Cover Reveal + Playlist + Giveaway: Crave by Adriana Locke

HTML for Crave Cover Reveal (Option #1):

 

Who is ready to meet Machlan Gibson?

This STANDALONE novel in the Gibson Boys Series from USA Today Bestseller Adriana Locke will be coming to your Kindle soon. We don’t have a firm release date yet, but we’re hearing it should be the first of August. (Is it the first of August yet?)

What does Adriana have in store for us in Crave? Check this out:

Synopsis:

Hadley Jacobs is over Machlan Gibson.

Sure, she’ll always be a little weak to the dimple in his right cheek and the way his five o’clock shadow makes him ruggedly handsome. But that’s not enough to cover every other thing about him because they all drive her nuts. Like how he’s won’t admit he’s wrong even when he knows it and how he drives his stupid car a million miles an hour on wet asphalt. As she rolls back into town and takes a seat at Crave, she won’t take the bait. She’s over him. Mostly.

Machlan isn’t over her.

It’s not because he hasn’t tried. He reminds himself over and over that she’s not the girl for him. After all, she drives him insane with her sassy attitude and the way she calls him out on everything. She beats him at poker, even though she doesn’t know the difference between a straight and a flush, and when she looks at him with her bright, blue eyes, it’s unnerving. When she climbs onto that bar stool and orders a drink, he puts it in front of her and ignores the sparkle in her eyes.  He’s not over her, but she won’t know that.

But she does know that. And he knows she’s not as over him as she’s pretending to be. When life forces their hand this time, there’s more on the line than a pile of poker chips. It’s their forever.

 

Coming Early August 2018

 

While we wait for this release, we can “get to know” Machlan through his Spotify playlist here. AND you know you need to add it to your To Be Read List.

Amazon Alert

There’s a great giveaway associated with this cover reveal too! A signed paperback plus two $10 gift cards. Book money, anyone? LOL!

$10 Gift Card to Winner’s Choice of Store

 

 

As a side note, if you haven’t met the other Gibson Boys, you really (really!) must. They’re small town. Blue collar. And totally, absolutely delicious. Check out Adriana’s Amazon Page and look up Crank, Craft, and / or Cross. All can be read as standalone novels and all are available in Kindle Unlimited.

 

Adriana’s Amazon Page

http://www.adrianalocke.com

 

New Release + Blog Tour + Playlist + 5-Star Review: Fixed Forever by Laurelin Paige

 

Fixed Forever (Fixed book #5) by Laurelin Paige

Release Date: June 25th 2018

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

 

FIXED FOREVER AVAILABLE NOW!

Amazon → https://laurl.in/FixedForever-Amazon

Amazon International → http://myBook.to/FixedForever

iBooks → https://laurl.in/FixedForever-ibooks

Nook → https://laurl.in/fixedforevernook

Kobo → https://laurl.in/FixedForever-Kobo

Google Play → https://laurl.in/FixedForever-GP

 

 

Add to Goodreads → https://laurl.in/FixedForever-GR

 

 

BLURB

Hudson Pierce-

You act so high and mighty, you and your perfect pregnant wife Alayna. With your perfect child and your perfect home.

You weren’t always perfect. Your past is filled with misdeeds.

Does your wife know all your secrets?

Would she stand behind you if she did?

You think because she’s on bedrest you can protect her? How sweet.

Sleep tight, you two.

-An Old Friend.

 

 

Fixed Forever in 12 Songs

We’ve shared joy and we’ve shared pain

We’ve shared guilt and we’ve shared shame

We’ve bought into the stupid games

We’ve freed each other and we laid claim

Oh yes the butterflies are still there

Butterflies by Sia

#Fixedforeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/6ugqmzAitEr7uuzxTrwuxl?si=Z_6mdhjGTeCEsclw4–W-Q

*

I can still feel your breath all over me filling me

I could fuck with you for eternity, infinity

Infinity by Niykee Heaton

#Fixedforeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/4QsjfjcbwE0OxZ7TwechQx?si=2yP3fOr_QkCDHQcY8BqgnQ

*

I paced around for hours on empty

I jumped at the slightest of sounds

And I couldn’t stand the person inside me

I turned all the mirrors around

Control by Halsey

#Fixedforeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/3SKzTIl9mW0DadTys9SFo3?si=OgwP18weQl-nzRp_YXDwMw

*

Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you

Fix You by Coldplay

#FixedForeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/3ZRX7iydixcaviLeCzWSkg?si=ilRbH6oOSha4lHWLeuvR0w

*

You’ve been kicking in your sleep

Tossing and turning relentlessly

And I know you’d be lyin’

If you told me you were fine

And you’ve been screaming in your head

Swallowing the words

That I know you would have said

If you would just breathe

Oh my heart is tangled all around you

When you’ve got trouble, I’ve got trouble too

Oh my life is arm in arm with you

When you’ve got trouble, I’ve got trouble too

When You’ve Got Trouble by Liz Longley

#FixedForeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/2qsfk27mW04YRiRlsmh45W?si=6zUG4E9HRhK4sgWHIavnZw

*

When your dreams all fail

And the ones we hail

Are the worst of all

And the blood’s run stale

I want to hide the truth

I want to shelter you

Demons by Imagine Dragons

#FixedForeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/797BXv0JuhyiwDr0IDzWeW?si=OnOj906gR06e2nZJJdy8Yg

*

But you didn’t have to cut me off

Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing

And I don’t even need your love

But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough

Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye

#FixedForeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/5XPSElbh3y0S1Jl0ggpwQr?si=T_QADojdS0mP_6iVWb7aLw

*

 

You’ll never know what hit you

Won’t see me closing in

I’m gonna make you suffer

This hell you put me in

I’m underneath your skin

The devil within

You’ll never know what hit you

The Devil Within by Digital Daggers

#FixedForeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/3TnGabS1ylWPNOTa2kJBDn?si=vpjwt8upQlmsaoAOThaSwA

*

You give me a reason

Something to believe in

I know, I know, I know

You give me a meaning

Something I can breathe in

I know, I know, I know

Homesick by Dua Lipa

#FixedForeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/5E5MqaS6eOsbaJibl3YeMZ?si=dbL3Je4xRICWbt2XkDHTeg

*

Because maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me

And after all, you’re my wonderwall

#FixedForeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/3N7wclRSF2D2RT3O27LEOE?si=sJJrOyS1QWGCrZN7zrw7ww

*

You are the fire to my thoughts

The spark that starts it all

And with your eyes you can move me to your

Worlds that fall apart

If you die before I do, I know that heartache

Will kill me too

So if I ever live again, it will be to find you

I will love you, I will love you

Until the blood all leaves these hands

Don’t you let us, don’t you let us

Close to an early grave

Give me a lifetime

And then fifteen more to find the words

That will explain

How I need you, how I see you

How you are everything that I have

I Will Love You by Gin Wigmore

#FixedForeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/1HUu5zRIwsifiOkZXu7Hbs?si=y4M6YSrOSYO5NNrOysUP4g

*

My head’s under water

But I’m breathing fine

You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

‘Cause all of me

Loves all of you

Love your curves and all your edges

All your perfect imperfections

Give your all to me

I’ll give my all to you

You’re my end and my beginning

Even when I lose I’m winning

‘Cause I give you all of me

And you give me all, all of you

All of Me by John Legend

#FixedForeverplaylist

https://open.spotify.com/track/1r5f90h75wkkd0eQYMWiqL?si=xixY9mbvRkKLmUG6EwZa7w

 

5 star

 

Tracey’s Review

 

Someone is watching. An unknown person from Hudson Pierce’s past, is hiding, waiting, threatening. In order to find the answers they need, Hudson and Alayna have to find a way to work together like never before, before it’s too late.

They’re baaaaack…Hudson Pierce, as alpha and unapologetic about it as ever, and his lovely wife Alayna, are back. This, FIXED fans, is it, the book that you’ve been waiting for. Intrigue, mystery, passion, it’s all here, and it is well worth the wait.

I adore author Laurelin Paige, and have been a fan of the Fixed series since the beginning. It was a real treat, getting to spend more time with Hudson and Alayna and their tribe (I have to admit to loving Chandler Pierce a whole lot, so was super-excited to see him here). Laurelin has given us a great chapter in the life of these characters, and FIXED FOREVER reminded me early on why I love them all so much. Hudson is still alpha, oh, yes, he is, but he is utterly devoted to Alayna. And, Laynie, having worked through some serious issues in her time, is fierce, fabulous, and on fire in this book.

FIXED FOREVER is a serious page-turner, with plenty of visits from characters that we know and love…or don’t love so much…It’s filled with action, intrigue, and that Pierce charisma and passion that keeps readers coming back for more. No surprise that this is a 5-star read for me, and one that fans of this series should have at the top of their TBR. And, if you’re late to the game and haven’t met these folks, do yourself a favor, go back to the beginning, and get started, because you will love them!

 

 

 

 

About Laurelin

With over 1 million books sold, Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She’s a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.

 

 

CONNECT WITH LAURELIN PAIGE

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaurelinPaige/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2knJOrx

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/laurelin-paige

Twitter: @LaurelinPaige

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thereallaurelinpaige/

Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HudsonPierce/

Website: http://www.laurelinpaige.com

Never miss an update! Subscribe to Laurelin’s mailing list:

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/LaurelinNews

 

Teaser + Excerpt + Playlist: Folsom by Tarryn Fisher and Willow Aster

We are so excited to share an excerpt and teaser for Folsom by writing duo Tarryn Fisher and Willow Aster coming on May 29th!

Excerpt from FOLSOM:

I stop dead in my tracks. There’s someone else in here. At first I see only boots, large boots, too big for a woman. He hears me come in and perches forward on the sink to peer around the corner.

“You can’t read or you don’t care?” he asks.

At first I’m too shocked to know what he’s talking about, then I remember the Out of Order sign on the door.

“I can’t read,” I say. “I’m just another stupid woman trying to have a baby.”

He laughs. It bounces across the bathroom walls and hits me in the chest.

“Well, at least you have a sense of humor, stupid woman.”

I’m witnessing the very serious and stern Folsom Donahue laughing. I stand there staring at him, not knowing what to do.

And then I ask. “Are you hiding, too?”

“In plain sight,” he says. “Who are you hiding from?”

“Everyone.”

“How’s that working out for you?”

I eye his casual stance, the large hands resting behind him on the sink, the crossed ankles. “Not well, since you’re here.”

He laughs again, this time just a slow rumble while he watches my face.

“I have to go,” he says, pushing away from the counter. He walks toward me and my heart races. I’ve never been this close to a man. He’s just trying to get to the door, I tell myself. But, then he stops so he’s towering over me. I have to bend my head back to see his face.

“Have a good night,” he says. And I learn for the first time what a smirk is. Full lips … teasing … I blink at him, my lips parting to answer, but then he’s gone and I’m not even sure it really happened.

 

 

Synopsis for FOLSOM:

The nation as we know it is a thing of the past.

With the male species on the verge of extinction, a society called the End Men is formed to save the world. Folsom Donahue is one of twelve men whose sole purpose is to repopulate the Regions. The endless days spent having sex with strangers leaves Folsom with an emptiness no amount of women, money, or status can fill.

Until Gwen.

Gwen has wanted a child for as long as she can remember, but when she finally gets a chance to have her own, she uncovers a long hidden truth. The injustice she sees moves her to help save the men whom no one else believes need saving.

A forbidden love, grown in a time of despair, ignites a revolution.

Folsom and Gwen, torn between their love for each other and their sense of duty, must make a choice. But some will stop at nothing to destroy them.

Folsom is book one of the End of Men series.

 

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39934742-folsom

Spotify:

The End Men: Folsom

https://open.spotify.com/user/1226318453/playlist/0nD2lFQEfKiF1rWkdbNezi

 

Tarryn Fisher’s Links:

 

Tarryn Fisher is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of nine novels. Born a sun hater, she currently makes her home in Seattle, Washington with her children, husband, and psychotic husky. Tarryn writes about villains.

 

 

 

 

Website:

www.tarrynfisher.com

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/authortarrynfisher

Instagram:

https://instagram.com/tarrynfisher/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/Tarryn__Fisher

 

Willow Aster’s links:

Willow Aster is the author of True Love Story, In the Fields, Maybe Maby, Fade to Red, and Lilith. Willow loves nothing more than writing the day away—anywhere will do. Her husband and two children graciously put up with her endless daydreaming and make fun of her for reading while cooking.

 

 

Website: www.willowaster.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/willowasterauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WillowAster

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/willowaster1/

 

Chapter Reveal + Playlist + Pre-Order + Giveaway: Seed by Cassia Leo

Today we have the chapter reveal for SEED by Cassia Leo! Check it out and pre-order your copy today!

 

Title: SEED
Author: Cassia Leo
Series: Evergreen Series
Release: March 16, 2018

 

About SEED

The explosive continuation of the Evergreen Series from New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo.

The seeds of doubt have been planted.

Two to six weeks. That’s how long it takes, on average, to get a divorce in Oregon.

With Jack convinced I betrayed him, I expect to be served divorce papers within hours of moving out. But weeks pass without word from Jack, and the papers never arrive. Though my heart isn’t ready to give up on him, I can’t shake the feeling that we may be better off apart. And Isaac is more than happy to help me move on.

But just as I begin to build some semblance of a life and career, a new and improved Jack arrives on my doorstep. Divorce papers are the furthest thing from his mind as he delivers news that both shatters me and restores my faith in the love we shared. But is it too late for us?

Pre Order Now

iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

Amazon Release Alert

Add the Evergreen Series to Goodreads

Chapter Reveal

JACK

May 10, 2015

“Stay with me, baby,” I murmured as I stroked Laurel’s hand to keep her from falling asleep. “You realize our son is going to be born on a very special day.”

Her eyes rolled back in their sockets as another contraction hit. “What?” she groaned.

I had been trying to keep her mind distracted from the pain with idle conversation about the things she most liked to talk about. So far, I’d engaged her in a wide array of topics: Stoic philosophy, ridiculous names for baked goods, inappropriate wedding songs, and her favorite topic, names for baby boys.

“His birthdate is going to be May 10th, 2015. In numbers, that five, ten, fifteen.”

She managed to groan and chuckle at the same time. “You’re so American. The rest of the world would say it’s ten, five, fifteen,” she said. She breathed in and out a few times through pursed lips before she continued. “Drea would make fun of you if she heard you say that.”

“It’s a good thing Drea’s not here then.”

As soon as I said the words, I wanted to take them back. I didn’t want to bring attention to the fact that, besides Drea, Laurel’s mom also was not here.

As if on cue, Laurel asked, “Where’s my mom?”

I squeezed her soft hand, which seemed to be getting colder. “She’s stuck in traffic, baby. There’s an accident. But she’s trying to get here as soon as she can.”

I didn’t have to lie for Beth. I had to lie for Laurel. I didn’t want her to worry that her mother was abandoning her in her time of need. This was probably the most important day of Laurel’s life, and her mother couldn’t be bothered to come when called.

Beth insisted this was a private moment for Laurel and I to share. According to her, most grandmothers weren’t in the labor and delivery room to see their grandchildren born. That was the parents’ “job.” She insisted she would get here as soon as the baby was born.

The fact that Beth referred to what I was doing at this moment as a “job” only made me angrier. I wasn’t here with Laurel because it was my job to be here. I was here because I loved Laurel, and this was where she wanted me to be. If Laurel told me to leave, I’d leave. She was the one making the decisions today, not me or Beth or the fucking Dalai Lama.

The midwife came into Laurel’s room just as the baby’s heart rate monitor began to beep loudly. The swift, hollow tap of our baby’s heartbeat had slowed to a slow, muffled thump. The midwife’s black eyebrows shot up as she raced to the monitor to get a better look at the flashing red numbers.

“What’s happening?” Laurel asked, but her eyelids were only half-open as her voice trailed off. “Is the baby… Is the baby okay?”

Maisie, Laurel’s Filipino midwife, lifted the sheet covering Laurel’s legs and her dark eyes became as wide as planets.

“What is it?” I demanded as the doctor rushed in.

“Get Florence and tell the others to get the OR ready,” the doctor ordered Maisie, who quickly disappeared into the corridor.

“Dr. Eastman, what’s wrong?” I demanded.

But as my words fell like stones at our feet, Laurel’s hand went slack. Suddenly, four nurses raced into the room and shoved me aside as they locked the side rails on Laurel’s bed and systematically disconnected her from various machines.

My stomach went sour as they rushed her out of the labor and delivery room to the operating room. As I followed closely behind them, I felt as if I were having an out of body experience. I was watching these medical professionals pushing a gurney with someone else’s unconscious wife. Maybe I’d fallen asleep in the chair in Laurel’s hospital room and this was all a nightmare.

But when we arrived at the double doors to the OR, someone grabbed my arm to stop me from entering. That was when I knew this was really happening.

Before the doors swung shut, I caught a glimpse of three more nurses inside the operating room. They appeared to be hanging bags of blood on IV stands and prepping instruments.

“She’s hemorrhaging,” Dr. Eastman finally said, as I watched what was going on through the windows in the double door.

“What do you mean? How? Why?” I replied as I watched two nurses wheel Laurel’s bed into the center of the OR.

“Mr. Stratton, please look at me.”

I turned toward the doctor and the grave look in his eyes sent me into a panic. “What’s going on? Tell me what the fuck is happening to my wife!”

“Do you remember at a previous sonogram when I said we would have to do more sonograms every three days instead of every week, to keep an eye on the placenta?”

I nodded vigorously. “Just cut to the chase and tell me what the hell is happening to my wife.”

Eastman sighed. “The placenta was not over the cervix at the start of labor, but it seems the contractions have moved it down and Laurel’s losing a lot of blood. We’ll have to deliver the baby via C-section.”

I tried to follow a nurse into the OR, but Maisie and Dr. Eastman stopped me again. “I have to be in there!” I shouted.

“We need to scrub before we can enter the surgical suite,” East said. “Follow me.”

In the washroom, Eastman introduced me to the anesthesiologist, Dr. Brunei, who was already washed up as a couple of nurses helped him slip into a fresh pair of scrubs.

“Doctor, I need you to be straight with me,” I said as I set down the disposable nail brush and proceeded to rub the red Hibiclens soap all over my hands and up to my elbows. “Should I be worried?”

“Hemorrhaging in labor is not ideal, but it’s not uncommon. It’s a situation we’re always prepared for, especially with what we saw in the previous sonograms. You’re in good hands today. We’re going to deliver your baby and replace the blood your wife lost. I just need to verify that neither you nor your wife have any religious objections to receiving blood transfusion?”

I shook my head as I held my arms under the running water. I couldn’t speak. This couldn’t be happening.

When Eastman and I were gowned and gloved, we entered the surgical suite in time to see the nurses using a sheet to lift Laurel’s limp body off the hospital bed and onto the operating gurney, her arm flopped over the edge of the mattress.

Her skin was drained of the usual golden-peach glow. Her fingers were blue.

No. I shook my head, unwilling to accept what I was seeing.

“Mr. Stratton?”

I turned my head to the right and found four-foot-eleven Maisie staring up at me.

“You’re very pale, Mr. Stratton. You should sit,” she said, motioning to a chair on the other side of the room, closer to Laurel.

I nodded as I trailed behind her like a lost puppy. “Thank you,” I muttered, but I didn’t take a seat. I couldn’t rest when both my babies needed me.

Due to the hemorrhaging, Laurel would be put under general anesthesia instead of the usual spinal block used for C-sections. Maisie made it clear that this meant I would be the first person to hold our baby, not Laurel. I knew this would make Laurel sad, when she woke and I had to tell her what happened. But I wasn’t prepared for how I would feel about it.

I held Laurel’s hand through the entire surgery, stroking and kissing the back of her hand and murmuring words of encouragement as if she were awake. When our son was pulled from her womb, his blue skin covered in blood, I stopped breathing. Mere seconds passed before he took his first wailing breath of life, but it felt like an eternity.

As the nurses cleaned him up, I kept a firm grasp on Laurel’s hand while I whispered in her ear, narrating what was happening. I hoped that somewhere in her subconscious mind, she was listening, and maybe someday she could piece together this moment.

Maisie smiled as she approached me with the bundle wrapped in a striped baby blanket. As I took my son in my arms for the first time, I was overwhelmed by a wave of emotion so powerful, it should have knocked me out of my chair.

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I looked down at his puffy, pink face. “This is my boy,” I said with a chuckle. His tiny body moved in my arms and it my chest filled with sheer wonder and joy. I shook my head, unable to believe I’d made something so pure and so real. “This is our son.” I put my finger next to his tiny hand and my heart nearly burst when he grabbed on. I kissed his fingers the way I’d kissed Laurel’s hand earlier and his eyelids fluttered. “Laurel, baby, I wish you could see this.” I looked up at Maisie. “Doesn’t he need to be breastfed or something?” I asked.

She smiled. “They will bring her out of anesthesia in a few minutes, once she’s stitched up. For now, he needs to be held by his papa.”

The words echoed in my mind. His papa.

My face screwed up as I was overcome with emotion. The fear and doubt I’d felt about becoming a father seemed like a distant memory. I’d never been so filled with absolute joy in all my life.

I was a father. I was papa.

***

Present day

I had let my jealousy and rage distract me from what was truly important. I’d driven Laurel away twice, at a time when my pixie needed me most. I knew Laurel didn’t owe me a third chance, which was why I was going to earn my way back into her arms. And there was only two ways to do that.

One way was to catch the bastard who stole our happiness. The other way might prove more difficult. It would involve closing my case files and admitting that my need for justice was tearing my marriage apart. But I couldn’t do that, not until I gave my quest for justice one final effort. If I couldn’t get justice for my boy by the time Laurel turned thirty next month, I would pack away my case files and do whatever I took to get her back.

I handed my suitcase to the guy wearing the fluorescent safety vest, then I climbed the steps of the private charter plane at exactly eleven a.m. Immediately, I slid my cell phone out of the interior pocket of my sport coat and called my assistant, Jade Insley.

“Good morning,” she answered cheerily.

“Jade, I need you to forward all my calls, even the ones to my cell, to your desk phone. I’m out of town and I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

“Absolutely,” she replied. “What should I tell the partners?”

“Tell them I’m visiting family. I’ll check in occasionally for messages.”

I ended the call and immediately removed the SIM card from my phone, tossing the tiny chip over the side of the staircase before I stepped inside the plane. I gave the attendant my drink order — club soda with lime — then I tucked my cell into my coat. Sliding the burner phone out of the front pocket of my slacks, I took a seat in the plush leather seat. I turned the phone on and shot off a text.

Me:

Plane taking off. Should land in less than two hours. We still on for three p.m.?

Sean:

I’ll be there with bells on.

***

I pulled my rental car into a space in front of a two-story office building clad in weathered cedar shingles. The dark tinted windows and lack of signage made it look like a place one would go to get illegal plastic surgery. Other than my rented Chevy Tahoe, the only other cars in the lot were a beat up Cadillac Eldorado and a pristine 80s era cherry-red Porsche.

When I stepped into the lobby, I was not surprised to find a directory missing a third of its letters. But I was still able to determine that “SEA D GHE TY PI 2 1” meant Sean Dougherty, Private Investigator was in suite 201 or 211. That narrowed my options down significantly.

I opted not to take my chances on the wood-paneled elevator and took the stairs up to the second floor. The smell of body odor and desperation engulfed me as I walked down the hallway. The first door I saw was 201 and I quickly reached for the doorknob, eager to escape the smell in the corridor, but the knob didn’t turn. I rapped on the steel door a few times, certain that no one would hear me. I was surprised when my knocking was met with a loud grunt from within.

I immediately lifted the right side of my sport coat, my hand hovering over the gun holstered on my hip as I waited for the door to open.

“Who is it?” a gruff voice called from the other side.

“Jack Stratton. We have an appointment.”

The door opened slowly and we both smiled when we realized we both have our hands poised over our sidearms.

I slowly moved my hand away from my weapon and held it up in front of me. “All good.”

The man lowered his hand and pushed the door wide open. “Good to meet you, Jack,” he said, holding out his hand. “I’m Sean.”

We shook, and I was not at all surprised to find his calloused hand had a killer grip. “It’s really good to meet you,” I replied as I stepped inside suite 201.

My shoulders relaxed instantly when I realized Sean’s office was actually quite clean and modern and smelled like coffee. Not a hint of despair. Sean was a sturdy man in his early fifties, with thick salt and pepper hair and muscled limbs clothed in a crisp button-up and slacks. Not at all what I expected from a gritty private investigator who worked in the ninth circle of office park hell.

“The exterior throws people off. Only the people who are serious make it past the front door,” he said as if he were reading my thoughts. “Have a seat.” He continued speaking as I took a seat across the glass desk. “Hood River PD approved my request to see the file this morning, and I was able to go through most of it before you got here. We’re both obviously most interested in this memo they received from Boise PD. Have you spoken with Detective Robinson yet?”

I shook my head. “She couldn’t say much over the phone. I have a meeting scheduled with her tomorrow. She didn’t seem very optimistic that this would lead anywhere. She hasn’t had a whole lot of luck with sealed adoption records. But I’m working on a piece of software to cross-reference birth records and the NCIC persons files for individuals in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. I should have the code finalized and ready to run in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I wanted to get you on the case to see if we can track down that adoption decree. I mean, I don’t even have the guy’s name. I’m flying blind.”

NCIC stood for National Crime Information Center, the database shared between the FBI and federal, state, local, and tribal criminal justice users to cooperate on investigations and policies.

Sean leaned back in his desk chair and cocked an eyebrow. “So what put you onto this lead anyway? This is a pretty serious accusation.”

I shook my head as I stared at the manila folder on his desk. “Just a hunch, I guess. I always felt like there was more to Beth than any of us knew.”

“And Beth is your wife’s mother, right?”

I nodded. “Don’t get me wrong, Beth was a great mom and I couldn’t have asked for a better grandmother for my son. She… She gave her life trying to protect my boy. I hold no ill will toward her. But there was always something about her that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

“I used to chalk it up to the same mysterious quality Laurel has. A strange, otherworldly kind of beauty and wit. But with Laurel’s mom, there were other signs that I didn’t know the real Beth.”

“Like what?”

“Just general secretiveness when it came to what caused her divorce from Laurel’s father and stuff like that. It wasn’t until someone in our Facebook group passed on the tip to Boise PD about Mike O’Toole that Detective Robinson decided to do a little digging into Beth’s past.”

“So who’s Mike O’Toole?”

I waved off the question. “A dead lead, but it did get Robinson asking questions and that’s why I’m here. The PI I spoke to in Portland told me that it could take years to win a battle to unseal adoption records. She said my best bet, if the suspect is living here in Idaho, would be to try to find someone who could track him down here. So here I am, hoping like hell you can help me find the piece of shit that killed my son, because… I’m on the verge of losing everything.”

Sean is silent for a long while as he stares at the glass desktop, and when he finally looks up, his square face is fixed with a tight smile. “Well, you were honest with me, so I guess it’s my turn for a little show and tell.” He reaches behind him, opens the top drawer of a two-drawer file cabinet, and pulls out a silver picture frame. “This is my Rosie,” he says, placing the picture on top of his desk so I could see the photo of a teenage girl with wavy blonde hair and a beaming smile. “Rose hated when I called her Rosie,” he said, staring at the picture with a wistful look in his steel-gray eyes.

“She’s beautiful,” I said, stopping myself before I could say she reminded me a bit of Laurel.

“Rose was seventeen when she went to an ice skating rink with some friends. Same as she’d done every winter since she was eight years old. But this time, she went outside to have a smoke. A nasty habit. I kept grounding her to try to get her to stop, but she just wouldn’t listen. She was too pigheaded.” He finally looked up and met my gaze. “That was the last we saw of her until her body was discovered two months later, in a creek forty miles away.”

I clenched my jaw as I imagined how I would have felt if I’d had seventeen years with Junior before he was murdered. Or if, God forbid, it had been Laurel who had been taken away from me. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without Laurel.

“That was a knockout punch. I was down for the count. No coming back from that, I thought,” Sean continued. “So I doubled down on how fast I could wreck my life. I was a financial crimes detective at the time, but I began sleeping in my office, poring over the case files day and night. I became obsessed.”

I lowered my gaze as his words shamed me. All the nights I’d spent sleeping on the couch in my home office instead of in the bedroom with Laurel were mirrored in Sean’s story. And somehow, I didn’t think his story had a happy ending.

“Did you find out who did it?”

Sean smiled as he shook his head. “Nope. I lost my job. Lost my marriage. Lost my house. That bastard took my daughter from me, but I willingly gave him everything else. You understand?”

I nodded in silence. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t think of a single cynical thing to say. I was only in this office because this was my last resort. I couldn’t come back to Laurel emptyhanded. I’d given her every material thing she could ever want. I gave her shelter and security. I gave her my love. But I hadn’t given her my full attention.

Unfortunately, I knew myself too well to know that I would not be able to focus on my marriage and work until I was certain I’d done everything I could for Junior. And, yes, even for Beth. She may have had her secrets, but I meant it when I said Junior could not have asked for a better grandmother. She deserved justice as much as my boy did.

Sean Dougherty and the software program I was working on, which I had dubbed PNW Checkmate, were my last hope. If the software helped us find Junior’s killer, I would expand the software to include all fifty states and territories. For now, I had to focus on this area, and specifically Boise. If Ava Robinson’s suspicions were correct that Beth and Junior’s murders were not random, this was surely the missing piece of the puzzle we needed to help us crack this case. Laurel and I might finally be able to turn the page on this gruesome chapter of our lives.

Sean and I chatted for more than two hours. I filled in any holes in the case file he’d received from the Hood River Police Department. I laid out my suspicions about Beth’s past, information I’d gleaned through conversations with Beth and Laurel over the years. The most interesting tidbit being the time Laurel told me her mother had left her father for a few months when she was about five years old. It wasn’t definitive evidence, but it was one brushstroke in a colorful picture of a woman who lived her life with as much verve as the flowers she so carefully nurtured.

“Whatever you do, do not—I repeat, do not attempt to approach any potential suspects or interviewees on your own. You hear me?” He glared at me with his thick eyebrows raised, awaiting my agreement.

“You have my word,” I replied, probably not as definitively as I should have.

“I’m serious, Jack. Don’t get yourself killed or arrested for this shit. It’s not worth it. Tell me you understand.”

I nodded. “I understand,” I said with a bit more vigor.

He eyed me warily. “I’ll handle all interviews. You’ve got too much at ´stake. Too many emotions that pose a threat here. And I’m the experienced interrogator. So this is not a request. This is an order. You hear me?”

I looked him dead in the eye. “Loud and clear.”

 

 

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About Cassia Leo

New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time re-watching Game of Thrones and Sex and the City. When she’s not binge watching, she’s usually enjoying the Oregon rain with a hot cup of coffee and a book.

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New Release + Blog Tour + Trailer + Playlist + Giveaway: Dirt by Cassia Leo

Today we have the blog tour for DIRT by Cassia Leo! Check it out and grab your copy today!

 

Title: DIRT
Author: Cassia Leo
Series: Evergreen Series
Release: January 12, 2018

 

About Dirt

A hard-hitting, emotional new series from New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo.

Jack and I had everything. Then, in one brutal instant, the universe tilted on its side, discarding us into black nothingness.

Now, I have a cocky a**hole for a husband.

The only way we communicate anymore is when we’re fighting or f**king.

With nothing left to lose, I write Jack a goodbye letter and head for Portland, where I quickly meet a neighbor who helps me find a job.

My new neighbor—broody, tattooed ex-soldier Isaac Evans—is complicated. Nevertheless, we form a fast friendship, bonding over our mutual desire to create something beautiful from the wreckage of our lives.

But despite the distance between us, Jack and I are still trying to make things work—fighting and f**king dirtier than ever. And he doesn’t appreciate my new friendship with Isaac. Not one f**king bit.

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Excerpt

I slid out of bed as he knelt down to tie the laces of his gym sneaker. “Why don’t you stay a while? It’s Sunday. We can have breakfast, then we can Netflix and chill all day.”

He stood up and flashed me an uncomfortable smile. “I wish I could, but I have to get home. I have a Q&A in the Facebook group at two p.m.”

My stomach dropped. I had just asked him to stay here and basically have sex with me all day and he would rather do a Q&A with some internet sleuths in the Justice for Jack Stratton Jr. Facebook group.

I blinked a few times as I attempted to recover. “Okay. Have fun.”

He rolled his eyes. “This Q&A has been planned for months.”

“Yeah, I get it,” I said, turning to leave the room. “I’m fine. I swear. I have to get started in the garden, anyway.”

He followed me down the hall toward the stairs. “Are you sure you’re not going to hold this over my head later?”

I bit my lip to keep from lashing out. I wanted to tell him that I had every right to hold this over his head, because this was one of the reasons I had decided to leave. But I had initiated this separation. He was simply adhering to the rules of living separately.

As we reached the bottom of the stairs, I headed straight for the front door. “I’m not going to hold this over your head, but I’m also not going to pretend it doesn’t bother me. We can talk about it later, maybe with the marital counselor.”

He sighed as he reached for the doorknob. “Great. Something to look forward to.”

I flashed him a fake smile as he pulled the front door open. “I’ll call you when I’ve scheduled our first appointment.”

He nodded. “Right.” He opened his mouth as if he was going to say something else, then he pressed his lips together to stop himself. “All right, well, I guess we’ll talk later?”

I nodded, but I remained silent, afraid my words would betray me and we’d end this conversation with an argument.

“All right,” he said, eyebrows raised. “This is really fucking awkward. Can we at least acknowledge that?”

“Acknowledged.”

“Okay,” he said, stepping toward me. “I’ll call you later.”

He planted a quick kiss on my forehead, then stepped out onto the porch. As I watched Jack’s truck drive away, I knew I’d made the right decision. How could two people who knew each other the way we did feel like strangers?

 

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About Cassia Leo

New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time re-watching Game of Thrones and Sex and the City. When she’s not binge watching, she’s usually enjoying the Oregon rain with a hot cup of coffee and a book.

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Release Blitz +Playlist + Trailer + Giveaways: Dirt by Cassia Leo

Today we have the release blitz for DIRT by Cassia Leo! Check it out and grab your copy today!

 

Title: DIRT
Author: Cassia Leo
Series: Evergreen Series
Release: January 12, 2018

 

About Dirt

A hard-hitting, emotional new series from New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo.

Jack and I had everything. Then, in one brutal instant, the universe tilted on its side, discarding us into black nothingness.

Now, I have a cocky a**hole for a husband.

The only way we communicate anymore is when we’re fighting or f**king.

With nothing left to lose, I write Jack a goodbye letter and head for Portland, where I quickly meet a neighbor who helps me find a job.

My new neighbor—broody, tattooed ex-soldier Isaac Evans—is complicated. Nevertheless, we form a fast friendship, bonding over our mutual desire to create something beautiful from the wreckage of our lives.

But despite the distance between us, Jack and I are still trying to make things work—fighting and f**king dirtier than ever. And he doesn’t appreciate my new friendship with Isaac. Not one f**king bit.

Buy Now

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

Paperback

Add the Evergreen Series to Goodreads

 

 

Giveaway

A Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter the Facebook Giveaway

 

Trailer

 

Spotify Playlist

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/cassialeo/playlist/7dUHV27ZCwfC5sAT4gtbP4

 

About Cassia Leo

New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time re-watching Game of Thrones and Sex and the City. When she’s not binge watching, she’s usually enjoying the Oregon rain with a hot cup of coffee and a book.

Find her on…

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Join Club Cassia

</h2

Chapter Reveal + Trailer + Playlist + Giveaways: Dirt by Cassia Leo

Today we have the chapter reveal for DIRT by Cassia Leo! Check them out and pre-order your copy today!

 

Title: DIRT
Author: Cassia Leo
Series: Evergreen Series
Release: January 12, 2018

 

About Dirt

A hard-hitting, emotional new series from New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo.

Jack and I had everything. Then, in one brutal instant, the universe tilted on its side, discarding us into black nothingness.

Now, I have a cocky a**hole for a husband.

The only way we communicate anymore is when we’re fighting or f**king.

With nothing left to lose, I write Jack a goodbye letter and head for Portland, where I quickly meet a neighbor who helps me find a job.

My new neighbor—broody, tattooed ex-soldier Isaac Evans—is complicated. Nevertheless, we form a fast friendship, bonding over our mutual desire to create something beautiful from the wreckage of our lives.

But despite the distance between us, Jack and I are still trying to make things work—fighting and f**king dirtier than ever. And he doesn’t appreciate my new friendship with Isaac. Not one f**king bit.

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Chapter Reveal

Chapter 1

Laurel

I hugged Jack Jr. tightly against my breast, and he molded his soft, warm body to mine. His eyes remained closed as his tiny fingers curled around the fabric of my blouse, his rosy lips puckering as he geared up for more food.

“You sucked me dry, little fella,” I whispered, leaning in to press my nose against the downy-soft, golden hair on the top of his head. I inhaled his scent and my muscles unspooled. “But I’ll be back to feed you soon. I promise.”

Why do babies smell so damn good?

Before I got pregnant with Junior, my favorite smell was orange blossoms. As a teenager, I often got scolded by my mom for picking the flowers off the orange tree in our backyard in Portland. I’d rub the creamy petals between my fingers, bruise them with my fingernails, then sniff my hand for hours until the scent wore off.

When I was pregnant with Junior, my favorite scent became the rich aroma of the forbidden coffee I could no longer drink.

After Junior was born, and my decaf days came to a glorious end, I realized how wrong I’d been. There was absolutely no scent as sweet and soul-quieting as the smell of the top of a baby’s head. Bonus points if the baby was lying peacefully on your chest sound asleep.

“Are you ever going to put him down?”

I flicked my head sideways, startled by Jack’s clear, baritone voice.

He stood in the doorway of Junior’s nursery, the silhouette of his six-foot-three athletic body framed by the warm light in the hallway. His head was tilted to the side. He’d probably been standing there admiring us for a while. After six years together, I knew Jack’s body language and facial expressions better than I knew my own face.

I stood from the rocking chair and stole one more sniff of Junior’s head before I placed him gently on his back in the center of the crib. I adjusted the left sleeve of his pajamas, pulling it down to make sure it covered his entire chubby arm. I didn’t want to imagine him waking up cold and alone in here.

Jack appeared at my side as I switched on the video baby monitor. “He’s going to be fine,” he murmured, reaching down to stroke the soft patch of hair on Junior’s head. “In fact, he’ll probably enjoy some time alone. After all, he is just like his daddy; sometimes, we need a break from the constant attention from the ladies.”

I rolled my eyes and headed for the door. “Making jokes only makes leaving him slightly less scary, you know,” I said as we stepped into the hallway of our five-bedroom dream home in Hood River, Oregon. I couldn’t wait to fill up every one of these bedrooms with brothers and sisters for Jack Jr.

Jack chuckled as he followed closely behind me. “Less scary is an improvement,” he replied, grabbing my hand to stop me in the middle of the corridor. “You promised Junior you’d be back soon. Can you also make me a promise?”

The hallway lights made his dark hair look glaringly shiny, but I couldn’t help but notice how weary his blue eyes looked tonight. Since Junior arrived three months ago, I’d been so focused on my baby boy’s vulnerability, his scent, his beauty, I hadn’t slowed down enough to appreciate how those were the same qualities that made me fall in love with Jack.

Suddenly, my worries about leaving Junior with my mother for the evening evaporated. All I wanted to do was kiss Jack, grab hold of that dark hair and make love to him for hours. I wanted to replace the weariness in his eyes with dark hunger, or maybe a glint of mischief.

I squeezed his hand and smiled at the thought of possibly having sex with him in public tonight. We hadn’t done that in a while.

“What kind of promise?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Nope, you’re not allowed to ask. Just promise me you’ll say yes.”

My stomach vaulted at the sound of those words. They were the same words Jack spoke when he asked me to marry him. I wondered what he would ask this time.

The phrase “just promise me you’ll say yes” had become like an inside joke, our own private, unspoken promise to each other that we would always do whatever it took to stay together. The last time he had uttered this phrase, he asked me to stop taking my birth control pills. With Junior here, it was easy to trust that whatever Jack asked me for this time would turn out to be exactly what I needed.

I tilted my head back so I could look up and into his crystal-blue eyes. “Yes, I can make you a promise.”

His expression became sober. “Promise me you’ll be present tonight.” He fixed me with a piercing gaze as his large hand cupped my face. “It’s just you and me for the next three hours. Promise me.”

I smiled. “I promise. Just you and me. And I’ll even put my cell phone on vibrate.” As I said the words, a sharp finger of fear prodded my subconscious, telling me it was a bad idea to risk missing a phone call tonight.

The exhaustion in Jack’s eyes melted away as he smiled. “I can deal with that, but you have to promise me one more thing.”

“What’s that?”

His smile turned almost menacing as he looped his arm around my waist and drew me close. “Promise me you’ll lemme smash that blonde bombshell booty,” he said, landing a light swat on my ass.

I shook my head as I recalled how we often had sex in public during our first year together, in our senior year at Oregon State University, Cascades. For some reason, once we graduated and moved in together, having sex in public seemed like something we couldn’t get away with so easily. We decided public sex-hibitions — or throw downs, as we more commonly referred to them — would be reserved for special occasions like anniversaries or vacations.

Truthfully, Jack and I kicked off our relationship by having sex on the first date. He was always a very difficult man to resist. When he showed up at my apartment to pick me up that night, I couldn’t resist his suggestion that we should stay in and make paper masks of ourselves, then put them on and ask each other first date questions as if we were the other person. I had never laughed so much on any date. Ever. But when he asked — while pretending to be me — if I’d ever had sex with someone on the first date, I couldn’t help but respond with, “I’m Jack-fucking-Stratton. I’ve fucked a lot of girls on the first date. But none as gorgeous as you.”

Jack always knew how to keep things fresh and alarmingly sexy. Six years in and my body still craved him almost every second of every day.

Today was our three-year wedding anniversary. We’d only had sex twice since I gave birth to Junior three months ago, and both of those times were truly awkward.

The first time was painful. My C-section incision hadn’t fully healed yet, and even trying to have sex with him behind me was uncomfortable. The second time we tried, Jack was so afraid of hurting me, he stopped midway through. There’d been a lot of oral sex happening in this house since then.

Luckily, a few weeks had passed since our last attempt, and I had repeatedly assured him I was fully healed up now. I was certain that even if the sex did hurt a little, it would still be worth it. I couldn’t understand couples that didn’t consider sex an important part of a relationship. I never felt more complete, more present, more alive than when my body and mind were entwined with Jack’s.

I smiled as I wrapped my arms around his waist. “I think I know just the place for a proper throw down.”

He wiggled his eyebrows. “Ooh. Tell me more.”

As he leaned in to kiss me, my mother’s voice interrupted us.

“Are you two making out again?” she said, standing at the top of the stairs with her hands on her hips as she gawped at us. “Well, don’t let me stop you.”

Jack laughed and I shook my head as we moved toward her.

“We’re just trying to keep you entertained while you’re on vacation, Beth,” Jack said.

My mother cocked an eyebrow. “If I wanted to watch porn, I’d open up your laptop and have a look at your internet history.”

“Mom, don’t be gross,” I protested, trying not to laugh.

Jack smiled as he held out his elbow for my mom to grab hold as they descended the stairs in front of me. “I made a special collection of links for you. They’re in a folder labeled Tantric Geriatric. You’ll love it.”

I rolled my eyes. Jack and my mother exchanged jabs like this all day.

My mother was staying with us for a few days, so Jack and I could have some time to ourselves and get some much-needed uninterrupted sleep. She was leaving tomorrow to go back to the house where I grew up in Portland. Though she pretended as if she was desperate to get home to her Craftsman cottage in the city, and I even teased her about how she was dying to get back so she could see the handsome new neighbor she’d been going on about, I knew she was going to miss Jack’s pretend insults as much as she would miss Junior and me.

My mother practically shoved me toward the front door. “I order you to go have fun,” she said, smiling as Jack opened the door and stepped outside. “And don’t come home until you’re too drunk to walk.”

I shook my head. “Thanks, Mom. Please call if you need anything. And don’t answer the door for anyone. There’s a house that got broken into a few streets away.”

She waved off my paranoia. “Stop worrying so much. We’ll be fine. See you later, babe.”

I blew her a kiss, then I closed the door behind me.

* * *

“I have to admit, having sex on the waterfront was one of my favorite public throw downs ever,” Jack said, pulling his Tesla into the long driveway of our four-acre estate. “But do we really have to wait until our fourth anniversary to do it again?”

I tugged the silky fabric of my skirt straight as I pressed my thighs together. Though my body was still raw with the evidence of the dirty deed we’d just committed, I couldn’t wait to get Jack inside and pounce on him again. I hadn’t realized how much I missed the sensation of him moving inside me, and how good he was at making me feel beautiful.

“We can do that anytime we can snag a babysitter,” I replied as he turned the car off.

He made no move to exit the Tesla. “Well, babycakes, you’d better get ready to interview a fuck-ton of babysitters.”

I laughed. “Babycakes? That’s a new one.”

Jack rarely used the same term of endearment twice in a row. He liked to keep me guessing.

He scrunched up his nose. “Yeah, that one was kind of creepy. Now that I’ve tried it out, I think I can bury that one in the nickname graveyard.”

“Try the incinerator,” I said, reaching for the door handle.

“Duly noted,” he replied, exiting the vehicle.

Jack and I glided unhurriedly along the flagstone walkway, which was lined with sparkling pathway lights. As we made our way toward the steps leading up to the covered porch, I stopped in the middle of the path and closed my eyes as I inhaled the sweet scent of the lavender and honeysuckle I’d planted with my mom’s help.

That was when I made a wish, a corny wish, but I didn’t care.

I wished that every person could find someone they loved as much as I loved Jack. I wished every child could feel as loved as Junior was. And I wished every anniversary could be as perfect as this one.

“No… No, no, no!” Jack’s voice grew louder with each no.

They say mother’s intuition is scientifically proven to exist. I knew by the tone of Jack’s voice, without even opening my eyes, that my world would never be the same. I knew in that instant, I would regret leaving Jack Jr. tonight for the rest of my life.

Though I knew something was wrong, I wasn’t prepared for what we found.

At some point, while we were lost in our blissful celebration, the front door of our home had been forced open. This discovery was what had made Jack cry out in disbelief. Father’s intuition must also be a thing, because he told me later that, even though the door was still closed, the moment he saw the gouges in the wood near the handle, he had felt that same sense of dread. That feeling that the universe had suddenly tilted on its side, discarding us into black nothingness.

The house was ransacked.

Furniture upended, paintings and flatscreen televisions torn off the walls, shards of shattered vases littered the floors. Complete and utter chaos.

The master bathroom doorknob looked as if it had been shot off. We found my mother’s lifeless form huddled against the bathtub, my baby boy’s dead body clutched tightly in her arms.

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About Cassia Leo

New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time re-watching Game of Thrones and Sex and the City. When she’s not binge watching, she’s usually enjoying the Oregon rain with a hot cup of coffee and a book.

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