She turned and looked at him with shimmering blue eyes. “Um… thanks for the ride and everything. I, uh, guess I’ll see you later.” Her lower lip quivered.
Aw, hell. Legs—Tessa, as he now knew—had been attacked in a parking garage, came home to a trashed apartment, and she thought he was just going to leave? He knew he could be a jerk at times, but he wasn’t heartless.
He blew out a breath and ran a hand through his hair. Next to him, Burg snickered. The asshole.
“You can go now, Burg.” He walked over and opened the door.
Burg elbowed him on his way out. “See you later, Stanley.”
Gray gave him the finger and closed the door in his face.
“Stanley?” Tessa cocked her head to the side and her mouth quirked up.
“My first name is Stanley,” he mumbled.
“Stanley?” she repeated, a small smile now appearing on her face.
“Stanley Grayson Kingsley.” He stared her down. “You’re one to talk, Misty.”
She had an “oh shit” look on her face. “Are you going to arrest me?” she asked, her eyes wide. She had the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen. They shimmered. Her lower lip quivered again.
Shit. “Why would I arrest you?” He’d had Burg check her out and knew that she wasn’t guilty of anything illegal. He still couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t tell him her real name.
“Parking tickets,” she whispered.
“Tickets?” He put his hands on his hips and looked at the ceiling. “You mean this whole time you wouldn’t tell me your name because you’ve got unpaid tickets?”
She nodded, looking miserable.
“Jesus, Tessa.” He took a step toward her. “Your place is trashed and you’re worried about parking tickets?” He crouched down to look in her face.
A lone tear slid down her cheek.
He scrubbed his hands over his face and through his hair, then moved closer, gearing himself to comfort her with a pat on the back. Instead, before he knew it, she’d thrown herself into him and he found his arms full of soft, quivering woman. She made a noise that sounded like a muffled sob.
“Aw, hell. Please don’t cry.” His gut twisted. “I swear I’m not going to arrest you. They’re just fucking parking tickets, hon.”
“I’ve had a very, very bad day!” She sobbed into his shirt.
He pulled her to a nearby armchair and sat down, adjusting her in his lap. Now what? He did not do crying women.
At a loss for how to stop her tears, he clumsily rubbed her back. “Tell me about your day. Get it all out.”
“First I had to dress like a giant hooker light bulb, then I lost my clothes!” She lifted her head and sniffled. “And I had to wear this!” She gestured to her skirt. “And then… And then…” She gulped air. “I couldn’t find my car and got chased through a dark parking lot!” Tears streamed down her face. “I lost my shoooe!” She pressed her face into his chest.
“When did you lose your shoe, honey?” Gray continued rubbing her back.
“When I hit the scary guy with it in the stairwell.” She clutched at Gray’s shirt. “I… I… hid… and…” She gasped. “I hit him when he grabbed me.” She burrowed deeper into his shoulder. “And I…was…really scared!”
“I know,” he murmured.
“All I wanted to do was come home and go to bed.” With her face pressed against him, her voice was muffled. “I can’t even do that!” She took a deep breath. “And I look like a freakin’ prostitute!”
Four books – four stories following one woman’s journey into a world she has only ever seen in a movie!
The Fallen Angel series, a mafia romance with a difference.
On the first day of her holiday to Washington, DC, Brooke Stiles meets Robert Stone.
Dark-eyed, damaged and dangerous – Stone has never had a normal relationship for fear of his past being exposed. Not knowing how to respect nor love, he struggles with his feelings for a woman who makes him question everything that he is.
Once Robert came to terms with the fact that he was in love with Brooke, he knew he could never let her go. Not letting her go means introducing her to his life, past and present.
However, when Robert’s past and present collide, Brooke does the one thing that Robert begs her not to. Does it change her? Has that light that he sees in her eyes been extinguished?
This is a story of an extraordinary couple who love, fight to survive, and become one of the most powerful ‘families’ in the U.S.
The Fallen Angel series is a mafia romance for readers over the age of 18. Contains graphic scenes of a sexual nature.
About the Author:
Tracie Podger currently lives in Kent, UK with her husband and a rather obnoxious cat called George. She’s a Padi Scuba Diving Instructor with a passion for writing. Tracie has been fortunate to have dived some of the wonderful oceans of the world where she can indulge in another hobby, underwater photography. She likes getting up close and personal with sharks.
Tracie likes to write in different genres. Her Fallen Angel series and its accompanying books are mafia romance and full of suspense. A Virtual Affair is contemporary romance, and Gabriel and A Deadly Sin are thriller/suspense. The Facilitator is erotic romance.
Available from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo & Nook
Fallen Angel, Part 1
Fallen Angel, Part 2
Fallen Angel, Part 3
Fallen Angel, Part 4
The Fallen Angel Box Set
Evelyn – A Novella – To accompany the Fallen Angel Series
Rocco – A Novella – To accompany the Fallen Angel Series
Opposites attract but what happens when they actually connect?
Together Lizzie and Beckett are like lighter fluid on hot coals and equally as complicated. She was raised among the country club elite while he grew up in the suburbs surrounded by blue collar people. Although Lizzie’s family isn’t jumping for joy at her new relationship, it’s the salt-of-the-earth people Beckett holds dearest who work the hardest to split them up. Beckett has to make a decision, the woman of his dreams or the family who has always had his back.
~ Before Miami, I would never have stripped off my clothes in a fully lit room in front of a man, but something about the way Beckett looks at me gives me confidence to be the kind of woman who will.
~ I never had a man before him who ran as hot as he does. This man is insatiable. His gaze drops to my mouth and the smirk returns. He knows very well what he does to me.
~ His smile this time is different than previous ones. It’s spectacular and slightly predatory.
~ It means, you’re a great guy, but on paper you two don’t match. She’s embossed parchment from a fancy-assed printer and you’re wide-ruled notebook paper from Walmart. You know what I mean so don’t act offended.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
~ Tiffani Lynn is a music loving, baseball adoring, crazed hockey fan. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her husband and three daughters. When she can spare a moment she reads contemporary romance novels and watches movies. Love, Lust & Lizzie is Tiffani’s third published book with a fourth release set for January 2017.
Everyone Lara loves dies. All she wants is to be numb, and she’s about to get her wish…
Cyborg 112115 has one mission: kill Commander Mac St. Clair. But she can’t pull the trigger. There is something about him that’s too familiar, and he seems to know her.
With no memories of her own, she must decide whether to trust her instinct or the chip implanted in her head.
Mac’s world ended when Lara Douglas was killed in action. Eight months later, on an opp deep in enemy territory, he becomes the target of an assassin. The cyborg fails at her mission, and doesn’t have any memory of who she was or how she became a cyborg. Determined to help the woman, Mac takes the cyborg with him in hopes of unlocking her memories.
If he’s wrong about her, it could cost the rebellion.
But if he’s right… then he might be able to save her.
Mac raced up faster, pistol cocked and ready to aim. He rounded the corner into the room, ready to shoot, but stopped. The sniper had Gage pinned to the floor, forearm pressed against his neck as they choked the life out of him. He paused as he stared at her. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t possible. She was dead, or so he’d been led to believe.
“Lara?” he asked, his voice coming out more of a croak. His heart raced. It was Lara. The realization made his pulse roar in his ears. Lara was alive. Thank God. It was the second chance he’d prayed for but didn’t think he’d get.
She turned her head, her hazel eyes connecting with his. Something flickered over her features but flitted away just as quickly. A stony mask took over. He gulped as his heart restricted painfully. He’d seen that look before: on cyborgs.
It couldn’t be. Not his Lara. What had the World Alliance done to her?
Gage sputtered, drawing Mac from his thoughts and back to his sniper struggling against Lara’s grip. Mac blinked his surprise away and lifted his gun, aiming it at her head. Shit. She was killing his man. He knew he should squeeze the trigger. If it were anyone else he would’ve.
“Get off him.”
Lara turned back to Gage but, instead of letting up, she pressed harder. Gage wheezed as he tried to push her off.
Mac cocked his gun. “Now, Lara!”
He hoped she listened because he wasn’t sure he could shoot her. The eight months since her alleged death had done nothing to stifle his feelings for her. Lara was the love of his life. Losing her had been the hardest thing to accept. But here she was, alive.
Gage gurgled as he flailed.
“Come on. I know you; you don’t want to kill him. That’s Gage, your partner.” Mac took a step closer. His finger trembled around the trigger as he kept it pointed at her head.
Lara let up and stood slowly, putting her hands up. Before he could blink, her hand went to her holster, and she’d drawn another weapon. It went off with a bang. Gage kicked her in the leg, sending her crashing to the floor. She landed on her butt.
The bullet missed him for the second time today, and he couldn’t help but think it wasn’t a coincidence. Lara didn’t miss. Ever. The World Alliance might have messed with her brain, but part of her was still in there. He just had to find her.
Mac sped across the room and kicked the gun from her hand, then knelt next to her, putting the barrel of his gun to her temple. She blinked up at him with her mesmerizing hazel eyes. God, he couldn’t shoot her. What the hell was he doing? But he wasn’t going to just leave her here either.
“Put your hands behind your back,” he said. When she didn’t comply, he pressed the barrel harder against her temple, but not enough to cause her pain. “Now!”
She moved her hands, placing them by the small of her back. He stood and pulled a few zip ties from his pocket and handed them to Gage. “Put these on her.”
“Do it,” he said. They didn’t have time to argue.
Gage eyed him for a moment before swiping the ties out of his hand. He bound her hands together, pulling the ties tight enough so she couldn’t move her wrists at all.
“Gage, get her bags. You—” he pushed the gun against Lara’s face “—get up. You’re coming with us.”
“Sir,” Gage said, shaking his head as he picked up Lara’s bags and gun. He pulled back the chamber. “We should kill it right now.”
Mac growled. How dare he talk about her like that? “Lara Douglas is a member of the rebellion.”
Gage looked from her to Mac. “She’s not Lara Douglas anymore. We’re doing Lara a favor by killing her body.”
Mac sneered at the sniper. Lara was still in there. He’d lost her once — he wasn’t going to do it again. “She’s coming with us.”
This could be the stupidest thing he’d ever done but damn it, he couldn’t leave her and God knew he couldn’t kill her.
Lara let him lead her inside and up the steps. They stopped on the third floor and walked down a long, narrow hallway. The lights were out and most of the apartment doors had been left open after the resident’s hasty escapes. Mac chose the sixth door on the right and let them in.
He closed the door behind them and pulled his gun from his holster. Lara watched as he canvassed the apartment before returning to the front room.
“No one’s here,” he said.
She wouldn’t expect there to be, with the bombs exploding outside. Any sane person would be running for cover. What did that say about her and Mac?
“We’ll lay low here for a while. Stay away from the windows and see if you can find a camera or a phone. We’ll need something to record with. I’ll try to reach Minerva and Gage on the radio in a while once things have settled outside,” Mac said, going into the kitchen.
Lara nodded as he started to rifle through the cupboards. Was he looking for food, or did he honestly think a camera or phone might be in there? She shrugged to herself and went to the living room.
It was dark in here too, but the glow of the fires peeked through the curtains, letting in enough light for her to see. There was a couch, two recliners, and a small TV in an entertainment unit. She went to the stand and looked at the items. No camera or phone. Next, she went to the couch and fumbled around the cushions, but came up empty there too.
She shifted her attention to Mac. He definitely wasn’t looking for a phone. It looked like he was opening a few cans of food and putting them into bowls. Food did sound good. When was the last time she had eaten? He might not be getting food for her, though. She watched him a moment longer before going to the bedrooms.
The first one was empty except for a double set of bunk beds, but in the second she found a cell phone tucked in one of the nightstand drawers with the cord hanging out. Its charger was plugged into a socket in the wall. She touched the screen and smiled, finding it fully charged despite the lack of power. Grabbing both, she went back out to the kitchen.
“I found a phone and a charger.” She held up the items.
“Good.” Mac smiled as he slid a bowl toward her. “Hungry?”
She set the phone and charger down and picked up the bowl, lifting it to her nose. It smelled wonderful compared to the grub she’d been given in the hospital.
“It’s one of your favorites,” Mac said. “Not as good as fresh papaya in Hawaii, which is your absolute favorite, but it’s a close second.”
“You know my favorite fruit?” she asked as she picked up a piece of pineapple and plopped it in her mouth. The fruit squished between her teeth and she savored the taste of it. It tasted really good. Greedily, she scooped more out of the bowl.
“There’s a lot I know about you,” he said as he took a bite of his own food. It wasn’t pineapple but she couldn’t tell what it was.
“Gage said you didn’t like me. That we didn’t get along.” Lara picked up another fruit chunk and studied it.
Mac chuckled. “Our relationship was complex.”
“Relationship?” Had they been more than teammates? She’d thought so until Gage had said otherwise.
“What do you think?” Mac asked as he met her gaze.
She inhaled and let it out. Her heart pattered a little faster against her ribs and she licked her lips. “We were lovers.” She swallowed hard and looked away, hoping she wasn’t making a fool of herself.
“You remember?” Mac asked his voice dipping to a husky tone as he came around the counter to stand next to her.
She shook her head and looked into her bowl. The images were true. She’d been intimate with this man. Did she love him? She must feel something for him, which is why she hadn’t been able to pull the trigger.
Swallowing the chunk of fruit in her mouth, she cleared her throat. “No. I’ve had a few flashes, images really, but no real memories. Not of you — of us.”
Mac reached up and touched her cheek, letting his fingers run down to her chin, tilting it so she was looking up at him. His fingers were calloused, but his touch made gooseflesh break out over her skin.
She wanted more. He took a step closer, causing her to hold her breath.
“Minerva said strong emotions could trigger memories. That’s what happened with Cedric, right?” His thumb grazed over her lips and she gasped as he got even closer.
The mechanical heart thudded against her ribs, which caused her pulse to roar in her ears. “That’s right.”
“I want to try something.” He brought his mouth inches from hers before stopping. His gaze flicked to hers as if asking for permission.
He was going to kiss her, and she wanted to let him. She nodded and closed her eyes, leaning forward.
Mac’s lips grazed against hers at first, caressing them lightly before he deepened the kiss. His tongue parted her mouth and dipped inside. One of his hands went to her hip, pushing her against the counter so he could press himself against her.
His hardened length rubbed against her thigh, and she wondered what it would feel like to have it buried deep inside her. She shuddered at the thought. Her fingers glided up his chest to grab the lapels of his jacket.
About the Author
Bethany Shaw lives in Ohio with her husband and two kids. Writing has always been her passion and she loves sharing her stories with readers. When she isn’t writing, she is spending time with her family enjoying bike rides, bowling, and board games.
Sometimes, healing the body has to start with the heart.
Half-angel Rafael DiAngelo is a doctor whose mission in life is to bring healing, and he can’t resist trying to help CeCe, a strong, beautiful woman who is inexplicably blind.
The only problem is, CeCe doesn’t see her blindness as a disability, and she resents doctors who think they know best.
Rafe would do anything to win over CeCe, even compromise his own integrity, but when his secrets are revealed, can their relationship survive?
Healing Hands is the fourth book in The Celestia Divisa Collection, a series of clean, paranormal angel romance novels that can be read in order or as stand-alones.
If you like sweet, heartwarming, romance novels with unique characters and a touch of the supernatural, you’ll fall for Healing Hands!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I’m Kellie and I’m a bibliophile! I’ve had a lifelong love affair with books. I love the fantasy and romance of immersing myself in a great story, so it was inevitable that I take the next step and become a writer. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m usually baking cupcakes, obsessively decorating and redecorating my home, or watching dancing shows on TV. I live in North Carolina with my wonderful hubby, teenage daughter, and two sweet kitties.
After grieving the loss of her husband and son, TV host Morgan Marshall is ready to embrace life again. But she won’t risk a relationship with the father of her favorite cooking student, Avery, since the girl’s happiness is more important than her own.
Advertising executive Alex Blake never thought another woman could pique his interest after losing his wife to pneumonia, a complication of her cancer. Yet every time he’s in Morgan’s presence, she brings sunlight into the room. Plus, she’s a role model for his daughter, always assuring Avery that dyslexia can’t hold her back. But if he asks Morgan for a date and then she refuses a second one, the person he loves the most, Avery, could get hurt the worst because she adores Morgan.
When Alex is injured in a fall, Morgan insists on caring for him and Avery. As they share holiday fun, Avery topples Morgan’s beloved crystal bell collection, shattering it to pieces. Through it all, they discover love of one another is more priceless than any object money can buy. Love rings in the air at Christmastime.
Alex turned when someone from behind tapped his shoulder. “Yes?”
“You two are the cutest couple. So you have a daughter in the program tonight?” a silver-haired lady, draped in strands of pearls, asked. “I’ll bet she’s beautiful, looking at the two of you.”
“We—” Morgan began.
“Thank you.” Alex interrupted, cutting her off. “Avery Blake is her name. She has a solo. It’s listed in the program.” He smiled brightly at the lady and then turned his gaze back to Morgan. She appeared surprised but didn’t contradict him.
He figured the lady didn’t need to know the intimate details of their life. It was enough that she considered them a couple. If others could see it, would it be possible for Morgan to see it, too? It wasn’t until that moment he understood how much he truly missed being a family of three and having a wife, after being forced to let go of the woman he loved. It proved tougher than he imagined. Now eighteen months later, he looked forward to a new chapter of his life. Maybe one with Morgan Marshall playing a major role.
When the girl reached the bottom of the stairs, she ran for the kitchen. “Come watch me, Daddy.”
Morgan started to follow, but stopped when Alex touched her arm. “You’re sure about this.” He tilted his head toward the kitchen. Uncertainty filled his eyes.
“Oh ye of little faith,” Morgan admonished teasingly. “Your daughter can cook a four-star meal. Just you wait and see.”
“Well, Miss Morgan, if my child gives me food poisoning, I’m going to hold you responsible. I’ll insist you nurse me back to health.” He winked and then bowed, waving his hand in a flourish, suggesting he would follow her lead to the kitchen.
Morgan took a step, stopped, and glanced over her shoulder. Alex was grinning wider than she’d ever seen. The slightly crinkled, starched white shirt with the cuffs rolled up, top button undone, tucked into charcoal gray slacks made his chest appear broader, his waist slimmer, and his smile brighter. She had never noticed the strength in the squareness of his jaw or the thickness of his lashes. A tingle shivered along her spine. Was the man flirting with her?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A Christmas Eve baby, now Amazon Best Selling author and 4-time RONE Award Finalist, Linda Joyce writes about assertive females and the men who can’t resist them. She has penned the Fleur de Lis series, Fleur de Lis Brides series, and the Sunflower series. Her other books include Behind the Mask and Christmas Bells.
A big fan of jazz and blues, Linda attributes her love of musical to her southern roots, which run deep in Louisiana though she’s lived coast to coast curtesy of her father’s Air Force career. She wrote her first manuscript when she was twelve while living in Japan, the country where her mother was born and raised. In addition to being a book addict, Linda’s a foodie, an RVer, loves to kayak, and binge watch movies. Now she lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and General Beauregard, their four-legged boy.
Shy and introverted Ivy Quinn has psychic abilities she’s only beginning to understand. Sheltered by her father most of her life, she never questioned his use of her skills to further his business interests. But when she finally realizes exactly how he wants to exploit her abilities, she has no choice but to run.
Out from under her father’s thumb, Ivy’s self-confidence grows along with her psychic gifts. She uses them to stay one step ahead of everyone her father sends to hunt her—everyone except the sexy bear shifter who is relentless in his pursuit. But now that she knows the truth about her father’s plans, the last thing she wants to do is go home for the holidays. No matter how hot the werebear tracking her might be, she’s determined to evade him. Even if the rugged shifter is making her wish for something she can never have.
Bounty hunter Cole Jackson is a legendary predator, even among werebears. His talents make him the perfect choice to head up the bond enforcement division of Ursus Security Solutions. But when Ivy’s file lands on his desk, he takes one look at her and thinks Christmas just came early. She might just be the fugitive he wants to capture and keep for himself. Can Cole keep Ivy safe and help all her Christmas wishes come true?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amy Lamont writes steamy contemporary and paranormal romance filled with quirky heroines, alpha heroes, and always a happily ever after. Whether she’s writing about world-weary billionaires or rugged bear shifters, she loves nothing more than delivering stories with just as much heart as heat.
Amy lives in a small town outside of New Yorks City with her husband, twin daughters and their two rescue mutts, Maggie and Toby. When she’s not writing or hiding somewhere with her nose stuck in her eReader, she loves spending time with her family, taking in shows in the city, and traveling every chance she gets.
The quaint little town of Lovely seems to have settled back into a comfortable peace, after last summer’s horrible murders. But nothing is ever as peaceful as it seems. As the Kentucky spring heats up, so does life for Matlock ‘Lock’ Becker. He’s flunked out of college, gambled away his inheritance, and owes money to a very dangerous man. Left with only one choice, Lock presses his luck and finds himself under the gun in Lovely’s underground world of high-stakes and dirty money.
Brandy Becker’s life just got better and easier, at least that’s what she thought. With two weeks’ vacation before her new job starts, she should be relaxing. Instead, her world gets turned upside down by maid of honor duties in her best friend’s wedding, her brother’s gambling troubles, and an old flame, not to mention the dead body and bag full of money in her trunk. It’s going to be one hell of a two-week ride.
Mason Clark isn’t one to come home often. He left Lovely behind when he became a Navy SEAL and preferred to keep it that way. Being disconnected makes putting his life on the line easier. But his best friend Richie’s wedding brings him back to Lovely and face-to-face with people and the past he doesn’t want to get attached to again. Amid the pre-wedding celebrations, his vow to protect and serve is called into action when he can’t resist helping the one woman he can’t forget, no matter how dangerous the situation or how guilty she and her brother appear.
Lock, Brandy, and Mason are swept up in an underworld full of danger they didn’t know existed in Lovely. Or did they? Welcome to Lovely’s dirty little secret world of money, where misfortune turns to robbery and murder. Will they come out alive? Who’s the thief? Who’s the murderer?
Money can be deadly in Lovely, especially when it’s dirty.
About the Author
Candace Clark was born in Ashland, Kentucky, the youngest of three children. After growing up in a small Eastern Kentucky town, her family moved to Central Kentucky where she finished high school and attended her first two years of college at Transylvania University. Transferring to Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia set Candace on a path that would change her life. Over the course of ten years she graduated, moved to New York City, attended Parsons School of Design and found her creative voice.
After years of studying design and photography, she finally took to the page unleashing the ramblings of stories, characters and scenes trapped in her mind. Finding inspiration reading romance, mystery and suspense novels, she draws her creative vision from many sources. When not typing away at her computer, she can be found cooking up some recipe she has undoubtedly altered to suit her family’s food sensitivities, crafting with her daughter, or enjoying a peaceful evening with her partner on their secluded farm in Central Kentucky.
While writing is her passion, her family always comes first. An avid reader and hell of an editor, her daughter is a great help with every story. As in most great love stories, her partner, Billy is more than just a supporter, he is a contributor of ideas, plot lines, characters, and a dialogue whisper, without whom the worlds in her novels would not be the same.
My name is Tierra Owens, and I like to kiss. A lot. It numbs the hollow ache in my chest and—for a few minutes—makes me forget how truly alone I am. My mother is an alcoholic. She hates me and insists I’m the reason she’s not married to my father, whom I have never met. My best friend, Kaylee, is the only person who knows the real me. Everyone else sees what I want them to: a happy, confident, popular girl who has the world at her feet.
I am a fraud.
Relationships are forbidden. I avoid them at all costs. Sex? Emotions? Those things make a person vulnerable, and vulnerability always leads to heartbreak. When my childhood crush, Mattie shows up at school my world tumbles off its axis. The shell I surround myself with feels more like a pathetic crutch than a protective barrier, and I find myself wanting things. Daydreaming about what it would be like to have a boyfriend, a relationship—love.
The sad fact is: I’ll never have any of those things. I am unworthy—trash. Which is why my mom abandoned me.
*Recommended for readers ages 15+
Kissing: You’re either good at it, or you suck. Zachary Harris sucked at kissing. Actually, it wasn’t so much that he sucked. It was more like he slobbered. All over my chin. My neck. My ears. My skin felt like flypaper—sticky and gross.
Then, of course, there was the issue of the very prominent bulge grinding furiously against my hip. With a groan, Dirk Diggler in disguise muttered a low “fuck” and licked a gooey trail across my collarbone. “God, you smell good. I want to lick you all over and make you scream.”
I gagged. Captain Slobber was, indeed, on a fast track to making me scream, but not in the way he intended. I didn’t care how popular he was—if I had to endure another second of his gross, reptilian tongue slithering over my flesh I’d vomit. All over him. It was a damn good thing kissing can be taught. This guy needed a crash course, stat.
Calloused fingers trailed a back-and-forth pattern between the hem of my top and the waistband of my jeans. My skin tingled from the soft caress and I dug my fingers into his hair, desperate to feel close, needing the contact, and ashamed of myself for getting it this way. When his fingers began fiddling with the button on my jeans, I shut him down.
“That right there is a no-parking zone, baby.” I slid my hand from his arm to his shoulder and shoved. “You need to slow down.”
A pair of dark eyebrows slashed over a set of brilliant blue eyes, the skin between them creasing in confusion. “Slow down? But we were just getting started.” He sat back on his hip, his gaze falling to my bed, then to my half-unbuttoned shirt. The right side of his mouth curled up into a wolfish grin. “I thought this was what you wanted. I mean … you did bring me into your bedroom. I thought you were hot for some action.”
Heat prickled across my skin like wildfire. I was hot, all right. Just not for him. The sooner he realized that, the better.
No guy got past second base with me. Ever. The stupid craving I had to feel close to another person was just that: stupid. Sex, emotions … They make you vulnerable. And vulnerable got you hurt.
The overhead light from the garage door opener clicked off, leaving us in the dark.
Static filled the small space between us, the electricity in the air snapping at my skin and ratcheting up my pulse. The oxygen became thin, almost impossible to draw into my lungs, forcing my chest to visibly move with each breath I took.
Needy. I felt impossibly needy. The ache to connect with someone, if only for a few moments, rushed through my veins like a stampede of angry bulls.
Overwhelming shame burned beneath my skin, the contempt I felt for myself barely outweighed by the frenzied craze Mattie’s nearness had on my body. This boy … he did things to me. Made me crave things I knew I couldn’t have. Made me forget myself.
Somehow, my mask had fallen. Was dangling from my ear, perilously close to snapping completely off. I felt jumpy, amped—ready to explode. And I was positive he sensed my undoing. Though I could barely make out the outline of his face, I knew he was smiling when he leaned over the console.
His hand came to rest on my shoulder, the heat from his fingers scorching through my cardigan and shirt as if I were naked as they trailed down the length of my arm. My wrist … I was sure it would spontaneously combust the moment his calloused fingers circled its width. I heard his smile grow, felt his warm breath brush across my cheek in a minty-fresh wave. Nearly melted into the seat when his thumb brushed across the center of my palm before closing my fingers over my keys.
His voice was low and caressed my skin like a feather-light kiss. “I’m not stalkerish, Tierra. I just miss my old friend. And am happy as hell my new house is only two blocks away.”
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Love can thaw the fiercest winter.
In a society where elves are no longer creatures of myth and magic, Brynne Mirren is just trying to survive the holidays as one of Santa’s Rejects. Loyal to her duty as the eldest child, she stands outside in the freezing cold and sell matchbooks—not that anyone would buy anything from an elf. Each fruitless day is the same without exception until her path crosses with Carter Holly. Persistent though he is, she can’t help but wonder if he has an ulterior motive.
After all, very few humans look kindly on elves these days.
Days before Christmas, Brynne’s life takes a drastic turn and she is forced to trust the gentle stranger in the darkest time of her life. Carter Holly continues to surprise her, stirring up new feelings within her with every act of kindness.
Though the threat of freezing along with her matchbooks is very real, Brynne can’t forget that falling in love with a human is even more dangerous.
Matchsticks and Candy Canes is the first book co-written by C.E. Wilson and Mary Dublin.
Carter still couldn’t understand how this young woman was supposed to be a witch. If anything, she was more like an angel.
His eyes drifted over to the thick cap tightly secured around her ears, supposing that pointed ears were hidden under the wool.
“Thanks,” he said, keeping his voice soft. He slowly reached out for the matchbox, but the girl still pulled away as his fingers drew close, practically dropping the matchbox into his palm. There was no punishment. There was no magic. She’s not a witch.
“Here,” he said, jogging across the street and reaching for her hand. She squeaked as he dropped the two quarters into her palm. “Here’s half of what I owe,” he whispered before holding up a finger to his lips. “This is for you.”
“Just for you,” he emphasized.
He smiled only briefly before he jogged back across the street, acting as though nothing had happened. As though he hadn’t taken a huge leap of faith by touching her. Luckily, no one saw. He stole a curious glance at the girl across the street, wondering if he had crossed a line, and was glad to see her with a look of wonder on her face. She looked across the street and for a brief moment met his eyes.
“Thank you,” she breathed with a soft voice that pooled like mist in the winter air. He smiled back at her.
Perhaps this winter would bring something more than more snow and sweets.
C.E. Wilson is currently living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband, beautiful daughter, fat beagle and two cats. She loves Supernatural, leggings and shoujo manga. When it rains she feels at peace and loves a sweet cup of coffee with way too much sugar and cream. She loves the fall because of football and all things pumpkin. Her favorite subject to write about is size difference, but she enjoys to try her hand at all things fantastical.
Mary Dublin has been writing fantasy stories since childhood. Growing up where the sun is always stronger than the coffee, she maintained a fascination with worlds that can never exist. More than ever, Mary finds joy in putting these worlds to the page through words and paintings. She enjoys pilates, rainy afternoons, and bakes a mean batch of double-fudge brownies. Matchsticks and Candycanes is her first published work.