Daily Archives: 09/08/2015
Cedar Tree #5
by Freya Barker
Release date: October, 2015
Add to your GR TBR:
More often than not, Clint Mason has his foot firmly wedged in his mouth, which tends to get him in plenty of hot water with the ladies. Although his laid back good ole’ Southern charm does not fly far with the female population of Cedar Tree, the big burly contractor hides his dark side well.
The only one Beth Franklin allows herself to rely on is Beth, and so far that has served her well. Just when her son disappears after dropping his little guy off on her doorstep, her life seems to spiral out of control. For the first time ever, fearing for his safety, the fiercely independent waitress is forced to be on the receiving end of a helping hand.
That’s not easy for her, especially since the shovel-sized hand belongs to a man whose approach has run hot and cold the last year, leaving her feeling off balance. With a steady and commanding force, he exposes her softer side, while doing everything he can to keep her and those close to her safe.
“What the fuck, Ma? You’re shacking up now? What are you getting out of this? You know he’s just using you, haven’t you learned anything?”
“Dylan! You’re waking the neighborhood, would you simmer down?” Beth tries to keep the little boy in her arms calm while facing off with her son.
“Who is using her?” I turn to Dylan with my eyebrow raised. “From what I can see, you’re the one who calls her at the butt crack of dawn, expecting her to drop everything and come running. And then you have the gall to brow beat her and question her or me about motives?” I’m seething and clenching the handles on the walker tight enough to turn my knuckles white. It’s that or lay that snot nosed, self-righteous punk out on his ass.
“Clint…” Beth puts a moderating hand on my arm, which only pisses me off more.
“You know you shouldn’t let anyone talk to you like that. As if no one can see you for more than a means to an end. I don’t care if he’s your son, he has no right to berate you like that. Come on, let’s take that baby home. Little thing’s about to fall asleep on you.” I point out, watching the little boy fighting to keep his eyes open on his grandma’s shoulder.
“And you,” I turn back to Dylan. “You should grow the hell up. Sounds like you’ve had a rough night and I get that you’re overwhelmed, but you have no fucking right to take it out on the woman who is saving your ass. And from what I can tell, it isn’t the first time either. Am I right?” From the way the kid lowers his eyes and the slump of his shoulders I can tell he’s run out of steam. That boy’s got troubles and I get a sneaky suspicion it’s more than his wife leaving. Watching him wrap his arms around his mom and son, that suspicion is only fueled when I hear him talking in a low voice.
“Sorry Ma. I’m sorry, it’s just all a fucking mess. I’ll sort it—I promise—just look after Max for me will ya? I’ll be in touch.” And with a kiss on his son’s head and only a brief glance in my way, he walks to straight his truck ignoring his mother’s plea, looking like he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Yup, he’s got trouble. I make up my mind to put a bug in Gus’s ear, see what he can find out.
I turn to find Beth standing a little forlorn on her front step with a now sleeping baby in her arms, watching her son drive off, and the worry is etched on her face. She knows it too.
“Let’s get the baby home,” I say again and her eyes snap to mine.
“Let’s get off the lawn, go back to my place, put the little one down and figure it out over coffee. Okay?”
She simply nods and looks around her at the carseat and bag that were left behind on her steps. She tries to balance Max on her shoulder while making a grab for the car seat.
“Here, give that to me,” I reach for the seat and plop it on top of the walker. Beth follows behind with Max and the bag.
“I’ve got to install his carseat,” Beth points out.
“That’s just gonna wake him up. Give him to me.” I slide in the back seat and hold out my arms. After a brief hesitation Beth leans in to deposit Max in my arms and his little baby body curls up against me easily. For a moment when Beth backs up our eyes meet and a wan smile slips on her lips.
“That baby looks good on you, big guy,” she teases and I growl in response which only makes the smile brighter. Good.
Freya Barker craved reading about ‘real’ people, those who are perhaps less than perfect, but just as deserving of romance, hot monkey sex and some thrills and chills in their lives – So she decided to write about them.
Always creative, from an early age on she danced and sang, doodled, created, cooked, baked, quilted and crafted. Her latest creative outlets were influenced by an ever-present love for reading. First through blogging, then cover art and design, and finally writing.
Born and raised in the Netherlands, she packed her two toddlers, and eight suitcases filled with toys to move to Canada. No stranger to new beginnings, she thrives on them.
With the kids grown and out in the world, Freya is at the ‘prime’ of her life. The body might be a bit ramshackle, but the spirit is high and as adventurous as ever. Something you may see reflected here and there in some of her heroines…. none of who will likely be wilting flowers.
Other Books in the Series
All Cedar Tree novels available with KINDLE UNLIMITED!
(Cedar Tree #4)
Universal Purchase Links
(Cedar Tree #3)
Universal Purchase Links
“HUNDRED TO ONE”
(Cedar Tree #2)
Universal Purchase Links
“SLIM TO NONE”
(Cedar Tree #1)
Universal Purchase Links
Brand-new New Adult Rock Star Romance
from USA Today-Bestselling Author Blair Babylon!
Xan Valentine, the rock star that Rolling Stone called “sex incarnate,” stands in the spotlight every night and sings love songs to the women in the audience. They swoon. They scream. They believe him. They don’t know him like Georgie does.
They’ve never seen him nearly beat two men to death until someone pulled him off. They’ve never seen the coldness in his dark eyes when he sat across a table, negotiating a contract that broke their hearts.
He’s never stolen into their bedroom at night, slid into their bed, and made love to them until dawn, and he’s never treated them like it never happened while the bitemarks on their backs and thighs were still sore.
They’ve never seen him play the violin like an angel.
Or a demon.
Georgie is officially in his band now, playing the keyboards, and every concert drives the music deeper into her soul. If Georgie leaves the protection of the band and Xan Valentine, the Russian mafia will kidnap and kill her. If she stays and plays in his band for just a few more weeks, Xan will pay for her college and law school.
If her heart can survive even one more night with him.
Haven’t read the first one yet?
Download Every Breath You Take (Book 1) for FREE here:
Excerpt from Lay Your Hands On Me
Xan Valentine, the rock star—and Georgie could tell that he was Xan by the arrogant tilt of his head and the jitter of his fingers drumming on the conference room table—pushed a thick contract across the table toward her. His long hair was tied back in a ponytail, and he wore a trim, blue business suit without a tie, his collar unbuttoned at his throat. Silver and steel chains at his throat sparkled white glints in the overhead fluorescent lights, and that green crystal earring dangled from his ear lobe.
He looked straight at her while he slid the contract over the wood like he was accusing her of something, his dark eyes level and still as he stared. White bandages wrapped his knuckles, but at least the bleeding must have stopped overnight.
Jonas, the band manager for Killer Valentine, sat on Xan’s left. He sat straight in his chair, his black suit pressed and smooth.
Georgie was alone on her side of the table. The chill air in the hotel leaked down the back of her tee shirt and up her short sleeves, raising goosebumps on her skin.
She picked up the stack of paper and riffled through it. “This is a lot of contract for just two months.”
“There’s a lot to do in a rock band,” Xan said.
He didn’t sneer, and he didn’t snarl. If anything, his businesslike tone sounded resigned.
“I’m not signing this until I read the whole thing. I want an attorney’s opinion on it, too. Do you have an electronic copy?”
Jonas slid a thumb drive across the table to her. “Here’s a PDF.”
“Thanks.” She crammed the stick into the back pocket of her jeans.
Xan said, “We need you to sign it before you play with the band again, and the next performance is two days from now.”
“I’m not signing something I haven’t read or don’t understand.” The sheaf of pages weighed in her hands.
“We have a show coming up. If you haven’t signed it by tomorrow morning, we have to cancel the show. If we cancel it—”
“I know. I know. The fans will post vomiting gifs and Killer Valentine will be ruined forever.” She flipped to the front page, which was mostly defining terms, like that Georgie was The Band Member, Killer Valentine, Inc. was The Band, and Mr. Alexandre Grimaldi de Valentinois was The Employer.
So Xan was the one who was paying her, not the band.
Georgie flipped more pages.
Xan folded his hands and looked down at his fingers. He didn’t look like he was trying to hide something, just waiting. Steel and black metal rings wound around his fingers, and thick chains dangled on his wrists near the cuffs of his suit jacket and clicked against the table when he moved his arms.
Georgie read further into the contract, slowing down when she got to The Band Member’s Duties.
The concerts were there, of course, including playing the music while sober and not under the influence of controlled substances.
That must be a new clause.
Her chest hurt for a minute. Rade had been a brilliant keyboard player, and hearing him play classical music on the piano would have been amazing. She had meant to ask him to play for her.
She sucked in a steadying breath and read on.
The terms of the contract ran until July thirty-first, a little over two months, the entire European leg of the tour.
After that, Georgie was free to move to Atlanta and Emory University, where she would resume her plan to go to law school and pay off her many, many debts, both financial and moral. There was an option to renew the contract for one-year terms after that, which made Georgie snort.
No fucking way was she sticking around after July thirty-first.
The next part was weird.
Georgie looked up at Xan and Jonas. Xan was still meditating on his clasped hands, but Jonas was scrolling through something on his phone. She asked, “What do you mean by ‘public relations engagements?’”
“Anything the band needs,” Xan said. His hands were still clasped on the table. “Radio interviews in the mornings by phone, studio interviews, clubs, other appearances.”
“I can’t do public appearances,” she said. “They’re still after me.”
The Butorins, a Russian mafia bratva, had tried to kidnap Georgie several times because she owed them eight million dollars. Her father had swindled them out of that money, and they felt that Georgie should pay up. Before they had found her, she had planned to first pay off the charities that her father had stolen from, but she liked breathing, too. If she were dead, she would never pay off all the charities.
Xan shook his head. “The public eye is the safest place for you, currently. Every attempt to kidnap you has been in private or at least away from cameras or crowds. Also, later in the contract, you’ll see that it’s not your responsibility to provide security. It’s ours. You’ll have Adrien, who is the most diligent and highly trained security person we have. You’ll have others, too. You’ll be safe.”
“I need to hide. I need locked doors between me and the Russian mob.”
He shook his head again, but his careful, methodical gesture didn’t exude the wild energy of Xan anymore. “You need to remain in the limelight. Witnesses are your best security.”
Even his English accent had switched to the high-society British of Alex de Valentinois, leaving behind the guttural, working-class accent of Xan Valentine. His switches dizzied Georgie, but Jonas didn’t even look like he had noticed.
Jonas and the rest of the band either didn’t hear the difference in Alex’s accents or else they didn’t know what they signified, not that Georgie could have exactly defined what they meant, either.
But she knew that he was Alex now.
She stole another peek at Jonas, who was still peering at his phone.
Not that she could call him Alex. Everybody around here only knew him as Xan and only called him Xan.
“I can’t do appearances,” she repeated.
Alex’s dark eyebrows twitched. “The band needs all its members to do appearances.”
“I’m not really a band member.”
Alex leaned across the table and tapped the contract. “For two months, you are a full band member. You will continue to receive royalties on anything you record or write for the duration of the copyright.”
“It’s a ridiculously generous contract,” Jonas muttered. “Contract musicians and writing consultants are generally paid a flat rate under work-for-hire laws. I’ve never seen anything like this for a short-term gig.”
Georgie raised her eyebrows at Alex. “Really?”
He shrugged. “We negotiated the terms last night. This is merely the formal contract.”
“If this isn’t customary—” she started.
“We’re in a crisis. It isn’t customary to simultaneously lose two musicians out of five.”
“Six,” Jonas muttered.
“Rhiannon is a contractor under work-for-hire guidelines,” Xan told him.
“Hell, if Georgie is a band member, Rhiannon should be, too.”
“Just whom are you advocating for, Jonas?” His mild tone belied what he was actually saying.
Jonas set his mouth in a hard line and went back to texting on his phone.
Alex turned back to Georgie, his face still as impassive as marble. “The songs that we’ve already written together are copyrighted in both our names. Future music will be the same.”
Georgie went back to reading. The Non-Disclosure Agreement was outlined in excruciating detail, including but not limited to any communication in any form—electronic, print, or methods not therein described or currently in existence, and the ban was worldwide. She couldn’t even discuss him or the band by using smoke signals in Siberia or telepathic waves on Alpha Centauri. “Guess I won’t be writing my memoirs.”
“No,” Alex said. “No memoirs.”
Georgie saw the flaw in the logic. “How am I going to do interviews if I can’t discuss anything about the band?”
Jonas said, “You’ll have a list of approved topics and talking points.”
“That sounds spontaneous,” she grumbled.
Jonas looked confused. “It’s how all interviews are run. You can’t have musicians puking out anything they want to talk about. They’d just incriminate themselves for all sorts of things, like smuggling drugs over international borders up their asses.”
Georgie frowned at him.
“Okay, you wouldn’t do that,” Jonas said. “But can you imagine Grayson with a live mic and no piece of paper in front of him?”
“Grayson is in rehab,” Alex said, twisting one of the silver death’s head rings on his fingers.
“Yeah, but still,” Jonas sighed.
While Georgie had been standing in line for a latte that morning in the hotel lobby, she had seen Alex escort Grayson, their bass player, to a limo that morning, shake his hand, and stand on the sidewalk as it drove away. He had strode back into the hotel without looking back, his jaw set.
She asked, “What’s this ‘other and sundry duties?’”
“Anything band-related that I think is necessary,” Alex said, still fidgeting with his rings.
She didn’t want to make a suggestive comment, not after last night, not when she wanted to break down and sob or punch him in the face, she wasn’t sure which. “Okay.”
Alex’s eyes flicked up at her. “Band-related,” he stressed. “Keep reading.”
Georgie skimmed through the document, slowing only when she came to a section titled, “No Fraternization Among Band Members.”
The language was brutal. The consequences were severe, from fines to summary dismissal with no recourse. “This clause is pretty rough.”
“You wanted it,” Alex said, still staring at his hands.
“So what happens to you?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“If you make a pass at me, I get fired and lose my college financing. What about you?”
He looked up from his hands, and for the first time, lines of anger creased around his eyes. The anger spread through his face and body, tightening his arms and clenching his hands into fists. In a guttural British accent, Xan said, “I’ll break up the band. I’ll cancel all future concerts and pay off the venues. I’ll walk away.”
“Is that in the contract?” she asked.
“I’ll have it added.”
Jonas stared at Xan, his lip curling up. “You can’t break up the band over something like this.”
“You can’t throw away everything you’ve worked for,” Jonas insisted.
Xan didn’t look away from Georgie. His dark eyes narrowed, and he bit down on the words. “She’s right. It’s not fair for her to take all the risk. If I violate that clause, I’ll burn Killer Valentine to the ground.”
The Erotic Behind the Door series is NOW ONLY $0.99!
After the love of her life walks out the door, Abby Simmons is depressed, run down, and overwhelmed. Working long days as an attorney in a busy firm is sucking the life out of her and Abby feels she is at the end of her rope. Then, a co-worker recommends a new type of spa called Paradise. He promises their therapies will shake off her lethargy and help her to regain her sparkle. Skeptical, but very curious, Abby decides to visit the establishment. At first, what she hears sounds too good to be true, but soon Abby uncovers a whole new world of pleasure that quickly becomes her undoing.
Step behind the door to embark on a journey where surrendering to desire is only the beginning. Welcome to Paradise.
About the Authors:
Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed
Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans. Having been brought up in the motion picture industry, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her award-winning novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable. A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans.