Teaser Tuesday

Blackwater Deceiver: Maxine and Blu | Audiobook Sneak Peek

Audiobooks lovers! I have a surprise for you! So, with the help of The Audio Flow the producers of my next audiobook, I am back to creating audiobooks! The first audiobook, Blackwater Savior has been a club exclusive, but is about to be available for the public! Blackwater Savior is Spooky and Mia’s story and is narrated by the AMAZING Michael Pauley. The next audiobook to be available is:

Blackwater Deceiver: Maxine and Blu

By Inger Iversen

Produced by: The Audio Flow

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Listen here for a special sneak peek of Patrick Zeller’s amazing audition!

All Maxine needs is a name.

Just one piece of information could help Maxine mend a past mistake and let go of her broken past. That name she needs? Her father's murderer. Not because she harbors any tender feelings toward the bastard who beat her mother into a coma. She's desperate to know his last words.

She's steadily clawing down obstacles one lie, one trap at a time … until she encounters a brick wall without a single chink in it. Blu, the enforcer guarding the Blackwater Renegades MC's front door. A tattooed, mohawked mountain of muscle whose ice-blue gaze sets her belly on fire.

Blu's past shadows his future.

After fighting for his freedom in an underground fighting pit, Blu traded wrapped knuckles for a Blackwater Renegades cut. Now he puts his bruised fists to good use against rival gangs.

When he's tasked with seducing Maxine, the enigmatic newcomer, to uncover her motives, Blu discovers there's more to this dagger-glaring, snark-spewing beauty than meets the eye. They share a deep well of unresolved pain that could make him drop his guard … and question his loyalties to the only people he's ever known as family.

Want to read an excerpt of the book?

#TeaserTuesday

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Katie had sat by the phone waiting for it to ring for the last two days. She felt ridiculous, but at this point she didn’t care. Held up in her house since Valentine’s Day night, she had way too much time on her hands. The editor would most probably have her manuscript for another week or two, and Katie had already cleaned her house from top to bottom . . . twice.

Teal had called a couple times to schedule a breakfast, lunch, or dinner with her, but she pretended to be too busy. Although Katie was mad—no, she was livid that they had once again tried to control another aspect of her life—she tried not to let Teal see the pain it caused her. And she sure as hell wasn’t going to confront her dad about it. She already knew

how that would turn out. Her father had a way of making Katie feel like a needy child, and she supposed she only had herself to blame for that. Growing up, Katie didn’t fit in, so she leaned on her parents for companionship.

When her mother married Jan-Erik, she had only been eight. Jan-Erik moved his new family to Northern Virginia in an affluent suburb and placed Katie in a private school. She’d notice the differences between her and her classmates almost immediately, and if she hadn’t, they had no problems reminding her.

As if the obvious outward differences weren’t enough, Katie had to deal with going back to her old hometown to visit family for the summer three years later. Her friends had all gone to public schools and seemed so different than her, or at least that’s what they’d told her when they’d called her names like: bougie, stuck up, and Bougetto. For the life of her she couldn’t figure out what any of those names meant in reference to her, but one in particular stuck with her from childhood until now, and that was Oreo.

Of all the names she was called as a kid, Oreo had to be the most confusing. She was not mixed and she didn’t think she “acted white”. She would always ask, “How do you act white?” It made no sense that speaking properly and not using slang was looked at as “acting white”. Especially since Katie thought she was just speaking the English she was taught in school.

When Katie realized that her friends from the past, as well as the new students of St. Augustine's Preparatory School for Girls, weren’t interested in her friendship, she turned to the only two people who accepted her—her parents.

Katie wasn’t sure how long the phone had been ringing, but as soon as her inner thoughts released her from the past she grabbed the receiver and squeaked out a greeting. “Um . . . yes, hello?”

Anxiety heightened, she listened as the automated voice explained, “You are receiving a collect call from Crashaw Correctional, Inmate #92510.” The recording stopped, and the voice she’d been waiting to hear came on the line as he said his name to the recording that would play for her. She didn’t have time to think much about the gruff, rumbling voice on the other end of the line.

Since the automated operator cared nothing about Katie needing to calm her nerves, it continued, “If you’d like to accept these charges, please press one. If not, please hang up the phone.”

Before Katie could think, or even second-guess herself, she pressed one and covered her mouth, hoping to trap the nervous squeal bubbling in her chest. The line was silent for a moment before Scott’s southern accent filled the line.

“Hello?”

Katie hadn’t been sure what to expect from Scott’s voice since she’d never set foot in his hometown. She heard as he cleared his voice and tried again.

“Hello, Kristen?”

The fake name she’d given him surprised her, and she almost wished Kristen were her name. She found her voice just in time to sound like a fool. “Um . . . yes, this is her—I mean, I . . . I’m Kristen.” She slapped her forehead, but his warm chuckle stopped her embarrassment and heat blossomed in her chest.

“Sounds like someone is nervous,” Scott teased.

Katie laughed and swallowed her nerves. It was just a phone call, why was she acting so ridiculous? “Just a little,” she admitted.

“Well now, what’s there to be nervous about?”

Katie could hear indistinct noises in the background, and she assumed that Scott wasn’t alone in the room. After all, he was in prison and she’d seen the phone pods before. There were eight if she remembered correctly, and since he was in the minimum-security ward, they were free to come and go as they pleased.

“Honestly, I don’t know.” And that was the truth. Katie had lingered by the phone like a crazy person waiting for this call, and now that he’d phoned she was lip-locked.

Scott’s voiced lowered. “Well, can I start this conversation out by saying you have a beautiful voice?”

At that, Katie let out a short burst of snorting laughter, which she was sure would change his mind about her “beautiful voice.”

He laughed as well. “No, seriously. It’s soft and sweet, the way a woman should sound.”

Blushing profusely, Katie smiled. “Thank you, Scott. I like your voice, too. I wasn’t sure how you’d sound, but I like the light Southern accent.”

“Shit, honey, you should hear me when I’m angry. I can make every word one syllable and a paragraph turns into four words.”

She laughed. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. I honestly thought you’d sound more Southern, ‘cause you said you were from Virginia.”

“Yes, I am, but I’m from Alexandria. It’s far up north, close to DC, so I don’t really think I have an accent. If you go further down around Suffolk, Virginia Beach, or even to the west, like Clarksville, you’ll hear a bit of the South.” Katie relaxed a bit as she talked to Scott about her hometown.

Though while growing up, the place was stressful, it was still familiar and helped erase a bit of the stress in her life. “Now, if you go north all the way up to New York, they’ll call you a Southerner, but if you head down to South Carolina, they’ll call you a Yankee!”

She and Scott laughed, and Katie couldn’t help but enjoy the timbre of his voice. Heavy and deep, the sound traveled through the phone and settled in her ear, pleasing the part of her that missed a man’s voice.

“You don’t sound the least bit Southern to me.”

Katie scooted back in her chair and got comfortable. The muscles in her neck loosened, and she took a deep breath. “Of course not, Mr. Kentucky, you are west of Virginia.”

Logan chuckled. “True.”

There was a moment of silence, and Katie almost panicked, but instead she thought back to the letter he’d sent her. “Hey, why did you really want me to tell you a deep, dark secret? Planning to use it against me later?” She chuckled nervously. If Scott ever found out that Katie was the warden’s daughter, would he use her words against her?

 “Yeah, about that . . . Kristen, I just thought you might need to talk to me about something. I say this because, when a woman reaches out to a stranger, a convicted felon no less, there might be something behind it. You told me you had friends, so I’m wondering what’s going on in your life that has you reaching out to a stranger instead of your friends.”

Good question. “Hmmm . . .” She didn’t really have to think about it, but she needed to stall for time. She wasn’t sure what she was going to say to him. However, Scott was smarter than she gave him credit for and called her out.

“What’s this, ‘Hmmm’? You know what it is, and I think you want to tell me.” Scott’s voice lowered, and if possible got even sexier, but Katie ignored the warmth in her belly and focused on his words. At her silence, he added, “You want me to go first?”

Her mouth moved before she even knew it was happening, and she whispered, “Please.”

He wasn’t silent long, but she still felt his hesitance. “Shit, honey, I’m not even sure if these calls are recorded or not.”

“Yes, they are.” Katie knew this for a fact.

“Okay . . . but I’m still gonna do it. I’ll still tell you because I can’t expect it from you and not do the same in return, right?”

“Right.” Katie was nervous for her turn, but curiosity about Scott and his maybe dark deeds excited her to the core. He was in prison, and Katie could think of a million things he could confess to her. “Don’t tell me anything illegal, Scott,” she pleaded. She wouldn’t tell a soul, but she also wouldn’t be able to talk to him anymore.

Gruff laughter emerged from the phone. “Honey, I wouldn’t sully your ears with more of my crimes if I had any. You aren’t a priest, and I ain’t asking for your forgiveness. Just your time and your honesty.”

Katie didn’t speak. Actually, she was relieved he was so frank with her.

Scott coughed, and lowered his voice to a whisper. “Okay, a deep, dark secret. After this call, I’m going to go back to my cell, lay in my bed, and think of what it would be like to make love to you.”

Bumbling idiot that she was, Katie dropped the phone . . . and in her several attempts to pick it up again, she pressed about twenty buttons. Once the phone was back to her ear and she’d settled down, she expected to hear Scott laughing, but was greeted with silence.

“Shit, I hung up on him,” she whispered dejectedly.

“No you didn’t, sweetheart. I’m still here.”

Katie wasn’t sure if she should be relieved or hang up. “Oh, okay.”

Still, there was no chuckle on the other end. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you. I was just being honest.”

Katie took a deep breath and placed her head down on the desk. “I appreciate that, Scott, but my secret isn’t that I want you in my bed, it’s darker and more painful than lust.” And with that, Katie hung up the phone.

“Shit.” She slammed the receiver down again. Of course all he wanted to do was talk about sex. He was a freaking criminal who’d been hard up for several years. He didn’t give a damn about Katie, and she was a damned fool for ever believing that he did.

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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.

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.

#TeaserTuesday | Open Wounds

    *LIGHTLY EDITED PREVIEW*

 He watched Hope eat like she’d been starving. What in the hell had her husband said or done to convince her she needed to look like a bag of bones? When he’d first entered her place, he noticed she wore sweatpants and a long-sleeve shirt. He’d thought it was to possibly hide scars or bruises, but now, Abel considered the possibility that her body was unable to fight the chill in the air. And there was a chill; the AC seemed to pump out freezing air, even though the temp had fallen due to the storm outside. He’d seen the small unit above the window and planned to check it out after dinner.

Another moan escaped Hope’s lips and his dick jumped. Shit, he was not supposed to be lusting after a client. Not only was it unprofessional, but it was flat-out stupid. She was in a vulnerable state and didn’t need him eyeballing her tiny, heart-shaped lips.

            Hope moaned around the last bite. “Jesus, Abel.”

Lost in his inappropriate thoughts, he could only muster a grunt in response. Abel wanted to adjust his cock, as it was uncomfortably bunched up in his jeans. Pulling his plate back, he used it to hide his erection.

            Hope’s eyes popped open. “This is the best meal I’ve had in years.”

            Looking at her plate, he noticed it was empty, and she looked like she wanted to lick it clean. Abel made a trip into the small kitchen area. Placing his plate on the counter, he lifted the pan of food and brought it into the living room, along with a spatula. Without asking, Abel scooped a second helping of lasagna onto her plate. To his surprise, Hope didn’t protest, but greedily started eating.

He smiled inwardly. Every woman he’d ever dated always rejected his homemade pasta dishes. One had even told him the body couldn’t differentiate between pasta, rice, or a cupcake. Abel had just served her a salad and waited for the date to be over.

            While Hope ate, he walked to the door where Lex had left his bag of supplies. Abel told Hope that they would stay in Thea and Lex’s house for the two weeks that they were gone, but he soon developed a better idea. He was going to start calling in old favors. Lex was paying him well and Abel decided that renting a small place just outside of town would be feasible. To his understanding, Hope would continue to work at the clinic, though he knew this was something that placed her in danger. But Lex had conveyed this was a deal breaker for Hope. She wouldn’t agree to a bodyguard if she was forced to quit the clinic.

Abel commended her for wanting to help Thea while she was gone, but he couldn’t help but want to shake the woman and remind her about the threat Mark posed. At the same time, he wasn’t one to hide forever either. Hope’s life needed to continue, and Abel was here to make sure that happened without incident.

Pulling the equipment out of his bag, he called over his shoulder, “What’s your schedule like this week?”

            “Five, twelve-hour days, then Monday and Tuesday off,” she answered.

Abel smiled when he heard the fork scraping the plate. He would have to talk to Thea about the next few days. He needed time to formulate a plan, check out the work area, and get a few guys to track Mark’s whereabouts. The last part would be hard since he didn’t work for A2 Security anymore, but he was sure he had a few favors in the bag there, too. Pulling a motion sensor from the duffel, Abel stood and headed to the door.

            “Where are you going?” Hope asked the second his hand touched the doorknob.

            Abel turned back to her. “I’m going to set this motion sensor up outside. You want to watch?” Her eyes darted to the window, no doubt eyeing the rain still falling. “I just need to go to the covered porch area. No need to get wet.”

            “Yeah, just let me get my shoes.” Hope shoved her feet into a pair of flip-flops.

            He eyed her little toes as she shoved on the flip-flops. “No, you should wear tennis shoes.”

            “Why?” she asked, slipping out of the bright yellow flip-flops and donning a pair of Nikes.

            Opening the door, he gestured for her to stay behind him. “Just in case you ever have to run.” He stepped out into the cool night air. Rain still fell from the sky and lightning struck somewhere off in the distance. He didn’t think they had anything to worry about, but better safe than sorry.

            “Oh.” Hope wrapped her arms around herself. “Yeah, that makes sense.”

            “Have you ever tried to run in wet flip-flops?” Shaking her head, she followed him out the door. “Good, because it’s damn near impossible.” Scanning the area, Abel tipped his chin to the biker perched on his bike surveying the area. It’d been a steep price to pay for one night’s service, but Abel thought it well worth it.

Teaser Tuesday | Excerpt | Indelible: Beneath his Ink

   Poe raised his hands. “Okay, enough of the Jake shit. He’s a bastard and you two need to steer clear of the cokehead. Violet will help y’all out as best as she can. She’s good like that.” She bashfully dipped her head at the compliment. Poe stood, pointing to the firework display. “And now, for some circa 2011 non-legal fireworks.”

    Teal’s gaze flew to Violet. “Huh?”

    “In Kentucky, only certain fireworks are legal. Poe here has bought ones that aren’t.” Trent leisurely made his way over to Teal and helped her up from the table.

    “In Vermont, all you need is a permit and you can have all the fun you want.” She threaded her fingers through Trent’s as he led her further into the darker part of the yard.

Poe had set everything up at a safe distance, and Trent had lined up some lawn chairs for the show. Teal made to sit down in one of the three; instead, Trent pulled her back up and sat. Patting his lap, he motioned for her to sit.

Teal complied and wrapped an arm around his neck as she adjusted herself comfortably on him. The stubble of his jaw rasped over her neck as he tenderly kissed her, his warm tongue making its way up her neck until Teal felt the sharp pain of his teeth on her earlobe. She gasped when his hand slipped under her shirt, his calloused hands slipping beneath the cup of her bra to tweak a nipple. Shrouded in darkness, Trent caressed Teal’s breast and tasted her skin, as Violet and Poe made adjustments to the fireworks.

Trent’s ridged cock hardened beneath her, and Teal squirmed atop his lap, listening, as his breaths grew harsher. “You’re gonna make me come in my pants. Is that what you want?” he said, as he tweaked a nipple so hard, Teal squeaked.

His hands and mouth made a hasty retreat as the couple made their way back to them. 

    Teal glanced around just as the first explosion rocked into the night and set the darkness around them ablaze. Trent stole her attention from the fireworks as he gently took her chin between his thumb and finger to gently turn it to meet his eyes. His loving gaze took in her face, eyes roving over every inch of it. His thumb moved softly back and forth across her cheek causing warmth to spread with his touch. She watched, mesmerized as lights sporadically lit up his beautiful rough-hewn face revealing the awe and longing in his eyes.

Most women searched years for such dedication and love, and no man had ever looked at her that way—until Trent. She'd once told him that he was not what he seemed, and she’d been right. However, she was wrong on her assumption of the man in front of her. For how resilient and steadfast this man seemed, his heart was full of love, and Teal was lucky to have even a fraction of it. 

   Trent leaned in again. “I need to be in you.” He thrust against her, punctuating each word.

  Teal giggled.“I know, but you need to stop.” Trying to push his hands away, Teal fought in vain. “Trent.” She took on a semi-serious voice. “They’ll see. Cut it out.”

    He stopped and peeked over her shoulder. “Baby, look.” He nodded and she glanced over her shoulder to see that she and Trent weren’t the only two taking advantage of the darkness. While she couldn’t see much, the firework display intermittently lit up the passionate view of Violet and Poe stealing kisses.     Teal turned and righted herself in Trent’s lap. “You are such a bad influence.” She moved provocatively in his lap, his gruff grunting a good indication she was rubbing him in all the right places. 

#TeaserTuesday | Incarcerated: Katie and Logan

EXCERPT 

A few months ago, Katie would have never believed she’d be having a conversation with a convicted felon. Of course, she hadn’t actually spoken to him, but his letter had arrived at her PO Box just a day ago. Since then, she’d read it at least four times. Simple and straight to the point, Scott had explained why he was in prison and a bit about his life before the eight years he’d been serving. It was more than she’d told him about herself, but he didn’t seem to mind. Actually, he’d asked her to tell him about herself, but didn’t ask any of the questions Teal had warned her about. He didn’t ask her to come and meet him, or what she liked to do when she was alone, and for that she was thankful.

 Soothing jazz flowed from the iPod dock station while Katie sat at her desk in her study carefully plotting out her next letter. Pulling out her favorite bright yellow stationary, she picked up a pen and considered on what to tell Scott about herself. How personal did she want this to get? He’d been honest with her—as far as she could tell—and mentioned only wanting her time. Katie had a lot of that, and at twenty-five, she was looked at as an odd ball for being such a loner. She wouldn’t dare tell Scott that, though. He thought her name was Kristen, but it was actually Kathryn, or Katie for short. This had been Teal’s idea.

“Girl, you don’t want those men to know your real name so they can come hunt you down for some lovin’ when they get out of jail,” Teal had warned. The problem was, Katie still worried about the Inmate Pen Pal Program. It had been her idea, and with her dad as the warden at Capshaw prison, it only took a few suggestions before Teal and a few other people were responsible for setting up the program. Of course, her dad told her that she wasn’t eligible to join, but Teal, who’d worked an administration job at the prison, had gotten her in the program under the name Kristen. Teal raised a brow at what she called a “white sounding name”, but Katie thought it normal. Yes, she was a black woman, and yes, people were surprised to see such a dark girl respond to the name Kathryn Rose Andreassen, but she never thought names had anything to do with a person’s ethnicity. Her mother’s skin shone black as night, as well as her biological father’s, but he’d passed and her mother had remarried a European man. Katie refused to be defined by her name, but the world hadn’t made it easy for her.

Name aside, Katie had also worried about her address making it on file with the prison, so she’d rented a PO Box. Teal had told her that she hadn’t needed to; the letters coming to the prison were taken out of the original envelope and placed in a prison issued one, and then handed out at mail call. Katie, however, wasn’t convinced, so she’d gone to the MailWerks across the street from her old job and rented a PO Box for thirty-five dollars a year.

The shrill tone of her cell’s ringer pulled Katie from her desk, and into the living room. “Hello,” she answered.

“Girl, I swear these people in here get on my last damned nerves!” Teal shrieked. Katie glanced at the clock, confirming that it was noon—Teal’s break time.

Katie chuckled at her friends over exaggeration of her co-workers. “You always say that.” She stood and headed to the kitchen to pull out the salad she’d prepared for lunch. “But anytime you need help with paperwork, or want to switch a shift, all of them are suddenly your best friends.” She pulled the grilled chicken out of the fridge.

Teal sucked her teeth. “Whatever, but I’m telling you this . . . next time Stacie leaves her shit on my desk, I’m gonna cuss her out.”

Katie could hear the radio blasting in the background. “Are you on your way over, or what?” she asked, ignoring Teal’s whining. It was always one complaint after another and very few were founded.

“Yeah, and I don’t want a damned salad, make me a cheeseburger or something.” Teal let loose a loud moan. “I’m okay with being fat. Hell, haven’t you heard? Big is beautiful!” Teal huffed.

Katie placed the chicken in the microwave and pressed the quick heat button. “Big may very well be beautiful, but high blood pressure isn’t. Plus, you aren’t fat.” Teal was far from skinny, but Katie would never call her fat. She was one hundred and forty-five pounds, but she just barely made it to Katie’s chin, who was five feet seven. “Plus, your doctor told you to watch your blood pressure, so you won’t be eating any cheeseburgers over here.” And Katie meant it. Her mother had had issues with her blood pressure, and it had gotten so bad that she had a stroke.

Suddenly, Katie heard Teal’s Monte Carlo as she pulled into her driveway. The prison was only ten minutes away from Katie’s house, which was one of the reasons she could afford the home on her own before she’d gotten an agent and then a book deal. Nobody wanted to live a few miles away from a maximum-security prison, so it had made her three bedroom home super affordable.

“I’m hanging up now. Come in through the back.” Placing the phone on the counter, she headed to the sliding glass door and flipped the lock before running back to the microwave to pull out the chicken.

Teal walked into the kitchen, and was followed by a cold breeze. “Girl, why are you still in your damn pajamas?”

Katie looked down at what she was wearing; short sleeping shorts and a ratty T-shirt. She’d been up since six a.m. working on her novel, but she’d forgotten to change. When she glanced over at Teal—who was so damn well dressed and put together all the time—she cringed. She was taller and slimmer than Teal, but she never thought she looked as good in her outfits as Teal did. She’d tried, but there was just no contending with the fashion college dropout.

“You look a hot mess,” she added with a raised brow.

Katie placed her hands on her hips as she watched Teal pull off her tweed pea coat. Underneath was a vibrant jade green silk blouse that hugged her chest, making her thick figure seem thinner. Her black pencil skirt elongated her short legs, and the pointy-toed, six inch black high heels scared the life out of Katie. She was strictly a kitten heel kind of girl, and didn’t care what fashion guru Lauren Conrad said about them. She wasn’t interested in breaking an ankle or her neck.

Katie sighed and turned her attention back to preparing the food. “I’ve been working all morning.” It was an excuse she used often whether it was true or not. As an author, she made her own hours. However, that didn’t mean she wouldn’t put at least six to eight hours of time in . . . some days she even worked for twelve hours. The job was hard and sometimes very demanding, but often times people who didn’t know she was a New York Times bestselling author often thought of her writing as a hobby.

Teal bumped her aside. “Go shower at least. Shit, you’ve been touching my food and you haven’t even washed yet.” Teal was grinning as she spoke, which was the only indication that she was joking.

Katie knew her friend. They’d grown up together, so she could tell when her friend was “kindly” insulting her. She held up her hands in mock surrender. “Okay, I’ll be right back.” She headed down the hall toward her bathroom. “And keep your mouth off that cheesecake in the fridge. I made it for my dad.” She could hear Teal cussing from the kitchen, but ignored it and enjoyed a quick hot shower.

Lunch was over faster than Katie had expected . . . mainly because of Teal’s chatter about work and her love life or lack thereof. She’d all but forgotten the letter from Scott until Teal brought it up just as she was about to leave.

Teal shrugged on her pea coat and pulled her car keys from her pocket. “You haven’t said anything about your pen pal.” Teal frowned. “He didn’t ask you some slimy shit, did he?”

Katie shook her head.

“Are you sure? What’s his name? No wait, don’t tell me. You’re all quiet, but I know you didn’t get a murderer or rapist or any shit like that.” Teal patted down her sleek bob, as if what she said was common knowledge to Katie, but it wasn’t.

Katie raised a brow. “I thought the Pen Pal Program was anonymous and random?” She shifted her weight and leaned on the table. “How do you know I didn’t get someone in prison for murder?” She was confused. The way the program was supposed to be set up, was that forty inmates were preselected based on good behavior to be in the program.

To her knowledge, their crimes weren’t a deciding factor in whether or not they could join the program. That was the point when Katie pitched the idea to her dad. She believed that some of them would benefit from a little compassion, and maybe even some written company.

Teal huffed. “Didn’t your dad tell you?” She headed to the door. “Only twenty-five men were chosen based off of a few things: the crime they committed, the time they have left, good behavior, and some other shit your dad decided to throw in.”

Katie took in a calming breath so she wouldn’t curse, and bit her lip before she spoke. She could tell that Teal really thought she’d known. “That was not the point of this,” she grumbled. “It was supposed to be for those who had no one, those who were stuck in that place for life. I think they . . . no, I know they need human interaction in some way. You keep them caged up in there like animals, and then society is surprised when they get out and act just like that—animals!” Katie was heated, but her tantrum didn’t faze her friend.

Teal’s eyes grew large. “Have you lost your fuckin’ mind?” She threw her hands above her head and Katie watched as she visibly calmed. “Kay,” it was Teal’s nickname for Katie, “I know what you are going through . . .”

Here it was again. It always came to this, and although Katie was positive that Teal was about to drop some true knowledge on her, she didn’t want to hear it.

“You’re lonely and need someone to talk to, so you reached out and ended up not only getting played, but also hurt. Like always, you find some animal, or in this case twenty-five animals, to reach out to and help.”

Katie looked away from her friend. She was tired of crying about the past, tired of explaining to people that all she ever wanted to do was be needed and useful. Teal placed a gentle hand on her cheek, and Katie couldn’t help but gaze into her friend’s concerned, soulful eyes.

“Let me just tell you this,” Teal continued. “Those men are animals. You don’t know the half of it, babe, and you never want to. Your father was right not to let certain people on that list. They are criminals, predators, and liars. That shit can get into a lonely woman’s head and make her do things she’d normally never do.”

Katie knew she was right. She’d let her own loneliness blind her to the facts. Sniffing, she wiped a tear from her eye as it tried to escape. “I know, I know. Now, get out of here before you’re late to work.”

Teal glanced at her phone and cringed at the time. “Yeah, I’ll see you at Shea’s Valentine’s Day party, right?” Teal was heading out the door as she said this, and Katie followed behind. “I’m giving you a big ass heads up. You have weeks to get ready for this party, Katie. When I call, you better pick up the phone and tell me that you are ready to head out the door.”

Katie hated parties and groups, but Teal was sick of her hermit behavior. “Okay.” Katie didn’t want to go, but she couldn’t say no to another outing or Teal would come over and drag her ass out of the house.

Her friend pursed her lips and arched her brow. “You better be.” She threw the comment over her shoulder, but stopped at the gate. She glanced pensively at Katie then asked, “You want to tell me the name of the inmate you got?”

Even though Katie knew it was against the rules, she was tempted to say the name. Teal could tell her everything Crashaw Penitentiary knew about Scott Logan. As soon as the word ‘yes’ formed on her tongue, it faded away. It didn’t matter. She didn’t need to know anything about him, just what he’d told her. They were pen pals and nothing more.

Katie shook her head, and Teal hesitantly nodded. “Okay.” She still had a concerned look in her eyes, but Katie ignored it and went inside.

She was lonely, and nothing Teal said about Scott would stop her from picking up her pen and sending in a letter . . . nothing. Loneliness was a crazy thing; it cut so deep, Katie thought her wounds would never heal.

Dear Scott,

I’m glad my letter got to you! Well, I was sure that it would, the prison is good at things like that. I’d like to say thank you for being so honest with me, but let me assure you, I am not writing you out of pity. That being said, it’s my turn to be honest with you. I’m writing because I’m lonely. I have family and friends, but I still feel something is missing from my life, so I thought I’d reach out to someone else. Maybe this is to fill a void, or maybe I’m a bit selfish to place my loneliness on you, either way, I am glad you accepted me as your pen pal.

Let me answer a few of your questions. I’m twenty-five years old and from Virginia. I went to college for Nursing, but left and decided to pursue Journalism. I graduated from William and Mary two years ago, after receiving my Masters. You asked what I do for fun . . . that’s a good question, and I’m not sure how to answer it. I’m a bit of a loner, so normally I’ll read a book, see a movie, or go on a long ride up and down the mountain. Boring, right? I guess it is, but honestly I sort of like it. It’s nice to sit down on a cold night and read a good mystery.

Do you read? If so, who is your favorite author? I am obsessed with crime writer, Karin Slaughter. My first novel from her was Triptych. I finished it in one night! Last night it was freezing, and the snow was falling fast and hard. I cuddled up by the fireplace and read two books.

Also, I’ve been thinking about something. We are never going to meet. I don’t mean that to be rude or cruel, but in reference to your question about my looks, I think it’s best if we both keep that to ourselves. Here is my reason for this: I enjoy this anonymity.

I’m not perfect, so if you tell me you have a million tattoos, body piercings, and all that jazz, it might make me feel different and maybe even a bit nervous about writing you. Please don’t be offended. I’ve decided that you look like Colin Farrell and you have an Irish accent! Honestly, it doesn’t matter what we look like. We’ll never meet, but I will continue to send you letters and get to know you. Does that make sense? I hope it does.

 

Yours truly,

Kristen

Incarcerated 

(can be read as a stand alone)

Inevitable BK 1

Happy Halloween | Teaser Tuesday | In The Dark

“Where in the hell did you learn to throw knives?” Irish asked, counting her knives in the tree. She’d made all of her throws and to add insult to injury, she landed each of her knives on top of his, except one—the one he’d missed.

He’d actually lost the wager.

            She sat down close to the mouth of the cave and looked to him. “A race nearly extinct, remember? When you are in hiding, you learn how to protect yourself. Plus, there wasn’t much else to do.”

Her words sobered him up a bit. He was still amazed at her ability, but he felt like hell for the reason she’d ever needed to learn in the first place. Her kind was hunted and killed off by his kind in the past.

“Now,” she looked up at him, “you’ll teach me to kiss.”

            “I—uh . . .” He scratched his head and backed away.

            “You, uh . . . promised.” Her eyes narrowed. “Is that the kind of man you are? One who reneges on a deal?”

He hadn’t thought she’d win the bet. Crossing his arms over the expanse of his chest, he huffed. “Why do you need to learn now?” He gestured around. “Here of all places?” Maybe he could stall. Just the thought of his lips on hers had him ready to explode in his pants. But she was firmly on the Hands Off Irish list. The first reason being, she was promised to another man. The second reason being, she was untouched.

            “Why not now? There’s nothing else to do but wait.”

He took a deep breath and wondered if it made him a bastard to want to be the man who taught her to kiss. There was something erotic about kissing. Irish had to banish that idea from his head because there was no damned way he was teaching her to kiss. “You should be preparing for what’s to come.”

            Her blonde brow arched. “If that knife competition didn’t convince you I’m capable of taking care of myself, then maybe you forgot when you first saw me on the isle, when I had just gutted a man from his privates to his neck.” She raised her chin, daring him to say anything.

            “Lesson one: If you want a man to kiss you, you don’t talk about slicing anyone’s balls.” She nodded emphatically and he didn’t have the heart to tell her he was only kidding. He pushed off the wall, strode over, and sat down in front of her.

She was biting her lips—most likely a nervous gesture—and while he found it endearing, he reached up and pulled the puffy lip from between her teeth.

            “Lesson two: Don’t damage the goods.” He smiled when she blushed. “Come here,” he whispered and she obliged. “Will you sit on my lap?” For him, the best part of a kiss was the intimacy it offered. Having her close would increase the heat of her body against his.

Irish needed to cool down his libido, reminding himself, this is just a lesson. It would go no further than a kiss.

She nodded and settled in his lap.

“Okay, here we go.” He’d never had to instruct a kiss, figuring that kissing was something so natural, the two people would find a rhythm all their own. So, he’d try it that way. He leaned in and her eyes went wide. Pulling back, he asked, “What’s wrong?”

            “I thought you were going to teach me.” In the waning sunlight, her eyes sparkled and her pink cheeks flamed.

He smiled. “Kissing is natural. I can’t really instruct you through the mechanics because my mouth is going to be on yours. I want you to place your lips on mine, then follow my movements. Do what comes naturally to you. If you want to stop, just pull away.” When she nodded her understanding, he leaned in part way, waiting for her to lean in as well.

            The first soft touch of her lips rocketed him out of his body. He slanted his head and applied more pressure, and like he thought, her natural reaction was to slant her head in the opposite direction. With a smooth motion, Irish pushed his tongue past the barrier of her lips. She gave a small gasp in surprise, but quickly copied his movements.

Her hand came up and nails scored his scalp, causing him to delve deeper. His fangs extended, scraping over her tongue, drawing a small bead of blood. He sucked on the tip of her tongue and she moaned so loud, it reverberated off the cave walls. Irish realized his hesitance to teach her had not come from anything other than his fear of losing control. Because he wanted more than a simple kiss.

Ophelia’s hands moved to his shoulders, holding him in a vice grip. Her body, hot against his, moved of its own accord. Soon, she moved her legs to straddle his waist, and he could scent her arousal. Irish was primed and ready, grabbing onto her ass to hold her firmly on his lap. It was then, an unwarranted thought blasted into his mind. Ophelia was to be queen, and when she hit that throne, she needed to be a virgin.

That thought sobered him up real quick. He pulled away. “Lesson over.” Grunting, he gently moved her off his lap.

            “Wait, why?” She stood with him. “Was it wrong?” He felt her hand on his shoulder.

            “No, it was all right—too right.” He moved to the mouth of the cave. “We need to head out. The sun is low and we can get there in time to meet the boat.” He didn’t look back at her. Yes, he was an ass for pushing her away without explanation, but hell, if he got hard again with no sort of release, his balls would explode in his pants.

When he did turn, she was removing the shirt he’d given her to wear. “What are you doing?” he asked in a panicked voice.

            She eyed him for a moment then frowned. “I’m going to shift. I’ll move faster this way, and my senses will be sharper. Plus, you said I could go to the compound with you and I am better when I’m in wolf form.” Her words were sharp and her tone was clipped.

Good, he needed her to forget the kiss and focus on the task at hand. He turned just as she pulled that tattered dress up and over her lithe body. “Do you—uh—remember the plan?” he asked. At her silence, he turned to find a large wolf with silky fur the same hue as a stormy night’s sky and an endearing little patch of pure white fur under her jaw. “Damn,” he whispered.

Moving forward, he reached out to the wolf. He’d seen her as a wolf before, but each time was as amazing as the first. She nuzzled his hand when he pet her. “I won’t be able to understand you, but I know you can hear me.” He knelt down in front of her. “If anything happens to me, or if shit hits the fan, run.” She gnashed her teeth and shook her head. “Hey,” he reached up and caressed her soft fur, “for me, please. Your people will need you to lead them back to the coast.”

He couldn’t go off into this mission worrying about her, but as he stood and headed out into the night, he knew some of them weren’t making it home. He could only pray it didn’t include Ophelia.

CHECK OUT THE FREE START OF THE SERIES ON AMAZON!!

Few Are Angels | Excerpt

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That bed, that room, or even that house didn’t feel like home, though I’d been there many times before during past summers and long weekends with my parents.  The thought of them left a bad taste on my tongue. I swallowed several times, but the bitter taste lingered, growing stronger. I pushed the memory away and stored it in the back of my mind, the place where I locked all of the things that I couldn’t handle and the things that I refused to remember.  That was where their memory would have to stay. I couldn't keep thinking about them because then the voice would start, and with the voice would come the visions and the sickness.  I sat up in bed and looked around for what seemed like the hundredth time. I knew it was late because it was pitch black outside, but I didn’t look at the clock.  I hadn’t slept a full five hours in weeks, and I didn't have anywhere to be in the morning, so time seemed irrelevant. I stayed in this odd fugue state where I was aware of all that was around me, and even more aware that none of it mattered anymore.  I floated through the days on autopilot, waiting for a situation where a reaction was expected from me, and remembering the “normal” way to react. Pretending was a chore that I wasn’t sure I could handle much longer.   The room was so familiar. I knew it like the back of my hand. Why did it seem a million miles away? Or like a dream? Alex and I had spent plenty of time hanging out and growing up together, discovering who we were and where we wanted to go when we were grown.  To us, that meant when we turned eighteen. And now that I’d “grown up,” the disappointment that was my life was more unsettling than anything. The realization of where I was versus where I should have been was a relentless headache I couldn’t remedy. Why did this room seem so cold and alone?  A summer escape became a prison, and a constant reminder of a past that I could never return to.

Normally, my father would be down the hall snoring, and my mother would be in the kitchen with Mrs. Carlton giggling over vodka martinis.  Alex and I would be watching old reruns of Miami Vice.  The memory of my parents crept up my spine and into my heart, causing it to spasm in pain. My lungs felt as though they were filled with water.  I gasped for air, trying to catch my breath, wondering if I would always feel the physical pain at the memory of my mother and father, wondering if the pain would be all I would have left of them in the years to come. In my eyes, memories equaled pain.

I stood up and bent over, putting my face into my sweatpants, and tried to take deep breaths. That had always worked when I panicked at summer camp because I was homesick, feeling out of place amongst the kids who didn’t understand why I didn't want to go swimming in the lake or horseback riding, why I wanted to go home instead.  My stomach heaved. I regretted skipping dinner. Nothing was worse than dry heaving as my body tried to purge itself.

I was sure that I couldn't throw up memories.  Even if I could, I didn't think it would matter; I’d still be full of them. Suddenly, I realized what was happening. I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it, but I didn't want to ride it out for fear that someone would find me passed out in the morning.   The usual wave of nausea that came with my hallucinations slithered into my belly.  My head felt as if it were on fire, which caused my vision to blur and darken.  Everyone thought I was better, that I was cured or close to it. I ran to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face, hoping that I could shock my body into being normal—free from visions and voices. But it was no use.

“Come to me,” the voice whispered, so close to my ear that I whirled around, thinking someone was in the bathroom with me. The voice. I fought the urge to do as it commanded: follow it into the darkness. My tears threatened to explode, but I held them back. I refused to break down at the Carltons’.  They weren’t going to send me back to the hospital.  The voice and hallucinations weren’t my fault; I couldn’t control them. 

My headache still raged, and from experience, I knew it had not yet reached its crescendo.  I gripped the porcelain sink and squeezed my eyes shut, praying for the pain to subside. My mother had once said that pain was a gift.  It reminded you that you were still alive, and surviving the pain would only make you stronger.  Did she feel that way as she lay dying in the wreckage that night? The thought of my parents’ ordeal did not help. I knew that if I had a full on attack, I would be dragged into a hallucination and they’d find me in the morning, unconscious on the floor. That’d earn me a trip right back to Dr. Lithe and Nurse Laura, with her needles and her pills that made you feel nothing and sleep for days. 

My hands began to ache from the tight grip I had on the sink. When I removed them, they felt stiff and cold.  The voice hadn’t spoken again, but I could hear what sounded like someone scratching at the bathroom door.  I froze. I thought to call out and ask who was there, but an intruder wouldn’t announce himself. 

Would it be so bad if someone killed me?  I was a whack job. I’d flipped out in school when I’d had the vision, the one of my death. They sent me to Ocean Trace to talk to a shrink, and like an idiot, I had confessed my vision to the doctor. A man’s voice demanding that I return to him. My own death. That day I became the fragile girl that everyone was afraid to be around, scared they would set off another episode.  Finally, it was decided that I would go to an inpatient care facility for seventy-two hours, which turned into three weeks.  That was what happened when you let people in, when you told the truth.  It was my fault, and I realized then that keeping my mouth shut and keeping people at a safe distance was for the best. 

I shook my head and rotated my shoulders, trying to pull myself from the fog the pain left behind. Acting braver than I truly felt, I decided that if the person who belonged to the voice in my skull was outside that door waiting to kill me, then so be it.  I couldn’t live like that anymore.  I grabbed the handle, tightened my grip, and wrenched the door open, fully expecting to see a man in a black ski mask with a knife or a gun, but was instead greeted by Max, the Carltons’ pet husky.  His big eyes were lined with what seemed to be worry, or maybe just the need to pee. Since my headache was receding and my stomach was no longer rolling, I decided that some fresh, cold air would be good for my nerves.

The Carltons lived in Northern Virginia along the near-dead Elmwood forest. The mountains there were vast. In Virginia Beach, where I’d moved from, the “mountains” were no more than a few rolling hills. The mountains in Cedar Grove were beautiful, but I had no interest in exploring them as I had during summer and winter breaks in the past. Nothing was the same. Everything seemed smaller. The mountain trails and fresh water streams didn't hold the wonder that they once had.  It was October and already freezing. I slipped into my coat and the new snow boots the Carltons had bought me before I arrived. I tiptoed down the stairs as quietly as I could, Max following closely. I headed out the front door, nearly tripping as Max bounded out and ran straight to the abandoned shed to the left of the house.  As soon as I stepped outside the, cold Northern Virginia wind slapped me in the face, doing just what I hoped it would: waking me up completely. 

 I looked ahead and saw that Max had made his way to the back of the shed.  I prayed he would make his business short so I didn’t freeze to death.  The porch light didn't reach beyond the front of the shed, and Max had disappeared behind it.  The snow covered half of my boots, and I hadn’t thought to wear gloves. I soon regretted going out with just boots and a coat.  I wasn’t in Virginia Beach where we got an inch or two of snow every ten years or so.  In the short time I’d been in Northern Virginia, more than four inches of snow had fallen.  I waited, and when Max didn't come back, I made my way closer to the shed, calling his name as quietly as I could, but with the cold and my growing annoyance, it was getting harder to care if I woke anyone in the house.  I didn’t have to worry about neighbors.  The closest ones were about four miles away.

“Max!”  I whispered fiercely against the icy wind. I hoped that even though he was a dog, he would hear the displeasure in my voice and comply.   The wind moaned quietly, creaking the brittle frozen branches of the trees around me.  My snow boots sounded as if they were crunching glass beneath them. Great, he’ll hear me before I get to him, and he’ll run. I had only wanted to get some fresh air, not relocate to the front yard.  I walked faster, letting my anger quell the fear I felt creeping along my skin as I neared the shed. It was darker back there because the light from the porch didn’t reach that far.  The contrast created an obscure object in front of me.  My vision seemed blurred again, and the shed looked like a giant ink spot, dark and ominous. Normally, I would have turned around and gone the other way when my nerves skittered under my skin, but I didn't care anymore.  As I neared the blurred ink spot, I almost wished a fox or wolf would be back there to eat me and put me out of my misery. I squashed that thought; the doctor called them “self-destructive thoughts.” I had scoffed at him when he said it, but I wondered why I’d been having so many recently.  The thought of something dangerous back there sent a shiver down my spine, and I trembled.  I kept walking. It felt right, as if I were meant to be there. I was being pulled closer and closer to something familiar, a feeling that I couldn’t understand. 

I heard Max growling before I rounded the corner, but not even that stopped me from moving forward.  I understood that something wasn’t right, maybe even dangerous, but my legs wouldn’t comply with fear’s plea to turn and leave. My stomach did a few nervous flips, and my heart raced, leaving me lightheaded and dizzy, but I kept walking. I placed a hand on the side of the shed for balance.  I felt as if I were being swallowed by the murky darkness, never to find my way out again.  My hands and legs were numbing and stiffening from the freezing cold, but I ignored the pain and continued.  It seemed as though I would never reach my destination until, rounding the corner, I heard what sounded like my name being called behind me.  My brain wanted to comply and turn around to see who it was; however, my feet had other plans. Max growled again. My heart threatened to beat up into my throat and out of my body. I held onto the shed with frozen fingers, trying not to collapse into the snow. My legs and feet had gone numb, and my head was a balloon slowly floating above me. I heard my name again, but closer.  Max finally came around from behind the shed and headed to the voice behind me. As I slowly slid to the frozen ground, I saw he had a red smudge on his gray-black muzzle. Max blurred, and my vision flickered, then went black. I didn’t even feel the snow as I fell face first into it.


#TeaserTuesday

#TeaserTuesday

Two days of isolation with Logan in his hotel room seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. While he’d only left once for a meeting with his lawyer and PO, Katie had used that time for some well-needed rest. She didn’t want to leave, and she’d even offered to pay for some additional days, but Logan had flat out refused her money saying he wasn’t going to cost her a cent—ever. Katie was pleased and disappointed by his declaration, but he was right. He needed to get back home, and the faster he did, the faster he could come back to her.