Stranded by Cara Dee


Classic black and white fine art portrait of a handsome tough gu

Stranded by Cara Dee

Title: Auctioned

Genre: Gay Romance

Pairing: Crime/Suspense

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Amazon Universal: http://bit.ly/cdw-amazon-stranded

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/cdw-good-stranded

Classic black and white fine art portrait of a handsome tough gu

Synopsis:

Stranded is the second book in The Auctioned Series. Before you read further, you should read Auctioned.

“You have my word, Gray. I will get you off this island, and I will bring you home.”

It was supposed to be an easy in-and-out job. Nothing Darius Quinn hadn’t done before. But this job had something none of the others did: Gray Nolan.

Like Murphy’s Law advised, anything that could go wrong, would. A mission to save one hometown favorite son was turning into a quest to rescue thirteen traumatized young men against odds so steep, he’d need an oxygen mask to scale them.

Facing new dangers and an uncertain future, Darius keeps Gray close and is soon forced to accept that this has become much more than an assignment. For a man whose reputation was built on being ice-cold under pressure, Darius is beginning to discover how good it feels to burn.

Classic black and white fine art portrait of a handsome tough gu

Excerpt I:

“Can I go to the waterfall and clean up? I feel gross,” Gray said.

Darius hesitated. Several of the others had already been there, though that was before it was pitch black outside. On the other hand, it would be a good idea to redress Gray’s thigh, especially after his stupid swim in the ocean earlier.

“If I go with you,” he decided. It wouldn’t hurt to get himself cleaned up too. His skin itched like nothing else, and perhaps he could wash away some of the tension in his body as well. It’d been one of the longest days he’d ever endured.

It was settled, and he grabbed a medical kit as Ryan extended a bag of something.

“Food and a towel.”

Darius nodded in acknowledgment, and then he trailed over to Gray.

To make the trek easier, they took the longer route along the beach, and when the little stream appeared, all they had to do was follow it.

“Don’t walk too fast, knucklehead,” Darius murmured.

Gray huffed a breath and slowed down a bit. “I just wanna get there—ouch.” He hissed and hopped on his good leg as he held his foot. “Fuck.”

“What happened?” Darius closed the distance, not that he could see shit.

“I don’t know. Stepped on something. It’s fine.”

“Wanna use my shoes?” Darius obviously hadn’t been able to pack proper boots, like the ones Ry had arrived in, but he’d included a pair of sneakers that he’d changed into earlier. Gray was more than welcome to them.

“It’s okay. They’re probably too big anyway.”

Maybe a size or two, but it would feel better than walking around a jungle barefoot. A jungle that, even if small in size by comparison, was alive with countless sounds. This time of year, the humidity wasn’t stifling, but the dampness was still wherever they turned. Leaves glistened in the pale moonlight. Frogs and birds competed with their calls, and the underbrush rustled with the breeze and invisible critters.

“Come on, we’re almost there.” Gray was walking again. “By the way, did you guys contact your sister?”

“Ry’s probably doing that right now. He’s gonna ask her to hold off for forty-eight hours.”

“Why? Can’t you just have her call the authorities to pick us up?”

Darius nodded and sidestepped a tree trunk. “The problem is Ryan and me. There’s a risk we’re not alone in the area, and if rescue arrives and he and I are spotted with all this gear by the wrong people, all this will be for nothing. If they suspect it’s all been one big rescue op…” He didn’t wanna finish that sentence.

Gray seemed to understand anyway. “They might come after us.”

Or their loved ones.

Classic black and white fine art portrait of a handsome tough gu

Excerpt II:

Even though the situation was serious, it was impossible not to find humor in it. Gray was endearing as all hell when he was high, and Darius was confident he hadn’t administered too much—or too little, for that matter.

“Any nausea?” He smiled faintly and sat up. Easier to see Gray that way, and he was on his back with one arm stretched up while he was trying to pinch stars between his fingers. He wasn’t very successful.

“Nope.” Gray wore a silly grin, trying to grab another star from the sky. “That’s the ninth time you’ve asked.”

It was the second, but who was counting. Clearly not Gray.

“First-time users get sick sometimes,” Darius answered.

“Oh.” Gray yawned and folded his hands under his head instead. “Are we sleeping here tonight? Can we go catch bananas?”

Darius coughed around a chuckle and dug out his battered pack of smokes from his jeans. “We’re staying a few hours, at least.” So far, no fresh blood had painted Gray’s bandage, and Darius was counting his blessings for it. That said, he wanted to be careful and not move around. “Can you wiggle your toes for me?”

Again?” Gray took on the huffy, insufferable tone of a complaining teenager. “See? I’m doing it.” Nothing. Nada. His feet were still.

“You’re actually not,” Darius drawled. “Try again.”

Gray frowned and concentrated, and the tip of his tongue poked out. It was…cute as fuck. “What about now? I’m trying to contact them.”

Darius chuckled once more, and he was relieved when the toes did move. “There we go.”

“Told you,” Gray sang. “Can’t cut off my pulse.”

“Circulation,” Darius corrected with a laugh.

Hey.” Gray pushed himself up and supported his weight on his elbows. The silly, lazy grin was back. “You laughed, gorgeous.”

That made Darius snort, and he lit up a smoke.

“I’m just sayin’.” Gray plopped down again. “I’d let you wear my letterman jacket.”

Good lord, where the hell were the kid’s thoughts this time?

“Mr. Stone-face,” Gray whispered at the sky. “Hottest cover, but the pages are blank. No, wait. I mean, they’re in another language. I can’t read your book. You know?”

Darius’s forehead creased, and he exhaled some smoke. “I can’t even pretend to know what you’re rambling about, boy.”

Gray waved a hand. “I know some things.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Like, you’re a good man. But then…? Poof. You were born in Greece.”

“I…”

“Because your book is in Greek!” Gray’s triumphant yell echoed and bounced between the trees.

Instantly alert, Darius narrowed his eyes and observed their surroundings. “Keep it down, knucklehead.” They hadn’t searched the whole island yet, and they couldn’t be too careful.

Classic black and white fine art portrait of a handsome tough gu

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My Review 

Stranded by Cara Dee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think anyone who has read Auctioned has been waiting with bated breath for the second instalment of the 8392 series and Cara Dee does not disappoint!

Here we have Stranded, told in the perspective of Darius, which I loved. It gave great insight to his mind and to see how he thinks, especially with his background, was fascinating. I look forward to getting to know him more in the upcoming books.

Stranded picks up right where Auctioned left off, with the exception of the POV. At first, I felt a little more relaxed reading this one, knowing how the first book ended and then reading the first few chapters of Stranded. I should have known Cara would have had some tricks up her sleeve.

Although I found Stranded a lot less dramatic than Auctioned, I loved it just as much! My head was spinning reading the entire book. The emotions I felt whilst reading Darius’s take on Gray were unreal. I would have given anything to read those parts of the book in Grays POV, to know what was going on in his head and really feel the emotions I believed he was experiencing would have been epic. If intentional, that was a very clever move by Cara.

I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Five Stars!!

View all my reviews on Goodreads here!

What Really Matters by M.A. Innes

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What Really Matters by M.A. Innes

Genre: Gay Romance

Pairing: Age Play/Mild BDSM

Series: No

Synopsis:

Zac has a secret…and he’s worried about what his husband would think.

When you’ve been married for years, you aren’t supposed to pop up with a new and interesting kink. At least, that’s what Zac keeps telling himself. His husband Hunter is sweet, loving, and understanding, but he hadn’t signed up for anything like what Zac wants to explore.

Zac has a secret…but Hunter isn’t worried…just confused.

Zac is a constant source of surprise and humor for Hunter. But he’s been acting even more interesting than usual, and Hunter has a feeling it’s time to see what his sexy husband is up to. When he begins to understand what Zac is holding back, Hunter has a decision to make.

Two loving men. One big question about what really matters when you’re in love.

60k words

Story Contains: M/m sexual content, mild BDSM, spankings, and mild age play

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Excerpt I:

I could only assume that they made clothing for the lifestyle. I had a vague memory of an old CSI episode that had a man who’d dressed up as a baby. I couldn’t remember if the show had been nice about it or not, but there had to be some truth in it. If they made diapers for people Zac’s size, then they had to make other clothing as well.

Would he let me pick it out?

Did I want to pick it out?

Maybe.

The first flashes of images that had crossed my mind had been me picking them out. That’s what a Daddy would do. Right? If Zac’s…role in a relationship like this was to be young, then that meant he’d make the same decisions a child would. Right?

Yes.

No.

We were back to maybe.

Research. This called for more research.

A quiet voice in the back of my mind that sounded a bit like a sarcastic Zac said that I just needed to do what came naturally. Were there instincts for something like age play? Were some people just born Daddies who either figured it out or walked through life never knowing?

I couldn’t help but wonder if I had instincts for something like this. Could I make him happy?

Excerpt II:

“All right, bedtime.” As the cartoon came to an end, I reached for the remote.

Zac frowned and looked down at his picture. “But I’m not done.”

I reached out to run my hand over his head without thinking about it. “You’ll have time later this week to finish.”

He hunched over and huffed, giving me a pout. “But next weekend is so far away.”

To Zac, big or little, it probably did feel like an eternity away. “How about this…if we have any days this week where we both get home at a real hour then we’ll have more…more time like this…more little time? If you’d like, then I might even make dinner again and we’ll have a full night where you can be little.”

I was curious to see if that would be enough of a temptation to get him to work more normal hours. I understood that his job wasn’t always nine to five, but it felt like he needed to learn when to step away and not just wait until he was exhausted at the end of the week.

He nodded slowly and I could see his mind start to think. Not sure if he was ready to be a grown-up again or not, I looked over at the crayons. “Let’s pick up your toys and then I’ll tuck you in.”

Zac smiled, a teasing grin that looked close enough to his normal expression that I wasn’t sure what to expect. “Do I get to sleep in the big bed tonight?”

As opposed to what? A crib? A toddler bed?

There were too many interesting options.

Also, I couldn’t help but wonder if that meant he wasn’t ready to be big yet. “Yes. You’ve been a good boy today so you can sleep in the big bed with Daddy.”

I wasn’t sure if it was my willingness to play along that made him so excited or if it was just the reaction that came normally when he was in his role, but he bounced up on his knees and threw his arms around me. “Thank you, Daddy.”

Smiling, because who could resist him, I kissed his cheek. “Thank you, baby. Now let’s clean up.”

My next thought was to remind him that he had school tomorrow but I wasn’t sure if that was right or not. Would that be weird or a wrong assumption about how he wanted to play the game…explore the role?

Could we talk about real-world things when we were having…little time…role-playing time…when he was like this, how was I supposed to talk about the other time?

Research.

I needed time to research.

About Shaw:

I’m Shaw Montgomery and M.A. Innes…two sides of the same coin. Some things I write are traditional BDSM stories and some are taboo. I love trying to explain peoples needs and desires. No matter if you’re reading one of my female domination books or my gay taboo stories, you’ll find sweet open characters who are discovering what they want out of a relationship.

Social Media Links:

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Three Dirty Harts by Cara Dee

Three Dirty Harts by Cara Dee

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Title: Three Dirty Harts

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Erotica

Pairing: Daddy Kink/MFM

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Amazon US: http://bit.ly/amus-tdh

Amazon CAN: http://bit.ly/amca-tdh

Amazon AUS: http://bit.ly/amau-tdh

Amazon DE: http://bit.ly/amde-tdh

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/amuk-tdh

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/gr-tdh

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/smash-tdh

Paperback: https://www.caradeewrites.com/

Synopsis:

Belle has a wicked fantasy and a secret desire, and she doesn’t know how to hide her feelings anymore.

Andrew has a passion for family and a love for detail, and there are no words that can describe how much he’s looking forward to having his stepdaughter and his younger brother home for the summer.

Jace has an eye for beauty and a thirst for adventure, and he’s the first one to notice that something is different when Belle steps off the plane. From the outside, these three don’t seem to have much in common. But on the inside…their hearts are as dirty as they come.

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Excerpt 1

I made a dismayed face in the rearview mirror and rolled up the sleeves of my button-down. If my hair had been lighter, those spots of silver would have been less visible. Alas…they shone like a beacon.

Should I dye it?

“Are you becoming vain?” Jace asked.

“No, but evidently I’m becoming old,” I muttered and left the car. Something was missing—and had been missing for a while. I couldn’t put my finger on it, only that I wasn’t content with my life anymore. As soon as I figured out what to change, I would. Until then, it looked like I’d be complaining about a whole lot. “You know, it wouldn’t kill you to shave.”

Belle coming home was a special occasion to me. Jace didn’t have to look like a slob.

I’d made sure the cleaning service had been extra-thorough yesterday, and I’d ordered Belle’s favorite flowers for her room. Or was I taking things too far? Was I too old-fashioned? I was going to spend the summer with my carefree little brother and my twenty-year-old stepdaughter; I wanted them to find me fun, too. I wasn’t only the…parent, for lack of a better word.

Jace ignored my remark with a smirk, and we entered the bustling airport to bring Belle home.

“How the fuck are we supposed to find her?” Jace grunted. “Christ, I hate people.”

This from the young man who missed having a social life.

I couldn’t blame him, though. Once upon a time, I’d loved Seattle. Now I was much more comfortable in our little town a couple hours north of here. An hour and a half, if Jace was behind the wheel.

As for Jace’s question, I had an answer. “She’s dyed her hair pink, she told me.” I hadn’t seen it yet myself because the last time we spoke, it was over the phone. I’d had this image of a shock of bright hair until her soft laughter had filtered through the receiver and she’d told me it was “faded magenta.” Whatever that meant.

We stood in a sea of arrivals and their families, and I checked my watch. It’d been a while since she’d landed, so she should be here soon.

Jace made a noise. “Holy fuck.”

“What, how pink is it?” I lifted my gaze, scanning the crowd.

“No, that’s not… Uh.”

I frowned at him, then searched for Belle some more, and—goddamn it all. Motherfucker. She emerged with a bright smile as she looked for us. I could only stare. My chest seized, and a flush spread up my chest. Unlike my brother, I’d known that she’d matured to an extent, and it was still a shock. Her gorgeous face had filled the screen of my laptop or phone whenever we Skyped; seeing her body was a whole other experience. And what the hell was she wearing? Those couldn’t be called shorts. The denim rode up high enough to reveal her pockets. Underneath an open flannel shirt, a skimpy top hugged her generous curves.

“Keep that reaction to yourself,” I told Jace, half irritated. With him or myself, I wasn’t sure. Perhaps both. “Belle!” I started walking toward her so I could help with her luggage. Her hair was oddly cute, the long waves shifting in subtle shades of pink. My mouth stretched into a wide smile as she spotted me, and I even had to swallow a lump of emotion. At that point, I successfully pushed aside the unspeakable reaction I’d had, and I hurried to get her in my arms.

“Daddy-o!” She threw her arms around my neck, and I lifted her off the ground.

“God, I’ve missed you.” Tightening my hold on her, I breathed in her light, sweet scent and reveled in having her home again. “My darling, why do you insist on living so far away?”

She laughed tearfully. “If it makes you feel any better, I can’t wait to be done with uni.”

That did make me feel better.

“Look at you, picking up local slang.” Jace walked up behind us with a grin, and Belle was quick to give him a hug too. “When the fuck did you grow up?”

I shot him a look.

Belle smirked and wiped her eyes carefully. These days, she wore makeup. “My roommate taught me a lot. She’s studying to become a stylist.”

“There’s not a thing you need to learn,” I told her firmly and grabbed her roll-aboard. “You’re beautiful as you are.” Maybe a bit too beautiful.

“Such a dad response.” She hugged my arm and held on as we made our way outside. “Can we eat at Coho? I’m starving.”

“Anything you want, sweetheart.” I kissed the top of her head.

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Excerpt 2

The eggs were almost finished when Jace limped into the kitchen with a bed head and sleepy scowl.

“Morning, sunshine.” I plated the scrambled eggs and added some sliced tomatoes and bacon bits. “Sleep well?”

“Sort of?” He squinted at nothing and scratched his head. “Um, are we gonna talk about last night?”

I furrowed my brow and slid the plate across the kitchen bar. “Did something happen?”

“You were there, Andrew. At Coho.” He tucked into his food as if it was going to disappear, and I poured myself some cereal. “Something’s changed with Belle. Jesus.” He seemed baffled by something, though it was difficult to tell with the way he was hamstering the food in his cheeks. “Wasn’t she crazy affectionate at dinner?”

“Hm.” To be honest, I’d noticed it. “I wouldn’t read into that.” Certainly not when Jace was a pervert who’d just discovered his niece—his niece, for the love of God—was a very gorgeous young woman. “She missed us, Jace. She was excited to catch up.”

And what a great evening it’d been. Over the best burgers and beers the town had to offer, Jace and I had mostly listened while Belle told us everything about her university and London. Some of the things, I already knew from talking to her. Her contact with Jace stayed at texting and occasional phone calls, so almost everything was new to him. Perhaps that was why the change appeared so drastic.

“Don’t forget your place,” I told Jace. “You’re her uncle. She’s not one of the girls you let hang around for a month before you trade her in for another.”

He shook his head and forked up some eggs. “There’s so much wrong with that sentence. First of all, we’re not related. Second of all, I haven’t gotten laid in almost a year, so don’t paint me as some manwhore. Third of all—” he pointed the fork at me “—you’re the one she was plastered to all evening, not me.”

At that, I had to roll my eyes. “I’m the only parent she has. Don’t cheapen her affection because you suddenly have a hard-on for the wrong person.”

If he pushed it, I might snap. Yesterday had been wonderful. Most of all, it was easy to keep her close when she seemed to want it that way. I’d had my arm around her throughout the evening, not because I possibly was a pervert too, but because I’d missed her very much.

Shortly after, bare feet padded along the floorboards, and Belle appeared in the doorway wearing an old band tee of Jace’s and a pair of cotton shorts. What was it with the length of shorts these days? Was fabric scarce?

Jace coughed into his coffee.

I hoped he burned himself.

“Good morning, darling.” I rose from my stool and switched on the stove again. The pancake batter was waiting for me. “Take a seat and I’ll make pancakes.”

She grinned sleepily and walked over to me. “I’m so glad to be home.” Sneaking under my arm, she wrapped her arms around my middle, and I chuckled. It truly was an affectionate girl who’d stepped off that plane. “Is there anything I can do, Daddy?”

I tilted my head.

Jace snorted behind us.

Daddy

“No,” I responded slowly as my mind started spinning. “You can relax and let me take care of this.”

“’Kay.” With a slight blush covering her cheeks, Belle pulled her hair into a high, messy bun at the top of her head, and then she left the kitchen area to turn on the TV.

“Is she for real?” Jace whispered. “She’s never called you Daddy before, has she? The way she did it… Man, that’s pure filth.”

“Let it go,” I whispered back, irritated. Wound up. There was nothing to read into here.

About Cara:

I’m often stoically silent or, if the topic interests me, a chronic rambler. In other words, I can discuss writing forever and ever. Fiction, in particular. The love story—while a huge draw and constantly present—is secondary for me, because there’s so much more to writing romance fiction than just making two (or more) people fall in love and have hot sex. There’s a world to build, characters to develop, interests to create, and a topic or two to research thoroughly. Every book is a challenge for me, an opportunity to learn something new, and a puzzle to piece together. I want my characters to come to life, and the only way I know to do that is to give them substance—passions, history, goals, quirks, and strong opinions—and to let them evolve. Additionally, I want my men and women to be relatable. That means allowing room for everyday problems and, for lack of a better word, flaws. My characters will never be perfect.

Wait…this was supposed to be about me, not my writing.

I’m a writey person who loves to write. Always wanderlusting, twitterpating, kinking, and geeking. There’s time for hockey and cupcakes, too. But mostly, I just love to write.

Website: https://www.caradeewrites.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/caradeewrites/
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cara-dee

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CaraDeeWrites

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carawrites/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6936449.Cara_Dee

 

This Life I by Cara Dee

This Life I by Cara Dee

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“Marry me.” He can take her away from a life that’s suffocating her.

“I can’t! You’re a mobster.”

“Allegedly.” He turns on the Irish charm, but not even that can save him from his secrets.

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/nXtp8A

Amazon CAN: https://goo.gl/wimRDZ

Amazon AUS: https://goo.gl/vGAWF1

Amazon DE: https://goo.gl/MqKvum

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/HprvN7 A

mazon FR: https://goo.gl/Yiy2Dm

Goodreads: https://goo.gl/ot9Quu

Paperback: https://www.caradeewrites.com/

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Synopsis:

Finnegan O’Shea

The Sons of Munster have been living this life for generations. We have our own protocol, our own traditions, dating back to when two families merged and created our syndicate in Ireland. Now, we have our strongholds in Philly and Chicago, and the wrong man holds the highest position. The day my uncle decided to betray us, he signed his own death warrant, and after a five-year hitch in the can, I’m ready to take everything from him. In order to ensure the demise of his management, I have to get close to him. I need to earn his trust and that of his closest associates. I’ll be the top earner he wants me to be. I’ll be the very image of a conventional family man.

For that to happen, this Irish bastard has to find himself a wife. Someone sweet and compliant who will stand by my side and make me look like I have too much to lose to screw over the head of the family.

Emilia Porter

When it rains, it pours, so I guess it’s been pouring for eighteen years now. Being from an old mining town that’s full of drunk cautionary tales, I spend my days juggling—and failing—school, work, and paying the bills so my dad can drink himself into a stupor. Then this freaking guy rolls into town in his expensive sports car and thinks I should marry him. This isn’t the fifties, and there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell I’ll marry a well-known mobster. No matter how much money he promises me. No matter how intensely the chemistry sizzles between us.

He asks for three years of marriage. Then I’d be set for life, independent and free to start fresh on my own. Free to walk away. Who the hell does he think he is?

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Excerpt I:

Emilia Porter

All the shit I read about the murders, the trials, and the rift between the two families that’d started this behemoth of a crime syndicate made everything even more bizarre. Finnegan belonged in the newspapers, not outside of my house asking me on a freaking date. I shuddered at the thought of his “offer.”

“Miss Porter?”

I squeaked in shock and quickly exited the Wikipedia page, then looked over my shoulder to find a man in a suit there. He didn’t work at my school, and he looked so misplaced in our little library.

“Yes?” I pushed down my nerves and eyed him. Crisp white button-down, black suit, definitely a holster hiding under his jacket. If he was another O’Shea, I was gonna scream bloody murder.

“I’m Kellan Caldwell,” he said and extended a hand. “I’m a federal agent, and I was wondering if we could talk.”

My life was officially over. Finnegan O’Shea had asked me to dinner, and now I was on FBI’s radar. Oh God.

“Can I see some ID?” I shook his hand nervously and stood up.

“Of course.” He retrieved it from inside his suit and flashed his badge just like they did in the movies. “You’re not in any trouble, Miss Porter. In fact, we’re asking for your help.”

*

One dinner.

I hugged myself as a cold wind swept between us, and I stepped a little closer to my door. “Why do I get the feeling it’s never just a dinner with you?”

“You gotta think highly of me, huh?” Finnegan was way too amused, and he leaned forward as if to reveal a secret. “I’m not going to fuck you, Emilia. It’s really just dinner.”

Right at that second, he could consider himself lucky I’d kept at least ten feet between us. Otherwise, I would’ve rammed my elbow up into his chin, and then he probably would’ve killed me. Him fucking me hadn’t even occurred to me. I was more worried about ending up in a body bag. Maybe.

I blew out a heavy breath and reined in the anger. What I wouldn’t give to put him in his damn place! Uh—well. I had the chance. That place could be prison, if he said anything incriminating that the Feds overheard.

And so I was nervous as hell again.

Could I really do it? Could I be brave and help the FBI?

One dinner.

If I had to be honest with myself, I didn’t actually think something would happen after just one date or whatever this would be. Sweet Jesus, a date. With Finnegan O’Shea.

Another cold breeze blew past, causing me to shudder. It prompted Finnegan to give me a once-over before he narrowed his eyes at me. I got it, he wasn’t very impressed. No one was.

“One dinner,” I heard myself say. Agent Caldwell’s card burned a hole in my pocket. Holy shit, this was happening.

It seemed Finnegan was as surprised as I was, though he masked it quickly, and then he smiled. “Are you available tomorrow?”

Weird day to go on a date—a Thursday. Unless he was eager to drag me into a criminal lifestyle, at which he’d fail so miserably.

“Sure.” I was off work, at least. “Just—make it public, okay? No backwoods or ditches.”

He let out a carefree laugh that divided my thoughts. Firstly, he was even more gorgeous when he laughed. Secondly, I couldn’t wait to be the one who got the last laugh.

“You got it, princess. A public dinner.” He chuckled and stubbed out his smoke. “I’ll pick you up at seven.”

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Excerpt 2:

Finnegan O’Shea

“How did your date go, little brother?” Patrick asked.

“Good,” I replied, eyeing the food Ian was cooking. Sampling deli meat and cheese wasn’t enough when the kitchen was starting to smell like a steakhouse. “I’m trying not to think about her too much.”

“Why’s that?”

I shook my head, fingers drumming against the kitchen bar. “I thought she’d be fucking timid.”

Emilia Porter was the opposite. Wary and easily frightened, sure, but that was understandable. Her quick wit and feistiness, however…? I’d had no clue I’d crave it like an addict. I was already looking forward to our next date, which she’d agreed to reluctantly.

I had her in the palm of my hand, though she took every opportunity to bite my fingers.

It was sexy as hell.

Something far less sexy was her comment about her own mother. “She said something weird last night,” I admitted. “She thinks her mother is dead.”

“That’s fucked up.” Patrick frowned. “Did her pop make her believe that?”

“I guess so. I’ll do some digging.”

One way or another, I was going to use this to my advantage.

“Anyway,” I said, “hand me that, will ya?” I nodded at the box farther down the counter.

Patrick complied, and I dug out the new phone. It was a gift to Emilia. I just had to prepare it a bit before sending it to her. For one, I wanted it synced with my laptop so I could access her texts and phone history and see what apps she downloaded. For two, I had to install a call distorter so our friends at the NSA and the FBI didn’t get any ideas.

*

Someone rudely interrupted me by knocking on the door and then entering before I could even tell them to fuck off. It was Patrick and Kellan with snacks and a couple six-packs of beer.

“Have you done anything?” Patrick stared at the state of my living room.

“I’ve been busy,” I said defensively. Closing my laptop, I left it on the coffee table, something I’d actually assembled earlier.

“The plastic’s still on the couch, mate.” Kellan snorted and crossed the living room to reach the kitchen.

“That’s ’cause you spill, Agent Caldwell!” I called after him, and he laughed. Then I faced my brother. “The stalking has paid off again. The girls are texting, and Sarah mentioned being in the mood for Chinese.”

His forehead creased. “So?”

For fuck’s sake. “So take her out, numbskull! Call her and say you want Chinese. Bond or some shit.”

“Good idea.” He nodded firmly and pulled out his phone.

So did I, ’cause I’d waited long enough. At this point, with a phone she’d had less than a couple hours, Emilia had communicated more with her best friend and a fake FBI agent than me, the bloke who’d given her the damn thing.

I wanted some attention now.

 

About Cara:

I’m often stoically silent or, if the topic interests me, a chronic rambler. In other words, I can discuss writing forever and ever. Fiction, in particular. The love story—while a huge draw and constantly present—is secondary for me, because there’s so much more to writing romance fiction than just making two (or more) people fall in love and have hot sex. There’s a world to build, characters to develop, interests to create, and a topic or two to research thoroughly. Every book is a challenge for me, an opportunity to learn something new, and a puzzle to piece together. I want my characters to come to life, and the only way I know to do that is to give them substance—passions, history, goals, quirks, and strong opinions—and to let them evolve. Additionally, I want my men and women to be relatable. That means allowing room for everyday problems and, for lack of a better word, flaws. My characters will never be perfect.

Wait…this was supposed to be about me, not my writing.

I’m a writey person who loves to write. Always wanderlusting, twitterpating, kinking, and geeking. There’s time for hockey and cupcakes, too. But mostly, I just love to write.

Website: https://www.caradeewrites.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/caradeewrites/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CaraDeeWrites

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carawrites/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6936449.Cara_Dee

 

Wait With Me by Amy Daws

the wait is over

From Buzzfeed to Babble to Scary Mommy and even network television—the most anticipated social media viral sensation is LIVE!

The story of romance writer Amy Daws’ relationship with a little tire shop in South Dakota is a refreshingly fun tale that ends in an auto shop romantic comedy that you have to read!

Daws’ fans have loved watching this story trend, but more importantly, they are loving this 5-star read about a couple who meet outside of a tire shop…

Its LIVE-flipped

When romance novelist, Kate Smith, finds her long lost writing mojo in the customer waiting area of a tire store, the complimentary coffee isn’t the only things that’s hot. But sexy mechanic, Miles Hudson, is just up for a friendly test-drive of her new book idea.
At least, that was the agreement…

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smut writer

viral sensationIt all began when Daws went to Tires Tires Tires to get a new set of wheels on her car. She was suffering from writer’s block, but apparently the complimentary coffee and cookies cured her. So she decided to bring in cars of friends and family so she could keep writing in the magical waiting room.

Her social media musings had her fans in stitches and it wasn’t long before inspiration struck again. This time…Daws was to write a sexy romantic comedy about a romance novelist who sneaks into a tire shop and gets caught by a hot mechanic. You can imagine where the love story goes from here.

Eventually, the little tire shop opened their arms to Daws, even putting her release date on their marquee sign outside.

It wasn’t long before Buzzfeed got wind of it. Then Scary Mommy. Then InspireMore and several other blogs with followers well into the millions. WGN News in Chicago, Fox 10 in Phoenix and Canada Public Radio are all talking about the adorable feel good story of how inspiration can strike in the strangest of places.

Check out these fun features:
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excerpt

She slaps her hand on her knee and bellows gallantly, “But you know what, Miles, you’re right! I should totally find a random hookup tonight.”
“Whoa, I never said anything about random.”
“Well, you’re doing it, so why can’t I?”
I narrow my eyes. “You don’t seem like the random type.”
“Maybe I should be.” Her eyes narrow when she leans in and whispers against my lips. “Can I tell you a secret, Miles?”
“You can tell me anything, Mercedes.”
She giggles and crooks her finger for me to lean in even closer. I’m so close I can smell the faint scent of her cherry lip gloss, and it’s not helping the half boner having a party in my pants.
Her lips graze my ear when she whispers, “My writing makes me horny.”
I nearly choke on my beer. “I’m sorry, what?”
“My writing makes me horny.” She pulls back and nods her confirmation. “I’m serious. I have a sex toy that works really well and really fast, but I miss the heat of a man, ya know?”
My eyes scrunch together, and I rub my fingers in the sockets to make sure I’m awake and hearing this all correctly. “I mean…I don’t really ever miss the heat of man, so I don’t think I know exactly what you’re saying.”
“Fine, the heat of a woman.” She rolls her eyes dramatically “You know what I’m talking about. The heat.”
I frown and shake my head. “You’re going to have to elaborate because I think of a lot of things when I think of women, but their body temperature isn’t one of them.”
“You asked for it.” She laughs and leans in so she’s speaking low and soft and directly into my ear. “The heat of a woman is so much more than temperature. It’s the soft, sensual curves of the female form. The way your fingers dig into the meat of her thighs when she’s wrapped around you. Her smooth, sunken tummy when she’s on her back, the delicate bumps of her ribcage when she’s throwing her head back in pleasure. Tight little nipples in pillows of creamy softness. The fact that you could fold yourself around her and envelop her body almost entirely and still want more. You’re saying you don’t miss that kind of heat?”
I blink slowly, recovering from what just happened. Her voice was a sensual, verbal caress straight on my cock. Then there was the warm heat of her breath on my ear. The deep husk of her tone. The way her warm palm rests softly on my thigh.
Fucking hell.

AuthorBio13254841_1712669075674776_2966283892361812453_o

Amy Daws is an Amazon Top 100 bestselling author of the Harris Brothers Series and is most known for her punny, footy-playing, British playboys. The Harris Brothers and her London Lovers Series fuel her passion for all things London. When Amy’s not writing, she’s watching Gilmore Girls or singing karaoke in the living room with her daughter while Daddy awkward-smiles from a distance.
For more of Amy’s work check out her social media links below or visit: http://www.amydawsauthor.com

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The Hook-Up Experiment by Emma Hart

1.Hate-screw my high school nemesis.

2.Remember to hate him.

3.Prove my brother wrong.

It should be easy.

It isn’t.

As the owner of Pick-A-Dick, New Orleans’ premier hook-up website, my job is simple. Connect two people for a no-strings, no-expectations hook-up. The plus for my clients is that I’m the one who gets to sift through the dick pics—except this time, they’re required.

My problem? My brother, co-owner of Pick-A-Dick’s sister dating site, doesn’t believe it’s possible to hook up with someone three times and not fall in love.

I disagree. I know it’s possible.

And my disagreement is exactly how I end up reconnected with my high school nemesis, Elliott Sloane. The guy who asked me to junior prom and then stood me up. Who egged my car when I rejected him, and convinced my senior homecoming date to ghost me.

It should be easy to hate-screw him. If only he was still that person, instead of a hot-as-hell single dad, working as a builder to make ends’ meet, fighting for custody of his daughter.

Not to mention packing in the pants department…

Three hook-ups.

One outcome.

Right?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | iBooks | B&N | Kobo

FIND OUT MORE: http://www.pick-a-dick-net

“Is she okay with that juice?” Peyton watched her go.

I selected the Blu-ray from the cupboard and shot a smirk her way. “Sorry to break it to you, but you’re getting a juice box.”

“I can live with that.”

I turned away and hit the eject button on the player. “You didn’t have to say yes to her, you know.”

“Of course, I had to. Have you seen those eyes? How do you say no to her, ever?”

“I think of all the times she screams and swings her arms like a tiny terrorist, and it’s pretty easy.” I put the disk in and turned around.

Peyton had one eyebrow raised. “See, now, I’d think that’s reason to say no.”

“It depends on the day. Sometimes it results in her being put to bed to calm down, which means she ends up taking a rare afternoon nap, and I get some peace and quiet.”

“That’s a thing around her? She was talking to me for thirty minutes flat about what I did and didn’t like.”

“Only thirty minutes? Lucky you. She has about three hours of material of that.” I took a seat on the sofa, making sure to leave space between us for Bri. “Did she get started on hedgehogs yet?”

Peyton looked a little confused. “Hedgehogs?”

“YouTube is the devil.”

“That…was quite the jump in subject.”

I laughed as the main menu music hit on the TV. “I’m going to preface this by saying kids are weird.”

“Some get that from their parents.”

I blinked at her for a second. She wasn’t wrong if half these people who had a mini-career opening fucking toys on YouTube were parents.

“There are a bunch of stupid videos on YouTube, and apparently, watching people open toys is thrilling.”

Now, she looked really confused.

“And on one of those she watched, the person had a pet hedgehog who wasn’t having the nonsense of her opening a Hatchimal on camera, so it stole the egg.”

She blinked several times in quick succession. “I have no idea what you just said, and if I’m honest… Please don’t explain it.”

I laughed and hit play on the TV.

“Here’s your dooce-box,” Briony said, handing Peyton two. “And das mine. I can’t do the straws.”

“Oh. Right. Okay.” Peyton looked at the two juices that had been thrust at her.

Smiling, I took one from her. I pulled the straw off the back, out of the tiny plastic slip, and poked it through the foiled hole in the top. “There you go,” I said to Briony. “What do you want for dinner?”

She put the straw in her mouth and pursed her lips as she sucked the juice up. Peyton watched her, lips twitching, as she put her straw in place.

“Pizza!” Briony announced.

Oh no. I’d eaten too much pizza lately.

Was there such a thing as too much pizza?

Maybe if the toppings were changed up…

“Peydon, do you want pizza?” Bri asked, leaning right into her.

“I like pizza,” she replied, smiling sweetly down at her. “What’s your favorite?”

“I like spots and cheese.”

“Spots?”

I coughed on my water. “Pepperoni,” I explained. “They look like spots on the pizza.”

Peyton’s eyes met mine for a minute. Silent laughter shone back at me. That really was toddler logic at its finest.

“You know,” she said, looking down at Peyton. “Spots are my favorite, too!”

Once again, Briony gasped. “Reawy?”

“Really, really. I love spots.”

Oh, Jesus.

It might have been a mistake introducing these two. Not only was my daughter becoming increasingly obsessed with someone who seemed to be a brunette, adult version of her…

No, that was the problem. Peyton was the brunette, adult version of Briony, attitude and all—and if there was anything my daughter didn’t need, it was someone who could teach her a thing or ten about sarcasm.

“I’ll order pizza,” I said, going to stand.

“Oh, you got it last time. I’ll go call them.” Peyton put her juice on the side table and tried to move, but Briony stopped her.

“No. Mimi told me that only gentlemen buy dinner. Princesses sit and look priddy.”

Peyton looked down at her. “Sit and look pretty? I like to buy my own pizza sometimes, and that’s okay.”

Without missing a beat, Briony said, “Princesses sit and look priddy so the mens buying dinner don’t know dat we can kick dere butts.”

By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies—usually wine—and writes books.

Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.

She likes to be busy—unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

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Power Play by Cara Dee

Power Play by Cara Dee

B72D555B-63BE-4DD1-8D3A-0F8058B8F3B0

Title: Power Play

Genre: Gay Romance

Pairing: Daddy Kink

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/H2iKWS

Amazon CAN: https://goo.gl/YA6HmB

Amazon AUS: https://goo.gl/QsgfuC

Amazon DE: https://goo.gl/hjGCnC

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/bNQoL4

Goodreads: https://goo.gl/jhfGFX

Synopsis:

I was my own worst enemy. For as much as I depended on order and a structured life to easier manage my bipolar disorder, fire was irresistible and indisputably my favorite toy to play with. On the ice, it turned me into a hotheaded hockey player. In the bedroom, my attitude was my last defense, a front I wanted to see tumbling down. But lately, all I got was burned.

Love sucked. Correction: it sucked when you were in love with your parents’ closest friend and he didn’t feel the same. I admitted my feelings for Madigan Monroe over a year ago, and I was still waiting for a response. Now my balance was gone. My anxiety was all over the place, my fits of rage had just earned me a suspension from the team, I questioned myself at every turn, and being home for two weeks was gonna make it impossible to avoid Madigan.

I used to be his Abel, his sweetheart, his trouble. It’d been the two of us against the world since I was a kid. I’d even discovered we had kink in common! On paper, I was seemingly perfect for him. Maybe that was why his nonverbal rejection hurt so much. Or maybe it was because, recently, he seemed hell-bent on us “being friends” again.

Whatever. I was a loser, and I couldn’t resist him for crap.

(DD/lb-dynamic.)

Shirtless sexy male model lying alone on his bed

Excerpt I:

Family Dinner

 A hand clamped down on my shoulder, and I stiffened. It was Dad.

“Talk to Madigan.” He spoke for only me to hear. “Now that I know there’s an issue, I can see it clear as day. It’s tense and shit.”

“Seriously,” I hissed under my breath. “Are you bored? Why are you meddling?”

He scowled. “Mom meddles. I give a shit.”

“Come on, boys,” Mom said. “Let’s eat.”

I stared at Dad for a beat longer, a match I’d never win, before I averted my gaze and closed the fridge door. To make matters worse, I’d end up sitting next to Madigan. Mom and Lyn always sat next to each other when it was just us, and Dad sat at the head of the table.

I sat down across from my sister, leaving Mad and Mom on either side of Dad.

“I’m gonna watch you eat,” Lyn whispered and bit into a roll.

“That’s creepy,” I whispered back.

“Nuh-uh.” She shook her head. “It’s fun. You eat more food than anyone in the world.”

I snorted a quiet chuckle and filled my plate with rice, vegetables, and pot roast.

Mom took a sip of her wine. “So this is a pleasant surprise, Madigan. It’s not often you show up for dinner anymore.”

“It’s because he doesn’t like us,” I said around a mouthful of vegetables. “He avoids the people he doesn’t like.” Man, it was satisfying to say that. Whoever said passive-aggressiveness wasn’t a good way to deal with heartbreak?

“What the hell?” Madigan let out a chuckle, but his humor was skin-deep. His eyes showed confusion.

“I called you over ’cause you’re never around anymore,” Dad said flatly. “That’s all there is to it. I know you still adore me.”

Mom found him funny, as did Mad. I said nothing and continued shoveling food into my face.

For a while, the “grown-ups” talked about work and life. Madigan talked about the tattoo shop he owned with Jameson, his best friend. Mom talked about the facility she ran for men, women, and children escaping abuse. Dad talked about music and everything that was wrong in the industry these days.

Fun times.

In the meantime, I ate and did my best to focus solely on that. Not on Mad’s voice, not on his movements, not on his laughter. Except, I failed, and my brain was flooded with memories of better times. Like when he’d visited me in Pittsburgh one weekend without telling me first. Just a surprise on a whim. We’d gone to dinner and a comedy show. Or the times he took me to games before we left Detroit. Or when he pressed his forehead to mine and talked me through my panic attacks.

“You’ve got this, sweetheart. Count with me, okay? One…two—that’s perfect, in through your nose. I’m so proud of you.”

The last mouthful of food was nearly impossible to swallow, and I stared unseeingly at my plate as the pressure on my chest grew.

Snap out of it, you useless idiot.

The sound of the doorbell wrenched me out of my state, and I hauled in a ragged breath.

“I’ll get it!” Lyn shouted and bounced off her chair.

“Are we expecting anyone else?” Mom asked, confused.

Dad shook his head, wiped his mouth on a napkin, and followed Lyn to the hallway. “Hold up, baby girl.”

Mom, for some reason, had to set another plate. Most people would dread salespeople. She assumed it was a dinner guest.

“Abel.” Madigan’s hand covered mine, and I blanched. That looked so fucking weird that I couldn’t stop staring. “Is something wrong? You seem anxious.”

He brushed his thumb over my skin. It left tingles and caused a drawn-out shiver, something that was pleasurable as fuck, but the contact was too strange to process.

“I’m fine.” I withdrew my hand and held it in my lap.

“Adeline!” Dad hollered from the hallway. “Someone just called me gorgeous. I’m leaving you.”

What the fuck? I looked at Mom, who snorted and asked who Dad was leaving her for, and then I frowned toward the hallway.

“No, the correct response is ‘I promise to call you gorgeous more often,’” Dad muttered. When he appeared in the doorway, the relief that hit me almost bowled me over. It was Gray. Holy fuck, Gray was here. It felt like I could finally breathe. “Take a seat, kid,” he told my buddy. “You can probably eat.”

“Hi, honey.” Mom smiled at Gray. “Are you sure you wanna be stuck with him?”

“Not even a little,” he replied with wide eyes. “Remind me never to address him as gorgeous again.” At Dad’s scowl, Gray added, “I’m sorry, you’re just a bit too high maintenance for me, Mr. H.”

“I’m easy as fuck,” Dad argued.

“Daddy, you cuss so much.” Lyn sauntered back to her seat too. “Uncle Casey has a swear jar at home. There are lots of dollars.”

That was a discussion Mom was more than happy to get into, so I tuned out and focused on Gray. He sat down in the empty seat next to me, giving me a breather from the man on my other side.

“What’re you doing here?” I asked quietly.

Gray squeezed my hand under the table. “You seemed like you needed me to run interference.” Having no clue how he’d come to that conclusion, I only stared while he filled his plate. “You sent me a text,” he said. “I put two and two together and figured a certain someone was coming for dinner.” He set down the bowl of gravy and retrieved his phone.

All I’d texted him before leaving my room was…something about dinner. I didn’t really remember.

“Here.” He showed me the text, and my eyebrows went up.

Mdgan fr diner and I cant.

“Wow.” I tugged at my ear, embarrassed.

“I assumed you weren’t drunk,” he said, pocketing his phone, “so that left anxiety.”

“What are you two whispering about, boys?” Mom asked teasingly. “A date, maybe? I’d love to bring happy news when I have lunch with Chloe tomorrow.”

I rolled my eyes. Our moms thought we were more than friends, and it wasn’t hilarious anymore.

Dad narrowed his eyes and pointed his fork at us. “If you two are dating, no more sleepovers with the door closed.”

“Jesus Christ.” I scrubbed a hand over my face.

“Sorry to disappoint, Mrs. H, but we have the same taste in men,” Gray said.

“What taste would that be?” It was Madigan, of all people, who asked.

There was no way I was getting into that with him.

Gray had no such qualms. “Older, bossier, definitely not a hockey player.”

“Older?” Dad scowled, then faced me. “Son, you’re not coming home with some old sugar daddy. In fact, give Gray a go. He called me gorgeous.”

“Jesus Christ,” I repeated. “Dinner was great, Mom. Thanks. We’re gonna go to my room.”

“I’m eating, man,” Gray protested. I gave him a look and felt my jaw tensing. “On second thought, I’m still full from my dinner with the family.”

Thought so.

We dumped our dishes in the sink and started leaving the kitchen.

“Abel, can I watch a movie with you?” Lyn asked.

“Tomorrow, okay?” I glanced back at her.

“She makes a great chaperone,” Dad noted.

“They don’t need a chaperone.” Mom glared at him. “They’re adults. Leave them be.”

Thanks, Mom.

Lyn snickered and grabbed her glass of milk. “Abel has penises on his computer.”

“Oh my God, don’t go through my shit!” I widened my eyes, mortification flooding me. My sister’s comment started mayhem in the kitchen between my parents; there was a lecture from Mom on privacy, bitching from Dad, and I couldn’t face Madigan to see his reaction. Instead, I pushed a laughing Gray out into the hallway and toward the stairs.

“Do you wanna watch penises together?” he asked over his shoulder.

“Just kill me.” I took a calming breath and let it out slowly.

Next, I heard Madigan’s voice. “Abel, wait up.”

No, seriously, just kill me.

I paused on the stairs and exchanged a look with Gray. I didn’t know what to do here. My anxiety was getting worse, but I’d never been able to resist that motherfucker.

“I’ll be in your room,” Gray said quietly.

Okay, then. My friend was deserting me. Steeling myself to be alone with Madigan, I waited on the stairs and stuck my hands down into my pockets.

Excerpt II:

A hand clamped down on my shoulder, and I stiffened. It was Dad.

“Talk to Madigan.” He spoke for only me to hear. “Now that I know there’s an issue, I can see it clear as day. It’s tense and shit.”

“Seriously,” I hissed under my breath. “Are you bored? Why are you meddling?”

He scowled. “Mom meddles. I give a shit.”

“Come on, boys,” Mom said. “Let’s eat.”

I stared at Dad for a beat longer, a match I’d never win, before I averted my gaze and closed the fridge door. To make matters worse, I’d end up sitting next to Madigan. Mom and Lyn always sat next to each other when it was just us, and Dad sat at the head of the table.

I sat down across from my sister, leaving Mad and Mom on either side of Dad.

“I’m gonna watch you eat,” Lyn whispered and bit into a roll.

“That’s creepy,” I whispered back.

“Nuh-uh.” She shook her head. “It’s fun. You eat more food than anyone in the world.”

I snorted a quiet chuckle and filled my plate with rice, vegetables, and pot roast.

Mom took a sip of her wine. “So this is a pleasant surprise, Madigan. It’s not often you show up for dinner anymore.”

“It’s because he doesn’t like us,” I said around a mouthful of vegetables. “He avoids the people he doesn’t like.” Man, it was satisfying to say that. Whoever said passive-aggressiveness wasn’t a good way to deal with heartbreak?

“What the hell?” Madigan let out a chuckle, but his humor was skin-deep. His eyes showed confusion.

“I called you over ’cause you’re never around anymore,” Dad said flatly. “That’s all there is to it. I know you still adore me.”

Mom found him funny, as did Mad. I said nothing and continued shoveling food into my face.

For a while, the “grown-ups” talked about work and life. Madigan talked about the tattoo shop he owned with Jameson, his best friend. Mom talked about the facility she ran for men, women, and children escaping abuse. Dad talked about music and everything that was wrong in the industry these days.

Fun times.

In the meantime, I ate and did my best to focus solely on that. Not on Mad’s voice, not on his movements, not on his laughter. Except, I failed, and my brain was flooded with memories of better times. Like when he’d visited me in Pittsburgh one weekend without telling me first. Just a surprise on a whim. We’d gone to dinner and a comedy show. Or the times he took me to games before we left Detroit. Or when he pressed his forehead to mine and talked me through my panic attacks.

“You’ve got this, sweetheart. Count with me, okay? One…two—that’s perfect, in through your nose. I’m so proud of you.”

The last mouthful of food was nearly impossible to swallow, and I stared unseeingly at my plate as the pressure on my chest grew.

Snap out of it, you useless idiot.

The sound of the doorbell wrenched me out of my state, and I hauled in a ragged breath.

“I’ll get it!” Lyn shouted and bounced off her chair.

“Are we expecting anyone else?” Mom asked, confused.

Dad shook his head, wiped his mouth on a napkin, and followed Lyn to the hallway. “Hold up, baby girl.”

Mom, for some reason, had to set another plate. Most people would dread salespeople. She assumed it was a dinner guest.

“Abel.” Madigan’s hand covered mine, and I blanched. That looked so fucking weird that I couldn’t stop staring. “Is something wrong? You seem anxious.”

He brushed his thumb over my skin. It left tingles and caused a drawn-out shiver, something that was pleasurable as fuck, but the contact was too strange to process.

“I’m fine.” I withdrew my hand and held it in my lap.

“Adeline!” Dad hollered from the hallway. “Someone just called me gorgeous. I’m leaving you.”

What the fuck? I looked at Mom, who snorted and asked who Dad was leaving her for, and then I frowned toward the hallway.

“No, the correct response is ‘I promise to call you gorgeous more often,’” Dad muttered. When he appeared in the doorway, the relief that hit me almost bowled me over. It was Gray. Holy fuck, Gray was here. It felt like I could finally breathe. “Take a seat, kid,” he told my buddy. “You can probably eat.”

“Hi, honey.” Mom smiled at Gray. “Are you sure you wanna be stuck with him?”

“Not even a little,” he replied with wide eyes. “Remind me never to address him as gorgeous again.” At Dad’s scowl, Gray added, “I’m sorry, you’re just a bit too high maintenance for me, Mr. H.”

“I’m easy as fuck,” Dad argued.

“Daddy, you cuss so much.” Lyn sauntered back to her seat too. “Uncle Casey has a swear jar at home. There are lots of dollars.”

That was a discussion Mom was more than happy to get into, so I tuned out and focused on Gray. He sat down in the empty seat next to me, giving me a breather from the man on my other side.

“What’re you doing here?” I asked quietly.

Gray squeezed my hand under the table. “You seemed like you needed me to run interference.” Having no clue how he’d come to that conclusion, I only stared while he filled his plate. “You sent me a text,” he said. “I put two and two together and figured a certain someone was coming for dinner.” He set down the bowl of gravy and retrieved his phone.

All I’d texted him before leaving my room was…something about dinner. I didn’t really remember.

“Here.” He showed me the text, and my eyebrows went up.

Mdgan fr diner and I cant.

“Wow.” I tugged at my ear, embarrassed.

“I assumed you weren’t drunk,” he said, pocketing his phone, “so that left anxiety.”

“What are you two whispering about, boys?” Mom asked teasingly. “A date, maybe? I’d love to bring happy news when I have lunch with Chloe tomorrow.”

I rolled my eyes. Our moms thought we were more than friends, and it wasn’t hilarious anymore.

Dad narrowed his eyes and pointed his fork at us. “If you two are dating, no more sleepovers with the door closed.”

“Jesus Christ.” I scrubbed a hand over my face.

“Sorry to disappoint, Mrs. H, but we have the same taste in men,” Gray said.

“What taste would that be?” It was Madigan, of all people, who asked.

There was no way I was getting into that with him.

Gray had no such qualms. “Older, bossier, definitely not a hockey player.”

“Older?” Dad scowled, then faced me. “Son, you’re not coming home with some old sugar daddy. In fact, give Gray a go. He called me gorgeous.”

“Jesus Christ,” I repeated. “Dinner was great, Mom. Thanks. We’re gonna go to my room.”

“I’m eating, man,” Gray protested. I gave him a look and felt my jaw tensing. “On second thought, I’m still full from my dinner with the family.”

Thought so.

We dumped our dishes in the sink and started leaving the kitchen.

“Abel, can I watch a movie with you?” Lyn asked.

“Tomorrow, okay?” I glanced back at her.

“She makes a great chaperone,” Dad noted.

“They don’t need a chaperone.” Mom glared at him. “They’re adults. Leave them be.”

Thanks, Mom.

Lyn snickered and grabbed her glass of milk. “Abel has penises on his computer.”

“Oh my God, don’t go through my shit!” I widened my eyes, mortification flooding me. My sister’s comment started mayhem in the kitchen between my parents; there was a lecture from Mom on privacy, bitching from Dad, and I couldn’t face Madigan to see his reaction. Instead, I pushed a laughing Gray out into the hallway and toward the stairs.

“Do you wanna watch penises together?” he asked over his shoulder.

“Just kill me.” I took a calming breath and let it out slowly.

Next, I heard Madigan’s voice. “Abel, wait up.”

No, seriously, just kill me.

I paused on the stairs and exchanged a look with Gray. I didn’t know what to do here. My anxiety was getting worse, but I’d never been able to resist that motherfucker.

“I’ll be in your room,” Gray said quietly.

Okay, then. My friend was deserting me. Steeling myself to be alone with Madigan, I waited on the stairs and stuck my hands down into my pockets.

Excerpt II:

Guys’ Night

After dinner, the coffee table in the living room quickly filled up with top-shelf alcohol and snacks, the number of bottles enough to give Dad’s rock-star past a solid nod. He still knew how to party. However… They were all fucking talk. In between sips of whiskey, crude jokes, a few shots, and the mandatory topic of “music today,” they mostly discussed their children. They’d clearly not done that enough while we ate.

When Dad said he didn’t get to see Theo—Casey and Ellis’s newborn son—often enough, I took a shot of vodka in hopes that the booze would liven shit up for me. Then Casey got into a discussion with Aiden about makeup for little girls. Casey’s daughter, Haley, was a couple years younger than my sister, and he looked to Aiden for advice since Isla was in her mid-twenties.

“I mean, how do you handle a situation like that?” Casey poured himself another drink, looking completely at a loss. “Ellis and I have decided that nail polish is all right, but unless it’s Halloween, we don’t want her face painted.”

I’d laugh if the topic didn’t bore me. Grabbing the bowl of peanuts, I got comfortable in my chair and flung my legs over the armrest. Madigan was occupying the chair on the other side of the table, and he looked fucking fine manspreading. Not that I was looking at his crotch or anything.

“In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.” Aiden raised his glass. “Save your energy for when your little girl comes home with a man almost twice her age.” He took a swig of his whiskey. “Damn—he might even be your old college buddy.”

“That won’t happen here,” Dad said. “My baby girl’s never gonna date, and we’re working on fixing up Abel with Gray.”

I rolled my eyes and reached for my drink.

“A bit delusional, don’t you think, Lincoln?” Ellis chuckled.

“What is it with you guys and issues with age differences?” I asked. “Mom married your old ass, Dad. You should be grateful some of us are drawn to whiny curmudgeons.”

“I love you, Abel,” Casey laughed. “Lincoln, he got you.”

“He said us,” Aiden noted.

I winked at him. “That includes Gray. One day, he’s gonna come home with an older guy too.”

“We don’t want those we love and want to keep safe to be exposed or taken advantage of.” It was Madigan who spoke, and I narrowed my eyes at him. “Younger minds are often more impressionable.”

“See? Madigan gets it, and he doesn’t even want kids,” Dad said.

“Sometimes, that’s what we impressionable minds want.” I never once broke eye contact with Mad. “I can’t find what I want among my peers ’cause I want a guy who has more experience. While some look to a lot of places for support or guidance, I wanna look to him.”

In my periphery, I saw Casey watching us like a tennis match. Dad was muttering under his breath about not being an old ass.

“That requires a lot of trust,” Madigan murmured.

I trust you.

The realization that I trusted Mad implicitly, regardless of shit we’d gone through, wasn’t a shock, but it was heavy nonetheless. I swallowed and looked away, quick to distract myself by finishing my drink.

“You’re right, it does.” It was all I could say.

“You’re a smart young man, Abel,” Aiden told me.

“Only time I remember he doesn’t come from my swimmers,” Dad said with a dip of his chin. “He’s a hell of a lot smarter than me.”

“Stop it,” I groaned. Okay, so it wasn’t always I handled praise very well. Besides, he was selling himself short. I’d learned a lot from him.

“You know what?” He ignored what I said and moved forward. “Whoever you bring home, whether he’s old as fuck or jailbait, I’ll be on your side.”

I shook my head and smirked. Shit didn’t work that way.

“I have a feeling that comes with conditions,” Madigan muttered into his glass.

“I’m loving this.” Casey was enjoying the show or whatever. “We need more mixers. Abel, give me a hand.”

 

Shirtless sexy male model lying alone on his bed

About Cara:

I’m often stoically silent or, if the topic interests me, a chronic rambler. In other words, I can discuss writing forever and ever. Fiction, in particular. The love story—while a huge draw and constantly present—is secondary for me, because there’s so much more to writing romance fiction than just making two (or more) people fall in love and have hot sex. There’s a world to build, characters to develop, interests to create, and a topic or two to research thoroughly. Every book is a challenge for me, an opportunity to learn something new, and a puzzle to piece together. I want my characters to come to life, and the only way I know to do that is to give them substance—passions, history, goals, quirks, and strong opinions—and to let them evolve. Additionally, I want my men and women to be relatable. That means allowing room for everyday problems and, for lack of a better word, flaws. My characters will never be perfect.

Wait…this was supposed to be about me, not my writing.

I’m a writey person who loves to write. Always wanderlusting, twitterpating, kinking, and geeking. There’s time for hockey and cupcakes, too. But mostly, I just love to write.

Website: https://www.caradeewrites.com/

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6936449.Cara_Dee