#CoverReveal | Three Heart Echo by @kearytaylor

Three Heart Echo
Keary Taylor
Publication date: September 12th 2017
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Suspense

The demented thing is that this evolved from the most sickly sweet, heart-wrenching love story you’ve ever heard. I went to Sully because I just couldn’t get over Jack’s murder. I couldn’t deal.

Iona came to me for the same reason most did: because there was no closure. A love cut too short. She begged me to open the gate between the living and the dead.

We should have left it shut.

This. This is not a love story. This is a possession story. A story of lies. A story of two faces. This is a story of death and violent echoes from the other side.

And there will be no happy endings.

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order


Author Bio:

Keary Taylor is the USA TODAY bestselling author of over twenty novels. She grew up along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where she started creating imaginary worlds and daring characters who always fell in love. She now splits her time between atiny island in the Pacific Northwest and Utah, with her husband and their two children. She continues to have an overactive imagination that frequently keeps her up at night.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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#Cover Reveal | Choosing Hope by Holly Kammier | @hkammier

Choosing Hope
Holly Kammier
Publication date: October 31st 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Thriller

Choosing Hope is a harrowing story of passion and deceit, the things we do for love and the rabbit holes we tumble into chasing elusive fairy-tale endings. Dark around the edges with a shocking twist I didn’t see coming, this is the kind of book you’ll be passing around to your friends so you can talk about it. Holly Kammier delivers romance, suspense, and a strong, smart heroine who turns out to be nobody’s victim. Don’t miss this one! – Kat Ross, best-selling author of The Midnight Sea

A broken marriage.
A love affair.
A lie that changes it all…

Hope Rains Sullivan is living the dream—a successful husband, two beautiful youngboys, and a charming home in Northern California. She should be happy. She almost convinced herself she was, until Adrian came along.

Adrian, appears to be everything her husband isn’t. He works with his hands, and is even willing to use them in a fight. He’s sexy, strong and fit, with warm brown skin that alludes to his Spanish background. Best of all, he lives for spending time with his kids. Feeling alone in her marriage, Adrian offers her a way out

Hope’s affair is just the beginning. Her journey inward will require untangling her complicated past and surviving an astonishing revelation. Her lover is not who he pretends to be.

She’s searching for her happily-ever-after, and no matter how painful the journey, she’ll find what she’s been looking for all along—the chance to choose Hope.

Add to Goodreads


Author Bio:

Holly Kammier is a former journalist who has worked everywhere from CNN in Washington, D.C. and KCOP-TV in Los Angeles, to the NBC affiliate in small-town Medford, Oregon. A UCLA honors graduate, she is the author of Kingston Court, her debut novel.

Choosing Hope, her second soon-to-be released novel, is a cross-over to Kingston Court with overlapping characters and locations.

The California native and mother of two, lives in San Diego, California close to her family and friends. Co-Founder of Acorn Publishing, Holly is available for speaking engagements and content editing.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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Live Reading with Joe Hempel

Hey readers and listeners, tonight 8.12.17, Joe Hempel will do a LIVE recording of a chapter Open Wounds in his page. Come and join us! 9-930!!

Open Wounds: Hope & Abel, a Love Against the Odds AWWM Novella

If you could see your life from inception to death, would you change things or would you let your death play out as fate intended?

Abel is in search of only two things: a stable job and a safe place to lay his head at night after a mistake that cost him eighteen months of his life. As if fate had plans made only for him, Abel is offered a complicated job, and a chance to redeem himself to his old boss. 
And then he meets her …
And Abel adds another item to his list—Hope.

At twenty-six, Hope has only ever slept with one man, and at her boss’s unsolicited advice, Hope plans to forget the abuse and degradation she suffered at her ex’s hand by seducing and bedding the next man she meets. Unfortunately, after Hope finds a promise of death at her doorstep, her plans are derailed and her only chance at staying alive rests on the dedication of her new bodyguard and her own sheer will to live the life she deserves.

Special Edition - Rogue In Love

Alexander “Lex” Montgomery threw his hands up and over his ears and squeezed, hoping to break his skull like a tiny ass grape. Theodora’s voice echoed throughout the house, a brand on his brain and a pain in his ass. Her damned birthday was at midnight and the girl wouldn’t shut up about it. The journey from kid to teen hadn't been an easy one for her. Losing her mother, bullied in school, the only tomboy in a hundred-mile radius, unrequited love, and all that shit. So, Lex could understand Thea's need to celebrate surviving another year, but if she didn’t shut that shit up, he was going to kill her cute little ass.

“For the love of God, Thea! Sit down and hush all that noise up,” Earl, Thea’s grandfather, hollered from the kitchen. Lex leaned against the door jam and stared out into the night. Cicadas sang, tall grass swayed in the light breeze, and the scent of rain in the horizon wafted through the door. Closing his eyes, Lex placed a hand on his full belly and thanked his lucky stars he’d met Earl all those years ago.

“I’m gonna be a wooomannn in a few short hours!” Thea’s voice rang out again, and Lex’s ear buds nearly shattered.

“Girl,” Earl called out, “you ain’t gonna make it to eighteen if you don’t hush that mouth of yours, ya hear me?”

Though Lex was positive Earl was fighting a lost cause, he smiled and headed toward where his mentor stood in the kitchen over the sink scrubbing a pot. The scent of lemons and baking soda stung the air. Earl stood hunched over the sink, boney arms moving at a breakneck rhythm. Thea’s voice rang out again, causing Earl to flinch.

“Lex, I may be an old man,” Earl said as Lex sidled up to him, “but I will chase that child down and whoop her little brown ass, ya hear me?”

Lex cocked a brow as Earl raised a suds-covered fist and shook it toward the door. “Child?” he repeated. “Naw, ain’t you heard. She’s about to be a—”

“Wooomannnn!” Thea’s voice finished Lex’s joke and he burst into laughter, nearly doubling over when the vein in Earl’s temple pulsed.

“Oh, so you find that funny, do you?”

Lex shut right up. “Uh, no—”

The mirth in Earl’s eyes brightened his face, adding a youthful glow. He handed Lex the pot and scrubber. “You can finish this. I’m going to put some earplugs on and head to bed. That child is about to run me ragged.” He threw his hands up in the air.

“Aw, but wait. It’s really Thea’s night to wash dishes,” he groaned. Trying his best not to sound ungrateful, he lowered his tone. “It’d be a great way to make her shut up.” He grinned when he thought Earl might agree. Instead, he got a shake of the head.

“No, son. It is her birthday.”

“Tomorrow,” Lex muttered under his breath. He turned and got to scrubbing. Earl’s heavy palm landed on his shoulder and he let out a chuckle.

“Consider this an early birthday gift for—”

“Wooomannnn!”

Earl shook his head. “Goodnight. And if she comes near my room, I’ll tan that hide of hers.”

With that, Earl left Lex alone to scrub what should have been Thea’s dishes. Lex grumbled under his breath, annoyed at the extra chore he’d picked up for the night. He’d planned to meet Abel and Hyde up at the lake for some beer and smokes, but that shit had been canceled on account of Hyde getting picked up for fighting. Lex grunted when he scrubbed over a heavily soiled spot. Dinner had been roast beef and damned good, but the clean-up was a bitch.

“What are you still doing here?” The reason he held kitchen duty asked as she sauntered over to him. She still wore her Sunday dress, only now she was barefoot and her coiled hair hung long and free around her cherub-like face. Lex had always found Thea beautiful—her warm, brown skin, bright, intelligent eyes, and adorable sense of humor. She propped a hand on her hip and leaned against the counter, eyeing him as he scrubbed. “I thought you and those boys were going fishing. Or rather panty chasing over in Blackwater at them bars.”

He nearly dropped the pot when he whirled on her and he lasered her with a vicious scowl. “Who the hell have you been talking to?” Her chocolate skin took on a red hue and her eyes fluttered to the ground. He reigned in his annoyance at her words. Maybe he would have found a girl to hang with, or maybe not, but he sure as hell didn’t want Thea thinking he was some whore running around town with the whores and in bars.

Turning on her heel, she played with the hem of her dress, baring to him her scuffed-up knees and bare feet. She was such a tomboy, so amazingly fearless and breathtaking—skinned knees, dirty feet, and all.

“Hey, now. I’m sorry for shouting at you.” Picking up a towel, Lex dried his hands and shoved her playfully.

She turned and glared up at him. “Well?” Hand back on her hip, she stared up at him defiantly. “Is that what you are planning to do?” Her little button nose wrinkled and her brow dipped in irritation.

He smiled at the show. “Why … are you worried, Thea-bear?”

Her face reddened in ire when he called her the dreaded baby name he’d made for her. Straightening, she eyed him down her nose as best she could. “Well, I’ll let you get back to doing the dishes, slave boy.” She turned, and just as she lifted a foot to walk away, Lex slapped her on the ass.

She spun around a scowl on her face and fists raised high in the air. “Pop me again and I’ll …”

Lex dropped the pot and stepped forward. Staring her in the eyes, he lowered his voice and he asked, “You’ll what, little girl?” She lowered her fists, her eyes wide as saucers, though not in fear, and her nose flared. Lex could all but sense the sensual heat coming from her. She was so young and new to the feeling that it was written all over her face and in her shallow breaths and dilated pupils. Lex swallowed the lump in his throat and stepped away from her. Why the fuck did he play this game with her? She was a child … hell, he was a child. Although early in life he had experienced things meant for mature adults, he was still a child in the eyes of the state. He’d been her age during his first sexual experience. One of his mother’s many flings had taken him to a strip club, intending on making a man out of him. Lex had nearly passed out when a stripper, three years his senior, straddled his lap and plopped down on his naked sex. The experience had been enlightening, to say the least, but Lex wouldn’t wish that night on his worst enemy. Sure, he came, but the uncertainty and fear he’d felt during the process were sure to fuck him up for life.

Lex took several steps back as Thea moved closer. “Hey.” He chuckled, the noise sounding nervous even to his ears. Her head tilted in confusion. Narrowed eyes took him in appraisingly leaving Lex to feel naked in front of her. Her whiskey-hued gaze took him in and in this moment he felt as though he were the innocent child whose virtue needed sheltering. His sex stirred in his pants and his head swam. He chanted, Do not take advantage of her, over and over again in his head. No matter how often she told him she cared about him or showed him in that child-like way, she was still just that: a child. She was supposed to be protected by him, not desired by him. He gripped the sink, his knuckles pale white as his grasp intensified.

“Are you …” She smiled an insanely seductive smile that sent shivers up his spine. “Are scared of little ole me?” Placing a hand over her chest, she swayed, leaning into him.

Fuck, this little ass Lolita needs to stop her shit.

He reached behind him and into the sink. “Hell no. Ain’t scared of no knobby-kneed rugrat.”

Her eyes widened in shock and anger, and just as she opened her mouth to no doubt hurl an insult back at him, Lex filled his hand with suds and water from the sink and threw it into her face. Reaching down, he adjusted his junk when she closed her eyes, wiped her face, and sputtered. “That’s what you get for making me have to wash the dishes.”

Changing the subject was best on his part. He couldn’t have her knowing how she’d affected him. Not only was she one of the most beautiful girls he’d even seen, her intelligence and take no shit attitude had him smitten from the first second he’d seen her. But that didn’t matter. Even at his age, he understood girls like Thea only ended up regretting ever having met guys like him. Like his mother, they’d end up pregnant and stuck in this shit town, and he couldn’t do that to Thea.

And after that realization, Lex realized he’d loved Thea in a way he’d never loved anyone before. Was it a romantic love? In a way, but more than that it was the respect he had for Thea and Earl that had him backing away and heading for the door.

“Earl is gonna tan your hide if you don’t finish with them dishes,” she called after him.

Lex glanced back. Her face was now clear of the suds, warm brown skin damp and pouting lips set in a scowl. Yep, he’d take an ass whooping for leaving the dishes, but better to piss Earl off that way than to piss him off and lose Thea.

Without a word, Lex turned and walked away, out of the house, and down the dirt road that led to the main street. He would never experience Thea’s love. It was an impossible expectation. Sort of like Beauty and the Beast, only there was no happily ever after for Thea and Lex. 

#CoverReveal - Whiskey-Eyed Woman by @ardentaislinn

Whiskey-Eyed Woman
Aislinn Kearns
(Soldiering On #5)
Publication date: August 18th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

The final Soldiering On book

They’ve been dancing around each other since they started Soldiering On. Now, Duncan and Mandy will have to work together if they are going to get out of this alive…

Former Sergeant Major Duncan Pierce has wanted Mandy since the moment they first met, but she deserves better than a beat up old soldier. Then, a bomb planted in their office goes off, and they narrowly escape the deadly situation with their lives. Faking their own death to buy some time, they are forced to hide out together while theyplan to finally bring down the arch-enemy that has nearly destroyed them.

But in such close proximity, their powerful sexual chemistry is sure to combust…

Mandy’s sick of Duncan seeing her as the untouchable princess she’s not. When they arrive at the safe house, she’s determined to get him to see the real her. But first they have to deal with a man who wants them dead and buried, once and for all.

Goodreads / Amazon

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!
Book #1 in the series, Station Alpha, is on sale for just $0.99 right now!

EXCERPT:

“There’s a slight issue with the sleeping arrangements,” Duncan told her as he leaned past her to flick the light in the living room off.

“What’s that?” she asked, sounding a little breathless even to her own ears. Moonlight filtered in through the gauzy curtain, weaving an intimate enchantment between them.

He leaned down, and for a brief moment, Mandy thought—hoped—he’d kiss her. Instead, he rubbed his thigh with a wince. He’d pushed his leg too hard today, with the long walk and crouching. She wondered how he’d react if she offered to massage it for him, then decided she wasn’t up to facing the rejection.

“There’s only one bed…” His eyes locked onto hers as he said the words, his gaze heating.

Now she really did lose her breath, as all of it left her in a rush. The images the simple words conjured, of the two of them sharing a bed and all that might entail, crowded her mind. The hot slide of their naked bodies, mingling breaths, mind-blowing pleasure. It overwhelmed her.

“…So I’m going to sleep on the couch,” he continued.

Mandy blinked as the words penetrated her brain. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she muttered. She glanced at the two-person couch, then his 6’4” frame. “You’ll never fit.”

“Nevertheless, I’m not letting you sleep in an uncomfortable place tonight.”

Mandy narrowed her eyes. Before she could think twice, she blurted out a suggestion. “We can share.”

Even in the dim light, with his dark skin, she could see him blanch. He stumbled back and away from her.

“That’s a terrible idea,” he told her bluntly.

“Why?” she asked.

She wanted him to say it, once and for all. Did he hate her? Did he want her? Some days she suspected it was both. But she wanted to be sure, so she could finally deal with these feelings she had for him, once and for all.

“I can’t…I just…No.”

“Then I’ll take the couch,” she said, setting her shoulders.

“No,” he said again, his eyes narrowing in challenge.

“Then we’re at a standoff.”

They eyed each other for a long moment.

Mandy shifted, wanting to win this battle, even if she didn’t actually want to share a bed with him. God knows what her subconscious would do in her sleep, but it would probably be incredibly inappropriate between work colleagues.

“I won’t touch you, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

He choked, scandalised, and Mandy grinned.

“This is a terrible idea,” he muttered to himself. Victory was hers.

Author Bio:

Aislinn is an Aussie girl that loves to travel and see the world. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in English and History, which she loved, and then went on to do a Masters in an unrelated field. She now largely pretends that last degree never happened.

She is the author of the 'Soldiering On' books, a Romantic Suspense series featuring former military heroes and heroines. She enjoys reading, writing, travelling, watching action movies (particularly if they have a romance!), and fantasising about her future cottage in a forest. Now that she's published, her next life dream is to own a dog.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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Open Wounds | Audiobook

COMING SOON SUMMER 2017

Missing Teal and Trent from Inevitable: Love & War? Check out Open Wounds, the second of many standalones. Open Wounds coming to audio soon!

Missing Teal and Trent from Inevitable: Love & War? Check out Open Wounds, the second of many standalones. Open Wounds coming to audio soon!

Missing Teal and Trent from Inevitable: Love & War? Check out Rogue in Love, the first of many standalones featuring Trent Reed's new employees!

 #AWWM CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

A Love Against the Odds Novel

If you could see your life from inception to your death, would you change things or would you let your death play out as fate intended?

 

Abel is in search of only two things. A stable job and a safe place to lay his head at night after a mistake that cost him eighteen months of his life. As if fate had plans made only for him, Abel is offered a complicated job, and a chance to redeem himself to his old boss.

And then he meets her…

And Abel adds another item to his list—Hope.

At twenty-six, Hope has only ever slept with one man, and at her boss’s unsolicited advice, Hope plans to forget the abuse and degradation she suffered at her soon- to- be ex’s hand by seducing and bedding the next man she meets. Only, after Hope finds a promise of death at her doorstep, her plans are derailed and only chance at staying alive rests on the dedication of her new bodyguard and her own sheer will to live the life she deserves.

New Release - Open Wounds: Hope & Abel

GET YOUR COPY TODAY!!

LOVE AGAINST THE ODDS

OPEN WOUNDS: HOPE & ABEL

Open Wounds: Hope & Abel, a Love Against the Odds AWWM Novella

If you could see your life from inception to death, would you change things or would you let your death play out as fate intended?

Abel is in search of only two things: a stable job and a safe place to lay his head at night after a mistake that cost him eighteen months of his life. As if fate had plans made only for him, Abel is offered a complicated job, and a chance to redeem himself to his old boss. 
And then he meets her …
And Abel adds another item to his list—Hope.
 

At twenty-six, Hope has only ever slept with one man, and at her boss’s unsolicited advice, Hope plans to forget the abuse and degradation she suffered at her ex’s hand by seducing and bedding the next man she meets. Unfortunately, after Hope finds a promise of death at her doorstep, her plans are derailed and her only chance at staying alive rests on the dedication of her new bodyguard and her own sheer will to live the life she deserves.


This book includes a sample of Weathered Souls and Inevitable: Love and War

Only, after Hope finds a promise of death at her doorstep, her plans are derailed and only chance at staying alive rests on the dedication of her new bodyguard and her own sheer will to live the life she deserves. Inger Iversen presents a standalone contemporary AWWM Romance in her best-selling Love Against the Odds world featuring Hope & Abel. Your enjoyment may be enhanced if you follow this reading order:


-       Incarcerated: Letters from Inmate 92510   -Katie & Logan
-       Inevitable: Love and War - 2/28/2015        -Teal & Trent 1
-       Indelible: Beneath His Ink - 12/12/2016    -Teal & Trent 2
-       Rogue in Love - 3/28/2017 *standalone*   -Thea & Lex
-       Open Wounds - 6/28/2017 *standalone*     -Hope & Abel
-       Indebted: Til Death Do us Part 9/28/2017  -Teal & Trent 3
-       Weathered Souls 12/28/2017 *standalone* -Ivory & Eric

Only SIX days left!!

FACEBOOK-BANNER (1).jpg

Open Wounds: Hope & Abel, a Love Against the Odds

AWWM contemporary romance Novella
 

CHAPTER 13

Abel sat across the table from her in a dimly lit restaurant, wearing the sexiest navy-blue button up and a pair of dark jeans. She sat back in her low-cut, white cotton dress as Abel eyed the deep plunge of her neckline. In her entire life, she’d never made it past a B-cup and had even considered breast implants at one point; but now, as Abel watched her body, a pink blush spread from her chest to her face.

“Damn, that’s beautiful,” he murmured.

“What the hell are you talking about?” Picking up her glass of wine, Hope took a large gulp. She needed to slow down—the food hadn’t shown up yet and she was already on the second glass. Nervous from trying to draw out her stalker, while getting to know Abel, had her soaking it up like a sponge.

“Just taking in my date.” He winked and took a drink of his water. He’d refused to drink, just in case Edwin made an appearance … and for that, Hope was grateful.

She waved the waiter over for another glass of water, as she needed to slow down, or she would be drunk in no time.

“Hey,” he called, his soothing voice calming a bit of her nerves. “What’s going on?”

Hope pressed her palms to her belly. “Nervous flutters.”

Moving the centerpiece, he pushed his hands to her, palms up. “Talk to me.”

Hope nervously placed her hands in his. His strong hands enclosed hers, the warmth spreading from him to her cool fingers.

“What about?”

“You,” Abel suggested coolly, sad it surprised her.

Mark had never once asked her a question about herself, but had been more than willing to explain to her his struggles at Merrill Lynch, or at the gym. She struggled to come up with something to tell him. There were so many things she could talk about, but where to start?

“My real name isn’t Hope.” She returned his shocked expression with a sly smile. In fluent Korean, Hope spoke her full name and where her mother was originally from.

“What?” His delighted surprise made her giggle.

“Yep, Gidae, but you would pronounce it, Gi-day. I changed it to its meaning, Hope, when I was picked on in school for its rarity.”

He gently squeezed her hands, then flipped them over, tracing circles across her palms. Electricity raced up her spine. Hope’s body heated, and her head went fuzzy. His hands were so sensual, she could feel the tension building between them. And never once had she flinched or run from his touch.

“Man, I hate kids sometimes,” he said. “They can be ignorant and hurtful with their words.”

Yes, that was very true, but her childhood had been too amazing for her to hold on to a few memories of bullies. She shrugged. “That all seems so far in the past. I don’t think about it much now, but I just kept using Hope because it was easier than constantly correcting people’s pronunciations.” Gidae was a relatively easy Korean word, but most Americans butchered it horribly.

A smile grew across his face as he admired her. “Wow, I didn’t even know you were Korean. Not that Koreans look a certain way. Call me crazy, but I’ve worked in a Korean BBQ up north for a few years and you look nothing like any of the ladies I worked for.” He laughed nervously.

“How so?” Hope wasn’t in the least bit offended. Her mother was half-white and Korean, and her father was of mixed descent as well. She was a blend of many ethnicities, a melting pot of Asian and European descent, and she loved all her attributes. Her dark hair—so similar to her mother’s jet-black, silky tresses—and her pale skin, due more to her ethnicity than her recent bouts of lack of sun. Her skin reminded her of her father. He’d taught her German, promising her one day to take her to Germany, the home of his father’s ancestors. The memories were warm and welcomed, and too often ignored.

Excerpt - Open Wounds - June 28th, 2017

Hope’s small body shook in his arms, and he wasn’t entirely sure what was happening. Abel had pulled the item from the box, but barely had time to examine it before she nearly ran them off the road. Glancing back at the truck, he amended that thought, she had run them off the road. His blood had heated at the slight glance he’d gotten at the sight of the lacey garment. Hope shifted in his arms, her face leaving the comfort of his chest.

She pulled away from him, tears and rain streaking down her pale face. “Sorry, I know you said not to leave the truck, but I couldn’t stay.” She grabbed her chest and sucked in air. Her body lay half in the water, half on a bright green patch of grass.

The summer storm had ceased, leaving behind the aroma of rich earth and the sight of his woman’s tears. If Abel hadn’t already been on his knees, the sight before him would have sent him there. He stood, taking her with him as he headed back to the car. Once again, he gently placed her inside. Rain water soaked her clothing, leaving them clinging to her flesh. Abel reached under the seat and found a flannel shirt; after making sure it was clean, he wiped away the rain and tears from Hope’s face. Thinking of how the box had affected her, he covered it with the flannel shirt.

The ride home was long and silent. As soon as they made it into the loft, Abel helped Hope to remove her wet clothes, dress her in one of his shirts, and put her to bed. He would review the contents of the box and folder while she slept because the alone time would do him good. He needed to sit down and figure out why he’d called her his woman and why the sight of her so shattered and terrified had broken his heart.

Abel sat at the table with the contents of the box and the envelope laid out before him. “Fuck.” He thrust his hands through his hair and cursed again. Before him lay a collar made of red lace and leather, with a small lock holding together the ends. From the collar hung a long, shimmering chain—similar to a lead from a leash. He shuddered at the thought of what Mark had used it for.

With the collar came a note, but the collar nor the note were what bothered Abel. Instead, it was the photos he’d removed from the envelope and placed on the table in front of him. Four, eight-by-ten photos, all of him and Hope together at the grocery store. The note, while vital on its own, didn’t concern him the way the photos had. Two were close-ups of his face, and someone had scratched in an X over his face and on the other they had written Get rid of him.

The letter—just as threatening as the first—made it clear Hope and Abel were losing time in the count down. With gloved hands, Abel lifted the letter and read it again.

 

If he’s touched you, I’ll kill him and make you watch.

I’ll give you to the count of three to come home to me—untouched.

                                                                   TWO.                                         

 

He picked up the phone and placed a call to the one person who could help him find the man in the video. There were probably very few men in the world who were still on good terms with their ex-fiancée, but he was one of them. When he and Ivy had gone their separate ways, they had done so amicably. It’d been two broken souls coming together, when there had been nowhere else to run.

“Hello?” answered a groggy voice on the other end.

“V, wake up. What in the hell are you doing asleep, vampire?” He chuckled when she yawned and cursed.

“What in the hell? They let you out of jail and you couldn’t even stop by?” He could hear the rustling of bed sheets on the other end and he wondered if he’d interrupted something.

“Just got out not too long ago, and picked up a job. Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“Hmmm . . . you could have at least called sooner. After all, I was the reason your ass ended up in jail in the first place.” Abel didn’t say a word. If placed in the same situation again, his actions would not differ. “Abel?” she called out in his silence.

“I need your help.” He got up and paced over to his laptop.

“What’s up?” She sounded more alive now, her sleepy state lifting at the idea of having some work to do.

“I need you to run some faces through your facial recognition program, then see if you can run it through the current and past warrants.” Clicking on the screen, he brought up the video of the intruder at Hope’s place. Freezing it at different points, he took screen shots when the man’s face was visible.

“Ah, back on the job?” she asked.

“Not back with the old job, but on a job, yes.”

The sound of excitement flittered through the line. “Freelancing? Even better money. You still have my email?”

“Sent. And of his tattoos as well.” Abel closed the laptop and made his way to the door to check the lock.

“Got it. What are the parameters?”

Abel made his way to each window, prudently checking each lock. “Criminal. This state, and New York.”

She hummed her approval. “That’s specific enough, though New York will definitely slow down the search. How soon do you need this?”

“Yesterday,” Abel admitted. Walking over to the bed, he watched as Hope slept. She turned over, nestling deeper into the covers. Quietly, he moved back to the table, where he’d set up his work.

“That soon, huh?” The sound of tapping on a keyboard came through the phone. “Okay, uploaded, and parameters set. I’ll allow this to run with an alarm that will send the results straight to your email.”

“Good.” He wiped his face as exhaustion claimed him.

V cleared her throat. “Now that that is done, did you want to talk about—”  

“No,” Abel said hurriedly.

Her sharp sigh was all he heard. “Okay then. Was that all?” her tone lowered.

“How much?” He knew her fee, but wasn’t sure if her prices had changed. He opened his laptop again and typed in his banking information.

“Free. Consider it a parting gift.” Though V’s voice held not a trace of anger, Abel knew her better than most.

“V, come on—” His words were met with a dial tone and that worried him. V never made idle threats, and if she decided to kick a person out of her life, there was no changing her mind. A soft gasp from behind him had him dropping his phone instead of redialing. He spun around and stood up to meet Hope; her gaze riveted on the items he’d laid on the table.

“Shit.” He reached to shuffle the photos into the envelope, but she’d already seen them.

“He knows,” she whispered. “I should leave. I can run. I don’t need much; I have jewelry I can hock.” Her eyes finally met his. “Maybe you can help me find a place?”

Abel had thought her voice would sound panicked or drawn, but instead, Hope seemed calm and prepared—as if a life of running was one she’d always expected to live. His heart ached, but he couldn’t let his emotions run wild or guide his actions.

“I’ve got someone matching the face of our mystery FedEx man with a name. She’s good and working under the radar.” He hoped this turn of events would lessen the shock and fear wrought by the array of shit spread out on the table. Removing the gloves he’d been wearing, he tossed them on the table.

“Good. Who is she?” Hope moved away from him and sat in his seat. She pulled a picture closer and examined it.

“She?” he asked confused. “A man delivered the box not a woman.” Abel placed a hand on the back of Hope’s seat and turned the swiveling chair around to face him. Maybe she hadn’t gotten enough sleep, and fatigue had messed with her memory.

Hope rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I know. I’m talking about the woman helping us.”

His eyes widened. “Oh.” How would he explain that? If she caught him in a lie, she’d never trust his word again, and that was something he couldn’t allow. But did he have to tell her he’d once asked V to marry him to protect her? “I worked with her—” he started, but the trust in Hope’s eyes made him stop. “Look, she and I have a past, but it isn’t like you think.”

“You didn’t date her?” There was no jealousy in her tone, just pure curiosity.

“Yes and no,” he answered honestly.

Her brow raised and her arms crossed over her chest. “What in the world does that mean? You either dated her or you didn’t.” Her nervous laughter betrayed her casual tone.

“You’re right. But she was much more than that.” Abel was thrown back to two years earlier with his client Ivy, hacker extraordinaire. Since then, she’d quit hacking for the shit company she worked for that nearly got her killed, and started helping him by freelancing.

Open Wounds | Excerpt

When the passion burned hot, triggering a primal response, their only choice was to explore it.

Open Wounds

Abel had been shot before. He’d been stabbed and knocked out, but he’d never been tasered, and that shit hurt like hell. He sat back in the chair in the darkened room waiting . . . Fucking waiting for Gator, or whatever the fuck his name was, to finish up in the other room.

When Abel had regained consciousness, and found Hope missing he’d done the only thing he could, and the one thing he couldn’t afford—calling Gator from the Blackwater Renegades MC. These were not men you wanted to be in debt with, but the panic in his chest and the fear in his heart led him into the lion’s den.

His leg bounced nervously under the table and he itched to palm his gun. Of course, that was the first thing he’d been forced to hand over once he walked into the clubhouse. Rough hands had patted him down, paying no regard to his injuries. A door flew open and the sound of loud music and squealing women spilled into the room.

Gator strolled in, leather pants, naked chest under his leather vest, and fucking barefoot. He glared at Abel as if he’d just pissed in his cheerios. Common sense be damned, Abel didn’t have time for another macho-man stare-down. He needed to get to Hope.

            “Well?” The word flew from him like a bark from a caged dog. “Did you find him?”

            Gator lifted his lip in an answering snarl. His sharpened teeth glistened in the dark room, and the noise rumbling out of his chest reminded Abel that he was not in Kansas any longer. This was Renegade terrain, and submitting to the VP of the MC came with the territory.

Abel grudgingly lowered his tone. “My woman’s in trouble. I don’t have a lot of time. Tell me what you want in turn for the information I need, and it is yours.” Abel didn’t give a damn what they would ask of him, as long as it brought him to Hope. He’d failed to keep her safe. He’d been too busy wanting to touch her that he hadn't noticed the headlights in the rearview mirror. Stupid.

            Gator glared a moment longer before moving to the bar. “Need a drink?”

Abel gritted his teeth. I don’t want a fucking drink, asshole. “No, man. Just the info.”

Gator lifted the bottle and brought it over to the table. Placing a glass down in front of Abel, he poured slowly. Abel vowed if anything happened to Hope while they sat there drinking, he would burn the fucking clubhouse to the ground. He glanced at his watch. Hope had been missing a total of three hours. For one of those hours, Abel had been sitting here—waiting like a goddamned fool. Thinking better of wasting more time with Gator, he made to stand, but the man’s next words halted him in his tracks.

            “We have your woman.” He said the words as if he were talking about finding Abel’s lost dog; unbothered by the fact Abel had sat here for an hour, thinking of ways to commit murder without ending up in jail.

His breath left him in a whoosh, and Abel wasn’t sure, but he thought he might puke. “And?” he asked, trying to hide his fury and concern.

            Gator took a large swig from the bottle of liquor. “The info you gave me was useless. I knew about this man as soon as he crossed county lines. It’s my fucking job to know shit like that.”

Fuck it. Abel lifted the glass and downed the liquid. His throat burned and his gut protested the fiery shit, but he held it down.

            “Where is she?” He stood, leaning over the table. In this moment, Abel didn’t give a damn about titles or authority. He wanted Hope, and he’d find a gun and shoot his way through this cesspool if he had to.