Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dash of Peril by Lori Foster


DASH OF PERIL


Love Undercover Series
Dash of Peril by Lori FosterLove Undercover
A no-nonsense female cop reluctantly teams up with the one man who makes her lose control in a deliciously hot, sensual new novel that continues the Love Undercover series.
To bring down a sleazy abduction ring, Lieutenant Margaret “Margo” Peterson has set herself up as bait. But recruiting Dashiel Riske as her unofficial partner is a whole other kind of danger. Dash is 6’4″ of laid-back masculine charm, a man who loves life—and women—to the limit. Until Margo is threatened, and he reveals a dark side that may just match her own…
Beneath Margo’s tough facade is a slow-burning sexiness that drives Dash crazy. The only way to finish this case is to work together side by side…skin to skin. And as their mission takes a lethal turn, he’ll have to prove he’s all the man she needs—in all the ways that matter…
Harlequin ·  978-0373778577

BOOK EXCERPT


Her small bare feet left damp marks in the plush carpet as she moved ahead of him. “Where’s Ollie?”
“Curled in his bed in your living room, sound asleep.” Just as she’d said, the cat ate, cleaned himself, then snuggled down to sleep. “What about you? Are you hungry?”
“Not enough to stay awake.”
Without his prodding, she went past the home office, the spare bedroom and into her own room to gingerly sit on the foot of the bed.
Dash gave a quick glance around—and didn’t find a single surprise. Everything was as orderly as he’d expected it to be, her comforter a neutral cream color without the adornment of throw pillows, her nightstand and dresser clutter-free. He didn’t see a single speck of dust or a shoe out of place.
With Logan being a cop, he recognized the quick-access safe in the corner of the room. Since Reese had taken her weapon in the alley, he wondered if she had other guns locked in that safe. It was big enough to hold a rifle or two...and more.
“I’m cold.”
Dash took in her bare calves and feet, her narrow wrists, her slender throat. So fragile, but still so strong. “Does anything hurt besides your head and arm?”
“Pretty much everything. But it’s not bad.”
Or were complaints of any kind as taboo as medicine? Had she come from a family of stoic martyrs?
“Your legs? Shoulders?”
Damp lashes shadowed her big blue eyes. “Mostly my arm and head.”
If she weren’t drugged, Dash doubted she would admit that much to him. “Okay. I’m going to dry your hair first.” Otherwise it’d just get her clothes wet. “Then we’ll get you dressed and you can sleep.”
“It’s short, so it doesn’t take long.”
Feeling equal parts tender and horny, Dash set her clothes on the bed beside her. “I like your hair, Margo. A lot.” He ran his fingers over her head. Her hair, in a Halle Berry sort of style, was curlier wet, but when dry it looked silky soft and feminine—a great contrast to her shark persona.
“Thank you. I like your hair, too. It’s always a little messy, and a lot sexy.”
Flirting? “Is that so?”
“You know how you look.” Her gaze moved down to his waistband. “You know how women react to you.”
Other women, sure. But Margo never made things easy. Despite her claims to the opposite, he already knew she was attracted to him. He felt her interest every time she looked at him. But she fought it.

She fought him.
Usually. Now...not so much.
But damn it, given her drugged state, he couldn’t really do anything about it. Or could he?
Pretending it meant nothing at all, Dash pulled both the soiled thermal shirt and the ripped undershirt off over his head and dropped them to the floor. The waistband of his jeans had loosened from extended wear and they hung low on his hips.
Margo’s lips parted. Breathing more deeply, she stared at the worn denim of his fly. Her pale throat worked as she swallowed. “What are you doing?”
“Don’t want you to get messy again now that you’re clean.” More bare than not, he stepped right in front of her, cupped her head in one hand, and used the towel in the other to carefully rub over her hair.
The sweet scent of her shampoo mixed with the warmth of her skin. He breathed her in—and felt himself reacting.
That wouldn’t do, so he concentrated on not getting hard as he continued to towel-dry her hair. “Tell me if I hurt you.” Very carefully, he touched the soft terry towel around her stitches.
When she said nothing, he looked down at her and found her eyes on his abs, her cheeks flushed. He would love seeing her like this more often.
“Feel good?”
“Yes.” She kept her injured arm, wrapped up in the half cast and Ace bandage, tucked up close to her body. With the other arm she balanced herself. Her toes curled into the carpet. “Dash?”
He mimicked her soft tone. “Hmm?”
“Have you ever been married?”
One brow lifted. “No.” And then he wondered... “You?”
“No.” She looked up at him. “Ever been in love?”
“I’m thirty.”
“Me, too. So?”
How to answer her? “I’ve had a few more serious relationships where I thought I was in love, but it never worked out.”
“Why not?”
Apparently a drugged Margo was not only more openly sensual, but also far more curious. “My mother says I’m too particular and too set in my ways.”
Her cool fingers touched his ribs, drifted down to his abs, then hooked in the loose waistband of his jeans. “Particular how?”
He never should have started this ploy. It was difficult enough being near her, wanting to protect her, care for her, and then to have her looking at him with hunger...yeah, difficult.
But if she planned to touch him, too, he was screwed.
Or rather, not screwed, given she was definitely out-of-commission for that.
“Why don’t we have this conversation tomorrow, after you’ve gotten some sleep?” Not giving her a chance to object, he dropped the towel and used his fingers to brush back her hair, moving it away from her stitches. Her short, soft waves glided through his fingers. “Better?”
Her eyes sank shut. “Mmmm...” She leaned toward him again. “You have an incredible body. I especially like this happy trail, how it disappears down here—”
“Margo?” Time for another battle. “Hold up, honey.” He caught her wrist and lifted her hand to kiss her palm. “Even warriors wear out every now and then.”
“I’m not a warrior.”
“But you are too hurt for me to take advantage of you.”
She snorted. “I wouldn’t let you.”
“You,” he murmured, “are under the influence.” He crouched down in front of her. “I’ll help you get your clothes on, okay?”
She lifted her heavy eyelids to stare at his mouth. “No one has dressed me since I was three.”
“I’m sure that’s an exaggeration.”
“No.” She literally swayed. “My parents were strict about independence.”
He didn’t know her parents, but he liked them less by the minute. “Were they strict about other things?”
“About...everything really.” She shifted, winced and went still again. “My family is all in law enforcement.”
“Logan mentioned that once.” Something about her being a fourth generation of cops. Her dad was some hotshot chief of police before he retired early with a medical problem or something.
“I was supposed to be a boy.”
What did that mean? “I’m very glad you’re not.” He pushed back to his feet.
She gave a heavy sigh. “Me, too.”
Dash of Peril by Lori Foster
Needing a minute to get his head on straight, Dash said, “I’m going to go grab the flannel shirt Logan brought me. It’s big enough to fit over your splint and it’ll be easier to get on you than the T-shirt you chose.”
“The only button-up shirts I have are starched dress shirts.”
He tipped up her chin. “Sit tight. I’ll be right back.” With long strides he left the room to get the bag Logan had brought to him. The cat snored from his bed, oblivious to Dash’s presence. Outside, a weak sun tried to penetrate heavy clouds rolling in. Great, just what they didn’t need—more lousy weather. Work at the current job site would stall for a day or two. Not a big deal since they were right on schedule—a rare thing in the construction business.
After automatically double-checking that he’d secured the front door, he snagged up the bag and dug out the flannel shirt on his way back to Margo.
He found her sitting exactly where he’d left her. Going to his knees again in front of her, he braced himself for what he’d do. “Let’s get you out of this robe first, okay?”
“I’ll be naked.”
Dash put his hands on her hips, his thumbs brushing her thighs through the soft cotton of her robe. “I’ll be as fast as I can.”
“You’ll want me.”
He searched her face and didn’t see a single sign of modesty or timidity. “Already do, but right now I just want you to be comfortable.” He untied the belt.
“If you tell Logan or Reese, I’ll castrate you.”
Not so drugged that she couldn’t threaten him. For absurd reasons, that made him feel better. “You think I would?”
“I don’t know. I’m not a great judge of men. Some men,” she amended.
“You can trust me.” He eased the robe off her right shoulder and down her arm until she slipped her hand free.
His blood thickened, and it sounded in his tone when he added, “Believe me, Margo. I would never say or do anything to embarrass you.”
Goose bumps rose on her flesh.
“Are you cold?”
“No.”
Was being cold also considered a complaint? “I’m sorry.” Quicker now, Dash pushed back the material and, except for where the terry cloth draped one thigh and still covered her left arm, she was bare.
His gaze naturally went to her body. He was sympathetic, but not dead. Her uniforms and business suits did a great job of hiding her generous rack. Full, pale, with dusky mauve nipples. Only the bruises painted over her collarbone and shoulder kept him from touching her.
“Easy now.” Breathing more deeply, he stood to gently free her left arm.
Margo said not a word, but her face tightened, her brows pinching together, her lips compressed.
“You can groan, you know.” Dash hated seeing her suffer in silence. “You’re allowed.”
She gave one sharp shake of her head, composed to the bitter end.
To hell with that. “A groan or two won’t make you less sexy, especially when I can see your nipples.”
Nothing.
“They’re very pretty.”
She stiffened.
“And those dark curls between your legs—”
She jerked her head up to stare at him—and groaned in discomfort.
“That’s it.” The way she affected him was so strange, and so appealing. “No reason to hold it in.”
Groaning again, deeper this time, she said, “Damn you.”
The bite in her tone almost made him smile. “Be yourself with me, honey.”
“I am!”
Dash of Peril by Lori Foster
“No, you’re manning up and it’s stupid. You aren’t a man, and you aren’t impervious to pain.” He picked up the flannel shirt but made no attempt to put it on her. He was a freaking saint, standing there before a gorgeous naked woman and still remembering his altruistic motives. “Or is that another family rule? No female attributes allowed?”
“It’s a weakness and there’s no point in advertising it.”
“Huh. Well, if it makes you feel better, I would be groaning.”
She shocked him by pushing to her feet and leaning into him, her splinted left arm caught between them, her right hand flattening on his chest, her fingers in his chest hair. “Kiss me.”
Whoa. He hadn’t expected such an aggressive assault, given her state. “I don’t think so.”
“It’ll make me feel better.”
But it’d kill him—since she couldn’t do anything beyond a simple kiss. “Not a good idea.”
“You don’t want me?”
“You already know I do—” When her hand snaked down his body to cup him through his jeans, he froze.
“Yes,” she said with purring satisfaction. “You do.”


Lori Foster first published with Harlequin in January 1996. Her second book launched Temptation Blaze and her 25th book launched Temptation Heat. Since those early days, Lori has routinely had 6 to 10 releases a year. She’s aWaldenbooksUSA TodayPublisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author with over 50 titles published through a variety of houses, including Berkley/Jove, Kensington, St. Martins, Harlequin and Silhouette.


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Friday, April 18, 2014

Bo and Ember by Andrea Randall PLUS Giveaway!




Bo and Ember by Andrea Randall
Book #4 in The November Blue Series
Add to Goodreads

Releases April 10th
Join the Farewell Tour



And they lived happily ever after …

That’s where the typical romance ends. For Bo and Ember Cavanaugh, however, the “I do’s” are just the beginning.

On the heels of a wildly successful tour with The Six, Bo and Ember are offered the musical opportunity of a lifetime. A cross-country move back to the Cavanaugh estate holds promises, old friends, and feelings they thought were long since buried. 

In the middle of the whirlwind that is their professional life, Bo and Ember try to establish a solid and loving home. Life, though, doesn’t stay in the promises of “happily ever after.” 

In the final installment of the November Blue series, excitement, temptation, loss, and the struggle over what love means forces the couple to strip it all away and focus on what it means to be soul mates, what it means to be married, and what it means to be … 

Bo & Ember.


Dreams will come true while others are shattered. Bo and Ember face one of their biggest trials yet. And while things haven't always been easy for the two of them, they always seem to come through stronger than before. Although I had my doubts this time around. There was so much emotion in this book. There were moments that made me tear up in joy and grief, moments that made my heart melt. Everything I've come to expect from an Andrea Randall book. 

I didn't realize how much I missed these characters until I started reading this book. I have always loved the relationship between Bo and Ember and the friendship between Bo, Ember and Regan. I am sad to say goodbye, but their story ended beautifully! 

I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. 


Andrea is a 2005 graduate of Cornell University and does not currently use her degree in Development Sociology. She does, however, use her people skills and love for writing every day. She and her partner, Charles Sheehan-Miles, live and write together in Massachusetts.



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Friday, April 11, 2014

Cover Reveal ~ Freed by Lynetta Halat PLUS Giveaway!

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Title: Freed (Unlovable, #2)

Author: Lynetta Halat

Release Date: May 5, 2014

Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance

Series: Freed is the conclusion to the Used storyline

Cover Designer: Sommer Stein at Perfect Pear Creative Design

Photographer: Toski Covey Photography

*Synopsis*

Truth. Pain. Freedom. 
An awakening like no other. 
When life is determined to buck you off, dig in and ride hard. 
The bull. The most dangerous lies are the ones we tell ourselves. To survive, I have to face the truth. Easier said than done when it’s not all black and white. There’s the in-between, and this murky void is where I always tend to land. 
The horns. Lies don’t always hurt. My lies protected me, but when they are exposed and I can no longer outrun the many shades of truth, I’ll be in for one hell of a reckoning. 
The ride. From the outside, my life looks like one big adventure after another. But, there is no freedom in anarchy, and that’s the way I’ve lived my life. Until now. Until Ransom. 
Denver Dempsey was a slut for oblivion. Now, she’s a slut for love. And it’s that kind of thinking that got her in trouble in the first place. Ransom awakens Denver in ways she never imagined, but when her true feelings send her reeling, will they catapult her into the arms of Greer—her ex best-friend-with-benefits? After never loving anyone, herself included, she now loves two. One kept her alive. One teaches her how to live. If they didn’t both love her … if hearts weren’t bound to be broken, it would be the stuff dreams are made of.
Will Denver remain locked up in the bullpen, or is she strong enough to open the chute and be freed?
1

Excerpt

Bending down in front of me, Ransom taps one foot so that I’ll raise it. He slides one leg of my panties on and then the other before pulling them up to rest just below my skirt. Fixing me with his stare, he grasps my thighs and presses his nose and mouth to my center. My back arches from the wall, but my hands stay where he placed them. “Fuck, you smell good. Good enough to eat, but that can’t happen tonight.”
I whimper low in my throat as he runs his nose and open mouth over the apex of my thighs, placing open-mouthed kisses right where I need him most. My eyelids flutter and close, only to pop back open when he commands, “Eyes on me.” He places a light kiss right over my swollen, begging center. My whole body convulses.
“Nuh, uh,” he chastises, enjoying himself entirely too much. Hooking his fingers in my panties again, he draws them up over my thighs and under my skirt. His calloused fingertips scratch my soft skin even though his touch is gentle. Once he has them in place, he runs his fingertips down the triangle of the fabric ever so slowly, stopping before he reaches my need. Goose bumps make quick work of my body. “I’m addicted to how responsive you are to my touch,” he whispers, planting a hard kiss there this time. A desperate moan wrenches itself from my throat. “And I haven’t even really touched you or tasted you yet. Can you imagine how good we’re going to be together, Denver?”
Swallowing hard, I manage a nod ‘cause that’s rhetorical, right? Ransom slides his hands from under my skirt and skims them up my body to fit his hands around my jaw. He plants a quick kiss on my ear before sucking the lobe into his mouth and nipping at it. “Remember what I said,” he whispers. “No touching yourself. Your orgasms are mine. And when you deserve them, I’ll be the one to give them to you.” I whimper again. “If it helps, I can’t fucking wait, and when I’m stroking myself tonight, it’ll be with your soft moans in my ear, your incredible scent surrounding me, and your delectable body that I’m imagining losing myself in.”
I groan because no, that doesn’t help at all, actually. I bite down on voicing my frustration because I know it’ll get me nowhere with this man.
All rights reserved. Copyright Lynetta Halat 2014.
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Amazon US - B&N - Amazon UK - iTunes

USED_FrontCover_Final_Web
I am a slut. No worries. I've come to terms with it, and you will too. I’m not one of those girls who thinks she’s too plain, too fat, too skinny, too shy … no, I don’t have that kind of luck. I’m the girl who knows she’s just right for everyone. — Denver
A reputation as a manwhore–with–a–heart–of–gold tends to precede me. But, I don’t do girls with issues, that is until this girl. It's this girl I want to fix. This girl I want to protect. And maybe … more. — Ransom
Being in love with the same girl your entire life isn't all it's cracked up to be. She uses me in every way imaginable. How does she see me? I am her perpetual one-night stand. No strings, no attachments. Just mind-numbing sex ... for her anyway. — Greer
Feeling like the life is being choked out of her in the small town of Anaconda, Montana, Denver Dempsey craves the escape that college offers … even if that means leaving her “best friend with benefits” and looking for a new way to forget. Thinking she's found the perfect hookup in Ransom, Denver's outlook on college is bright. That is, until Greer shows up looking for a second chance, and Ransom's interest turns to hatred.
Love. Hate. Triangle.
Who's using who?

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About the Author

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Website • Amazon • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads

Since the dawn of time, Lynetta Halat has lived to read and has written innumerable stories and plays. A lover of good books, bad boys, and kickass tunes, she'd always dreamt of penning books that people could connect with and remember. She also has a secret penchant for wringing the emotions out of unsuspecting readers, and she collects reader's tears in much the same way that wine connoisseurs collect their favorite vintage.
Her first novel, Every Rose, was the perfect catalyst to launch her into the world of publishing, effectively burrowing her way into the hearts and minds of readers throughout the world. She followed that with Everything I've Never Had, her bestselling adult romance novel. Now, she has penned Used and Freed, New Adult Romances that she hopes sinks their teeth into you and don't let go.
Her love of the English language prompted her to pursue a Master's degree in English from Old Dominion University in Virginia, where she also minored in snark and interpretive dance. She lives somewhere along the Mississippi Gulf Coast with her adorable husband, two amazing sons, and two loveable dogs. When she's not writing riveting stories, she likes to focus on her macramé art and her scouring of eBay, where she buys locks of hair from her favorite rock stars, most especially Bret Michaels and Dave Grohl.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Against All Odds by Angie McKeon PLUS Giveaway!

Title: Against All Odds
Author: Angie McKeon
Release Date: April, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Link:

Blurb:
Our lives shattered... Our hearts broken... Our souls torn to pieces...

He was my world, my whole life. My reason for breathing. I had a perfect marriage, a baby on the way, and I felt fulfilled—almost invincible.

Until the day life hit, leaving me broken, vulnerable, and alone.

She was my life. My ray of hope on the cloudiest day. With her, I thought I had the ultimate safety. A love that would never hurt or betray me. I gave her my heart, my body, and my soul.

Until she broke me, destroying every dream and illusion I had about life, love, and marriage.

In our grief, we made a mistake. A mistake I'm not sure we can come back from.





A multi-tasker from birth—and now proudly able to add 'writer' to my resume—I'm a mother, wife and blogger. I love to read, write and drink copious amounts of iced coffee.

All three aforementioned addictions are detrimental to my sanity.

I have a voracious appetite for dark, painful and twisted reads. I'm enamored with the concept of love and
heart break. I believe life is a journey, a tale in its own for each of us. The road to happiness is sometimes paved with stones from hell, or glitters of satisfaction graced from the heavens above.

In my upcoming debut novel, 'Against All Odds,' I strive to make you feel. I believe any emotion—whether painful or happy—is good. To me, the key to living is to go through life feeling its ups and downs. Love is dark and it can be painful but, at the end of the day, it can save the most lost of souls and the most broken of hearts

Author Links:



Our fingers lace together, and he tugs me close. My chest is crushed to his, and his face brushes the side of mine. I feel his hot breath in my ear, sending a trail of goose bumps down my body. Damn, he feels good. Warm, hard, and lean.
Tell me something,” he whispers. My pulse spikes as I try to push back, aware that Cooper could see this, but he doesn’t let me go. “How do you want to be fucked? I can take you hard and fast, or slow. Are you wild, Kylie? Because that mouth of yours has me so hard, I can’t wait to shove my cock in it. I want you. So fucking badly.” He presses his dick against my stomach. “That’s what you’ve done to me with your naughty voice and attitude. I just hope you’re as good as you give, sweetheart.”
I’m breathless. I lick my lips, swallowing hard. “You can have me anyway you want.”
He stills, and the air around us, already charged, turns wicked. He pulls back, and his face is so hot, I melt. I dissolve into a pool of lust as I stare into his hungry eyes.
He plants a soft kiss on the corner of my lips. “How did I get this lucky tonight?”


All rights reserved. Against All Odds © 2014 Copyright, Angie McKeon.



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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Soul's Kiss by Debra Chapoton

Creative Prose Publishing launched their imprint this year dedicated to representing all genres of clean fiction from middle grade through adult.

One of their first offerings is the paranormal romance A SOUL'S KISS by Debra Chapoton. Chapoton is a best-selling international author.

When a tragic accident leaves Jessica comatose, her spirit  escapes her body. Navigating a supernatural realm is tough, but being half dead has its advantages.
      
Like getting into people’s thoughts.

Like taking over someone’s body.

Like experiencing romance on a whole new plane - literally.

Jessica learns an amazing truth as she struggles to return to her body before the doctors pull the plug, only she can’t do it alone. Now the only two people willing to help Jessica’s splintered soul are the two she’s hurt the most. They must find a way to guide her soul back to her body ... before it’s too late.

Here's what's being said about A SOUL'S KISS:

“Sensational, satisfying and surreal. A thrilling tale, beautifully imagined and carefully crafted. A must read 'coming of age' novel. I hope to see more of Chapoton in the future.”
~Lucy Morris, Lucy Reads

 “Very intriguing. With elements of friendship, romance, and the supernatural, A Soul’s Kiss is a fun novel with a good message and perfect for fans of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay.”
~Paola Benevides, Don’t Fold the Page

 “A unique novel filled with engaging characters that captivate our heart as well as the imagination. An emotional ride loaded with intrigue, secrets, romance, and the paranormal that hooks the reader till the very last page.”
~Mandy Sickle, The Reading Diaries

"A Soul's Kiss is a compelling story of a group of teenagers struggling to find their place in the world. It's a fresh reminder that what we think we want isn't always what we need and that sometimes what we need was right in front of us all along."
~Ashley Gafford, Wholly Books!

"Ms Chapoton created living characters and gave us a gripping story. One word: awesome!
                                                                 ~Hira Mushtaq, Views and Reviews

Get your copy today!
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cover Reveal ~ Entice by Rachel Van Dyken




From #1 New York Times Bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken comes the third book in the bestselling Eagle Elite Series...

“As burns this saint, so burns my soul. I enter alive, and I will have to get out dead.”
Chase Winter let the love of his life slip through his fingers and into the hands of his best friend and mafia boss of the Abandanato family. Now that he's been given a second chance to right a wrong--he refuses to let his own selfishness stand in the way. The only problem? He's not fully in possession of his heart, so when Mil De Lange, the girl who's innocence he stole, and heir to the worst of the worst mafia families in the US, asks him for a favor. He actually says yes, not realizing that that one yes has the power to destroy them all. 
Mil's been in love with Chase as long as she can remember, but as the years went by, the love turned to hate, and now that he's agreed to help her, she's wondering if she made a fatal error. Because Chase isn't a teenager anymore. He's a hot blooded male, bent on owning every part of her body and soul, and willing to kill anyone in his path who dares stand in the way. 
It's time for secrets to finally be revealed...but make no mistake, it's going to take a lot of bloodshed for those truths to be discovered.
You've never read a New Adult Mafia story like this before...loyalties will be tested, lovers reunited, and friendships obliterated. Welcome to the Family. Blood in--No out. 




Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks
and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at www.rachelvandykenauthor.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-... 





Nixon
I checked the time on my cell and leaned against the wall. The desert heat was not in any way helping my already-tense mood and irritated disposition. A guy walked by, flicking his cigarette into the dirt. Note to self: you know you're tense as hell when you’re halfway tempted to grab said cigarette and suck the nicotine dry from the remains.
And I didn’t even smoke.
Shhhit.
My head hurt, my muscles were sore, and Trace was pissed. I closed my eyes and leaned back against the building.
“Hey there.” A flirty voice interrupted my self-inflicted torture session. I opened one eye, then two. A blond-haired girl in six-inch heels and something I can only assume at one point use to be a shirt, hanging over her shoulder, walked into my personal space. Her shirt-dress thing barely met her thighs.
“Yes?” I kept my sunglasses on. If I took them off and glared, she’d probably run screaming down the street, and I wasn’t into scaring females… at least not in that way. I knew I looked downright pissed as hell.
“Just thought you looked lonely.” She lifted her shoulder and offered a teasing smile. Did that really work on other guys?
“You thought wrong,” I said simply. “I’m holding the wall up — like Samson.”
“Samson?” She looked around as if waiting for another man to appear.
“From the Bible,” I clarified.
“The what?”
“Gotta love Vegas,” I muttered under my breath. “Look, I don’t want any.”
“Any what?” She ran a manicured nail down my chest, biting down on her lip at the same time. I could only imagine her point was to get me to stare at her lips, but all I felt was irritation. Damn Chase and Mil. I just wanted to go to bed, but I needed to talk with him before tomorrow.
“Sex.” My voice clipped. “I. Don’t. Want. Any.”
“But—” She twirled a piece of blond- hair in her fingers.
“I’m gay.”
“Right.” She snorted.
“I’m into men.”
“Oh really?” She closed the distance between us. Just as I was ready to seriously put my hands on her and push, I felt an arm wrap around my shoulder.
“Hey there, hot stuff.” Tex said in a low voice as his hand grabbed my ass, cupping it with a little too much enthusiasm. “You ready?”
I ground my teeth together and forced a smile. “Yup.”
“Oh…” The girl stepped back. “Um, sorry, you guys, uh, enjoy your night.” She pushed past Tex so fast I was afraid she was going to teeter off her heels and get hit by a taxi.
“Tex.” I seethed.
“Hmm?” He took off his sunglasses and tilted his head as the girl hurried away.
“You can take your hand off my ass now.”
“Why? Afraid you like it too much?”
I pushed against him.
“Just embrace your feelings!” He shouted, earning the attention of a family walking by with their two little kids.
I grabbed him by the front of his shirt and threw him few feet away from me, trying my damnedest not to smile.
“Admit it. You keep me around for comic relief.” Tex nodded with a smirk.
“I admit nothing.” I lost the war against smiling and started laughing. “But I do keep your ass away from Campisi, so remember that next time you start yelling about me being your lover.”
“True.” Tex grinned. “Oh, and P.S., don’t knock it till you try it.”
“P.S.,” I repeated in the same voice. “Still pissed at you for screwing over my sister.”
“Yeah well.” Tex sobered. “It’s for the best.”
“Breaking her heart and bringing in whores is what’s best for her?”
Tex lifted his hands into the air. “Look, I didn’t say my methods were sound or that they were intelligent, just let us deal with it, okay? We’re big kids.”
“Kids.” I snorted. “That about sums it up.”
A town car pulled up next to the curb. Chase got out and then held out his hand to Mil. My eyes narrowed; she looked different. Happier.
Her mom had just died, and she'd survived a bombing.
And she was smiling like the Taliban had just declared world peace.
Chase gripped her so tight that I saw the white of his knuckles.
I tilted my head, still watching them when Tex said. “Dude, you get laid?”
“Tex,” I snapped. “Go get something for their luggage.”
“But—”
“Go.”
Tex flipped me off, but ended up jogging over to the main entrance while I inspected both Mil and Chase. “I’m not saying this to be an ass—”
“Here we go.” Mil crossed her arms.
Chase waited.
I licked my lips and tried to appear indifferent. “But if you guys start screwing each other now, I may have to shoot one or both of you. It’s not the time to play house, got it?”
“Play house,” Chase repeated in a deadpan voice as he dipped his free hand into his back pocket, most likely clenching a pair of brass knuckles.
“I know it’s your honeymoon,” I continued. “But this [P1] little scenario you’ve got going on with the whole hot and cold is going to have to wait until everyone’s safe. So Chase, keep it in your pants for once in your life, and Mil, stop trying to seduce the poor kid, alright? It’s like dangling a damn fry in front of a seagull.”
“Who’s a fry?” Tex asked, pulling the luggage cart with him.
“Mil.”
“Are we eating dinner or something? Because I have to admit,” Tex leaned against the cart, “I’m freaking starving.” He eyed Chase and Mil. “Then again, I’m sure you both are too. All those extracurricular really take it out of ya.”
Chase took off his sunglasses, his face twisting in irritation and annoyance, no smile. Nothing. He was pissed.
“Chase,” I said slowly. “You know I’m right. You’re the best I have. I need your focus to be on The Family. Your family. Then you can screw all you want, okay?”
Mil looked like she wanted to punch me in the face. Chase took a step forward, but she stopped him.
“Good talk.” I exhaled. “Chase, I’ll see you down in the bar in a half-hour, okay? We have business to discuss. Mil, you can go find the girls. They’re having dinner out by the pool.”
Nobody moved.
After a few seconds of tense silence where I was pretty sure Chase was trying to convince himself not to strangle me to death, Tex cleared his throat and pointed to the luggage. “You guys need help, then?”
“Yeah,” Chase croaked. “Thanks.”
We loaded them up and sent them on their way.
“Tell me,” Tex asked once we were walking back toward the bar. “Is your only goal to see how far you can push Chase before he kills you in your sleep?”



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