The Demon Who Loved Me by Jessie Lane

Title: The Demon Who Loved Me
Series: Big Bad Bite Series #4
Author: Jessie Lane
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release: May 28, 2017


He’s a gambling man…

One brunette bombshell with a devious mind and a potty mouth has thrust Kent smack dab in the middle of where he never wanted to be—his family. He’s spent most of his life avoiding his familial responsibilities, especially the one that required him to join the Ninth Circle Council—the demon society’s equivalent of judge, jury, and executioner. Then one lost bet with a little Amazon flips his entire life upside down. With worries about retaliation from the remnants of a rogue pack of wolves in Germany, he doesn’t have time to deal with his family, or his obsession with Chloe Demos.

And she’s the biggest risk he’ll ever take…

After her mother’s death, Chloe’s world crashes down around her. A secret Amazonian heritage. Aunts and a long lost brother she never knew about. Supernatural beings. With all of the sudden changes, she’s decided it’s time to step out from behind her façade of an air-headed, materialistic bimbo and show her sisters she truly does love them—she only hates their wardrobes. What better way to show she cares about her family than to help prove someone close to one of them is innocent of the bogus murder charges from some ridiculous council? Chloe has no scruples about calling in the marker the demon Kent owes her in order to do just that. It’s only too bad she’s underestimated Kent’s intelligence, and his playboy charm.

Jessie Lane is a best-selling author of Paranormal and Contemporary Romance, as well as, Upper YA Paranormal Romance/Fantasy.


She lives in Kentucky with her two little Rock Chicks in-the-making and her over protective alpha husband that she’s pretty sure is a latent grizzly bear shifter. She has a passionate love for reading and writing naughty romance, cliff hanging suspense, and out-of-this-world characters that demand your attention, or threaten to slap you around until you do pay attention to them.

She’s also a proud member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA).


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Rock My Body by Lee Piper

Title: Rock My Body (A Mondez Novel, 2)
Author: Lee Piper
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 3, 2017
Publisher: Evernight Publishing



Twenty-two year old Riley Sears promises herself never to fall in love unless it is with a guy who is long-term boyfriend material. She is not crazy, her psychologist reassures her of that, but when faced with situations she cannot control… Well. Her anxiety skyrockets.

Enter Dominic Mondez, the hottest creature ever to grace pecs and abs. The notorious playboy propositions Riley with the best sex of her life—his words. However, after learning he never sleeps with the same woman twice, Riley’s decision becomes remarkably simple.

No. Way. In. Hell.

Sadly, traversing the murky waters of friends without benefits is far from simple, especially since Dominic is the lead guitarist of local rock band, Mondez. He is also tempestuous, a womanizer, and—even worse—inexplicably jealous. Dominic is bad for Riley in every possible way. Bad, bad, bad.

If only her body would listen.


Lee Piper is a lover of books. She often juggles reading seven novels at a time for the sheer joy of it. At the grand old age of five, Lee Piper decided to become an author, however found a limited market for her unicorn stories. So, high school English teacher it was.
​At thirty-two, and grieving the loss of her second miscarriage, Lee Piper turned to novels—Kylie Scott to be precise—to escape the pain. This then inspired her to write Rock My World, the first in a four part contemporary romance series. Her debut novel not only reached the second round of the 2016 Emerald Award, but also became an Evernight Publishing bestseller within the first two weeks of publication.

Lee Piper lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her drummer husband, cheeky daughters, and one very crazy dog.


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Love Wasted by Shirl Rickman

Title: Love Wasted
Author: Shirl Rickman
Genre: NA Romance
Release Date: June 22, 2017



She loves him. She loves him not. 

When Cassandra Porter was seven years old, she fell in love with her next door neighbor and her best friends brother. Cass loved that boy every single day…until he broke her heart and all that remained were the pieces.

Ten years and what feels like a lifetime apart, that boy—now a grown and sexy, warm blooded man—is thrust back into her life. He might make her temper flair and blood boil, but a few unresolved feelings are no match for the way her heart races when he is near…

She drives him the good kind of crazy. 

Paxton Luke led his life with one thing on his mind: success. Friends and family come first, with no room for emotional attachments—not even with the neighbor girl, who’s turned into a complete knockout. His sister’s best friend. Emotions only lead to love, and love was trouble.

They’re determined to fight this undeniable attraction to the bitter end. It’s too damn bad their hearts are about to get love drunk– wasted on love.
“Damn it, stop trying to avoid this conversation. Admit it; you’ve been avoiding me since New Year’s Eve.” I take another step in his direction, putting less space between us.

“Fine, maybe I have been, but I’m not now,” he admits, still a harshness to his voice. Unemotional.

Shaking my head, I think about laughing, but I really don’t feel like laughing. “Well, that’s nice for you, but I want to talk. I want us to talk about that night. I want to explain.” I keep my voice even although I feel like I’m about to fall off the edge of a cliff. 

The hardness shows a little of itself again in his eyes. “What is there to talk about? I think you made it pretty clear how you felt that night and I’m just trying to remember you’re Cass. Cass who’s my sisters best friend. Cassandra Porter the girl next door. The girl, who’s parents are best friends with mine. The Cass I spent my entire youth trying to avoid while still trying to protect. The Cass who was at every holiday or vacation for most of my life. Because that all means something. I’m trying to remember everything I should so I can forget the one thing I shouldn’t. The one thing that means nothing.” He sounds like he’s out of breath when he steps to me, we’re now toe to toe. I realize I’m breathing hard too.

The last words to leave his mouth are my breaking point, that old feeling of frustrated disappointment washes over me like a tidal. So unexpected although, it happened to me before, on another day and what feels like another lifetime. “Don’t you dare say that!” I shout, and without thinking, I put my hands on his chest and try to shove him with all the anger and hurt inside of me. But, he’s too fast. Too strong, and he grabs both of my wrists, holding them against his chest. I try fighting him for my freedom, but he doesn’t let go. He just holds them.

Then we’re back there again, it’s as if the countdown started all over, and we’re holding the other in the same intense gaze as we did that night. A war between desire and fear. His head lowers, and I go up on my tiptoes, our mouths touch lightly. We don’t move; we only press our lips together in tenderness. And, just when we both decide to relinquish a little control, the door bell rings. We freeze, our bodies still united by the mere connection of our lips. The air that was once heavy around us begins to dissipate with every chime of the bell.

Then we hear his voice. The one person holding us back. The person who isn’t really between us, but there still.
Shirl Rickman is a writer, a dreamer, and an optimist. A small town Texas girl currently residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, Shirl adores her husband, daughter, and two crazy dogs. When she’s not dreaming up new love stories, Shirl can be found reading, drinking her favorite coffee, Kona Blend with coconut milk. She loves kindness, laughing and meeting her readers. 

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Book 1 in the Drag. Me. To. Hell Series By Nadine Nightingale

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🔥🔥.99 SALE🔥🔥

To celebrate Memorial Day and the start of the summer reading season Nadine Nightingale has put her best selling book, Karma, on sale for only 99c from now until June 16th! That’s a $4 savings! Grab your copy quick and start Amanda and Alex’s exciting journey before the sale is over!

Karma
Book 1 in the Drag. Me. To. Hell Series
By Nadine Nightingale

Blurb:
People call me all sorts of names—bad girl, black sheep, and my all-time favorite…Satan’s bride. I could blame the fact I’m a witch for my behavior, but the truth is I’m infuriating, arrogant, and stab-worthy.

Alex Remington is a hunter and everything I’m not—righteous, honest, caring. We used to have a thing, but that was before he learned I’m a witch and tried to kill me.

Eighteen months later, he’s back in my life and we have a deal; I’ll help him save his brother and he’ll disappear from my life for good. But karma can be a real bitch…

Links:
Amazon US: http://tinyurl.com/gwzlr5g
Barnesandnobles: http://tinyurl.com/z6udpmb Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/jes23fm iBooks: http://tinyurl.com/gsdrghz Wildrose Press: http://tinyurl.com/jhy445l

The Bad Guy by Celia Aaron

Title: The Bad Guy
Author: Celia Aaron
Genre: Dark Romance
Release Date: May 21, 2017

Blurb

My name is Sebastian Lindstrom, and I’m the villain of this
story.
I’ve decided to lay myself bare. To tell the truth for once
in my hollow life, no matter how dark it gets. And I can assure you, it will
get so dark that you’ll find yourself feeling around the blackened corners of
my mind, seeking a door handle that isn’t there.
Don’t mistake this for a confession. I neither seek
forgiveness nor would I accept it. My sins are my own. They keep me company.
Instead, this is the true tale of how I found her, how I stole her, and how I
lost her.
She was a damsel, one who already had her white knight. But
every fairy tale has a villain, someone waiting in the wings to rip it all
down. A scoundrel who will set the world on fire if that means he gets what he
wants. That’s me.
I’m the bad guy.

Purchase Links
$2.99 for a limited time
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited

Author Bio

Celia Aaron is a recovering attorney who loves romance and erotic fiction. Dark to light, angsty to funny, real to fantasy—if it’s hot and strikes her fancy, she writes it. Thanks for reading.

Author Links

Screw You by Kasey Millstead

Title: Screw You
Author: Kasey Millstead
Genre: New Adult Romance
 Release Date: May 20, 2017

Blurb

I, Emma Black, am a nerd.  A social outcast.  The
senior who has avoided the cafeteria for the past two years, ever since I got
yogurt dumped on my head.

When the popular girls initiate a plan to humiliate me, I
find I’m also naïve. Gullible.

But, I’m also smart in ways they can’t imagine.

It doesn’t take me long to discover that revenge is a dish
best served with a smoking hot guy and pretty little crown.

One finger. Two words.
Screw you.
Purchase Links
99c for a VERY limited time
AMAZON US / UK / CAAU
Excerpt
“How many drinks have you had?” Dane asks, grinning.
“Umm…”  I count on my fingers, trying to recall. 
“Maybe four?  Or, like, five?”  I shrug.
He takes a sip of the rum and Coke I made him, before
bringing his eyes to mine.  “I really a sorry, Emma.  I feel like
shit about the whole thing.”
“Shit happens,” I say nonchalantly, not letting on how much
the whole scenario humiliated me.
“Assholes cause it,” he agrees.
I giggle.  “You’re funny!  How is it you can be
funny and hot?  You can’t be both.  You have to
choose one or the other,” I announce bossily, but jokingly.  Kinda. 
“I guess I’ll choose funny then.  Looks fade, after
all.”
Gah!  You’re smart, too?  This is so
unfair!”
He leans toward me, his soft puffs of breath skating over my
face.  “You know, you’re funny and smart and so fucking beautiful,
Emma.  But you’re also humble and kind, and sweet enough to give a guy
like me a toothache.”
“Oh, my god,” I whisper. 
He leans in further and then his fingers hold my chin,
keeping me in place, as his lips sweep across mine.  I open up for him and
his tongue invades my mouth.  Soft, sweet, slow.  He tastes like
peppermint breath mints with a hint of spicy rum.  I kiss him back with an
intensity I didn’t know I possessed.
Author Bio

Kasey Millstead is a wife and mother of four children. She
lives in a picturesque location in country New South Wales, Australia.

Kasey is the author of the #1 bestselling Down Under Cowboy series. She is also
the author of The Steele Investigations series, Fighting to Stay and Illicit
Desire.

When she is not busy writing, racing around after her children and husband or
trying to avoid doing housework, she enjoys nothing more than curling up with a
good book and getting lost in the world of Happy Ever After.

Author Links

Behind The Wall by Jane Harvey-Berrick

 
 
AP new - synopsis.jpg
Prison.
The place where dreams fade and hope dies.
That’s what it’s meant for the five years that Garrett has been behind bars. But now hope is on the horizon and he’s daring to dream again: small dreams, small hopes.
Getting his GED would be a start. If only his prison-appointed teacher Miss Ella Newsome wasn’t so damn sexy.
As Garrett and Ella start to play a dangerous game, the price could be higher than either of them have guessed.

This story first appeared in the anthology HOT FOR TEACHER in 2016. It has since been extended with new scenes, more heartache and even more heat.
At the end of a long, exasperating day where nothing seemed to go as I wanted, I was happy to shake Nottoway dust from my shoes and head out for a drink with my best friend Becky.

“How’s it going in stir, sista?” she asked in her best Orange is the New Black impression.

“Fine,” I mumbled.

“Fine as in I-broke-both-my-legs-but-don’t-worry-about-me fine, or fine as in today-sucked-ass-and-I’m-feeling-sorry-for-myself?”

“Probably the latter,” I said, unable to stop a tired smile appearing on my face.

“Come tell Aunty Becky all about it, but not before you’ve had at least one Mimosa.”

“Honestly, I don’t really feel like drinking. I’ll just get all weepy and mopey.”

She shook her head and pushed a glass toward me.

“So get weepy and mopey. How’s it going with Mr. Hottie-con?”

“He’s … doing well. He makes a great teacher’s aide—better than I could have hoped. The other prisoners go to him in between classes. They’re all making so much progress.”

“That’s good then.”

“Yes.”

“And?”

“And nothing.”

“So, you’re not fantasizing about the length of his … parole?”

“Becky!”

“I’m right, aren’t I? You’re totally crushing on your jailbird boy toy.”

“He’s 30. And he’s not my boy toy.”

“But you’d like him to be?”

I took a slug of Mimosa, tossing it back like I was doing shots. Then my head dropped to my hands and I let out a groan.

“Oh my God, Becky! He’s the hottest guy I’ve ever met. Handsome, sexy, total brooding bad boy. But sweet, too. How can an ex-thief be sweet? And I don’t even know if he’s an ex-thief—not really. And when he looks at me, all dark and intense … and I haven’t had a boyfriend since Nathan. I haven’t even had a date. And now my B.O.B. needs new batteries.”

She choked on her drink then burst out laughing.

“There’s no harm in having a little down time thinking about doing the nasty with a hot felon. As long as that’s all it is.”

I sighed. Becky knew me too well.

“I like him.”

She screwed her eyes shut.

“Oh glory, I was afraid of that. You’re so predictable, El. You see something broken and you want to fix it. It’s admirable in the right circumstances, but this isn’t one of them.”

“I know. I know you’re right, but it’s chemistry, or magnetism, or pheromones, or…”

“Lust?”

I looked down at the drink in my hands.

“Honey, the guy is hot and off-limits and the original bad boy. Of course you’re lusting after him. Just promise me that you won’t do anything stupid.”

“As if!” I huffed.

“Hmm, well, tell me this. If he was paroled tomorrow, would you date him? Introduce him to me? To the rest of your friends? Would you take him home to meet your parents? Can you honestly see a future with an ex-con?”

I shook my head.

“I’m his teacher. Nothing is going to happen.”

But the truth was, it already had. I was falling for Prisoner 97813. It was reckless and stupid, maybe even dangerous.

And I couldn’t stop myself.


This story first appeared in the anthology HOT FOR TEACHER in 2016. It has since been extended with new scenes, more heartache and even more heat.
AP  new -about the author.jpg
Jane is a writer of contemporary romance fiction, known for thoughtful stories, often touching on difficult subjects: disability (DANGEROUS TO KNOW & LOVE, SLAVE TO THE RHYTHM); mental illness (THE EDUCATION OF CAROLINE, SEMPER FI); life after prison (LIFERS); dyslexia (THE TRAVELING MAN, THE TRAVELING WOMAN).
She is also a campaigner for former military personnel to receive the support they need on leaving the services. She wrote the well-received play LATER, AFTER with former veteran Mike Speirs. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk1CyB8c0xA )
Author Links
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Chapter Reveal – A Fighting Chance – Annie Stone

Coming June 5th
When Mackenzie meets Carter, it’s love at first sight. They have a blissful year together before trouble arrives. In the form of Carter’s two teenage sons.

When Hunter and Carey decide they want to live with their father in California, Mackenzie knows right away that she’s in for a tough time. And she couldn’t be more right.

The two boys show her on a daily basis that she’s not good enough for their dad. In fact, they make it quite clear their lives would be better without her. But could it be that Hunter has quite a different motive for hating her?
ONE
Mackenzie

I first met Carter on a Friday. I was standing talking to someone when he came in, and it was like every atom in the room was immediately drawn in his direction. The oxygen, the people, even the flowers turned their heads to look at him. His presence was so powerful I couldn’t help stepping a little closer. When his eyes met mine, an electric shock went through my body. I was literally glowing, and in that fraction of a second, I imagined what it would be like to be his woman. And then…
Nothing.
His eyes moved on to the next object, not even acknowledging my presence, leaving me absolutely crushed. I wasn’t worth a second look. Swallowing hard, I watched him walk over to Brittany, who had been in charge of interior design at his new company headquarters. I’d had nothing to do with the project—I was just here to support my best friend on what was going be a big evening for her.
And I had never felt as much contempt for anybody as I felt for her in that particular moment. Even though I loved her to pieces.
Carter Tilman, head of Tilman Finance Group, had occupied the number-one spot on our girls’ talk agendas the past few weeks. God, was he handsome, Brittany had told me so many times I’d started rolling my eyes at her. But now I saw him in the flesh. He was blond and blue-eyed, about six-foot-two and, from what I could see under his suit, well built. The perfect combination of sleek and edgy, he immediately made me imagine him being a somewhat less-than-perfect gentleman in private quarters.
But there he was, talking to Brittany! Not even giving me a second of his attention.
I kept watching him, inconspicuously following him around, trying to be near him. But not once did I manage to capture his attention. It made me feel small and insignificant. In his world, I didn’t even exist.
Just before midnight, Brittany signaled to me that she was done. With a slight sense of regret, I left. After all, there was no reason for me to stay. It would just make me sad.
Outside, I said goodbye to Brittany and her colleagues before walking over to my car. I was just about to open the door when somebody behind me said, “I was hoping to be introduced to you.”
Every molecule of my body strained toward him, but I didn’t want to make a complete fool of myself, so I made a point of turning around slowly. “Really?” I asked, feigning disinterest.
He came closer, nodding. “You’re stunning. I just have to kiss you.”
And kiss me, he did. Our first kiss, which led to many others. Our first encounter, which turned into hundreds. Two lives fused into one.

Which leads me to the here and now, almost one year later.
“Are you excited?” he asks.
I nod, kneading my fingers. “Oh boy, am I excited,” I say in a strangled voice.
He laughs, quietly stroking my cheek. “Just don’t show any fear. They’re like predators. They can sense it.”
“Please tell me you’re joking!”
“I’m sure they’ll like you.”
“They” are his sons. Hunter and Carey. Ages seventeen and fifteen. I haven’t met them before because they live with their mother in Miami. But they’re coming to spend the summer with their dad in San Diego. And here I am. I can’t escape the inevitable, even though it scares the living daylights out of me. Seriously, I’ve never been this nervous, not even during finals week in college.
“Relax, sweetheart,” Carter says, reaching for my hand. He runs his fingers across my knuckles soothingly.
I look at him, trying to smile. It isn’t usually difficult, but today I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m meeting his sons. His teenage sons. I’m not even that much older than them… I’m twenty-five, and Carter is forty-three. Our age difference has never been a problem before, and people say age is just a number, but, come on—this just seems like a recipe for disaster.
“Here they are,” he says, pointing. Two tall boys who look a lot like Carter—and totally different at the same time—are walking across the baggage claim toward us.
Carey, the younger one, must be nearly six feet tall. He’s blond and blue-eyed like his dad. But while his father has a distinctly manly look about him, Carey brims with the beauty and energy of youth. His skin is spotless, which I take as a personal affront, because I still get zits in my mid-twenties.
Hunter is already taller than his father. He has close-cropped brown hair and brown eyes. His cheeks and chin are speckled with stubble, and for such a young man, he has a very masculine aura. The girls must be all over him. It’s true what they say. The apple does not fall far from the tree.
They’re both trying to appear cool, but I can tell they’re happy to see their dad. They each give him an affectionate hug, and he hugs them back happily. Carter has always seemed like a sexy bachelor to me, but seeing him with his sons is kind of cute.
“Okay, boys,” he says, putting his arm around me. “This is Mackenzie. Sweetie, meet Hunter and Carey.”
The boys’ bright faces darken, letting me know I don’t stand a chance. I stretch out my hand, and they do shake it, but they squeeze so hard I have to put effort into not screaming. “Nice to meet you,” I say, trying to sound cheerful.
Carter seems satisfied, at least. “Let’s go home. Mackenzie and I thought it’d be fun to have a barbecue.”
Carey turns his cold blue eyes away from me, defrosting them for his father. “Actually, we’re meeting up with some friends tonight, Dad.”
“Oh, well, why don’t we have dinner, then you can go?” Carter suggests cheerfully.
The boys seem mollified as their dad takes Carey’s bag and puts an arm around his shoulders, Hunter on his other side. They’re the perfect trio.
“Are you coming, sweetie?” Carter calls over his shoulder.
I follow them out of the airport, the lowly fourth wheel.
Back at the car, Hunter gets in front like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Carter looks irritated for a second but doesn’t say anything. Instead, he holds the back door open for me, and I silently climb into his Mercedes SUV.
Once behind the wheel, Carter is all cheer again. “What are your plans for the summer?” he asks.
“Friends, beach, babes,” Carey says automatically.
Hunter laughs. “In that order?”
Carey shrugs. “It’s not exactly a secret you go through all three of them like candy. Especially that last one.”
Carter throws his oldest a look. If I didn’t know better, I would think it was respect, but that’s impossible, right? Could a father be proud of his seventeen-year-old son’s sexual exploits? No. There must be something else behind that look.
Hunter turns around to grin at his brother. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, virgin.”
“TMI, thank you very much,” Carter says, and he actually sounds amused.
Hunter slouches down in his seat. “I thought you’d put those condoms there on purpose so we couldn’t help but find them.”
“Don’t corrupt your brother,” Carter laughs. “There’s still hope for him.”
“Did you hear that?” Hunter says. “You’re the good, normal, boring brother.”
“No, I’m not!” Carey leans forward to punch Hunter’s shoulder.
Hunter dodges it, laughing.
For some reason, I feel like I shouldn’t be here. They’re acting like I’m not here, anyway.
“Hey, boys, no punching,” Carter throws in. “Words are your weapons! You know the rules.”
“Hunter’s too stupid to use language as a weapon,” Carey grumbles.
“Stupid?” Carter repeats. “Was that report card a fake then?”
Hunter grins. “No need for that, Dad. Unlike Carey, I’ve got brains and looks.”
“Yeah, and your looks are shit!” Carey teases.
His brother turns around, looks straight at me, and then says to his brother, “I guess you want to spend the evening with Dad then…”
There’s a meaningful silence.
Carey looks at me for a second as well and then makes a cut-throat gesture with his hand, as if to threaten me, “They’re my friends, too.”
Hunter grins like a predator. “Be a good boy then.”
Carey snorts but doesn’t say anything.
I’m relieved when we get to the house—our house. Even though I know the toughest part is still ahead. Because the boys don’t know I’ve moved in with their dad. What on earth are they going to say when we tell them? It’s clear by now that they don’t hold back. And I don’t want those word-weapons trained on me…
Walking up the driveway, I look at the house like I always do. It’s huge, built for a large, happy family, and once again, I feel like an intruder. This is where they all used to live as a family. And now Carter lives here with a new woman. Me.
As soon as the boys get inside, they quietly claim the space around them. The house seems smaller with three big men in it.
“I’ll go fire up the grill, sweetie,” Carter says when I enter the kitchen.
I nod, and he gives me a hug, kissing me on the top of my head. Carey gives me a look so hostile I have to close my eyes, fighting back tears. I don’t want to show them how much they affect me.
As soon as Carter leaves, Carey steps in front of me. “Are you after our money?”
I give him an irritated look. “Excuse me?”
“Dad’s got a lot of dough. Is that what you’re after? Why else would you be with a guy twice your age?”
I’m speechless. Hunter nonchalantly leans against the fridge, not saying anything, but there’s something terrifying about the way he’s standing there all calm, his arms crossed in front of his chest. My eyes move from one brother to the other, and my mouth goes dry.
“Sweetie, can you bring out the steaks?” Carter calls from outside.
I swallow and glance at Hunter blocking the fridge. When I take one step toward him, he doesn’t budge. “Would you mind…”
He puts on his predator’s smile. “Would I mind what?”
“Moving over.”
He smiles down at me. “Say please.”
I want to tell him to fuck off but remind myself that he’s seventeen—and testing me. I can’t say to him what I would say to a twenty-five-year-old asshole in this situation. Pulling myself together, I give him my best unflinching look. “Would you please move over?”
He steps aside. “There you go, doll.”
Doll?
Do not react, I tell myself. Just ignore it. “My name is Mackenzie. Or Mac.” I silently curse myself. Great job! Now he knows it bothers me, so he’s never going to stop calling me that.
Flustered, I get the steaks from the fridge and take them outside.
Carter smiles at me. “Hey.” He pulls me closer for a kiss. “Is everything okay?”
I nod. “Yup. Just weird.”
He gives me a loving smile. “I know you guys are all going to get along great. I love having my three favorite people here with me.”
I snuggle up to him until he frees himself to put the meat on the grill.
“Hunt?” he calls inside. “Can you set the table out here, please?”
As the boys come out onto the porch with plates and cutlery, I go back to the kitchen to grab the sides I made earlier.
“You haven’t answered my question,” someone says behind me, and I flinch so hard I drop the bowl in my hands. My potato salad lands on the floor, and glass shards from the bowl fly through the air. One of them hits my shin, and I stare at the red drop trickling down my leg.
“Are you okay, sweetie?” Carter calls, rushing inside, alerted by the almighty crash I just made.
“Yeah.” I nod a little too fast. “Just dropped a bowl. Sorry.”
“No problem,” he says. He comes over, picks me up, and sets me down on the kitchen island before diligently picking up the shards and throwing the rest of the bowl in the trash.
As he begins to wipe the floor up, my manners kick in. “Hey, let me do that,” I say, starting to slide off the counter.
“Don’t worry, I’ll do it.” He smiles at me, and a knot in my heart dissolves. Carter. He loves me. I love him. That’s what I need to remember.
When he’s finished, he gets out a Band-Aid and carefully places it over the little cut on my leg. “There you go. All set. I hope Hunter didn’t burn the meat.”
“I heard that,” a voice calls from outside. “Like I’d make a mistake doing something as manly as grilling meat.”
Carter laughs and kisses me before we take the remaining sides outside. Once we’re all sitting at the table, Carter looks at both boys. “Weren’t you two talking about going to football camp this summer?”
“It doesn’t start for three weeks,” Carey reminds him. “And we’ll only be gone a week.”
“What positions do you play?” I ask, just to be part of the conversation. Truth be told, I already know Hunter plays wide receiver and Carey’s a second-string quarterback, which they proceed to politely tell me. In fact, as long as their dad’s around, they’re polite and reasonably friendly. They’re not going out of their way to make me comfortable, but it’s at least possible to talk to them. However, when Carter takes a call and disappears into the house, things change quickly.
“Answer my goddamn question,” Carey snarls.
Hunter just grins and leans back, crossing his arms in front of his chest again. In a few years, he’ll be a real giant. He’s already tall, and even though his muscles are pretty impressive for a teenager, I’m sure he’ll bulk up some more.
Realizing I’m on my own, I look back at Carey. “You can stop asking. Because it’s none of your business.”
He pulls a face. “So you are a gold digger then.”
I gather up all my courage. It’s difficult to remember I’m a confident woman with Hunter staring at me like I’m some insect he’s about to crush. He somehow manages to appear both cocky and laid-back at the same time—a skill most men do not attain in this lifetime. “I-I don’t want to argue with you,” I say, trying to keep my voice from wavering. “I want to get to know you both, and get along. I’m not here to cause trouble. I love your dad.”
“News flash, doll,” Carey says. “Just because you spread your legs for our dad doesn’t mean you can wrap us around your finger. Dad’s brought home a lot of women over the past three years. They all had one thing in common. You want to know what it is?”
I shake my head, but I didn’t really think that was going to stop him.
“They’re not here anymore.”
Like I said, I didn’t want to know. “Please don’t talk to me like that.”
“Like what?” Carey asks innocently.
“Condescendingly.”
“Hmm,” he says, like he’s mulling it over. “To be honest, I think I’m being pleasant.” He looks at Hunter like he’s waiting for instructions, but Hunter obviously doesn’t care to interfere.
And I don’t know how to react. What am I supposed to say? “I’ll tell your father”? That’s a sure-fire way of ruining whatever chance I might still have at building a relationship with them. Or should I tell them—again—that I don’t want them talking to me like that? Only to have them ridicule me again… Maybe I should get up and leave. But then they’ll think they can do whatever they want with me.
Fortunately, Carter returns then, but he’s wearing a frown. “That was your mom,” he tells the boys. “She wanted to know where you are.”
Their expressions change immediately. Carey suddenly looks guilty, while Hunter’s face hardens.
“She said she had no idea where you were,” Carter says, his voice stern. “She was worried.”
Carey looks at the floor, but Hunter snorts disbelievingly.
“Hunter,” Carter says, frustrated, running a hand through his hair. “Is there something you want to tell me?”
Hunter looks him directly in the eye. “We want to move back to San Diego.”
Carter looks stunned. “Excuse me?” he finally grinds out.
“You want me to say it again?” Hunter says.
Carter snorts. “Why?”
Hunter rolls his eyes. “You know Mom.”
“Yeah, what about her?”
Hunter runs a hand through his short hair. “She’s a mean drunk. And she brings home all kinds of men. It’s like living in a goddamn brothel.”
I swallow. I’d thought they couldn’t stand me because they loved their mom so much. But that’s apparently not it. They may have been treating me like dirt just a few seconds ago, but I can feel their pain now. No child should have to worry about whether a parent actually cares about them. I know that best of all.
Carter runs a hand over his face. “Hunter…”
“Come on, Dad! I know what you’re going to say. But we can’t stay there with Mom.”
Carter nods slowly. “Actually, you don’t know what I’m going to say.” He looks over at me quickly. “Mackenzie moved in with me a few weeks ago. So, this is her home now, too. If you two want to move back in, you have to get along with her, too.”
Carey gives his dad an exasperated look. “She moved in with you?”
“You have a problem with that?” Carter asks, and for the first time, he sounds slightly snappy.
“No,” his youngest mumbles.
“Hunter?”
“Anything’s better than staying in Miami,” he says.
Carter nods. “Mac?”
I give him a surprised look. “Yeah?”
“It’s your home, too. Are you okay with them moving in?” he asks.
“They’re your sons,” I say, even though I have to swallow before I finish my thought. “They’ll always be welcome here.” Deep inside, I thought it would be tough to spend ten weeks with them. But having them move in with us? It’s a whole different story. While Hunter’s about to start his last year of high school—and then he’ll be off to college or somewhere else—Carey would be with us for at least another three years.
Can I do this? It very well could be three years of hell lying ahead of me.
But, at this point, I’ll just have to wait and see.
Carter puts a hand on my shoulder and looks over at Hunter again. “If I let you move in here, I expect you to behave better than you did in Miami.”
Hunter and Carey both nod. “Promise,” they say in unison.
Carter snorts. Obviously, he doesn’t believe it. “Okay, we’ll still have to see. I’ll call your mom and let her know about your decision.”
“Awesome.” Hunter gets up. “Now, we’re out of here.”
“Be back at midnight,” Carter says.
“Dad, seriously?” Carey asks in the tone of a complete brat.
“You’re fifteen,” Carter responds.
“Hunter isn’t.”
“So Hunter can bring you back here at midnight and stay out another hour.”
“That’s totally unfair!” Carey whines.
Carter gives him a firm look. “What did you just say about good behavior?”
Carey gives him a sly smile. “You said better, not good.”
I struggle to keep a neutral face, because inside, I’m secretly applauding Carey. Carter though isn’t so impressed.
“Midnight,” he says.
“Can we take the car?” Hunter asks.
Carter nods. “Keys are on the table.”
They’re gone within a second.
“Rascals,” Carter says, sitting back down with me. He puts a hand on my leg. “Thank you, sweetie.”
“It’s your house, and they’re your sons. Of course they can move in with us.”
“It’s our house,” he corrects me gently.
I shrug. “Still.”
He runs a hand through his hair. “It’ll be different.”
“Sure.”
He looks at me. “What’s wrong?”
I’m kneading my fingers, and he zooms in on them. He knows I do this when I’m nervous, so there’s no point lying to him now. “They don’t like me,” I admit.
Carter nods slowly. “Give them some time. They’ve never seen me with another woman. Only with their mom. But it’ll be okay.” I realize then that he has no idea his sons actually know about every woman he’s ever dated.
“So, I guess they don’t have a great relationship with their mom?” I say, trying not to sound like I’m prodding.
Carter shakes his head. “Not anymore. They always did before. But then she cheated on me, and I left. She started drinking, and… I guess sometimes they still hold me responsible for it.”
I take his hand. “But it’s not your fault.”
He smiles wistfully. “I know. I couldn’t stay with her. But I’m sorry my boys got hurt.”
“You’re a great dad. They love and respect you.”
He nods. “They’ve always been my number-one priority.”
“Why did they stay with their mom?”
“It’s what they wanted. Lauren was not in a good place after the divorce, and Hunter always feels like he has to take care of people. Save them. He didn’t want to leave her alone, and Carey always does what Hunter does. I’m just glad he’s somewhat of a good role model.”
A faint smile flits across my lips. “So what trouble did they get into in Miami?”
Carter smiles. “Oh, man, they messed up a few times. Nothing serious, though. Hunter got in a few fights with his coach and had plenty of detention. And they were at a few parties that were broken up by the police. Carey was caught drunk once. I’d say it’s all pretty normal for their age. Judging by what my friends say, it could be much worse. Some kids are really out there. Hunter might be a bit of a hothead, but he’s sensible enough to make sure Carey’s always safe.”
“What if they don’t accept me?” I ask.
He strokes my hand. “It’ll be fine, sweetie. Don’t give up.”
I nod, even though I know I’m in for a rough ride.
I’m a contemporary romance writer, who likes her men tattooed, her women independent and her coffee strong.

My stories are all about love, but some are of the romantic kind, some of the sad kind and others of the very steamy kind. So if you can stand drama, foul language and sex, you came to the right place.

Love, Annie
Author Links

Punched by Jacob Chance.


Title: Punched
Author: Jacob Chance
Genre: Sports Romance
Cover DesignPopkitty Design/Sybil Wilson
Release Date: June 15, 2017

Blurb
Reagan is the one who got away – or should I say the one I
drove away? Now, four years later, she’s back to manage the gym where I train.
Seeing her everyday is a distraction I can’t afford. I’m so close to achieving
the big payoff I’ve been working for. Nothing’s going to keep me from winning
this belt – not even her.
Author Bio
Jacob Chance grew up in New England. He’s a martial artist, a
football fan, a practical joker and junk food lover.

An author of erotic thrillers, he plans to write many more sexy,
suspenseful stories.

Author Links

Memorial Day Sale May 25-30th

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Entangled Me-Sydney by Maggie Way
More Than Forever by Mary B. Moore
Until Forever by Mary B. Moore
Beneath The Lies by Riann C. Miller
Crashed (Casper’s Ghost) by Kerri Ann
Lie by Mayra Statham
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