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EXCERPT REVEAL & GIVEAWAY – In the Crease (Assassins #12) by Toni Aleo

 

 

 

 

Jensen Monroe is a unicorn. As handsome as any model, as polite as can be, a goalie of unmatched skill, and the best friend anyone could ask for. But he longs for a particular special someone to make his life complete. He’s been in love with Wren since he was a teenager, but as his best friend’s sister, she’s always been off-limits.

Wren Lemiere has prided herself on being a love ’em and leave ’em girl her whole life. She’s all about equal opportunity in the battle of the sexes. Why should guys like her brother and his best friends get to be the only ones allowed to play the dating game? One wrong move, however, and she finds herself in violation of her own rules.

In need of a fake husband and baby daddy for her unexpected bundle of joy, Wren finally accepts Jensen is the logical one to ask for help. Except he has a counteroffer…one with so many strings attached, they may just find themselves wrapped up in ties that bind. Forever.



Dr. Richards laughed as Wren giggled. “Everything is good. Come on up,” he said, helping Wren up before he patted her back. “But we need to discuss something.”

Her expression turned worried as she met his gaze. “Is everything okay?”
“Fine, but looking over your chart, you had quite the weight gain from last time. Fourteen pounds.”
Her face flushed as she held his gaze. “Baby weight?”
“Some, but not all. Healthy weight gain is about twenty pounds, and you’ve gained thirty.”
She shrugged. “Taco weight?”
He smiled, patting her back. “Are you exercising?”
She nodded. “I walk to the fridge?”
“I’ll take that as a no,” he said, marking his chart. Why did she feel like he was scolding her? “You need to get a little more active, and I’m sure your husband won’t mind doing that with you.”
Wren couldn’t look at Jensen, she was so embarrassed, but still, she said, “Of course.”
“And maybe instead of all the tacos, we have a taco salad?”
She glared. “You’re ruining my life, doctor guy.”
He smiled before he winked. “Just a suggestion.”
“Duly noted.”
“Good. So have a good trip,” he said with a grin before sliding out of the room with only a wave and “see ya next time.”
“Well, that sucked,” she muttered, scooting to the end of the table and getting off. Still unable to look at Jensen, she went to pull her shirt down, but she jumped in surprise when Jensen’s hands stopped her. When she looked up, he was staring at her, his eyes dark as he took her belly in his hands. Bending down, his very large body took up most of the room as he went to his knees before kissing her belly. Her heart fluttered in her chest as she watched him.
“Hey, you, we need to back off the tacos, okay?”
She laughed as he kissed her once more before standing and taking her face in his hands. “And you are fucking sexy, okay? Those numbers mean nothing, except that we’re going to go for walks in the mornings this whole trip.”
Her eyes started to cloud with tears as she nodded. “Okay.”
“Don’t let that bother you, okay?”
“Okay.”
“We’re good.”
She nodded. “We are.”
“And I like the name Liam.”
“Liam?” she asked as he slowly brought her shirt down over her belly. “I don’t know about Liam.”
“I like it, but can I tell you what I don’t like?”
Her brow rose. “What?”
“That doctor.”
She laughed. “What? He’s nice!”
“He’s too hot to be touching you, and I’m man enough to say that. We need to switch.”
She laughed hard, and he took her hand in his as she reached for her purse. “I know you’re not jealous.”
He gave her a dry look. “Beyond.”
“What! No, you’re not!”
“I am,” he admitted, shaking his head. “Does he stick his hands inside of you a lot?”
She sputtered. “Many times.”
“Bullshit. I hate him.”
“You’re silly!”
“I was boiling, sitting there as he touched you. I wanted to deck him.”
“You did not!”
“I did.”
“Like that would bother you.”
He set her with a look that swirled so much desire and the dirtiest thoughts imaginable inside of her. Pulling her against him, he looked deep into her eyes, his mouth barely away from hers as he whispered, “It bothers me just knowing that men look at you.”
“Jensen,” she gasped, her lips curving. “Stop lying to me.”
“I’m not. You’re mine, woman, and that’s that.”

 

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My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.… and did I mention I love hockey?

Author Links

 

BLOG TOUR ~ In The Crease (The Assassins series) by Toni Aleo

 

 

 

 

 

Jensen Monroe is a unicorn. As handsome as any model, as polite as can be, a goalie of unmatched skill, and the best friend anyone could ask for. But he longs for a particular special someone to make his life complete. He’s been in love with Wren since he was a teenager, but as his best friend’s sister, she’s always been off-limits.

Wren Lemiere has prided herself on being a love ’em and leave ’em girl her whole life. She’s all about equal opportunity in the battle of the sexes. Why should guys like her brother and his best friends get to be the only ones allowed to play the dating game? One wrong move, however, and she finds herself in violation of her own rules.

In need of a fake husband and baby daddy for her unexpected bundle of joy, Wren finally accepts Jensen is the logical one to ask for help. Except he has a counteroffer…one with so many strings attached, they may just find themselves wrapped up in ties that bind. Forever.



Brie snickered as Vaughn went on. “I know this is going to be hard. Like, really hard on you. But, buddy, I’m sorry to say, we bought a house.”
Jensen just stared back at him. “Okay? Why is this hard?”
“Because you’re not moving with us.”
He rolled his eyes. “Jo, we haven’t lived together for six months since you moved in with Brie.”
“I know, but we were across the hall.”
Jensen laughed. “I’ll be fine without you guys—”
“Now, I know this comes as a shock, but we’re having a baby, and we need space for us and the baby.”
“I know—”
“Now, Jenny, I know this is going to be difficult, putting space between us—”
“You know we lived apart for years, right?”
But Vaughn went on. “Just know I will always and forever love you as my brother, and nothing will change. Not the space, the new ball and chain, or the baby.”
“Are you done?”
Brie apparently thought this was hilarious since she was basically choking she was laughing so hard. Which wasn’t anything new. Vaughn might be an idiot, but he was a funny one. As always, Vaughn was unaffected as he said, “We’ll never be done, Jenny, never.”
“Okay,” Jensen said, rolling his eyes again. “Listen, this is awesome. I’m happy for you guys, and let me know when we need to start moving stuff.”
“You’re such a good man,” Vaughn proclaimed before clapping his hands together. “This weekend good for you?”
Laughing, he just shook his head at Vaughn’s antics. “Yeah, man.”
“Thanks, Jensen.”
He smiled over at Brie. “Anytime.”
Rolling his eyes, he went back to eating as a grin played on his lips. He wanted nothing more than for his friend to grow and be in love. Brie was that for Vaughn. They were moving and having a kid, and it was great. Vaughn needed that. So did Wells, who was getting married the following month. Both his best friends were living life, happily and to its fullest. Meanwhile, Jensen was stuck.
He didn’t know how it happened, or even why, but it had. He wasn’t interested in anyone he met, and he didn’t just want to fuck around. He wanted someone to love him for him. The quiet, weird guy in the corner. The one who would lay down his life for anyone he loved. He had redeemable qualities, but for some reason, no one wanted them. They just wanted to have sex.
He didn’t want Netflix and chill; he wanted Netflix and breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and more.
Hmm, he should copyright that.
Taking a huge bite of his chicken, he felt his phone start to vibrate. He pulled it out, seeing that it was a text from Wren, as he chewed. Like always when she texted him, his heart sped up, and his palms went clammy as a lump formed in his throat. Or maybe that was the chicken, he wasn’t sure. Either way, he slid the notification over so that his text thread with her opened up before he read her message.
Wren: Are you free anytime this week?

 

 


My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?

 

Author Links


 

Chapter Reveal ~ In The Crease by Toni Aleo

 

 

Coming August 22nd

 

 


Jensen Monroe is a unicorn. As handsome as any model, as polite as can be, a goalie of unmatched skill, and the best friend anyone could ask for. But he longs for a particular special someone to make his life complete. He’s been in love with Wren since he was a teenager, but as his best friend’s sister, she’s always been off-limits.


Wren Lemiere has prided herself on being a love ’em and leave ’em girl her whole life. She’s all about equal opportunity in the battle of the sexes. Why should guys like her brother and his best friends get to be the only ones allowed to play the dating game? One wrong move, however, and she finds herself in violation of her own rules.

In need of a fake husband and baby daddy for her unexpected bundle of joy, Wren finally accepts Jensen is the logical one to ask for help. Except he has a counteroffer…one with so many strings attached, they may just find themselves wrapped up in ties that bind. Forever.

 
Prologue

Five months earlier…

Wren Lemiere felt awful.
The kind of awful where you felt like you were dying.
Not that she had ever been the victim of an almost-death, but she was pretty sure it felt like what she was feeling.
Why she came back home to Colorado when she was this godforsakenly sick was beyond her, but then she hadn’t felt like death when she got on the plane. It was once she got off and for the following three days that the death hit her. She didn’t know what was going on, but she just wanted some drugs to make the excruciating nausea go away. That was all. Just some drugs.
Holding her face in her hands, she inhaled a deep breath before letting it out in a whoosh, begging the turning of her gut to stop. She wasn’t sure what she ate or what bacteria she picked up, but when she found out whatever did this to her, they would suffer. Slowly and painfully. It was probably Vaughn, her brother’s best friend. He was a walking cesspool. Ugh. She had never been so sick in her life, she swore it, but then again, that time she had the flu, she was sure she’d thought the same.
Either way, she was dying.
Plain and simple.
“Ugh,” she moaned as she swallowed back the bile that was threatening to come up her throat. When the door opened and the doctor stepped in, she cried out in relief. “Please, give me something. Anything. Knock me out if you have to.”
Ryan Churner laughed. They had gone to school together, dated briefly, but they’d been just kids. Now, he was married and happy—with lots of kids of his own. Wren, though, was living the single, carefree life. Much to her mother’s dismay. Her mother wanted grandbabies, and since her brother, Wells, was gay, it was easy to say it was Wren’s job to give her mother babies. Which was not going to happen. Wren would suck as a mom. Plus, she couldn’t find a decent guy to love her large ass. So that left her brother, and Wells could adopt. Yeah, he should do that. Take some of the pressure off her. She needed to call him about that.
“I’m afraid there are no drugs for what you have.”
Wren threw up her hands. “It’s a virus?”
He laughed. She didn’t like the sound of that laugh. Or the way he said, “Um, no.”
Her face wrinkled in confusion. “Then, what?”
He grimaced a bit before looking up at her. His dark blue eyes held her gaze as a grin pulled at his lips. “When was your last period?”
She shrugged. “Like six months ago. I have polycystic ovary syndrome, though.” She added while pointing at him, “Not sure that’s in my chart.”
He nodded. “It is, but I hadn’t realized it had been that long.”
“Yeah.” She had maybe two periods a year, possibly three. It was a problem, but her problem. One she was blessed with when she was younger. Her PCOS kept her a little on the thicker side and also wreaked havoc on her hormones, but she managed. She wasn’t going to let it bring her down or dwell on it. She already did that enough.
“Okay, well, are you in a relationship right now?”
She shook her head. “No.”
“Are you sexually active?”
“Always,” she said with an exaggerated wink. Then she paused. “Wait, I’m not hitting on you.”
“I know.” He laughed and she grinned, though, it was brief before she felt a wave of queasiness. “But your pregnancy test came up positive.”
Wren could only blink as her body went cold. She started laughing because surely, she’d heard him wrong. “You weren’t this funny when we were younger.”
“I’m not joking.”
“I’m sorry?”
“Your pregnancy test came up positive, but sometimes with PCOS, you can get a positive result. So I want to do an ultrasound.”
“For what?”
“To see if you’re pregnant.”
“Pregnant? Me?”
“Yes.”
“But…really?”
“Yes,” he said with a smile before he stood, walking to the door. “Well, usually when you have sex, a baby can be made as a byproduct of all that passion.”
“But…” She trailed off, her heart jumping into her throat. Surely that wasn’t the case. She couldn’t be pregnant. They’d used protection. “I have sex with condoms, and I’m on birth control.”
“Are you consistent with your birth control?
She shrugged. “Sure.”
He raised an eyebrow. “That’s not believable, Wren.”
Her face wrinkled more as he called out to the nurse. Sitting there, she tried to remember when this could have happened. She was home last month and had seen him…a lot and all of him, but they’d used condoms. Hadn’t they? Shit.
Soon a cart was brought in, and she was asked to take off her pants. It was all a blur, lying there with a drape over her bottom half and Ryan shoving some damn probe up inside her. Staring at the ceiling, she didn’t know what to think. She hadn’t even thought this was a possibility. With her PCOS, it was supposed to be hard for her to get pregnant. Not to mention, she didn’t want to be a mom. She would suck as a mom. And he would suck as a dad. They were selfish.
“Yup, there it is.”
Turning her head, she looked at the screen to see a little peanut. Seriously, a peanut, or at least, that’s what she assumed it was. But in the middle of the peanut was a little flicker. It was so small, almost undetectable, but she was sure she could see it. Was that the heartbeat?
“That’s it? I’m pregnant?”
“You’re pregnant.”
Blinking hard, she gasped. “Oh, fuck.”

~*~

“I’m pregnant.”
The words felt funky.
“I am pregnant,” she said to her reflection in the rental car’s visor mirror. “We’re having a baby.” She tried saying it while waving her hands. But that felt weird too.
Holy shit, she was pregnant.
She was almost thirty. She had a good job, and she was in a good place. It was not even the least bit expected, nor was it good timing since she wasn’t thirty yet, nor was she married. But it was fine. They would get a quickie marriage, and bam, they’d be good. No one would have to know she was pregnant before they decided to elope. It would be fine. Everything would be fine; her inheritance wasn’t in jeopardy.
But, shit, she didn’t want to move back to Colorado. She would have to because he wouldn’t be able to leave his job. He owned the damn firm, while she was contracted by the Nashville Assassins, the professional hockey team back in Nashville, Tennessee. Her gig was awesome, so damn awesome, and she loved it, but it wouldn’t work. She’d have to be the one to move. Damn it. She’d finish out the season for sure, but that meant she couldn’t sign the five-year extension that was sitting on her desk back home. With the lovely bonus that was going to pay off her car early. Damn it.
She wasn’t sure how he was going to take it, but they were good. They had known each other their whole lives. Been fucking for years, so it was time. She loved him. Ish. Kinda. Well, obviously a little since she continued to sleep with him, but he was a cool dude. And even if marriage was the last thing she wanted, she knew she had to do it.
She needed the money from her inheritance that her dad was holding, which had been passed down from her grandfather. When she turned thirty in October, it would be hers. The only catch was she couldn’t have a baby out of wedlock before she was thirty. It was stupid, and it was barbaric in her opinion. But it was what her grandfather had written up, and her father was standing behind it. It was annoying, to say the least, but if she wanted to pay off all her debt and live pretty damn comfortably for the rest of her life, along with providing a comfortable life for Wells, she had to do what she had to do.
She just hoped he didn’t let her down.
Getting out of the car, she swallowed hard as she walked toward the doors that read Washington, Fieldsman, and Barnes. When she opened the door, she was greeted by the receptionist, and Wren shot her a quick, curt smile. She was nervous. Why was she nervous? Crap, was she going to puke?
Yup.
Dipping into the bathroom before his office, she threw up the rest of her guts and sat there shaking her head. “You’re lucky I love you, kid.”
Wow, that was quick.
Wren had never seen herself as a mother. She’d thought she was going to grow old with lots of money and dogs. She hadn’t seen love or babies in her future. She’d seen lots of fucking, but that was about it. She didn’t have the best luck in love and really hadn’t imagined this coming, but now, she saw herself holding a baby.
Problem was, she still didn’t see him in her picture.
But that would change…right?
Surely.
Crap.
Washing her mouth out and then popping some gum, she walked out of the bathroom and right into another person. “Ah!”
“Crap! I’m sorry, Wren.”
Wren clammed up. Shit. “Hey, Shanna. What you doing here?”
“I had to see Bradley. What are you doing?” her best friend for her whole life asked.
Dammit, Wren hated lying to her.
“I have a meeting with him. He has to go over my contract for the Assassins.”
Shanna lit up. “Cool! Are you still coming for dinner tonight?”
Wren was shaking. Why was she shaking? Shit. “Shan, I texted you. I had to move my flight up, remember?”
“Oh, yes. My bad. Next time.”
“Of course,” she said before Shanna embraced her. Squeezing her eyes shut, Wren knew she would have to tell her. But Bradley had wanted to keep them under wraps. Plus, Wren knew how overprotective Shanna was of her baby brother. Wren had known better, but the dude was hung like a horse and hot to boot. She just hoped she wouldn’t lose a friendship over this. But Shanna would be excited. They’d be sisters like they’d always wanted, and there’d be a new baby. Shanna would love that.
Right?
Right.
Don’t freak out. This is fine.
Saying goodbye, Wren waved as she walked toward his office before knocking on the door. “Come in.” As she opened the door to the huge, posh office, he stood behind his desk, looking every bit as gorgeous as the day was long. His suit was pressed and clung to him. His blond-brown hair was brushed to the side, while a bit of stubble dusted his jaw. She only saw it because the sun was kissing it, shining on it ever so sweetly. He was a good-looking man, beautiful even, but still, she couldn’t see herself married to him. Shit.
Wren smiled though, and when Bradley looked up, heat filled his gaze. “Hey, you.”
“Hey,” she said, shutting the door as he came around the desk to her. Gathering her in his arms, he kissed her hard on the lips, dipping her back slightly as she clung to him. This had to work. He was a great guy.
Pulling back, he kissed her nose. “You look hot.”
She laughed, waving him off. “I look and feel like death.”
“Still?” he asked, concern filling his handsome face. He was a year younger than her, and growing up, they’d called him the baby. Though, he didn’t look like a baby. When he had first kissed her, eons ago, she hadn’t expected it. And even though they had both been with other people over the years, they somehow always gravitated back to each other.
Always.
But that was about to change.
“Yeah. I went to the doctor today.”
Moving his thumb along the inside of her palm, he smiled. “Is it contagious?”
She shook her head, her face filling with heat. “No.”
“Oh, good,” he said, gathering her in his arms and pressing his lips to hers. “So we can take this discussion to the couch.”
She stopped him as he tried to pull her to where she knew they would likely have all kinds of hot sex, but she needed to get this out. “Not yet.”
His brows pulled together. “What’s wrong? Don’t feel up to it?”
She swallowed hard. “It’s not that. It’s…um…” Inhaling deeply, she met his gaze. The gaze she had known her whole life. Though right now, she felt like she was going to puke, her nerves were so bad. “I’m pregnant.”
She watched as his eyes widened, his jaw dropping before he dropped her hands. “Pregnant?”
“Yeah.”
He only blinked. “Is it mine?”
She nodded. “You’re the only guy I’ve been with for the last six months.”
He blinked once more, his eyes burning into hers. “Are you sure?”
She gave him a deadpan look. “I think I’d remember if I happen to fall, pussy first, on a cock other than yours.”
He didn’t laugh like she wanted, nor did he look her in the eye. Instead, he chewed his lip, looking anywhere but at her. “So, no other chance it isn’t mine?”
Her brows drew in. “It’s yours, Bradley.”
Turning his back to her, he walked away, going to the windows as he looked out of them, his hands folded across his chest. “I didn’t expect this. We used condoms.”
“I know.”
“And you’re on birth control, I thought.”
“I am, though I don’t take it as often as I should.”
He looked over at her. “So you trapped me?”
She glared. “You’d better be joking.”
He didn’t answer; he just looked away as her heart started to speed up.
This didn’t feel right.
As he started to pace, she watched him, her blood beginning to boil. She didn’t like his comment, nor did she like the way he wouldn’t look at her. Clearing her throat, she watched him as she said, “Okay, well, I know this is a lot at once, and it’s a lot for me too. But we have something that could pose an issue—my inheritance.”
His face wrinkled up as he snapped, “How does that have anything to do with me?”
She glared at the side of his face. “It has to do with you because your baby is inside of me, and I’m not thirty yet. So if I have this baby before I turn thirty and I’m not married, I’m fucked.”
“Then don’t have the baby.”
Her jaw dropped. Actually dropped, almost catching flies. “Excuse me?”
Still looking out the window, he shrugged. “Go get an abortion.”
“What?”
“Listen, I don’t want this. I don’t want a kid, and fuck, this is going to mess everything up.”
Her heart was in her throat. “Mess up what?
Turning to her, he yelled, “I’m marrying fucking Fieldsman’s daughter.”
It was as if he’d hit her. Reaching out, she braced her hand on the window. He had been seeing the girl, but he swore it wasn’t serious. They were just cool; it was business as he said. But marriage? “What? You said you didn’t want to get married.”
“I know, but I have no choice.”
“You do. You can marry me and help out the mother of your child.”
“No, I can’t. I was going to tell you tonight, that we had to break this off. For good.”
Drawing in a breath through her nose, she shook her head. “Wow.”
“Yeah. So listen,” he said, walking around her and to his desk, but she didn’t move as the tears gathered in her eyes. “Go get an abortion. It’s for the best. Here, this should cover it.”
When she opened her eyes, he was filling out a check before holding it out to her. Shaking her head hard, she muttered, “I don’t want your money.”
“Take it, Wren. Please. I can’t have this fuck up what I’ve got going for me. I’ll have more stock in this firm once I marry her.”
Her lip started to tremble. “But I’m having your baby.”
“I don’t want it,” he said simply. “I don’t want any of it. She will get pissed. She’s already so jealous and thinks I’m fucking around.”
“You are!”
“I know, but not anymore. So, please, get rid of it.”
“I can’t.”
“Wren, come on!”
“You can’t do this. We’ve known each other our whole life.”
“I understand that. So please do it.”
“No.”
“Don’t be stupid, because I’ll deny it. You fuck around. Everyone knows it, and I’ll deny the kid is mine. You’ll have to take me to court to prove it. But by the time that happens, you’ll already have it before your thirtieth birthday, so you’ll be fucked anyway. Just do the right thing. Get rid of it, Wren.”
She wouldn’t let her tears fall. Not for this fucking douche. “I thought I knew you, you selfish asshole.”
The words didn’t even faze him. He glared at her. “I thought I knew you. How could you let this happen? We were never serious. We were just fucking.”
Looking down at the ground, she bit into her lip to keep the tears from falling. Yeah, he was right, but she thought she’d meant more to him than just a fuck. “Just fucking, huh?”
“Yeah, it isn’t like we love each other. I mean, come on. You’re not even my type.”
“Your type?”
“Wren, come on,” he said simply, holding his hands out. “You’re not trophy wife material.”
She was going to deck him. “I can’t believe this.”
“Just take the check.”
He held it out once more, and her eyes landed on it through her tears. She should take it. It really was the only option, yet she knew she couldn’t.
Meeting his gaze, she swallowed hard as she shook her head slowly from side to side. “No.”
“Wren, don’t be an idiot.”
“No.”
“You’re being fucking stupid—”
Standing erect, she stepped over to him, her eyes burning into his and completely cutting off his words. She was sure her eyes were full of heat, full of rage because his words shook her. To the core. She wasn’t sure who this man was, but he sure as hell wouldn’t be the father of her child. Over her dead fucking body. “Fuck you, Bradley. I don’t need your money or even you. So. Fuck. You.”
And with that, she walked away.
With no clue what she was going to do now.
Except for the certainty that she wasn’t killing her baby.


My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?

Author Links


 

BLOG TOUR ~ Bellevue Bullies Series by Toni Aleo

 

Jude Sinclair here, hockey player for the Bellevue Bullies and lover of all ladies. Hockey’s in my blood, and not to sound full of myself, but I’m good at it…really good. The draft is within my reach—it’s mine to take—but that’s not the only reason people know my name. They know me because of my way with women. They know the score, and I aim to please. I just tend to stay away from repeat performances. In other words, I don’t do relationships beyond my family and friends. I’m happy with life. However, I should warn you that my story and how I see it playing out is about to change due to a certain redhead on campus.
She’s beautiful. Stunning. Breathtaking.
She’s my game changer.

***

He’s trouble from the moment I see him. I don’t know what I’m thinking, but from the moment I meet his gaze, I’m his. It’s a scary feeling.
I’ve never trusted anyone outside my aunt and uncle—and even that took months. I didn’t have it easy growing up. My mom was usually strung out, and she didn’t give me a second thought. Drugs and the men who paid her were more important to her. It was horrible, but I’m stronger today. Because of my past, security is what I need most. Money assures me that I can take care of myself today, tomorrow, and next month. I don’t want to ever be hungry or go without again, so I work hard for every penny.
Oh, by the way, I’m Claire Anderson. I’m a hard-studying sophomore at the University of Bellevue, dancer for the school dance team, and a burlesque dancer at a club, but that’s my secret.
You may think you know how our story ends, but you have no clue. It’s not easy falling in love… or living happily ever after. At first it may seem so, but when is anything worth having ever won without a fight?
Especially when you’re boarded by love.
 
 
 
 
 

 


 
 
 
Things are heating up for the Sinclair boys! With one already in the NHL, Jayden Sinclair is hoping to be next!

This has been the toughest year of my life. I watched my brother go into the draft without me, my mom got divorced, and the weight of my family’s issues is heavy on my shoulders. I feel like it’s my job to fix everything while working my butt off in school and trying to make my game better. I have to go into the draft. It will give my family the support they need, and it will prove that I’m good enough. But to get there, I have to show I can be the best captain for the Bellevue Bullies. The spot is mine—no one can take it. First though, Jude is making me go on a brother’s weekend. Innocent enough, I guess…until I see her. She’s the biggest competitor I’ve ever faced. Not only for my spot but also my heart. It’s hard to ignore someone like Baylor Moore.

***

I don’t lose. I can’t. My dad has bred me to be the best in anything I do. I am driven, I am smart, and I am going to be the first woman in the National Hockey League. No two ways about it. I’ve worked too hard. I’ve been through too much not to have what I want. I know I can do it. I will make my dad proud, and no one will stand in the way of that. That is, until I let him in. He scares me. He makes me feel. And he could very well be the one person who can make me want more than just to win.
We both have the same goal. Victory. But how do you compete against the person you want to win? It’s not easy. Love isn’t something you can control. It isn’t like a puck that can be handled by a stick. No, it has a mind of its own and does what it wants.
Neither of us saw it coming, and we really don’t know if there is a way to score, especially when you’re being Clipped by Love.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


 
 
Things are out of control for the Sinclair boys! With two already in the NHL, Jace Sinclair is ready to follow in his brothers’ HUGE skates in the last Bellevue Bullies novel…
Jace Sinclair here, and I’m amazing. There is no other way to describe me. I am the leading scorer for the Bellevue Bullies, I’m the captain, and people love me: my family, my teammates, my coach, and the NHL. This is my last year in college–I already have one foot in the draft. Hockey keeps me warm even when it’s freezing. It’s always there when nothing else is. And it pushes me to be the best I can be. It’s my one and only love.
That is, until I see her against a tree with a guitar.
Avery.
The last thing I wanted was to meet anyone. My heart is on the bench because of what happened with my parents, and I don’t want that for myself. I don’t want to be hurt by anyone. I can’t give them that power.
But my heart is begging for ice time, and I can’t control it around her.

* * *

I’ve always been in the background. No one has ever had time for me and that’s fine; I’ve learned to cope. Coming from a family where hockey is life, the last thing I want is some big, burly hockey player charging at me. I don’t have time for it, but Jace Sinclair isn’t one to be deked around.
I didn’t want to meet anyone. I didn’t want to end up freezing the puck with him. It’s not what I want.
I have demons.
I have issues.
Living in the shadows, no one even knew until it was too late. But Jace wants to know.
He wants me.
And that scares me the living hell out of me.

We were so worried about what would happen if we fell, but we never thought what could happen in the process of falling. We never saw it coming. But it’s here, and the repercussions are not pretty. We should have known that there is no way out of the zone when you are being Hooked by Love.
 
 
 

 


 
Boarded by Love
The Bellevue Bullies Series
 

Claire

Something is off tonight.

I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know why I’m feeling like this tonight. But as I sit staring at myself in the mirror, I can’t help but want more than what I’m doing right now. I mean, I have a good life and I am happy now, but something, something is missing. It honestly makes no sense; I’m actually loved and happy, so I have no clue what is wrong with me. I have everything I need and could ask for. But instead of being thankful and grateful, I question myself – my life – when I shouldn’t because thankfully, I don’t have to live the way I did four years ago.

I no longer have to worry constantly if my mom will be coming home with food instead of drugs or booze, that she wouldn’t be alone. She was never alone. She always came home with some random sleazy guy that she would make me call “uncle,” if he was around for more than five minutes. And soon the food she hopefully brought with her, usually cold, greasy KFC or burgers, would be forgotten. Instead, shit would get weird in our hundred square foot trailer; my heart would race, and I would be hiding underneath my bed from my new “uncle.”

She had a tendency to pick the supershitty guys – it was like her superpower, one I hope she didn’t pass down to me. She especially managed to pick the ones who liked to touch little girls, but thankfully, I was pretty good at getting away. I was always a kicker, a biter, and a nut-puncher. But that all changed when I turned fourteen – my mom brought home a guy that did get to me.

Because that time I didn’t try to get away.

Wasn’t my greatest decision, and I regret it now, but at the time I wanted to feel something. I wanted to feel what my mom felt, because obviously she was feeling something great, judging by the noises she made, but I felt absolutely nothing. I really wanted to eat that day. I hadn’t eaten in four days, I was starving, and he worked at the grocery store, so I figured it was a good bet. I was empty in more ways than one, so I did it to get what I needed.

And because of that moment, for the next two years, I lived just like my mother. Drinking the Two-Buck Chuck she brought home, having sex with any guy who wanted me and promised me dinner. Disgusting, I know. I was basically what my mom was – a whore. And I was living the life I thought I was destined for, living the life I was dealt because no one gave a shit enough to tell me that there could have been anything else.

That all changed when my mom was brutally killed.  

It was surreal, and for a long time I didn’t believe it. I also blamed everyone, I think because I was so disgusted in myself that I wasn’t sad. I didn’t miss her. I was glad to be free of her, but I thought that made me a bad person. I was mostly mad at my real uncle for not saving me when he could. I’ll never forget the moment that my uncle Phillip came into my life. I was sixteen, and I was angry that my mom was gone because of her own stupidity. I was scared that I was going to end up like her. For the first time, survival was not the most important option, and I was messed up. My great-aunt had been hell, putting me in religious rehab, calling me a whore and telling me I was just like my mother, and trying to “SAVE ME WITH THE JESUS.” I just couldn’t go back to her version of rehab with the orderlies that had grabby hands. That was not an option, so I did the most logical thing. I tore her house apart and packed what little shit I had and was gone.

I was walking down the street, getting ready to walk right out of town if I had to. But I knew I needed to stop and think, so I went to my favorite place, the Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis where I grew up. As I thought about my next move and what to do, Phillip was there to get me. He was driving from my aunt’s house, trying to find me, and when he did, he wasn’t going anywhere without me. He convinced me to go get waffles at this diner across the street, and it was there that he told me that he wasn’t going to let me go the way he had let his sister go. Of course, I didn’t believe him. I was used to men making promises they didn’t keep just to use me. But now, three years later, I couldn’t be more grateful for him.

At the time, I didn’t understand how anyone thought a single, twenty-nine-year-old man would know how to take care of an angry sixteen-year-old, but obviously someone knew that he was what I needed. It wasn’t easy. The first six months of being with him were complete hell. I drove him crazy; I tried to sleep with a couple of the guys from the Assassins, the team he played pro hockey for. I tried to push every button I could on him, but he never broke. He kept strong, told me he loved me, and would always be there for me, no matter what I did.

I’d never had that.

My mom only told me she loved me when she was strung out, wearing ripped up fishnets with makeup smeared on her face while she leaned back on some guy, his eyes locked on my small, fragile body. Or when she needed me to go to the store for cigarettes, or condoms, or something. And as I got older, she stopped saying it because I was competition for the attention of the men she brought home. I wanted to vomit when she would say it because I knew it wasn’t true. If she really loved me, why was I living in a roach-infested house, hiding under my bed from the fourteenth “uncle” of the month? Why would I lock myself in the bathroom and cry because I was so hungry while she had lines of cocaine laid on every flat surface in the house, higher than a kite. Why wasn’t I important enough?

I was destined to end up like her, and I probably would have ended up like her – beaten, raped, and found in a ditch – if Phillip hadn’t come into my life.

It wasn’t just Phillip, though; it was Reese too, his now soon-to-be wife. Before, I never had goals; I only wanted to get through the next day, wanting to feel anything enough to sleep with the next guy who wanted me. I used to think that I wasn’t worth much, but Reese helped me to see that being a coked-out stripper like my mom wasn’t what I was meant to be. I wasn’t easy to talk to, but she found a way, and that was through dance. I’ve always loved to dance, not of the stripper variety like my mom, but more like the really awesome, choreographed stuff. I would spend hours watching music videos, when my mom would remember to pay the cable bill, and I would mimic the girls in the videos. I was amazing, and when Reese found me doing just that in her sister’s house, the next thing I knew she had me in her studio learning routines with her.

And soon my dream was born.

Even looking at myself now, that dream still wants to be a reality. I feel it in my heart. I want to be a world-famous choreographer, teaching people like Justin Timberlake amazing routines to perform all over the world, or in Vegas, choreographing shows. The only problem is I’m not sure if it will to keep me safe, stable, and steady. I need that. After years of not knowing when my next meal was coming, I can’t just throw caution to the wind and hope I make it. I need safety. I need stability. I’ve had that the last three years because of Phillip, but I can’t depend on him my whole life. I can’t depend on anyone. I have to work for me.

So while I would have loved to go to a dance school like Reese suggested, I decided to stay home near them and go for business. Maybe I’ll take over Reese’s dance studio, or maybe start my own. The possibilities are endless, and I think that maybe I’m working here just to have the option to go do something amazing later.

“Claire, you go on in thirty.”

I nod without looking as I know the voice belongs to Ms. Prissy, before reaching back to French braid my bright red hair. Tucking it up in the back since my hair is so long, I reach for my black wig and slide it on my head. Pinning down the wig real tight, I start to put on my makeup in a rush. I’m running a tad bit behind since I stayed at the studio later, working on a routine for a duet that will compete in a couple weeks. As I apply my eye shadow in a dark, dramatic way, my hand pauses as the only advice my mom ever gave me rushes through my mind: Never look back, baby. That’s a real good way to get hit, head-on.

Crap, why am I thinking of that? I can’t sit here and think of her right now. I don’t do it often, but when I do, I dwell, and right now is not the time to dwell. Ms. Prissy doesn’t like when you’re late, and I try never to be. I needed a job like this and got lucky when she wanted to hire me. I know that Phillip and Reese would give me the world if I asked, but I don’t like to ask for things. I want to stand on my own two feet, be able to afford my next meal, and working here, I’ve managed to bank more than I ever thought, and I don’t plan on stopping until I graduate. Then I’ll have a down payment for a business of my own or to redo Reese’s. I don’t know. We will see.

“Oh my God, Claire!”

I look back at one of my friends, Ellen, with a puzzled look on my face. “What? What happened?

She didn’t look like anything was wrong, but you never knew with her. Ellen reminds me a lot of my mom. She isn’t an addict or anything, but she sure does love the men, and they love her. With her luscious blond hair, big breasts, blue eyes, and big, plump lips, the guys eat her up. She’s sweet, but outside of work, we aren’t friends. I don’t need someone in my life who reminds me of my mom.

“That asshole I was sleeping with, he gave me crabs!”

I gasp, “What? One of your rockers?”

“Rockers” was what the girls who worked in the Rock Room called the guys who came in there. When the station beside me shakes, I look over to see my friend Tessi rushing to get ready. I shoot her a grin before turning back to Ellen.

“No! Heck no, but because I got the crabs, I can’t fucking dance in there till I get rid of them. That’s like a WEEK! I’m so fucking pissed.”

I nod. I’d be pissed too if I actually worked in that room, but I don’t, by choice. I don’t have to grind on some forty-five-year-old for extra money. The girls in the club pay me extra to choreograph their routines – management does too for the group numbers – so I am pretty secure without the extra dough, plus my tips are fantastic. Some of the girls say they bring home thousands, but still, I can’t do it. There is a difference between dancing onstage in only a bra and undies and dancing naked on some guy. I don’t mind being looked at, but I do have a problem being touched. Hence the reason I haven’t had sex in three years. I feel I did that enough in my younger teen years to suffice for the rest of my life.

“So who were you sleeping with?” I ask Ellen.

“Allen West, told ya he was a sleaze,” Tessi says from beside me. I glance over at her before looking back at Ellen and then looking back at Tessi. I’m confused.

“Allen? My Allen? Tall Allen?”

“Yeah, didn’t you go out with him a few times?” Ellen asks.

I blink a few times, confused. “I am still going out with him.”

Tessi scoffs beside me as Ellen exclaims, “What?! That douche told me you broke up!”

“I mean, we weren’t really together, but we were seeing each other. I never slept with him or anything,” I say, but I still can’t believe that not only has Ellen been sleeping with him, but he gave her crabs. Small miracles… Small freaking miracles.

“Damn girl, I’m so sorry,” Ellen says with a worried look on her face.

I shake my head, waving her off. “Don’t worry about it.”

With a curt smile, Ellen runs off as I sit with my brush still held up to my face. I can’t believe it. Allen West was a decent guy, solid, or at least I thought he was. I stayed clear of guys my freshman year and the beginning of this year, but somehow Allen talked me into a date and then another. The next thing I knew, we were walking across the quad holding hands. We had never officially put labels on each other, but he was fun to hang out with, and I thought that he would be a great guy to end my celibacy streak with, but I guess I was wrong.

“Wow. Just wow. Man, I can pick ’em, huh?” I say with a shake of my head.

“Yeah, I was gonna tell you about that today. Ellen called me last night, but I forgot to call you when I looked back down at my sociology work. I am going to fail that class,” Tessi says as she brings her brown hair up into a high ponytail. Tessi, my friend Skylar, and I are the only girls from UB who work in the club. It’s great money, easy hours, and they let you come and go as you please. Plus we have actual security so we won’t get jumped in the parking lot. Girls who waitress at TGI Fridays have more problems than we do. And make less in tips.

“It’s okay, and no, you won’t fail. I’ll help you,” I say as I watch her for a moment. Tessi gives me a bright smile as I continue to watch her get ready. I’m zoning out a lot tonight, which is unusual. Usually I’m on top of things, helping the other girls who are behind. Tessi never needs my help, though. She’s a lot like me, a go-getter, climbing out of her own issues. That’s probably why we’re such great friends. We both get it. We met at freshman orientation and became fast friends. I am the one who got her the job here. She is a great friend and one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen.

She has beautiful, big brown eyes, with thick black lashes framing them, big breasts, and beautifully plump lips. She has dangerous curves and a really great attitude. Like me, she had lived a pretty rough life, and now is doing everything to make sure she never has to go back to the life she used to live. She’s going to school to be a social worker; she wants to help kids who had shitty lives. She always tells me that she wishes someone had been there for her and me, and I do too, but then I think that maybe it was for the best. We learned from that shit and pulled ourselves together, and going to live with Phillip was probably the best thing ever. I know that it wasn’t ideal for a kid to grow up like that, but I’ve accepted it. I figure it made me stronger. I learned from it and got my drive from it. I’m stronger than any of the silly girls I go to school with, and I like that. I wear my childhood like a badge of honor instead of being ashamed of it.

She turns to look at me and smiles. “You’re not torn up by this, are you? Allen was a dick. You can get someone way better, girl. Don’t sweat it.”

She was right, obviously he didn’t mean that much to me, because I’m not mad or even broken up about it. I don’t even feel like I lost anything. I feel nothing. Surprise maybe because he was harboring an STD but nothing else. I nod. “Nope, not torn up at all. I’m not mad that he slept with someone else while talking to me, but I am mad that he could have gotten my vagina sick.”

Tessi nods sagely as she moves some gloss along her bottom lip. “I would be too. Give him hell, girlfriend, but right now, you need to pop your contacts in and get onstage. Ms. Prissy hasn’t been laid in weeks, and she is in full bitch mode, I can promise you that.”

I laugh out loud as I turn to look back at myself. I still have a lot to do. I wish I could be like Tessi and not care if someone recognizes me in this place, but it always freaks me out that Phillip could come in here, or one of his friends. I’m not ashamed of what I do by any means, but I still don’t like to advertise it. Plus, I’m not a hundred percent sure how Phillip would feel about this. Reese knows, but I’ve never brought it up to Phillip, and neither has she. But really, the thought of some guy coming up to me outside of the club is enough, so I do everything I can to change my appearance.

Reaching for my contact case, I open it quickly, popping in my dark brown contacts to cover my bright blue eyes. Positioning some fake lashes to make my eyes look fuller, I finish my eye makeup before applying some bright red lipstick. Pursing my lips at myself, satisfied with the way I look, I smile at my reflection before standing up to get ready. Reaching for my outfit for the night, I hurry to get ready because, like Tessi said, Ms. Prissy could be a major bitch when she wasn’t getting laid regularly. After sliding the crystal-encrusted booty shorts up over my black fishnets, I slide my feet into a pair of black high heels as Tessi stands up to help me tie up the back of the crystal-studded corset.

“Claire! Let’s go,” Ms. Prissy yells.

Tessi laughs before swatting me on my butt. “Good luck.”

I flash her a grin as I grab my fans and make my way to the curtain. Tonight, I’m doing an old-fashioned burlesque fan dance. I’d seen it on TV one night and then spent the next two weeks researching and rehearsing my set before I showed Ms. Prissy and management at the club. That was a year ago, and now I was the most popular act on the busiest night. I also do pole and regular burlesque dancing, but the fans are my favorite. I send Ms. Prissy an apologetic smile as I run to my mark, but all I receive back is an eye roll before she gets on the radio to let the tech guys know I’m ready. When “Diamonds” by Rihanna starts, I slowly pull the curtains back, revealing myself to the crowd as it erupts with catcalls and men hollering my name.

Showtime.

Oh, by the way, my name is Claire Anderson and I’m a nineteen-year-old sophomore at the University of Bellevue here in Tennessee. By night though, onstage and in this club, my name is Diamond, and I’m the best burlesque dancer at Ms. Prissy’s Gentlemen’s Club.

Nice to meet you.  

 



 

 
My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?
 
 
Author Links
 

  


 


COVER REVEAL ~ Twenty-Two (The Assassins series) by Toni Aleo

 

 

Coming May 22nd

 

 

When Lucas Brooks was traded to the Nashville Assassins over a decade ago, he was a brash, brawling hothead without an anchor.

Well, four kids and a smokin’ hot wife will weigh you down real fast, but Lucas wouldn’t change a minute of his happily ever after.

During an epic, end-of-season quest for the Cup, changes appear on the horizon, and suddenly, there’s a plot twist in Lucas’s fairy tale.

 

 


 

My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.… and did I mention I love hockey?

 

Author Links

 


 

BLOG TOUR ~ Delayed Call by Toni Aleo

 

AP new - buy the book.jpg

Amazon
  Nook   Kobo  iBooks
 

Vaughn Johansson is the Nashville Assassins’ star player. He’s brash, cocky, and talented. And he isn’t afraid to let anyone know it. He lives his life on his own terms, never forming romantic attachments, and only allowing his very closest to see his true, caring self.

Brie Soledad has the weight of the world on her shoulders. As the staff reporter for the Assassins, she balances her high-profile job and its heavy travel schedule with being the sole provider for her adult brother with Down syndrome. Sure, she’d like to find love. But who has time for that when there are bills to pay?

Brie has been the match to Vaughn’s gasoline since the day she first held out her microphone to him. They strike sparks off each other, keeping their friends, the team, and the Assassins fans in stitches. Brie’s refusal to fawn over Vaughn sets his teeth on edge and his blood boiling. Especially in that body part…

Brie’s been let down by love before, but she knows she deserves nothing less than real, forever love. Vaughn’s past has left deep, hidden scars, and there are some secrets he cannot bear to reveal. As much as Brie wants him, Vaughn may be too big a risk for her wary heart to take. But he is at his best under pressure.
When the delayed call is in effect and he has no choice but to score, Vaughn  always delivers
.


When Tricksie started to bark more frantically as he put his hat on, he looked down at her. “Two seconds, baby.”
She continued to bark as he grabbed his keys before reaching for the door, which she took off out of. He went to tell her to calm down, but before he could, he heard a woman’s voice, “Oh, my goodness! Hello!”
Peeking his head out the door, he found Brie on the ground. On her back, her arms around Tricksie as she jumped and licked her to death. “Oh, my God! Hello. My name is Brie. You are the cutest little dog I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Yes, you are. What is your name? Tricksie? Oh, my goodness, I just love you, I do. Is that your name because you are a three-legged baby and your daddy thinks he’s awesome at scoring hat tricks? I bet so.”
“For your information, yes.”
Brie just grinned as she continued to kiss and love on Tricksie. Which Tricksie was eating up like mad. “Do you want a treat? Treat? Ah, come on.”
Then she yanked the leash out of Vaughn’s hand before picking Tricksie up and kissing her head. “Hey, that’s my dog.”
“I know,” was all she said before pushing her door open and taking his dog into her apartment.
“Can I have her back?” Peeking his head in her door, he watched as she went to the kitchen, grabbing a treat bag before putting Tricksie on the counter and feeding her.
“Don’t worry, they’re all-natural treats. The guys across the hall in my last building had four French Bulldogs, and I used to give them treats until they went into food comas.”
Tricksie was going crazy, obviously falling for the blond-haired beauty who stood before her. Like the day before when they had moved Rodney in, she was wearing jeans and a shirt that he assumed said something witty. He couldn’t see because she was still cuddling Tricksie as she fed her. “You shouldn’t give treats to other people’s dogs.”
She looked up from Tricksie, her lips still curved in the most beautiful grin he had ever seen on her face. “You’re right. I’m sorry. Is it okay if I continue to feed her?”
Why did he find her so lovely at that moment? Her hair was a mess, tucked into a knit cap, yet she looked like someone he could cuddle with. If he cuddled. Not that he cuddled. Unsure of his feelings, he shrugged. “She needs to pee.”
“Okay, one more,” she said sweetly before feeding Tricksie and then kissing her hard on the head. “You can come in.”
He didn’t like how she was making him feel. It was weird. Like he wanted to go behind her, bury his nose in her hair, and just hold her. She looked so damn gorgeous, snuggling his dog and making her feel like the princess she was. Vaughn’s hands itched to touch Brie, and he didn’t understand that. He never itched for anything. He fucked women and moved on, but watching Brie as she acted a fool with his dog, he wanted to…cuddle.
Why did he keep thinking that?
Grumbling at his stupidity, he entered, shutting the door but staying right by it. “She really does need to pee.”
“Oh, yeah, sorry,” she said, kissing Tricksie again. “I really love dogs. I never got to have one growing up. Rodney is allergic to them.”
He nodded. “Yeah, Jensen said he had to put her up when Rod came over the other day.”
“It sucks, but I love them so much. They’re so much fun, and bless her, she’s gorgeous. What happened to her leg?”
“Hit by a car. I adopted her like that. She came in hurt, and they fixed her up.”
Her eyes lit up. “That’s sweet you adopted her. She looks happy as all get-out.”
“She’s spoiled, that’s for sure.”

Watch the trailer HERE

 


 

 

 




 

My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?

 

Author Links


 

CHAPTER REVEAL ~ Delayed Call by Toni Aleo

AP new - buy the book.jpg

Coming March 20th

 

Amazon   Nook   Kobo  iBooks

 

 


Vaughn Johansson is the Nashville Assassins’ star player. He’s brash, cocky, and talented. And he isn’t afraid to let anyone know it. He lives his life on his own terms, never forming romantic attachments, and only allowing his very closest to see his true, caring self.


Brie Soledad has the weight of the world on her shoulders. As the staff reporter for the Assassins, she balances her high-profile job and its heavy travel schedule with being the sole provider for her adult brother with Down syndrome. Sure, she’d like to find love. But who has time for that when there are bills to pay?

Brie has been the match to Vaughn’s gasoline since the day she first held out her microphone to him. They strike sparks off each other, keeping their friends, the team, and the Assassins fans in stitches. Brie’s refusal to fawn over Vaughn sets his teeth on edge and his blood boiling. Especially in that body part…

Brie’s been let down by love before, but she knows she deserves nothing less than real, forever love. Vaughn’s past has left deep, hidden scars, and there are some secrets he cannot bear to reveal. As much as Brie wants him, Vaughn may be too big a risk for her wary heart to take. But he is at his best under pressure.
When the delayed call is in effect and he has no choice but to score, Vaughn always delivers
.



   “He’s cute.”
   “She’s a sweetie, too.”
   “Oh, she’s a she?”
   “Yes.”
   “Girls don’t usually like me,” Vaughn Johansson said with his brows pulled together as he looked into the dark brown eyes gazing back at him.
They were full of such hope, wanting… And instantaneously, he fell in love.
   “Well, I think she loves you.”
   Looking up briefly at the adoption counselor, Vaughn gazed back at the little black French Bulldog and smiled. She was a cutie; her little nub tail was wiggling, and her eyes were so wide that Vaughn felt like he could fall into them. But just as quick as he fell in love, he noticed something was missing. “She only has three legs.”   
   The adoption rep smiled grimly. “Yes, she was brought in having been hit by a car, and we fixed her up. That’s what throws people off, her not being whole and all.”
   Making a face, Vaughn crouched down and took ahold of the fence as the little girl wiggled in excitement. She wanted to come through the fence. He could feel her eagerness, especially when she started to lick his hands, her eyes telling, or better yet, begging him to take her home. The thing was, she didn’t have to beg. The little three-legged dog was his from the moment he saw her. As he leaned into the fence, his nose went through the links before he whispered, “Don’t worry, girl, I’m not whole either.”
   She licked his nose before letting out the sweetest little bark, and Vaughn was hooked. Standing up, he clapped his hands together. “I scored three goals last night, a hat trick, so it only makes sense that my first dog be a three-legged one.”
   “Oh, cool.”
   She had no clue what he was talking about. “I play for the Nashville Assassins.”
   The lady, who obviously had never seen a game of hockey a day in her life, nodded happily.
   “Cool. That’s fun.”
   “You know what team that is, right?”  
   “Yeah, football. Right?”
   Vaughn blinked in dismay, but then, what did he expect? She was barely an adult and probably hadn’t been exposed to the great sport of hockey. “Hockey.”
   “Oh, I don’t like hockey,” she said, wrinkling her face up. “But the players are hot.”
   He couldn’t disagree, but then she looked him up and down with very sinful eye, and he froze. There was no way in hell he was going to prison for this jailbait, so that was his cue to get his dog and bounce. Yet, he asked, “Have you been to a game?”
   “Oh, no, I don’t have time.”
   Rolling his eyes once more, he looked back at his new girl and smiled. “Well, that’s too bad because I’m naming this girl Tricksie, and that won’t make sense to you.”
   “Oh, you want her?”
   “Yes, I do. You know what a hat trick is, right?”
   The fact that she had no clue what he was speaking of was all over her face as she only nodded. “Like tricks with hats?”
   Vaughn wanted to cry. The poor youth of the world. “It’s where you score three goals.”
   He might as well have told her the answer to the greatest unsolved math problem in the world, because she was more lost than the three blind mice. “Cool. That’s hard, huh?”
   Smiling, he shot her a wink. “For some. But for me, it’s easy peasy, lemon squeezy.”
   Her face scrunched up more. She thought he was an idiot. “That’s corny.”
   “Well, that’s because you’re ten.”
   She pressed her lips together in annoyance. “I’m twenty.”  
 “Same thing. Can I get my dog, please?”
    Rolling her eyes before popping her gum, she turned for the front. “Yeah, let’s go to the office, and Linda will get the paperwork done.”
   She started to walk away, but Vaughn didn’t move. “Can I have her?”
   Letting out a long breath, she nodded before reaching for her keys, which made Tricksie jump to the best of her ability and howl louder. A huge grin spread across Vaughn’s face as he bent down and the little girl came running for him, jumping into him and scrambling to climb up his body. Holding on to her overactive little body, Vaughn laughed as he stood, kissing her head. “I think she’s happy.”
   “That’s an understatement,” the girl said dryly as she started for the front of the adoption center, but Vaughn was in complete paradise.
   It had been a long month of looking for a companion, but holding Tricksie, Vaughn was pretty sure it had been totally worth the wait. His need for company came when he discovered he was the only single guy on the team. Everyone had girlfriends or wives and/or kids. Meanwhile, Vaughn was chilling with just an Xbox when he wasn’t working. Hockey kept him busy, but when he wasn’t at the rink, there was no one to hang with, no one to talk to, and he found himself a bit lonely. He wasn’t ashamed to say that; it was a natural occurrence when one didn’t want to put himself out there and find someone to love him. The thing about love was it was just so uncertain, and Vaughn didn’t have the time for it. But a dog, a dog loved you no matter what. Plus, he had always wanted a dog. Ever since he was a little kid, he had yearned for one, but since hockey was so expensive, his dad never got him and his brother one. Along with all the therapy and treatments his brother needed, a dog wasn’t doable. But now, now, a dog was doable.
   And Vaughn was convinced Tricksie was going to be the best dog ever.
   As Tricksie licked and barked happily, Vaughn couldn’t believe he had waited so long to do this. But then, if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have this beautiful gem of a girl. And boy, what a beauty she was. He couldn’t believe people would turn up their noses at her, all because she didn’t have four legs. She had killer dark-as-night fur, her big, brown eyes were two huge views into her heart, and she smiled. The damn dog was smiling, tongue hanging out as she wiggled in his arms. She smelled a little musky, but that was fixable. No, this girl was the jackpot, and Vaughn was glad he had pulled the lever.
   As he walked through the doors leading to the office area—or at least, he hoped this was the right way since the lady who was helping him had disappeared—his phone sounded with a notification from his Nashville Assassins’ team app. It was probably weird that he had the app to the team he played hockey for on his phone, but he liked to know what his team was posting. Plus, he sometimes heard information from the app before he did from Coach. When he pulled out his phone, sliding the tab over, he realized this instance was one of those times.
   Jensen Monroe signed to Nashville Assassins for a three-year, three-million-dollar deal.
   “Holy shit! Tricksie, look! Uncle Jenny is coming to our team,” he said to his girlie before he laughed out loud. “You don’t know Uncle Jensen, hell, you don’t know me, but you will. Don’t worry.”
   Tricksie licked him happily, and he was pretty sure she didn’t care what he said as long as he loved her and fed her, which was his plan. His phone started to ring, and he laughed when he saw it was the man of the hour. “Jensen Monroe, signed to the Nashville Assassins for some bookoo bucks! What’s up, brother?”
   Jensen laughed softly, his voice deep. It had been deep since they were, like, thirteen. “Who the hell says bookoo still?”
   “Fuck you, dude. Congratulations!”
   “Thanks, it’s a great deal, I’m excited. It will be like old times too,” he said with a low laugh, and Vaughn smiled.
   There wasn’t a teenage moment that didn’t have Jensen and their buddy Wells in it. The three had been inseparable. When Jensen came to live with Wells’s family to play for their high school team, the three guys just clicked. They played all through high school, went to the same college, and were all drafted the same year too. Even being apart, Wells on the Avalanche, Vaughn on the Assassins, and when Jensen was with the Wild, they all stayed in contact. They were brothers. Always would be too. The guys were there for Vaughn when no one else was, and he would be forever in debt to the two men who became his brothers.
   “Wait, what happened to Dylan?”
   “He got sent down. Mrs. Adler said she wants someone she knows will win games. He hasn’t won a game since last season. I can win the games.” He wasn’t lying. Jensen was a great goalie, and it surprised Vaughn that he had come to the Assassins as a backup when he had a starting position with the Wild.
   “Why did you leave?”
    “I wasn’t happy. Yeah, I was winning games, but my contract was up and I needed a change. So I took the deal from Mrs. Adler, and I think it’s a good one. Except now I’ll be fighting the best goalie in the league for playing time.”
   Vaughn sucked his teeth. “Yeah, Tate Odder is the best.”
   “Thank you.” Vaughn laughed. “Besides, you, duh,” he said, his voice high and playful. “I hate you, but are you still single?”
   Vaughn paused. “Shit, are you telling me you’re gay too? I always knew Wells was, but I never suspected it from you. And, dude, you know I don’t bat for that team. I’m a pussy-only kind of guy.”
   “No, you douche canoe. Fuck.” He could practically hear Jensen roll his eyes, which, of course, made Vaughn laugh. “I seriously hate you, and I can’t believe I’m about to beg for this, but can I please live with you?”
   Vaughn stopped laughing as he looked down to his new ladylove. “I don’t know, man, I just got a new roommate.”
   “What?”
   “Yeah, she’s sweet, cold nose, licks a lot, and has three legs, but she’s cute as all hell,” he said as Tricksie kissed him with excitement before barking out in agreement. “And she barks. I’m not sure if it’s a lot, though.”
   “You got a three-legged dog?”
   “Yes, I did.”
    “Of course you did. Who is going to watch said three-legged dog when we are on trips?”
   “Wren,” he said simply, and Jensen groaned loudly at the mention of Wells’s baby sister. Jensen had always had a thing for her, but Wren never took notice. She was too busy with her nose in a book. Which he guessed paid off because now she was a hotshot therapist for the Nashville Assassins. Plus, Vaughn was pretty sure she batted for the other team. He had never seen her with a dude, and he had tried to sleep with her plenty. He couldn’t imagine why she’d turn him down if she were straight. Obviously.
   “Does she know this?”
   “Yeah,” he lied, and Jensen let out a long breath of frustration.
   “You never think things through, I swear. But whatever, can you get me from the airport at 9:10?”
   Vaughn smiled since he had never said yes to Jensen living with him, for the simple fact that Jensen didn’t have to ask and he knew that. Jensen knew he had a home wherever Vaughn was. “Yup, me and Tricksie will be there.”
   “Tricksie?”
   “She’s a three-legged dog, and I scored a hat trick last night.”
    Jensen paused and then laughed. “You’re insane. See you in a bit, and make sure you call Wren.”
   “Will do.”
   They hung up, and Vaughn rolled his eyes. Jensen was always the do-right kind of guy. While Wells and Vaughn wanted to go out, get drunk, and break something, Jensen would talk them down and convince them that getting drunk and playing on the back pond was a better idea. He was the last one to lose his virginity because he wanted it to be with someone “special.” He never cheated on a girl, and when he broke up with one, he felt bad. When his young marriage broke up, he took all the blame on himself. Never said an unkind word about his ex. He called his mom every day, multiple times, and he hung out with the dorky kids growing up. He was voted Homecoming King of their class because he was so sugary sweet. Not to mention, he looked like a runway model, while Wells and Vaughn looked a little rough around the edges. Still, they were best friends, and nothing could ever change that.
   When his phone rang right as he reached the doors to go sign the papers for Tricksie, he looked down to see it was Wren.
   Shit.
   “Hey, Wren,” he said, answering the phone with a big smile. “How’s my favorite therapist who won’t sleep with me?”
   “Oh, I’m just fine. But funny thing, you didn’t show up for therapy, and then I got a text from Jensen saying you got a dog and I’m watching it. Oh, and it has three legs.”
  “Um… Her name is Tricksie and she is amazing, and I don’t need therapy.”
  “You do. Tricksie. Cute, but I never agreed to watch her.”
  “Yes, you did.”
   “When?”
   “When I got you drunk the other night and stole your virtue.”
   “Vaughn Johansson, I haven’t had my virtue in a long damn time.”
   “But did a guy take it?”
   “I will kill you dead, and that’s off the record, mister,” she growled into the phone, at which he laughed. “So you have no leg to stand on, and I don’t think Tricksie can lend you one.”
   Vaughn scoffed. “You said I needed a companion. I got one, and in return, you have to watch her when I leave.”
   “I meant a woman, but fine, a dog is fine. It’s a step in the right direction, I guess. But I never agreed to this, and I travel too, Vaughn.”
   “Not all the time, though. Maybe once a month, and I can board her then.”
   “So you have a plan?” she asked, and she didn’t sound convinced because, really, Vaughn never had a plan.
   “Yup, sure do.”
   “Okay, well, add me in at nine tomorrow before morning skate, and if you don’t show up, I’ll tell your coach.”
   Vaughn’s face scrunched up. “You’re mean.”
   “I love you too. Bye.”
   She hung up, and Vaughn tucked his phone into his pocket before looking down at Tricksie. “That was your aunt Wren and she’s mean to me, but she’ll be nice to you. Are you ready to go home?”
   Tricksie began to lick his skin off, and he took that as a yes. As a huge smile covered his face, Vaughn nodded his head. He had his baby girl, his best friend was coming to his team, Wren would watch Tricksie, and he was playing for the team of his dreams. Things were good. Really good.

   And loneliness would be a thing of the past; he just knew it.

***

   “Who talked me into this?”
   “No one. You did that to yourself.”
   “Why?”
   “I don’t know. You’re lonely?”
   “Oh. I am, aren’t I? Shit.”
   “Yup, so may the force be with you, my friend.”
   “But I don’t want to do this.”
   “Then leave?”
   “Can’t you come with me? There’s still time. It doesn’t start for another fifteen.”
   “I’m just sure my fiancé would love that.”
   Brie Soledad rolled her eyes as she leaned on the pillar of the ballroom, her eyes burning a hole in the sign that read: Speed Dating for Nashville Locals. It was embarrassing that this was what her life had resulted in, but as her best friend had said, she was lonely. Mekena Preston, though, was not lonely. Nope, she was all happy and in love with her fiancé, while having a great job and a wonderful life, blah, blah, blah. And if Brie was honest, she was jealous as hell and so desperately wanted to get laid, maybe even fall in love. Get the blah, blah, blah.
   God, she wanted the blah, blah, blah. So damn bad.
   Being a hockey reporter for one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Nashville Assassins, one would think she would be rolling in the men, but she wasn’t. Everyone treated her like a little sister or they ignored her or they treated her like shit. Well, only one did that, but that was beside the point. The point was, Brie needed more. She was happy in her career. It was awesome, she was amazing, and people loved her. She had even won an Emmy the year before; she was kicking ass. The only problem was she didn’t have anyone to share her success with.
   Yeah, she had her little brother, Rodney, but he really didn’t understand. Also, he needed to focus on his health and not on her. She was supposed to worry for him, not the other way around. Or at least, that was what she had promised her mom before she passed away from cancer a few years back. Sometimes, it was hard to remember, but she blamed that on the fact that she had no one to lean on. It was just her, with the weight of her job and her brother’s issues on her shoulders.
   And plus, she really wanted to get laid.
   It really didn’t make sense. She wasn’t an ugly girl. She was short, and maybe she could have skipped a few desserts, but then, what was life without ice cream and donuts? She had a pretty face, big blue eyes, and lips that screamed to be kissed, yet no one was kissing them. It was annoying, and pray God, this damn speed dating worked.
   “I’m gonna stay,” she said, coming off the pillar and fixing the skirt of her little blue dress that stopped right at the middle of her thighs. “I need to get laid.”
   Mekena stuttered. “Not tonight, though, right?”
   “Jesus, Mekena, I’m not a whore.”
   “Oh, you’re not?”
   And this was the problem with being best friends with a girl she met only a month ago. “I’m not. Asshole.”
   She giggled. “Fine, but please text me and let me know you weren’t killed.”
   “I’ve got my pepper spray.”
   “And your Taser?”
   “And my Taser,” she said, rolling her eyes. She wasn’t sure why Mekena was even asking; she was the one who had stuffed it in her purse the day before. If nothing else, Mekena Preston was practical and smart, very smart.
   “Good, text me when you leave.”
   “Will do.”
   “Have fun. Find your forever!”
    Brie’s face scrunched up. “That is dumb, don’t ever say that again.”
   “Hey, everyone says that when they fall in love.”
   “God, I hope I don’t.”
    “You will.”
    “I won’t.”
    “Stop stalling. Go find your forever.”
    “That’s disgusting. Bye,” Brie complained before hanging up and then tucking her phone into her pocket and taking in a deep breath. Looking around the room, she noticed there was a decent men-to-women ratio, which was good. She didn’t want to be the only chick in the middle of a sausage fest. While she wanted some sausage, she only needed one. A large one, thick, some girth, mmm… Great, now she was hungry. Pressing her hand to her belly, she rolled her eyes. She needed help.
   Or, again, to get laid.
   Maybe she should just go home with the first able-bodied man.
    When a large, round man stopped in front of her, her eyes widened. He was easily twenty years older than her thirty-two years and he was losing his hair, but he was trying to cover it with a toupee. People still wore those? Pointing at her, he smiled with bright yellow teeth. “Hey, sugar, make sure to stop at my table.”
   “Ugh, sure,” she blurted out before hightailing it to the left.
   She would not be going home with that guy. No matter how desperate she was.
   Standing in the back, she looked over the sea of people as the announcer explained what they were to do. The sad thing was, this wasn’t her first time, so she knew what to do. Last time, she hated it and met no one, but maybe this time would be different. Letting out a long groan, she shook her head. If she could be normal and meet someone in a coffee shop or at her job, that would be awesome. But she hadn’t had luck with guys her whole life.
   She wasn’t one of those serial daters or even a casual one. She dated for a reason, and because of that, she had only been in two serious relationships. Both were ended by the guy, which did nothing for her confidence. Both times she didn’t see it coming, and that alone was depressing as hell. Especially Matthew. She loved Matthew—a lot. But when her mom died, he said it was too much and left her high and dry. Not only did she have to pick up the pieces of her heart and Rod’s from her mother’s death, but then she had to pick up the extra pieces of her heart from Matthew’s departure. It was horrible, and because of that experience, she was a little scarred by relationships.
   Okay, a whole lot scarred. But she was coming up on a new year, and it was time to turn over a new leaf. She wanted the happiness that being with a guy could provide. It had taken her a long time to love herself again. After the grief was no longer overwhelming, after the pain of Matt was gone, she was ready to love once more. It was time, time for her to venture out and find that guy. The… There was no way she was saying the forever guy, but something along those lines.
   “So let’s get started!” the announcer said, and then she rang a really annoying cowbell. Taking the cue, Brie went to the first table and sat down as a guy with hair longer than hers did. He was decent-looking, but no spark whatsoever. Maybe it would come?
   “Hey, I’m Brian.” Brie smiled.
   “Hi, I’m Brie.”
   “Ha, like the cheese.”
    She blinked. “Excuse me?”
    “The cheese. I love Brie, it’s my favorite. I wonder if you taste like Brie? Wanna get out of here?”
    She blinked once more and then let out a hard laugh. “So let me get this straight,” she said, leaning on the table. “First, you compare me to cheese, and not even the most exclusive cheese, kind of midrange. And then you want me to go home with you?”
   He shrugged like that was a normal exchange.
   “Yeah.” “Yeah, no. And fuck-you-very-much,” she said, standing up just as the bell rang. Thankfully. Moving down the chair, she skipped the guy from earlier, the balding dude, and sat down as a very attractive, clean-cut guy sat down. And wowza, was he gorgeous. Big blue eyes, wonderful angles to his face, and thick, yummy shoulders. He reminded her of someone…but… Whoa, not now, Soledad.
   With a bright smile, she said, “Hey, I’m Brie.”
   “Tim, nice to meet you,” he said, matching her grin as he looked her up and down. “Let me guess, a doctor?” She laughed. “Reporter for the Nashville Assassins.” His eyes lit up. “Go Assassins!”
   She smiled as she nodded. “Greatest team in the league.”
   “Agreed, but I’m sad. I could have sworn you were a doctor. That would have worked for me since I’m a lawyer, and I need someone to deal with my crazy hours.”
   “Well, I need that too because I leave a lot.”
   “Oh, well then, hi,” he said, leaning on the table, and she did the same.
   “Hi.”
   “Family?” She nodded. “A little brother.”
   “What’s his name?”
   “Rodney.”
   “Is he in town?”
   “Yup, over at Riverdale.”
   His brows pulled together. “Riverdale? Isn’t that the old folks’ home?”
   “They also have a facility for people with Down syndrome.”
   “I didn’t know they kept retards too. That place stinks, I had an aunt die there.”
   Oh, look, there went all the attraction she even thought she had for this piece of junk. Swallowing hard, she stood slowly and then tucked her chair in. “Actually, not all people with Down syndrome have mental challenges. My brother is highly intelligent. You wouldn’t even know he had Down syndrome if he didn’t have the physical characteristics.”
   He shrugged, waving her off. “Same thing.”
   She could only blink. “You know what isn’t the same? A dick-fuck and a cuntasaurus.”
   “Um—”
   “But you know what? You’re both of those,” she yelled. “And we are done.”
   “Your loss, sweetheart.”
   “No, you piece of dog shit, it’s your loss because I am fucking amazing,” she announced before turning on her heel and walking straight out of the speed-dating event.
   Fuck guys.
   They sucked.

My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?

 

Author Links

 



 

TRAILER REVEAL ~ Delayed Call by Toni Aleo

 

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Coming March 20th

 

Amazon   Nook   Kobo  iBooks

 

 

Vaughn Johansson is the Nashville Assassins’ star player. He’s brash, cocky, and talented. And he isn’t afraid to let anyone know it. He lives his life on his own terms, never forming romantic attachments, and only allowing his very closest to see his true, caring self.

Brie Soledad has the weight of the world on her shoulders. As the staff reporter for the Assassins, she balances a high-profile job and it’s heavy travel schedule with being the sole provider for her adult brother with Down syndrome. Sure, she’d like to find love. But who has time for that when there are bills to pay?

Brie has been the match to Vaughn’s gasoline since the day she first held out her microphone to him. They strike sparks off each other, keeping their friends, the team, and the Assassins fans in stitches. Brie’s refusal to fawn over Vaughn sets his teeth on edge and his blood boiling. Especially in that body part…

Brie’s been let down by love before, but she knows she deserves nothing less than real, forever love. Vaughn’s past has left deep, hidden scars, and there are some secrets he cannot bear to reveal. As much as Brie wants him, Vaughn may be too big a risk for her wary heart to take. But he’s is at his best under pressure. When the delayed call is in effect and he has no choice but to score, Vaughn always delivers.

 




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My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle. … and did I mention I love hockey?

 

Author Links

 


 

COVER REVEAL ~ Delayed Call (Assassins #10) by Toni Aleo

 

 

Coming February 20th

 

 

Vaughn Johansson is the Nashville Assassins’ star player. He’s brash, cocky, and talented. And he isn’t afraid to let anyone know it. He lives his life on his own terms, never forming romantic attachments, and only allowing his very closest to see his true, caring self.

Brie Soledad has the weight of the world on her shoulders. As the staff reporter for the Assassins, she balances a high-profile job and its heavy travel schedule with being the sole provider for her adult brother with Down syndrome. Sure, she’d like to find love. But who has time for that when there are bills to pay?

Brie has been the match to Vaughn’s gasoline since the day she first held out her microphone to him. They strike sparks off each other, keeping their friends, the team, and the Assassins fans in stitches. Brie’s refusal to fawn over Vaughn sets his teeth on edge and his blood boiling. Especially in that body part…

Brie’s been let down by love before, but she knows she deserves nothing less than real, forever love. Vaughn’s past has left deep, hidden scars, and there are some secrets he cannot bear to reveal. As much as Brie wants him, Vaughn may be too big a risk for her wary heart to take. But he’s is at his best under pressure. When the delayed call is in effect and he has no choice but to score, Vaughn always delivers.

 



My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?

Author Links





BLOG TOUR ~ Broken Pieces (The Patchwork Series) by Toni Aleo

 

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Can be found in the Once upon midnight anthology

From the moment Oceanus von Stein, second-in-command to the Patchwork family, caught sight of Taegan Conner, daughter of the leader of the Wolves, he knew he would never love another. Only now, she has been promised in marriage to another, an arrangement to strengthen her family’s alliances — and she gets no say in the matter.
Can they find a way to be together, or will they both always be two Broken Pieces?


Take place during Pieces.

 


As I watch my father sit, he doesn’t do so smoothly. His movements are jerky before he folds his old, leathery hands together and his eyes scan the room. The scars are very prominent on his face and hands. All the experiments he did on himself are visible, along with the scar tissue that is ancient and freakish on him. While his eyes are bright, from the new pair he just obtained, he looks like death. And tired. Very tired.
Clearing his throat, he lets his gaze fall on me, and I meet it head on.
“I had a meeting with Kurt Conner.”
Kurt Conner.
The pack leader of the wolves.
My love’s father.
Clearing my throat, I sit up straighter as my forearms lay against the cool top of the old oak table. Before I can comment, though, he is going on. “He needed a loan for the wedding of Taegan.”
What?
My world stops.
I feel all eyes on me. My father is staring at me, waiting for a response, but I don’t have one.
Because what the actual fuck is going on?
Did I hear him wrong?
“A wedding?”
“Yeah, she is marrying some other pack leader’s son—you know how those wolves are. Wanting to unite families with arranged marriage and all that wolfish nonsense, I don’t know. But I didn’t give him the money until—”
“Until?” I gasp, my heart in my throat, my stomach on the ground, and every piece of me feeling as if I am falling into the fiery depths of hell because surely I am hearing my father wrong.
Taegan is to marry me.
“He offered up some information on Frank Kelley—”
“He hasn’t died yet?” Jonas asks, and I know it’s to give me time. To let me think, to let me process, but I can’t. Taegan is to marry someone else? She didn’t even tell me. We were together last night! Had she known? Was she playing me? Damn it, what the hell? How could she allow me to find out this way? I mean, I knew my time was running out, but hell, did she keep this from me? I’ve never experienced heartache or true heartbreak, but I’m pretty sure this feeling of my chest caving in and blowing up is just that.
She’s marrying someone else?
She isn’t waiting for me?
Gasping for breath as I try to push the bile back down my throat, I watch as my father shakes his head. “Not yet. And apparently, they are wanting to attack us in one more attempt to get the formula for him. They think they can kidnap Rebekah and use her as leverage.”
I feel Rebekah move as she squeaks. “Me?”
“You. So we are on high alert. Keep your eyes open, and, Rebekah, I don’t want you working at the bar until this is taken care of. I have a meeting with Frank Kelley on Friday.”
“Father, I’m fine at the bar. It’s owned by our family, most of our family is there, along with JJ. The Kelleys don’t even come that much.”
“Yes, but other families come to the bar, and that makes me uncomfortable.”
“I’m fine, I can take care of myself.”
He leans on his desk, and I don’t care about their melodrama. I can’t. Even though I know I should intervene, calm both sides—because my father is right, we need to keep Rebekah underground while this goes on—I can’t help but think of the fact that my love is marrying another. Someone other than me. How in the world is this fair? Why didn’t she fight them? She told me she was mine, and I was hers. Why didn’t she wait for me?
And then it’s like I’m being slapped back into reality.
She didn’t wait for me because we can’t.
We can’t be selfish and love each other because we have commitments to our families. Yes, we love each other. Yes, she is my world, and I’ll love only her. But just like I have to, she has to protect her family. I’m sure there is something more to this, and while I wish she had told me, I know I can’t be upset. I have to respect the process of our families.
Being the eldest, we have no choice.
We don’t get to be greedy.
Wow, I don’t even believe I’m trying to convince myself.
How could she?

 


My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.
… and did I mention I love hockey?

 

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