I lent my heart to the bad boy, and he did exactly what I expected he would. He broke it.
And the guy I should have been with—he’s still here. He tries to take my mind off everything I’ve lost while showing me what I could have. I’m ready for a new start, to fall in love again … to do what I should have done in the first place.
Everything seems perfect.
Then the past comes walking back in. I thought I was over him, but one look and I know that’s not true. We went through too much together for those feelings to completely fade away.
When my past and present collide, how am I supposed to choose? They both love me, and I love them.
A heart will be broken … and it could be mine.
My eyes scan the room, full of well-dressed men, many with beautiful women on their arms. A few of them look lost like me, but most own the room like professional socialites. This could never be my whole life, I think to myself. And, as I continue scanning, I see him. He’s here. The man who stole my soul is standing across the room with his back against the wall. My eyes are locked on him, but his eyes dance around the room like I’m not here. Maybe to him, I never was. Maybe he’s looking for the next one—the girl he’ll show the world to then disappear. I look beside me—at Pierce—and I feel sick that any part of me even wants to go across the room. I feel sick because there’s a man here who I know could make me happy—who does make me happy—and yet I’m willing to throw it all away. He looks away from Royce, eyes instantly finding mine. He smiles, and I return it the best I can because for just a few more minutes, I need him to think that nothing has changed. And, maybe nothing has. “I’m going to find the restroom,” I whisper to Pierce. “I’ll come with you.” Shaking my head, I say, “No, you stay. I’ll be right back.” He nods, hesitantly, and I wait for him to turn his attention back to Royce before blazing a path through the crowd, anxious to prove to myself that this isn’t a dream. The shield cracks. My heart races. His eyes still roam, taking in everything … everything but me. I’m not going to let him out of my sight … I’m not going to let him hide from the anguish he’s buried me in the last several months. He has nowhere to run. Even if he did, I wouldn’t let him, not this time. A few long strides and I’m standing in front of him, staring into those familiar pained eyes. When you love someone, it’s impossible to look at them and feel hate. You may want to feel it. You may think you feel it, but love and hate can’t co-exist. I hate that I love him, but I can’t hate him. And, I want to hate him. It would make it easier to love someone like Pierce who deserves my heart. This man stole it months ago, and I don’t think he has any intention of returning it. Sometimes I don’t know if I want it back. But then, I think of the last few days—few months actually—and I realize another man may be winning it back for me. Maybe it’s not gone forever but simply misplaced. His hair is a little longer, but he’s the same. The way he stands … the way his fingers curl around a beer bottle. He’s exactly the same. “Blake,” I whisper, afraid of what he’ll say, what he’ll do. Still afraid he’ll find a way to run away, and I won’t be able to catch him. He stares at me like he’s never even met me, or maybe he’s spent the last several months trying to forget me. I can’t say I haven’t tried to do the same. There’s not enough alcohol in the world do erase him. “Does he make you happy?” he finally asks, practically staring through me. He sounds so broken, so sad. “Who?” I ask, caught off guard by his question. “Pierce. Does he make you happy?” My eyes well with tears I’ve left unshed … tears I left for him to see. “Yes,” I whisper, doing my best to hold them in. He deserves to watch every single one of them run down my cheek but not here … not now. He nods, reaching his fingers up toward my cheek before quickly pulling them back away. And just as quickly as he came back into my life, he’s gone. It’s really over. If any part of him wanted me, he would have fought for me.
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About the author and where to find her:
Lisa De Jong is a wife, mother and full-time number cruncher who lives in the Midwest. Her writing journey involved insane amounts of coffee and many nights of very little sleep but she wouldn’t change a thing. She also enjoys reading, football and music.
The Universe has completely dumped on High School senior Kelsey Quinn’s life. Credit card at Nordstrom’s? Deactivated. Honda Accord? Sold. Life in the burbs of Chicago? Gone. And it’s all her sister’s fault. Yep. Drugs, alcohol, and getting caught with the boss’s son was all it took. Dad loses job, family loses money, and the next thing she knows she’s crammed in a cell on wheels for the next two days as they make their way to a dilapidated farmhouse in Texas. But Kelsey doesn’t just leave the good life in Chicago. She leaves the boy who-has-it-all, Drew Montgomery.
Hillside senior, quarterback, Austin McCoy works for Kelsey’s dad at the feed store and helps with the farm chores in the morning. He sees through Kelsey’s surly attitude to the girl whose eyes light up when she’s with the animals. He is determined to help Kelsey see that not only does she love the Farmville life, but that the guy she really wants is him.
Will Austin convince Kelsey he’s the guy she wants? Will Kelsey embrace the simple life and find forgiveness for her sister?
She looked at her reflection in the mirror. Mascara puddled at the corners of her eyes and beneath her lower lashes. She jerked a tissue from a half-smashed box and dabbed at the black stains. No way was she going to let anybody know she’d cried, but the makeup was not cooperating.
Tossing the tissue aside, Kelsey padded across the hall to the bathroom and scrubbed her face clean. She held the bottle of foundation in her hand and regarded her reflection again. She’d never let Drew see her without the benefit of even skin tones and lightly dusted cheeks and eyes. It was a time-consuming ritual. What about now, what about here? Who cared if she didn’t wear makeup?
The last thing she wanted was to look as though she belonged to this place, and she’d bet her forty-dollar bottle of foundation that the local girls didn’t know the first thing about creating the natural look.
She brushed foundation across her skin, covering the imperfections. By the time she’d constructed the perfect face, she felt better. She was still angry with her parents, but at least now she could get through the rest of the day feeling good about herself. She fluffed her hair and noticed curls had begun to sneak back into her über-straight style. She shouldn’t have missed the flatiron step this morning. She shook her head and looked in the mirror again. She kind of liked the way her hair bounced with the curl.
“Kelsey! Come on, it’s time to load up for the feed store,” Dad yelled from downstairs.
She flicked the bathroom light off and moved toward the stairs. “Seriously, Dad—load up?” When she turned the corner of the landing she stopped.
Austin stood on the threshold of the front door, staring up at her. The screen banged his back, but he didn’t seem to notice.
She wanted to look aloof to the Texan hulking in the doorway, but a tiny smile forced itself to the surface anyway.
Dad said, “Can I help you, son?”
Following a career as a nursing instructor, award-winning author, Mary Karlik earned an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. A native Texan, Mary loves horses, dogs, cats, country music, and small town diners. Although she has recently relocated in northern New Mexico, her heart remains in the Lone Star state.
Hyw yearns to join his father in serving the charismatic Llywelyn, Prince of Wales. If only Hyw dared tell anyone of his ability to scout through the eyes of a hawk, it might help secure his place in the royal guard. Cat, his sister, longs to inherit the magical ability that runs through her mother’s line. If only she could see her future, now that she is 13 and promised to a boy she barely remembers.
When a messenger summons the prince to a secret meeting, Cat and Hwy find themselves in the middle of a war that threatens to destroy all of Wales. Can they master their special abilities in time to save the royal family—and themselves?
Set among the actual events and personages of late 13th century Wales, Marie Powell has constructed a fantasy novel that recreates what life might have been like for two teenagers coming of age.
Marie Powell (www.mepowell.com) is the author of 30 published books, including the young adult historical fantasy Hawk (Five Rivers, 2015) and Hawk and Crown (Five Rivers, 2016). She holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and her award-winning short stories and poetry appear in such literary as subTerrain, Room, and Transition. She lives in Saskatchewan, her writing workshops are popular across the province. Read more about Hawk and Welsh history on her blog at www.mepowell.com/blog.
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For Jamie Stewart-Greer, BDSM is the perfect way to release the darkness inside him and use it for pleasure. But it’s getting more difficult to hide this side of himself—especially from the one person who elicits his most extreme, secret passions.
When his best friend died, Jamie promised he’d watch over his little sister, Summer Grace. Summer is a nearly irresistible sex kitten who’s been after Jamie since she was fourteen—and she’s absolutely taboo. But now she’s hunting him in his territory—the Bastille, New Orleans’ most infamous BDSM club—and Jamie knows he’s in trouble.
Summer is more than ready to indulge Jamie’s secret kinks, and as their relationship spirals into the darkest recesses of absolute pleasure, it only stirs her desire for more. If Jamie is willing to give Summer what she wants, it’s going to turn love into the most dangerous fetish of all.
Jamie took her hand and began to lead her from the office and through the door that led to the shop. Some small part of Summer’s subspaced brain was in awe of the fact that she was naked except for her shoes, her ass warmed by the stunning Jamie’s wonderfully cruel hands, her body soft all over after coming at his command. And now he was taking her into an auto shop of all places to do God only knew what to her. She’d never felt more blissful. She refused to acknowledge the small part of her psyche that was screaming at her to run before she got hurt—heart-hurt.
Nope. Not thinking about it.
But what the . . . ?
“What the fuck, Jamie? Really? You keep a play bag at work?” she couldn’t help but ask when he grabbed a black duffel bag from a chair by the door and slung it over his shoulder.
“Is ‘what the fuck’ a safeword, Summer Grace?” he asked with a small chuckle before he must have recognized the look on her face. “Ah. Sweetheart, I have never played anyone else here.”
She smiled—she couldn’t help it. She couldn’t stand to think that he regularly brought women to his shop for play. It was different than The Bastille, in her mind, however unreasonable that might be. But she was unreasonably thrilled that his shop was virgin territory, that he was popping its cherry for her.
“But yes,” he went on, “I keep a spare play bag in here for those nights I work too late to go home before I head to the club. The equipment is limited, but there’s enough in there for me to work with. Don’t you worry.”
“Lack of toys is not what I’m worried about,” she muttered, quietly pleased that he’d let her get away with breaking her silence. She shook her head as he pulled her along behind him. She would never understand how he could be so sweet and still so purely Dom-like at the same damn time. But she had to admit it was working its magic on her. Big time.
Jamie flipped a switch on the wall and one section of the shop lit up. She’d been there before—she’d dropped by a number of times over the years, hoping to entice him—but never after hours. The place was so clean you could eat off the floor—everything shining chrome and the gorgeous mural on the back wall of vintage muscle cars: a Mustang, a GTO and a Corvette, all done in matte black against a background of gradually deepening shades of blue. The black-and-chrome tool chests were in neat rows against the walls, punctuated by wall-mounted counters. There were work bays with pits, some with different types of lifts—she thought that was what they were called, but her brain was cloudy—in sleek black and red. The place was really some car perv’s fantasy. She couldn’t help the small giggle that escaped her.
Jamie turned to her. “What are you finding so funny, sugar?” One brow was lifted, and there was both humor and menace in his tone, which she loved.
A shiver went through her. She was naked in Jamie’s auto shop and this was crazy! But she liked the crazy. “I just realized that cars are one of your fetishes.”
“You just now realized that?” he asked. “And I thought you knew me so well.”
“I thought I did, too,” she said, only then realizing there was an awful lot about this man she’d missed.
He wrapped an arm around her waist, his biceps flexing deliciously against her bare skin. “Now is when we really get to know each other, Summer Grace.”
All she could do was nod. Desire was a simmering fire in her body. Desire and a little titillating fear about what was going to happen. And as if he sensed her fear he bent and brushed his lips across hers, fanning the flames of need, sending a shock of pleasure deep into her system.
Oh yes. This is what I need.
She sank into him as he pulled her in closer, nibbling on her lips, licking them, then kissing her hard and deep, his tongue exploring. Taking. If she’d had any doubts about what they were doing he made them all melt away.
“You’re going to be just fine, sweetheart. I’ll take very good care of you,” he whispered against her flushed cheek. “I’m going to do some wonderful and terrible things to you. Is that what you want?”
She closed her eyes, breathed him in, let her tongue dart out to taste him on her lips.
“Exactly what I want. What I need. I’m just . . .”
“What is it? Tell me.”
Her throat went tight, but the words seemed to pour out of their own accord. “Have you ever had your heart’s desire right in front of you and suddenly you realize you hadn’t ever really imagined it could be more than just a dream? And then it’s right there and it seems like a dream. I can’t seem to get a hold of it. It’s like the whole world is wobbling. But yes, I want it, need it. Please, Jamie.”
He pressed his lips to her cheek, kissing it over and over. Then he said quietly, his voice a low rumble, “Yeah. I know exactly what you mean. We are on the same page, sweetheart, at this very moment. But this is what it means to turn it over. Just give it all up to me. You can do it. This is me, Summer Grace, and I will take care of everything.”
“Yes,” she agreed, knowing that was utterly true.
He kissed her cheek again. “Come on, sugar girl.”
He took her hand once more and led her across the quiet shop, their footsteps echoing on the cement floor. He stopped in front of an odd-looking contraption made of red-painted metal framework set on the floor that had some sort of crane or hoist attached to it. The black vertical arm had “Xtreme” painted down one side in big white letters, a row of large squared teeth like a spine up the back and a rod angled off the top. At the end of the rod hung a length of chain, ending in a large hook.
“Jamie . . . ?”
His grip on her hand tightened as he set the toy bag down on the floor. “I suppose you’re wondering what we’re doing here? That, I’m not going to tell you, but I will tell you what this little beauty is. It’s a portable Spider frame straightener—it’s what we use to straighten out the bent frame on a car that’s been in an accident. This baby can hold up to ten tons.” He dragged Summer close and brushed a kiss over her hair. “Now I need to go get a few things, and I want you to wait for me here. Can you do that?”
He pulled back to look at her, and she swallowed, nodded, her head spinning.
“Good girl,” he murmured before kissing her hand, then dropping it and stepping away.
© Eden Bradley, 2015
New York Times & USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author Eden Bradley aka Eve Berlin writes dark, edgy erotic fiction. Her work has been called ‘elegant, intelligent and sensual’. Her debut novel, THE DARK GARDEN, has been praised as ‘a masterpiece’, and was a Romantic Times Top Pick. Her novels and novellas have been translated into German, Romanian, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Polish and Japanese. As someone who has been involved in BDSM practice for much of her adult life, she relates in particular to her kink stories, infusing them with her own truth about kink practice from her life experiences. Eden speaks regularly on BDSM psychology and practice, as well as sex positive culture for women.
Angel of Death, Nathaniel Evans’, newest case sends him on a perilous and magical journey to the Irish countryside in search of one unattainable answer: How does an Angel of Death fall from grace and return to life?
Back in Colorado, Juliana’s mishaps with a book of spells and her well-meaning attempts to save her brother’s life could cost her more than a ghostly haunting and a deadly virus. It could cost her everything she loves – her family, her home and her relationship with Nathaniel.
While on the hunt for answers, Nathaniel finds himself imprisoned with fairies and fighting a battle of strength, skill, wit and sorcery to win his freedom back from a ruthless fallen angel. Nathaniel must survive the duel if he wants to change his destiny and fulfill his desire for mortality and a chance to be with Juliana forever.
I’m tender with her to the point of agony as I lower my lips to hers and brush soft caresses down her back with my hands. I know she’s delicate right now, and I can’t break this fragility between us. Any human going through half of what she has had to deal with would be too easy to shatter. I’m about to pull back and wrap her securely in my arms when she presses into me harder. We rise to our knees so our bodies are pressed together. Her hands explore places which have me nearly to the edge of no return. Down my arms and across my abdomen. She grips me at the waist and strokes the muscles running down my back as our tongues meet.
“In another second, I’m not going to be able to stop, Jules.”
“I don’t want you to,” she says.
Her breath is ragged. Her chest is rising and falling a little too quickly.
Who could resist that request? Not me. I taste her again. Her mouth is perfect. Soft, wanting, playful, and heavenly.
Her hand moves under my shirt and I feel light nails and the soft pads of her fingers trailing over my skin. A low groan of pleasure rumbles through my chest. It seems to encourage her and she moves to one of my nipples.
As difficult as it is, I break our kiss. “This isn’t the place,” I murmur.
“It’s a perfect place to me.”
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Jody A. Kessler’s debut novel, Death Lies Between Us, won the Readers’ Crown Award for Best Paranormal Romance and was a runner up for Best First Book. She also writes historical time travel fiction and contemporary romance. When she isn’t navigating the terrain of her imagination and writing it down, she can be found exploring the wilderness of Colorado with her family, or in the kitchen baking cookies & brownies – and trying not to eat them all. She’s passionate about continuing to learn and reads anything and everything that catches her interest. Jody is a full time mom, a Reiki Master, and has taught Hatha yoga for over a decade.
Kaitlin Grant lost her spine. She isn’t a slug—but her abusive ex-lover and business partner is. Broken and bruised, she escapes to the safe haven of Connor, Iowa, to resurrect her self-confidence. But Kaitlin doesn’t anticipate the potent electricity still sizzling between her and Sky Whitefeather—the swarthy Native American man she left years ago. Returning home from Iraq with a daughter and an unforgivable secret, Sky tries to bury the past, until Katie—the girl who annihilated his heart, returns to town. The irresistible woman stirs up emotions he longs to forget and rekindles desires that might burn him alive.
Can new love grow from the ashes of their past, or will a trail of death and betrayal destroy their dreams?
Dammit. Why did Sky have to look so freakin’ amazing? Why couldn’t she have come back to find him balding or with a giant beer belly and a bunch of missing teeth? Even the tiny lines at the corners of his eyes when he smiled turned her on. And when she’d caught him looking at her with that same sexual sparkle, Kaitlin had practically melted into a sticky puddle of goo. But there had been something else…something that lay just beneath his surface. A dark and almost haunted feeling she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Maybe it was anger and the grudge he held against her. After all, she wasn’t stupid enough to think he’d simply forgive her.
Still, her body throbbed, primed and ready. Her sore nipples were as hard as cherry pits and aching incessantly. Warm honey seeped between her swollen folds. Her body’s reaction served as startling evidence that Kaitlin had never erased Sky from her soul.
A melancholy sadness settled deep. Everything had changed between them. Sky had a wife and family, and Kaitlin was a mess. But even that reality didn’t keep her from zeroing in on the way his faded jeans hugged his tapered waist, or the way those tempting muscles flexed as he tossed the little girl into the air.
Her high-pitched squeals and infectious giggle floated on the wind, and a pang of resentment burned low in Kaitlin’s belly. She’d always wanted children, but Doug had balked at the idea, delivering promises that after the company grew more profitable, they’d talk about starting a family. She was thankful now that had never come to pass. Starting life over was challenge enough for her without tossing a child into the tempest.
More laughter carried on the wind, only this time the sound of Sky’s deep, silky baritone slid over her flesh like thick, hot wax. With a scowl, Kaitlin turned away. She didn’t want to be reminded of what she’d foolishly thrown away…didn’t need the validation that his life was perfect while hers was nothing but a clustered mess. But most of all, she didn’t want to think about Sky using his capable hands or his spine-melting sexual skills on another woman.
“You had your chance and blew it,” she reminded herself bitterly. “You knew he wasn’t going to curl up and stop living without you, and he didn’t.”
Bestselling author, Jenna Jacob paints a canvas of passion, romance, and humor as her Alpha men and the feisty women who love them unravel their souls, heal their scars, and find a happy ever after kind of love. Heart-tugging, captivating, and steamy, Jenna’s books will surely leave you breathless and craving more. A mom of four grown children, Jenna and her Alpha-Hunk-husband live in Kansas. She loves books, Harleys, music, and camping. Jenna’s zany sense of humor and lack of filter exemplify her motto: Live. Laugh. Love.
Meet her wild and wicked family in her sultry series: The Doms of Genesis. Or become spellbound by the searing love connection between Raine, Hammer, and Liam in her continuing saga: The Doms of Her Life (co-written with the amazing Shayla Black and Isabella La Pearl). Journey with couples struggling to resolve their pasts and heal their scars, to discover unbridled love and devotion in Jenna’s new contemporary series: Passionate Hearts.
Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She lives in San Diego with a husband she adores, and they are trying to adopt a baby because they can’t have a child on their own. But the process of adoption brings to light many questions about Molly’s past and her family–the family she left behind in North Carolina twenty years before. The mother she says is dead but who is very much alive. The father she adored and whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison’s Ridge. Her own birth mother whose mysterious presence in her family raised so many issues that came to a head. The summer of twenty years ago changed everything for Molly and as the past weaves together with the present story, Molly discovers that she learned to lie in the very family that taught her about pretending. If she learns the truth about her beloved father’s death, can she find peace in the present to claim the life she really wants?
Some secrets, some lies are so big they take on a life of their own and there is no denying their presence. For Molly Arnette, the secret and the lie have been a part of her far longer than the reality ever was. Since she was 18 years old, Molly has told the world her parents are dead and her extended family is not a factor to be considered in her life. Part of that is true.
As an adult, Molly has had no reason to dredge up her past until she and her husband start the adoption process. Getting a child isn’t an easy process and there are a lot of questions to answer and research to be done. Molly’s past isn’t something she ever talks about and even her husband believes the lies she has told. As often happens, lies don’t stay buried forever and the deeper Molly and her husband get into the adoption process the more fiercely the past begins to put pressure on the present.
As a child, Molly couldn’t imagine living anywhere other than Morrison Ridge, North Carolina. The land her family occupies has been a part of the family for more than a century and everyone she holds dear is within a few miles of her home. Of particular importance is her father, Graham, a child psychologist known for his “pretend therapy.” Graham epitomizes everything Molly wants to be, intelligent, funny, caring, and capable in the face of adversity. For most of her life, Molly’s dad has been wheelchair bound as a result of an aggressive form of MS and though he only has the use of his neck and head at this point, he doesn’t let his immobility keep him from pushing forward. To Molly, her father is everything and though she knows the MS will eventually win, she just can’t imagine her life without him.
The summer of her fourteenth year is one of the most tumultuous of her young life and Molly finds herself constantly on the verge of boiling over. She is maturing, she has a newfound interest in boys, and, thanks to her friend, Stacey a newfound interest in experimentation and her family history. For the entirety of her life, Molly has turned to her father for everything so when she starts looking for answers about her own history, she logically turns to her father. Molly’s family believes in not keeping secrets so when she asks, her father answers every question she has with more than just a short and sweet answer. Molly’s history as well as her parent’s history is tangled and twisted with everyone having done the best they could in the face of many difficult situations.
As the summer moves forward, Molly notices the changes in her father but refuses to believe what she is seeing. To be fair, Molly is just fourteen years old and as many teenagers are, she is preoccupied with her own life, wants, and desires. The summer is filled with fun, mischief, and plenty of family time, all of which Molly is perfectly happy with. As she is trying to live her young life, her family – both immediate and extended – are embroiled in a mess that Molly simply doesn’t understand. There is an anger and tension that is permeating her home life and those emotions seem to be impacting everyone but her father who, for the first time in a very long time seems lighter and freer. As the summer comes to an end, Molly’s life is turned upside down as the anger and tension are replaced with a profound sadness, loss, and intense anger that will drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves.
The Bottom Line: Pretending to Dance is a profoundly sad read that is born out of secrets and misunderstandings that one woman has carried for the vast majority of her life. At just fourteen years old, Molly faced some of the most trying and monumental events of her young life and each changed her forever. Chamberlain splits the read between Molly’s past and present and for me, the far more interesting part of the read is Molly’s past. Molly past allowed Chamberlain to weave a tail of old hurts, loves, anger, friendship, and compassion that has consumed and shattered one family. Molly never intended to deal with her past but her current circumstances force the issue and she must face every detail that has haunted her for twenty years. Though I understand the need for the chapters related to Molly’s, they force the past to be dealt with, I found myself rushing through them in order to get back to the chapters related to Molly’s past. This read is full of individuals, both good and bad that are well developed and play such integral parts in the plot. No one and nothing is gratuitous in this read and I found myself completely incapable of putting this book down until I got to the last page. This isn’t a fun or easy (emotionally speaking) read but it is beautifully written and for those who are fans of the past meets the present and family sagas, I can safely and enthusiastically recommend Pretending to Dance.