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CHAPTER REVEAL – Broken Princess by Loki Renard

One day she will rule, but first she must be broken.Locked away in her tower, Princess Aya spent years hiding from the truth as her people suffered terribly under her uncle’s tyrannical reign. Now she will pay the shameful price for her silence…

Awakened by the cries of the oppressed, Kazriel will not rest until things are made right. But putting Aya on the throne is only the beginning. Before he allows her to rule, the princess must be stripped bare and mastered so thoroughly she will never forget how it feels to be powerless.

Naked, bound, and at his mercy, she will scream and beg as her helpless, quivering body is put on display and tormented with pain and pleasure, then claimed so publicly she may never stop blushing. She is not just going to be humbled, punished, and ravaged. She is going to be broken.

Publisher’s Note: Broken Princess includes spankings and sexual scenes. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.


Prologue

GUILTY

The word tolled from a thousand throats like a bell. It resonated through Aya’s tender frame, her silky soft skin turning to a myriad of bumps of fear as the energy of those voices passed over and through her.

She wrapped her arms around herself, trembling fingers clasping at the fine silk of her gown. Those who denounced her wore scraps of cloth and threadbare cloaks of wool, but their voices were clear, and they rang with truth.

GUILTY

The word was intoned with a collective gravity which chilled the princess to her core. They did not shriek the words. They barely shouted them. She would rather have faced a screaming mob than this civilian intensity which sunk into her bones and made her wish she could curl up on herself and simply disappear.

“I didn’t know!” She tried to argue, her soft voice carried away by the wind. “I couldn’t have known…”

GUILTY

Three times the pronouncement rang out from the mouths of the people. Her fate was sealed. The word shot into her heart and made it pound with abject fear. She could not be guilty. A princess could never be guilty, not ever. A princess was above the law.

The gaze of the peasants was shameful enough, but it was the least of her concerns. She felt a much more powerful stare on her. Celestial green eyes swept over her and it was as if she was entirely naked though she remained clothed. The people were common, but he was not. He was more than royal. He was the one creature in all the world who could be said to rule over a princess. More than a king.

She looked into the eyes of Kazriel and met a gaze which was not meant to be incarnate. He did not merely see the surface of her. He saw everything. Every thought. Every hope. Every desire. Her mind rebelled at finding itself prematurely laid bare. Perhaps after death she might have found herself judged, but there had never been any indication that a wayward princess like pretty Aya might find herself called to answer before the guardian of justice.

“I didn’t know…”

Her voice was as soft as her excuse was weak.

“You knew.”

His voice was deep, and not unkind. He spoke with the voice of the world, with the grinding of stones and the growing of trees. His voice was not merely sound, it was a resonance which touched every part of her and made her tremble with the guilt she had long denied and now could not.

“I had no choice…”

Again she tried to argue her way out of what was to come. She could not have known what the guardian had in store for her, but she sensed that it would be enough to make amends – and there were so very many amends to be made. She cowered in fear of the consequences as much as at the great beast of a god who stood before her, taller, broader, stronger, perfectly masculine in the carved planes of his body, human ideal made flesh.

He reached out. She flinched away. His touch would not bring comfort. She knew what she deserved. She knew what he would do to her. She knew that the fine garments protecting her from the eyes surrounding her would not remain intact much longer. She knew shame awaited, a shame she might never recover from.

But this was not her fault. She had only been trying to do what everyone else was trying to do: survive.

Perhaps she had been doing it differently from those who now stood in collective judgement of her, but that was an accident of birth. She had no more chosen to be a princess than any of the commoners around her had decided to be peasants. Why didn’t this creature who held her prisoner understand that?

She had begged for this chance to plead her case to the people, so certain that they would pardon her. But there was no pardon on their lips, and there was no mercy in their gazes. She would take the punishment. All of it. And they would be witness to it, from the scribes who would write this into the history books, to the common men who would tell the story to their sons so it may be told to all sons thereafter.

Princess Aya swallowed the lump in her throat and faced her destiny.

“Very well,” she murmured, a touch more rebellion than was wise entering her tone. “Do your worst.”

A soft chuckle escaped Kazriel. “My worst? Princess, you would not survive a fraction of my worst.”

She clamped her lips together and did not reply, but her look said everything. She had survived more than he could imagine, and she could take more than the guardian could inflict. It was a curse even he could not lift.

It was beginning.

Harsh ropes wrapped around her wrists and drew them high above her head, making her body stretch before the crowds. They would see through the sheer of her robe. They would make out the curve of her body, the lines of her most intimate places.

She heard the sound of hundreds of people looking at her, an intense, focused silence which made her every hair prickle at attention.

He stepped closer, his shadow falling over her. He was so tall, powerful beyond compare. She reacted to him on a visceral level. He called to more than her flesh. He called to her soul.

“Guilty,” he said, his hand running up the inside of her thighs, his fingers moments away from making contact with the virginal core of her.

“Do you repent, princess?”

Aya turned her eyes on him. She was so small in comparison. So weak. Her brown gaze was of earth, unlike his eyes which were iridescent with power. She could have said so many things in that moment. She could have apologized. She could have begged for forgiveness. She could have declared herself reformed. Instead, she took refuge in the haughtiness of her station and stared down the deity she had been worshipping since she was forced into the world by birth.

“I repent nothing.”



It’s just as well Loki Renard became an author because other career paths proved disastrous. She was once thrown out of someone’s house for trying to sell them citrus based cleaning product, and her brief brush with corporate life ended when she wrote profiles for her fellow employees likening them to various feral animals then attempted to negotiate the idea of not coming into the office and getting paid anyway. Perhaps if she’d had the dedication to slug herself in the face a la Fight Club, things might have turned out differently.



RELEASE BLITZ – The BEARly Tamed Grizzly Bear Clan #3) by Jenika Snow


I didn’t know her, what she looked like, where she was, but I knew my mate was out there. And it was that truth that had me saving myself for her. Only her. If I couldn’t fully give myself over to my fated mate, what kind of worthy male was I?

But staying in town, hidden deep within the forest, wouldn’t bring my mate to me. I had to go and find her.
I had to make her mine.
India

As a former foster child, I never had real family, no roots. I’d always felt like something was missing, so I worked hard on helping others. My mobile medical van was where my passion lay. It’s how I made sure no one else felt helpless.

But when my van was broken into, and my safety compromised, it was a big bear shifting male who came to the rescue.
Oli said I was his. He claimed I was his mate. He seemed certain of it just by looking at me. It was insanity, but I couldn’t deny the pull I felt for him, the way my body craved his.

Pushing him away wasn’t an option, not when he was always there, watching me, making sure I was protected. And it was that need inside of me, the one that grew and consumed me, that finally had me giving in.
I soon realized being mated to a bear shifter meant he was grumpy, protective, possessive, and wanted only one thing.
Me.


We crashed through the front door of my apartment in a tangle of limbs, heavy panting, and sexual groans. I had no doubt the neighbors had heard us, maybe even peeked out a crack in their front doors to see what was going on. But I didn’t care if they saw. Let them look, let them see how much I was wanted, that I was with this gorgeous man and he was mine.
Oli slammed the door shut with his foot and stood there a moment, his head slightly downcast but his gaze locked right on me. He looked so primal in this moment, like the animal he truly was.
He was in front of me a second later, and instinctively I knew what to do, what he wanted.
I tilted my head back as far as it would go, and then latched his mouth onto my throat. The sound that left him was distorted, animal-like, and filled with as much desire as I felt.
The way he looked at me, the way his gaze tracked me when I moved the slightest inch, had my breath hitching.
“India,” he whispered. “My India. I could devour you until there wasn’t anything left, until you were crying out my name, writhing for me as I fuck you.”
I opened my mouth slightly, the air leaving me. He moved a step toward me and the air stalled in my lungs.
“I’d push your hair aside and bare your slender throat. My mouth is already watering, India. I’m so fucking hungry for you.” And then he had his hand on my nape, his fingers curled into my flesh.
He leaned in and I was frozen in place, the feel of his warm breath on my skin having me close my eyes, moaning softly. “The things I want to do to you…” He growled low against my throat, and I felt the vibrations all the way between my thighs.


BLP REVIEW – Tracy


Jenika Snow, a USA Today bestselling author, lives in the northeast with her husband and their children.

She prefers gloomy days, eats the topping off of her pizza first, and prefers to wear socks year round.

Author Links



RELEASE DAY BLITZ ~ His Wrath (The Underground) by Jenika Snow

 

 

 

Available via Kindle Unlimited

 

Brea Collins’s past kept resurfacing no matter how hard she tried to outrun it. When she finally settled in a small town, working at a club to save enough for what she hoped was her final escape, she never expected to meet Adrian Holden, a man who made her feel something other than fear.Adrian’s life had been far from a fairy tale. He fought in the Underground, an illegal cage fighting organization housed below an up and coming nightclub. It’s his anger and grief that fuel him, that make him the barbarian he was.

When he saw Brea, she calls out to every protective possessive instinct in him.

But their happiness can only last so long.

With two traumatic pasts and an uncertain future, there was bound to be something that drives them apart. But Adrian was determined to have Brea at all costs, and he would do everything in his power to ensure that, even if that meant raw knuckles and bodies at his feet.



Warning: Previously published under the title Adrian’s Wrath,
this story has been revised, re-edited, and new content has been added.




“Look at me. I want you to see how much I want you.” Their gazes stayed locked, and her breath caught at the intensity in his expression. “You’re beautiful, Brea. Inside and out.” He dipped his head to kiss her lightly. To her disappointment he didn’t deepen it, and instead ended it far too soon. “Whatever happened to you doesn’t shape who you are as a person. It might control you temporarily, but inside, under all that hurt and pain, is the real you just waiting to be awakened.”
The way he talked, so passionately, led Brea to believe that maybe he was referring to himself instead of her. She would like to believe what he’d said, but there was a part of her that knew she might be broken, that maybe she’d never be able to be whole again.
Not thinking, just needing to feel him, Brea closed the distance that separated them and kissed him with as much passion as she felt for him. His grunt of surprise spurred her on. Her clit throbbed, and her pussy ached to be filled.
She slid her hand back, along his muscular thigh, and when she reached the hard, thick length of his erection straining against the material, an involuntary moan left her. As if that sound broke him, Adrian gripped her shoulders and pulled her impossibly close.
Her hand curled around the iron-hard ridge, and a shudder went through his body. “I want you so fucking bad, Brea.” His hips jacked up as he ground his cock against her. One of his hands slid off her shoulder and made a slow trek down her side, resting on top of her thigh. The heat from his touch went straight through the thin material.
Surprisingly she didn’t feel anxiety over this. All she felt was intense pleasure and the need to go further.
Maybe I’m not broken after all.
“Is this okay?” he murmured against her mouth.
She found herself nodding, not able to actually form words as she started kissing him again.
In the next instant he gripped her waist and pulled her on top of him. She straddled his waist, their kiss never breaking, gasps of surprise leaving her. Pleasure, arousal, need … all that and more claimed her.
Both of his hands were now gripping her waist, and he pressed her down on him at the same time that he lifted his hips.
“Oh.” Her dress had ridden up, her thighs now fully exposed. She closed her eyes as her pussy, covered only in thin cotton, pressed aggressively against his jean-clad cock. The need to feel more of him, all of him, was so strong she had to break the kiss and gasp for air.
“I want so much more of you.” Adrian started kissing her neck, and Brea tilted her head to the side, relishing the feel of his lips and tongue sliding along the übersensitive spot right below her ear. She’d never felt anything so powerful before, never desired so strongly.
“Do you like that, baby?” He ran his tongue over the spot again, and she shivered.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“I want inside of you so bad, Brea.”
A gasp left her at his blunt statement, and a warm wave washed through her. Brea started grinding herself on him. Brain fuzzy from desire, she was vaguely aware of Adrian’s palms sliding over her ass and cupping the mounds.
God, she didn’t want this to end.

Jenika Snow, a USA Today bestselling author, lives in the northeast with her husband and their children.

She prefers gloomy days, eats the topping off of her pizza first, and prefers to wear socks year round.

 

Author Links


 

BLOG TOUR ~ The Wolf’s Capture by Jenika Snow

 

 

It should have just been a simple vacation, away from everyone and everything to clear my head. But I soon realized I wasn’t alone.He stalked me, hunted me. I should’ve run faster, tried harder. But the truth was I liked him chasing me.

Wolf was a ruthless man, his way of living barbaric. Now he had me in his off-the-grid cabin, what he deemed my new home. I was his new wife, would have his babies.

I was his irrevocably.

I shouldn’t have felt arousal. But I did.

He’s not going to let me escape … but then again, maybe I don’t want to.


Warning: This one has bite to it—even if it’s NOT paranormal! As per the usual … it’s short and fast, pretty unrealistic, but it gets right down to the juicy bits. It’s one of those stories that will have you wanting to find your own Wolf in the woods.


I felt like a fiend for him, like my body wasn’t my own, like I just needed to give every single part of myself over to him. It was insane, maybe even delusional, but I wanted it more than I’d ever wanted anything before.
He stood and kept his back toward me. I licked my lips, my pulse thundering so loud I wondered if he heard. Then I found myself moving closer to him until I could have reached out and touched his back. I saw the way he tensed and wondered if he knew how close I was to him.
“I can’t let you go,” he said in a gruff voice, his back still to me. He turned around then, the shadows dancing off his face, his body seeming even bigger than before. “I wanted you as mine since I first saw you. Now that you’re here the thought of you leaving isn’t something I’ll allow to happen.” He took a step forward. I found myself moving one back.
My heart was racing and I started breathing faster and harder. The air in the room became thick, almost suffocating. It was like honey covering my body, coating me. He moved another step toward me, his massive body dwarfing mine, his scent making me feel drunk.
“W-What?” My voice came out soft, that loan word a stutter. Oh, I understood exactly what he said but he spoke the words with such conviction, such determination that I felt them in every part of my body.
“You heard me.”
“I have a home, a job.” Although the very thought of those things in this moment, standing before Wolf, seemed distant and unimportant. Hell, they seemed that way even before I’d been in this situation.
His expression was fierce, almost stern. He stared into my eyes, the dark depths of his heating me like a fire burning deep within my belly.
“Materialistic things.” He said those two words in a gruff voice and took another step toward me. “Life isn’t about what we have, but about what we accomplish.” He lifted his hand and gently wrapped his fingers around my throat, his palm so much bigger than my neck. “Connections with that one person who owns every part of you, creating a family with them…” His voice had gone done an octave. “Those are what’s important. That is what life is about.”
I swallowed, feeling that light pressure of his hand, knowing my nipples were hard and my pussy had become wet. It was all because of that touch.
It was all because of him.
“Nothing else matters aside from you with me, Ruby. You are mine.” And then he leaned in close and placed his mouth on mine, devouring me as he slipped his tongue between my lips and fucked me there.




Jenika Snow, a USA Today bestselling author, lives in the northeast with her husband and their children.

She prefers gloomy days, eats the topping off of her pizza first, and prefers to wear socks year round.

 

Author Links


 

RELEASE DAY BLITZ ~ Alpha’s Mission by Renee Rose & Lee Savino

 

 


THE MONSTER WANTS HER. HE WON’T BE DENIED.

I’ve become a monster.

I hear blood moving in people’s veins. Scent their emotions.

I want to feed. To hunt. To mate…

I’m no longer a human–my life is over.

I’ve left everyone I love. I’ve gone rogue from the CIA.

My only hope is my handler.

Annabel Gray is tough enough to face my monster. If I lose control, she won’t hesitate to take me out.
But I’m not the only predator out there. Someone’s hunting Annabel.

She needs my protection.

But if I don’t get my animal under control,

I may be her biggest threat yet.


 


Renee Rose

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR RENEE ROSE is a naughty wordsmith who writes kinky BDSM novels. Named Eroticon USA’s Next Top Erotic Author in 2013, she has also won The Romance Reviews Best Historical Romance, and Spanking Romance Reviews’ Best Sci-fi, Paranormal, Historical, Erotic, Ageplay and favorite couple and author. She’s hit #1 on Amazon in multiple categories in the U.S. and U.K., is often found on the list of Amazon’s Top Author list. She also pens BDSM stories under the name Darling Adams.


Lee Savino

Lee Savino has grandiose goals but most days can’t find her wallet or her keys so she just stays at home and writes. While she was studying creative writing at Hollins University, her first manuscript won the Hollins Fiction Prize.

She lives in Richmond, Va with her awesome family. 
You can find her on Facebook in the Goddess Group (which you totally should join).



 

RELEASE DAY BLITZ ~ Touch Wood by Jenika Snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ash brothers—they know how to handle their wood.

A new smoking-hot Ash Brothers novella from USA TODAY bestselling author Jenika Snow

I’ve been celibate for years, by choice. No woman has held my interest long enough to be worth sacrificing
time spent 
at Ash Lumber, energy spent building the family business.

All that changed when a feisty redhead walked into our job-site trailer.

Andra.

Her skirts drive me crazy and her trying so hard to flat-out ignore me does the rest.
Her flushed cheeks when

we flirt are enough to send me to bed for a week.

Andra might be supervising this development deal, but there’s no way we’re going to be able to
keep things professional
around here. My celibate streak is over, and I owe it all to her.




I was a fiend for Andra, so far gone that stopping seemed like a distant thought. Even if I had the strength to walk away from this I wouldn’t have. I needed her in all ways, needed to claim her in the way that only I could. To make her mine. Andra would soon see I was the one in control, that I was the one who would give her pleasure, hear her calling out my name as she came.

I stood there staring at her, unable to take my gaze off her. She was perfection, beautiful…mine.

Her cheeks were flushed, dotted with red from her lust. I started kissing her again, taking in her flavor, her very essence. My desire was so fucking intense that I ground myself against her belly. Her mouth was hot and sweet, and my cock jerked behind my jeans, the fucker needing out and buried deep in her body.

I swept my tongue into the wet cavern of her mouth, stroking it along hers, bringing out a moan from her. I swallowed that sound, wanting more of it. Sliding my hands down her back, I gripped her full, round ass and brought her closer to me, which was almost an impossible act, given the fact we were pressed tightly together. My cock jerked at the feel of her softness, at the scent of her.

“I want you so fucking badly. I can feel it in my marrow, taste it on my tongue,” I said against her mouth, kissing her harder after the words left me.

The sound of her lightly moaning told me she was finding pleasure in this, that she craved me as much as I craved her. And the way she dug her nails into my arms let me know she needed more.

And I’ll give her so much more she can’t even fucking breathe.

Andra slid her hands up my chest and dug her nails into my skin. I hissed in pain…in pleasure. It felt good, so fucking good I could have probably gotten off on this alone.

I needed us naked, needed her bare skin pressed to mine. I wanted to feel her body shaking beneath my hands and mouth, losing control because she came, because I was the one who brought that out in her. I was purely working on instinct now, and there wasn’t anything on this fucking planet that could stop me from claiming her, from making her mine in every way I saw fit.

“You sure you want this, baby?”

“I want this. I want you,” she said instantly and looked into my eyes.

I kissed her harder and with more possession, needing her to see that she was, in fact, only mine. She moaned and pressed her breasts harder against my chest.

“I’m going to have you so sore tomorrow you won’t be able to sit comfortably, but you’ll want more. So much more.”


Jenika Snow, a USA Today bestselling author, lives in the northeast with her husband and their children.

She prefers gloomy days, eats the topping off of her pizza first, and prefers to wear socks year round.

 

Author Links


 

RELEASE BLITZ ~ For The King by Jenika Snow

 

 

 

 

Willow. Flower shop owner and commoner.

I was her king, a ruthless and brutal ruler who didn’t back down.
And from the moment I saw her I knew she was mine. I had to have her, not just in my bed but also by my side. As my queen.

So I had her taken from her home and made a deal with her. I’d make sure her ailing mother was taken care of and pay off her debts if she agreed to one thing.

Be my wife and carry my heir.

What I wanted I got, and the only thing that I wanted more than all the riches and jewels in the world was her. Willow

 

Warning: Get your fancy clothes on—or off depending on how you roll—and get ready to dive into one hell of a royal love story. It’s got everything that presses your book buttons: a safe read that’s swoony, filthy, and delivers a HEA. It’s true what they say about this king … he does always get what he wants.


I inhaled her panties again, that sweet scent of her pussy making my cock jerk in response. I was going to tear up her pretty virgin cunt, make it mine. She’d take all of my cock as I filled her womb with my seed, putting my heir deep inside of her, making sure she was linked to me forever.
Placing my hand between her thighs again—right over her now bared pussy—I added pressure. “Your cunt tells me you like what I’m doing, that even if you’re trying to be strong you know that I’m the only one who can give you what you need,” I growled out low. “You’re fucking soaked and it’s all because of me.”
I held up my hand, my fingers glistening from her wetness. “Open for me, Willow.” She widened her eyes but did as I said. I slipped my fingers into her mouth, made her taste herself.
“Lick them clean.”
She ran her tongue along the digits, sucking the cream off of them, and couldn’t help but make a small noise in the back of her throat.
“You like it, don’t you?” I said low, wanting to hear her say the words. I removed them from her mouth, took a half a step back, and dropped to my haunches in front of her, her pussy on display, my face right there, seeing it all.
“Fuck, I like that your cunt is mine now, that no one will ever fucking taste you, know how tight you are, how wet and pink you are when you’re turned on.”
I blew a warm breath on her pussy. I lifted my hands and framed her cunt, and pulled her lips apart with my thumbs. My groan was deep and filled with an arousal that no doubt matched hers.
“Spread your legs for me, Willow. I’m going to lick and suck at this little pussy until you come all over my face.”
She did as I ordered and I gripped the back of her knee and brought it over my shoulder, having her pussy spread obscenely wide. And then I had my mouth on her cleft, my tongue parting her folds as I ate her out almost violently.
I had one hand back on her ass, keeping her pressed to my mouth as I did exactly what I wanted with her. Squeezing the fleshy mound, I groaned against her soaked pussy at the same time I dipped my tongue into her body. Fucking her with my tongue and lips, I gently scraped my teeth along her flesh.
I lifted the hand that I had on the back of her knee and moved it between her thighs. As soon as my thumb touched her clit she came for me.
“That’s it,” I said against her swollen flesh as I continued to eat her out.
A low cry left her and she speared her hands in my hair and ground her pussy into my face.
“Fuck,” I groaned.
I gave her pussy one last long lick, like I was sucking on a lollipop, making sure I got all of her flavor, and then I stood. I grabbed her ass again and pulled her forward, letting her feel the hard length of my erection pressed into her belly.


Jenika Snow, a USA Today bestselling author, lives in the northeast with her husband and their children.She prefers gloomy days, eats the topping off of her pizza first, and prefers to wear socks year round.

 

Author Links



 

CHAPTER REVEAL ~ Sergio by Natasha Knight

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m the first-born son of the mafia king. The favorite. Destined to rule, I’m a dangerous man, a ruthless one. But in my world, you have to be.Then Natalie stumbles into my life. Wrong place. Wrong time.

Twice, fate put her in my path.
Twice, fate placed the innocent lamb at the mercy of the monster.

I gave her a chance to walk away. Told her it would be better for her if she did.
But she didn’t listen.
And now it’s too late.
Because I’m not good. I never wanted to be. And I won’t let her go anymore. See, I’m not the hero. When I touch her, it’s with dirty hands.

I know my reckoning is coming though. I know I’ll burn for the things I’ve done, the sins I’ve committed. And I don’t deny hell is where I belong, but I want my time first. I want my time with her.

She’s mine.
Forever.
No matter what.

Author’s Note: Sergio: a Dark Mafia Romance is an intensely emotional, steamy and dark standalone romance set in the Benedetti Brothers Mafia world. Be prepared: this is not a traditional romance.


Prologue
Natalie

“Wrong place, wrong time, sweetheart.”

The words echo in my head.
I’ve done this before. Twice in my life now, I’ve been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Isn’t there some sort of karmic balancing? Like isn’t it enough to witness this kind of violence just once in a lifetime?
Last time was six years ago. I was fourteen and standing in front of the freezer of the convenience store down the street from my house deciding which ice cream bar I wanted. I remember the humming of the air conditioner. Liking the cool inside on that too hot August day. It was one of the few times my parents let me go alone. We didn’t live in the best neighborhood.
The men came in so quickly, I barely registered the fact they were wearing ski masks before the first gunshot went off. I dove to the ground and shut my ears to the commands they shouted, but the man with the greasy shirt saw me. He came at me and I would have screamed if I could find my voice, but the others’ screams muted me, and when he gripped me by my hair and hauled me to my feet, I followed where he led me.
Another gunshot was followed by another scream and I swear I saw red splatter the walls.
Blood.
But when he threw me to the ground in the last aisle and I registered what he meant to do, it all became surreal.
Gunshots and fists and screams all seemed in the distance. Like they weren’t part of my reality anymore because my reality was about to change. My reality came down to him and me on the floor of this forgotten shop, with blood seeping from beneath the aisle divider. Fear in the voices of the others trapped here with me. Him with his pants undone. Him with his hands in my jeans. Me watching, mute. Trying to shove him away.
I remember the bell over the door going again.
Remember the sound of footsteps.
Someone cursing.
I remember the sound of a gun being cocked. Readied. How I knew what that little click meant I’m not sure, but it’s an unmistakable sound. I remember the look on the face of the one between my legs as he registered cold steel on the back of his head.
We looked up at the man in the dark suit at the same time. He wore black from head to toe, a dark angel. His pistol shone bright in the blinking fluorescent light. The angel called me to go to him. I did. I scrambled to my feet and went. He glanced down to where my jeans were undone before meeting my eyes. He pulled me to him, put one hand on the back of my head, burying my face in his belly.
He told me to keep my eyes closed. To cover my ears. Said he’d try not to get blood on me.
I didn’t think. I did as he said. Put my hands over my ears. And I swear I know what a bullet tearing through flesh sounds like now.
But all that I’ve managed to file away. Locked up in a box until now.
It’s his words that play back over and over again. The sound of his voice that I recognize as now, so many years after that terrible day, I crouch behind the decrepit machinery in this abandoned warehouse and hide.
“Wrong place, wrong time, sweetheart.”
Sweetheart.
I’ll never forget that voice. Never forget the casual way he called me sweetheart. And I recognize it now. The man in the suit, my dark angel. The man who killed without flinching. The man who saved my life once. It’s him. He’s here.
And when he shifts his gaze in my direction, I swear he hears the pounding of my heart against my chest. Swear it’ll give me away.
Except that this time, if he finds me, he won’t be saving me.************************************************************************

Chapter 1

Sergio

Fuck. I hate these fucking warehouses. Dusty and always frigid.
I’m flanked by two of my men. Four more soldiers trail us with a dozen more outside. It’s to make an impression. Joe and Lance Vitelli have overstepped.
Lance. Who the fuck names their kid Lance in this business? It’s no wonder he’s acting out. Trying to prove he’s not a pussy.
Our footsteps echo off the old machinery as I follow Roman, my uncle, through the main room and to the back where the brothers are being held. There’s no door to that room and the glow of the single light bulb is a contrast to the pitch black of the rest of the place.
The sound of a fist connecting with flesh is followed by a grunt. The grunt, I know, belongs to either Joe or Lance. I pick lint off my sleeve and adjust the cuff of my shirt as we near the entrance. Roman steps into the room, stands to the side, folding his hands together. He takes in what’s going on, then turns to me, gives a brief nod and waits.
I walk into the room, crack my neck. Slept bad last night.
The sight that greets me is not an unfamiliar one. The offenders are sitting in straight back chairs, but they’re not bound. There’s a splattering of blood on Joe’s white shirt. It’s fresh. I guess he’s the one who took the punch I heard.
“That’s disgusting. Get something on his nose,” I say to one of my men.
“It’s fucking broke,” Joe whines, taking the wad of nasty cloth someone just shoved at him.
I go right up to him. Lean down to get my face in his. “You’re lucky you’re not broke. Be grateful or that’ll change.”
He breathes in a sharp breath and I know he’s biting his lip not to reply.
“Sergio,” Lance starts. Lance is the older brother. The slightly smarter one. Or the one with a healthier fear of death.
Of me.
I straighten, turn to him.
“Mr. Benedetti,” he corrects.
I wait.
“My brother screwed up, but it’s fixed. The girls are back home. No harm, no foul, right?” He attempts to smile but it fails and his lips droop.
“In whose territory do you live?” I ask. It’s been a long fucking night already and it’s not close to over. I’m tired, so I’ll get to the point.
“Yours, sir,” he answers.
“In whose territory do your families live? Mothers, sisters, wives, daughters.”
Lance’s face, which was pale when I got here, goes gray. “Yours, Mr. Benedetti. Benedetti territory.”
I nod, shift my gaze to Joe. “To whom has your father pledged your family’s loyalty, Joe?” His eyes narrow and when he doesn’t answer right away, Lance clears his throat to, but I stop him. “I’m asking your fucking brother.”
“Benedetti,” Joe says through gritted teeth.
“DeMarco’s were once loyal to us too, until they weren’t,” I remind them. What happened to that family should be enough warning. What is happening and still will happen to Lucia DeMarco, most precious daughter, should be enough. My father’s right about fear. But there’s more to it. Ruthlessness. It’s what truly gets you respect in this business.
He is ruthless.
And I am my father’s son.
“You have a sister, don’t you?” I ask. “Anna, right? How old is she now?”
Lance just stares back at me, his eyes wide with fear.
I may not agree with how my father is handling the DeMarco girl, but I understand it. “Lucia DeMarco’s age, am I right?”
“She’s only sixteen, sir,” Lance says, his voice a little quieter.
“Yeah, Lucia DeMarco’s age when they lost the war they started with us.” I don’t need to say more.
“Sergio—” Lance starts. “Mr. Benedetti—”
I raise my hand to halt him. “Let’s just be clear. I’m going to give you a warning. One chance, because I know your father. He’s been a friend to my family. But if you overstep again, the consequences will be more…permanent.”
Lance swallows.
“Benedetti’s do not deal in flesh trade. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir,” Lance says quickly.
I look at Joe. If looks could kill, I’d be dead right now.
I grab a handful of Joe’s hair and tug his head backward. “Is that fucking clear?”
One of my men cocks a gun and Lance whimpers like a fucking girl.
“You the tough one?” I ask Joe. “Sucks to always be in big brother’s shadow, doesn’t it?” He exhales, shifts his gaze away from mine, but not to his brother. I’m right. Like Dominic, my youngest brother, he knows he’ll never be boss and it fucking kills him. “Am I fucking clear, Joe? Or do I need to make an example?” I squeeze the handful of over-gelled hair and if I twist just once in the wrong direction, I’ll snap his neck. Quick and clean. No blood on my suit. And he knows it.
“Clear,” he says.
I release him, wipe my hand on my pants and decide I’m not done yet. “Now, show me your loyalty. Your gratitude for my family’s generosity in this unfortunate event.” I step backward, giving him space. He knows what I want and it’s going to kill him to do it.
But he’s going to do it.
I wait. I’m patient.
“Joe. Just fucking do it,” Lance orders his brother when a full minute passes and Joe hasn’t moved.
Joe’s face is a fiery red and his eyes are filled with rage. But soon, the leg of the chair scrapes across the concrete floor as he drops to his knees at my feet.
I look down at him. Give him more space. And my smile widens as he prostrates himself and his lips touch the toe of my shoe.
I want to kick the son-of-a-bitch, but I don’t. I’m a man of my word. I will give them one more chance.
A sound comes from the metal ramp that runs along the perimeter of the large office forming a second level. I look at it. It must have been an observation deck to oversee the plant.
I don’t know if anyone else heard it. A glance at Roman tells me he did, but the others haven’t noticed. I nod to him. He steps out of the room and two men follow.
When I return my gaze to the spectacle in front of me, I’m very aware of my periphery. I want to catch any movement because that sound was too loud for a mouse.
“Get them out of here,” I say to the two soldiers behind the brothers.
“Yes, sir.”
I watch as Joe and Lance are walked rudely out of the room. After a few moments, I turn to my men. “Let’s go,” I say loudly. They walk out. I hang back, switch out the light, listen to the footsteps echo as they vacate the building. I reach for the handgun in its holster beneath my jacket and walk silently toward the direction from where the sound had come.




USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance, Natasha Knight specializes in dark, tortured heroes. Happily-Ever-Afters are guaranteed, but she likes to put her characters through hell to get them there. She’s evil like that.

 



 

RELEASE DAY BLITZ ~ Baby Maker (A Real Man #17) by Jenika Snow

 

 

 

 

 
TexThere was only one woman I wanted, and I’d been secretly lusting after her for years.
My sister’s friend.That first time I saw Calissa was like a right hook to the face, taking me down until there was nothing left. She was my world.

She’s too young for me, too innocent, but that won’t stop me from making her mine.
There’s no stopping it, no controlling this possessive, primal need to claim her.

I’d have Calissa no matter what, as my woman, my wife … with my baby inside of her.

Calissa

It was a forbidden desire to want your best friend’s older brother, but it was my reality.
Tex was big and strong and a successful owner of a security company. He was definitely all man.

I’d thought he’d never see me as anything more than his sister’s friend. How wrong I was.

No more longing gazes or fantasies we were together.
He knew what he wanted out of life and apparently that was me … pregnant with his child.

 

Warning: This hero really knows what he wants and that’s the heroine and getting her knocked up! But no worries, this story is still sweet–even if it is filthy–and you still get that Happily Ever After.


She’s real. This is fucking real.
“Are we really doing this?” she asked softly. “Is this really happening?”
Oh. Fuck. Yeah.
“It should have happened a while ago, Calissa. I should have made you mine when I first realized that’s what I wanted.” I took a step closer. “It was at the eighteenth birthday party. You’d been standing there in a white sundress, your hair piled high on your head, those little pearl earrings catching my eye.” I looked into her eyes. “You remember that night?”
She nodded slowly.
“I wanted you right then and there. I wanted to take you to an empty room, pull your dress up over your ass, and slide my cock deep into that tight little pussy of yours.” I reached out and touched her cheek, her skin warm, smooth. “I wanted to claim that tight little cunt of yours, and the way you looked at me, I know you wanted that, too, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” she said breathlessly.
I moved closer until I could reach out and touch her. I had my hand on her cheek and stroked my thumb along her jawline. I was glad Megs caught us. I was glad she gave her blessing, so to speak. That would have been a hurdle we had to cross later on, but now it was done, sealed. I’d left Megs’ with Calissa in hand, telling her I wanted us to talk, to really understand what was going on. If sex happened tonight than it was meant to, but if not … well I was a fucking patient man. Especially when it came to Calissa.
“How does this feel?” she asked, her voice a whisper.
“It feels pretty fucking incredible. It feels perfect.”
I didn’t stop touching her jawline. I wanted to touch more of her … all of her. She slipped her tongue out and ran it along the swell of her bottom lip. And I lost all semblance of the self-control I’d been holding onto. I lowered my head, moved slightly toward her, and knew if I allowed myself to kiss her, I wouldn’t be able to stop.


Jenika Snow, a USA Today bestselling author, lives in the northeast with her husband and their two daughters. She prefers gloomy days, eats the topping off of her pizza first, and prefers to wear socks year round.

 

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CHAPTER REVEAL ~ Knave by Jane Henry & Maisy Archer

 

 

 

 

 

Sabrina: Good guys save the day and criminals go to jail. It’s not rocket science, people.

But then my father’s killed, I’m rescued by a thief, and my worldview is shattered. He takes me to his penthouse. His bed. I don’t have to like it but I can’t help it. His touch is everything a good girl like me shouldn’t want.

Anson: Good and bad mean nothing to a master thief. I take what I want, and what I want is vengeance. No more, no less.

Maybe the girl can help, so I’ll hide her. Protect her. And if I have to manhandle her to keep her quiet, she’ll deal. Hell, she might even like it. But she’ll learn fast that I make the rules.

 


Manhattan
“3, 2, 1… And, security systems are down,” Walker said, his voice with its lilting accent magnified over the tiny communication device in my ear, so that it sounded like he was sitting right next to me. “Daly, you’re up.”
No shit. I rolled my eyes as I employed the tiny laser cutting tool to make a hole in the glass window just large enough for me to slip through. Dangling from a cable four stories above the ground in the middle of a bright, moonlit night was not the best time to start contemplating your life choices, but it seemed to happen every time I worked with these guys; which was to say, twenty-four-seven for the past six months.
“I’m in,” I whispered, pushing the suction holder I’d clamped to the freshly-cut glass disk and reaching my arm into the cooler, drier air of the office. With practiced ease, I levered myself headfirst through the hole, twisting to land lightly on my feet. I set the now useless glass gently on the floor, removed the rappelling cable that tethered me to the roof, and stood silently in the empty office, taking a second to get my bearings, to let my eyes adjust to the relative darkness, and to let my body, sweating from the humid night outside, cool for a second.
“Daly, report.” As always, Xavier’s cool, imperious voice drove me bonkers.
“Report,” I muttered. “Because I’m your freakin’ minion, X.” The comm device, created by Walker to detect the slightest sound, obviously caught my words, but other than Caelan’s reproachful sigh, nobody replied.
Six months, the five of us had been living and working together, and I couldn’t say it had made much difference in my attitude. I still preferred to work alone, and it still bugged the crap out of me that I had four other voices in my head while I was on a job, but I had no one to blame for the situation but myself. I’d answered the invitation that January night, after all, and I’d agreed to stay even after Eugenia Carmichael’s videotaped last will and testament had thrown my life into a tailspin.
“Office is empty,” I said, after a beat or two of silence where I glanced around the empty surfaces of the desk and bookcase behind me. “Doesn’t look like anyone’s been working here. I was able to cut the window in a low visibility location. No direct views from inside or outside, thanks to the Rosenberg building next door being under renovation. Ethan’s intel was good.”
This would buy us crucial time before the office staff of Stuart Fowler Real Estate, LLC, caught on to the fact that they’d been the victims of a break-in.
“Of course it’s good,” Ethan huffed. “I didn’t spend two whole days in that place as the world’s most overqualified temp just to provide you bad information.”
I had to smirk at his little snit, mostly because nobody could see me. Ethan was every bit as good at his job—a cross between reconnaissance and high-key scamming—as I was at mine, but where my role in our little gang involved dressing in black gear and a full-coverage face mask like the one I wore tonight, Ethan’s usually involved wearing an expensive suit and an overly-friendly smile.
“Still wish it didn’t have to happen when the moon was this high,” I grumbled to no one in particular, repeating an argument I’d already made earlier in the week. “Moonlit night in July makes people want to take a walk and look around.”
“And like I told you, the phases of the moon refuse to change no matter how much I try to persuade them to,” Ethan said with an affected sigh. “But if we don’t get the information from the safe tonight, it’s gonna be too late. Now that Fowler’s dead, his attorney’s going to be cleaning out his office and opening the safe to disburse his assets, likely as soon as tomorrow.”
I knew Ethan was right, but I’d be damned before I’d admit it.
“I’m heading to the outer office,” I said instead, moving toward the door. “We’re sure internal door alarms are off?” I was already betting my life on Walker knowing his shit, a pretty safe bet considering he was probably the best hacker on the planet, but old habits died hard, and I really didn’t like relying on anyone but myself.
“I already told you I own the system. You doubting my prowess with the keyboard?” Walker grumbled, his accent thickening when he was put out. “It hurts, man. Just for that, I’m disabling the WiFi in your room and cutting your free premium cable channels.”
“Jesus,” I muttered, placing my hand on the door handle and turning it. Like I gave the first shit about getting free premium cable and WiFi. Thanks to Eugenia Carmichael and her billions, all five of us were now the joint owners of Manhattan’s swankiest penthouse and financially set for life… just as long as we managed to complete the task she’d left us. A task which seemed more and more like the labors of Hercules as the months passed.
I silently eased the door open a crack and stood still again, taking the measure of the room. I didn’t just listen for sounds or heavy breathing, despite the wisecracks Ethan and Walker liked to make, but tried to sense disturbances, picking up on the vibrations that people (and even unforeseen security measures) sometimes gave off. It was a crucial task for any thief who planned to spend his golden years anywhere but a six-by-eight cell.
The room smelled like strawberry candies, and cheap cologne so strong I almost sneezed.
“Daly, you’re on a clock here,” Xavier reminded me needlessly, and my nostrils instinctively flared as I fought the urge to tell him exactly where he could shove his clock. Walker’s jokes were annoying, Ethan’s overly-perceptive friendliness grated, and Caelan’s silent watchfulness made me uncomfortable, but all of them had earned my loyalty over the past six months. The only person in our quintet that I hadn’t warmed to even a fraction was Xavier Malone, heir apparent of the Madison Avenue Malones and douchebag extraordinaire. Walker, Ethan, and Caelan—a former MMA fighter and personal security guard—had all proved their usefulness to our team, as had I, but somehow Xavier’s useless ass had appointed himself our leader.
I wasn’t sure why nobody else minded this as much as I did.
“Shut the fuck up and let me do my job, X,” I retorted.
“X-av-ier. Three syllables, Daly,” he corrected in the fake-bored voice he used when he was all pissed off, and I smiled in satisfaction before I stopped myself.
Legit, was this my life, where calling a high-profile venture capitalist by a hated nickname was how I got my kicks in the middle of a job that could land me in prison?
Jesus.
But even so, I couldn’t resist adding in a whisper, “Did I hurt your feels, honey?”
“I’m gonna hurt both of you if you don’t shut the fuck up and get this done,” Caelan interjected, silencing both of us immediately. Caelan, despite all his bulk and some formidable fighting skills I’d seen in action, had the longest fuse of anyone I’d ever met. When he was finally pushed to the breaking point, it was as effective as an ice bath.
“Reception area is clear,” I said, stepping forward. “I’m going down the hall to Fowler’s office.”
“Remember, code for the office door is 0-0-7-0-1. The safe is on the wall behind the God-awful nude,” Ethan said. “You’re gonna have to use the digital code device…”
“Walker prepped me on the device,” I interrupted, my voice a bare breath of sound as I tread noiselessly down the hall. And I hadn’t needed much of a tutorial to begin with. My memory was nearly photographic, and I’d used similar devices a number of times in the past, for God’s –
Thunk.
“What’s that?” I asked, though I wasn’t sure the sound was audible to anyone else. For a split second, my pulse pounded, and I froze in place, worried there was someone moving in Fowler’s office at the end of the corridor, but then the HVAC system hummed to life, blanketing the room with recycled air. I took a deep breath.
“Daly, report,” Xavier demanded, and for once I wasn’t pissed off about it.
“False alarm, just the A/C kicking in,” I whispered, pressing a hand to my chest.
“Caelan, you’ve got the van in place?” Xavier asked. His voice sounded strained, and for just one second, I let myself wonder what it must be like to feel like you were in charge of a job and know that there was almost nothing you could do to control the outcome, once the game was in play. Huh. For a control freak like Xavier, that had to be a bitch.
“Yep. Got the van parked in the loading zone with a cold lemonade once Daly’s got the documents,” Caelan replied. “Gotta get this beast in for service,” he said fondly, and I could almost hear him petting the steering wheel as he spoke.
The surveillance van was Caelan’s baby, one of the first things he’d purchased on behalf of Masters’ Security Systems, Inc., the security company Xavier had ‘founded’ as a handy cover for our after-hours jobs, and he refused to let any of us even sit behind the wheel.
In some ways, that van and the company it represented were like the sixth member of our band—the one that gave us the respectable façade necessary to hack systems, break and enter locked buildings, and indulge in a little espionage. People actually paid us to test their security systems—both physical and technological—for weaknesses. We were officially known as white-hat thieves and hackers, and our company had quickly earned a reputation for providing the best personal and corporate security money could buy.
No one seemed to suspect that we spent our free time in similar, unsanctioned pursuits.
I crept down the hallway, listening outside each office as I passed, but all was silent. I took a second to curse the air conditioner, which blew strong enough to rustle papers on desks, and was totally throwing me off my game.
Not that any of this was a game—not since Eugenia Carmichael, widow of Federal Judge Trevor Carmichael, stared down at us from that television screen and calmly discussed her own impending murder.
“I’m about to die, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it, gentlemen. The people who’ll kill me don’t care that I’m old or rich. They don’t care that I haven’t long to live in any case, or that the only reason I’ve hung on this long is to get justice for my sweet husband. They’ll make my death seem like the simplest accident or the most natural death imaginable, just like they did for my Trevor. Just like they did for your mother, Anson Daly. Your brother, Ethan Warner. Your fiancée, Caelan Jamison. Your best friend, Walker Smith. And your sister, Xavier Malone.
“They’re soulless bastards, and their greedy tentacles reach into every branch of law enforcement, every institution meant to protect the population from evil men. But when the good folks can’t be trusted, what’s a woman like me to do? I’ll tell you, gents. You gather together a team of criminals. A cat burglar, a computer expert, a bodyguard who’s not afraid to fight, a con-artist… and the greatest criminal of all, a Wall Street investor to lead them.”
I shook my head as I checked the last office on the right and wished I could have known Eugenia Carmichael. Rich as fuck, batty as hell, and the kind of person I’d have liked to have on my team.
“All the other offices are empty,” I whispered. “Entering Fowler’s office.”
I stared down at the keypad and blinked. “Uh, Ethan, what’s it mean if the door is open?” I demanded.
“Impossible. Security system won’t set unless his door is closed,” Ethan said confidently. “Had to stick my tongue down Becca the receptionist’s throat and practically propose marriage to learn that little tidbit, but you know me. Anything for the Masters.”
“Didn’t ask if it was possible,” I retorted, backing away from the door. “Asked what it meant if the impossible was already happening.”
“What? No,” Ethan said, sounding truly concerned. “I don’t know how… Walker, the systems were booted before you shut them down?”
“Definitely,” Walker said. I could hear keys clacking frantically in the background as he no doubt pored over information on the many screens he had set up all over the office we’d created on the second floor of what used to be the Carmichaels’ penthouse. “External system was shut down by me, and the internal system was… Oh.”
“Oh?” I demanded. “What, oh?”
“Well, Jesus, it looks like the internal security wasn’t reset the last time the external security was engaged.”
“In English, geek. My ass is in the wind here!” I fumed, pressing my back into an alcove in the hall.
“Means that someone shut off the security after the building manager closed up. Probably somebody forgot something and had to come back. When they left, they only set the external security, none of the motion sensors inside.”
His voice was apologetic, and honestly, it was something even I wouldn’t have thought to check for, but it was still my ass on the line. “Probably? What’s probably mean, Walker? Like I’ll probably get twenty to life?”
“I’m pulling up the camera feeds now,” he said, the clicking of his fingers on the keyboard sounding like buzzing wasps in my ear.
“Daly, it’s your call,” X said. “If you haven’t seen anyone, Walker’s probably right. System confirms that the external security was restarted an hour ago and wasn’t shut down again until Walker shut it down. Either someone’s been sitting there silently for an hour, or the person who reset the system did a shit job. You know we need those papers, you know the stakes, but it’s your call,” he repeated.
Shit shit shit. I smoothed my hand down the mask that covered my face. My call, but not really.
Last week, the program Walker had set up to cross reference the names of our dead loved ones against the parties involved in cases Eugenia’s dead husband, Judge Trevor Carmichael, had presided over had finally found a match. A year or so ago, Judge Carmichael had ruled on a racketeering case against mid-level real estate owner Stuart Fowler. It just so happened that Stuart Fowler handled the business dealings for Silver, a seedy bar in Vinegar Hill, and the last place my mom had worked before the overdose that killed her. We needed to find out more about who Fowler was working with, who he was working for, and who was behind the dummy corporation Fowler had set up as the owner of Silver, if we wanted to figure out how and why my mother had died.
But clearly we weren’t the only ones who’d cottoned on to this idea, since Fowler, who’d been offered a plea deal in exchange for a reduced sentence, had been killed in prison before he could decide to start naming names.
Chalk another body up to the bad guys.
“Fine. I’m going in,” I told Xavier, pushing the door open with my heart in my throat.
The scent of cologne I’d smelled in the reception area was even more powerful here, and I froze again, listening for any sound, but the room seemed to be holding its breath.
I threw the door wide, making sure no one was hiding behind it, before cautiously creeping forward. Nothing seemed out of place, and the humming of the HVAC was the only sound.
“Clear,” I breathed, stepping forward to finish my mission.
Any thief who claimed he wasn’t superstitious was a liar. Every thief had a tell—a lucky pair of socks, a nervous tic—and I was no different. I cracked the knuckles of my right hand, and then my left, clenching and unclenching my hands exactly twelve times as I walked over to the desk, my eyes fixed on the ugliest nude I’d ever seen. Jesus, her breasts looked like purple apples. I shook my head in disgust as I opened the painting, handily attached to the wall by a hinge, and put my hand in my pocket to extract the digital code device.
“Christ on a cracker,” I breathed, letting the device fall back into my pocket. I wouldn’t need it now. “Someone got here before us. Safe is empty.”
A chorus of curses echoed through my ear.
“What do we do now?” I demanded, taking a step back and pulling the mask up off my face. “This shit show can’t get much worse.”
My heel hit something on the floor with a dull thud, something I couldn’t see from the thin shafts of moonlight coming through the tinted windows. I crouched down to examine it more closely.
“Oh, my God,” I breathed. “I lied. It’s worse. Dead body. Mother fucker, there’s a dead body in here.” I stood up abruptly.
“Who is it?” Xavier demanded, ever practical.
“He’s not exactly introducing himself, X!” I said. I could hear the panic in my own voice, but dead bodies and I did not get along. “I’m outta here.”
“Check his wallet,” Caelan argued.
“No way! You come do it!”
“You said yourself, it can’t get worse. Just keep your head and check the wallet. We need to know who we’re dealing with here!” Caelan soothed.
And that’s how I found myself, against my better judgment, touching the corpse on the floor of Stuart Fowler’s office, and rolling him over to pick his pocket. Yes, this was really my life.
“Got the wallet,” I said, pocketing the thing and letting the body fall back down.
“You sure he’s dead?” Ethan wanted to know.
“Oh, for God’s sake.” Before Caelan could get all reasonable or X could get all imperious, I held my breath, stripped my glove, and put my fingers to the guy’s throat. He was still warm, but there was no pulse. I leaned closer in case I could hear a breath.
“Achoo!”
I jumped three feet. My instincts had saved my life more times than I could count, and for just one second, I swear I thought the man on the floor, the body on the floor, had sneezed, but then I realized where the sound had come from.
“What the hell is that?” Xavier demanded.
“A sneeze,” I said, standing up and getting my wits about me once more. I crept along the floor towards a small coat closet next to the office door, and threw the door open wide.
“Guys?” I said, as I looked down at the small, wide-eyed redhead huddled there. “Things got worse again.”

 


 

 





Jane Henry

 Jane has been writing since her early teens, dabbling in short stories and poetry. When she married and began having children, her pen was laid to rest for several years, until the National Novel Writing Challenge (NaNoWriMo) in 2010 awakened in her the desire to write again. That year, she wrote her first novel, and has been writing ever since. With a houseful of children, she finds time to write in the early hours of the morning, squirreled away with a laptop, blanket, and cup of hot coffee. Years ago, she heard the wise advice, “Write the book you want to read,” and has taken it to heart. She sincerely hopes you also enjoy the books she likes to read.

 

 

Maisy Archer

 

Maisy is an unabashed book nerd who has been in love with romance since reading her first Julie Garwood novel at the tender age of 12. After a decade as a technical writer, she finally made the leap into writing fiction several years ago and has never looked back. Like her other great loves – coffee, caramel, beach vacations, yoga pants, and her amazing family – her love of words has only continued to grow… in a manner inversely proportional to her love of exercise, house cleaning, and large social gatherings. She loves to hear from fellow romance lovers, and is always on the hunt for her next great read.

 

 

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