Blog Tour

The Wish by Eva LeNoir

Title: The Wish
Author: Eva LeNoir
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 3, 2020

“He’s (Marlon) definitely in my Top Five Book Hunks for the year!” USA Today Bestselling author Angel Payne

“…this book is real, and it will pull at your heartstrings.” Author Maria Vickers

My life was complicated enough, I didn’t need an added distraction. 
My father’s stubborn decision to organize a world tour, landed me toe to toe with Marlon Brooks—Los Angeles’ most eligible millionaire bachelor. 
It was easy to figure him out.
He was rich. 
He was gorgeous.
Confidence dripping from every word he spoke. 
But nothing is ever as it seems. 
Beneath his veneer hid a man of many layers—ones I would peel back slowly and savor at every turn. 
Until all his secrets were revealed. 
Secrets that could shatter my entire world.

“Hmmm, I didn’t see anything about a ‘fiancé’ in your file, Ms. Hughes.” He said, a sour note coating his otherwise smooth voice.

“Must have been an oversight.” It wasn’t.

“Must have been, indeed.” And he knew it.

“Do you always call your clients on a Sunday evening?” I asked, curious as to why he worked on weekends.

“No, I don’t. In fact, I haven’t taken a case in almost a year.”

I audibly gasped at his admission and I could hear the satisfaction in his chuckle. The man was throwing little nuggets of information my way, enticing me, daring me to give into my curiosity.

But I wouldn’t.

“We should talk again soon so we can go over the entire list before I tell my father my thoughts?” I ended my phrase on a question hoping I didn’t sound like I was giving orders but also not wanting to give him the impression that I was searching out his phone calls.

Because I wasn’t.

Not at all.

I had a…Calvin.

“We should. Sweet dreams, Ms. Hughes,” he practically purred, his voice eliciting dirty thoughts I had no business having.”

Eva LeNoir lives in France with her husband, two sons and the entire food chain in pets: From gerbils to cats and a dog. With a full-time job that pays the bills, she reserves all of her free time to doing what she loves most: Writing. 
Eva likes teasing her husband that she should have married a billionaire so she could stay home and write all day. But then he makes her laugh at his silly antics and all dreams of lavish lifestyles evaporate from her mind. A softie at heart, Eva can be seen crying whenever anything emotional is on TV or the radio. Yes, even commercials. So, if ever you meet her, make sure to bring a box of tissues and a good episode of Grey’s Anatomy to witness the epic tear fest. 
There are three things she believes unconditionally: Love really does conquer all, Humans are still inherently good and Wine and Cheese will solve all the problems of the world.

Blog Tour

Downfall by Shae Scott

 Title: Downfall
Series: A Bookworm Novel
Author: Shae Scott
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 1, 2020 

How does the fairytale end when the princess ghosts out on the marriage two weeks in?

Seriously. Someone tell me, because this is not how I pictured happily every after going. Sure, Lily McCandless warned me from the beginning that she didn’t do commitment. And yeah, we started out as a casual vacation hook-up. But we moved past that. We fell in love. Isn’t love supposed to conquer all? That’s what all the stupid books say.

I don’t know if we can fix this. But I don’t know how to walk away from the one person who sets my whole world on fire either. I used to think that I could convince Lily to believe in a love that lasts forever; now I wonder if we’ve all been lying to ourselves. Maybe that kind of love doesn’t exist at all.

Maybe some happy endings don’t find their way until you burn them to the ground first.

Downfall is a companion novel to On Paper and part of the Bookworm Series. It can be read as a standalone but is connected to On Paper and its characters and storyline. You can also read Free Fall, a Prequel Novella which showcases how Lily and Miles met.

@lifeisbetterwithbooks – “I finished this book late last night, and my mind and emotions are still reeling from this wonderful, heartbreaking, relentless, amazing book.”

Wendy’s Book Blog – “I was enthralled throughout this riveting tale…”

Goodreads Review (Melissa) – “Miles and Lily’s story was one of resiliency, love, uncertainty and friendship. I certainly didn’t expect their journey to be what it was but it was refreshing to read a story line that I hadn’t read before.”

Shae Scott is a contemporary romance writer who loves to write stories that turn real life into fairytales. She loves a story that makes you believe that real romance can happen when you least expect it.
Shae was born a southern girl and her accent comes out when she’s excited or drinking. Now, she lives just outside of Kansas City with a boy she met on vacation in California, her tiny dog and the most well-mannered cat around. When she’s not writing, she’s usually reading or watching true crime documentaries. She loves podcasts, deep discussions about nothing, all bodies of water, fried pickles, tree tunnels, and animals of all kinds.

She also loves to talk to her readers. Connect with her anytime:

Blog Tour

Relentless Habit by Karen Renee

 Title: Relentless Habit
Series: O-Town Series
Author: Karen Renee
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 1, 2020

I moved to Orlando for a fresh start.
Nobody could know my secret.
Catching the attention of the hottest DJ in all of Orlando wasn’t in the plan.
He’s got moves, and they’re not just good. They are good.
Like the beats he spins in the booth, I fall fast for him and his crazy family.
When he finds out about my past, it won’t just break my heart but also crush my soul.
The third time I saw her at a crowded club, I had to have her.
After our first kiss, I knew she was a habit I would never want to break.
Knowing what she hid from me reinforces what I’ve known for so long. Women cannot be trusted.
Even knowing the worst, I can’t stay away from her.
But when push comes to shove, will I be able to keep her safe?

Karen Renee is the author of the Riot MC Series. She has wanted to be a writer from a very early age, and she’s finally bringing that dream to life. She has worked in advertising, banking, and local television media research. She is a proud wife and mother, and a Jacksonville native. When she’s not at the soccer field or cooking, you can find her at her local library, the grocery store, in her car jamming out to some tunes, or hibernating while she writes and/or reads books.


Release Blitz

Claiming the Crown by Kailin Gow

Title: Claiming the Crown
Series: Hidden Falls High #3
Author: Kailin Gow
Genre: New Adult Contemporary/
Reverse Harem/Dark Romance
Release Date: September 7, 2020


How do you stop a storm that has already been brewing, set in a path to wipe out all that stands in its way?

Dante Black

It’s time to make my move. I’ve shown the princess some mercy. Instead of hitting hard on her, I diverted the attention of the Inner Circle to another. Now they have issued an order for me to move or they will send someone else who won’t hesitate to finish the job.

My own father, Cole Black.

If you think I’m a monster, then you will think he’s the devil. He once killed me off, only to resurrect me into his own likeness, but without a human heart which was replaced with a metal one.

Summer was the one who brought my metal heart back to life, though.

Too bad, she’s also the Princess I was sent to destroy.

***Claiming the Crown is the third book in the USA Today Bestselling New Adult/YA Contemporary RH Dark Romance Series.

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“You’re so cute when you raise your eyebrows like that,” Summer said. “Like the Tinman from Wizard of Oz.”

I smiled. Her reference was a secret between us…since she knew about my mechanical heart.

“I’m glad the wizard fixed it,” she said. “Now you don’t have to be what he tried to make you to be… the Tin Man who carried an ax. Why an ax? Was he supposed to be bad? Evil?”

I got what she was saying and kissed her on the lips. “He was, but the girl saved him…brought him to the wizard, turned him human again.”

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Also includes the series prequel, Crushed


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Author Bio

From visiting Romania, Award-winning and Million-Selling USA Today Bestselling Author Kailin Gow was asked to write stories about vampires; visiting the Black Forest in Germany and seeing the castles of Europe inspired her to write fantasy; visiting Asia’s mystical mountains inspired her to write action adventure and mythological dystopians. From her experience in college as a peer counselor and her volunteer work with women’s shelters, she was inspired to write contemporary romance with social issues for women, new adults, young adults, and teens. Having faced adversity, including battling stereotypes and bullying, Kailin Gow has become a well-known speaker and figure in media. Her adventurous bold spirit has taken her around the world, where she has ridden on top of elephants through jungles, hand-fed sting rays, studied kung fu from a Shaolin Temple monk, and learned cooking from a celebrity chef.

Compelled to write her first fiction book because of 9/11, Kailin Gow now has over 465 fiction books published under Kailin Gow and various Pen Names which are USA Today Bestselling authors in many genres.

She is also an award-winning screenwriter, director, producer, speaker, and host whose films have screened and premiered in theaters all over the world including at Cannes.  As a speaker and host, she has hosted international shows at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, been a celebrity judge at beauty pageants, been a judge for writing contests, and hosted television series.   She was featured as an Indie Author Success Story on the homepage of for a month and is also included in Amazon’s book called Transformations, and her YA book series called Bitter Frost Series has been made into a digital game, an animated award-winning short film, and is in development as a television series, and her coming of age YA/New Adult romance Loving Summer is being developed as a featured film.

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Release Blitz

Wicked Intention by Patti O’Shea

Title: Wicked Intention
Series: Paladin League #2
Author: Patti O’Shea
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: September 6, 2020


Zofia Parker knows smuggling priceless relics out of a war-torn country is a hazardous job. So it’s not a surprise to find herself on the run with the Disk of the Gods, an ancient artifact on everyone’s wish list. Losing her passport and phone complicates her escape, but she has an ace in the air, winging his way to her rescue. She might just make it out of this mess alive—if she can stay one step ahead of the government brute squads and ruthless criminals chasing her. And if she can find a way to rendezvous with the ex-Special Forces soldier hellbent on saving her.

Finn Rowland doesn’t have time for bogus government charges and a stint in a Puerto Jardinese jail. Not when his woman is on the run. Not when she’s in danger. But escaping is the easy part. Finding Zo and getting her out of the country before one of the factions trailing her closes in for the kill will require him to return to the world of covert ops. He’s walking a tightrope without a net and one misstep could cost him his life. And the life of his woman.

Purchase Links

$3.99 for a limited time!


Free in Kindle Unlimited

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Author Bio

Nationally bestselling author Patti O’Shea has won many awards for her writing and been nominated for even more. Her books have appeared on the Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks, and Borders bestseller lists and earned starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

At various points in her life, Patti O’Shea wanted to be a doctor, an astronomer, a marine biologist, and a photographer before she discovered writing as a teenager. That’s when she knew what she really wanted to be when she grew up.

After finishing college, Patti went to work for a major US airline in Minneapolis. This gave her an opportunity to see far off places like Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, and the Yukon in Canada. Along the way, she experienced lots of cool things. In Alaska, she saw a humpback whale breach near her catamaran, she slid down a wooden rail in a salt mine in Austria, and she visited all of King Ludwig’s castles in Germany, among many other adventures.

When Patti decided to get serious about writing, she discovered that her travel and her eclectic education were all training to become an author. She currently lives in Atlanta, where she still works for a major US airline.

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Blog Tour

The Secrets We Keep by Lisamarie Kade

Title: The Secrets We Keep
Author: Lisamarie Kade
Genre: New Adult Romance
Release Date: September 3, 2020
Cover Design: Amanda Walker PA and Design Services
In a blink of an eye life can change, altering the path one is on.
Now living in a new town with a new name, Evie quietly learns to adjust.
When she meets Landon, he captures her attention and makes her feel things she’s never felt before. 
But Evie has been dealt a hand she didn’t ask for, one that consists of secrets she can’t tell.
What will happen when those secrets come out of the darkness, revealing a truth she didn’t want exposed?
Can Evie and Landon weather the storm together or will their secrets tear them apart?
Lisamarie Kade lives in the Sunshine State with her husband, loads of children, and 2 naked dogs.
Coffee and chocolate are her go to most days. She believes music is life. 
When she isn’t busy with her family she enjoys reading, writing, and going to concerts. 
Lisamarie would love to hear from you. Please feel free to reach out and follow her on social media.
Release Blitz


Risking the Shot by Amy Aislin

Series: Stick Side #4

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date: September 8, 2020

Subgenre: M/M Contemporary Romance

Cover by: Natasha Snow Designs

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Synopsis for Risking the Shot:

Time for distractions? Hardly.

A chance at making the playoffs? It’s a dream for NHL forward Taylor Cunningham that just might come true. If he can keep his eyes on the ball—ahem, puck. And study for midterms. Dakota Cotton, eleven years his senior, isn’t just a distraction, though—he’s everything Tay’s ever wanted.

Dakota has no interest in introducing someone who might not stick around to his four-year-old son. Been there, done that, with the divorce to prove it. But there’s something about Tay that hits all of the right buttons and has him wanting to take a chance.

As things heat up between them, and the pressure to succeed hits an all-time high, will they risk a shot at happiness or choke?

Extra info to share:

Shots on Goal (Stick Side #3) will be reduced to $0.99 from September 7-17 across all retailers.


Teaser #1

Clearing his throat, he said, “What are you drinking?”

“Oban 14. Scotch,” Dakota added at Tay’s questioning look.

“Smells good.” The scent had been wafting in his direction since he first sat down, strong and vaguely smoky, peaty. It reminded him of Dakota for reasons he couldn’t name.

Scooting forward on the bench, their knees touching, he said, “Can I try it?”

Dakota’s gaze caught his, gray and shadowy and searching. Tay held it, refusing to break eye contact. Let Dakota see how attracted he was to him. Dakota must already know anyway. What was the point of holding back? Tay wanted Dakota and he wasn’t shying away from it.

Without looking away, Dakota leaned forward, bringing their faces within inches of each other. Dakota’s soft breath whispered across Tay’s lips, making his own breath catch. Holding his glass out, Dakota still didn’t look away as Tay brought it to his mouth, placing his lips over the outline of Dakota’s on the glass.

Dakota didn’t miss it, his smile turning knowing. The heat in Tay’s blood had nothing to do with the scotch.

Which, in itself, was… “Holy fuck, this is good.” Strong and smoky, yes—even the taste reminded him of Dakota—with hints of fruits and honey.

Dakota made a sound in the back of his throat, an acknowledgment that sounded like a groan. The heat in Tay’s blood spread outward, flushing his cheeks, dotting his temple with sweat. Fuck, it suddenly got very, very warm in this coatroom. Warmer still when Dakota’s gaze dipped down to Tay’s mouth.

Teaser #2

“Let’s see what you got.”

“Don’t judge if I fail,” Dakota warned, pointing a finger at him.

Tay mock gasped. As genuinely as he could, he said, “I make no promises.”

Dakota was shaking his head at him. In the next moment, he whipped a slap shot into the back of the net.

“Oh ho!” Tay crowed. “Look at you.”

“Yeah.” Dakota blew on his nails. “I still got it.”

“Wow, Daddy!” In his excitement, Andy hopped, unbalancing himself and landing on his butt. He was on his knees in an instant, clapping. “Again!”

Dakota skated backward, gaze over his shoulder so he didn’t hit anyone, and stopped just beyond the face-off circle. Seemed like he was giving himself a bigger challenge.

Never in his life had Tay been turned on by watching his teammates play or practice. Watching Dakota set up a shot? Knees slightly flexed, torso held straight? Drawing his stick back, his leather jacket pulling tight across the shoulders? Concentration lines furrowing his brow, pink lips set in a determined line? Tay was much more turned on than the situation warranted, but fuck. Why did Dakota have to be so damn sexy?

Dakota’s next shot joined the first. The grin that lit up his face did way more than warm Tay’s belly.

Get your mind out of the gutter, Cunningham. There are kids present.

Speaking of kids…

“What do you think, And—?” Dakota cut himself off when he noticed Andy making snow angels on the ice. “Yeah, that looks about right.”


Excerpt #1:

Dakota snuck an arm around Tay’s back. “Can I get you a beer?”

“Yes.” Head falling back, Tay groaned. “Also no. I really do need to go. I’ve got an early flight tomorrow and I want to get a reading assignment done tonight.”

“Right, I remember now,” Dakota said as Tay turned toward him, hands coming up to grip his biceps. Dakota’s went to Tay’s hips. “West Coast games.”

“Yeah.” Tay’s gaze dropped to Dakota’s mouth.

“Guess I won’t invite you to dinner tomorrow then.”

That gaze came back up, pleased and surprised. “Were you going to?”

“Well.” He brought Tay in closer, thigh-to-thigh, chest-to-chest, his blood heating when Tay’s hands inched up his arms and around his neck. “Andy wanted me to.”

“Oh, Andy wants me to come to dinner, huh?” Tay’s lips were a mere inch away now, slightly curved upward, amusement alight in his eyes.

“Maybe I did too.”

They were smiling when their lips met. Tay tasted slightly like the one beer he’d had with dinner and like something uniquely Tay. Fingers swept into Dakota’s hair and gripped, making him exhale sharply into Tay’s mouth. Thank fuck Tay had stayed.

Dakota’s arms crept around Tay’s hips, one hand sneaking under Tay’s sweater to run over his back, the skin smooth and warm. The other gripped a handful of Tay’s ass, bringing him that much closer and nudging their semis together.

Tay made a sound in the back of his throat, guttural and deep. It reverberated into Dakota’s bones and outward to the tips of his fingers. They were evenly matched in height; still, Tay rose up onto his toes as if that could bring them even closer together.

A shiver wracked Tay’s whole body. Gentling the kiss that had gotten more heated than Dakota had anticipated, he pulled back and swept his thumb over Tay’s wet lips. “Okay?”

“Yeah.” Eyes heavy-lidded, Tay smiled softly. “I’m just… I don’t know. Amazed.”

“’Cause my kiss was that awesome?” Dakota teased.

Tay let out a short laugh and cupped the side of Dakota’s neck. “It was pretty epic as far as first kisses go.”

Before Dakota could ask what was actually amazing, Tay kissed him again, tongue curling into Dakota’s mouth. Dakota moaned, inserting a thigh between Tay’s legs.

They kissed until Dakota’s mouth went dry, until his lips were sore. Until Tay lost his balance, clutching at Dakota’s shoulders with a laugh. He tucked his face into Dakota’s neck, the gesture so sweet and trusting that Dakota smiled against Tay’s temple.

Pulling back, Tay searched his face. For what, Dakota couldn’t tell.

“Can I take you out sometime?”

Entranced by Tay’s smile, Dakota cupped his cheeks. “On a date?”

“Mm-hmm.” A quick kiss landed on Dakota’s lips. “And then for our second one, maybe we can take Andy with us and go bowling or something.”

Tay was already looking forward to their second date?

More importantly, he wanted to include Andy too?

Excerpt #2:

“Why don’t you grab us a seat?” Tay said. “I’ll wait for the tray.”

He sat across from Dakota a few minutes later, setting the tray in the middle of the table and passing Dakota his food. Sitting back with his own coffee, Tay took a sip of the too-hot liquid and examined Dakota’s face in the light streaming in from the window to his left. His shoulders were more relaxed, the stress lines around his mouth less pronounced, and his eyes less pinched.

“Long day?”

Dakota made an Mm sound around a sip of his own coffee.

“Are they usually?”

Dakota shook his head and exchanged his coffee mug for a fork. “Not usually. It’s been a heavy meeting day today, though. Almost back to back until four.”

“How do you get any actual work done if you’re in meetings all day?”

“I don’t,” Dakota said with an unamused chuckle, digging his fork into his pie. “Not until after Andy goes to bed.”

Tay broke off a piece of his cookie. “That sucks.”

“It does, but it’s not often. I’m pretty lucky that, for the most part, I leave the job at the office when I leave at the end of the day.” Dakota slid his pie in Tay’s direction. “Want some?”

“I’m good, thanks. I had lunch after practice.” The cookie was warm and gooey in Tay’s mouth, and he chewed thoughtfully for a moment. “Is that why you work in non-profit? Because of the work-life balance?”

“Depending on which non-profit you work for, the work-life balance isn’t always better than one you might have at a for-profit. I got really lucky with the Foundation, but I also established boundaries early on. Unless I’ve got an urgent, last-minute project or am waiting on time-sensitive information, I don’t check emails outside of work hours. Andy’s my first priority, not some board member who’s got their underwear in a bunch over the wording in an email we sent our donors.”

The grouchiness in his voice had Tay covering up a smile with his coffee mug.

“I only put in a couple of hours of work after Andy’s gone to bed after days like today, where I don’t get anything done and need to catch up on a few things.”

“Speaking of work, why don’t you tell me more about this direct mail appeal I supposedly agreed to help with. Also, what’s direct mail?”

Dakota laughed softly, infectious and sweet. “In the non-profit world, direct mail is a request for a donation. It’s a story-based letter with a couple of asks buried in the copy. I’m sure you’ve seen them from hospital foundations and social justice charities. ‘This is Jordan, he’s five and for only fifty cents a day you can make sure he has clean water to drink.’”

Tay nodded. “Okay. So in the Foundation’s case, it’d be something like, donate today and help us renovate this athletic facility so kids of all ages can have access to sports.”

“Exactly.” Dakota pointed his fork at him.

“Who does the letter get mailed to?”

“Our donors and volunteers.”

“Okay. How can I help, though?” Tay finished off his cookie and set the empty plate back on the tray. “I don’t know how to write that kind of thing.”

“Sorry, I should’ve been clearer.” Dakota moved his own empty plate to the tray, then cupped his hands around his mug. “You don’t need to write anything. I have a writer on staff. Being our signatory means the letter is told from your point of view, in your own voice, and with your signature at the bottom, but my writer will draft it after she interviews you for your story.”

“What story?”

“You tell me,” Dakota said, a glint in his eye Tay didn’t understand until Dakota’s feet trapped one of his own underneath the table. “Have you ever taken advantage of a program run by a non-profit so you could keep playing?”

Oh, so he was going to pretend they weren’t playing footsies under the table, was he? Fine. Tay could play this game too. Good thing they were tucked into a quiet corner of the café. “Actually, yeah.” He ran the top of one foot up Dakota’s leg.

Dakota choked on his coffee.

Tay grinned.

About the author:

Amy’s lived with her head in the clouds since she first picked up a book as a child, and being fluent in two languages means she’s read a lot of books! She first picked up a pen on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class had to stay inside for recess. Tales of treasure hunts with her classmates eventually morphed into love stories between men, and she’s been writing ever since. She writes evenings and weekends—or whenever she isn’t at her full-time day job saving the planet at Canada’s largest environmental non-profit.

An unapologetic introvert, Amy reads too much and socializes too little, with no regrets. She loves connecting with readers. Join her Facebook Group, Amy Aislin’s Readers, to stay up-to-date on upcoming releases and for access to early teasers, find her on Instagram and Twitter, or sign up for her newsletter.

Website: Instagram: Facebook: Facebook Group: Twitter: Bookbub: Goodreads: Newsletter:


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New Release

Logan (Dad Bod Doms book 1) by Golden Angel

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Four men… One challenge.
The Dad Bod Doms are ready to put the spark back in their relationships and prove their mettle. 

Gone are the days when Logan Hunt was a sleekly muscled, highly coveted Dom.
Now he’s got a dad bod, a busy life, and a cold bed.
It’s been months since he and his wife have had time for each other, nevermind time to play at a club.

When he and his best friends issue each other a challenge to put the D back in the Dom – and more importantly in his long-neglected wife – Logan decides to do whatever it takes to prove that a Dad Bod Dom can still rock his sub’s world.

Release Blitz

Time Lost

Title: Time Lost

Series: Out of Time, Book Two

Author: C.B. Lewis

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: September 7, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 114600

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, science fiction, gay, British, detective/police officer, law enforcement, crime procedural, engineer, programmer/decoder, murder, mystery, age gap, interracial, dirty talk, spanking, outrageous flirtation

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A dead intruder. A missing scientist. A terrified child. No one wants a dramatic case first thing on a Monday morning, but that’s exactly what Detective Inspector Jacob Ofori got. It should be open and shut, but scientist Tom Sanders is nowhere to be found, a dead man seems to have appeared from thin air, and the Temporal Research Institute—Sanders’s company—is strangely uncooperative about assisting with the case. Jacob’s only source is TRI engineer, Kit Rafferty. He clearly wants to help, but there’s only so much the man can and will tell him. As more and more impossible questions mount up, Jacob finds himself facing a reality that could change his world.


Time Lost C.B. Lewis © 2020 All Rights Reserved Chapter One At first, everyone assumed it was a burglary. The postman was the first on the scene. He’d arrived early in the morning to make a delivery to the house in question and found the front door wedged open. No one answered when he rang the bell, so he called the police. The two constables arrived to investigate, and they were the ones who found the body. It escalated after that. Not even noon, Jacob thought grimly. Hell of a way to start a Monday. His autopod shuttled along, arcing off from the main highway. As much as he missed manual controls of old-fashioned cars and early autocars, he appreciated the driverless function of the pod because it gave him time to skim through the images from the crime scene en route. He wouldn’t get a feel for the scene until he got there, but the images let him know what he was about to walk into. There were signs of a struggle in the room where the body was found, and plenty of blood, but the rest of the house seemed undisturbed. “Control to Delta Seven. ETA to destination?” Jacob leaned forward and cleared the images from the display on the windscreen, bringing up his location on the map. Beyond it, he could see the country roads through the glass. “ETA fifteen minutes, Control,” he replied, then muttered under his breath, “Into the backside of nowhere.” It was half an hour beyond the miles of sprawling suburbs of the city in the middle of green fields and close to a forest. The nearest amenities had to be at least four miles from the building. He shook his head. What kind of person chose to live all the way out there anymore? It wasn’t as if there were a shortage of housing in the city. A chime indicated another image had been received. Jacob opened it up and leaned forward, frowning. A door, barely visible, blended into the pattern of the wall. No handle, no visible hinges. “You seeing this, sir?” Constable Foley’s voice rang through the speaker. “I am indeed, Foley,” he said, widening the image. “Is that a safe room?” “Looks that way, sir,” the constable replied. “The dust in front of it suggests a box was moved and recently. Looks like someone might be in there.” Smart girl, Jacob thought with approval. “Any response?” “Not yet, sir, but if they were attacked—” “They might not be capable of replying,” Jacob finished. “Keep trying.” He minimised the image and looked out through the windscreen. “I have visual on you, Foley. Be with you soon.” Ahead of him, the house was visible between the trees. The red brick structure had to be at least two centuries old, but even from a distance, the modern touches were obvious. The windows were thick and secure. The roof had been replaced with faux slate. The autopod purred to a halt beside the four other vehicles lining the gravel courtyard, and the door slid aside. Jacob stepped out and glanced at the other vehicles. He recognised the coroner’s transport pod, and the standard blue-and-white- patterned squad pod, but the other two were probably the homeowner’s. Foley opened the front door to greet him. Half his age, she hadn’t been with the force long enough to be as jaded as him yet. She smiled in greeting. “Morning, sir.” He winced. “Say afternoon. It makes it a little more bearable.” She laughed. “You want a summary, sir?” “I read up on it on the way over. Any word on the owner?” “Thomas Sanders,” Foley said, leading him toward the house. “Forty-eight. Widower with one young son. He’s a well-reputed scientist and engineer. High up in some kind of historical and scientific research program in the city, the Temporal Research Institution.” “Have you been able to make contact with him?” Foley shook her head, her sandy ponytail swinging. She offered him overalls to cover his suit. “We’ve tried his business and private numbers. His colleagues said he’s been on a leave of absence for health reasons for several weeks. Our best bet is the safe room.” “Any sign of the son?” “We assume he’s with his father,” Foley replied. “Do we have an ID for the body yet?” She hesitated in the hallway. “That’s the strange thing, sir. We can’t find anything on him. His prints aren’t in the system. No DNA trace either. We still need to run facial recognition, but so far, we’ve got nothing.” “That’s not unusual.” Foley looked at him. “There’s something off about it all. I’ll show you.” The house was spacious inside. The lower level was split into four rooms, all branching off from a wide, sunlit hall. Foley led him down the hall and to one of the rooms at the back, her covered boots thumping on the wooden floors. Jacob stopped in the doorway, taking a moment, then stepped across the threshold. The crime scene team was still at work. The room appeared to be some kind of laboratory with workbenches running along one wall. Another wall was covered in old-fashioned whiteboards with all kinds of incomprehensible text and codes marked on them in half a dozen colours. Jacob studied all of it for a moment, but whatever Sanders was working on, it was far beyond Jacob’s barely adequate physics A level. There were little machines here and there, suspended from the boards by wires. Spools of wire and gears were scattered across the floor. Several boxes had been upended from shelves and lay on their sides. In the middle of it all, the body lay face down on the floor, a bloodied hammer close at hand. Danni Michaels was working on the body and glanced up with a nod. “Sir.” “Cause of death?” Jacob said, keeping his eyes off the dead man’s face. “Looks like blunt force trauma,” Danni replied, nudging her magnifying glasses up her nose with her knuckles. “I don’t think it’s a wild guess to say the weapon was that hammer. It was a single blow, landed here.” Jacob gritted his teeth and looked. The left side of the man’s forehead was ruptured. His eyes were open, and he had an expression of surprise on his rigid, bloody face. He was young. Maybe thirties. Dark-haired. His eyes were dark, the pupils flared wide open, but death sometimes did that. Blood had spread in a wide, sticky pool around his body. Jacob swallowed down the familiar rising acid. Christ, he hated the messy ones. He glanced around the room. A pair of slippers, several steps away from the blood pool, had left bloody prints on the polished floor. The owner must have kicked them off, and they’d ended up at least three feet from each other. Not good shoes for running, slippers. If he—men’s slippers, size nine approximately—had already knocked down the man on the floor, then there had to be another assailant whom he was running from. “Any sign of this man’s accomplice?” “Accomplice?” Foley asked. Jacob gestured to the slippers. It was easier than looking at the body. “You don’t try and run from an unconscious, nearly dead man. There was someone else here.” “We haven’t seen any sign of anyone else,” Foley replied. “Sorry, sir. I didn’t even notice that.” He offered her a brief smile. “That’s why I’m a DI, Foley.” He motioned to the body. “You said there was something off?” Foley nodded, crouching by the body. “Take a look at his right eye.” Jacob went down beside her, propping his forearms on his knees. It took him a moment, but then he saw what she was pointing out: The pupil wasn’t blown. There was no iris at all. “What the hell…” He leaned closer. “Michaels, can I borrow your magnifiers?” She handed them over and obligingly shone the torch over the man’s eyes. “Clever, isn’t it?” Jacob peered down and frowned. “A synthetic bionic eyeball? Is that even possible?” Michaels shook her head. “I’ve heard of people developing them, but I’ve never heard of any successful trials.” She squatted by the body and grinned. “I can’t wait to get it out and see what it’s made of.” “And there’s one of those images I didn’t need,” Jacob murmured, peering through the magnifier again. The pupil seemed to be a focusing lens. High-quality, high-end technology. “Foley, have you checked anywhere that might carry tech this advanced?” “We’re putting together a list,” she said. “But from what we’re hearing back, this is off the charts, sir. No one has heard of technology like this before, or if they have, they’re not telling us about it.” He straightened up. “You said this Sanders was a scientist?” “Doctor in physics and engineering,” she confirmed. “Could he have made something like this?” She hesitated. “From all accounts, he didn’t deal in human biology or bio-artificing.” “Doesn’t mean he couldn’t.” Jacob ran a hand over his face. “Well, if we can’t find this man by standard identification, maybe we can find him by the eye he doesn’t have. Danni, we need all the information you can get us as soon as possible.” “Sir,” Danni said at once. Jacob turned to Foley. “Where’s Singh?” “Still trying to get into the safe room.” She jerked her head. “This way.” The safe room was up the stairs in what appeared to be a playroom. Windows lined one of the walls, the others covered in posters and drawings. Kids’ toys and games were scattered all over the place. Singh was working his way along the one blank wall with a scanner. Jacob took in the mess. “You said Sanders has a son?” “Ben,” Foley confirmed. “About eight?” Foley looked at him in surprise. “Seven and a half. Is this another one of those detective things?” Jacob chuckled. “This time, it’s one of those dad things.” Singh glanced over his shoulder at them, sighing in frustration. “Foley, I know you said to scan for a high intensity of fingerprints on the wall, but this whole wall is fingerprints.” He nodded at Jacob. “Afternoon, sir.” “Singh.” Jacob approached, studying the wall. “It’s very smoothly done, isn’t it?” He rubbed his short beard thoughtfully with his fingertips. “No visible buttons or latches anywhere?” “None we could find,” Foley said. “I thought it might be a pressure-point system, but seems not. We requested an expert, but they’ve been delayed.” “I think we need to un-delay them,” Jacob said, touching his earbud to activate it. “If Sanders is wounded and inside there, we need to get him out. If not, we need confirmation, because this could be an abduction.” While they waited, Jacob had gone down to the laboratory to take another look at the whiteboards. He didn’t see what it had to do with Sanders’s work at the Temporal Research Institution. A quick search suggested the institution specialised in identifying historical discrepancies and confirming historical events. It could be something to do with locating old records and creating algorithms, he supposed. You would need a specialised engineer to do that. “Sir?” Jacob turned. “Foley?” “The smith is here. I thought you might want to be present if he can open the door.” They headed back up the stairs to the playroom. The body had been removed in the hour before the locksmith arrived, the crime scene unit now working their way out from the house across the grounds, searching for trace evidence of the intruders. The locksmith was already working on the wall with a scanning device. “Apparently,” Singh said, joining them, “all safe room doors come installed with a registration chip, in case the mechanism needs to be deactivated in an emergency.” “Not unlike this,” Jacob observed. “Useful.” The locksmith glanced over. “It’s a recent make. Give me two minutes.” In the end, he took less than thirty seconds, and the door swung outward. Inside, there was a room big enough for a family, but only one person was there. A small tawny-haired boy shrank back into the corner of the room, his arms wrapped around his legs, his face bone-white. Jacob motioned for the smith and the two constables to back off, and crouched a couple of feet away from the door. “Hey,” he murmured. The boy was shivering, and tears rolled down his face from swollen, red-rimmed eyes. Jacob took out his badge, laid it on the floor, and slid it across to the boy. “It’s okay. I’m a policeman. My name’s Jacob.” He watched as the boy tentatively leaned forward and looked at the badge. “Are you Ben?” The boy nodded. “Where’s my dad?” His voice shook as much as he was. “We’re trying to find him now.” Jacob offered a hand. “Do you want to come out? You don’t need to stay in there.” “Dad told me to stay here.” Ben wrapped his arms tighter around his legs. “He told me to, until he came to get me.” “I know.” Jacob knelt and sat back on his heels. “We want him to come and get you, too, Ben, but right now, I think he’d want you to be safe, don’t you? How about we keep you safe?” “P-promise?” Jacob nodded. “Promise.” Ben got unsteadily to his feet. His trousers were sodden, and there was vomit on the front of his shirt. The poor kid must have been terrified. Jacob knelt up, offering both his hands, and Ben’s icy fingers wrapped around his. “There you go,” Jacob said as gently as he could, drawing Ben back out. “You’re safe now.” The little boy gave a sob and stumbled forward and wrapped his arms around Jacob’s neck, clinging to him. Jacob scooped him up and rose to his feet with the boy in his arms. He rubbed his hand in circles on Ben’s back. “You’re okay,” he murmured. “You’re okay.”


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Meet the Author

C.B. Lewis has been making up nonsense since she was able to talk. Now, she puts it into computers and turns it into books. She is chuffed to bits to officially be yet another one of the collective of authors from Edinburgh. Find C.B. Lewis on Facebook.


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