Excerpt Reveal: The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas 

                          The Forbidden 

                    By: Jodi Ellen Malpas 


                               SYNOPSIS

The one night she can’t forget… The temptation she can’t escape…

The new novel from the #1 bestselling author of the this man trilogy and one night trilogy!

Annie has never experienced the “spark” with a guy – the kind of instant chemistry that steals your breath and blindsides you completely. Until a night out with friends brings her face to face with the wickedly sexy and mysterious Jack.

It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion.

Jack promises to consume Annie. And he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her and who could bend her to his will so easily, must be dangerous.
But she’s already in too deep.

And Jack isn’t only dangerous.

He is THE FORBIDDEN

                                EXCERPT

Keeping his eyes on mine, he calls to the barman. “Two tequilas, please.”

“Tequila,” I muse, looking over my shoulder when the salt and lemon land behind me. “Is that my challenge?”

“Crying off?” he goads, reaching into his pocket and pulling out some notes.

“Never,” I scoff, turning into the bar. I don’t know what his game is, but I want to play. With him. “You’re asking me to prove I’m sober by doing a shot?” I narrow my eyes on him, teasing. “Or is your plan to get me drunk and take advantage of me?”

He smiles to himself as he pays the barman. “You don’t look like the kind of woman who could be taken advantage of.”

“What kind of woman do I look like, then?” I challenge quietly.

He turns into me, watching me for a few moments. “I don’t know, but I think I’d like to find out.”

I hold his gaze for a few seconds, no retort coming to me. I think I want him to find out, too, just as much as I want to find out what kind of man he is. My eyes drop from his sparkling greys, down his tall, lean frame to his feet.

Oh…fuck…

“Let’s play,” he says, moving in closer and pulling one of the glasses forward. I don’t mean to, but I yank my arm away abruptly when he brushes against me, startled by the tiny stabs of pleasure that pitter-patter all over my skin. The fleeting touch tells me he would feel as good as he looks, and—give me strength—he smells divine, all manly and earthy and fucking edible.

The sudden lapse in movement and talking from both of us becomes slightly awkward. I can feel him looking down at me.

“What do I have to do?” I ask again quietly, almost on a breathy gasp.

He clears his throat. “You’re not drunk?”

“Not even the slightest bit.” I raise my nose in the air.

“Good. Then you’ll smash this challenge first time.” He places a finger on the brim of one of the shot glasses. “Brace your palms on the edge of the bar,” he orders, firm but softly. I look at him, finding a serious face. “Go on.”

Frowning, I place my hands on the edge of the bar. “Okay?”

He takes my hips. He takes my fucking hips! I freeze from top to toe and swallow hard, waiting. My insides are quickly furling, my mind in chaos. “Move back a bit,” he says, pulling at them a little until I step back.

Oh, Jesus. I’m on fire. I have a strange man bending me over a bar in public, and me, Annie I’m-immune-to-men Ryan, isn’t fighting him off. It’s like he has me under a spell. What gives? I dare not look behind me. I’m not stupid enough to think Lizzy isn’t currently watching a man manipulate my body to where he wants it.

“You feel tense,” he observes, releasing me and moving back to my side.

I don’t deny it; neither do I confirm it. His big hands felt so good resting on my hips, so much so I have to resist not claiming them and putting them back where they were. “What now?” I ask, evidently struggling for air, damn me.

“Now.” He picks up his beer and grins. “I get to gloat that I had you bent over a bar within five minutes of meeting you.” He takes a swig, still grinning, and I hear the roar of a man down the bar laughing his head off.

Oh, the fucker! Part of me has admiration. Another part of me wants to slap him stupid; I don’t care how beautiful he is. And another part of me wants to rip his clothes from his body and ravish the sly bastard.

I cannot believe I fell for it! How many women has he played like a fiddle? I drop my head, shaking it to myself.

I knew that smile was dangerous. A man who can bend a woman to his will so easily and so soon couldn’t be anything less than lethal. And the fact that he got me with his wicked game means hats off to him. I can’t possibly take that away from him, and since I’m lacking in the dignity department right now, I decide not to slap him. Nor will I chuck a drink over his head, or fire a load of verbal abuse at him.

I’ll do what he least expects.

I push myself up and turn to face him, unable to stop myself from smiling at his half-grin. Holding his gaze, I slowly lick the back of my hand, blindly take the salt off the bar, sprinkle a bit, and take one of the shots of tequila. But as I’m taking my hand to my mouth to lick the salt up, he seizes my wrist and takes the shot from my other hand. My heartbeat accelerates, our eyes glued to each other as he moves into me and slowly brings my hand to his mouth. I watch, gripped, as he lazily licks up the salt from the back of my hand, eyes on mine, and then knocks the tequila back. Kill me now, for I will certainly die a happy woman. His tongue on my skin. His eyes boring into mine. His hold of my wrist. I must look like a statue—unable to talk, move, or think clearly.

“There’s one more tequila,” he says, cocking his head toward the bar but keeping me in his sights. “And it’s yours.”

Oh good lord. My heart is speeding up by the second as I watch him lick the back of his hand and sprinkle some salt. Then he offers it to me. I stare at his hand, and then slowly look up at him. I could get lost in those grey glittery eyes.

“I taste good,” he whispers.

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It’s a Cover Reveal: The Bars Between Us by A.S. Teague

Today we have the gorgeous cover reveal for The Bars Between Us by A.S. Teague!! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy July 20th!!

Title: The Bars Between Us

Author: A.S. Teague

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: July 20th

About The Bars Between Us:

I don’t have a damn thing in common with the beautiful rich girl who walks in to my bar. She’s southern class, fancy cars, and designer shoes.

I’ve got a drunk for a mother, a cheater for a father, and a reputation for trouble I’ve more than earned.

I look the other way, pretending I don’t notice how perfect she is. She wouldn’t give me the time of day anyway. Until she shatters that first impression and shows me she’s so much more––everything I never thought I deserved.

After a lifetime of being a disappointment, I want to prove to her that I’m better than my past.

We have one tragic thing in common, and the thread that binds us together will tear us apart as it unravels.

Are we strong enough to break through the Bars Between Us?

Add to your Goodreads TBR!

Exclusive Excerpt:

Parked beside my car is a truck that’s got to be twice as old as I am and looks like it should have been buried long ago.

Bronn hooks a thumb in the rust bucket’s direction and tells me, “Bessie’s seen better days, but I just can’t bring myself to put her out to pasture.”

I pull my door open and toss my purse inside, before turning to face him. “Bessie, huh?”

He props a hip on her front fender. “Belonged to my dad. When he died, Dani’s mom kept her. Gave her to me.”

His face is relaxed, but the pain of his loss is still in his eyes, and I’ve come to notice that it’s a look that’s always there. Even when he’s laughing, it doesn’t erase the perpetual sadness that he carries with him. It’s a sadness that I carry with me as well.

“When I was a kid, my dad took me to the beach once.”

Bronn’s brows knit and I hurry to continue my story. “It was cold that morning, early spring, the breeze causing goosebumps to take up permanent residence on my arms. I remember Daddy taking his sweat shirt off and putting it on me. The thing swamped me.” I pause and laugh, remembering how the arms of the hoodie had drug the ground and how daddy had belly laughed at the sight before rolling them up. “Anyway, we searched for shark’s teeth that morning. It was too cold to swim, too cold to play in the sand. But I’d had a fascination with the predators of the sea, a newfound one, and Daddy had been determined that we were going to find a great white’s full jaw, I think.” I’d been staring up at the sky, but I glanced at Bronn to see his face rapt with attention, his expression intense. “We looked and looked until my eyes went cross. But, we didn’t have any luck.”

I can’t tear my gaze away from Bronn’s, even though the way he’s studying me is a little unnerving.

“We found all kinds of amazing shells, rocks that were smooth from being tumbled by the waves, crab shells that must have been eaten by gulls. But nothing that came from Jaw’s mouth.” I shrug, and smile. Bronn smiles back. His face finally relaxes, but his eyes are still full of emotion.

“I remember Daddy was so disappointed. But I wasn’t. I’d spent the morning with my favorite person in the world. I may have been freezing the whole time, my face chapped from with wind and sand whipping in it, my hair a tangled mess that took mama an hour to brush, but it was the best day.”

The half-smile that I’d been sporting while lost in the memory fades. “That was my last happy memory with him. He died not long after that.” I swallow hard, determined not to cry.

The memory is bittersweet, but it’s still sweet. That’s the thing about memories. The same exact memory can be happy or sad, depending on how you choose to remember it. And I choose to remember the sheer joy I’d felt that day, not the crushing sadness that it was the last time I’d felt that way.

I clear the emotion from my throat. “Anyway, I don’t know why I shared that. Just, maybe, to tell you, that I understand holding on to something because it has sentimental value.” I nod at his truck, “Bessie may not be worth any money, but she’s worth her weight in gold if she makes you happy.”

My lips quiver as I offer a smile. Bronn may think that we come from different worlds, and maybe we do. Nana would have killed me dead if I had ever come home from a date in a truck like his. But there’s sadness and loss everywhere, no matter how much money you have. And that common thread binds us together, whether Bronn realizes it or not.

 

About the Author:

A.S. Teague enjoys the warmth of South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. The stereotypes about peach cobbler and sweet tea are not overstated. After years in the medical field, she is now enjoying every minute of being a stay-at-home mom. She loves wine, the beach, wine on the beach, and crying at Disney movies. When she doesn’t have a book in her hand, she can be found pestering her husband with pictures of animals she wants to rescue, as well as debating whether to exercise or take a nap.

 

Follow A.S. Teague on social media:

www.facebook.com/authorasteague

on twitter: @authorasteague

on Instagram: @authorasteague

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/A.S.-Teague/e/B01JDW56X6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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Pre Order Alert: A Life Less Beautiful by Elle Brooks

A Life Less Beautiful by Elle Brooks

Cover Design by Elle Brooks

Release Date: June 8, 2017

 

Synopsis

Ellis Hughes has loved the girl next door since he was ten-years-old. She was his sun, moon, and every visible star in a clear night sky. She was also his biggest regret.

 

When a terrible accident rips Ellis and Harlow apart, it shatters both their hearts beyond repair. More than a decade later, Ellis has paid his penance, but his regret still lingers, and the love he once harbored for his childhood sweetheart has never faded.

 

What Ellis believes has been destroyed forever, slowly comes back to life, only for a cruel twist of fate to intervene. Knowing he cannot live his life without Harlow in it, he faces the ultimate test of selflessness.

 

He must sacrifice his own heart to mend hers.

 

Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Pre-Order Links

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2smjTVk

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2rsGDmu

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Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2smnl2o

 

 

Excerpt

I lean over the edge of the balcony and peer down at the garden below. I’d take a moment to enjoy the cool Wilmington wind against my flushed face if I could breathe. For a solid minute my vision swims as I struggle to suck in enough air to keep from passing out. The sound of my pulse rushing in my ears begins to ebb as everything starts to calm and I thank my lucky stars. Soft strains of music slowly drift free and steal the silence I rushed up here to find, as the patio doors beneath me open. I can hear fractured snippets of people regaling fond stories of Mrs. Adkins. I move slowly backward into the shadows and watch as he steps out onto the deck, running his hands through his hair. I should take the opportunity to leave while he’s out here, but I can’t seem to make my legs work.

 

I watch as he links his hands behind his neck and stares out at the sky. My heart rate begins to accelerate again when I remember idly how I used to love running my hands through his messy blonde locks. He looks exactly the same and yet somehow completely different. The natural, infectious energy that used to surround him has disappeared, but I guess prison will do that to you. The boy I last laid eyes on has long disappeared, but the man that’s taken his place bears all the resemblances to my first love.

 

I wish I’d known he was going to be here—I could have avoided him. I’m not ready to see him, and as he stands looking out into the night, I can’t pull my eyes away. I’ve practiced every day for ten years what I would do in this situation. I’d ask him why he didn’t come clean. Why he lied. Why he shut me out and ruined what was left of my already broken heart. I was positive I’d be able to deliver it spurred on by anger alone. I was wrong. I assumed I’d be furious, but now that it’s actually happening I’m not.

 

The floorboard creaks when I jerk as a cold shiver races to the base of my spine. I quickly step behind the curtain, worried he might have heard me jump, but when I peer out he hasn’t moved a muscle. My body temperature suddenly feels as though it’s dipped to ten below zero and I’m trembling, despite the mild night. He’s so still it doesn’t look like he’s breathing. I can’t see his face; I should at least thank the universe for that small mercy. I shiver violently again and fold my arms tightly under my chest, trying to get a hold of myself. The sight of him has knocked out the little air I’d managed to suck in clear from my lungs, and my body’s decided to betray me yet again. I shouldn’t be surprised; it’s nothing new. I’m trembling uncontrollably now, and I try to relax and take some deep breaths like I’m supposed to. I’ve seen people shake violently with anger before, but I know that’s not what this is. This isn’t rage or hatred—it’s an acute realization.

 

I’ve missed him. I’ve missed the one person in this world I should hate.

 

 

 

 

Giveaway

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card, One of Three $5 Amazon Gift Cards, or One of Three ARCs of A Life Less Beautiful

 

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About the Author

I’m a little neurotic; I function on a tiny amount of sleep, and a huge amount of caffeine. I love old movies, green skittles, and have a slightly strange, and irrational fear of stormy weather.

 

When I’m not locked away scribbling down the crazy stories that occupy my mind, I can be found at home in East Yorkshire with my husband and two children.

 

I’m unashamedly fickle and can be persuaded to do just about anything with the promise of a good book, new shoes, or a bottle of bubbles.

Oh, and did I mention I also love to write?

 

 

Connect with Elle

Website: https://www.ellebrooksauthor.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/elle.brooks.author

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ellebrooksautho

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2rA5Mvb

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8192108.Elle_Brooks

 

It’s a Cover Reveal: A Life Less Beautiful by Elle Brooks

A Life Less Beautiful by Elle Brooks

Cover Design by Elle Brooks

Release Date: June 8, 2017

 

Synopsis

Ellis Hughes has loved the girl next door since he was ten-years-old. She was his sun, moon, and every visible star in a clear night sky. She was also his biggest regret.

 

When a terrible accident rips Ellis and Harlow apart, it shatters both their hearts beyond repair. More than a decade later, Ellis has paid his penance, but his regret still lingers, and the love he once harbored for his childhood sweetheart has never faded.

 

What Ellis believes has been destroyed forever, slowly comes back to life, only for a cruel twist of fate to intervene. Knowing he cannot live his life without Harlow in it, he faces the ultimate test of selflessness.

 

He must sacrifice his own heart to mend hers.

 

Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Giveaway

One of Five ARCs of A Life Less Beautiful

 

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About the Author

I’m a little neurotic; I function on a tiny amount of sleep, and a huge amount of caffeine. I love old movies, green skittles, and have a slightly strange, and irrational fear of stormy weather.

 

When I’m not locked away scribbling down the crazy stories that occupy my mind, I can be found at home in East Yorkshire with my husband and two children.

 

I’m unashamedly fickle and can be persuaded to do just about anything with the promise of a good book, new shoes, or a bottle of bubbles.

Oh, and did I mention I also love to write?

 

 

Connect with Elle

Website: https://www.ellebrooksauthor.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/elle.brooks.author

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ellebrooksautho

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2rA5Mvb

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8192108.Elle_Brooks

 

It’s a Cover Reveal: Singe (Guardian Protection #1) by Aly Martinez

singe-for-web

SINGE is the first book in an ALL NEW smokin-hot standalone series by Aly Martinez releasing February 6th!

Add to your TBR:http://bit.ly/2izUumt

Synopsis2

She was my nightmare. Every time I closed my eyes, I watched her fall into that inferno. Over and over, I failed to save her.

I hadn’t been able to reach her, and the guilt only burned hotter over time. Four years later, I was the unreachable one.

Heroes aren’t always saints. Sometimes, we’re nothing more than jaded sinners driven by sleepless nights and hearts full of darkness.

And then I met her. She was a dreamer who managed to soothe my scars and heal my wounds.

But, as the flames closed in around us, I feared I wasn’t the right man to save her. That is until I realized she was the one woman I’d burn the world down to protect.

author

aly martineez

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five- including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.

STALK HER: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

singe-print-for-web

It’s a Cover Reveal: Keep Us by Faith Andrews

keepus-ebook

Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs

Release Date: December 5, 2016

 

Synopsis2

For the Grayson family the holidays have always been a time of togetherness.

Eat, drink, and be merry is their motto, but not this year . . .

With Marcus and Riley knee deep in their flourishing careers, their spouses, Tessa and Beck, have been decking the halls and dashing through the snow without support from the busy Grayson duo. A new baby is on the way for one of these ladies and she hasn’t even had the chance to tell the daddy; plans for a huge holiday feast are up in the air because priorities are out of whack; unexpected visitors and a bomb of a surprise from Mr. Grayson—it’s safe to say this holiday will be far from jolly.

Tempers are high, feelings are bruised, and it’s not something spiked eggnog can cure. Will Marcus and Riley make it home for the holidays or will Tessa and Beck be forced to ring in the New Year alone?

Goodreads

Helmet on a motorcycle of Santa Claus

 

Giveaway

One of Five ARC’s of Keep Us

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Other Books in the Grayson Book Series:

 

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Keep Me (Book 1) – on sale for .99 until 11/27

Amazon ~ http://amzn.to/2gdXyYh

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Keep Her (Book 2)

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Kobo ~ http://bit.ly/2eY42UX

 

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00014]

author

Faith Andrews is living out her dream right outside the greatest city in the world, New York City. Happily married to her high school sweetheart, she is the mother of two beautiful and wild daughters, and a furry Yorkie son named Rocco Giovanni. When she’s not tapping her toes to a Mumford & Sons tune or busy being a dance mom, her nose is stuck in a book or she’s sitting behind the laptop, creating her next swoon worthy book boyfriend. Coffee addict, lover of wine and cheese, and sucker for concerts and Netflix, Faith believes in love at first sight and happily ever after.

 

Connect with Faith

Newsletter Sign Up: http://bit.ly/2gdQZUI

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Goodreads Reader Group: http://bit.ly/1rAaVCU

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2fT1bh0

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2gcQzib

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2fUBAYT

 

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Excerpt Reveal: Hell and Back by Natasha Madison

BLURB
 
Meeting him was a fluke. Dating him was a mistake. Watching him become a drug addict put me through hell. Running was my only option.

***

I’m running from my demons and when I find out she’s trying to escape her past, I know what I have to do.

One broken cop. One woman fighting for her life. A fragile love.

Sinister secrets that threaten to tear them apart.

They’ve been to hell. The hard part will be finding their way back together.

Releasing October 31, 2016

ADD TO GOODREADS

 
 

PRE-ORDER TODAY

 
 
 

EXCERPT

 
I pull up in my driveway looking over at the house.  What I see pisses me off. 
Here she is in a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, hat and glasses pushing a brand new  lawn mower.
I make sure I check my temper before I walk over.  Right before I cross the street the little girl on the front porch stops me mid step.
She looks like just like her mother, just a smaller version.  She is sitting on a plastic little table, that they probably just bought, coloring.
I make my way over to her right when the lawn mower goes off
“I told you I would cut the grass.”  I try to sound casual, but the blood in me is boiling, it must be ninety-five degrees outside, and she’s wearing enough clothes for a trek across the frozen tundra.
She looks up “I also said I got it, and I would be doing it myself.” The little girl from the porch makes it to her mother and hides behind her, yanking on her pant leg. 
The fearful look that she gives me is just like her mother’s.  I crouch down, getting eye-to-eye with her and say “Hey there, beautiful. What’s your name?” She doesn’t reply, and instead she lowers her gaze so she is looking at her feet. “I’m Jackson,” I reach out my hand, but drop it when I know she won’t take it.  I gesture behind me, as I say “I live in that house right over there.  I used to know  your great grandma.”  I’m trying to draw her into a conversation with me, but nothing I say engages her.
“It’s ok baby, you can tell him your name.  Nan used to make him cookies, so you know what that means, she must have really  liked him.”  She rubs her daughters shoulder.
“I’m Lilah,” she says in barely a whisper.
“That is the most beautiful name in the whole wide world.  You’re lucky to have such a beautiful name.”  She smiles at me, right as a car
back fires. She yells and puts her hands to her ears.
  
Two things happen at the same time, her mother grabs her and runs toward the house,  and I vow to protect them.
“Wait,” I rush after them and make it right to the door before it’s closed in my face.  I stand there inside the house and watch them rushing to the corner and hide.
Two  broken girls protecting each other against some monster of the outside world.  I walk up to them “It’s ok, it’s just a car, it was nothing but a car.”
“Lilah, baby it’s ok, it’s ok.  I’m here.  It’s ok baby girl, were safe.” She is trying to comfort the little girl who is sobbing quietly in her mother arms.  “No one is here baby.”
She looks over at me, our eyes meeting for one minute before she lowers them again.
“Look it’s ok, it’s just Jackson.  There is no one here, baby.”  She rocks Lilah back and forth. Her back against the wall while she soothes her baby girl whose sobs are slowly stopping, her eyes closing.
“What can I do?”  I’m now sitting in front of her not sure how to even start to dissect this.
“Nothing, you can’t do anything for us,” she kisses Lilah’s head. “No one can.”
I ignore that last part not sure how to talk about this now. 
“I’m going to go outside and finish cutting the grass, then I’m going to go pick up some food for us.  Does she like pizza?”
“Jackson, I don’t know what relationship you had with my grandmother, but I don’t need your help.  We will be fine.  Please, it’s ok, you can leave.” She rests her head on the the wall closing her eyes, the defeat of the day leaving her body.
“I’m going to go outside and finish mowing the lawn so Lilah doesn’t have to go outside anymore today.  Then I’m going to pick up pizza for myself.  You won’t have time to cook, so I’m going to pick one up for you.  I want to eat with you guys, but I’m not pushing myself on you either after today.  Now I don’t want to fight with you or even discuss this, so just nod that you understand?”
She looks into my eyes, but nods yes.
“I can pay you for the pizza?  I have money. I don’t need a hand out,” she says while trying to push herself up to go get fucking money. 
If she weren’t so scared of things I would punch the fuck out of something right now.  “I don’t want your money, now or ever.  I have no doubt you can take care of yourself.  Consider this a housewarming present.” I get up going to the door not even giving her a chance to say anything else.
“She’s never had pizza before, so can you just get us plain cheese.”
I don’t say anything afraid of what will come out of my mouth.  I nod and walk out the door, closing it quietly so as not to wake Lilah.
I close my eyes exhaling the breath that I didn’t even realize I was holding.
“She’s barely holding on while fighting for her life.  She has demons, they both do.  Whatever happened to them, it’s in there deep.  The
both of them are so scared, you can practically see the fear coming off of them.”
  I look over at Brenda who is on her porch watering her plants. “Tread lightly, Jackson, or better yet walk away if you aren’t going to do anything about it.”
I don’t have a chance to respond she walks into her house closing her front door softly, leaving me fighting my own demons.
 
 
About Natasha Madsion
 
When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…
 

It’s a Cover Reveal: More Than Money by Allison Michaels

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More Than Money

By: Allison Michaels

Releasing: November 7th

Synopsis2

Ryan McMillan believes hard work and perseverance are the keys to success, not games of

chance. When he receives an instant lottery ticket, he never expects to win a dime, much less

walk away with the grand prize.

Collette Russo is no stranger to hardship. Loss has taught her valuable lessons in grace and

modesty, traits Ryan can’t help but notice on the winner’s cruise. Collette is the only other

passenger not obsessed with material things, and their mutual humility sparks an attraction

neither of them anticipates.

As good fortune continues to favor Ryan, his relationship with Collette turns into a romance

filled with affection and laughter, and his career begins to take off. Yet when his loyalty is

tested, an old friendship turns sour.

Ryan chalks it up to greed and arrogance and finds comfort in Collette’s experience with both.

But an unthinkable event reveals that nothing is as simple as it seems. Envy and greed threaten

to ruin everything.

Has Ryan’s luck finally run out? Can he take back control? Will Collette stand by him in the

aftermath?

Only time will tell if love is worth more than money.

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Buy The Book

https://amzn.com/B01LWZUHJZ

author

Be sure to check out Allison Michaels at the following links:

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Excerpt Reveal: Down Shift by K. Bromberg

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I force myself to look away because . . . well, because he’s a stranger. In my house. Naked. And oh my God, something is wrong with me, because I’m not running and calling 911 like I should.

When his chuckle subsides, he brings his head back down, so I can see the tears in his eyes from laughter. “That thing is my cock, and since this is my bathroom and you seem to be attempting to seduce me in my house, I don’t think you have any right to tell me what to do.” And with that, he leans a hip against the counter and folds his arms across his chest, eyes locked on mine and one eyebrow lifted. Everything else is left hanging out there in the wind.

“Your house? Seduce you?” At that point I realize I’m sputtering and shaking my head. “This is my house. You’re in my house.”

Confusion drifts across his face and his jaw falls lax. “Hold up.” He lifts his hands in the hold on a minute position, drawing my eyes back to where they don’t want to be. If this whole situation weren’t so unbelievable, it would be comical, and yet as true as that is, I don’t seem to be laughing at all. “I think there seems to be some misunderstanding.”

“No shit.” Sarcasm is my fallback and it doesn’t disappoint me now. A lot of good it does me, though, as I’m still doing the naked dance while trying to react to this surreal situation.

The look of disdain he gives me at my comment earns him no points in my book. “While I’m digging the socks with your outfit,” he says with a smirk, eyes veering down and then back up to my strategically placed hands, “you should cover up.” I catch the towel he tosses me and immediately wrap it around myself. I’m certain my mismatching knee-high socks make a statement about me, but I’m beyond caring, because I’m still alone in my house with a strange man and have no answers as to how this has happened.

With one hand clutching onto the towel at my collarbone, I use the other to motion to him. “You too.”

A lightning flash of a grin glances across his lips. “Sorry, but you just took the only towel left.”

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Meet Zander & Getty in DOWN SHIFT –

the newest stand alone in the Driven Series by K. Bromberg!

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE ORDER!!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2cgkF2W

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2cg6Ayp

iBooks:http://apple.co/2c0TqU3

Nook: http://bit.ly/2cMG67O

Kobo:http://bit.ly/2ctJho8

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The New York Times bestselling Driven series continues with a story about finding love where you least expect it…

Behind the wheel, racing champion Zander Donavan is at the top of his game. But after too much excess in his personal life, he’s forced to step away. He needs to accomplish something all on his own—outside of his famous father, Colton Donavan’s, shadow.

Getty Caster is running away from the abuse that clouds her past. She thinks she’s found the perfect escape—until she discovers a stranger in the beachside cottage she’d been promised. He’s undeniably sexy, but she’s there to heal. Alone.

Before long though, fighting with each other turns into fighting their attraction. And giving into desire sets off a chain reaction that has their pasts colliding. With an unexpected love on the line, can they overcome the fallout to build a future?

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author

kristy-bromberg

New York Times Bestselling author K. Bromberg writes contemporary novels that contain a mixture of sweet, emotional, a whole lot of sexy and a little bit of real. She likes to write strong heroines and damaged heroes who we love to hate and hate to love.

She’s a mixture of most of her female characters: sassy, intelligent, stubborn, reserved, outgoing, driven, emotional, strong, and wears her heart on her sleeve. All of which she displays daily with her husband and three children where they live in Southern California.

On a whim, K. Bromberg decided to try her hand at this writing thing. Since then she has written The Driven Series (Driven, Fueled, Crashed, Raced, Aced), the standalone Driven Novels (Slow Burn, Sweet Ache, Hard Beat, and Down Shift (Releasing 10/4/16)), and a short story titled UnRaveled. She is currently finishing up Sweet Cheeks a standalone novel out at the end of 2016.

Her plans for 2017 include a sports romance duet (The Player (#1) and The Catch (#2)) and the Everyday Heroes series (Cuffed (#1), Combust (#2), and Cockpit (#3). She’s also writing a novella for the 1,001 Dark Night series that will be out in February 2017.
She loves to hear from her readers so make sure you check her out on social media.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon

Chapter Reveal: Wide Open Spaces by Aurora Rose Reynolds

WIDE OPEN SPACES 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.

wide open spaces cover

New from Aurora Rose Reynolds!

Wide Open Spaces releases August 2016!

Add to your TBR at: http://bit.ly/1PDVZsf

Blurb

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.

author

aurora rose reynolds (1)

Aurora 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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