New Release Blitz ~ Don’t you Wanna Stay? by Aliyah Burke (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Don’t you Wanna Stay? by Aliyah Burke

Book 1 in the Family Forever series

Word Count: 30,607
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 126

Genres:

BILLIONAIRE
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MULTICULTURAL
SECOND CHANCE

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Book Description

Decisions must be made about what’s more important, love or work.

One explosive night between strangers isn’t something billionaire Gareth Ericsson could, or wants to, easily forget. When a second-chance meeting with the one woman unlike any he’s met before comes up, he decides he’s not willing to let her go again.

Xandra Asher has enough on her plate during the fundraiser she spearheaded when she finds herself facing the man she had a one-night stand with. He’s as enigmatic as he was that night, and she soon finds he’s inserted himself back into her life.

Work is cutthroat and accusations fly. When careers are on the line, which will come out on top—their jobs or their hearts?

Reader advisory: This book contains references to abduction and drug addiction, as well as scenes involving an emotionally abusive parent.

Excerpt

“Don’t worry, Mr. Yoon, I just got off the phone with the management staff liaison we have at the MontClaire, and Ms. Noit has confirmed with me that all the stipulations we gave them to hold the fundraiser there have been and will be met.”

Xandra turned her right wrist, caught a quick glimpse of her fitness tracker and made a mental note to make sure she changed out the floral print band for her gold one, which would better accentuate her outfit. She listened to her boss, who was a business tycoon. Mr. Yoon had turned all his attention and money to a line of banks that had been on the way out and now he rivaled Rockefeller and Rothschild in his standing.

He was well known in the business world for his brutality, though she tended to laugh at that description. He could be that way, sure. The man took no prisoners when it came to business, but he was a devoted family man, still married to the same woman he’d fallen in love with back in school. They had three children who he worked hard to make sure had respect and didn’t assume they were better than anyone because of their money. Or rather, their father’s money.

She flicked a hand along her red dress, dislodging a piece of lint that dared to land there.

“The car will be by to pick up you and Mrs. Yoon at half past eight. I will meet you there when you arrive.”

“Did anyone say they weren’t attending?”

She touched the device in her hand, even though she already knew the answer. “Mr. Ericsson is unable to attend, as he came down with something, but he is sending his son in his stead. Gareth Ericsson.”

“That’s good. I know his son. You will like him.”

Regardless of the fact that she was rising in the executive elevator alone, she smiled as if her boss stood before her. “I’m sure I will.”

Mr. Yoon laughed, and her smile fell from practiced to real. She truly enjoyed this man.

“One day a man will come by and sweep you off your feet.”

“You keep me far too busy to give my feet a chance of holding still for that to happen.” The door to the elevator slid open on silent gliders and she stepped out into her boss’ waiting area. “Is there anything else you need from me before this starts, Mr. Yoon?”

“I will see you there. I hope you’re heading home to get something to eat first.”

She walked toward her office, the thick mat beneath the carpet masking her steps. “I’ll be on my way shortly.”

“I’m calling back in ten minutes, and you better be on your way.” She opened her mouth, yet he continued, not giving her a chance to speak. “I’m calling security because I know you’ll lie. Get home, and I will see you for this fundraiser. It will be amazing—you always make sure they are.” He was gone, and she still gave her usual farewell before touching the device in her ear, completing the call on her end as well.

The moment the door to her office closed behind her, she kicked off her shoes and moaned as she padded in her sheer stockings to the large leather couch and flopped down.

She could totally go for a full-body massage. Or a hot tub with massaging jets. This fundraiser was important to her boss and she refused to let him down. It wasn’t like this was the first one she’d ever put together—far from it—but this one meant so much to him and his family. It would kill her to disappoint him.

Mr. Yoon had taken a chance on her when she’d first applied for this position. There had been others who had had resumes that had made hers look like a turd she’d tried to polish beside their shining stars, but he’d gone past their ivy-league degrees and chosen her. That had been five years ago, and now she spoke fluent Korean, had holiday gift exchanges with the family, and his children looked upon her as a person they could go to for anything they needed if they were unable to reach their parents.

Moaning once more, she pushed up on her arms and glanced around her office with eyes that were far too blurry and, with her luck, probably swollen. Giving in, she fell back down and mentally ran over everything on her schedule, making sure she didn’t have anything that demanded her attention right now.

Content she didn’t, she began looking for the energy to get back up and make her way down to the car to head home. If she moved now, she could sleep for an hour before she put on the face that would hide all this exhaustion.

Her ear vibrated with the notification of an incoming call. Struggling, she touched her ear and answered the call.

“This is Xandra.”

“I would love to hope that your voice was all muffled and exhausted because I’m interrupting some spine-tingling sex, but given your fundraiser is tonight, I’m sure that’s not the case.”

Despite her exhaustion, she smiled as her cousin Xahara’s words reached her.

“You’d be correct. In fact, I’m face first in the couch, wishing I had hands on me. Would you like to spare your man? You know, share and all that.”

“Don’t make me plant some evidence on your ass and shoot you.”

They weren’t words to be taken lightly.

“Fine. Don’t share.”

“I won’t. I wanted to check on you before this thing started, and yes, I know you’ve been busting your ass, which is why I’m calling. Are you eating enough? I’d ask about sleep but I don’t think that’s happening.”

“Not until tonight. Thankfully I have the next week off—Mr. Yoon said I deserved it.” Pumped by speaking with her cousin, she managed to wrangle her body up from the couch and back to her shoes. Instead of putting them on, she picked them up and walked out of her office, purse slung over one shoulder and heels dangling from two fingertips. “I think I’m going to sleep and get a massage.”

“Sex?”

“No.”

“We both know you need to. What about that one-night-stand guy?”

Her nipples tightened just at the thought of that man and his touch. She swallowed. This train of thought wasn’t any good for her. At all. Time to shut it down.

“I’m not talking about sex with you right now. I have to get ready for the event.”

“Talk me home.”

It wasn’t an uncommon thing for either one of her cousins to call and they would keep the other company until they reached home. Sometimes it was all the chance they had to catch up, so she listened to the eldest of their trio. True to her word, Xahara ended the call when Xandra reached her apartment.

Her shower was fast and she padded around her place in a silk robe, allowing her lotion more time to soak into her skin. Pausing by the large one-way windows, she stepped close and brushed her fingers along a cool pane. She stared down at the bustling city of Marbleton below her. People going about their business, not giving her any thought whatsoever high up here.

I could be getting murdered right here and no one would be the wiser. Or I could be getting fucked and no one would know.

She’d know for sure. To either one. She’d not had sex since that one-night stand she’d dropped her guard for all those months ago. The tingling in her pussy was yet another reminder that she needed to stop thinking about it. She wasn’t getting any tonight.

“I have to do my job.”

She ate a light meal, knowing there would be appetizers and hors d’oeuvres at the event. She didn’t have to do a lot of work there—her main role had been to set it up. While she didn’t anticipate stuffing her face, because that wouldn’t be a good look, she would allow herself a bite or two.

Xandra dressed and stood before her three-way mirror, critiquing her outfit. Red and gold, a nod to Mr. Yoon’s company colors. She adjusted the delicate band for her fitness tracker, pleased it blended in perfectly.

After one final look, she touched her gold and diamond earrings as well as the diamond X pendant necklace she wore. It had been a gift from her two cousins when she’d landed this job. It was her good-luck charm and something she didn’t like to go without.

At the door, she slipped her feet into her five-inch heels, swiped her clutch and walked out, exhaustion vanishing with each step. She loved this. She lived for this.

And I’m fucking going to rock this!

Her attitude was the same when she got out of the car at the event and walked in. After handling a few last-minute things, making sure to say hello to Mr. Yoon and his wife, she mingled through the gathered guests, making sure no one was wanting for anything.

She moved to the door that led to the balcony and had stepped out for a quick respite when she noticed a large shadow to her left.

“You know, you’re just as stunning with all your clothes on as you were when I had you naked with your legs over my shoulders while I feasted on that perfect pussy.”

Her legs trembled at that decadent voice. Before she could even pray that she’d misheard the words, or start to get angry at them, the owner of the voice stepped into view, and her breath escaped in a rush.

His tuxedo had been made for him alone—that was obvious by the fit and how it amplified his broad shoulders, trim waist and lean hips. Blond hair, which had been messy when she’d snuck out of his bed after their hot sexual night, was slicked to perfection, and those blue eyes burned straight through her clothing, seeing her nude.

She faced her one indiscretion. Her one-night stand.

Fuck.

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About the Author

Aliyah Burke

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

Aliyah Burke is an avid reader and is never far from pen and paper (or the computer). She is happily married to a career military man. They are owned by six Borzoi. She spends her days at the day job, writing, and working with her dogs​. She loves to hear from her readers and can be reached here. She can also be found on Facebook or Twitter: @AliyahBurke96. And Pinterest.

If you would like to be kept abreast of what’s going on in the world of Aliyah, you can sign up to her newsletter here.

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New Release Blitz ~ The Forest God’s Favor by AT Lander (Excerpt & Giveaway)

The Forest God’s Favor by AT Lander

Book 1 in the Of Gods and Men series

Word Count: 19,781
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 79

Genres:

EROTIC ROMANCE
FANTASY
GAY
GLBTQI
GODS AND GODDESSES
HISTORICAL
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS

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Book Description


Can the love of a man heal the heart of a god?

Fertility god Anthos, a shy and gentle three-hundred-year-old virgin, has grown up in the shadow of his brutal older brother Dryas and spent his life hiding from mortals, no matter how much his nature draws him to them.

Cleon, a humble farmer who always has room in his heart and his bed, knows that Lord Dryas is angry. The crops aren’t growing, and his family is going to starve if he doesn’t give the god a worthy sacrifice—his own body. But when he reaches the shrine, he finds a very different god, the sweet, untouched Anthos.

Eager to satisfy Anthos’ curiosity, Cleon shows him what sex is…and what a relationship between them could be, with their instant attraction blooming into love. But when Dryas returns with a vengeance and Cleon’s life hangs in the balance, Anthos is forced to make a choice.

Will he bow once more before his brother’s rage, or take a stand for the only man who has ever had faith in him?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of abusive behavior, double penetration, voyeurism, exhibitionism and violence.

Excerpt

Cleon’s heart sank as he walked the rows of his family’s field, scanning for a single green shoot and finding none. The barley was two weeks late for sprouting—if it didn’t start growing soon, his family would starve come winter.

“Anything?” his little sister Amara asked as he left the field. Her hands were wringing the fabric of her peplos skirt even as her eyes said she knew the answer.

“Not one,” he said. “Any eggs from the chickens?”

“Not one,” she echoed. “The gods must be angry at us.”

That was the only explanation Cleon could think of, too. Dryas, their local fertility and forest god, was known for his temper. It would take very little provocation for him to withdraw his blessings.

The family gathered in front of their modest farmhouse, worried faces gazing at their patriarch. Cleon, the eldest son and the only one unmarried, glanced at the other members of the household. Amara sat beside him, while his twin younger brothers sat with their wives, both of whom were pregnant with their first children. They had no servants, no field hands, just them.

“We have to beg Lord Dryas for his forgiveness,” their father said, pacing back and forth. “Someone must go to the shrine and pay tribute. Whatever it takes, this curse on our farm must be lifted!”

“W-whatever it takes?” Amara asked nervously.

“Yes,” their father said gravely, words heavy with guilt. “Whatever it takes.”

His children looked at one another, eyes wide with anxiety. They wouldn’t say it out loud for fear of angering the god, but they knew what their father was asking. Dryas’ tastes in tribute were usually carnal and never kind. None of them had any illusions about what would happen to whoever went to plead their case, but there was no other option.

Cleon looked from face to face. Neither of his brothers had any taste for men, and it would be cruel to send either of their wives to such a fate, especially pregnant as they both were. As for Amara, the thought made his stomach twist in disgust. There was only one choice.

“I’ll go,” he said, getting to his feet.

“Are you sure?” Amara asked. “You know what—what he’ll do to you.”

“I know,” Cleon said, trying to sound brave. “But I’ve been with men, so it won’t be so bad for me as it would be for one of you.”

It was weak reasoning, but none of the others had anything better. Cleon was tall and strong, hardy enough to take some punishment and tan from hard labor in the sun. He was no Adonis, but he’d been called ruggedly handsome by past lovers, and he’d earned every muscle on his arms and chest. Dryas preferred pretty youths and maidens over men in their late twenties, but hopefully the god would accept his tribute anyway.

Cleon bathed in the river, combed his black hair and trimmed his short beard, brown eyes watching his reflection in a still pool. He prepared his body as best he could with slick oil and shaking fingers, hoping to reduce the inevitable pain. Finally, he donned their newest, finest tunic, the one Amara had woven and each of his brothers had worn for their weddings, and picked up their offerings with white-knuckled hands. There was nothing left to do but go.

Cleon gave his family the bravest smile he could muster, and they smiled back with pinched, anxious faces—all save his father, whose eyes were solemn and dark with guilt, and Amara, who was crying in his arms. Cleon squared his shoulders and turned resolutely toward the woods. He would face any terror and endure any hardship, if only he could save his loved ones from starvation.

The worn dirt path led deep into the forest, twisting and turning on the way to the shrine. Dappled light slipped through the swaying branches as chittering squirrels fled his passage to peer down at him from the trees.

He suppressed a shiver. These woods were old and sacred, the domain of a cruel and capricious god. At least Lord Dryas didn’t like live animal sacrifices—Cleon would hate to make this trek with a squawking, struggling chicken in his arms. Instead, he had a small jug of spiced wine, a half-dozen honey cakes and his own body…no matter how meager his offerings, they would have to be enough.

He had been to the shrine before as part of the harvest festival, placing the fruits of the year’s labors before the god’s great throne. Those had been times of song and drink and dance, honoring Dryas’ bounty and appeasing his temper with revelry and praise. The god had always chosen one or more young worshippers for his pleasure, and the thought made Cleon nearly sick. It always took them days to recover, if not weeks, and their eyes remained haunted for far, far longer.

This time the shrine was empty, the ring of marble pillars standing silent around the sacred oak. At the base was the god’s throne, grown out of the living wood, made for a nine-foot giant of a being. Cleon could remember looking up at him during the last festival—his eyes dark and cold, his legs those of a black deer and his antlers spreading like ancient, gnarled branches.

“Hello?” Cleon called, looking around for the shrine’s priest. The little hut next to the sacred circle was empty, but that shouldn’t have been a surprise. Lord Dryas tended to discard his priests when they turned twenty-five, and he must not have found a new one yet. It seemed like Cleon would have to beg for divine intervention on his own.

He walked to the stone altar and tried to keep his hands from shaking as he kindled the sacred flames. He doused the honey cakes in wine then fed them to the fire. The offerings were more than his family could really afford, but still they seemed too little. Finally, Cleon knelt before the great throne, pressing his forehead to the grass and trying to look as humble and pathetic as possible.

“Oh Lord Dryas, god of the forest and the field,” he prayed. “I beg your forgiveness! Whatever sin my family or I have committed against you, I humbly offer these gifts to appease your wrath.”

There was a deep, terrifying silence broken only by the blood pounding in Cleon’s ears. He dug his fingers into the grass, eyes squeezed shut, praying with all his might. If Dryas didn’t answer—

“Uh…yeah…” The voice was so small and hesitant that Cleon almost missed it. “Not your fault, really…”

Cleon’s head snapped up and he scanned the treeline. He didn’t see the speaker at first, looking for a taller shape, but when he finally found him…

Oh gods, the young man was exactly Cleon’s type. He looked to be twenty or a little younger, cute and small and beardless, with willowy arms and a bare, slender chest. His eyes were a vivid green against sun-bronzed skin dusted with faint freckles, and his light brown curls looked delightfully soft. He was blushing prettily, shifting from foot to foot and biting his full, kissable lower lip.

“Um, hello,” Cleon said when he could remember how words worked. He struggled to stay on task—he was here to save his family, not get distracted by a pretty face. “I don’t suppose you know where the forest god is?”

“That’s the thing,” the youth said, ducking his head bashfully. “I kind of…am the forest god?”

Cleon frowned at him. The young man might be cute, but he was clearly delusional. Yes, the gods could take other forms, but the idea of Lord Dryas becoming so small and adorable was ridiculous.

“I wouldn’t say that if I were you,” Cleon said. “Lord Dryas is not known for his merc—”

He stopped, eyes widening as the young man stepped out into the clearing on slender, delicate hooves. Deer hooves, just like Lord Dryas’. Unlike Dryas, though, his flanks were dappled with faint white spots and tawny brown to match his hair. What Cleon had assumed to be branches above the youth’s head revealed themselves to be antlers, short and nubby and covered in soft-looking velvet.

Cleon’s heart plummeted like a stone. This was no mortal boy, or even a common satyr. There was an aura about him—the trees leaning in just a little to bask in his presence, the sunlight glowing off his skin. He might be different from Dryas, but there was no denying that Cleon was in the presence of a god.

“Please forgive me, great one!” he cried, groveling once more in sudden terror. He already had one god angry at him and he wouldn’t survive a second. “I had no idea—I am so sorry—”

“No, don’t be,” the youth said, sounding weary and miserable. “I’m a pretty terrible god, to be honest.”

“What do you mean, my lord?” Cleon asked, daring to raise his eyes from the grass. The godling was shifting awkwardly from hoof to hoof, not looking at Cleon.

“Your farm,” he said. “It’s my fault nothing’s growing. My big brother left last month and I…well…”

“You mean Lord Dryas?” Cleon asked.

The youth nodded, biting his lower lip in an adorable way, and Cleon couldn’t help a twinge of relief. His farm was still in trouble, but at least this god seemed willing to help.

“I’ve been trying, I really have,” the godling said, running his hands through his hair. The gesture revealed adorable little pointed ears, and Cleon had to fight to stay focused. “I just don’t know how to make it work!”

“My lord—” Cleon started, sitting back up on his knees.

“Anthos, please.” The god ducked his head. “I’m not used to…it feels weird.”

“Anthos,” Cleon said, “what exactly is the problem?”

Anthos sighed, walking over and sitting on the grass a few feet from Cleon. He pulled his fuzzy knees up to his chest, hugging them close and staring at the ground.

“I’m a fertility god,” Anthos explained. “I’m in charge of new life, new growth…or I am now. My brother took care of things for so many centuries that I never learned how to do it. Now he’s gone, it’s my job, and I can’t do anything.”

“He never taught you?” Cleon asked.

“We’re not Olympians!” Anthos cried, eyes flicking up to Cleon and face turning bright red. “Only the highest gods do…that with their siblings.”

“Oh,” Cleon said, blushing too. “Uh, sorry. I didn’t mean—”

“No, no, it’s fine,” Anthos said, dropping his gaze again. “But that’s the problem—it requires personal experience. I can’t make things fertile until I’ve, you know…had sex.”

“Oh,” Cleon breathed. His heart was beating faster now, his throat going dry as he stared at Anthos. “Would a mortal do? A man?”

“Yeah,” Anthos said with a mirthless little chuckle, “if anyone wanted me. Big brother always said nobody would want to sleep with a puny, pathetic runt.”

Rage flared up in Cleon, all the hotter for its rarity. He’d revered and feared Lord Dryas all his life, burying resentment deep in his heart. The gods could be cruel or kind to mortals—that was their right—but this? The thought of treating his own siblings like this made Cleon ball his hands into fists, and a lifetime of suppressed hatred boiled over. For the first time in his life, he spoke ill of a god.

“You’re not a runt!” Cleon cried. “Your brother was a cruel bastard! He made whole families starve…he set wolves on their flocks and took any man or woman he pleased! I bet he cut down your confidence because he was scared of you. Anyone would prefer a god like you over him!”

“R-really?” Anthos gasped, looking up with wide, shocked eyes.

“As long as you don’t send a famine when there aren’t enough dancing girls at your festival,” Cleon said, belly clenching in remembered hunger. “We worshipped him because we were afraid, but nobody liked him.”

“And you…you like…me?” Anthos asked, voice soft and hopeful.

Cleon opened his mouth then closed it again, unsure of what to say. His flirting experience said this was going pretty well, but how was he supposed to proposition a god? He was just a farmer, rough and rugged and no great beauty. Anthos was so out of his league it wasn’t even funny.

Still, in for an obol, in for a drachma. The god didn’t seem like the type to curse someone for asking, and if he said yes…

“I like you a lot,” Cleon said earnestly, “and I’d really like to kiss you.”

“I…” Anthos licked his lips, his gaze lowering. “I’d like that too.”

Cleon scooted forward slowly, like he was approaching a skittish deer. He reached out to cup one cheek, tawny-gold and warm. Sun-dappled lashes fluttered, the godling’s green eyes falling closed as he leaned in with bated breath.

The first kiss was soft and gentle, just a chaste brush of lips. It was a little thing, but it still sent a thrill through Cleon, a surge of desire. His body knew what Anthos was, something wild, ancient and divine. By the time they pulled away, his cock was hard and twitching.

Anthos let out a soft little sigh when they parted. He gave Cleon a shy smile, nervous and sweet.

“Again?” he asked, as though Cleon might say no. Could say no.

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About the Author

AT Lander

AT Lander has loved stories, both the reading and the telling, since she was a child. Born in upstate New York to an English professor and a former librarian, she now lives in the queerest part of Massachusetts. She never leaves home without a knitting project or a pencil, and she’s never met a cat she doesn’t like.

She has worked as an history museum guide, a professional storyteller, and an actress, sharing tales of what was, what could have been, and what can only be imagined. World mythology is her driving passion, as what better way to understand a people than through the tales they tell?

Follow AT Lander on Twitter and Facebook.

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New Release Blitz: Grounded by K.R. Collins (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Grounded

Series: Sophie Fournier, Book 6

Author: K.R. Collins

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 12/21/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 76000

Genre: Contemporary Sports, “LGBTQIA+, contemporary, sports, family-drama, demisexual, bisexual, ice hockey, teammates, coach, injury”

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Description

Sophie’s coach was fired over the summer but not before he took several parting shots at Sophie’s character and dedication to her sport and her team. Her coach’s firing, her own injury, and her team’s whimpering exit from the playoffs weren’t the ideal way to end a season, but Sophie’s looking forward to a fresh start.

If Sophie is on the ice, everything makes sense. She can navigate a new coach, she can handle a strained relationship with Elsa, and she can breathe hope back into her franchise.

An unprecedented hot start to the season sees Sophie breaking NAHL records. She has her sights set on Bobby Brindle’s point streak record, the one she fell short of breaking in her rookie season. With personal success comes team success, and Concord has a resurgence on the back of Sophie’s accomplishments.

And then she’s injured. She has to spend the rest of the season on the sidelines, and it forces her to confront a question she has never considered before. Who is Sophie Fournier when she isn’t playing hockey?

Excerpt

Grounded
K.R. Collins © 2021
All Rights Reserved

End of an era?

Sophie Fournier is no stranger to the heralding of the end of her hockey career. People have tried to tear her down since she first put on skates, but none of them have succeeded. Even though it was Coach Butler who was fired and tossed out of Concord, it’s her career everyone claims is over.

Oh, the articles mention the Maple Cup she won, but they refer to it as if it happened two decades ago. As if it wasn’t just a few seasons ago and a historic moment for the sport. It was the first Maple Cup in Concord’s history, and she captained her team to victory and became the first woman to lift hockey’s greatest trophy.

None of the articles mention the International Hockey Tournament win from last February. There, she captained Team Canada to a win on the international stage. Does everyone believe her talent evaporated between then and now?

She was injured in the tournament, and she never fully healed, because her team needed her and her coach demanded her presence. With the season over, she will heal, and she’ll return next season better than she’s ever been.

End of an era.

Fuck. That.

When there are competing voices in the locker room, no one wins.

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to coach a team with the toughness and endurance to succeed at the end of a long season.

Sophie reads every article Butler is quoted in, and she watches every clip from his exit interviews. She swears at her computer and shakes her fist at the TV and excises the worst of her temper before she sits for the interviews Mary Beth, Concord’s PR manager, arranges for her to do in response.

It’s important for the coach and the captain to be on the same page.

No, shit. Sophie was on Butler’s page. For much longer than she should have been. She knows a divided team doesn’t make it far, and she knows how stubborn Butler is. There was no middle to meet in because he wouldn’t budge. By being on his page, she lost Elsa.

Elsa Nyberg is Sophie’s teammate. She was Sophie’s winger, when Butler didn’t split their line, she was Sophie’s alternate until Butler stripped the A from her jersey. She was Sophie’s roommate until, furious Sophie sided with Butler over her, she moved in with her boyfriend.

She’s still Sophie’s best friend, and Sophie will repair their relationship this season. With a fresh season ahead of them, Elsa will move back. With a new coach behind the bench, they’ll be reunited on the top line. The only reason Sophie couldn’t hold the team together at the end of last season was because her injury in the IHT kept her off the ice.

It was Butler’s fault she was hurt. He was behind Team USA’s bench at the IHT, and he gave his heavy hitters the green light to take runs at her. It was Anthony Sinclair who took her out, but it was done with Butler’s blessing. She still beat Team USA, and Butler didn’t forgive her for it, even once they were back in Concord with the same condor stitched onto all their gear.

With Sophie on injured reserve, he set about breaking the team next. He killed their confidence, insulted their hockey IQ, and took a group of highly motivated athletes and made them dread coming to the rink every day. She knows the start of this upcoming season will be spent undoing the damage he caused. She doesn’t know how long it will take or if there will be any long-standing consequences.

She wishes time would speed up and it was August already. She doesn’t want a summer to linger over everything that went wrong. She wants to dig in and fix it.

Instead, she sits for interviews, and smiles, bland and boring, as she answers stupid questions with even stupider, scripted answers. This isn’t what she’s meant for. She’s meant to be on the ice, with skates on her feet and a stick in her hands.

She wishes she could ditch her media responsibilities. She wishes she could answer truthfully, with all the fury she uses when she’s alone in her room.

She can’t do either of those things, so she does the next best one.

She goes to Wisconsin.

“I didn’t think you’d show.” Lexie picks Sophie up from the airport. Even with the obnoxiously large sunglasses which cover half her face, Lexie manages to project derision.

Alexis Engelking is the American forward who went fourth overall at her draft. It’s easy to remember; fourth woman drafted fourth overall. She even made it her number, but she did it out of spite, not pride. She’s a woman who runs on spite, always dialed up to eleven, the perfect foil to Sophie’s bland Canadian personality.

Sophie doesn’t hate her the way the media wishes she would, but she doesn’t particularly like her either. Lexie’s made it her mission to not be Sophie, which means constant attacks from someone Sophie hoped to be an ally.

Still, Lexie extended an offer to train together this summer. Sophie knows there will be plenty of competition. And she could use a little spite in her summer.

“I told you I would,” Sophie answers. She has a pair of sunglasses of her own and a Boston Red Sox cap she wears with the brim tipped low. Lexie promised her discreet summer training, a break from the media vultures who want to pick at the mess Butler left in his wake.

Sophie trusts they won’t be bothered here, if only because Lexie has her own reasons for being left alone this summer. Indianapolis, Lexie’s NAHL team, made it all the way to the Maple Cup Finals. It all came down to Game Seven. It took triple overtime, but the Boston Barons were victorious over the Indianapolis Renegades.

Chad Kensington, one of Lexie’s teammates, picked up the nickname Mr. OT, because he scored three OT series-winners throughout the playoffs. He closed out each round right up until the finals. He couldn’t get it done when it mattered, and Indianapolis ended their season without the Maple Cup, the same as every other team in the North American Hockey League, except for Boston.

Lexie isn’t the captain, but she and Kensington share the responsibility for being the face of the franchise. The media, happy to build up the duo during the season and the playoffs, is even happier to tear into them with the loss.

So yeah, Lexie’s equally motivated for a quiet, intense summer training session.

Sophie isn’t sure she has another hill left in her. Her quads are tight, her calves burn, and her shirt is soaked through with sweat. Now is as good a time to stop as any.

Lexie’s hair sticks up in every direction, the short strands wet from sweat and the water Lexie splashed on her face three hills ago. Her face is red with exertion. She wipes her face on her equally sweaty arm and casts a challenging look in Sophie’s direction. “I bet I beat you on this next one.”

Sophie takes inventory of her body again. She matches Lexie’s grin. “Loser buys lunch.”

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Meet the Author

K.R. Collins went to college in Pennsylvania where she learned to write and fell in love with hockey. When she isn’t working or writing, she watches hockey games and claims it’s for research. Find K.R. on Twitter.

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New Release Blitz: Plague and Ash by Sita Bethel (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Plague and Ash

Author: Sita Bethel

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 12/21/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 69300

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, Magic, magic users, interspecies, mythical creatures, zombies, undead, plague, farming, hurt/comfort, illness, disease

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Description

Sarah only went to Oreburn University of Incantations so her parents would stop asking her when she’d settle down. However, after a strange plague decimates her hometown, Sarah finds herself fleeing with the undead chasing her.

As she escapes, she meets Brighid, a half orc noble, and together, they must reach Oreburn before the undead can overrun the city. Sarah discovers a decay sorcerer created the original curse, and only a wizard powerful enough to destroy him can end the plague.

But now they have to find that wizard.

Excerpt

Plague and Ash
Sita Bethel © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Something woke me. I blinked at the morning light peeking through the curtains and cutting rectangles onto the ceiling. Only a corner of the quilt draped over my legs while the rest twisted beside me. I must’ve been thrashing in my sleep again. I hadn’t slept well since I’d come home for harvest break, too worried. After slinging my feet over the edge of the bed, I tucked them into my house shoes to avoid the chilly wooden floor. I heard Mama coughing in the kitchen. The acrid smoke smacked me in the face as soon as I left my room. I waved my hand around my nose.

“Mama?”

“Burned the damn sausage. Did the smoke wake you?” Mama scraped four burnt discs out of her cast iron skillet and into the scrap bowl, but I was sure Buttermilk wouldn’t touch them.

“The coughing,” I admitted.

“Don’t worry, Sarah. It’s the smoke, nothing else. Pops and I have been drinking elderberry juice, and once we’ve harvested all the crops, we’ll hole up through the winter and wait for this to blow over.”

“Biscuits.” I rushed to the oven, using a dish rag to pull out the tin pan before they burned with the sausage.

“Sorry, my mind’s elsewhere.”

“I can help you and Pops harvest if you’re worried.”

“No. We done told you to stay inside with your brothers.”

“The only reason I came home from the School was to help with the harvest, so let me help.”

“Oh, you came home to work? And here I thought you’d want to see your family.”

“Of course I do.” I shoved my fists against my hips. “And help. Why won’t you let me be useful? The sooner you’re done, the sooner we can all spend more time together.”

“Sarah.” Mama plopped her rump onto a nearby stool and rested her elbows on her knees. “We didn’t want you to worry, but…”

“Who’s sick?” Frowning, I crossed my arms over my chest. The towel dangled in my hand.

“Aunt Flora.” Mama turned away. The gas lights made her gray streak flash and made the wrinkles around her mouth deep as weathered cracks splitting wood. “The baby’s got the Fever too.”

“Mama.” I dropped the towel. Crouching low, I roped my arms around her.

“You stay inside, all right?”

“Okay. I’m sorry.”

“It’ll…be all right. I’m sure. Will you re-cook the sausage for me? I need to help your father.”

“Go on.” I pulled a pack of butcher paper out of the ice box and set it on the counter.

“We’ll be home late.” Mama pulled me close to kiss my temple and then walked out the door.

I warshed my hands in the deep, enamel sink. It was only October, but the morning water rushing over my hands was frigid. Hissing, I grabbed another towel and dried them before shaping the ground meat into patties and getting them in a hot skillet. The view from the kitchen window was burnished, sun all orange and fiery as it struck the mist clinging to the yard. Buttermilk crept along the fence line, stalking a field mouse. I hoped she caught it because otherwise it’d be burnt sausage for her.

A shadow slipped through the cluster of pecan trees near the road. At least I thought one did, but when I squinted, I only saw a fat old squirrel cursing at something hiding in the branches above him. I snorted, shook my head, and flipped the sausages. As they browned, I fetched a jar of sorghum molasses and set it on the table with the butter dish. We grew sorghum grain, but Mama always kept enough sweet sorghum in the garden to make syrup for us.

Abel was the first to stumble out of his room. His hair sprayed around his head in dark brown wisps. They took after Mama, but I had Pops’s copper highlights. Last semester, the other girls at the School convinced me to lighten my hair with peroxide, but instead of summer-kissed and sunny, it turned a brassy off-orange, and once my roots grew out, I had Billy take his clippers to it. Now it was a shaggy mess, and I couldn’t wait until it was long enough to pull away from my face.

“Where’s Mama?” Abel asked.

“She went to help Pops. There’s sausage in the skillet.”

“Why does it smell of smoke?”

“Mama burnt the sausage, but I cooked more.” I fixed my own plate and sat on the stool next to the stove, balancing the plate on my lap.

“Did she swear?”

“Yup.”

“Only time I ever hear Mama swear is in the kitchen.”

Abel was right, so I offered a distracted laugh, but I was focused on dipping my biscuit into my sorghum syrup and not his chatter. Abel pulled last night’s sweet tea from the ice box, sat at the table, and shoved his breakfast into his mouth. He chugged half a mason jar’s worth of tea before sighing and setting the glass onto the table.

“I’m gonna go to the pond and get some catfish for dinner.”

“No, you ain’t.” I snorted. We’ve had this conversation damn near every day for three heckin’ weeks.

“I swear I won’t talk to nobody, so let me go.”

“No, you ain’t going. I promised Mama we’d stay inside.”

“Sarah, I’m fourteen. I can handle myself.”

I pinched the bridge of my nose. Was I this stubborn when I argued with Mama? With three of us giving her sass, no wonder she had a gray streak cutting through her hair like a skunk stripe.

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Meet the Author

Hey there, readers. It’s me, ya boi, Sita Bethel. And this is a biography where I tell you all the boring facts about my life- like how I have a degree in writing, and how my two cats, Odin and Anpu, will one day rule this land as your feline overlords. Enough of that same old, same old. Here’s the real dirt. Sita Bethel likes to wrap up like a burrito with a weighted blanket. They host coloring parties as a personal eff-you to anxiety, and read everything from trash British sensationalist novels like The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins to literary masterpieces like The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Had enough of Sita Bethel yet? If not, check out @sita_bethel on Twitter, or sitabethelfiction on Facebook, or even www.sitabethel.com.

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Book Blitz: The Holiday List by Lane Hayes (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title: The Holiday List

Series: The Script Club #4

Author: Lane Hayes

Narrator: Alexander Cendese

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: December 3

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 3 hrs and 44 mins

Genre: Romance, Nerd/Jock, MM Romance, Bisexual, Single Dad, Grumpy/Happy, Holiday Romance

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Synopsis

The Mars maestro, the single dad, and a wish list…

Chet-

Boy, am I lucky! Finding a living situation with a houseful of passionate scientists just before the holidays is ideal in every possible way. As the newest member of the Script Club, I feel it’s important to step up and tackle the to-do list my friends would prefer to avoid. Item one, address the tutoring request from the neighborhood-hottie-slash-single-dad on the next block. I’ve got this!

Or do I?

Handsome, older, sporty gentlemen intimidate me. And Mr. McSwoony doesn’t like the holidays. This may be a daunting task.

Sam-

What do you do when a new neighbor shows up on your doorstep with cookies and a wacky plan to spread holiday cheer? I don’t need cheer, but I could use help with some of the experiments my son wants to try. I know football, not science. Hopefully, I can talk Chet into a mutually beneficial trade. The only snag is that I’m seriously attracted to my local Mars expert. He’s unintentionally charming…in the very best way.

Don’t quote me, but this holiday elf with thick glasses and a mile-long list might be exactly what I need.

The Holiday List is an MM bisexual, geek/jock romance with a holiday twist featuring a lovable scientist and a single dad who’s probably on the naughty list!

Excerpt

“Who said I was lonely? I’m not lonely. I’m just tired of being with myself. That’s not the same thing,” I argued.

“Close enough. One thing that helps me fight the blues is an immediate change of scenery,” Chet pronounced with a wide grin.

“Thanks, Doc, but Linc is coming home this week. I’m not going anywhere.”

“You don’t have to physically go anywhere. You can just switch up your routine and add—”

“Let me guess…holiday cheer?”

Chet beamed. “Yes.”

I had to give the guy credit…he was tenacious.

I couldn’t let him think he’d won too easily, though. I furrowed my brow, giving him my best cranky scowl, and huffed. “You really want to decorate my house?”

He frowned. “No. I want to reset your karma. And mine. You’ve done a good deed here tonight, and I owe you one in turn. I also owe my roommates for their kindness.”

“Putting up a tree is going to help your karma?” I snorted.

“And yours.”

Somehow, I doubted that, but I liked the idea of having an excuse to see him again. “Fine. You can decorate my house.”

Chet whooped as he jumped to his feet. “A nice noble fir would look perfect in that corner of your great room near the fireplace. But of course, closer to the window. We don’t want to worry about fire hazards. What’s your ornament situation? I’m happy to purchase some if needed. Simple red and silver balls are always nice and—”

“I’ve got plenty of balls.” I stood, testing my shoulder to be sure I didn’t do any real damage, as I met him at the door. “It’s getting late. We can talk about this later. You seem like the kind of Christmas elf who needs parameters.”

He snickered, pushing his glasses to the bridge of his nose. “There might be some truth to that statement.”

“Just so we’re clear, I’m not gonna want to wake up in a winter fuckin’ wonderland.”

“Right. Got it.”

I braced my hand on the doorknob, scanning the dimly lit foyer briefly. “Come over Saturday. We can talk about it then. And…you can meet Linc.”

Chet narrowed his eyes. Not gonna lie, his immediate transformation from skinny geek to bad-ass science guy was kinda hot.

“Is this trickery?”

“No, but it might be a good trade. We’ll see.” I shot a lopsided grin his way as I opened the door, pointing at the chair that knocked me on my ass. “This is not an adequate security system. I’ll give you my number. If anything seems suspicious or if you need anything, call me.”

Chet typed my contact info into his cell obediently, then pressed Call so I had his number too. Courtesy complete, he fixed me with a no-nonsense look. “Thank you. For the record, while I appreciate your help tonight, I didn’t agree to—”

“I know, I know.” I stared at him for a long moment.

This had to be one of the oddest yet most interesting nights I’d had in a while. This was probably a good time to remind myself that Chet was my neighbor. My much younger neighbor.

But damn it, he was tempting.

I leaned in and pressed my lips to his. It was featherlight touch, hardly a real kiss at all. It was just enough to make him blush. Chet’s cheeks pinkened, and a flush rose low on his neck.

“Mr. Rooney…”

“Sam,” I gently reminded him. “Good night.”

Don’t ask me how I did it, but I somehow managed not to turn around as I headed down the pathway and up the street to my house. My lips twitched in amusement, giving way to a smile that grew with every step. When I finally got home, I let it fly, grinning like a madman as I chomped on a rosemary shortbread cookie made by my own personal elf.

Was I vaguely alarmed at the concept of letting him put a bunch of holiday crap up in my house? Fuck, yes, I was. Hot kiss or not, nothing was going to happen between us. And I was okay with that. Mostly.

Maybe he was just the diversion I’d needed, ’cause hanging out at home for the next couple of weeks suddenly didn’t seem so bad.

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Meet the Author

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.

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Book Blitz: How Not to Date a Dragon by Stephanie Burke (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  How Not to Date a Dragon

Series: How Not To #12

Author: Stephanie Burke

Publisher: Changeling Press

Release Date: December 17, 2021

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 134

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Bisexual, Multisexual & Pansexual, Elves Dragons & Magical Creatures, Paranormal Romance, Action Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Magic

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Synopsis

Ulvissar, the solitary black omega dragon, is tired of virgin sacrifices. Who even likes humans that way?

However this sacrifice, Alita, is different. She’s brave, bold, and brash. So he decides he’ll keep her. After a few hundred years and countless women in his horde, he’s ready to finally accept the attentions of the Flame dragon, the long-suffering Nithe.

But when the addition of the latest sacrifice brings an army to his doorstep, how is he to keep his hard-won peace, deal with his heat and his hungry mate, and help asexual Alita romance the troublesome princess running from her joke of a prince, all while defending them all from the armies coming to get his woman back?

And you thought dating was hard.

Excerpt

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Stephanie Burke

“Oh Noble Dragon,” the rather beautiful and totally virginal maiden whimpered, her hands bound above her body, her head hanging low. “Dost thou consent to sup upon mine supple and untouched flesh as a sacrifice to save mine humble village?” Her fear was obvious in the trembling of her body, exposed to the elements and the cold spring night. There were tears, he could hear them in her voice, in the way it trembled and the ritual words wavered. The air of hopelessness and despair that surrounded her was a palatable thing.

And the mighty dragon hovered above her, his fierce red eyes and black shadowy scales that made him appear to have parted from the night sky itself… before he let out an annoyed snort and rolled his eyes at his victim.

“Really, when are they going to stop this shit?” he asked, startling a gasp from the bound sacrifice as her head jerked up, her amazed eyes widening as she stared at the monster who was supposed to consume her flesh, grind her bones into meal, and ignore her humble village for another year.

“Oh, Noble One? Uh… excuse me?”

“When are your people,” the great one spat out, “going to catch a clue and leave me the fuck out of their medieval fantasies? How much torture porn can one village aspire to? I mean, do they draw lots for this shit? Do you all volunteer? Were you an orphan that no one wanted to take care of? What gives?”

“Uh… Dragon?”

But the great and noble dragon was pissed, really wanted to vent, and nothing was going to stop him from having his say.

“Are all humans so stupid?” he demanded as he began to pace, all twenty-five-foot-tall scaly body and bad attitude. “I send a girl back and they kill her for not” — he actually made air quotes with two of his four large taloned fingers –”being a good sacrifice. I go and try to talk to them about this shit and they scream and run like I was burning the place down and they send me even more virginal girls. I don’t take the first sacrifice and they murder the poor child and leave another sitting in her blood and brains. Do you know how long it takes to get the smell of blood out of your nose? No? I bet you don’t because they would never kill a woman on your behalf. That is a sacrificial action saved just for me.”

His large spaded tail whipped back and forth as he grumbled, staring down at the village from the so-called Dragon Stones that the villagers set up centuries before when they moved into his territory and decided to stay. Of course, when moving into dragon lands you had to have a proper sacrifice. That was the way of it, but it was what they chose to send as a sacrifice that was really pissing him off.

“All I wanted was some seeds to plant new crops and that somehow translated into virgin. How much of an idiot do you have to be to make that incredibly wrong leap of logic? I wanted crops and I got virgins. I would have accepted some livestock instead — cows only last for so long and I really like cheese. But no, the village assholes in all their great glory send me virgin females. I don’t want virgin females. I want the peace of mind knowing that not another girl will be murdered on my behalf.”

“Uh… Dragon?”

“I want some fucking peace!” he roared, the sound echoing through the valley below where the town sat protected from the dangers of the outside world. He could see the lights flicker as terrified townsfolk hid themselves, probably pissing themselves because they thought the sacrifice was unworthy.

“Hey, Dragon?” the sacrifice called, gaining his attention as he stopped pacing a rut into the ground and stared down at her.

“What?”

“If you aren’t going to eat me, perhaps you could let me go? My arms have gone to sleep and I really have to pee.”

He glared down at her and she stared back, the fear that had earlier surrounded her dissipating, almost as if it didn’t exist in the first place. That was… new. He arched an eyebrow and she arched one back.

“I really have to go,” she spoke again, staring right into his red eyes. “And if you think the smell of blood is bad, I have to tell you the smell of urine trumps that every time. I know. I’m a farmer’s daughter. So if you would…” she jerked her head toward the bindings that held her arms aloft. “I can just slip behind those rocks over there and do my business and be right back for the rest of your tirade. I don’t think I can hold it for much longer. I made sure to drink lots before they dragged me up here. If you were going to eat me, I was going to give you a memorable meal surprise. But since you don’t seem intent on consuming my supple virgin flesh…”

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Meet the Author

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.

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New Release Blitz: Stealing the Dragon by Mell Eight (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Stealing the Dragon

Series: Dragon’s Hoard, Book Three

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 12/14/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 26800

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, bonded mates, royalty, prison, interspecies, mythical creatures, dragon shifters

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Description

Stealing from a dragon’s hoard is never a bright idea, but stealing from a baby dragon’s hoard can lead to tears, sniffles, and smoke in the middle of a busy marketplace.

Jerney, a witch who does work for a well-known thieves’ guild, knows exactly who’s to blame for the brazen theft. With no other choice in the matter, he quickly becomes entangled in trying to help the baby dragon. What he doesn’t expect is his own heart might get stolen in the process.

Excerpt

Stealing the Dragon
Mell Eight © 2021
All Rights Reserved

“Tori, you’re the only one I can send. I’m sorry.”

Tori looked up from where he was carefully shining his favorite ruby necklace and glared at his human uncle Bast.

“This time you really are the only one. Rex and Jag are both out of the city, and we needed this solved five years ago.”

Uncle Bast’s expression showed real remorse at having to pull Tori from his hoard room, but that didn’t make Tori feel any better. He wasn’t human, regardless of the fact that his shape was. Both of his parents were dragons, and he was the result of an experiment on what would happen if dragons tried to procreate in human form. Instead of being born in dragon shape from an egg, as all dragons were, Tori had been born from a womb in human form as humans were.

The fact that his mother had managed to stay in human form for the requisite nine months surprised Tori every time he went to visit her. Gail was the flightiest of dragons, and sometimes she barely remembered she had two sons and that one of them, Tori, was stuck in human form until he matured enough to shift.

At eighteen, Tori was still a baby dragon. He hadn’t even reached his second decade yet! His older brother Nyle was still considered to be a child, and he had lived for centuries. But humans didn’t understand that Tori should still be cave-bound, barely starting to learn about pretties and his magic. Eighteen years old for a human was considered to be the age of adulthood when young men and women were expected to take on adult responsibilities. Raised among humans, Tori was able to act at least close to that age, but it was hard to pretend maturity sometimes.

Eight months ago, his uncle Bast had forced Tori to take command of a rank of troops. Tori had tried to treat it as an experiment, to see if a dragon could handle warring humans. Needless to say, it had failed, and the humans had blamed Tori as if Tori should have been old enough to understand what had gone wrong.

Three months ago, Bast had given Tori some basic investigation work in the castle. A servant had been stealing the silver. Tori had just shrugged off the investigation entirely. If the humans didn’t consider the silver their hoard, then they had no right to keep someone from taking it. Luckily, even the human servant stealing from the castle had known better than to touch Tori’s small hoard.

There was no way Uncle Bast was sending Tori out on another investigation. Tori would prefer to move in with his big brother Nyle, even if Nyle and Leon were a bit sickening with their snuggling all the time. Tori turned his back on Uncle Bast and went back to polishing his ruby necklace set in gold.

He held it up to his hair, admiring the fact that the red parts of his hair so closely matched the ruby and the gold parts of his hair matched the gold setting. That was another strange thing about him. Tori was stuck in human form until his magic matured enough to allow him a second shape, and instead of solely being gold like his father, Tori had both his parents’ coloring. Being bicolored, red and gold, was odd for a dragon, but it pleased Tori to be so pretty.

“There’s a witch spell casting for the thieves’ guild!” Uncle Bast tried to explain. “They’ve been getting away with crimes for almost ten years. I just need you to locate the witch; that’s all.”

Tori finished polishing his favorite necklace and clasped it around his neck. His glance around the small storeroom filled with his pretties showed that nothing was out of place or in need of polish. Tori stood with a groan and walked over to his small pile of rubies. He felt the urge to curl up on the rubies. There was one advantage to being in human shape: as a dragon, the pile would only serve as a pillow, but as a human, his entire shape would fit on it.

Tori gave into the urge without much thought. He spread a soft blanket to keep the sharp points from digging into his skin and curled up with one hand buried in red and purple brilliance.

“Tori!” Uncle Bast snapped from the doorway. Tori ignored him, and soon enough his uncle sighed as if disappointed and left. Tori snuggled deeper into his blanket and took a nap.

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Meet the Author

When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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New Release Blitz: To Melt a Frozen Heart by Fearne Hill (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  To Melt a Frozen Heart

Series: Rossingly, 3.5

Author: Fearne Hill

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 12/14/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 31700

Genre: Contemporary Holiday, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, gay, holiday, British, aristocracy, fashion model/celebrity, politician, gardeners, humorous, family drama, over 40, opposites attract, rich man/poor man, second chance, engagement, British euphemisms

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Description

Freddie Duchamps-Avery has only one desire this Christmas: to ask his beloved Reuben to marry him. However, with his needy father moping around, finding the perfect, romantic moment to propose is proving tricky.

The Rt Hon. Charles Duchamps-Avery is a successful politician, a hopeless father, and a miserable divorcé. Facing the prospect of Christmas alone in London, he accepts his son Freddie’s generous invitation to join the gang at Rossingley. Yet, being surrounded by happy couples only serves to remind of his past mistakes and a looming, lonely old age.

If only a handsome, enigmatic stranger would appear and distract him…

Excerpt

To Melt a Frozen Heart
Fearne Hill © 2021
All Rights Reserved

FREDDIE

“He won’t accept anything too fancy. You know what he’s like. He might even say no!”

I pushed the double buggy on a second lap around Rossingley Lake. Lucien sauntered alongside, puffing on a crafty fag out of view of the twins and indeed anyone else. Limiting himself to only one cigarette per week, he had started smoking Virginia Slims, which were apparently the longest.

“He won’t say no,” Lucien reassured, not hiding the frustration in his voice. In his defence, I was beginning to sound like a stuck record. “The bangle isn’t too fancy, darling. It’s perfect. A brilliant choice, even if I do say so myself.”

“Maybe we should have stuck to the plain one without the diamonds.”

Lucien groaned, not unreasonably. “Trust me, Freddie. Reuben will agree to marry you if you present him with a bag of organic compost. Perhaps that’s what we should have bought? A quick trip down to the garden centre would have been a hell of a lot kinder on my poor feet.”

“I forgot you had bunions.”

“Shh! Don’t use that filthy language in front of the children! The sixteenth Earl of Rossingley does not have bunions! I think you’ll find that in our household, my husband and I have agreed to refer to them as my ‘shapely love bumps’.”

I never foresaw Lucien declaring he’d fallen out of love with shopping, but last week, I’d been the prime instigator of it. He’d agreed with pleasure to accompany me on an expedition up to London to choose an engagement gift for Reuben, but by the time I’d trawled pretty much every single jeweller on a packed pre-Christmas Bond Street, he’d declared himself a convert to the internet and had spent the evening moaning, with his knobbly, bruised feet plunged in an ice bath.

Marriage: love, laughter, and happily ever after.

I was achingly desperate to pop the question. To tie the knot. To plight my troth, whatever the fuck that meant. The pretty bangle burned a hole in my jacket pocket, and the words were almost bursting out of me. Ever since Lucien had done the deed, he scattered the phrase ‘my husband’ around like confetti practically whenever he opened his mouth. Every time he casually threw the words out, I experienced a sharp kick in the guts of pure envy. Not of him being married to Jay, although I thought I’d be secretly drooling over his pecs forever.

Having previously viewed the whole marriage thing as a heteronormative black hole to avoid like the plague, since Lucien’s bloody wedding, a primal urge to be married to Reuben had lodged in my brain. I craved the awesome sense of possessiveness about it. To put a ring on it. To get down on one knee. Like Lucien, I wanted to add the words ‘my husband’ to my vocabulary and say them with pride. On a practical level, I wanted to give Reuben a legal right to all my dosh. Even if he wasn’t fussed about having it.

Knowing Reuben wouldn’t hold truck with a showy engagement ring, I’d decided to buy him a bangle instead, which he could discreetly hide under his long sleeves every day at work. What had begun in my mind as a simple silver wristband had morphed into an impressively solid chunk of white gold, inlaid with delicate yellow diamonds shaped like flowerheads. Engraved on the inside I’d chosen ‘all my love forever, Freddie’. Not challenging Byron in the romantic poetry stakes but pretty much summing up all my feelings for him in a nutshell. Lucien and I agreed the bangle was stunning; yellow was my man’s favourite colour, and I’d fallen in love the moment I’d clapped eyes on it.

“Maybe I should get him a simple silver one too,” I hedged. “Then he can choose. Or have both.”

“Yes, darling, why don’t you do that,” Lucien replied testily. “Actually, buy two simple silver bracelets, and a sweet little chain too. Bring them to me, we’ll secure them around both your wrists, and then I’ll handcuff you somewhere suitably far enough away that I don’t have to hear you drivelling on about the bloody bangle. Reuben adores you! He’ll adore the bangle. He’s going to say yes!”

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Fearne Hill lives deep in the southern British countryside with three untamed sons, varying numbers of hens, a few tortoises, and a beautiful cocker spaniel.

When she is not overseeing her small menagerie, she enjoys writing contemporary romantic fiction. And when she is not doing either of those things, she works as an anaesthesiologist.

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New Release Blitz ~ Joy To Jane by Katherine E. Hunt (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Joy To Jane by Katherine E. Hunt

Book 4 in the Mended Hearts series

Word Count: 13,236
Book Length: SHORT STORY
Pages: 67

Genres:

BONDAGE AND BDSM
COMEDY AND HUMOUR
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS

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Book Description

It’s not all stockings and stuffing when Jane’s three lovers turn up at her door on Christmas Eve.

Christmas is a stressful time for anybody, but this year it’s turning out to be especially difficult for Jane Carter.

Her son, Greg, has brought home a girlfriend for the very first time, one of her boyfriends, Rupert, has decided to go full PDA on her and her other two boyfriends are feeling completely left out. Add a terrible snowstorm, a power cut and a few secrets and lies into the mix and she’s got a recipe for disaster.

Can Jane survive Christmas without her son finding out about her polyamorous love life? Can she cope with three boyfriends all under one roof, especially when it seems that those relationships are hanging on by a single thread? Maybe all she really needs is the ghost from Christmas past to remind her that communication is the key to happiness.

Excerpt

Christmas Eve eve morning

A can of condensed chicken soup careened off the shelf and landed on Joe’s foot. “Fucking holy hell!”

“Shhhh… Jeez, Joe, suck it up.” The whole idea of doing it in the pantry was to be discreet.

“You’re lucky I love you,” he whispered as he hiked my skirt above my waist and sank his hand between my legs. “Now show me some of that love.”

He traced a line with his lips from behind my ear down to the top of my spine. There was something so deliciously naughty about hiding away, secretly making love in a room no bigger than four-foot square.

I clutched onto the herbs and spices shelf as he entered me from behind, crouching down and almost lifting me off my feet as he thrust into me.

“Fuck.”

He slid his hand gently over my mouth, reminding me to be silent. I sank my teeth into it, enough to make him gasp.

We’d promised to be good. He’d come over, be ‘the gardener’, sneak a quick kiss here or there when we wanted but there would be no sex for two weeks. Greg, my son, was home for Christmas and had brought a girl with him for the very first time. This was not the moment to suddenly announce my polyamorous lifestyle to the family. I mean ‘pass the potatoes, and oh, by the way, I’m dating three men’ wasn’t exactly what you’d call polite Christmas dinner conversation.

Unfortunately, Joe was horny, and I was weak. A touch on the arm had turned into a cuddle on a chair and before we knew it, he was pounding me among the pasta and other dry goods.

Sex with Joe was rampant, wild. He had one hand clamped firmly over my mouth and the other rubbing furiously at my clit, and I was begging him to make me come. He sped up the rhythm, knocking over a packet of rice and sending it cascading over us as we both came explosively and yet silently, rocking that little room like a miniature earthquake.

I sank down from my tiptoes—Joe was a tall man—and caught my breath. I might have to do a little last-minute shopping. The contents of the cupboard were splayed out at my feet, but it had been worth it.

“Shit, Jane, I needed that.”

“Right? I thought we could wait, but it’s like when you go on a diet. The minute you can’t eat sugar, all you can think about is frosted donuts.”

He pulled out his dick and swirled his finger around my core one last time. “Next time, I get to eat the frosted donut, right?”

“Not if we do it in here again, you don’t. I’m too old to try to balance four shelves up among the canned beans and peanut butter.” I opened the door and peeked outside. It was nine a.m. and Greg would be up any minute. We were cutting it fine.

“Is it all clear?”

“Yes.” I stepped out, pulling my skirt down to a presentable level. I’d have to start wearing yoga pants and old T-shirts around Joe. The man was a sucker for a bit of thigh, and I couldn’t risk getting carried away again.

“Here.” I grabbed a broom as I picked rice out of my hair. “Make yourself useful while I make coffee.” He held up the knotted, used condom, waved it at me, and I took it out of his hand.

Right on cue, Greg stepped into the kitchen. “Hey, Mom.”

“Morning, sweetie.” I shoved the condom down my bra as Greg wiped the sleep out of his eyes. “This is Joe, our gardener.”

“Why is he sweeping the pantry?”

Fuck. “Umm…”

“Raccoons,” said Joe. “They got in last night and went rampant.”

“Yes, raccoons,” I repeated. “Out of control.” Personal note, thank Joe later.

He finished sweeping and tidying then headed outside without even a kiss goodbye. My heart sank a little. It didn’t seem right to treat him like that, but he understood. Greg was still young, he wasn’t over his father’s death yet and he was in his final year of college. It wouldn’t be fair to spring this on him, too.

“So what have you and Laura got planned for today? There’s a Christmas market on in town. We could all go drink some mulled wine and pick up some treats for Christmas Eve.”

“If you like. I was planning to take her out for lunch then go for a walk along the beach this afternoon. Would you like to come too? Maybe you could bring Rupert.”

Rupert was my official boyfriend in my son’s eyes. Greg had fixed us up and was proud to have found the new man in my life. “No thank you, sweetie. Rupert’s coming over tomorrow for dinner. He’s been busy marking papers and wanted to get it all finished before we celebrated Christmas together.”

It would have been oh-so-lovely to have all my lovers at the Christmas table with us. It felt rude to only invite the one. They’d all been great about it, but it had broken my heart a little. At least I could invite Paul over this afternoon if he were free. I didn’t normally fit in two boyfriends in one day, but needs must, and right now I needed the sweet taste of Paul’s lips on mine.

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About the Author

Katherine E Hunt

Katherine E Hunt ran off with a Frenchman twenty years ago. She now lives on a French mountain with three children and two dogs. When she isn’t writing contemporary romance she can be found huddled up in front of a roaring fire, with a glass of Chardonnay in one hand and a book in the other.

You can find out more about Katherine on her website.

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New Release Blitz ~ Howling for More by Bailey Bradford (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Howling for More by Bailey Bradford

Book 1 in the Triple Threat series

Word Count: 37,200
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 168

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS
PARANORMAL
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description

 

What happens when the wolf is unleashed?

Bowen’s used to life as a lone wolf. He has the occasional hook-up, but rarely with the same man twice. Chiz is an exception to his rule, and one night’s adventure that neither of them expected forces Bowen to see Chiz as more than just a pretty sub he can scratch his itch for rough sex with.

Chiz has his own rules for getting off with guys. His secret crush on Bowen was supposed to remain just that—a secret—until the one night that changes everything, and hiding things is impossible.

Then there’s Dare, the big tough bar owner who has questions for Bowen and Chiz and whose attraction to them is too strong to resist…and is just as powerful as the feelings Bowen and Chiz have for him.

But giving in to the overpowering sexual pull makes Bowen lose control of his wolf—an act that changes not only his fate but Chiz’s and Dare’s too.

Can their relationship survive what they unleash?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and death, references to non-nurturing parenting and a scene of turning into a shifter without prior discussion.

Publisher’s note: This book was originally published as Bowen’s Battle. It has been revised to become the first in a new shifter series for Pride Publishing.

Excerpt

Sex. The scent of it hung heavy in the air of the club’s restroom—which was probably a good thing. Bowen sighed as he leaned against one wall, nearly bumping elbows with the guy on the left of him.

Kneeling at Bowen’s feet was Chiz, one of his occasional hook-ups when neither man had someone else to fuck around with.

Bowen had been in a dry spell for a few months. Work on the ranch had taken up all his time, the birthing of the foals and caring for the horses more important than his own libido.

But tonight, he needed to get off with someone else rather than all alone, and Chiz obviously felt the same way.

Chiz opened his mouth and sucked the tip of Bowen’s cockhead in while looking up at Bowen through thick blond-tipped lashes. Chiz flicked his tongue, and Bowen bit back a moan. He wasn’t going to last long tonight, not after how long it had been for him, and now with Chiz’s very talented mouth working his dick.

Bowen braced one hand on Chiz’s shoulder, the other on the wall and began to thrust, knowing it was okay to do so. Chiz’s lashes fluttered, then he closed his eyes and sucked Bowen off with an enthusiasm that likely made every other man getting sucked off in the bathroom jealous.

Bowen clenched both hands, wishing he could just grab Chiz’s blond hair and use it to hold his head still. Bowen liked wielding control while having sex, but it wasn’t something he did often. Certainly not with one-night stands.

Though, he had messed around with Chiz a handful of times, at least.

Still, they weren’t friends, just two guys getting off together.

But would it hurt to—

Bowen shut off that stream of thought. Now was neither the time nor place for him to decide to get all…whatever. He hissed as pleasure raced throughout his body. His balls drew tight, and his groin burned with the beginnings of his climax.

Chiz deep-throated him again, and that was it. Bowen let go, let his orgasm burst free and shoot in hot jets down Chiz’s throat.

“I think we’re gonna have us a turn at that mouth and ass.”

Bowen’s eyes had almost closed when he heard that comment. He slipped his hand from Chiz’s shoulder to his nape, the automatic need to protect rising quickly and stomping out any lingering sexual bliss.

The bathroom had grown less crowded—except for the three men standing in a half-circle, blocking off the exit.

Bowen growled and didn’t give two shits about his own cock flopping free as he tightened his clasp on Chiz. “Whatever you dumb fucks are thinking, unthink it. You ain’t touching him.”

The biggest man, a grizzled, ugly guy who looked like he needed a shower or three, smirked at Bowen. “And who says we was talking about him?”

Well, Bowen would rather avoid a fight altogether, but if those three shitheels were going to be coming after either him or Chiz, Bowen would rather be the target.

“Aw, Earl! That guy can suck dick!”

“Shut up, Killer.” Earl didn’t look away from Bowen.

“Killer?” Chiz muttered against Bowen’s shaft. “Seriously?” He tried to turn his head.

Bowen’s fight instincts were engaging. He had a feeling there’d be no easy-outs tonight.

And his daddy had always told him to get in the first punch.

The scent of danger was in the air, and Bowen couldn’t ignore it, not that he would have tried. Instincts existed for a reason, or at least his did.

In a second, he had Chiz behind him and was lunging at Earl, the leader of the pack of idiots. Bowen managed to get his dick tucked into his underwear while swinging hard with his left hand.

He was fast, too fast for a burly, out-of-shape man like Earl to escape. His fist connecting with Earl’s jaw felt pretty damned good.

Sex and violence…the two were linked sometimes. Bowen wouldn’t examine that very closely, not if he could help it.

Earl’s head jerked to the side. Blood and spit flew from his mouth as all hell broke loose in the restroom.

And maybe Bowen should have thought out his attack a little better, because Earl didn’t go down, and his two buddies shot past Bowen.

He had to protect Chiz—Chiz was small-boned, almost delicately built, and all three men were…none of those things.

Bowen kicked Earl in the balls, and the big fool went down with a high-pitched screech. Bowen spun around and grabbed both men by the backs of their shirts. He pulled and ripped the material, then had to grab at them again.

One of them—Killer, he thought—went flying backward. The other, Bowen clutched at, spun around then punched in the gut.

Bowen caught a flash of Chiz shooting up and lunging away. At first, Bowen thought Chiz was running for the door.

But no. Killer was flung against the wall beside the man Bowen was trying to take down.

Chiz was there, moving so fast with punches and martial arts moves that Bowen couldn’t keep up with what he was doing.

Especially not when Bowen nearly got kneed in the balls.

He focused on the fight he was in, avoiding damage to his family jewels, taking a hard slug to the ribs, then elbowing his opponent in the gut before using an uppercut to finally take the fucker out.

By then, Chiz was standing, hands on his slender hips, tapping one foot.

Bowen looked at him head-on.

Chiz nodded. “Wasn’t sure if you’d need help.”

Bowen almost laughed at that. He’d held back a lot of his strength since he didn’t want to end up in prison for murder.

Chiz scowled at him. “I can take care of myself. I’m not some delicate flower, here.”

“Yeah, I get that, but maybe we should leave before these fuckwits regain consciousness?” Bowen suggested. His knuckles burned, the skin raw and abraded, but it’d be healed up in no time at all.

“Probably.” Chiz wrinkled his nose as he glanced at the men. “Ugh. I hope they aren’t thinking they’ll be regulars here.” Then he canted his head and grinned at Bowen. “And I didn’t get to come. I’m pretty sure you’re not a psycho-serial killer, so, um, if you want to go back to my place, we could do that.”

Bowen’s first impulse was to say no, but he checked it. First things first—he and Chiz needed to get out of there.

“Come on.” Bowen took Chiz by the elbow.

“Not a delicate flower,” Chiz muttered, but he didn’t pull away.

“Nah, you kicked ass. What were you doing?” Bowen asked as he led Chiz out of the restroom.

“Fighting,” Chiz replied. “Duh.”

Bowen cut him a narrow look. “Anyone ever spanked you?”

“I refuse to answer that,” Chiz drawled, “on account of I’d have to explain where the bodies were. Hypothetically, of course.”

That startled a laugh out of Bowen. “Is that so? ’Cause I think you’d like it.”

“Right. The younger, delicate little twink—”

“You got a hang-up over that delicate part,” Bowen observed, interrupting Chiz while opening the restroom door. “Don’t ya?”

Chiz sniffed and pulled his arm free. “Do not.”

Bowen laughed again. How was it he hadn’t known Chiz was so feisty?

’Cause all I’ve ever seen him as is a way to get off. Wow. I’m an asshole. Though, to be fair, I don’t think Chiz’s seen me any differently.

The club was still packed, but several people looked their way when Bowen and Chiz left the restroom. Bowen’s anger sparked. “Those fuckin’ assholes watching us knew we were gonna be jumped.”

“Probably,” Chiz agreed. “A pox on all of them. May their urethras be inflamed and burn with the stings of a thousand wasps.”

“Fuck.” That made Bowen’s dick ache.

Chiz grinned. “I could flip them off, if you want to fight some more?”

“Rather not.” Bowen’s pulse escalated, not at the idea of fighting, but at the mischievous way Chiz was acting. He was interesting, not just attractive.

Chiz shrugged. “Okay, your call. You wanna come back to mine? I’d like to get off a few times tonight.”

Oh damn! A few times? How stupid had Bowen been, not chatting with Chiz more until now?

“Yeah, let’s do that.” Bowen licked his suddenly dry lips. He’d just come not five minutes ago, and he was already close to getting hard again.

Chiz winked at him. “Cool. Maybe I’ll let you slap my ass a time or two.”

That was a gauntlet thrown down. Bowen ghosted a hand over Chiz’s ass. “Maybe I’ll let you beg me to.”

Chiz narrowed his eyes at Bowen. “Beg you to?”

But Chiz’s pulse sped up. Bowen could see it fluttering at the base of his neck and he noted the flare of Chiz’s nostrils and the beginning of an erection pressing against the fly of his pants.

“What the hell’s going on?” roared someone from the back of the club. Literally, Bowen thought, from the back, where there might be offices or something. He didn’t know. He just came there to get laid and wasn’t buddies with anyone.

“Seems like a good time to split,” Chiz said. He grasped Bowen’s hand. “Because that sounds like one pissed-off man, and I’ve heard stories about the guy who owns this place.”

“Oh?” Bowen was curious, but Chiz tugged, and Bowen followed.

“Yup, and you don’t want to fight any more tonight, right?”

“Right.” Bowen would much rather fuck, and Chiz was…interesting.

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About the Author

Bailey Bradford

A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn’t happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey’s brain demanding to be let out.

Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey’s office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from Bailey’s presence can result in what is known as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.

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