herself. She knew he had secrets of his own and appreciated his methods and gentleness as much as she did Lucas’ flirtatious humor and Ev’s open warmth.
“It was amazing,” she said honestly. For five minutes, she’d been able to stop thinking about Callie, about her empty apartment, about the what if of what she had run away from in Greece.
“Night’s just getting started!” Lucas chimed in, wrapping his arm around Ev’s waist and leaning in very, very close. “We have reservations at Little Cuba in”—he made a show of checking his watch—“ten minutes.” Little Cuba had the kind of festive atmosphere that was just perfect for a night out after jumping from a plane and Skylar had to appreciate the extent to which her friends were going to help her feel good.
It might help if I explained what the problem is.
Because she hadn’t exactly told Ev that it wasn’t so much the sense of being lost at sea with Callie in her first year of school on the other coast that had her in a funk. That had been why she’d left for Greece in the first place. But what she had found there…
Gemma Snow loves high heat, high adventures and high expectations for her heroes! Her stories are set in the past and present, from the glittering streets of Paris to cowboy-rich Triple Diamond Ranch in Wolf Creek, Montana.
In her free time, she loves to travel, and spent several months living in a fourteenth-century castle in the Netherlands. When not exploring the world, she likes dreaming up stories, eating spicy food, driving fast cars and talking to strangers. She recently moved to Nashville with a cute redheaded cat and a cute redheaded boy.
GEMMA SNOW IS GIVING AWAY FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN AND GET A FREE EBOOK FROM THE AUTHOR! Notice: This competition ends on 18TH May 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.
With a beginning as rocky as their pasts, it’d be easier if they stayed away from each other. They didn’t.
Leo Tomilson has come back to Harrington Hills after a fire that changed his life forever, and all he wants is to be left alone. No longer being a firefighter is something he might learn to live with, but there are days when he doesn’t even feel like a proper werewolf anymore. That cuts deeper than anything else.
Charlie Dewitt is as reliable as they come in Harrington Hills. Ever since he put down roots in this town, he’s never wanted to leave. His brother is here, his pack is here and so is his life. He has everything he needs. Not everything he wants, perhaps, but that’s fine.
Their first meeting is a mess because they clash over a series of misunderstandings. But Charlie is a patient man, Leo sees in him what most people miss and neither of them are good at taking the easy way out, so maybe there’s a chance for…something, after all.
Reader advisory: This book is best read as part of a series but can be read as a standalone. The book contains a scene of public sex.
Leo woke up to the sound of knocking, but he refused to acknowledge whoever it was. They would leave eventually.
He rolled over and put his face into his pillow, but the knocking turned into pounding.
“Open the door, LJ!” Sylvia. Of course. He should’ve known.
“Go away,” he said, loud enough so she could hear him. “I’m sleeping.”
“I don’t care.” She pounded on the door again. “Let me in before somebody calls the cops on me.”
“Ha-ha,” he grumbled but sat up. Given their foster father was the sheriff, the joke had been funny once, but that time had long passed. “Maybe they should.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Sylvia said through the door, but at least she wasn’t attacking it anymore. She’d probably heard him getting up.
It wasn’t until he was halfway down the hallway that he realized Sylvia wasn’t alone. Damn it. Damn his fucked-up senses and damn his siblings for ambushing him like this first thing in the morning.
Or afternoon, he figured, glancing at the clock near the door.
A big part of him wanted to turn around and go back to sleep, but since he was already out of bed, he might as well get on with it. Sylvia wasn’t going to let up now, anyway.
He opened his door with a “What?” in a matter of greeting and almost closed it a moment later when he saw the small crowd on his porch. Along with his annoying sister were Damien, Luka and Beatrice.
“Hello to you, too, brother,” Sylvia told him and moved forward. When Leo stepped back on instinct, she nodded at him and entered the house. She went to pat his chest, but he sidestepped that in the guise of capitulating and making room for the rest of their little group to come in.
Out of everyone, only Beatrice had the good graces to look vaguely apologetic for the invasion.
“I love what you haven’t done with the place,” Sylvia said as she looked around, but Leo just rolled his eyes. The house was furnished enough to be lived in, and that was what he was doing—living in it. Sure, it had been furnished by a company he’d hired and further accessorized by his mother—their mother—who wanted to make it more ‘homey’, but it was a perfectly fine living space.
Sylvia made it sound like he was living in a shack in the woods.
Which he wouldn’t mind, actually, as long as it had a comfortable bed, but he’d known better than to freak out his family like that. So he’d purchased a house remotely before he’d even moved back to Harrington Hills—and here he was.
Yet his family still found a reason to freak out anyway.
“Give me a minute,” he muttered and went back to the bedroom. He put on a pair of jeans and the first T-shirt he pulled out of his drawer, barely avoiding the temptation to just lie down again. He made a stop in the bathroom without so much as a glance at the mirror then forced himself to return to the living room.
The four of his siblings had sat down on the couch and one of the armchairs, leaving the other empty for him. How nice of them, he thought dryly, and for a second considered ignoring the seat altogether, but finally he sat, putting his hands on the armchair’s sides and resisting the urge to pull his legs up.
“Did you need something?” he asked.
“We needed to talk to you.” Sylvia looked at him then, pointedly, at the rest of their siblings, who nodded.
“We’re worried about you,” Beatrice said, and Leo opened his mouth to tell her there was no need, but Sylvia didn’t let him.
“You haven’t been out on a Full Moon Run since you got here. You’ve skipped all but one of the pack gatherings—”
“Two,” he corrected her. He’d been roped into that second one because he’d bumped into his mother at the store and she’d insisted he help her out, but it still counted, nevertheless.
“Fine, two.” Sylvia seemed to struggle not to roll her eyes—or maybe get up and smack him over the head. Either one or both, really. “In the almost three months since you’ve been back.”
“So what?” He raised his eyebrows. There was no law that said he needed to attend the gatherings. He’d done what was required. He’d gone to see the Alpha once he’d been back and he’d attended one get-together soon after. Then he’d decided to do what he preferred, which was to stay home and not bother with people.
His mood was definitely not suited for interactions with others, which this conversation perfectly conveyed.
“What do you mean, ‘so what’?” Luka frowned. “You’re a part of the pack. We gather as a pack.”
“It’s not mandatory,” he pointed out the obvious, but it looked like it was only obvious to him alone.
“It’s not mandatory to attend every gathering,” Sylvia told him. “It’s unheard of to attend none. And,” she added quickly when he opened his mouth, “yes, I know you attended two, but that’s beside the point.”
“What is your point, then?” Leo dug his hands into the armrests. “I did attend two gatherings, so it’s not like I’ve attended none. I’m not going more because I don’t want to. What’s so bad about that?”
“What’s so bad is our mom, who makes your favorite pie every time the pack gathers at the house because she thinks you’re going to be there,” Damien spoke up and, damn it, he’d always been the best at guilt-tripping.
None of them had ever wanted to disappoint their mom, the woman who had opened her heart and arms for them even before she’d opened her home.
Leo might feel like a monster some days, but he’d never purposefully hurt the most important woman in his life.
“I never promised her I’d come,” he said, but even to his own ears the excuse was a weak one.
“Yeah, because that makes it all better,” Damien muttered.
“You don’t have to promise anything. She’s always going to be waiting, and you know it.” Sylvia sagged in her seat as if she were a balloon that had lost all its air. “Seriously, what did you expect, moving back to Hills?”
He’d been looking for a place to survive. Somewhere to hide in, to forget his old life, forget—
So he’d returned to the last place he’d felt safe, the place he’d called home long before Chicago. But even here, nothing felt like it once had, because the memories had come back home with him.
He’d been trying to bury them all, but they refused to let go. They kept him up at night, trapped him in his nightmares and suffocated him until he ran, and ran, and ran for miles through the forest surrounding the town—and farther, too. He’d caught himself more than once outside the Harrington Pack grounds.
He’d never run far enough to outrun his head, but sometimes his thoughts had quieted for a while, at least.
He couldn’t do it on the pack runs, not really. Someone would notice he wasn’t shifting or running for pleasure, and he never wanted to have to admit to anyone—his parents, his Alpha, his siblings—that he was running for his life these days.
“LJ?” Sylvia’s voice penetrated his thoughts. It sounded softer than anything she’d said so far today, and when he looked up, he met her worried gaze.
He forced himself to let up his grip on the armrests. At least he hadn’t extended his claws.
“I expected some peace and quiet,” he said after he remembered the last thing she’d said before he’d gotten lost in his head. “I get that you like to gather until there’s a crowd, but crowds are the opposite of what I want.”
“How about we organize a family dinner, then?” Beatrice spoke up and he turned to her. She seemed…sad, and Leo didn’t have to guess why. That had been a part of why he’d stayed away—not wanting his family to worry. “Not the whole pack, just the Tomilsons? We hadn’t had one of those in a while.”
Leo wanted to protest—‘just the Tomilsons’ still meant close to thirty people, including all the significant others and the kids—but he figured it was actually a compromise he could live with. He would sit through the family dinner, make his parents happy and hopefully get his siblings off his back.
“Fine,” he said with a sigh when he saw Sylvia opening her mouth. “Let’s do that.”
Sylvia narrowed her eyes. “Really?”
“Yes, really.” He shot her a glare that hopefully conveyed ‘don’t push your luck’. He got up. “Now, is the intervention over?”
She shook her head but got up as well.
“This wasn’t an intervention,” she said, and the trio on the couch looked from one of them to the other and back, staying silent. “It was a warning. We’ll settle for a family dinner now, but you skip the next after-the-run barbecue and we’ll be back. And that’s going to be an intervention.”
He wondered briefly what she considered the difference between the two but dismissed the thought quickly. He’d worry about it later. Now, he just wanted them out of his house, so he could go back to bed.
Or maybe eat something.
He should probably eat. It had been a while.
“Is that all?” he finally asked, since everyone’s gaze was now stuck on him.
It was the politest ‘get out of my house’ he could come up with, and he hoped it would work, because he truly didn’t want to fight with them. He just wanted to be left alone.
Sylvia looked from him to their siblings on the couch before nodding slowly. “Yes,” she finally said with a nod. “I’ll text you about the family dinner, so don’t pretend you’ve lost your phone or I’ll come here and drag you out myself.”
Leo pushed his suddenly sweaty hands into the pockets of his jeans and forced himself to swallow through his tight throat.
There was no smoke, no fire, no pain.
Sylvia was just being Sylvia.
“Fine,” he said slowly, carefully, making sure his voice would hold. He walked to the door and opened it. “Bye now.”
Beatrice and Luka sighed, Damien rolled his eyes and Sylvia looked like she wanted to say something but closed her mouth and walked out without another word.
Soon, Leo was alone again, with only the fading scent of the pack and his family members lingering in his house.
Maybe he should actually invite his family over one day to make the whole place smell like them?
Megan is one of those people who dreamed of being a writer since they were a little kid and then didn’t do anything about it for years. Then as a teenager she was introduced to fandom and… well. She fell head first into it and never looked back. At some point she decided to try writing her own characters in her own stories. And that’s where she is today.
When she’s not writing, Megan works as a psychologist and continues to learn the hard way that she can’t give all her clients their happy ending (she truly believes everyone can save themselves, though). That’s why she makes sure to give it to her characters, always.
She loves TV shows, books, fanworks and pizza (not necessarily in that order). But there’s nothing like getting messages from readers who enjoy her stories, so if you’re not sure it’s okay to contact her—yes, it is.
Charm McCall has a gift for solving small-town murders, but can she stop something threatening the entire McCall clan?
Charm McCall is on the hunt once more—this time to figure out who the ghost is that her cat has been seeing, why she’s being shown an ancient treasure map by, gulp, a dead guy and why her Auntie T.J. has suddenly disappeared, bagpipes and all.
That would be more than enough, but with the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance and its accompanying Promise Bags to create and spell, she’s about run off her feet. Not to mention that now it’s legal to sell marijuana in Canada, orders for pot brownies are rolling in and threatening to crash her online store.
Charm needs all the help she can get to deal with the arrival of her mother and the beyond painful host of problems that creates for her family, save Auntie T.J.’s hiney and discover who the real murderer is…that is, if she wants her romance with Snowy Lake’s sexy Mountie, Ace Collins, to have any hope at all.
Reader advisory: This book contains references to drug use and parental abandonment. There are scenes involving discovery of corpses, with some description of said corpses, a scene of mild violence and some poisoning.
“Careful! That box is already spelled! Anything could happen if you mix them up,” I shouted at my triplet Star, who was paying me no mind, just moving things haphazardly around as she ‘dusted’ the shelves of the Tea & Tarot café.
Star twitched her whole body into a pretend robot, her blonde curls bouncing when she dime-stopped her limbs in an abrupt series of motions. It was a lightning change of mood that had become far too common of late. I gave a deep sigh of frustration I didn’t bother to hide. She’d been getting worse by the day, antsy no doubt for The Call. Darn movie people. Telling her she had a role, then delaying production.
“Oh, really.” Okay, she was good at the robot dance, I’d give her that, if a job ever asked for such a dubious ability. But that didn’t stop me from rushing forward to rescue the Promise Bags. They held the precious trinkets of all the females around town who were participating in the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance. Each midnight blue velvet bag had been magically infused with a specific wish, ranging from a marriage proposal to a spa vacation. Mix up those babies and all Hades will break loose, because this year the items had been blessed under the decade’s most awesome supermoon.
Maybe that’s a bad idea? I chewed on a fingernail while I worried about going too far in my overwhelming urge to have my fellow goddesses receive their fair due from men who did not always appreciate them. Men could be so lame sometimes, not reading the signals right under their very noses, though that did not appear to be the case with our local Mountie, Ace Collins. He could be a little too astute at times. Goddess, give me the strength…
The emotive notes of a musical instrument native to Scotland, one that defied the noise ordinance of Snowy Lake, broke through my worry fog.
I set the rescued box safely aside on a shelf and scurried toward the huge picture window of the Tea & Tarot café to where Tulip sat perched on a stool. The third triplet of our McCall clan, she was a matching bookend to Star, which made them both polar opposites to me with my Elizabeth Taylor-esque violet-colored eyes and dark hair. Or at least according to Granny Toogood, who loved her old movies.
Tulip was keyboarding as per usual on her computer, working either on her blog posts or selling our newly rolled out ‘potcakes’ to the Canadian masses. I sent a silent prayer to the goddess that the extra revenue the items were supposed to bring in happened. We’d invested in producing cannabutter to add to our spectacular line-up of bakery goods, and to think it might go to waste if the idea didn’t catch on induced serious heart palpitations. And that just isn’t right when a gal’s only twenty-one years old.
“Shoot! What’s Auntie T.J. up to now?”
“She only brings out the big guns when she feels threatened,” Tulip said. “See, Sergei McCausland.” She pointed at the business owner our auntie was serenading with her warmongering.
The town hound dog owned the Bowl-a-ram-a, the five-pin bowling alley tucked away at the outskirts of town, which was located a hop, skip and a jump from our café, Snowy Lake being so small with only twelve hundred and fifty-nine residents, that I could run across it quicker than I could be bothered to start up my Jeep, Thor.
Though that had been changing somewhat of late with the arrival of Constable Collins and his annoying active pursuit of law and order. Sheriff Winn Duffy was more beloved of course, having turned a blind eye for decades, but the new Mountie was gaining ground. Did I share that he’s a handsome devil?
“What’s Hound Dog up to now?” Star asked, joining us behind the counter.
“Star, don’t be saying that out loud. Granny Toogood might overhear,” I chastised my sister automatically. The woman who had taken us in at eight years old had a thing about swearing and speaking ill of others, among a host of other things that she expected everyone to have learned in kindergarten. I gave a quick glance around the café, taking a second to admire the décor of midnight blue walls with enough glitter to choke a horse, thanks to Star, our resident glitter mistress. No Granny and no customers at the moment. Of course, it was an off-time, Sunday morning before church let out.
“Why is she upset with him?” Tulip asked, computer forgotten as she got to her feet to join us. The three of us stood shoulder-to-shoulder and stared at Auntie T.J. in her full Highland dress that was a touch too plaid-mad for my tastes. Her newly tinted burgundy hair with a wide pink streak down one side shone sparkly in the sun and drew attention to the bright slash of siren-red adorning her lips. She stood on the solid-yellow divided line of Main Street and blasted away in the face of the far larger Sergei, who appeared, from his wide-legged stance and wild hand gestures, to be pretty darn angry.
“I heard that he’s been manufacturing Auntie’s special elixir out at Skull Cave. Pretty much stole her recipe,” Star said, punctuating her remarks with a significant raising of her perfectly groomed eyebrows.
“No! Not Auntie T.J.’s Magic Elixir, her special apple pie moonshine?” Tulip asked, her mouth pursing into a rosebud, her eyes as wide as a snowy owl’s.
“The cure for whatever ails you.” I repeated the oft-heard company slogan. My auntie had a lot of entrepreneurial spirit, I’d give her that, though that might explain our own venture into marijuana edibles, since the Canadian laws had changed a few days ago. Can’t escape DNA. I pushed past Star to storm out through the front door into the unseasonably warm mid-October morning. The angel chimes overhead went wild with a chorus of Halleluiah as I let the door slam shut behind me.
“Auntie T.J.!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, wind-milling my arms to get her attention over the caterwauling of the pipes. She either didn’t see me or was studiously ignoring me. The sound was even louder this close, and I cringed from the instant eardrum pain, clasping both hands over the sides of my head.
Sergei came right up to me, catching me before I could confront my auntie, grab hold of the ‘musical’ instrument and tear her fingers from the chanter. Actually, I loved the sound of the bagpipes…when they were located over the hill and moaning into the distance, as they were meant to be enjoyed.
“Would you talk some darn sense into that woman? She’s going to drive away all my business. I have half a mind to sue her. Did you know she was at my place this morning before following me here? Nearly drove a van-load of senior citizens away. I had to offer the first game half-price. I can’t have that.” He shook his head with vigor. “You need to talk to her, make her see sense. Daft old bird.”
“What’s got her riled? You know she only does this when she’s driving away bears or someone’s done her wrong,” I shouted back.
His expression shifted and his eyes narrowed. “I have no idea. The woman is certifiable. I’m calling the cops if she persists. We’ll see what Sheriff Winn Duffy thinks about all this. He’ll toss her in jail for disturbing the peace. Mark my words.”
I placed my hands on my hips and cocked my head at him. “That’s not what I heard. I think you know very well what’s going on here.”
He flushed darker and didn’t look me in the eyes.
“That’s what I thought. You stole her Apple Pie Moonshine recipe!” I pointed my forefinger at his broad chest. Sergei stood a full head taller than I am, with me being by far the shortest of the McCall triplets. But nature made up for that by having me born a whole day earlier than my sisters, or one minute to midnight, if I was being specific.
“I didn’t steal her darn recipe. I just worked it out for myself. It’s not rocket science, you know. I just came downtown to buy some edibles from the Tea & Tarot and this is the thanks I get.” He began to pout like a five-year-old. Of course, Auntie T.J. was no better. Granny Toogood’s only sister was not only ten years younger than her, but also six decades behind her in the smarts and maturity departments.
“Let me deal with my aunt. You can leave now. I’ll have a talk with her.”
“You’d better. Just sayin’. Because I’m not putting up with this much longer, missy!”
The blast of the police sirens firing off must have been droned out by the moaning of the pipes, because suddenly there was Constable Ace Collins standing at my side. We’d even missed the flashing lights atop the Royal Canadian Mounted Police SUV.
But my oh my, he was looking handsome this morning, all six-foot-plus, broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped, Stetson-wearing Mountie that he was. He touched his large fingers to his fine hat and nodded at me before turning a steely-eyed glance on Sergei McCausland. Even the bagpipes had silenced with his arrival. Auntie T.J. stood quiet with her fingers poised over the chanter holes in case she needed to punctuate her point yet again. I shook my head at her in an exaggerated motion, a finger to my lips.
“Are you threatening Miss McCall?” he asked. He must have picked up on the recipe-stealing man’s last comment. The Bowl-a-ram-a wasn’t the sure-fire business plan that Sergei had dreamed of, I suspected, which was probably why he’d gone into manufacturing moonshine. That tempered my thoughts. Business was hard won in a small town, and it was good that he offered people entertainment during the endless months of a typical long and freezing Canadian winter. But still, using my auntie’s recipe sucked. She’d spent years fine-tuning it to what she thought her hero from the TV show Justified’s Mags Bennett’s moonshine tasted like, and she was rightly proud of it. I’d enjoyed it on a few occasions myself…when I didn’t have to work the following morning.
“No, of course not. I was just wanting a bit of peace, for heaven’s sake. That woman’s been doing this for three days running. She’s trying to ruin my business. You have to do something, Constable, or so help me I will go over your head and speak to Winn Duffy. I know you’re too fond of the McCall family by half.”
Oooh. That last comment was uncalled for. Ace Collins was a man of complete integrity. A straight shooter. A man of conviction. I backed up a couple of steps in the dead silence while the two men glared at each other, then I backed up a bit farther.
A surge of anger forced its way through me. Who did this guy think he was? Casting aspersions on Ace and my family like that? A streetlamp popped nearby, blowing up and showering sparks in the nearby vicinity, which included the three of us. We all ran for cover, well, except for the Mountie, who gave me a look, shaking his head with a steely look on his handsome mug. He flicked a smoldering spark from his sleeve and strolled over to join me standing on the sidewalk in front of the café. Auntie T.J. and Sergei had vanished like vampires at sunrise.
Behind me, I experienced the emotions of my sisters burning into my back. The town was suddenly silent, like the whole universe was holding its collective breath. Goddess, do not fail me now.I ask for your protection and understanding. I sent the prayer into the crisp morning air before turning a benevolent smile toward my favorite Mountie.
“Morning, darlin’. I trust you will be talking to your aunt for me? Sharing my concerns over her breaking the town’s sound ordinance, jaywalking and obstructing traffic on Main Street laws?”
I glanced around pointedly, about to say that no one was waiting to drive down the street that I could see, when he reached out to take my hand with his far larger and far warmer one, throwing me off-kilter in a heartbeat. I nodded mutely as a momentous electrical charge coursed through me, making me feel I could provide lighting for the entire town. I groaned, only imaging what Tulip was observing with her new-found gift of reading auras. Now she had ammunition up the yin-yang for blackmail or teasing. Had I just lost the oldest sister advantage?
Trying to tug my hand away from his without appearing too obvious about it didn’t work. He held on, then did the unexpected—leaned his head down toward me and captured my lips for a kiss. A modest one for certain, quite quick, but oh so memorable. My insides trembled at the pleasurable sensations that rippled through me.
When he pulled his head away, he gave me a certain look from under the brim of his Stetson, then let go of my hand. “Be sure to talk to your aunt or I will.”
“Are you threatening me?” Hands back on hips, I glared at him with all the emotions our impossible-to-consummate relationship produced. Until we knew for absolute, unequivocally dead certain that he was my one true love, we couldn’t do much at all as it might jeopardize my goddess-given gifts.
My searcher gift—finding lost items—wouldn’t be missed near as much as my healing gift, because the whole town counted on that. And as Granny Toogood had shared a few weeks back, if I gave myself to someone who wasn’t The One, I’d lose it all. And the town wasn’t helping us a bit on this one. Instead, it was always interrupting us. If we didn’t steal kisses on the run, there’d be none at all.
“No, Miss McCall. But consider yourself fully warned of the consequences for your aunt if you don’t fix this thing. I don’t want to hear it happens for a fourth day.” A twitch that I had observed on the odd occasion began in his cheek. He was feeling the effects of our needing to restraint ourselves to only kisses as much as me. Good. Fair play. Though, in truth, it was more a hesitation on Ace’s part than mine. I was about ninety-nine-point-nine percent certain he was my one. I just had to persuade everyone else that it was the case. That my healing gift would stay intact.
“I’ll handle it,” I said, tucking my hands behind my back while rolling on the balls of my feet. Nice to see a man sweat. Not that I didn’t want more than a few chaste kisses from Ace, but in the meantime, it was a fun if somewhat frustrating time. And I was pretty sure I knew how it would all end. Or at least I had my hopes.
Another light standard winked as if it too were going to blow. “Oh, relax already. I got this.” I turned and headed back into the café, bracing myself for my sister’s comments.
January Bain has wished on every falling star, every blown-out birthday candle and every coin thrown in a fountain to be a storyteller. To share the tales of high adventure, mysteries, and full-blown thrillers she has dreamed of all her life. The story you now have in your hands is the compilation of a lot of things manifesting itself for this special series. Hundreds of hours spent researching the unusual and the mundane have come together to create a series that features strong women who don’t take life too seriously, wild adventures full of twists and unforeseen turns, and hot complicated men who aren’t afraid to take risks. She can only hope the stories of her beloved Brass Ringers will capture your imagination as much as they did hers when she wrote them.
If you are looking for January Bain, you can find her hard at work every morning without fail in her office with two furry babies trying to prove who does a better job of guarding the doorway. And, of course, she’s married to the most romantic man! Who once famously replied to her inquiry about buying fresh flowers for their home every week, “Give me one good reason why not?” Leaving her speechless and knocking her head against the proverbial wall for being so darn foolish. She loves flowers.
If you wish to connect in the virtual world, she is easily found on Facebook, Twitter and writes a weekly blog about her journey on Blogger. Oh, and she loves to talk books…
Enter for your chance to win a $50.00 First For Romance Gift Card and get a FREE romance book from the author!
JANUARY BAIN IS GIVING AWAY A $50.00 FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN AND GET A FREE EBOOK FROM THE AUTHOR! Notice: This competition ends on 18TH May 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.
Publisher: Drake & Elliott Publishing LLC
Book Title: Wicked Outlaw
Author Name: Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott
Series Title and Number: Ward Security Series #6
Cover Artist: Design by Drake
Release Date: May 21, 2021
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Romance Pairings: Male/Male
Book Length (eBook): 78k
Cole loves the city. He loves the noise, chaos, and having tacos delivered at 2 a.m.
He loves his job at Ward Security. He might look like a bodyguard, but there’s nothing better than being counted as one of the hacking tech triplets.
There is no way he will ever love horses, cows, and the great wide open of Texas.
At least, that’s what he thinks until JB Alexander rides into his life.
He can’t deny the burning attraction of JB’s easy smile and weird sense of humor.
And while they’re dodging gun shots, crazy neighbors, meddling family, and secret plots, Cole might be forced to admit that he’s found an even greater love.
Wicked Outlaw is the sixth full-length novel in the Ward Security series and is jam packed with crazy neighbors, wild gun shots, a horse named Dopey, llamas, code names, a bisexual awakening, and new beginnings.
Interested in being on Team Indigo? We're always on the look out for new bloggers to host our tours, blitzes and cover reveals. To insure that we only contact you about tours that may be of interest to you, please complete our Tour Host sign up form.