And then there were three...Indelible

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A buzzing noise consumed Trent’s ears. The more he tried to wake himself from his dark state, the more a burning sensation flared in his chest. Unfamiliar voices rose and fell, his name called over and over. Trent searched for one sound, one name, one person, but instead found darkness.

On his second attempt to rise, Trent caught the familiar scent of blood. A light touch on his arm, and a soft, unfamiliar voice, coaxed him to open his eyes. This time, it was much easier. Bright lights blurred his vision, and the burning sensation came back in full force.

      “There you are,” a soft voice sounded from the left.

Trent slowly turned his head to gaze into the eyes of a pale woman. Her tender smile and bright gaze filled his vision, blocking the bright light that’d nearly blinded him before.

“Nice to finally see those beautiful eyes of yours.”

Trent heard a beeping sound, and realized it was a heart monitor.

“What’s your pain level?” the woman asked as she lifted the sheets covering him.

Trent looked down as best he could, then tried to lift the arm that didn’t burn to touch the one that felt as if it’d been set on fire. He tried to speak, but the sounds his mouth made were far from words. A gruff grunt, then a coughing whine fell from his lips.

      “Okay, I’ll take that as an eight?” The woman covered him up and picked up a white object. A thin tube ran from the white object in her hand to the bag on a pole beside him. Trent knew what it was called, he knew what was about to happen, but his brain wouldn’t let him form the right words to object. He didn’t want to sleep again. He wanted Teal.

The woman clicked the button, and Trent went flying. The warm sensation started in his arm and made its way throughout his whole body. He fought to stay awake, as he struggled to remember what’d happened. He opened his mouth to speak, to ask the woman to find Teal, but the black depths took him before he had a chance.

      The third time Trent woke, his mind quickly filled him in—Shayla, Jake, Teal . . . and a gunshot. In seconds, Trent remembered everything. Eyes still closed, he replayed the memory of that night. The wild look in Jake’s eyes, and the horror in Teal’s as he fell to the ground.

His eyes opened as soft skin met his, moving comfortingly back and forth across his arm. Once again blinded by the light, Trent spoke the first thing his brain thought to say.

      “T—teal?”

A gasp sounded before his baby’s dark eyes and beautiful face filled his vision.        Teal covered his mouth with her lips, stifling a sob. “Oh my God, baby?”        

      He winced when he tried to move. “Where?”

      “Do you need meds?” She lifted up the white object that’d put him out before.

      “No,” he gasped out through pain. He didn’t want to sleep again. He only wanted to hear her voice and know that she was okay.

Her wailing sobs grew so loud that Trent barely heard the door fly open. Seconds later, Logan stood above him. He took Teal in his arms and held her. Trent’s eyes furrowed at the idea of Logan soothing her.

      “Mother fucker. You scared the piss out of us.” Logan pulled Teal closer as her wailing grew louder. Trent loved his best friend, but he should be the one comforting his woman. The pain in his arm and chest was nothing compared to the ache shredding his heart.

      “Ple—please, baby,” Trent could barely think through the pain, “come here.”

Teal slowly turned to meet his eyes, the pain in her gaze breaking him. Her eyes narrowed as she observed him. “You lied. You do hurt.” She left Logan’s embrace and picked up a white object and pressed the button.

This time, Trent didn’t fall into a blissful sleep, but his pain did ebb, and his mind sharpened a bit.

      “Feel better?” Her words sounded louder now that the buzzing in his head was gone.

He tapped the spot beside him and waited as Teal cautiously, minding his tubes and wires, sat beside him. Logan moved closer as well, his stress-muddled face a sight for sore eyes.

      Glancing around the bed, Teal adjusted herself. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

      “I don’t give a fuck. Get over here.” He had to touch her, to feel her skin against his. Though he was wrapped in bandages and covered from shoulder to feet in a thin hospital blanket, Trent felt the moment her warm body made contact with his.

Through the haze of drugs and the confusion saddling his brain, Trent pulled his woman close. His left arm was so swollen and heavy it wouldn’t move, but he managed to grip her with his right arm. He took in her scent, noting the mild hospital soap and his laundry detergent. How long had he been here that she had time to shower and come back?

Trent searched for Logan in the room, his questioning gaze was all his friend needed.

      “You slipped into a coma after you first arrived,” he explained.

Trent could feel Teal shaking in his arms. He rubbed her back as best he could, as her tears soaked his hospital gown. He closed his eyes, hot tears scalding his eyelids, fighting for escape.

“You lost a lot of blood, and they weren’t sure if you’d keep your arm below your elbow.”

Trent couldn’t see what Logan was talking about, but he could feel it. The burning sensation was gone, but Trent couldn’t move any part of it. He couldn’t even wiggle his fingers. Panic welled in his chest, as he thought about what his life would amount to if he couldn’t use his dominant hand.

      “Calm, brother,” Logan soothed. “They fixed you right up. You’ll just have to hit up some physical therapy and shit.” He stepped forward and reached out. Placing a hand on Teal’s back, he rubbed, surprising the fuck out of Trent.

      Logan then knelt down in front of her and gently pulled her chin up. “You promised me when he woke up you would eat.”

Trent had never heard his friend’s voice take on such a tender tone with anyone but Katie and the babies.

      Teal lifted her head, her gaze fully on Trent. “I’m not leaving you.”

      “You made me a deal after I lied for you, Teal.” Logan’s tone was firm, but still held a soothing quality.

Teal rested her forehead on Trent’s chest. Her fatigue and stress so evident, Trent ached for her. He glanced around the room in search of a cot. Instead, he found a meal had been brought into the room while he was out cold.

“Baby,” he mumbled, hating how reedy and thin his voice sounded. “Go eat that food over there.” He didn’t want to let her go, but if Logan was insisting, it was because Teal had been denying herself.

Logan pulled the tray around and placed it in front of the bed. Neither man spoke until Teal had opened the tray and taken her first bite.

      Trent tried to get comfortable by moving, but pain stayed his body. “Shit, where’s Katie?”

Logan groaned and rubbed a hand down his face and Teal answered.

      “He wouldn’t let her come.” 

      “Not right away,” Logan jumped in, looking ashamed when Trent glared at him. “Fuck, man. I get a call in the middle of the night. Teal is screaming and crying about you getting shot and Jake trying to rape her.” Logan thrust his hands through his hair. His skin had gone milk white, and his eyes held such sorrow, Trent had to look away. “Man, you don’t know what it felt like to get that call, yet be so damn far away. I couldn’t help, and I just knew if anything happened to her, your ass wouldn’t survive it. I couldn’t bring Katie into that.”

Trent watched Teal as her fork froze in mid-air.

“And then when I got here, I couldn’t get her to eat or drink for two days. She passed out twice and had to be hooked up to get fluids in her.”

He growled. “       Teal.” Her name was all he needed to say.

She glanced sheepishly back at him as she shoved chocolate pudding into her mouth. Trent reached up and placed a hand on her side. She leaned into his touch before pulling back and continuing to eat.

      “So, why isn’t she here now?” Trent asked.

      Logan released a long breath. “She’s on the way. Jan-Erik has the girls.” Logan made his way to Trent’s tray and picked up the water pitcher. “I couldn’t have her here. Not until I was able to figure out what was happening.” Filling a plastic cup, he brought it to Trent.

      “What is this lie you told for her?”

Logan placed the cup to his lips, and sniggered. “That this is Mrs. Teal Lofton-Reed.”

Trent nearly choked on his water, causing Teal to eye him warily.

      A thought slapped him in the face a second later. “Where are my pants?”

      Teal’s gaze narrowed. “Screw the pants. Why did being my husband make you choke on water?”

Logan’s soft laughter had Trent wanting to bust his lip open. “Nothing, baby, but why’d you have to lie?” He eyed Logan as he made his way to a pile of clothes on a chair in the corner.

      “They wouldn’t let me in.” Taking a sip of her water, she turned to face him. “When I first got here, I was so out of it I was having a hard time speaking.”

      “She was in shock,” Logan added, coming back after pocketing the ring box.

      “They wouldn’t let me near you, and kept asking about next of kin. Logan was still on the phone with me, telling me to hand the phone off to a doctor.” Teal rubbed her face, a lethargic glaze filling her eyes. “He told them we’d just gotten married and that I was to make all the decisions for your health if I were able.”

      “But she wasn’t,” Logan muttered.

      “No, so Logan did. He was the one who made the call for the surgery to save your arm, and he also got in touch with a plastic surgeon to make sure your dick hand stayed pretty.”

Trent and Logan both burst into laughter at the inside joke Logan had revealed to Teal.

      A nurse walked in just as Trent yawned. She gave a disapproving glare at Teal on the bed. Fuck that, Trent thought. He tangled his hand in hers and held her tight.

      “Mr. Reed, look at you, wide awake.” Her chipper voice sounded familiar, but Trent was having a hard time placing it; and the longer he fought to grab the memory, the foggier his head became.

      Clearing his throat several times, Trent waited until the nurse was no longer fussing with the machines. “How long have I been here?”

      “I am about to call the doctor in.” The nurse offered Teal what he thought was a warm smile. “May I?” She gestured to Trent’s side, where Teal sat. “I need to check his IV.”

Teal released Trent’s hand and shifted from the bed. The nurse picked up Trent’s hand and inspected the line leading to the IV drip.

      “You’ve been here for three days,” Teal answered. “After your first surgery, you didn’t wake up for a while, and then you had a seizure.” Her thin and solemn voice caused his heart to quake in his chest.

      “That is normal, and the doctor warned them it could happen.” The nurse placed Trent’s hand back down on the bed. “You also woke up rather fast after surgery. And you spoke one name and one name only.” The nurse’s gaze turned to Teal. “I find it quite amazing the way a love for a person can make a person fight through pain and fear to come out of it calling for their loved one.” She straightened Trent’s covers. “I’ve seen it quite a few times, and I’m still astonished at the fact that sometimes love cures faster than modern medicine.”

Trent watched as Teal’s eyes watered, and she held onto Logan as if he’d been her lifeline while Trent was unable. She leaned into his friend, her shallow breathing and glazed eyes revealing the fact she was about to have a panic attack.

      “Baby, come to me.” His voice still sounded weak, but Trent knew all too well the signs of an attack.

Logan led her to the bed and placed her hand in his right. He yanked her down and rocked her as best he could, murmuring loving words in her ear. He waited until her shaking subsided and breathing evened out before he spoke.            “Give me the box.”

      Reaching into his back pocket, Logan pulled out the velvet box. He leaned forward and handed it over. “Here you go.”

      Trent took it in his hand. “Teal, baby, lift up.” She didn’t make any moves to sit up.

      The nurse’s eyes widened when she saw the box. “I’m going to grab Dr. Pyzalski and bring him in to see you.” She headed out of the room quickly, no doubt knowing where the conversation was headed.

      “Lift up, baby.”

      Slowly, Teal lifted her fatigued eyes. She needed sleep, food, and Trent by her side.

Trent tapped her back with the box and waited as she turned around. When she froze in his arms, Trent knew she understood what was happening.                 “I thought I was going to wait and let you get settled in . . .”

      Teal’s head whipped around so fast, Trent had to reach out to steady her.           “Are you serious right now?” She turned back and took the box from his hand.

Trent wished he could open it and get on one knee, but his ass was going to be glued to the bed for a few more days.

As if reading his mind, Logan came around and pulled the box from her hand. Getting on one knee, he opened the box, presented it to her and waited. The sight was hilarious, as his best friend was on bended knee with Trent’s ring in hand.

      “Teal,” Trent called. Her bright eyes filled with tears as she looked to him. “I thought to wait. But why?” He lifted his hand until it made contact with her soft face. “Will you fucking marry me?”

She burst into tears. She’d been through so much over the past few days. Trent wanted to make sure she knew this had been his plan long before today. It wasn’t his fear of death that had him proposing, but his love for her. “What is the point in waiting when you already know the only person you’ve ever truly loved is right in front of you?”

      “Yes.” Her single word stopped all of his thoughts from spiraling. “Yes, I will fucking marry you.”

Logan stood and pulled the ring from the box. Trent watched as his friend pushed the ring onto her finger. He couldn’t have asked for a better friend.

      “I was told you were already his wife.” A tall, slender man in a white coat entered the room. With a stern smile on his lips, he lifted Trent’s chart and spoke about blood clots, comas, and all things unimportant to Trent.

All he could do was stare into his fiancée’s eyes; her beautiful face plastered with a sappy smile.

      “Teal Lofton-Reed,” she spoke in a joking tone.

Trent wanted to slap her big ass bottom, but only had one hand free. He wrapped his fingers in her hair and yanked her down.   “Fuck that, woman. Just Reed—Teal motherfuckin’ Reed,” he said just before he kissed her deeply.

 

The next volume in the series release soon! Preorder below!

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To let go, forgiveness is necessary. 
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*can be read as a stand alone
 
This Prince Charming doesn't need a kiss...he needs a bite. A seductive Blood Prince tale from USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Blackstream!
 
AN ALPHA WEREWOLF FIGHTING A POWERFUL CURSE
 
A ferocious warrior and dedicated prince, Etienne has protected his kingdom with tooth and claw his entire life. Now he's going to lose it all. A witch's "blessing" is stealing the beast from within him, dooming him to become a human by the next full moon. Despair and futile rage threaten to destroy him, until he discovers the key to his salvation in a young beauty whose gentle nature coaxes him back from the brink. 
 
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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?

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Winner: Beverly Hills Book Awards for New Fiction 2015

PREORDERS OF THE MONTH

Where Teal and Trent began...

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If that redneck, trailer trash, piece of shit didn’t get his ass to this rehearsal dinner on time, Teal was liable to drive to the cabin and force him there by gun point. Those were her thoughts two hours ago while everyone sat around waiting for the best man to show up.

Trent was so late, they’d eventually replaced him with a waiter and gone through the wedding ceremony, twice without Trent. Granted, walking down the aisle didn’t take much practice, but Teal wanted things to run smoothly and that only happened with practice. The minor hiccups so far were nothing and if the wedding continued to go this smoothly, Teal planned to send Katie a large ass bill for putting up with the headache.

Now that the rehearsal dinner was coming to a close, the drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served and Teal was ready to get a drink in hand and out of her heels. “I wonder if we even need Trent. The waiter did just fine,” she muttered under her breath.

“What was that?” Didi asked as she sidled up next to her. She was fumbling through her clipboard, checking off things from the list Teal had given her.

Suddenly, the room quieted enough to hear heavy footfalls entering the room. Teal turned around in her chair to see Trent appear. His massive body demanded attention she refused to give. While everyone else stared and women fawned, Teal stood and made her way to the drink cart. Snatching up a glass of wine, Teal took a long sip and went looking for Katie. When she found her in the corner, the bride seemed worse for wear.

“Damn girl, what’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing, just nauseated.”

Teal called over a waiter with a tray of food and searched for something to help settle Katie’s stomach. She’d already ordered the food before she found out about the baby and Teal wasn’t sure Katie’s stomach could handle any of it. Instead, she asked the waiter to grab her a Ginger Ale and a cup of ice.

“I’m fine, really,” Katie insisted as Teal led her to a chair. “I wonder what kept him?” She motioned to the corner where Logan and Trent stood.

Trent seemed to be explaining why he was late and the look on Logan’s face made Teal believe that whatever story he was spinning, Logan was buying. As they sat and watched, waiting to hear his excuse for themselves, Jayden, one of Katie’s bridesmaids came over and plopped down beside them.

Fanning herself, she asked, “Who is that tall, thick, yummy glass of milk?” The sly smile on her face made Teal roll her eyes.

“Girl, you’re married.” Katie admonished.

With a smack of the lips, Teal added her two cents, “While I don’t condone calling that wildebeest a tall glass of milk, I have to say that being married doesn’t make you blind.”

She chanced an appraising glance at him and hated herself for liking what she saw. His black thermal hugged his thick chest tight enough to reveal muscles that Teal would pretend she didn’t find attractive. His distressed washed jeans pulled taut over thick legs and as she made her way up those powerful legs her eyes stopped at the package nestled between his legs. Hell no.

Jayden threw a hand up. “Preach! I’m just saying, being married doesn’t make you asexual. And Logan’s brother over there—”

“Childhood friend,” Katie corrected, just as Teal had opened her mouth.

“Well, whatever.” Jayden pointed in the direction of Logan and Trent. The women followed her finger to where the men stood. “Both of them look like big ass treats. Just plain yummy!”

Katie laughed and Teal took a swig of her wine. It would make sense that Teal was attracted to Trent. She always attracted the emotionally unavailable, unmotivated assholes—assholes being the main word there. Hence the reason she was attending Katie’s wedding alone. Another gulp of wine passed her lips.

“The dark haired one, as you know, is mine. And the blond . . .” Katie’s voice trailed off when Logan looked over to the table with narrowed eyes. “What the hell are they talking about?” Concern laced her voice.

Teal looked over again and she saw it too. Logan’s face was red and his fists were balled at his sides, his shoulders bunched and he was radiating anger.

“No. God, no.” As Katie jolted up and out of her chair, confusion swept over Teal. “Dammit. I haven’t told him yet! He came back to the room last night and started kissing on me and I got swept up.” Katie raced over to Logan.

When Teal finally understood what Katie meant, she stood ready to follow Katie as she sprinted across the room, but as she propelled past the table her red wine glass spilled and tumbled off the table nearly hitting the floor.

“Shit.” Teal cursed fiercely as she made the catch.

Jayden stood. Reaching for a few napkins she handed them to Teal. “What is going on over there?” she asked, but Teal ignored her not willing to tell Katie’s business.

Grabbing the napkins from her, she blotted up the spilled wine. Thank God she’d convinced Katie away from white tablecloths, but white tablecloths were the least of her concerns right now. Glancing around the room, Teal found and signaled a waiter. Pointing to the mess, she mouthed, “Get this,” and then added a “please” for good measure. Let him get it.

Turning around, she saw that Logan’s anger didn’t seem to be directed at Trent, but at Katie who was holding her stomach in the most telling way.

Damn, that Trent. “Fuck!” Teal struggled to keep her anger at bay. Normally, she’d have exploded in a flurry of curses and threats, but it was taking all of her to hold it back. She was sure that Trent had told Logan what he’d heard in the car from the smirk on his face to the devastation on Katie’s.

Teal made a B-line straight to Katie. By the time she’d gotten over to them, the damage was done. She placed a soothing hand on Katie’s back. Her friend was shaking, but silent. As a matter of fact, everyone was silent.

Hesitantly, Teal spoke. “What’s going on?” She looked to Katie and then Logan, keenly ignoring Trent, who appeared satisfied by the friction he’d started.

Logan took a deep breath. The ire Teal had seen from the other side of the room had faded somewhat. “Katie, can I talk to you, alone?” His voice hard and unyielding, causing alarm for even Teal. He was mad and maybe even let down, but Teal was positive that the wedding was still on. Katie’s reasons for worry were sound, but in Logan’s defense, in a marriage, secrets could be a deal breaker.

Katie’s shoulders dropped and she nodded. Logan may have been upset, but Teal believed that he and Katie would work it out.

“This is what I was talking about.” Trent’s voice broke the silence.

Teal scanned the room hoping that the drama had gone unnoticed, but no such luck. She turned to Trent. Taking a breath she calmed her nerves and in the nicest voice she asked, “Can I talk to you in the lobby?”

She wasn’t sure if there were guests out there or not, but she knew for damned sure that most of them were in the main hall staring at them as she spoke. What Teal had to say needed minimal attention from innocent bystanders.

Like the smart ass he was, Trent motioned for Teal to go first. “Ladies and liars first.” He chuckled when she growled at him.

The lobby wasn’t empty, but it also wasn’t filled to the brim with wedding guests either. Teal turned to watch as Trent exited the main hall and stood in front of her. She assumed he meant to be imposing and impossibly large to the point that she would back down, but screw that. Teal had kept quiet long enough, she’d handled every issue with grace and sophistication, but ignoring it and letting it build up, caused a meltdown in her brain. Trent’s sideways smirk just added fuel to the already fever pitched fire.

“You redneck, inbred, cousin kissing piece of shit!” There, the smirk was gone and replaced by a scowl, but oh, Teal was far from finished. “Let me guess, did daddy touch you inappropriately? Did your last girl take your balls and lock ‘em up in a jar until Trent was a good boy and earned them back?”

Teal knew men like this. They were just like the miserable bitches she’d had to deal with her whole life. Daddy touched them so they used that as an excuse to fuck every man out there including hers. There was always some fucking excuse for misery to love company, but Teal wasn’t having that shit and if she had to boot Trent out of this wedding and play best man and maid of honor, that was just how that shit would have to go down.

“Why? What was it that made you come here and try to ruin your best friend’s wedding?” She threw up her air quote gesture as she said “best friend”. This was not how shit was supposed to go.

Trent’s scowl had faded, but Teal could see that her words had reached him, but not in the way she’d hoped.

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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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Conan by @KylieAHillman #BookBlitz

Conan
Kylie Hillman
(Black Shamrocks MC: First Generation #1)
Publication date: September 12th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

The first book in the brand-new spinoff from the Internationally Bestselling Black Shamrocks MC series is here.

“You know how the story ended. Now, it’s time to learn how it all began…”

Prospecting for the Black Shamrocks MC once Colin “Conan” Blake finished school was a no-brainer.

His best friends were prospecting.

His father was a ranking member.

Hell, every man he knew was part of the MC.

The only thing the Club wanted in return for a lifetime of brotherhood was unquestioning loyalty. It was that straightforward. Patching in meant he vowed to put the needs of the Black Shamrocks in front of everything else—even his own desires.

He thought it would be easy. He was certain nothing could come between him and his brothers.

That was until he met her.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

PROLOGUE

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things.” ~Ken Segall~

During my life, the whole twenty-two years I’ve graced this earth, I’ve learnt one thing. Rules are for other people. I’m a Blake; part of the Black Shamrocks MC, son of the Sergeant-At-Arms. The dictates of society that everyone else is forced to live by don’t apply to me.

I can do what I want when I want.

As long as it doesn’t affect the Club, I’m golden.

My days as a Prospect are numbered, I know that. It’s a no-brainer. The first generation of sons born in Australia are ready to patch in and learn what they need to do to continue our Club’s legacy. The granting of my membership into the brotherhood that binds the Shamrocks is guaranteed.

At least, I thought so.

Until I found myself on the wrong end of their oath.

Brotherhood before blood. Brotherhood before everything. They wanted me to put the brotherhood before her … and I wasn’t sure if I could.

Colleen McCormack called to the very thing that was changing me from a boy into a man. In her green eyes, strawberry-blonde hair, and hips that curved for days, I saw my future. I saw kids. I saw a responsibility for her happiness that made my soul sing with pride.

I saw the pair of us—old and grey, and still in love.

Too bad she was a Club slut.

According to my father, you shouldn’t give a fuck about the sluts. You fuck ‘em, you share ‘em, you laugh at ‘em when they keep trying to come back for more.

You don’t fall in love with them.

You definitely don’t ask them to marry you.

And, you one-hundred-percent don’t use your Club to exact revenge on the fucker who forced her into whoring without taking it to Church first.

I’d spent my life thinking that the rules didn’t apply to me.

Turns out that they did. Because once the Shamrocks are done putting out the fire I started with the still-smoking end of my gun, I’m going to feel the full-force of those rules.

Thankfully, she’s more than worth it.


Author Bio:

Kylie Hillman is the Australian author of the Internationally Bestselling Black Shamrocks MC series, Amazon #1 Bestselling NA/Sports novel, Brawl (Black Hearts MMA #1), and the recently completed Centrifuge Duet. She's currently working on the highly anticipated spin-offs to the Black Shamrocks MC series, writing the rest of the Black Hearts MMA series, and plotting her upcoming psychological thriller, Blood Oath.

She's also wife to a Harley-riding, boating and fishing, four-wheel driving, quintessential Aussie bloke and mum to two crazy, adorable, and eccentric kids. A Crohn's Disease sufferer and awareness campaigner, as well as an avid tea drinker, metal head, and math nerd, Kylie is known for lacing everything she says with sarcasm and inappropriate innuendo.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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#coverreveal | Mad Love by @shanavauthor

Mad Love
Shana Vanterpool
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: September 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

She was a disruption he never wanted.

He was everything she distrusted.

Klayton Caldwell owns a tattoo shop in Denver, Colorado, and has seen just about everything and met just about every kind of person. And they all have one thing in common. Ink.

He isn’t complicated. What you see is what you get. Sex? Always. Relationships? Never. Pleasantries? He doesn’t do that either. Those who can’t handle his mouth get inked elsewhere. Klayton holds everyone at a distance, even his friends. He doesn’t do “close.”

Until Madison ends up in his tattoo parlor, broken, afraid and alone. There’s something about her, and almost immediately, Klayton’s guard drops. Now, everything he knows about himself changes as his life begins to unravel.

Twenty-year-old Madison Hart’s future was taken from her the moment she was abducted from her college campus and held captive by a sicko. After escaping, she flees, running into a stranger. A stranger who shares a similar past. Someone who might be able to help her heal. If she’ll let him.

Madi comes into Klayton’s life like a storm. She’s beautiful. Pitiful. Dangerous. Her pain runs deep enough that she may never be able to talk about what she’s experienced. Her refusal to talk takes a level of patience Klayton’s not sure he has.

He must navigate her broken pieces by changing everything he is. Who he’s been all these years won’t work anymore. But Madi fights him, she fights herself. She fights the madness.

She refuses to talk. He can’t control his mouth. She doesn’t want to be touched. He can’t help himself. They don’t want love. Inside this storm, is a love so mad it might destroy them both.

MAD LOVE is book 1 in the Guns & Ink series from Shana Vanterpool. Look for the rest of the Guns & Ink series coming soon from Swoon Romance.

Book #2 Hard Love – Cat and Brando
Book #3 Bad Love – Isaiah & Bell

When love hurts, heals, begs, and steals, the only way to deal is to ink up.

Goodreads / Amazon

Ruin Me
Shana Vanterpool
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: September 12th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Crystal Gulf, Texas, breeds bad boys. Unapologetic when it comes to their desires, they destroy, they damage, and now they’re going to ruin …

Jona can’t see his lifestyle the same way after what happened to Hillary in Damage Me. Partying and getting high has amounted in only hurting himself and others. But he’s lost sober, and everything feels wrong without his one true love in his life.

Returning to Crystal Gulf was inevitable for Justine. The loss of her dreams sends her back to where they started. But there’s one silver lining, the same one that’s gotten her this far. Jona Kyles is waiting for her. The moment they reconnect, the destruction is painfully addictive.

It’s impossible not to pick up where they left off. After an impassioned night together, they didn’t expect it to come back and haunt them. Forced in the same reality, they must battle against their pasts and fears to give their second chance the future it deserves.

But some second chances come with scars …

Ruin Me, book three in the Crystal Gulf Series, is a powerful and raw second chance romance about forgiveness and growth, with a swoon-worthy bad boy and a heroine who is as strong as she is fierce.

Goodreads / Amazon


Author Bio:

When I walk into a book store I feel at home. When I smell the pages of a brand new book things make sense. When I read I am who I always wanted to be. I read to escape and I write so others can as well. My family, my actress dog Bella, coffee, and a steamy love story are a few of my most precious things.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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Teal and Trent - Teaser

SEPTEMBER 28th 2017

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Months after opening up his heart – and his past – Trent is looking forward to a future with his new bride and daughter. He’s recovered from the near-fatal shooting, hopes to purchase a farm for his beloved Teal, and is building a life free from the horrors of his past.

But the past has a bad habit of never staying buried, and now it’s coming after his entire family. Because Trent didn’t reveal all his secrets to Teal, and the deepest, darkest secret he’d always kept just out of reach is about to break the surface.

An old debt is being called in, one that will pull Trent back into the world of sex, lies, and murder he’s fought so hard to escape. And in the wake of devastating betrayals, he’ll discover who is truly loyal to him, as he agrees to pay that debt with an unforgivable crime.

Trent will stop at nothing to keep Teal and his daughter safe. Even if that means losing them forever.

Meet Ace, Gator, and Mutt from the First Sons of the Revolution MC, and enjoy the first chapter and first look at the spin-off featuring the badass, no-shit-taking men from Blackwater Rising!


Sensing Teal’s stress, he moved closer, wrapping her in his embrace as she pulled the phone to her ear and spoke. “Mother?” Her tone held no warmth, but the chilling air one would offer an unwanted guest or stranger. Though, behind the chill lay anger—sharp and deep-seated hate. Her ridged form melded easily into his, accepting the soothing embrace he offered.

Later, he’d ask why she still hadn’t told her mother the news about their marriage. Thinking on it now, it felt good to throw that in the woman’s face. Fuck, his mother-in-law was a straight up bitch.

His wife gripped the phone hard enough to crush it, her anxiety evident in her tense posture and attitude. Trent knew the fear a parent could wrought in a child. He knew the sense of fear his stepfather had placed in him with each swipe of the belt or cigarette burn. But for Teal, he sensed a different brand of fear. The kind of fear Trent had faced every day in his life—the fear of disappointing everyone around you.

            Trent massaged her shoulders, squeezing the tense muscles. The acrid stench of entrenched mother-daughter dysfunction settled in the air.

She sighed heavily. “I’m sorry.” Her tone brokering not a hint of apology. “The condo has new occupants now. You cannot stay there.” Trent had never heard hide nor hair from Teal’s mother in the time they’d been together. Though he had no example of the actions of a good mother, Trent knew that a mother who gave at least one fuck about her kid would pick up the phone in a year.

Teal had promised to inform her mother about their nuptials, but it’d seemed she failed to do so.

“Now isn’t a good time. We have—”

Trent glanced down at her silence.

Teal pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. “We don’t have room.” She stopped again, her body tensed.

Trent pulled back. Not even thinking to lower his voice, he asked, “What the hell does she want?” Annoyance flared to life when she ignored him and continued to speak, or rather be spoken to.

He recalled every memory of Teal’s references to her mother. Not a damned one of them gave him the cozy-grandma feel he’d hoped Emma Mae would experience. Between his own human incubator and Teal’s mother, Emma Mae didn’t stand a chance. But that was where he and Teal came in. It was their job to offer their daughter what no one had ever been able to offer them—unconditional love and protection.

Teal glanced up, ire burning bright in her eyes as her mother spoke, knowing whatever was being said would be something he’d loathe. What the fuck was going on in that conversation?

Teal shook her head. “Maybe for a day or two, but that’s all.”

            Teal threw her head back and sighed. “Mother, I am not jobless—per se.” Her harsh tone withered, transforming into one of uncertainty. She bit her lip. Finally, sick of not being able to hear both sides of the conversation, Trent pulled the phone from Teal’s hands and place the call on speaker.

            Preoccupied with the stress wrought by an overbearing mother, Teal didn’t complain. She merely sagged against the counter, her body shaking in anger as her mother spoke. “And, if you don’t have a job, it isn’t like you can’t accommodate your sister and I. Teal, always so damned head strong, even when you are in the wrong.” A strained sigh sounded through the line. “Despite our commonalties—”

“We couldn’t be more different.” Teal finished.

“Absolutely.”

Trent’s eyes narrowed at the woman’s words. He couldn’t have this nonsense in his house for a few reasons. The first being, Teal’s reaction to her mother’s phone call alone. It spoke volumes to the stress that having her in his home would cause his wife and child. Shit was already tense over that email and his endless hours of overtime.

Hell, he knew Teal wanted to take the job, even after her promise to stay at home with Emma for a year. He needed to nip this shit in the bud, and fast.

            “I just don’t think it is a good time now,” Teal said. “I have too much going on, and with the baby—” She placed her head in her hands as if she’d already admitted defeat to the request.

            A loud huff sounded. “You want to tell me what is really going on over there? And what damned baby are you talking about? Why is it Katie—a child who is not my own—the only one willing to talk to me about what is going on? Teal, what the hell have you done to your life?”

At that, Trent snatched the phone and ended the call. Thinking better of it, he turned the device off. He then turned and gripped the counter, using it to hold him up. “What the fuck was that about?” The anger he felt wasn’t directed at Teal, but at her mother.

            Placing her head in her hands, she turned to him. “I haven’t told her anything about our life yet.” Sheepishly, she looked up at him.

            Trent shrugged. “And why would you?”

Teal’s stressful gaze turned to one of confusion. Her dark eyes tracked over his face, no doubt in search of answers. Trent reached up and caressed her cheek. She leaned into him, causing his chest to expand at her acceptance of the comfort he had to offer. She always made his chest tighten with pride and his heart accelerate with need. Each touch felt more intense than the next.

He couldn’t let her feel bad about this. “Baby, since you’ve been with me, she’s called you how many times? She didn’t even know what was happening in your life until she needed a fucking place to stay.” He waited before he spoke again. Waited for the Teal he knew, the Teal she hid from the world to surface from behind that tough as nails exterior. “When you needed her most, where was she? You did shit on your own until you met me, and now we do things together, as a family.”

            Teal nodded. “I know, but you know just as well as I do how a mother can fuck with your mind.”

            He chuckled. “Don’t bring me into this.”

            Teal slapped his chest. “You know what I mean, Trent.”

And he did, he just didn’t want to get in to the heavy why of it. His past and her present were far from his mind when Teal pulled back to stretch. Arms raised over her head, her chest thrust out, pushing her heavy breasts front and center. Trent started to reach out and she batted his hand away.

“Explain something to me?”

Trent cocked a brow. “What?”

“How do you . . .” She bit her lip, struggling with what she wanted to say. “How did you get over having shitty parents?”

Okay, that took him right out of the nice haze the sight of her breast had put him in. Cock soft and a churning feeling in his gut, Trent took a receding step back.

Teal reached for him. “Hey, sorry. I know we don’t talk about this. I just—I guess I am just wondering how you dealt with it.”

He sighed. This was what he loved and hated about Teal. She took from him, things he’d never offered a soul—the truth about how his past had molded him.

“My mother is a completely different beast than yours. Polar opposites to be exact.” The vault of long repressed memories opened and his head filled with the pain and suffering of the past. “Where your mother forced the importance of a good education on you, mine reminded me that I was the reason she’d dropped out of high school.”

Trent shrugged, as if learning his mother despising him hadn’t carved a valley in his heart. Teal’s soft hand on his cheek jolted him from his thoughts and he focused on forgetting the fear, the past, the anger, and the lies. And now, all that was left was Teal and Trent, two souls who’d crashed into one another leaving a maelstrom in their wake.

“My mother played a role,” Teal said. “She was cruel and kind. You never really knew which monster you’d wake up to in the morning.”

“But she offered you kindness?” Trent had wished his mother knew the definition of the word.

Teal shook her head. “Not in the way you think. I’d have preferred her cruelty.”

Confused, Trent lifted her chin to meet her gaze. “Why?” Was the only word he could speak. He’d known the cruelty of his mother and felt it at his father’s hands. He couldn’t fathom anyone wanting such pain and suffering in their lives.

“Because, at least then, I knew where I stood. The mood swings and the mind games fucked me up. Every morning my sister and I would sit at the breakfast table waiting for my mother to come around the corner.”

Trent placed his hands over Teal’s arms and caressed her smooth skin as she spoke.

“It was misery waiting. My stomach would be in knots and my head dizzy.”

“But she never beat you?” Trent asked.

“No. But sometimes I wonder if it would have been better if she had hit us. Physical wounds heal, but the mental breakdown she put us through . . .”

Trent felt the goosebumps on her skin, along with a shudder that rolled through her body. He eased her closer. If he could, he would protect her from her past and the pain that littered her memories. “Any kind of abuse can leave emotional scarring, Teal. I don’t wish that on you or anyone else. This is why we took Emma Mae.” Placing his hands on either side of her, he said, “Do you want your mother in your life?”

She peeked up at him. “I’ve worked very hard to keep her away from me.” She glanced away, and tears filled her eyes.

He hated her tears, but he told himself that he would be the only person who ever saw them, and the one person to always soothe them.

The room seemed to almost darken and center on her; the only illumination, a greenish glow from the overhead microwave clock. The wind danced around outside the house slapping against the shutters sending falling swirls of dust up and into the black night sky. Trent sensed all of this, knew it like the back of his hand.

Indebted: Til Death Do Us Part Teaser

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“Blackwater Sheriff Henry Olgove reveals to NDC27 affiliate of CGFA-TV, the body found Sunday night in East Blackwater, approximately five miles from the notorious motorcycle club hangout, is believed to be that of missing teen, Amber Tonwlyn-Havers, daughter of Congressman Alexander Tonwlyn-Havers. Amber was last seen Saturday by witnesses, around 2:00 AM, leaving a house party in downtown City Central, alone. She was thought to have gone to a party in the neighboring city of Treville.

“Congressman Havers has not been available for comment, though his publicist asks that the family’s privacy be respected in their time of mourning. In other news, tensions rise in Blackwater as one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter organization plans a protest of the death of African American teen, Anthony Smiddle. The standoff between the KKK and Black Lives Matter protesters has police stretched thin.”

                                                                                               

            Teal turned off the television, then placed the remote control down. Leaning back, she closed her eyes and took in a few deep, calming breaths. There were things friends and family admitted to you about becoming a mother. There were the things you wanted to hear, the things you enjoyed hearing and then there was the truth. It was a rare thing for a parent to speak of the debilitating fear and uncertainty that came with becoming a parent. The indecision and then the apprehension in every decision made, small or large.

While Trent’s upbringing made Teal cringe, she also knew that her own past hadn’t been much better. Yes, Teal had grown up in a seemingly good home, and her family’s money had afforded her a great education and kept her fed and somewhat content, there was more to growing up in a good home than money and a full stomach. Irrational as it may seem, Teal wanted to shelter Emma, but would she truly need it? Would she need an overbearing mother? Hell, would Teal become her mother?

What the fuck was going on in the world today? Things were recently changed in Teal’s life, with a husband and a child to care for, and her ever-growing fear of raising Emma in a world full of dangers she couldn’t possibly protect her from was starting to weigh on her. Was this what motherhood would continually be like? Undying love and fierce protection, followed by the crippling fear of threats of the unknown?

Placing a hand over her stomach, Teal sighed. Trent mentioned wanting another child, while her inner voice told her now was not the time. Hell, she’d just be honest and admit she wasn’t sure she wanted another child—ever. She tilted her head to the side and watched as Emma shifted on Trent’s chest. Teal often found herself counting ten little pink fingers and toes, kissing cherub soft baby cheeks and caressing her daughter’s blonde curls.

Her daughter was the exact opposite of her physically, but Teal never once worried about their differences. She sensed Emma’s trust and love in her and Teal was dead set on never letting her down. As Teal slightly moved and stretched her stiff legs on Trent’s lap she shifted her husband and daughter just a bit.

            Trent’s eyes popped open, his hand tightening over Emma’s back. “What’s going on?” His groggy voice woke Emma from her sleep. She released a sleepy coo that melted Teal’s heart.

            Teal moved her legs from Trent’s lap, leaned forward and gently pulled Emma from Trent’s arms. “I thought you were just resting your eyes?” she admonished softly, giving him a sweet smile. Teal softly patted Emma’s butt, helping to calm her back to sleep. The sweet baby lay her head on Teal’s chest and began to snore once again.

            Trent stretched his arm over his head and yawned. “I was, baby.” He sat up and glanced over to her. Teal noticed how he still favored his right arm for most things. While his physical therapy had ended, Trent still had trouble controlling his arm and certain movements.

            “Oh, okay. I guess your snoring was just to trick Emma to sleep?”

Trent sat up and placed a hand on sleeping Emma’s back. His large hand made the little girl seem even tinier by comparison. Born a preemie, Emma had constantly fought to maintain a normal weight, and now at nine months and fourteen pounds, she was just barely fitting into the six to nine-month clothes gifted to her from Teal and Trent’s friends.

Teal placed a kiss over Emma’s curling blonde tresses, and caressed Trent’s hand. Her life in Kentucky had proven easy-going at first, but recently, she’d felt restless and anxious. The South proved to be just as tense as she’d expected, with the Black Lives Matter and KKK acting out for various reasons. Teal wasn’t sure she felt safe, and this was after she’d just stopped waking up from nightmares where Jake had made good on his threat to rape her.

            Trent leaned in and kissed Teal’s cheek. “And my plan worked.” He pulled his hand away and stood. “Want me to take her to bed?”

            Teal squeezed Emma once again, as she didn’t want to let the warm bundle of baby go. “Sure, make sure all those stuffed animals are out of the crib before you place her in there.” She handed Emma to Trent and went into the kitchen to pull a bottle of water from the fridge.

It was a Friday night, and once again, Trent had fallen asleep on the couch while Emma napped in his lap, and Teal had flipped through the channels, hoping to find something to keep her mind off their issues with Harper and Markus.

Teal had learned that it was best to talk to Trent about stressful things at certain times, like directly after she’d sucked every bit of come out of his quivering body; however, after a long stressful day, now was not that time. Teal treaded to her office and retrieved her laptop from the dresser.

Back in the living room, she sat down and opened her emails to see a few from Jan Erik, past co-workers, and Summer. The header in the email from Summer caught her attention. Teal’s brow furrowed in confusion as she read aloud, “Help wanted.” Clicking the email, Teal read its contents. As she did, her heart flittered in her chest and her excitement grew. In her eagerness, Teal let out a light squeal. “A job opening?”

            “Hey, where are Emma’s fluffy blue socks?” Trent broke Teal’s concentration.

She glanced up to see Trent with a handful of tiny socks in his palm, and a flustered expression on his face. Pointing to the bedroom, she said, “They are in the—”

            “What were you just saying? Something about a job opening?” he interrupted her as he motioned to her laptop. “What job opening and where? More importantly, for who?”

Teal gauged his reaction carefully. While she had hoped the night would end without any heavy discussions, the second Trent dropped the socks on the couch and sat beside her, she knew there would be no putting it off.

            Teal turned the laptop to face Trent. “I’m not sure yet. I just received the email from Summer.”

            Trent pulled the laptop from her hands and placed it on his lap. “The chick that tried to help Shayla?” he asked, skimming over the email. “Why is she offering you a job at something called Safe Haven?” He gripped the laptop, his flustered expression changing into one Teal had become very familiar with. His veiled anger didn’t intimidate her though, it irritated her.

            Teal rolled her eyes at the question. “How the hell am I supposed to know? You are the one reading the email.”

She and Trent had agreed she would spend the first year at home with Emma. And at the time, when everything was new, and Trent was home with her, recovering, she’d meant it. However, now, it was a completely different story. Teal felt cut off from the world, and it seemed her job had gone from an administrative assistant with a degree, to Emma’s mom. Not that Teal minded being a mother—in her mind, she thought she’d done well. It was that Teal never expected to have her identity stolen from her.

Perhaps, if Teal had had three toddlers running around the house, she wouldn’t feel the same, but one infant who barely made a peep? She found herself sitting on the back porch with more time on her hands than she’d expected. And to top it off, Teal’s friends were all in Vermont, and were career-oriented women who despite being married, and settled, hadn't had children yet. Then there was Katie, who was on her third book tour and in talks with her agent about film rights to her novel.

Teal had never felt so alone, yet surrounded by a loving family. To make matters worse, even though they’d won the civil suit against Jake, lawyers had stated it would take time to actually get the money he owed—if they ever got a cent. So, Trent still worked massive amounts of overtime to add back some of the money to his savings that the medical and lawyer bills had created.

Teal hoped once the money from Jake came in, Trent would stop working himself to death. But that wasn’t all. Katie and Logan were miles away, with a growing business and baby girls, and Violet, her new local friend, was now the CEO of a company, so gone were the days in which she came over for hours on end. Like a fool, Teal had fancied herself a true Southern Belle, sipping mint juleps, and gossiping while watching Emma play.

Months after opening up his heart – and his past – Trent is looking forward to a future with his new bride and daughter. He’s recovered from the near-fatal shooting, hopes to purchase a farm for his beloved Teal, and is building a life free from the horrors of his past.

But the past has a bad habit of never staying buried, and now it’s coming after his entire family. Because Trent didn’t reveal all his secrets to Teal, and the deepest, darkest secret he’d always kept just out of reach is about to break the surface.

An old debt is being called in, one that will pull Trent back into the world of sex, lies, and murder he’s fought so hard to escape. And in the wake of devastating betrayals, he’ll discover who is truly loyal to him, as he agrees to pay that debt with an unforgivable crime.

SEPTEMBER 28th, 2017

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Trent will stop at nothing to keep Teal and his daughter safe. Even if that means losing them forever.

Meet Ace, Gator, and Mutt from the First Sons of the Revolution MC, and enjoy the first chapter and first look at the spin-off featuring the badass, no-shit-taking men from Blackwater Rising!

Open Wounds - Audiobook

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The audiobook is coming soon! Check out a sneak peek of Open Wounds read by Melissa Moran and Joe Hemple!

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.

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Indebted - Teaser

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Trent walked into the Devil’s Bastard, the sound of men cussing and laughing overwhelmed the air as his booted feet pounded the pavement to the back room, where he and his men normally sat, pounding beers, and watching ass. Grunts and head nods greeted him as he made his way further into the club. He ignored them all, making a bee-line to the back. He glanced in the back room to see Jason, Mark, and Dillon all throwing back a shot of what looked like whiskey.

            “Hey!” Trent called to the only waitress behind the bar. It was noon and Sam was the only one working. “Get me a double of what they got, and keep ‘em coming, till I say otherwise.”

Sam nodded and busied herself behind the bar, while Trent sat down at the table nearest the back exit.

            Dillon thrusted a fist in the air and hooted. “Fuck yeah.” Leaning back too far, the man nearly toppled out of his chair. Reaching out, he righted himself, just before his ass met the floor. “Man, what are you doing here so early? Ain’t you got work or some shit?”

Normally, Trent couldn’t stand Dillon, as he was always ready to start shit. But today, he was glad as fuck he’d run into him. It’d only take beer, or the promise of some ass, to get him to do any kind of favor.

Sam sat the shot glass down on a paper napkin.

            Trent glanced up at her. “Y’all getting fancy around here?” He picked up the double and slammed it back. “Another.”

            Sam smiled, her crooked teeth on display. “Nah, nothing like that. You starting a tab, Reed?” Her playful tone had dissipated the second Dillon showed interest.

            “Yeah, start one up for me.”

            “Me, too,” Dillon added.

            Sam flicked him the bird. “Hell no. Pay as you go.” The group laughed and Dillon sat back in his chair, looking like someone had kicked his puppy.

            Jason took a long swig of beer, then placed the bottle on the table. “What brings you in here this early?” Trent knew he would be a hard sell. The swastika tat on his chest and KKK inked on his knuckles, along with the fact he’d been in jail for numerous hate crimes, told Trent convincing him to rescue a little Spanish teen would be close to impossible.

            Trent took in the man’s ice blue gaze and cruel smirk, and shrugged. “Just trying to pick up a few fellows for a job I got contracted for.” He had to make sure to not tell the men he owed the FSMC a favor. Hell, that would send even the dumbest man running from the room. “I need men not afraid of the law.” Trent didn’t bother lowering his voice. He’d scoped the place out the second he walked in and knew every damn drunk in the bar.

Jason quirked a brow, but didn’t say a word.

            Dillon’s grease-stained hand flew up. “Ooh! Pick me.” Trent’s eyes went to the man as he waved it left and right, wiggling in his chair like the ace student in the class dead set on fucking up the grading curve.

            “Put your damned hand down,” Trent muttered. “You know I got your ass. A bottle of whiskey, and a hand job over at the titty bar you love so much.”

Dillon whooped and hollered, before heading to the restrooms in the back. Sam made her way over and sat another shot glass in front of Trent.

            Mark motioned to the glass as Trent tipped it back. “You ain’t never been one to drink this early.” His lazy drawl came out a bit slurred. Mark drank at any time of the day. The man’s large size gave him more leeway in that area; while most men hovered around the two hundred mark, Big Mark was pushing three-twenty. His weight wasn’t sloppy, either. Mark held his weight in his legs, chest and arms, and power lifted daily.

            “Celebrating,” Trent lied.

            “How much you paying?” Jason asked.

            “A grand each.” Trent placed the shot glass on the table.

            “BYOG?” Mark asked.

“Yeah, but I got you on ammo,” he said, knowing that’d sweeten the deal. This way, all the money went to the men, and nothing was wasted on supplies.

            Jason was the first to agree. “I’m in. How soon?”

Before answering, Trent looked to Mark who nodded. “Tomorrow.”

Sam placed down another shot.

            Mark motioned to his glass and she moved to refill it. “Who we riding with, and what is the job?” Sam picked up his cup and headed back behind the bar.

            Trent was only mildly surprised that the men waited until now to ask about the actual job, however, Trent had never really been into anything too heavy in his life, so perhaps they weren’t worried by that account.

            Trent downed the shot and placed the glass on the table. “I got three friends riding along. Mutt, Ace, and Gator from Blackwater.”

Jason sat back, his beer sloshing over the rim of his cup onto his hand.

            “Brothers from Blackwater?” Dillon stumbled from the bathroom, his hands fumbling over his fly. “Them dudes . . .” He whistled, then sat—or rather, fell drunkenly—into his seat. “Well, I’m still in, but I want a happy ending,” he added, as if this were some sort of negotiation.

            Trent grunted his approval. “You all in?” He lifted the next shot and threw it back. His head began to cloud, and his body loosened—the liquor having its intended effect. Eyeing each man, he knew the second they decided to ride with him.

As each man said yes, Trent imagined the group of men heading down to Blackwater. Trent was not fucking naïve. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would be expected to kill tomorrow night. Keeping himself alive was his main goal, but Trent also thought to the young girl caught in the crossfires of a vengeful gang and her corrupt father.

            He stood on loose legs; he needed to check with Reno—an old buddy—to see if he would join. “Meet me at my house, tomorrow night. I’ll go over the plans with you there.” Trent wasn’t too concerned with the police in this situation, seeing as how the FSMC had most of them on their payroll, and wouldn’t dare show up to an MC shoot out.

As he headed out the door, he pulled a fifty from his wallet. Placing it on the bar, he pushed it over to Sam. He wouldn’t leave that shit anywhere near Dillon, as the bastard would end up drinking it.

            “Thanks, Trent.” Sam smiled. “And thanks for watching Rain for me last week.” Her sad smile pulled at his chest. She was a good girl, stuck in a shit town, and he’d often wondered what would have happened between the two of them if he’d known she liked him before Shayla crashed into his life.

            “No problem. Call me if you need me to watch her again,” he said honestly. The two-year-old was cute as a butterfly.

SEPTEMBER 28th 2017

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Months after opening up his heart – and his past – Trent is looking forward to a future with his new bride and daughter. He’s recovered from the near-fatal shooting, hopes to purchase a farm for his beloved Teal, and is building a life free from the horrors of his past.

But the past has a bad habit of never staying buried, and now it’s coming after his entire family. Because Trent didn’t reveal all his secrets to Teal, and the deepest, darkest secret he’d always kept just out of reach is about to break the surface.

An old debt is being called in, one that will pull Trent back into the world of sex, lies, and murder he’s fought so hard to escape. And in the wake of devastating betrayals, he’ll discover who is truly loyal to him, as he agrees to pay that debt with an unforgivable crime.

Trent will stop at nothing to keep Teal and his daughter safe. Even if that means losing them forever.

Meet Ace, Gator, and Mutt from the First Sons of the Revolution MC, and enjoy the first chapter and first look at the spin-off featuring the badass, no-shit-taking men from Blackwater Rising!