New Release

Love, Lies, and Grace


Christian Women’s Fiction

Date Published: 5/24/2021

Grace’s life is one most women will envy. She is married to a wealthy banker who is loving and passionate and showers her with expensive gifts, but there is only one catch: they live in different states. However, Grace’s faith in God, her two friends with whom she shares her home, and her pet Papillon fill the void while she and her husband are apart.

Grace’s friends, Pat and Milli, each has a heavy secret which they eventually reveal to Grace. Pat’s husband is dying in a nursing home, when she initially told Grace he was dead, and Milli, the health buff, who is trying to hide the fact that she has been diagnosed with cancer, is eventually forced to disclose it.

Without being judgmental, Grace cancels a vacation her husband had planned for her birthday in order to help her friends. Once the crises are over, she travels to New York to visit her husband and discovers that another woman is pregnant with his baby. As if this is not devastating enough, the woman makes a request that can change Grace’s life forever.

Reminiscent of the Golden Girls TV series, this provocative tale `shows how strangers can become friends, and friends can, literally, become family.

About the Author

Angela is the author of Love, Lies, and Grace; the Egypt series consisting of three books, and Women For All Seasons, a Christian non-fiction book. Angela’s work has also appeared in Chicken Soup For the Soul: Reboot Your Life, A Cup of Comfort For Mothers and Guidepost magazine.

Angela has a background in occupational therapy and also writes for online health publications. Angela is married, with four children, five grandchildren, and one great-grandson.

Angela loves reading, writing, travel to historical spots and cooking up award-winning dishes for her family.

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Twitter: @trincity



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Book Blitz

Cowboy to Her Rescue


Contemporary Western Romance, Small Town Romance

Date Published: May 2021

Publisher: Bell Bridge Books

Once betrayed, twice shy…

When a young soldier home on leave rescued Sydney Bishop from attackers, he also stole her heart. But, when he returned to active duty without saying goodbye, she was shattered.

Now years later, fate–and a little matchmaking–has brought them together again.

As a way of overcoming his own wartime nightmares, Ryland built a ranching retreat in Montana. His goal? To give traumatized military families a place to heal. But the ranch desperately needs funding. Luckily, help comes through, in the form of Sydney’s mother, who’s kept tabs on her daughter’s first love over the years. Her foundation is more than willing to give him the cash he needs, but there’s a catch.

And if Sydney finds out, she might never think of Ryland as her hero again. . .


He slammed the truck to a stop. The seat belt, tight against his chest, jerked him out of the fantasy. His heart pounded, exactly as it had when’d felt her close tight around him when he’d eased inside her for the first time.

Swearing, he whipped his head around, saw her studying him. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes wide, not with surprise, but with wonder. Exactly as they had been that single night.

God help him, he wanted her with a hunger he hadn’t felt in years.

They stared at one another, neither wanting to make the first move, both afraid of the consequences if they reached out and acted on the desire that stretched between them. How was it possible to be so powerful after all the years? After the way they’d parted?

I think you missed the turn-off,” she finally whispered.

They sat, figuratively and literally, at a crossroads. If they went straight ahead, if they acted on this need pulsing between them, would it be a short trip filled with speed and rush? Or, if they turned right, would it prove to be a detour that eventually led to a roadblock?

Sorry. I was daydreaming there for a moment,” he finally said, not attempting to keep the direction of his thoughts out of his voice or gaze.

Were you?” she asked with a boldness that surprised him.

I’m not sure it’s wise for us to go down that road again, Sydney.”

I suppose you’re right,” she said, turning away from him. But not before he heard her soft whisper, “And that’s a damn shame.”

About the Author

An author of passionate, emotional romances with heart, Pam loves crafting stories about independent women and men who discover the thrill and joy of falling in love. After years of moving as both an Army brat and corporate wife, Pam and her craftsman husband settled in Atlanta, close to family and friends. When not writing, Pam enjoys quilting, planting beautiful flowers, home improvement projects and spending time with her wonderful family.

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Leveling the Field by Elise Faber


Leveling The Field by Elise Faber releases on June 14th!
Preorder Now On All Platforms

I’d fallen for him the first time he smiled at me.

My heart was his the moment he’d complimented me on my explosives skills.

As members of KTS, a secret military group who was tasked with saving the world from the biggest and baddest of the criminal underworld, we went to places other people couldn’t, put our lives on the line when others wouldn’t.

But being a KTS agent was hell on a woman’s love life, especially when they looked like me—not petite and slender or wonderfully curved. For women like me, broad-shouldered, normal-looking, love seemed to always pass us by.

Knowing that, I put my unrequited crush of Leo aside, switched teams, and got on with my life, content in my part in taking out the bad guys.

But then Leo came back.

Then he saw me.

And I wondered if perhaps love for a “woman like me” might not be a fantasy after all.
Release Boost

Wild Love by Melissa Schroeder

Title: Wild Love
Series: Juniper Springs #1
Author: Melissa Schroeder
Genre: Small Town Romantic Comedy
Release Date: May 27, 2021


I’m not the kind of girl who expects happily ever after. In fact, I prefer my partners don’t get too clingy. Don’t get me wrong. I like a good night of loving, but beyond that, I’m happy to see them leave in the morning, without my phone number.

Then I met him.

Quinn is a big bear of a man, with massive hands and amazing…staying power. Like all night long and the next morning kind of staying power. So when he asks me to spend the next day with him, I do. The only reason I give him my number is because he makes me laugh. And, okay, so I might have met up with him once or twice.

That doesn’t mean I need him. Because I am Everly Freaking Spencer, and I don’t need anyone (other than my bestie), and definitely not a man.


He shows up by chance at my store, which totally freaks me out. Finding out he’s my favorite author doesn’t help either.

And the surprise that’s dropped in our laps later that day?

Major. Freak. Out.

But, like I said, I don’t need anyone.


If I keep repeating that, I might just believe it.


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The door to my hotel room slams open as we stumble over the threshold. Neither of us pay attention to it, or anything else. His hands are in my hair, his mouth on mine, and if I don’t get him inside of me right this minute, I might explode.
Since we stepped onto the elevator, our hands have been all over each other. I just can’t get enough of him. His hands slip down my body, grabbing my ass as he lifts me off the floor. Oh, god, he’s amazing. As he slips his tongue along mine, he gyrates his hips, and there is no doubt how aroused he is. Of course, I’ve been feeling that from the moment we stepped onto the dance floor. He’s long and thick, and I can’t wait to have that monster inside of me.
He tosses the pharmacy bag on the nightstand as he carries me over to the bed—an amazing feat because I am not a small woman—and sits down, settling me on his lap. I swivel my hips and he leans his head back with a groan. I take advantage of our position and attack his throat. He smells of expensive whiskey and sexy, sweaty man.
“You’re going to make me come in my pants, woman.”
Power surges through me. My head spins as if I drank five bottles of whiskey in the last ten minutes. I giggle—actually giggle—but he frowns at me. Before I know what he’s about, he stands up, taking me with him, then tumbles me back onto the mattress.
He has quick hands; I’ll give him that. My shoes and socks are off my body before I can blink. Next, he’s clawing at my jeans and I smack his hands away so I can take over the job. Once I have them unbuttoned and unzipped, he tugs them down my body along with my panties as I tear off my shirt and bra. Soon, I’m lying there completely naked. His eyes darken as his gaze roams down my body.
“Jesus,” he says, reverence in his voice. I know I’m in good shape, but I have always thought I was too angular. Apparently, Quinn does not.
“I don’t think we need a third tonight, and definitely not part of the holy trinity.”


From an early age, USA Today Bestselling author Melissa loved to read. First, it was the books her mother read to her including her two favorites, Winnie the Pooh and the Beatrix Potter books. She cut her preteen teeth on Trixie Belden and read and reviewed To Kill a Mockingbird in middle school. It wasn’t until she was in college that she tried to write her first stories, which were full of angst and pain, and really not that fun to read or write. After trying several different genres, she found romance in a Linda Howard book.

Since her first published book, Grace Under Pressure, Mel has had over 90 short stories, novellas, and novels published. She has written in genres ranging from historical to contemporary to futuristic and has worked with 8 publishers although she handles most of her publishing herself. She is best known for her Harmless and Santini series.

After years of following her military husband around the country and world, Mel happily lives with her family in horse and wine country in Northern Virginia.


Pre Order

Bram by Tia Didmon


Bram by Tia Didmon is coming June 14th.

Reserve your copy today!

#preorder #preorderalert #preorderblast #comingsoon #paranormalromance #pnr #shifterromance #dragonshifters #dragonrules #bram #steamyreads #hotreads #epicreads #dragonrulesseries #bookbuzz #booksbooksbooks

Fate brought them together. Now a serial killer could tear them apart.

Aspiring Detective, Zara Torres has landed the case of a lifetime with multiple bodies drained of blood. But hunting the killer exposes a dark secret from her past, and delivers her into the arms of an immortal dragon who claims she is his mate.

With the death toll rising, Zara’s latent magic rises to bond with the sexy dragon intent on protecting her. But can she embrace her supernatural powers before she falls prey to the creature determined to destroy her?  

About Tia

Tia Didmon is a bestselling and award-winning author of provocative paranormal romance, whose readers also tend to love Brittany White and Riley Storm, among others. When Tia isn’t busy writing about sexy shifters and dreamy demons, she spends her time binge watching The Order and reruns of The Vampire Diaries, cooking with her daughter, and serving her cat. Her love of writing stems from a self-diagnosed book addiction.

Find Tia Online!

Release Blitz

Back to Us by TC Matson

Title: Back to Us
Series: Cameron Falls #2
Author: TC Matson
Genre: Small Town Romance
Release Date: June 2, 2021


In high school, Dakota Jayne was my everything.
My life. My soul. The air I breathed. She was my light.
One day we were planning the rest of our life.
The next I was picking up the shattered pieces of my broken heart.
She abandoned me without looking back.
Had she glanced in the rearview, she would’ve seen me chasing after her through the dust cloud she stirred up when she hightailed it out of town.
Now, eleven years later, she’s back and creating havoc between my heart and mind.
I hate her. She’s still beautiful.
She left me. I still love her.
I wish she’d go back to wherever the hell she came from so I can get on with my life.

Blake Helms was my life.
We had everything planned out.
That’s until he devastated me and broke my heart.
So, I packed up all the pieces and left for college, leaving everything I had ever known behind me.
I finished college, settled into my career, and tried to forget him.
Then my grandmother passed away, bringing me back to this god-forsaken town.
I despise this place and all of the memories.
I hate him. He’s still gorgeous.
He broke me. I don’t want to still love him.
Leaving the first time was hard but leaving the second time might just kill me.






TC Matson loves to let her character’s voices be heard. With a head full of stories, she puts her keyboard through a beating daily. Matson sets her sights on writing stores relatable and real. And having an understanding that love isn’t always instant and full of flowers—her writing mirrors it. She isn’t afraid to push the envelope and touch bases of uncomfortable situation.
She’s a romance junkie at heart and an avid reader. Add those two together and she will devour books within hours, getting lost in the world the author creates.
Matson resides in the peaceful Piedmont area of NC with her husband and two boys, where staying hopped up on caffeine is the key to her sanity. Chaos is indefinite and a sense of humor is an absolute must.



Blog Tour

Finale by Skye Warren

Francisco never backs away from a challenge.
Isabella never bows down to anyone.
This scorching hot battle of wills may leave both of them broken.

Finale, an all new captivating and sexy North Security novella from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren and 1,001 Dark Nights, is available now!

Francisco Castille, the exiled Duke of Linares, knows his duty. Even in modern times, the line must continue. So he’ll marry and produce an heir.

Yes, a wife will fit into his well-ordered life.

Instead he ends up with the brilliant pianist Isabella. Strong. Spirited. And highly disobedient. She rebels against every custom and every rule, threatening his careful balance.

Francisco never backs away from a challenge.

Isabella never bows down to anyone.

This scorching hot battle of wills may leave both of them broken.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

Grab yours today exclusively on Amazon!
Amazon Worldwide:


We reach the entrance to the cathedral. The powerful organ reverberates through the floor. Every single person—man, woman, and child—stands and turns to face me. It would be so easy to flush. To let my heart pound out of my chest and the blood rush to my face.

Instead I lift my chin. I face them down with a calm expression. A Bradley at heart.

Only, I won’t be a Bradley for much longer. Fifteen minutes, give or take.

My father steps forward. I grip the sleeve of his tuxedo so tight he must feel it. He must feel my terror, but he doesn’t seem to notice. He keeps walking, and so I do the only thing I can—I follow his lead. I float down the long carpet covered in rose petals.

At the end of the aisle, my groom waits for me.

Francisco Castille, the exiled Duke of Linares.

I suppose I should leave the “exiled” part off. It’s probably a touchy subject in his family. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never met anyone on the right side of the church. They move in European high society, while my family has been strictly New York City upper crust. This will be a merger of more than two people. It will combine businesses and connections. And, above all, this wedding will save my family’s entire world. Our livelihood. Our reputation. And the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of employees. So if my groom is as controlling as my brother warned, then that’s the price I’ll pay.

That is the price I’ve promised to pay.

Francisco wears a tuxedo, naturally.

Some men stand stiffly in them. He looks as if he was born in that tux. As comfortable as I might be in my favorite sweater and worn jeans. It’s the royalty in him, I suppose.

Black hair. Thick brows. A stern expression.

So far away. The cathedral has to be huge to fit the guest list. Walking closer is like coming into focus, seeing the brackets around his lips, the small slash in his eyebrow. A scar, perhaps. How did he hurt himself? I have no idea. We’re basically strangers.

We reach the end of the aisle.

My father moves my hand into Francisco’s grip.

Then we’re left alone, two of us standing in a sea of people. About to be married.

“Fancy meeting you here,” he murmurs.

Through the delicate satin of my glove, I feel his strength. His heat. It’s a comfort, even though I barely know him. I match his dry tone. “I heard someone’s getting hitched.”

His lips quirk. “A wedding, you say. Nothing too fancy.”

Add Finale to Goodreads:

About Skye
Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dangerous romance such as the Endgame trilogy. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, sweet dogs, and evil cat.

Connect with Skye
Stay up to date with Skye Warren by signing up for her mailing list:

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Cover Reveal

Quiet Wealth by J.L. Drake

Title: Quiet Wealth
Series: Quiet Mafia #1
Author: J.L. Drake
Genre: Mafia Romance
Cover Design: Deranged Doctor Designs
Release Date: July 22, 2021


A twisted mafia romance about quiet wealth and refined darkness


It’s been ten years since he left me with nothing but a pendant, a photo, and a broken heart. He was but a ghost, there one minute and gone the next. I picked myself up, dried my eyes, and built my life without him. Now he has come back into my life like a raging storm surrounded by crime and bloodshed. I no longer need him, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want him—or just a little taste…


Ten years ago, I had to leave behind the only light I had in my life. Without her, I live in darkness. I am not proud of the things I’ve done, nor the blood that’s been shed. Everything I did had been to protect her. We live by our code—family, power, loyalty, and protection. Our empire is built on the bones of our enemies. Now that she is back and we have a second chance, they will learn one way or another you do not touch my queen.
Capri Famiglia will rise to the top no matter the cost, bloodshed, or the lines that will have to be blurred.




A few times, Elio came. He never stayed very long, but he would always talk for a few minutes before he left. Other times, I might find a bit of food waiting for me in our spot with a note. The first one said Thought you might like to try my mama’s tortellini. -E
Even cold, it was the best thing I’d ever tasted. I only could handle a few bites, but oh how I loved it. I tucked his note inside my notebook and wrote about his kindness toward me. Carefully removing a small piece of a page from the back of the notebook, I responded with It was great. Tell your mama thank you. -S
I smiled when I wrote the “S,” mimicking his signoff. I tucked it next to the paper bowl the pasta was in and leaned back, enjoying the comfort of a full tummy and the knowledge that I had a friend.
Even though I barely knew the boy, something drew me here, and I knew he was a major part of it. It was a welcome, safe place for me. Elio never made me uncomfortable or said hurtful things. He just occasionally left me bits of things to eat, and sometimes left notes. He always checked to make sure I was okay. That was the way it went for two years, just little moments together, but treasured ones. It allowed me little glimpses of what a real friend was like. Cara was wonderful to me, but Elio was different.


Author J.L. Drake was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, later moving to Southern California where she lives with her husband and two children. 

When she’s not writing she loves to spend time with her family, traveling or just enjoying a night at home. One thing you might notice in her books is her love for the four seasons. Growing up on the east coast of Canada the change in the seasons is in her blood and is often mentioned in her writing. 

Her books can be found in different languages around the world.


Chapter Reveal



There’s a spy in my Clan…

She’s threatening to put my entire family in danger.

When I find the lass, I will break her.

Punish her.

Make her rue the day she endangered the Cowen Clan.

But when one lie unearths another,

And our enemies are at our heels…

Our spy may be our only chance of survival.



I walk along the icy dirt road, my hands shoved in my pockets. I don’t bloody know where I’m going or why, but sometimes when I need to clear my head, nothing works better than a good, brisk walk where the clouds meet the sky, and the mountain air makes everything seem clearer.

Leith wants me to prioritize a job I never expected him to assign me. He wants me to find the writer of the Clan Chronicles, and he wants me to find her now. His words from an earlier conversation still play in a continual loop.

“No doubt she’s a woman, Tate, and she thinks we can be fucking toyed with. But she’s a spy, and a dangerous one at that. Find her.”

Bailey, our resident dog, trots dutifully beside me. He’s my sister-in-law Cairstina’s, but he likes to hang around with the rest of us, and as soon as he sees me putting on my boots, his ears perk up and he gives me puppy dog eyes. I’m grateful for the company just now.

I like that he keeps up with my brisk strides and isn’t deterred when the icy wind picks up. He faces it bravely, and when snow begins to fall, he gives me a friendly look and laps at the falling flakes. Makes me smile, before I sigh and continue my walk.

I’ve got other things on my mind, too.

Today’s the anniversary of when we found our eldest brother, Tavish Cowen, was gone. I don’t like to remember the details, but none of us can forget Mum’s cry, or the way she collapsed against Dad when she heard the news. It’s the worst memory I have, one I wish I could eviscerate forever.

I don’t allow myself to forget it, though. I force myself to dwell on the memory sometimes, when I need to remember who I am and what my purpose is.

I’m second-in-command of the most powerful mob in Scotland. The name Cowen inspires both fear and respect to anyone who hears it. I can’t afford to go soft. I can’t fucking afford it.

Mum gets a bit melancholy around now, but it helps having little ones about. Cairstina and Leith’s wee bairn’s started toddling around, and Mac’s wife Bryn’s expecting their first in a few months.

Mum loves having bairns in her lap, and it seems half the time I find her in the library reading a book, it’s a dog-eared board book and she’s got the wee one nestled in her lap.

She’s preoccupied, though. I know she is. And today I need to find out why. I’d like to give her some space to grieve, for a little while.

I loop around the cave that flanks the side of the mountain, the furthest spot away from the rest of the homes that surround our main lodge. Deep in the Scottish Highlands, we’re hidden from the view of most people, the large lodge the epicenter of our entire Clan, surrounded by our wee, privately owned chalets that encircle it. The inner members of our Clan live nearby, dozens nearly within arm’s reach. Hidden, though. Even from where I’m standing, the only telltale sign of civilization is the chimney smoke rising high in the air.

The moon’s beginning to rise, the sky around us a bluish hue as the sun settles below the mountain peaks. Suddenly, without warning, a woman’s high-pitched scream pierces the night air.

I’m instantly alert. Bailey freezes and meets my eyes, his body tense, nose pointed in the air. Adrenaline surges through me.

“Where the bloody hell is that coming from?” I mutter, whipping my head to the left, then right. Between the mountains and the wind, it’s impossible to tell the location of the scream, when a second scream follows the first.

“Find her, Bailey,” I tell him. “Go, boy.” Fully trained, he’s off at a run before I’ve finished my sentence, heading toward a barren, desolate spot on the side of the mountain.

I watch my footing, as the terrain’s rocky and icy, but Bailey doesn’t wait. He races ahead, intent on finding whoever’s in distress, so I focus on following him.

Who is it? It’s hard to tell from a woman’s scream who she is, but it could be anyone. My two sisters, my brothers’ wives, my mother, and grandmother all live here. Not to mention the occasional visitor from the McCarthy Clan in Ireland.

Bailey takes a sharp turn, and I keep up with difficulty. Suddenly, the trees give way to a clearing, and I can see everything. I freeze, heaving from the effort of sprinting in the frigid air at Bailey’s pace, and it takes me a minute to process the scene before me.

Bloody hell.

Looks like every damn one of the girls is bundled in fluffy coats, with hats, gloves, scarves and boots, taking turns sledding down the mountainside into a valley below. I can’t even identify them all from here, but I can make out my sister-in-law Cairstina, and my sisters Islan and Paisley. Two more girls are apart from the rest, at the top of the hill, preparing to go sledding down.

The three girls standing at the top of the hill quickly turn to look our way.

“Jaysus,” I mutter as I approach, trying to quelch my rising anger. Did they even bother to think about the impact a scream might have on one of us? I try to keep my voice light but fail. “You shouldn’t scream like that.”

Paisley’s eyes glance up at me, and her mittened hand comes to cover her mouth, her blue eyes a bit worried. The youngest of the lot, she’s a bit timid but quick to smile.

“Sorry, Tate,” she says apologetically. She doesn’t like upsetting any of us and looks genuinely repentant. “We didn’t think anyone else was out here.”

Islan grins. “Fancy a jaunt yourself?”

I grunt in reply, and the lass standing next to her—my brother Leith’s wife, Cairstina—giggles with the lot of them. “You look” —she giggles— “like you’ve just come running to save someone.”

“Ha. Ha.” I shove my hands back in my pockets and roll my eyes. “Just out for a stroll.”

“Oh, Tate,” Paisley says, as it suddenly dawns on her. “You heard us screaming and thought someone was hurt, didn’t you?”

“I bloody well thought—”

The sled with the other two takes off, and the girl in the front shrieks, as Bailey throws his head back and howls. The sled takes flight and careens down the hill with building momentum.

We watch, and it becomes evident within seconds they’ve gone off course. A patch of ice derailed them, and they’re no longer heading down the trail that leads to a large, open path below, but toward a thick swath of snow-covered pines. Their screams get louder, and everything seems as if it plays out in slow-motion. I take off at a run, prepared for the worst, but I won’t get there in time to help them. The girls scream behind me as the sled collides with a massive, unyielding pine. The screams from the sled come to an instant, eerie stop.

I’m the first one there. It’s a fucking bloody mess of snow and ice and scarves and hats, as I fall to my knees beside the girls. One I recognize immediately as Mac’s wife Bryn. She looks stricken but otherwise unharmed.

“Fran, Tate. She’s hurt, oh God—”

Bloody hell.



Anyone but fucking Fran.

I reach for her. She’s covered in snow and clearly passed out, blood below her hat trickling down her face into her eyes.

“We lost control,” Bryn sobs, scrambling through the snow toward Fran. “Oh, God.”

Paisley and Islan arrive at the same time, breathless and panting. They fall into the snow beside Fran. Paisley’s crying along with Bryn now, but Islan glares, as if her anger could prevent injury. “Bloody hell. Bloody fucking hell,” she mutters.

“Is she alright?” Paisley sobs.

I don’t answer. I’m lifting Fran gently out of the sled, brushing piles of snow off of her.

A chill goes through me at the stark sight of crimson blood against the whiteness of the snow. I kneel, laying her across my lap so I can inspect her.

“She’s out cold,” I mutter, inspecting her carefully. If she injured her neck, I can’t move her too quickly.

The lodge is yards away from us. I can’t risk putting her back in the sled to take her back, not if anything’s broken, or worse.

“She’s hurt her head,” I tell them. At the very fucking least. I jerk my head at Islan. “Call the doctor, have them prepare. I’ll carry her back. It’s the safest way to keep her still.”

In recent years, with Dad’s declining health, we’ve boarded a Clan doctor. It comes in handy in times of emergency. Like now.

It’s a somber affair, all of us walking back to the house. Islan manages to get a signal on her mobile and runs ahead of us. She’s trained hard in the workout room in the main house, running and weightlifting, and she’s got a good lead on the rest of us.

I focus on my job, moving as quickly as I possibly can without jostling or hurting Fran, but when I nearly trip, she comes to with a cry.

“Where am I? Oh, God, what happened?” She hisses in a breath, and I’m sure it’s from pain, poor lass.

“You’ll be alright,” I mutter. “Be still and quiet now, we’re taking you to see a doctor. You’ve injured yourself and can’t risk a sudden movement.”

She doesn’t listen, though, of bloody course, but begins to panic.

“My arm hurts. Is it broken?”

“We’ll find out soon. Stay still, Fran. You don’t want to risk further injury.”

I’m only paces away from the main house when someone flicks a light on, and Fran blinks her eyes from the brightness. She whimpers, then quickly stifles it.

“You’ll be alright,” I tell her, but my tone is gruff. It angers me they were out doing something so fucking dangerous. If she wasn’t fucking injured, I’d shake her. “Shouldn’t have fuckin’ been out there at twilight with the ice over the snow like that, dammit. Do you have a death wish?”

“Save the bloody lecture.” She winces. “Looks like Mother Nature already chastised me.”

I close my mouth but still glare.

“Am I too heavy?” she asks softly.

Until then, I’d made myself focus on my mission, on keeping her still and moving swiftly. I didn’t think about who I held. I didn’t think about how she affects me. I have one job to do: bring her to safety. But at her question, I look down at her in surprise. I don’t answer right away.

Bloody hell.

Tears and snowflakes dot her thick black lashes like gleaming diamonds. Even injured and bloodied, the woman’s gorgeous. Her deep brown eyes, like crushed velvet, look up at me, and for one startling moment, I’m afraid I might kiss her.

Until recently, Fran was married. Off limits. But now…

Jesus, I’m carrying the woman to the doctor and have to get my damn act together.

“Too heavy? You girls are out of your bloody minds. Always worrying about being too heavy, like I can’t bloody carry you.” I roll my eyes. “Didn’t even get winded.”

She opens her mouth to protest, then winces.

“Lie still and stop troubling your damn head,” I mutter. Concern’s made me irritable as fuck.

I try to think of this as a job, like Fran is one of my sisters I’ve been bound in duty to protect.

She isn’t my bloody sister, though, dammit.

We dated once—so briefly it hardly even counts, but I’ve had my eye on her ever since.

She married last year, and I fucking hated that she did something so stupid. Met her ex-husband online, married him a week after they met in person, and caught him cheating on their wedding night.

You’d think it bloody ended there, but it fucking didn’t.

I shove the memory away and keep going. It only makes me angrier.

Islan’s ahead of us, and she opens the door.

“As luck would have it, the doctor’s nearby,” she says. “He said to bring her into the study, since the light’s good in there and you can lay her on the chaise.”

I walk in through the kitchen, the entire staff watching us as I traipse through. A fire burns in the hearth, and someone stirs food at the stove, but I walk past and go straight to the study.

Leith’s waiting for me when I arrive, watching me somberly.

“What happened?” he asks Islan, who quickly tells him. I’m assuming his wife Cairstina filled him in before we got here.

“Jesus,” he mutters. “Knew we should’ve cut that damn tree down when they started sledding down that bloody hill.”

Islan snorts. “Leave it to you to level a damn tree like we’re children that need protecting.”

He scowls.

Fran opens her mouth as if to say something, then winces, closes her eyes, and doesn’t say a word. I imagine the pain’s intense.

Bright lights shine, as the Clan doctor waits.

“Rest her here, Tate,” he says. I put her down with reluctance, as gently as I can.

I liked holding her. When I held her, I knew that she was safe, almost like I could control this. Control… something.

“Ooh, got a right good gash on your head, there, lass.”

“Ah, is that what the throbbing is? Thought I hit the Jameson a bit too hard last night.” Fran smiles wanly, and even injured and in pain, she’s bloody beautiful.

She looks up quickly at me and winces from the sudden movement. “No need to growl, Tate, you did enough of that on the way back.”

I didn’t even know I was bloody growling. Did I?

I grunt in reply, as the doctor examines her. A moment later, he sits back and shakes his head. “You’re awfully lucky it wasn’t worse, lass,” he says gently. “An inch or so to the left and you’d have injured an eye, likely beyond repair.”

Her jaw drops, and she looks down at her hand. “And my arm?”

“Doesn’t look broken, but it would be best if we had an x-ray. I don’t have the proper equipment here. I’ll put a brace on to keep it steady, but you’ll need that seen with a specialist first thing tomorrow and time off, days or even weeks.”

She winces. “I have to work tomorrow,” she says with a sigh. “I have no vacation time left. If I don’t get to work…” Her voice trails off. She works at the little bookstore in town, in Inverness Centre.

“Sorry, lassie,” he says, shaking his head. “You have to. You could risk something so much worse if this isn’t properly treated.”

He hands her a few white pills. “Here, take these. It’ll help with the pain.”

Fran sighs, pops the pills, then drinks down a glass of water. He continues inspecting her with a frown, meticulous and thorough. We hired him because he’s the best there is.

“Why so long for a head injury?” Fran asks.

“Head injuries are bloody dangerous,” I tell her. “Don’t you know what could’ve happened? You could’ve gotten fuckin’ brain damage, or worse.”

Islan rolls her eyes but Fran just blinks at me in surprise. The doctor continues his examination when a knock sounds at the door.

“Come in,” I say. Mum comes in carrying a plate, laden with soup, bread, and a steaming pot of tea. It’s well past dinner time, but it’s in her nature to feed people when they’re injured. Says it helps with recovery and all that.

“How are you doing, lass?”

“Oh, I’ll be better soon,” Fran says with a self-deprecating laugh. “How’s Bryn?”

“Bryn walked away without a scratch.”

“Thank God for that,” I mutter, and Fran gives me a curious look.

“Just that Mac would lose his bloody mind.”

“Aye, he would,” Islan says. “It’s the way you all are, isn’t it?”

I don’t reply. It is how we all are, but I can’t quite place the look on Fran’s face.

The doctor takes his leave, with strict orders she rest and allow people to help her, followed by Leith and Mum. The other girls have gone off to take care of the children and Bryn, perhaps sensing that Fran doesn’t want a lot of visitors right now. She’s in so much pain, even the bright lights seem to hurt her eyes.

It’s just me, Islan, and Fran now.

I should go. I have work to do. Her best friends are right here, in this very house. Surely they can make sure she’s alright. I’ve got a pressing job Leith wants me to tend to, but I can’t seem to make myself do it.

“We’ll get you situated here for the night,” Islan says. “Not the best accommodations, but I do think it’ll be best for you, give you a little privacy. There’s a toilet nearby the kitchen, and you won’t have to walk upstairs.”

“And it’ll be easy enough to get you to the car to go to get your x-ray in the morning,” I say.

She frowns. “Might be a little hard to drive like this—”

“Of course you bloody well can’t drive,” I snap.

She blinks, then her cheeks flush a little pink. “Excuse me?”

“Now, Fran,” Islan begins, her hands outstretched as if to placate her. “No need to get you riled up.”

“Riled up?” I ask, astounded that that’s even a question. “Of course she bloody well won’t. She’ll lie right there and obey the doctor’s orders.”

Fran pushes herself up to sitting higher on the chaise, as if the adjustment in height gives her an advantage, which it definitely doesn’t, especially because she winces again in pain.

“And… somewhere between me cracking my skull on the side of your tree, and you playing the hero carrying me back up to the house like some sort of… Tarzan or something,” she spits out the word as if it’s distasteful, “you got the idea you have some say in this?”

“I do,” I tell her. “I’ve got an errand in town tomorrow and will take you.” I want her to feel obliged to me, though I wouldn’t admit that out loud.

I can’t keep the irritation out of my voice.

“Oh, I’ll be fine,” she says, fuming. “No need to trouble yourself, clearly.” She rolls her eyes. “Honest to God, I’m no concern of yours.”

Is that what she thinks?

Islan rolls her eyes. “You’ve nearly grown up here, Fran, you know how they all are.”

She purses her lips and narrows her eyes, and I half expect her to wise off with her smart mouth again, when her head suddenly lolls to the side a little like she’s tipsy. She blinks, then blinks again. What the fuck?

“Y’alright?” Islan asks.

“Just feel a bit… a bit…” Fran giggles. “Can you hear those words, or is it in my head?”

Islan turns to me. “Oh, dear.”

Is she… high?

I look at Fran in puzzlement. She shakes her head as if to clear her thoughts. “Was just saying, I can’t bloody well skip work tomorrow. No way.”

“They’ll be fine,” Islan says with conviction. “Or I could cover for you. Your boss is so bloody distracted, she wouldn’t even notice the difference.”

I look from Fran to Islan, then back again. Islan’s tall and willowy and blonde, and Fran’s all lush brown hair and buxom curves.

“Are you fuckin’ legally blind?”

Fran gives me a reproachful look, then begins to giggle. It’s… adorable.

Islan rolls her eyes. “Oh, whatever,” she says. “I just mean I could go in and be a sort of temp for the day or something.” Leith’s said for a while the girls have been spoiled and honest to God, I didn’t see it until now. I always kind of took the girls’ side when it came to his overbearing tendencies.

I shake my head. “Leith would say no, and I’d agree with him. For Christ’s sake, you’re making one stupid decision after another.” Islan’s brows snap together, but I’m not finished. “First, you decide sledding down that hill is something fun to do, even though you could’ve killed yourself. Second, now you want to go take a job in the city centre, knowing full well who you are and how that puts you in danger? Are you out of your bloody mind?”

“I see what you mean,” Fran mutters, giving Islan a sympathetic look.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I ask.

“Oh, nothing,” she says airily, and I swear her eyes look a bit unfocused. The doctor’s given her some heavy pain relievers, and it looks as if they’ve kicked in. “Only your sisters may have mentioned once or twenty times that you boys are all a bit overprotective, and I think she has a point.” For some reason, she finds this outrageously funny, and the next thing I know, her head falls back and she snorts with laughter. Literally snorts, so loudly Islan jumps. She looks at me in alarm.

“What’d he bloody give her?”

I shrug. “Dinnae. Reckon it was something strong?”

Fran’s giggling so hard she’s tipped over to the side, tears streaming down her face. What’s so funny? I don’t bloody well know what to do with her.

“Oh, no,” Islan whispers to me. “Tate, I think she’s high off her nut with the meds the doc gave her, isn’t she?”

I look back at her, and she’s giggling something fierce.

“I think you’re right,” I mutter. “Jesus.”

“The look on your face!” Fran says, as she erupts into peals of laughter again.

“Mine?” I ask.

“Och, aye,” she mutters, deepening her voice and wagging a wobbly finger at the two of us. Her accent’s thick, like a Scottish caricature, as she mocks me. “Are you out of yer bloody moind?”

“What’s she doing?” Islan whispers.

“Doing a right good job of pissin’ me off,” I whisper back.

“Oi’m the head of the fuckin’ mafia!” she howls, wagging her finger in the air. She reminds me of a man I once saw in a pub in the city centre, drunk, running his mouth so loudly in the pub he got a personal escort out. “Or one ‘a the heads of the fuckin’ mafia, whatever and all! And I swear to fuckin’ God, if ye don’t know what’s right for thee, you’d do what yer bloody told or I’ll send you swimmin’ with the bloody fishes!”

Islan snorts and covers her mouth to hide her laughter even as her eyes swing back with concern to me.

“Ought to fuckin’ gag ‘er,” I mutter. “She’s fuckin’ stoned.”

“And oye don’t make mistakes, so don’t even question me! There are two infallible people in the world and one sits in Vatican City, the other right ‘ere in Scotland.”

“Fran!” Islan hisses, doubling over with laughter. “Oh my God, stop!”

“Need to speak with…” But her voice is muffled and I can’t make out what she says. Someone’s name, though?

Islan looks at me in an absolute panic, no more laughing. Her eyes are wide and she’s totally sober.

“Did you hear that?” she asks.

“Hear fuckin what?” I shake my head. “All I hear is her going on and on about bloody nothing.”

“Oh,” Islan says with a laugh. “It’s nothing, nothing at all. She just mentioned… Paisley. Sounded like Paisley?”

What the fuck is she hiding?

I look sharply back to Fran, but she’s passed out. Her hand falls to the side, and she’s softly snoring.

“I’ll stay with her,” Islan says. “Poor thing. She might wake up in pain.” She’s adjusting the blankets and pillows around Fran, tucking them all around her to make her comfortable. “We didn’t even get a chance to help her change out of her clothes.”

I look around the room. There’s no comfortable place for her to stay.

“Islan, you can’t stay here, lass. There’s nowhere for you to sleep, and you’ve got school to go to tomorrow.” I frown at her. “Yet another reason why you can’t go to the bloody bookstore.”

She rolls her eyes. “Oh, Tate, I wasn’t really going to. Her boss will understand, of course. I was just trying to get her to relax.”

“Alright, then, fine. But you can’t stay down here. You won’t get a wink of sleep, and you’ve got to be prepared for your classes.”

She sighs. “Aye, that’s true, isn’t it?” She worries her lip. “She can’t be alone, though.”

I grunt. “I’ll sleep on the couch.”

She looks at me sharply. “Don’t even think of any funny stuff with my mate.”

“Funny stuff? Are you out of your fuckin’ mind? You think I’ve got a bloody somno kink?”

She makes a disgusted face. “Oh, ew ew ew, what does that even mean. Do I want to Google?”

“What do you think it means?”

I can’t help but crack a smile at her look of utter disgust. She actually wipes her hands on her clothes as if to physically rid herself of the memory of what I said.

“I’m literally going to go shower now, thanks to you.”

“Good. Stay the bloody hell away and get some sleep already.”

“Aww, love you, too,” she quips, rolling her eyes again. Jesus, that girl better hook up with a man that can handle the likes of her. The door shuts with a bang, and Fran jumps up, startled, and blinks at me.

“Go to sleep.”

She rolls over and snores loud enough to rouse a deaf man, probably the first bloody time she’s ever done what she’s told without backtalk. Not that she really meant to even this time.

I sigh and try to get comfortable on the tiny excuse for a sofa across from where she lies. It’ll be a long bloody night.

USA Today bestselling author Jane Henry pens stern but loving alpha heroes, feisty heroines, and emotion-driven happily-ever-afters. She writes what she loves to read: kink with a tender touch. Jane is a hopeless romantic who lives on the East Coast with a houseful of children and her very own Prince Charming.

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