New Release + Review: Mr. Corporate by J. A. Huss

Mr. Corporate
J.A. Huss
(Mister #3)
Publication date: August 17th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Weston Conrad is the best headhunter in the business. That handsome smile goes a long way towards convincing most people to trust him with their future.
I’m not most people. I’m his direct competition. And it doesn’t hurt to be just the kind of woman he’s been looking for.
I’m gonna flash you these legs, Weston Conrad.
I’m gonna wear low-cut shirts and micro-mini skirts.
I’m gonna dazzle you with wit and conversation and kiss those lips like they’re exactly what I’ve been waiting for.
So don’t hate me when you figure out my secret.
You understand, right? You’re Mr. Corporate and this is just business.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

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EXCERPT

Weston takes off his tie and begins unbuttoning his shirt. My eyes open a little wider. I watch every move. The way his fingers flip each button loose. The way his tanned and muscular chest flashes me as the shirt comes apart. That stupid Corporate grin on his face.

I sigh with frustration just as he takes the whole thing off and starts going for his belt.

Will Weston Conrad strip naked to swim?

Oh, yeah. You bet your ass he will. I called him Naked Man back when we were together. He has a thing for it.

“Come on, Tori. Let’s swim. You don’t need a suit. I’ve seen your goods.”

“First of all,” I say, crossing my arms and maintaining eye contact as the pants come down, “I’m not ‘goods.’ Second of all, I’m not giving you the pleasure of seeing me naked after you’ve been such an asshole.”

“When was I an asshole?”

He’s kidding, right? “All the time.”

“I’m just truthful, Victoria. You just can’t handle the truth.”

“I’m tired of fighting—” But I stop talking. Because yeah, he still looks amazing in those black boxer briefs he’s partial to.

“Did you miss him?” West asks.

“Who?” I say, forcing myself to look up at his face.

“Naked Man?”

I almost laugh, but catch myself just in time. “Weston—” But before I can get anything else out, he’s crossing the floor, I’m backing up, my hands are up, warning him to stay away, and I bump into the couch and fall back.

He stops in front of me, his goddamned bulge staring me in the face.

At least he’s not hard.

Ooops. Spoke too soon.

“Weston, stop it.”

“Come on,” he says, extending his hand. “We’re going to the beach.”

“I’m not getting naked with you.”

“I don’t need you naked. Your fucking skirt is so short you could wade in up to your thighs.” He shakes his hand at me, urging. “Come on.”

I close my eyes so I can stop staring at the bulge, stop imagining his hard cock and all the ways I’ve been intimate with it in the past, and take his hand, letting him pull me to my feet. His arm slips around my back and he pulls me into his chest. God, I can feel his fucking dick against my hips.

“Victoria,” he says in my ear. “You’ve missed me,” he says, switching to the other one.

I wait for what comes next. It’s a thing he always did with me when I was on the verge of something. Panic, or sadness, or whatever comes with all the things we went through.

He would stand behind me, both hands squeezing my shoulders. His mouth would go to work on my earlobe, and my neck, and my mouth. Then his fingers would dip down into my bra to squeeze my breasts and pinch my nipples.

We’d always have sex after that. Always. It drove me crazy.

But before I can say anything—No, we’re not doing that, or, Back off, mister, I’m not yours—he backs away and he’s heading for the door, tugging me along.

I sigh, missing his attention so much in that unused moment.

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4 Star

Michel’s Review

Mr. Corporate is the latest Mister on the chopping block.  Someone is trying to bring the Misters down once and for all.  Their lives have been anything but normal since the incident in college.  The incident that almost got them prosecuted for rape.  Each Mister has felt they were somewhat responsible for what happened many years ago.  They are unaware of how the other Misters are involved.  They were ordered not to talk about it with anyone, including with each other. Over ten years later they are being forced to confront the past to save their futures.

Each Mister holds an intricate piece to the puzzle.  Someone is trying to destroy their lives. This time the Misters have much more to lose.

Weston Conrad’s life didn’t change much after the incident.  He had an airtight alibi. His girlfriend was with him that night. He was able to move forward in life  and pursue his career as a head hunter.  He wasn’t able to hang onto his girlfriend.  Their on again off again relationship finally reached it’s expiration date.

Weston was recruited to hire a high profile executive.  The finder fee is over seven million dollars.  He thought he had the client in the bag.  He didn’t count on his ruthless ex girlfriend vying for the same finder fee. Victoria will do anything to get this money, including lie, cheat, and steal.  What she didn’t consider is that her feelings for Weston would change the way she does business.

As the two compete and end up stranded on a remote island during a hurricane, their priorities change.  They are in survival mode.  It is also quite clear that someone has set them up.  Their lives are in even more danger than from the elements.  Someone wants them dead.

This is when Mr. Corporate’s past comes into play.

There are two Misters to go before the truth becomes unraveled. It will be interesting to see who’s controlling the strings and why.

J. A. Huss is weaving a brilliant tale with five books building the plot in the story.  I love it.

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COMING UP NEXT – MR. MYSTERIOUS!
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PRE-ORDER TODAY:
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

 

Author Bio:

JA Huss is the USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty romances. She likes stories about family, loyalty, and extraordinary characters who struggle with basic human emotions while dealing with bigger than life problems. JA loves writing heroes who make you swoon, heroines who makes you jealous, and the perfect Happily Ever After ending.

You can chat with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AuthorJAHuss), Twitter (@jahuss), and her blog, New Adult Addiction (www.jahuss.com).

If you’re interested in getting your hands on an advanced release copy of her upcoming books, sneak peek teasers, or information on her upcoming personal appearances, you can join her newsletter list (http://eepurl.com/JVhAr) and get those details delivered right to your inbox.

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Release Blitz + Excerpt + 5 Star Review: King Of Wall Street by Louise Bay

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Social Butterfly PR is proud to present the release of King of Wall Street by Louise Bay

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Synopsis:

AN AMBITIOUS BOMBSHELL IS ABOUT TO BRING THE KING OF WALL STREET TO HIS KNEES.

I keep my two worlds separate.

At work, I’m King of Wall Street. The heaviest hitters in Manhattan come to me to make money. They do whatever I say because I’m always right. I’m shrewd. Exacting. Some say ruthless.

At home, I’m a single dad trying to keep his fourteen year old daughter a kid for as long as possible. If my daughter does what I say, somewhere there’s a snowball surviving in hell. And nothing I say is ever right.

When Harper Jayne starts as a junior researcher at my firm, the barriers between my worlds begin to dissolve. She’s the most infuriating woman I’ve ever worked with.

I don’t like the way she bends over the photocopier—it makes my mouth water.

I hate the way she’s so eager to do a good job—it makes my dick twitch.

And I can’t stand the way she wears her hair up exposing her long neck. It makes me want to strip her naked, bend her over my desk and trail my tongue all over her body.

If my two worlds are going to collide, Harper Jayne will have to learn that I don’t just rule the boardroom. I’m in charge of the bedroom, too.

 

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Buy Links:

Buy: Amazon / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Amazon AU

 

Add to your TBR on Goodreads

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Excerpt

I’d been desperate to work for Max King since before I enrolled at business school. He was the power behind the throne of many of the Wall Street success stories in the last few years. King & Associates provided investment banks with critical research that helped their investment decisions. I liked the idea that there were a ton of flashy suits from investment banks shouting about how rich they were and the man who had made it happen was happy to go quietly about his business, just being amazing at what he did. Understated, determined, supremely successful—he was everything I wanted to be. When I got the offer during my final semester to be a junior researcher at King & Associates, I was thrilled, but I also felt an odd sense that the universe was simply unravelling how it should, as though it was simply the next step in my destiny.

Destiny could kiss my ass. My first six weeks in my new position had been nothing I’d expected. I’d assumed I’d be surrounded by ambitious, intelligent, well-dressed twenty and thirty somethings and I’d been right about that. And the clients we worked for—almost every investment bank in Manhattan—were phenomenal and lived up to every expectation I’d had. Max King, however, had turned out to be a huge letdown. The fact was, despite being crazy smart, respected by everyone on Wall Street, and looking as if he should have been on a poster on teenage me’s bedroom wall, he was . . .

Cold.

Blunt.

Uncompromising.

A total asshole.

He was as handsome in real life as he was in his picture on the cover of Forbes or any of the other publicity shots I’d clicked through as I stalked him during my MBA at Berkeley. One morning, I’d arrived super early, seen him in his running gear—sweaty, panting, Lycra clad. Thighs so strong they looked as if they might be made of marble. Broad shoulders; a strong Roman nose; dark-brown, glossy hair—the kind wasted on a man—and a year-round tan that screamed, I vacation four times a year. In the office he wore custom suits. Handmade suits fell a particular way on the shoulders that I recognized from the few meetings I’d had with my father. His face and body lived up to every expectation I’d had. Working with him, not so much.

Add to your TBR on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30653421-king-of-wall-street?ac=1&from_search=true

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5Star

Tracey’s Review

Working for the Max King has been Harper Jayne’s goal for a very long time. Known as the King of Wall Street, Max is the best of the best at what he does, and Harper is anxious to learn from the best. Finding out that he’s a total jerk, though? Not so much.

Louise Bay’s books are always an automatic must-read for me. Having loved her since her earliest books, I am always completely captivated by her characters, her stories, just everything. So, when she announced her newest standalone, KING OF WALL STREET, I was one of the many fans eagerly waiting to see just what kind of magic she’d woven this time.

Let me just say, oh, my gosh. There isn’t one of Louise’s main men that I’ve disliked, but, Max King? Just, all of the yeses. Max hasn’t gotten his nickname for being anything less than masterful at what he does, but, beneath that calm, cool, take no prisoners professional demeanor, beats the heart of a devoted family man. He may be calling all of the shots on any given day, but when he goes home, it’s all about his girl, his daughter Amanda. Determined to always put her first, Max will do anything to protect the life that they’ve created, all while doing what it takes to maintain his place in the business world.

And Harper. Harper is just the sort of quirky bird that Louise writes so well. She’s smart, snarky, sassy, and entirely focused on her goal of working for Max. Fueled by the desire to prove to her long-absent father that she can take on the world of business and win, Harper doesn’t have time for anything but carving out her own spot on Wall Street. When reality sets in, and Harper’s experience with Max isn’t quite what she’s expected, she’s ready to up her game with Max’s help, or without. Finding out that that tough shell houses a man that she can’t stay away from, professional relationships be darned, makes for a very interesting turn of events.

I loved everything about this book. Two headstrong, self-assured personalities that have the ability to undo each other with a look, a word, a touch, dialogue that had me laughing out loud, and the sense of family that is always a part of Louise’s books, made up of a precocious 14-year-old, interfering sisters, and a best friend with great if infuriating advice, makes for the kind of read that grabs me and doesn’t let go. This is a definite 5-star read for me, and I really hope (Louise, are you reading this?!) to see more of these characters in the future.

***ARC generously provided for an honest review.***

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About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author, Louise Bay writes sexy, contemporary romance novels – the kind she likes to read. Her books include the novels Faithful and Hopeful and the novella series’ The Empire State Series, What the Lightning Sees and Calling Me. The novels and together the series are stand-alone although there are some overlapping characters.

Ruined by romantic mini-series of the eighties, Louise loves all things romantic. There’s not enough of it in real life so she disappears into the fictional worlds in books and films.

Louise loves the rain, the West Wing, London, days when she doesn’t have to wear make-up, being on her own, being with friends, elephants and champagne.

She loves to hear from readers so get in touch!

Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / Website

 

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New Release + 5 Star Review: Ravenous by M.S. Force – Quantum Series – Book 5

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Ravenous

Quantum Series – Book 5

By M. S. Force

Release Date: August 23, 2016

Buy: Amazon / B & N

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Synopsis

A stand-alone Quantum story from New York Times bestselling author M.S. Force!

She wants a baby. He wants her. Simple enough, right?

Ellie Godfrey has kissed her share of frogs. So many, in fact, that she fears she won’t recognize her prince if and when he finally comes along. Tired of waiting for THE ONE, Ellie decides to have a baby on her own before it’s too late.

When Jasper Autry hears about Ellie’s plan, what else can he do but step in and offer to “contribute” to her project. Does that make him an opportunist? Whatever. He wants the perpetually out-of-reach Ellie Godfrey, and when he sees his chance, he takes it. That she’s the sister of his business partner and close friend Flynn gives him pause, but it doesn’t stop him from having what he wants.

As Jasper and Ellie embark upon their secret “project,” he makes it clear that for as long as they’re together, he’s in charge—in the bedroom anyway. After the hottest sex of her life, Ellie realizes she’s made a deal with the devil himself.

82,000 words

Warning: If you hate foul-mouthed heroes who like it a little rough and dirty, this might not be the book for you…Contains hot and sexy BDSM scenes among other things that might not appeal to the faint of heart. Enter at your own risk and enjoy!

Includes a sneak peak at SEX MACHINE, Marie’s first standalone novel in five years.

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5Star

Michel’s Review

I absolutely love the Quantum series by M. S. Force.  The dynamic Quantum group is back and they are taking more than Hollywood by storm.

Ravenous can be read as a stand alone novel or in series order.  This is a stand alone novel, there are no cliffhangers.

Ellie Godfrey’s biological clock is ticking.  She is established in her career.  She has a great job and her own home.  The only thing missing is a family of her own.  The problem is she’s single and has no significant other.  She’s a modern woman and is ready to take the next step by consulting with a fertility clinic.  When she confides her secret to Jasper Autrey, he quickly volunteers to help out.

Surprise, award winning cinematographer Jasper Autrey is going to be a daddy!  He’s volunteered to father Ellie’s child.  He’s willing to make a deposit in the traditional manner. He doesn’t plan on having children of his own.  Providing Ellie with a donation is the perfect solution.  He can be a father from afar without being responsible.  His lifestyle won’t change. His membership at Quantum will remain anonymous.  His other personal secrets won’t be exposed.  His child won’t have to carry the burdens of his secrets.

Ellie and Jasper decide to keep their mission a secret from the rest of the group at Quantum.  They’ve worked out the legalities and now are ready for business.  Business has never been more fun or sexier.  Making a baby is turning into the bonus rather than the reward.  Jasper and Ellie are burning up the sheets, the desks, and any other surface available.  All is going well until Jasper and Ellie realize they are falling in love.

Jasper has secrets that could destroy his life.  When he finds the courage to face those secrets not only do they blow up in his face but could also destroy all of his friends at Quantum.  It could destroy his relationship with Ellie.

Ellie is a strong woman willing to help Jasper bear his burdens.  She’s not only fighting for her child but also her love for Jasper.

How it turns out is perfect for all the folks at Quantum.  Another one has bit the dust.  Who will fall next in the Quantum group? I can’t wait to find out.

I love this series!  Ravenous is by far my favorite book so far.

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Author PhotoABOUT M.S. Force:

M.S. Force is the erotic alter-ego of New York Times bestselling author Marie Force. The Quantum Trilogy is M.S. Force’s first foray into erotic romance, but it won’t be the last!

With more than 3.5 million books sold, Marie Force is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling, award-winning author of 40 contemporary romances. Her New York Times bestselling self-published Gansett Island Series has sold more than 1.8 million e-books since Maid for Love was released in 2011. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Fatal Series from Harlequin’s Carina Press, as well as the New York Times bestselling Green Mountain Series from Berkley Sensation, among other books and series, including the new Quantum Trilogy, written as M.S. Force.

While her husband was in the Navy, Marie lived in Spain, Maryland and Florida, and she is now settled in her home state of Rhode Island. She is the mother of two teenagers and two feisty dogs, Brandy and Louie.

 

 

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New Release + Review: Show Me How by Molly McAdams – Thatch Series – Book 3

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Show Me How

Thatch Series – Book 3

By Molly McAdams

Buy: Amazon / B & N / IBooks / Kobo

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Synopsis

After her first love was ripped from her grasp four years earlier, Charlie Easton was sure she would never be able to trust anyone with the shattered pieces of her heart again. That is, until Deacon Carver forces himself into her life, and makes those pieces swirl in chaos. But Charlie doesn’t know how to let him in… until a stranger stumbles upon a notebook filled with her innermost secrets, and shows her how.

Deacon Carver is known for sleeping his way through the town of Thatch, as well as the surrounding cities—something he used to take pride in. But that persona has haunted Deacon ever since he decided to leave that life behind for the girl he wants more than anything: Charlie Easton.

But when another girl falls into Deacon’s life, allowing him to be himself without judgment for his past, will their conversations hinder his relationship with Charlie … even if he’s never seen her?

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4 Star

Michel’s Review

Oh how the mighty have fallen.  Deacon Carver, the legendary player in Thatch series has fallen hard for a woman he can’t stand.  A woman that betrayed his best friends, used her brother, and has returned home to use them up once again.  Charlie Easton may be one of his best friends little sister but she is not going to win him over.

Like most things, there are always two sides to every story.  What Deacon perceives as betrayals are Charlie’s burdens to carry.  The love of her life is dead, he broke her heart and left her pregnant and alone.  He used her, dumped her, and was engaged to another woman before he died suddenly. He never had a chance to meet his son. That was the beginning of more betrayals to come.  Her mother gained custody of her child and abandon them both.  Her brother gained custody and forced her to go away to school while he raised her son.  Now she’s finished with school and back in town.  She’s determined to get custody of her son and make a good life for them both.  She never anticipated Deacon Carver changing her carefully mapped out plans.  She has trust issues and a notorious player isn’t going to change them.

Both Charlie and Deacon are both going to experience changes in their lives.  These changes are for the better.  They are both going to learn to love and trust with their full hearts.  A beautiful little boy is going to gain a real family that only a super hero can appreciate.

Show Me How was a great addition to the Thatch series by Molly McAdams.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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And don’t miss the first book in the Thatch Series…

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LETTING GO

Thatch Series – Book 1

By Molly McAdams

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** iTunes ** Kobo ** GooglePlay ** Audio

Grey and Ben fell in love at thirteen and believed they’d be together forever. But three days before their wedding, the twenty-year-old groom-to-be suddenly died from an unknown heart condition, destroying his would-be-bride’s world. If it hadn’t been for their best friend, Jagger, Grey never would have made it through those last two years to graduation. He’s the only one who understands her pain, the only one who knows what it’s like to force yourself to keep moving when your dreams are shattered. Jagger swears he’ll always be there for her, but no one has ever been able to hold on to him. He’s not the kind of guy to settle down.

It’s true that no one has ever been able to keep Jagger—because he’s only ever belonged to Grey. While everyone else worries over Grey’s fragility, he’s the only one who sees her strength. Yet as much as he wants Grey, he knows her heart will always be with Ben. Still they can’t deny the heat that is growing between them—a passion that soon becomes too hot to handle. But admitting their feelings for each other means they’ve got to face the past. Is being together what Ben would have wanted . . . or a betrayal of his memory that will eventually destroy them both?

*****

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To The Stars

Thatch Series – Book 2

By Molly McAdams

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About TO THE STARS:

In the second standalone book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Molly McAdams’ Thatch series, Knox Alexander must convince his long-time love Harlow Evans that they’re meant to be together.

He promised to wait for her.
She told him he was wasting his time.
Not waiting for him ended up being the biggest mistake of her life.

When they were younger, Knox Alexander swore to Harlow Evans that he would wait for her to turn eighteen so they could be together. But that was two and a half years away, and Harlow couldn’t ask him to give up all the fun and thrills of going away to college for her. As the years passed, Knox remained a constant in her life but when her eighteenth birthday came around, Harlow’s heart belonged to someone else.

Every day for the last four years, Harlow has been haunted by that fateful choice. And though he may appear unaffected by what happened in their past, Knox has always tried to fill the void Harlow left. But when he comes stumbling back into her life and refuses to leave, will Harlow finally let him into her heart…?

 

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 Author PhotoAbout Molly McAdams:

Molly grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband, daughter, and fur babies. When she’s not diving into the world of her characters, some of her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling, and long walks on the beach … which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes. She has a weakness for crude-humored movies and fried pickles, and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm … or under one in a bathtub if there are tornados. That way she can pretend they aren’t really happening.

 

 

 

 

Website ** Tumblr ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Google+

TO THE STARS Goodreads ** Molly McAdams Goodreads

New Release + Review: Furious Rush by S. C. Stephens

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Furious Rush

By S. C. Stephens

Release Date: August 23, 2016

Buy: Amazon / B & N / IBooks / Kobo

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Synopsis

Too fast, too furious-and way too hot to handle . . .

Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. Daughter of a racing legend, she is eager to show the world that she has inherited her father’s talent in the male-dominated sport of professional motorcycle racing. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonized by her rival team’s newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Plucked from the world of illegal street racing, Hayden immediately gets under Kenzie’s skin. His insinuations that Kenzie is a spoiled princess who was handed her career fuels her desire to win, and much to her surprise, Kenzie soon learns she performs better when she’s racing against Hayden.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense–and strictly forbidden–attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie always does her best to play by the rules, but when her team slips into a financial crisis, she has no choice but to turn to Hayden for help. The tension simmers during their secret, late-night rendezvous, but Kenzie has too much to lose to give in to her desires. Especially when she begins to doubt that Hayden has completely left his street life behind…

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4 Star

Michel’s Review

Furious Rush by S. C. Stephens is a winner.

Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove in the world of motorcycle racing.  Living in the shadows of her father, a racing legend, being a rookie in the sport as well as  being the only female on the Cox Racing Team, is pure pressure.  To make matters worse the Cox Racing Team is about bankrupt. The major financial problems could make or break the existence of this legendary team.  Their rival competitors are the Benneti Motorsports team. There is more to it than being competitive teams, there is bad blood between them.  The owner Keith Benneti is her father’s worst  enemy.

Mackenzie’s rookie year has her in a complete tailspin.  Her main competition is Hayden Hayes, a former street racer that rides for the Benneti team.  She hates that she is immensely attracted to the enemy.  There’s more to Hayden than his illegal racing past. He revs her motor in many ways.  His influence makes her a better rider.

With Hayden’s sketchy past and position on the opposing team, he is off limits.  Plus Cox Racing is experiencing sabotage every race day.  Is Hayden behind it?  Is Benneti Motorsports behind it?  The sabotage will ruin what is left of the Cox Racing Team.

When her father learns she is fraternizing with the enemy, it could very well ruin Mackenzie’s position on the team as well as her career in racing.  When she’s forced to do the unthinkable to save Cox Racing. She has more to lose more than her position on the team. She may lose everything she holds dear.

Once again S. C. Stephens delivered a red hot book loaded with pure angst.  I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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Author Bio:

sc-stephens-300x225S.C. Stephens is a bestselling author who enjoys spending every free moment she has creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance.
Her debut novel, Thoughtless, an angst-filled love triangle charged with insurmountable passion and the unforgettable Kellan Kyle, took the literary world by storm. Amazed and surprised by the response to the release of Thoughtless in 2009, more stories were quick to follow. Stephens has been writing nonstop ever since.

In addition to writing, Stephens enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading fabulous novels, loading up her iPod with writer’s block reducing music, heading out to the movies, and spending quality time with her friends and family. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her two equally beautiful children.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

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New Release: Wait by A. L. Jackson – A Bleeding Stars Novel

 

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ALJackson-WaitBookCover5x8_BW_HIGHFrom NYT & USA Today bestselling author comes a new Bleeding Stars stand-alone novel…

She is his strength and he is her weakness. And this time he won’t let her go.

 

Edie Evans is gorgeous.

Sexy.

Kind.

She’s also the definition of off-limits.

But that didn’t stop me from sneaking into her room to comfort her at night.

But guys like me? We destroy everything, so it should have been no surprise when I destroyed us, too.

The night I sent her running, I thought I’d never see her again.

Until I saw her standing like a vision in the crowd.

 

Austin Stone is dangerous.

Alluring.

Tempting.

He broke my heart and I refused to give him the chance to do it again.

It’s been years since I’ve seen him, and now I can’t do anything but stare at the gorgeous, tattooed man playing onstage. I should run. I know I should. But like a fool, I run straight back to him.

Our desire is overpowering.
Our need unrelenting.

She is my hope.
He is my weakness.

We should have known a passion this intense would burn us right into the ground.

 

 

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Google Play

 

 

“Meaningful. Mesmerizing. Magnificent…5 but should be 10 beautiful, broken, brilliant, and imperfectly perfect stars .” Karen, Bookalicious Babes Blog

“A beautifully written story about broken hearts and unshakable longing, about second chances and third chances and a whispered hope for a happily ever after. Intensely felt on every level, Edie and Austin’s story will own you.” Vilma, Vilma’s Book Blog

“Beautiful. Sexy. Dripping with tenderness. I felt the emotion in this story all the way to my toes.” Mia Sheridan, NYT Bestselling Author

“6 Stars – ‪Wait is equally devastating and beautiful! A.L. Jackson has a way of pouring words onto a page that makes you crave every piece of a story.” Molly McAdams, NYT Bestselling Author

 

 

 

“Shit,” I hissed, bracing myself against the spray of the icy shards pelting from the shower head.

I sucked in a breath, released it between clenched teeth, and forced myself fully under it.

Head dropped and chest heaving as rivers of ice-cold water slicked down my shoulders and back.

But it did nothing to lessen the need. Gave me no sanity or pacification.

Because all I could think about was the girl on the other side of the door.

My girl.

In my bed.

Wearing just her panties and my shirt.

An angel I wanted to dirty.

I always had.

Love was messy like that.

All of my restraint scattered. I gripped my cock. Squeezed the base. My mouth dropped open at the pressure of my hand against my rigid length.

A fool thinking it might be enough.

Shit.

God, I was a bastard, but there was nothing I could do before I was giving in, leaning forward and bracketing my forearm above my head to hold my weight.

Water pounded down on my head and back while I pounded my fist against my dick.

Trying to keep silent when all I wanted was to moan, teeth digging into my bottom lip as I pictured the girl spread out for me.

My breaths were coming short.

Panted and hard.

I gave into imagining the sounds she would make when I finally got to bury myself in her body.

A soft, soft gasp.

I slowed, trying to convince myself that throaty sound was all in my mind.

Just another part of this fantasy.

Until I heard the small thump against the wall.

Shit.

I mashed my eyes closed, like it might hide me.

Conceal the depravity of my actions after I’d just been comforting her hours before.

Heart thrashing, I turned and moved far enough to peek out the small section where the fabric shower curtain hadn’t been drawn fully closed.

It was just a little sliver that left me exposed.

But it was enough. When I peered out, I was looking right at my girl pressed up against the wall.

She stared right back at me.

And I wanted to be horrified, my mind scrambling to conjure every weak apology I could summon. Ready to fucking grovel to keep her from turning and running once again.

Because that’s exactly what I expected her to do.

But her expression…her expression clutched me in the center of the chest and sent what little brain function I had left stampeding south.

Red, lush lips were parted, her hand pressed to her hollow of her throat, pupils dilated so big that her hooded, cerulean eyes appeared black. Needy breaths were coming at me from that sweet mouth like a goddamned freight train.

Desire swelled in the confines of the too-tight room.

Alive.

She pressed deeper into the wall as if it might support her weakened knees. Head rocked back. Thighs squeezing together.

Motherfuck.

My hand shot to the shower wall to steady myself. “Warning you, Edie, you need to get out of here. Right now.”

 

 

 

 

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aljacksonphotoA.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.

Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, as well as the newest BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for the next installments, WAIT and STAY, coming in 2016.

If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.

Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://bit.ly/NewsFromALJackson or text “jackson” to 96000 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

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Chapter Reveal: Wide Open Spaces by Aurora Rose Reynolds

WIDE OPEN SPACES EXCERPT

WIDE OPEN SPACES COMING SOON

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Wide Open Spaces

By Aurora Rose Reynolds

Release Date: August 2016

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Synopsis

That moment your life changes.

That moment that changes your life.

That moment you love someone more than you love yourself.

That was the moment we gave our son up for adoption and the moment I was left bare. A wide-open space that would forever be empty.

There are moments that define you as a person, moments that prove just how strong you are, moments you push yourself to keep going forward when all you really want to do is give up. It was in one of those moments when I reached out and found him waiting for me.

 

When Shelby Calder left home fifteen years ago, she never planned on returning to the Alaskan town she left behind. But after the death of her grandfather and a bitter divorce, she hopes going home will be a fresh start for her and her ten-year-old son.

 

Zach Watters has made a lot of mistakes in his life. But when he sees Shelby Calder, looking more beautiful than ever, standing outside her childhood home, he promises himself that letting her go won’t be a mistake he ever makes again.

 

Some things never change and love is one of them.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

Shelby

Shutting off my car, I stare at the two-story house I used to call home. It looks the same as it did when I left. The deep blue is still vibrant, even more so now against the backdrop of the gray sky behind it. The white porch is still welcoming, with flowers hanging from the banister.

My grandmother and I would spend hours planting flowers in those boxes during the summer. When she passed away during my sophomore year of high school, I made sure to keep up the tradition in her memory. It looks like, in my absence over these last fifteen years, someone else had taken over the job.

Looking at the bright blooms growing wild, hanging over the sides of the boxes, I wonder if Granddad hired someone to plant them for him when he left to live in Florida. He never mentioned that he cared about the flowers we planted. Honesty, I don’t remember him mentioning them. Growing up, I didn’t even think he noticed, but now, looking at the blooming buds that are artfully arranged, I know they meant something to him after all.

“Mom?” Turning my head, I look at my son Hunter and force a smile as aching pain and regret slice through my chest.

“Sorry, honey. I spaced out. Do you want to unpack tonight, or do you want to wait until tomorrow, kiddo?”

Looking over his shoulder, he eyes the boxes and suitcases piled in the back then looks at me. I hate the sadness I see in his eyes. I hate I’m the cause of his pain. I know he misses his father already, and I know that at ten years old, he doesn’t understand why we’re no longer together even if it’s been over two years since we separated and divorced.

“Tomorrow,” he grumbles, and I feel that ache in my chest expand. He hates me for moving him across the country. Away from his friends, away from everything he knew. And I hate myself a little bit, too, for failing miserably at keeping my family together. I just hope this move will be a new start for us.

“Tomorrow,” I agree softly, unhooking my belt and opening the door.

Rounding the hood of the van, Hunter has already made it to the porch and is waiting at the top of the stairs, with his eyes pointed over my shoulder. Stopping, I look behind me as rain soaks through my clothes. I can’t believe how much the town has changed and grown. When I’d left home, you could see the sound from the front porch of my grandparents’ home. Now, the view is blocked by houses that have been built up side-by-side across the road. The street looks more like a New York City block, rather than a street in small-town Alaska.

“Is it always raining?” Hunter’s voice breaks into my thoughts, and I turn back toward him and take the steps slowly, noticing they are rotting out in a few spots. Something I will have to fix soon.

“Not always, but this is a rainforest, so I guess the answer in some ways is yes,” I tell him, when I make it up to the covered porch.

His brows draw together over his blue eyes, making him look like his father, as he asks, “This is a rainforest?”

“It is.” I want so badly to reach out and run my finger down his cheek, but I keep my hand locked at my side. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but some time ago, he stopped wanting my affection. Stopped being my little boy.

“Really?” he asks curiously, with wide eyes. “It doesn’t look like a rainforest,” he states, and he’s right; it doesn’t look like what you might imagine a rainforest would look like.

“It doesn’t look like one, but it is all the same.” I smile, and his eyes move over my face then to the view, and his face loses the curiosity it held a moment ago.

He turns, muttering, “Whatever.”

Biting my lip, I take the key the lawyer mailed me out of the front pocket of my jeans, put it in the lock, and turn. The door opens with a loud creak and dust rises up from the floors. A loud alarm sounds, making us both jump. Running into the house, I look frantically for some kind of alarm system, finally finding the small white box off the door in the kitchen. Flipping the panel open, I stare at the numbers.

“What’s the code?” Hunter yells over the siren, covering his ears.

“I don’t know,” I yell back, pressing in every single number combination I can think of, but none of them work.

“Is it in the papers in the car?”

“Maybe,” I yell, then run for the door and down the stairs to the van. Swinging open the back door, I shove three boxes out of the way before finding the one I’m looking for. Ripping off the tape, I shuffle through the contents and scan the papers the lawyer sent, searching for the code, but stop and look over the hood of the van when the alarm goes quiet. “What was the code?” I ask Hunter, when he steps out onto the porch.

“I don’t know.” He shrugs, looking over his shoulder into the house, like he’s waiting for someone to come out, which makes me frown.

“Did it just stop?” I question, slamming the van door. His eyes come back to me and he shakes his head then starts to open his mouth to say something else, but is cut off by a deep voice.

“I turned it off.”

It takes one breath to realize who just stepped out of my grandparents’ house. One breath for every moment I spent with the man standing before me to flash through my head. Two seconds for me to feel my world come to a stop.

The boy I once knew is gone. There’s nothing boyish about Zach Watters anymore. His jaw is now sharp, the stubble on it giving him a rugged look while accentuating his full lips. His dark hair has silvered around the edges, drawing attention to his expressive hazel eyes that look like they hold a thousand stories. His red and black plaid shirt is stretched tight across broad shoulders, giving a glimpse of the muscles it’s covering. He’s still every bit as beautiful as he once was, only more so now that time has aged him, taking him from a handsome boy to a gorgeous man.

Swallowing, I look at my son then back again. “Thanks,” I whisper, and Zach’s eyebrows pull together as he sweeps his gaze over me. I have no doubt that I too have changed, but unlike him, time hasn’t been good to me. I’ve gained a few too many pound from eating my feelings over the last year. My skin has lost its youthful glow, and my hair has grown out at the roots without my bi-monthly maintenance appointments.

“Shelby?” he asks, but all I can do is confirm with a nod, since my mouth has dried up and I can’t find my voice. “Jesus.” His eyes widen as he looks down at Hunter then back toward me. “What are you doing here?”

“My… my son Hunter and I are moving in,” I stutter, caught off guard by his presence. I wasn’t stupid enough to believe I wouldn’t see him when I moved home, but I had convinced myself that seeing him would be on my terms, or sporadic at best.

“What?” he whispers, leaning back on his boots, crossing his arms over his chest.

Ignoring his question, I start to move back toward the stairs, asking, “Do you mind giving me the code for the alarm? I’m sure it’s somewhere in the papers the lawyer sent, but…” I stop and look to the left when Zach’s name is called. Standing on the porch of the house next door is a woman I know he got with a few months after I left. A woman he married soon after she gave birth to their twins. A woman I used to call my friend.

A woman I now hate.

I absently hear him say something to her, but the nausea turning my stomach and the sadness prickling my skin have me moving quickly up the steps, focusing on not falling over as I move past him. “Never mind about the code. I’m sure I’ll find it. Thanks for shutting off the alarm,” I mumble, as I walk through the door.

“Mom.”

“Come on, honey. Let’s have a look around, and then we need to get to the store.”

“Mom,” Hunter repeats, sounding confused. I plaster a fake smile on my face.

“The pizza place we drove past has the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. We could do that for dinner.”

“Mom.”

“Right here, honey.” I laugh, even though that laugh feels like glass edging down my windpipe.

Studying me for a long moment, he finally mutters, “Pizza sounds good. I’m gonna call Dad before we go, and tell him we’re here.”

“Sure,” I agree, watching him pull out his cell phone and walk toward the kitchen. I didn’t agree that he needed a cell phone at his age, but like all things with his dad, there was never any kind of conversation. He didn’t ask what I thought about it; he just did what he wanted to do.

I hear a familiar throat clear. “You’re back?” Zach asks from behind me, making my shoulders slump forward and my eyes slide closed briefly.

“Yeah.” I turn to face him and wrap my arms around my waist, feeling my stomach twist into knots. When I left town, we didn’t fight, didn’t yell at each other, didn’t say things we would end up regretting one day. I just knew there was too much pain between us to make what we had left work, and Zach, knowing the same, didn’t put up a fight when I told him my plans.

“You’re staying here?” he asks, and I nod. Running a hand over his head as his eyes move to the right, where Tina had been moments ago, before bringing his gaze back to mine. “The code for the alarm is one, two, three, four. I told Pat to change it, but you know Pat,” he mutters, and I nod, knowing exactly how stubborn Gramps was. Shoving his hands into the front pocket of his jeans, his voice drops. “I’m really sorry about Pat.”

“Thanks.” I hold myself a little tighter. His eyes drop to my arms around my waist and soften before moving up to meet mine once more.

“If you need anything, I’m next door.” He lifts his chin in that direction, and my world stops again.

“Pardon?” I breathe.

“I live next door.”

Okay, maybe I should have guessed that, since Tina was over there, but I didn’t, and this is not good… as in really not good. There is not one damn thing I can do about it, though, unless I want to load Hunter back into the van and live out of it for the next year or so, which I don’t think will win me any brownie points with my son.

“Cool,” I whisper pathetically, with nothing else to say. Something familiar-looking and soft slides through his features, making my stomachache twist again, but this time in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.

“Well…” I pause, needing this encounter to be over. “Thanks again for turning off the alarm. I wish we had time to catch up,” I lie. “But I need to get to the store before it closes, and then I need to get Hunter some food. Growing boys don’t do well without food,” I ramble, as I put my hand to the door, wanting so badly to shove it closed.

“Sure.” He nods then looks over my shoulder, into the house. “Nice meeting you, Hunter.”

“You too—” Hunter looks between Zach and me.

“Mr. Watters, honey,” I mutter, answering his unspoken question, as he comes to stand at my side with his cell phone in his hand.

“You too, Mr. Watters.”

Zach’s eyes come to me and his face softens once more. “See you around, Shelby.”

“Yeah, see you around,” I lie again, since I plan to pretend he doesn’t exist from this moment forward. I wait, even though I don’t want to, until he is walking away to close the door then stand there for a moment, trying to process what just happened.

“How do you know him, Mom?” Hunter asks.

“When I was younger,” I say, turning to face him, “we were friends.” I shrug, looking toward the stairs. “My room used to be in the attic—it’s the best room in the house—and if you make it there before me, I’ll let you have it.” I raise my brows before taking off in a sprint up the stairs, listening to my son, who I haven’t heard laugh in weeks, giggle as he runs up the stairs behind me.

“Wow, this is awesome.”

Looking over my shoulder at Hunter I smile as he walks into the room with wide eyes. “I told you it’s the coolest room in the house.” I used to love hanging out up here when I was a teenager. The vastness of the space, with its angled ceilings and four large skylights, was a cool place to spend time. Looking at my son now, I can see the excitement in his eyes as he wanders around the room.

“Do you think I could get a telescope?” he asks, looking up at the cloud-covered sky through one of the skylights.

“Definitely.” I bump my shoulder with his as I walk past him toward the couch in the corner that’s covered with a sheet and pull it off. “We may also want to find a cover for this thing while we’re at it,” I say, looking from the floral-covered couch to his scrunched up face.

“Yeah.” He nods, moving to the bed, where he rips off the sheet that is covering the mattress. “I can’t wait to tell Dad about this. He’s going to think it’s so cool,” he mutters, and I bite my tongue to keep from saying, No, your dad will definitely not think it’s cool.

Max, Hunter’s father, grew up wealthy. He never owned anything that had been used. Even when we got married, he insisted I sell the Victorian house I bought when I graduated college, wanting instead for us to buy a newly built house in a cliché subdivision, where all of his friends lived. Shortly thereafter, he insisted I sell all of my old furniture, things I had bought secondhand and refurbished over the years. At the time, I was blinded by hope and love, so I didn’t think anything about it. But over time, I slowly realized I was no longer the person I used to be. I had turned into a trophy wife who lived in a show home and neither of us had any real character.

“Mom,” Hunter calls, bringing me out of my thoughts, and I turn to look at him and notice he has a stack of photos in his hand. “Who’s this?”

“That’s my mom,” I say softly, while walking over to where he’s sitting on the bed, holding out a picture of my mom and me. In the photo, we’re sitting outside on the porch, with our arms wrapped around each other, smiling at the camera.

“You look like her,” he says thoughtfully. “You have her eyes and hair.”

“You think so?” I ask, looking at my mom, who had to have been about my age when the photo was taken. She was beautiful, with long dark blonde hair, big blue eyes, and a smile that lit up the world.

“Yeah.” He nods then looks at me, and asks quietly, “Do you miss her?”

“Every day.” I nod, taking the photo from his hands. “She gave the best hugs,” I say, fighting back the tears I feel creeping up my throat. My mom and dad both died in a plane crash when I was fifteen. My father was the owner and pilot of a local adventure company, and he had taken my mom with him to drop off supplies to some men who were bear hunting out at one of the islands. On their way back into town, the weather shifted, and their plane went down on one of the mountains. Neither of them survived. That’s when I moved to Cordova to live with my dad’s parents.

“Do you have any pictures of your dad?”

I pause, trying to recall if I’ve ever really spoken to Hunter about my parents, if Max ever asked about them, but I can’t think of a single time. “There are a few downstairs on the wall. I’ll point them out to you.” I lean into him a little then stop when his arm wraps around my shoulders, surprising me. “I love you, kid,” I whisper, not surprised when he doesn’t say it back, but happy that his arm tightens ever so slightly.

“I’m starving.” He chuckles releasing me when his stomach growls loudly, breaking the moment.

“We can’t have that.” I laugh, standing from the bed. “Let’s go to Joe’s. Hopefully, the pizza is still awesome. If not, you’re gonna have to suffer and eat it anyway, ‘cause the store is probably closed by now.

“Is there such a thing as bad pizza?”

“I guess we’ll find out,” I murmur, and then head out of the room and down the stairs, grabbing my purse as we leave.

When we make it to Joe’s, I find nothing has changed in the years I’ve been gone. The owner Joe, an older Korean gentleman, is still in the back making the pizzas, and his wife Kim is still working the counter, gossiping about everything and everyone. While we wait for our pizza, Kim talks my ear off, telling me about the people in town, including Zach, who she informs me is not only a cop, but also the sheriff. She also tells me that Zach is single. He and Tina supposedly got divorced nine years ago, and Zach has had full custody of both his kids since then. I tell myself I don’t care that Zach is no longer with Tina, but I still feel some relief knowing I won’t have to witness seeing them together.

“Can I sleep in my room tonight?” Hunter asks, as I finish off my third slice of pizza and wipe my mouth with a paper towel.

“I don’t mind, but everything in the house needs to be washed. So if you want to sleep up there, we have to get your stuff from the van.”

“I’ll get it, and then we can bring in everything else too.”

“You want to clean out the van?” I ask, not at all excited about lugging stuff up three flights of stairs.

“Yeah.” He nods again, taking his half of the pizza box lid that he used as a plate to the trash bin.

“If that’s what you want,” I agree, regretting those words an hour later as I head out for the last box. My arms and legs are tired from carting everything inside and up the stairs. I haven’t worked out in the last year, and I can feel it now as every muscle in my body protest.

Stopping when I hear a door close, I hold the box in my hands closer to my chest and look toward the house next door. I spot a handsome blond boy, who looks a lot like Zach, hopping down the steps, with Tina following close behind. Ducking down, I hide and watch them as they get into an old pickup truck, only coming out of hiding when they drive off.

Having over fifteen years to deal with the adoption of Samuel should make it easier to see Zach’s other children, but it doesn’t. I still feel bitter about the situation. I know it’s the fact that Zach’s children were born a little over a year after Samuel, meaning Tina got pregnant not long after I left town. So not only did Zach have a relationship with Tina, but he built a family with her and kept the kids they had together.

Heading back into the house with the final box, I wonder how I’m going to do what I’ve been doing for the last fifteen years. It was easy to block out thoughts of Zach when I was gone, but now that I’m back and living next door to him, I wonder if it will be as easy to ignore the feeling in my chest that coincides with thoughts of him.

 

~*~*~

Grabbing my quilt from the end the my bed, I carefully balance my Kindle and glass of wine in one hand as I open the sliding glass door in my room and step out onto the balcony. Tonight is one of the first nights it hasn’t rained since we moved in, and I have been looking forward to sitting outside under the stars with a good book all day long. Grabbing my glass, I take a sip then look to the left when the sound of rock music starts up and light flutters across the back deck next door, making me wonder if Zach’s room is off the balcony like mine.

Pushing that thought away, I turn on my Kindle then proceed to get lost in someone else’s happily ever after.

“Shelby.” Jumping, some of the contents from the glass in my hand sloshes out over the side and runs down my fingers as I swing my head to the left, where Zach is leaning on the banister, his eyes on me. A short glass full of dark liquid is in his hands, and the light casts a glow behind him.

“You scared the crap out of me,” I gripe, holding my free hand over my rapidly beating heart.

“I’ve been standing here awhile,” he mutters, then takes a swig of his drink. “I thought you would have noticed.” He rolls the glass between his hands while looking at me intently, making me fight the urge to squirm in my chair.

“When I’m lost in a good book, the world could crash down around me and I wouldn’t notice.” I shrug, taking a sip of wine, using the moment of reprieve as an excuse to look away from him, but realizing for the first time that I don’t know the man standing across from me. Yes, he looks a little like the guy I dated years ago, but he also seems more intense, like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’s definitely not the easygoing kid I dated in high school.

“How are you guys settling in?”

Pulling my legs out from under me, I rest my Kindle on the edge of my lap and turn to face him fully while adjusting the blanket.

“It’s going to take a little bit to get everything cleaned up. I didn’t know Gramps was such a hoarder until now. I think I’ve thrown out about ten thousand issues of National Geographic, along with a hundred empty boxes and every single item you can possibly buy from an infomercial,” I reply, then smile when he laughs a deep rumbling laugh and leans a little farther over the railing between us, causing another plaid shirt—this one blues and yellows—to tighten across his wide chest.

“You didn’t keep them? You never know when you might need an automatic potato peeler.”

“I thought about it, but if I did, I wouldn’t have anywhere to put my shoes, since all of it was stacked up on the floor in his closet, everything unopened.” I smile, watching him grin for a moment before the smile slides away and his eyes move beyond me to the forest that sits behind the house.

“I’m gonna miss him. I know he’s been gone from town for years, but I’ll miss our talks,” he mutters, then looks up at the sky for a moment before meeting my gaze once more. “Why’d you come back? Last time I talked to Pat, he told me you were planning on following him down to Florida.”

His words catch me off guard, since Gramps never told me he kept in contact with Zach. But then again, I never asked. I shouldn’t be surprised they kept in touch, since they we’re close when I was home, and were obviously neighbors before Gramps moved to Florida. Plus, Zach is the sheriff in town. Yet, it still feels strange that he knows about me, while I know nothing about him.

“I was.” I let out a breath, adjusting the blanket around my shoulders. “But I had to wait until…” I trail off, not wanting to talk about my divorce to anyone, especially not him. “Then when Gramps passed away, there was nothing for me in Florida, so I decided to come back here instead.”

“You didn’t want to stay in Seattle?”

“No, I needed something different, so when I found out Gramps left me his house, I just knew I needed to come back here,” I whisper the truth. Ever since I read the will and found out this house was mine to do with as I please, I had a feeling in my gut that I couldn’t get rid of. Something telling me that I needed to come back here.

“This is a good town,” he murmurs, but the look in his eyes is saying something I can’t quite figure out.

“This is the last place I remember being really happy. I hope that I can make it that way for Hunter,” I say quietly, and his face softens.

“He looks like you.” His words and tone catch me by surprise and I sit up a little taller. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be sitting on my granddad’s deck in the middle of the night talking to Zach about anything. Definitely not about my son.

“You wouldn’t say that if you saw his dad,” I return honestly. “When he was a baby, he looked like me, but not any more.”

“He has your eyes and your smile.” He pauses, taking a drink from his glass. “He seems like a good kid.”

“He’s the best kid.” I take a sip of wine, trying to keep whatever it is I’m feeling right now in check.

“I… I think I saw your son. Um, the other day. He looks like you,” I tell him, wanting to take the words back after I say them, because I don’t want him to think I was spying on him.

“He looks like his mom, but has my personality, which I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or not. My daughter, Aubrey, on the other hand, looks like me, but is sweet down to her core. Where she gets that sweetness, I have no fucking clue.”

“Oh.” I bite my lip, trying to figure out what to say to that. The Zach I knew was a good guy, sweet even. Tina, however, was mostly bitch, and I honestly don’t even know why we were friends. Then again, growing up here, there weren’t a hundred girls to choose from. My graduating class had five girls in it, and none of them liked Tina, which meant none of them really liked me either.

“I better go in,” he says abruptly, cutting into my thoughts, standing to his full height. “I need to be to the station early tomorrow.”

“Sure… uh… have a good night.” The urge to say something that will make him stay hits me hard, and it takes everything I have in me to keep my mouth shut.

“You too, Shelby. And be careful when you’re out here reading. Louie’s out and about around this time of night, searching for food.”

“Louie?” I question, scrunching up my nose. Cordova never had homeless people before, and I can’t imagine it would now.

“Louie’s a black bear. Normally, he sticks to the woods, but he’s been known to nap on the decks now and then.

“Oh, man.” I jump up, looking around for any sign of Louie, not sure how I could forget there are bears out here, since we are in Alaska. “What’s funny?” I frown, turning to face him when I hear his deep laughter.

“You’re in Alaska, babe. You lived here for years. You know there are bears out in those woods.” He nods to the trees.

Babe. Why, oh, why did that word make butterflies erupt in my stomach?

“I know that, but I forgot.” I shake my head and watch his face soften once again.

“Still sweet as pie,” I think I hear him say, but can’t be sure, because his voice dropped to a low rumble that I felt skid across my skin.

“Well, I’m gonna go in too,” I blurt, picking up my Kindle and wine glass. “Have a good night.” And with that, I duck my head and go back into my room. Closing the door I lock it behind me then hurry and get into bed where I try to forget once more about Zach Watters.

~~**~~

“Hello?” I answer the phone, still half asleep, then look at the clock and notice that even though it’s light out, it’s barely 6:00 a.m.

“Shelby, I’ve called three times,” Max, my ex-husband, says into my ear, and I pull my pillow over my head with thoughts of suffocating myself with it.

“It’s only six, Max. I haven’t gotten out of bed,” I grumble, tossing the covers back and sitting up. “What’s going on?”

“I want to fly out there this weekend,” he states, and I fight the urge to toss my phone across the room or scream at the top of my lungs.

“This weekend?” I verify, rubbing my face. “We haven’t even been here a week.”

“I have a few days off and would like to see Hunter.”

I sigh, considering him and his request. “Our stuff is going to be delivered in two days. Then I start my new job next week, and Hunter has swi—”

“You’re not keeping my boy from me,” he cuts me off, and I can tell by his tone that he’s mad and likely pulling at his ever-present tie in annoyance. Something I make him do often.

“I’m not saying you can’t see him, Max,” I clarify, wishing I had at least one cup of coffee before this conversation. “I’m just explaining to you that we’re trying to get settled in here. Can you wait a few weeks before you come out?”

“Such fucking bullshit. I can’t believe you moved to Alaska, of all goddamn places. A boy should have his dad in his life.” My heart stutters and I feel my pulse skyrocket. We didn’t have a custody battle, but I wouldn’t put it past Max to take me to court to gain custody of Hunter if I step out of line in his eyes.

“Max,” I soften my voice as I walk to the kitchen, “you know we talked about this. You can come see him anytime, and in a couple years, he can fly out to see you whenever he has a break,” I say, then drop my voice even lower. “We agreed on him living with me at least until he’s sixteen. After that, he can choose who he wants to live with.”

“I miss you both.” He sighs, making me roll my eyes. I know he doesn’t miss me. I know this, because he’s been dating woman after woman since I asked for a separation. For all I know, he was dating before that. Hell, the last year I spent under the same roof as him, he hardly spared me a glance. Hunter later suffered from his lack of attention, when we lived in the same town after our separation. With Max, it’s always about him getting his way.

“Max, please just wait a few more weeks, and then you can come and stay as long as you like,” I offer, the words leaving a horrid taste in my mouth. I will do whatever I have to in order to keep my son, though, including putting up with his dad in my childhood home for more than a few days.

“Fine, when?”

Closing my eyes, I whisper, “Next month. Whenever you like. Just let me know, so I can make sure I don’t make plans for Hunter. I know there are a few camps here he’s interested in.”

“Fine. Where is he now? I called his cell phone, but he didn’t pick up.”

“Sleeping. Like I said, it’s only six here, and he was up late talking to his friends back in Seattle on Skype.”

“You really shouldn’t let him stay up so late, Shelby,” he scolds, sounding disapproving, and again, that’s not a surprise.

“It’s summer, Max, and his ‘late’ is ten, not three in the morning,” I mutter, wondering how the hell I put up with him for so many years. “I’ll have him call you when he gets up.”

“Don’t tell him I’m coming out. I want to tell him that myself.”

“Will do,” I grumble, looking at the coffee pot and begging it to hurry up.

“Talk to you later.”

“Talk to you later,” I agree, setting the phone down on the counter. I make myself a cup of coffee and take it out to the back deck, drinking it while the morning sun beats down on me.

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aurora rose reynolds

About Aurora Rose Reynolds

aurora rose reynoldsAurora Rose Reynolds is a navy brat who’s husband served in the United States Navy. She has lived all over the country but now resides in New York City with her Husband and pet fish. She’s married to an alpha male that loves her as much as the men in her books love their women. He gives her over the top inspiration everyday. In her free time she reads, writes and enjoys going to the movies with her husband and cookie. She also enjoys taking mini weekend vacations to nowhere, or spends time at home with friends and family. Last but not least she appreciates everyday and admires it’s beauty.

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