Out for the Holidays by Cara Dee

Out for the Holidays by Cara Dee

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Henry and Zach are back! If you haven’t read Out, consider this your spoiler alert to the below. You can read where they started here:

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Title: Out for the Holidays: An Out Novella

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pairing: Gay Romance

 

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Synopsis:

 I’m not saying Henry jinxed us when he chose to send out two hundred holiday cards stating we were going to have a blissful Christmas at home…

Before we knew it, our peace and quiet went out the window, and we were headed to Mexico for a photo shoot my agent had neglected to tell me about. Of course, we had to deal with the man who didn’t want us to be together, and then we ended up back in LA, and we had to figure out what was going on with my brother, and, and… Okay, deep breaths. FYI, Philadelphia is nowhere near our home in northern Washington. Additionally, I wonder how Viagra really works, and what’s it gonna take to get a proposal around here?

Honestly. I’m not saying Henry jinxed us, but I’m writing the damn card next year.

Warning: This story contains more sugar than the cookies you leave for Santa, and it’s chock-full of greetings and updates from other characters written by Cara, titles including Noah, Home, Path of Destruction, Uncomplicated Choices, and more.

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Excerpt I:

Could I fire someone over a text? I was so pissed that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’d returned to the first floor and planted my ass at the bottom of the stairs, and I was staring at my agent’s number in my phone.

Lady Mo was in my lap, comforting me like a good puppy.

To my relief, Brooklyn wasn’t angry with me. She knew I took appointments seriously and never showed up late. No, this was on my agent, who hadn’t fucking told me she’d booked me for a whole goddamn week.

I released a breath and rested my head in my palm. Lady nuzzled my cheek.

If it’d been any other person than Brooklyn, I would’ve canceled somehow.

“Can I ask what you’re doing, Zachary?”

Dammit. I looked up, cursing the windows. Even when Henry was in the kitchen, he could see me in the reflection. “Can’t you tell I’m hiding?”

“Poorly,” he noted. Rounding the long bar in the kitchen, he passed the living room and joined me by the stairs. His hands went into the pockets of his slacks. “You have bad news.”

“I’d use the words fucking awful, but whatever.” I forced myself to look up. He’d be so disappointed. “Amanda neglected to tell me about a week-long shoot.”

He sighed, then nodded once firmly. “With Brooklyn, I assume.”

Yeah. She was the only one I had a contract with now, so it’d been a matter of scheduling.

“Tell me what to do,” I pleaded. “I swear I didn’t know. I even told her I wanted December free.”

He waved a hand and sat down next to me. “You’re not on trial, sweetheart.”

“I know, but it’s always my job that fucks shit up for us.” Lady left me, so I leaned forward, resting my elbows on my knees, and rubbed a hand over my mouth and jaw.

“You’re in an industry where things change quickly,” he reminded patiently. “What I do is very different.” True. He sat down with his coworkers and associates twice a year to hammer out details and schedule events and whatnot. It meant he knew his travels at least six months in advance so he could coordinate his schedule between the jobs he was involved in. “Tell me about the shoot.”

Reluctance filled me. I felt spoiled for complaining, but after this year… All I fucking wanted was a quiet month at home with Henry. “It’s for the YouTube crap. Akira, Maliah, and me—we have a week in Mexico, and they’re gonna ‘capture our personalities’ or something. Basically, a small film crew is gonna make a bunch of videos with us in various locations. It doesn’t have much to do with ShadowLight and makeup, so I don’t see the point.” Of course their products would be mentioned, but focus was on us.

“Marketing, darling.” He scooted closer and rubbed my back soothingly. “The clips make you relatable to the consumers. YouTube probably has a far better outreach than billboards. Up there, you’re untouchable.”

I side-eyed him. “Didn’t know you studied marketing.”

Humor flashed in his hazel eyes. “I may have spent some time in Los Angeles in my days. You pick up on these things.”

I huffed under my breath and faced forward again, and my gaze landed on the Christmas tree. It was beautiful, and someone had already put some gifts underneath it.

“We were supposed to stay home, though. Or at least in Washington.” I rested my head on his shoulder. “I wanted to go Christmas shopping in Seattle, go see a movie, take you and Nan for dinner… We were gonna go to a club and dance all night.”

He hummed and pressed a kiss to my hair. “You know where I can take you dancing?”

I shook my head.

“In Mexico.” There was a smile in his voice, and I admit his confirming that he was coming along brightened my mood more than I could say.

“Thank you for coming with me,” I whispered.

He laughed softly. “My beautiful man. I’m not entirely selfless. I trust you with all I am, and I may have gotten over most of my insecurities, but I am not letting you be alone with Joseph anymore.”

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Excerpt II:

“Excuse me for a moment.” Henry wiped his mouth with a napkin before leaning close to me. “I’ve had it with Joseph’s stares. I’ll be right back.”

Wait, so they were gonna talk alone? Without me?

Henry was already gone, leaving me to wrestle irrational jealousy. It wasn’t fair to Henry, whom I trusted with all my heart. Joseph, however? I wouldn’t put it past him to try something. He’d certainly tried with me.

Noah had his eyes on the dancing pairs. “What do you say, sweetheart…?”

Julian pursed his lips and shook his head. “Have you forgotten our wedding? I literally bruised your toe.”

“Weak shoes.” Noah winked.

I drained my glass. Henry was taking Joseph aside, and clenched my jaw when they disappeared from sight around the villa. Needing a distraction, I turned to Noah.

“I’ll dance with you,” I said. “I’ll give it one song before Julian’s all over you.”

Julian gaped at me. “You’re supposed to be my friend, Zach.”

I puckered my lips at him.

Noah smirked and stood up. “He’s being a friend, Julian. I also think he’s right. Let’s go, kid.”

He rounded the long table and met up with me at my side, and I followed him out on the floor as an upbeat song started playing. We didn’t have live music out here; instead, we had a mix CD, and I recognized this one. A Santana collaboration with the dude from Matchbox Twenty.

I placed my hand in Noah’s extended one, and he took me by surprise when he spun me around before hauling me close. “Holy shit,” I blurted out in a choked laugh. “Okay, I guess you know what you’re doing.”

Noah grinned. “My sister taught me when I was little.”

“Good to know.” Yeah, Julian didn’t stand a chance once he interrupted, and I knew he would. “Lead away, prince charming.”

And fuck me if he didn’t. The rock song brought more people to the floor, and soon most of us where having a workout. Noah made it fun with unexpected dips and twirls, and it’d been a while since I laughed so hard.

“We should just form a circle around you,” Akira hollered over the music. “Goddamn, Noah.”

Sweat beaded on my forehead, and I got into it. I had to hand it to Julian; he was more stubborn than I gave him credit for. A second song started, then a third and a fourth. Traditional salsa music mixed with rock and pop, and I followed best I could.

When I glanced at Julian, I could tell he’d reached his breaking point. He sat impatiently and stewed to himself. One final nudge would get him here, where he belonged.

The song morphed into a new one, another Santana collab. I recognized the Nickelback singer. The beat revved up, heavy and hot, and went on about dancing into the night.

“Ramp it up,” I said, breathing heavily. “You’ll get some possessive sex after this.”

“Oh, I intend to.” If he replied to my first or second statement, I wasn’t sure. “So will you. Move with me when I pull you back.”

“Okay.” I sucked in a breath and looked around, finally catching sight of Henry looking like he’d just returned with Joseph. And as I watched him gesture toward me and say things in Henry’s ear, I recognized Joseph for the snake he was. This went beyond flirting and trying to get into our pants.

“Ready?” Noah raised a brow, and I focused on the music. I let it drown me for the moment. I nodded. “Make it hot, kid.”

I smirked, and he yanked me to his chest. His hands on my hips, one of my hands at the back of his neck, and we moved damn well. He led me almost as perfectly as Henry did, our hips moving and speaking of sexual tension that wasn’t there.

“We’re good,” I chuckled breathlessly.

“Fuck yeah, we are.” He grinned, his chest heaving. “Can you see my boy?”

I could. He was moving in the corner of my eye. “On his way.”

He nodded once and eased up. “Next time I wanna get him out on the floor, you’ll be my partner in crime.”

“Count me in.” That was about what I had time to say before Julian tapped me on the shoulder.

“May I cut in?” he asked with a tight smile.

He was too fucking sweet. I released Noah, and wanting to ease the tension from Julian, I gave his cheek a smacking kiss. “All yours, hon.”

The look in his eyes softened slightly, though it had nothing on when he was in Noah’s arms. I smiled as they forgot everyone around them, and then I made my way out of the little crowd and aimed for Henry.

Seeing the brief flash of worry in his eyes fueled my anger toward Joseph. Who fucking knew what he’d been saying to Henry.

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

 

 

Miss Fix-It by Emma Hart

One handywoman.

One single dad.

One set of twins.

And the wall isn’t the only thing being drilled…

I learned the hard way that being a handywoman isn’t easy. The questions, the stares—the assumption I’m the proud owner of a cock and balls. Not that it matters. I’ve proven over and over that I’m ready for anything the judgmental asses throw at me.

Except the hot, single dad of twins who just moved to town.

Brantley Cooper gets the shock of his life when I show up on his doorstep to fix up his kids’ new rooms. His son is confused why ‘the pretty lady has a drill,’ and his daughter has a new obsession—me.

On paper, my job is easy. Go in, do their bedrooms, and leave.

In theory, I’m spending eight hours a day with a guarded, sexy as hell guy, and I’m staying for dinner more often than I’m eating it alone, on my couch, with Friends re-runs.

I shouldn’t be staying for dinner. I shouldn’t be helping him out with the twins. I shouldn’t be falling in love with tiny toes and dimpled cheeks.

And I most definitely should not be kissing my client.

Oops.

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“I swear, messing with me is your new favorite hobby.”
“It is,” he admitted, eyes sparkling. “You’re so easy to mess with, I don’t even have to try.”
I rolled my eyes. “And to think—I let myself be guilt-tripped into this.”
“More fool you. I warned you about her, and you obviously didn’t listen.”
“That’s so not fair. I did listen, I just don’t have freaky skills to avoid the guilt like you do.”
“I don’t avoid the guilt. I pretend.”
“Would you have pretended if you were me, knowing you’d leave a poor guy to be lonely?”
He raised his eyebrows. “I wouldn’t have been lonely. I’d have watched TV with my pants off.”
“You don’t get to use my plans as an excuse,” I scoffed. “And unless your daughter is a master manipulator, you would have been lonely.”
“She’s four. All four-year-olds are master manipulators. If kids came with manuals, that would be the title of the chapter that talks about age four,” he said.
“There are technically manuals. They’re these wonderful, futuristic things called books.”
“None of which are geared toward a single dad,” he pointed out. “The last time I Googled something, I diagnosed Eli with a rare, deadly disease, learned that there are way too many styles of braid for any human being to master, and also found out how to get the kids out of the door by eight and have time to do my make-up.”
I paused. “I can see how that last one would be of use to you. Your mascara looks wonderful today.”

emma

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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Out by Cara Dee

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Out by Cara Dee

“I guess I always figured coming out was something you did for friends and family, and maybe it is, but it’s personal too, you know? The person I was last night is new. I wanna get to know him.”

Title: Out
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pairing: Gay Romance

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Synopsis:

I had two things on my list when I arrived in Los Angeles. One, track down Henry Bennington, the uncle and guardian of my little brother’s best friend, and tell him to get his ass back to Washington. He needed to do something about his nephew, who was turning into a douchebag. And two, figure out just how non-straight I was. For the past two years, I’d had all these fantasies, and now was the time to explore them, far away from my sleepy little town.

Nowhere on this list did it say, “Get Ty’s uncle into bed and fall for him.” I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with another city either. But between brunch, making new friends, and discovering the man I was meant to be, I lost sight of the future that had once seemed pretty damn vivid. How the hell was I supposed to merge my old life and who I used to be with the new dreams Los Angeles and Henry had awakened in me?

Teaser:

“I have a question, Zach,” Martin said.
“You can’t buy me new pants, man,” I replied.
The two men shared a stunned expression before amusement took over, and I felt bold. Comfortable, most of all. I smirked and shifted in my seat, then dug back into my food.
After the chuckles had died down, Martin faced Henry with a serious look. “I want to keep him. Don’t tell me I can’t.”
Even Henry smiled at that.
“But no, you rascal, that wasn’t what I wanted to ask,” Martin told me. “Although, I’ll certainly try again later. My question is about next week. Will you be doing any sightseeing?”
I hadn’t really thought about that. I was here to explore something else. That said, it would be cool to see some of the stuff I’d watched on TV. The Hollywood sign, Santa Monica Pier, and Venice.
“Maybe some.” I chewed slowly, guessing this was an opportunity to try some of that honesty. My stomach did a somersault, and my hunger faded momentarily. I had to jump, though. I’d regret it if I didn’t. “Ehm, the thing is…” I cleared my throat and reached for a wineglass. Condensation had fogged the surface, and I took a big gulp of it. I wasn’t much of a wine drinker, but it did the trick. “I was wondering…um, what’s West Hollywood like?”
I’d heard it was a neighborhood with a strong gay culture. A gayborhood, if you will.
You learned the weirdest terms online. I still wasn’t sure what the difference was between twinks and twunks.
Henry had grown still, and he put down his lobster roll and wiped his mouth with a napkin. He didn’t look super comfortable.
Martin eyed me up and down, a small smirk playing on his lips. “So perhaps you don’t have a girlfriend at home.”
I shook my head no.
Looked like all I had to do was mention West Hollywood and they knew where I was going with this.
Martin patted my hand. “Hon, is this new to you?”
“Very.” I managed a weak smile, and my heart pounded. “I don’t want to suppress it, though. I’ve had these thoughts for two years. I wanna find out.”
If I didn’t know any better, he looked proud. It didn’t make sense. With their obvious surprise settling, they started eating again. At least Martin did. Henry seemed more interested in his wine.
My guess was it was a sensitive topic for him because of how he’d been treated when he came out.
I didn’t know Martin’s history.
“How old are you?” Martin asked. “Twenty-two, twenty-three?”
I nearly balked. I didn’t look that fucking young, did I? “I’m twenty-seven!”
He waved a hand. “Semantics for me.” Thoughtful and chewing, he looked at his friend. “What do you think, Henry? We can’t in good conscience send him to WeHo clubs.”
“Definitely not.” Henry’s voice was quiet, yet firm. As if the idea was ludicrous. “They’ll eat him alive.”
“Do you go there? To the clubs there, I mean.” I glanced between the two.
Henry’s mouth twisted up.
Martin laughed outright. “Oh no, dear. We’ve aged out of the system.”
I wanted Henry’s take on things. Despite his evident discomfort, I looked at him in question. Teach me. Or hell, kiss me if you won’t tell me where to go. Okay, perhaps that would make him more uncomfortable.
He surrendered with a sigh, and he put down his food once more. “West Hollywood’s clubs might be too much if you’re just testing the waters and want to take things slowly. Their scene is a meat market. Not that I’ve been there in ages. As Martin pointed out, we’re not part of the demographic anymore.”
“We’re too old,” Martin supplied.
Henry shot him a frustrated look. “Thank you for reminding me.”
“You’re very welcome,” he replied, and I couldn’t help but grin. “Henry’s right, Zach. If you want sexy go-go boys and a round of Dude, Where’s My Car when you wake up not knowing where you are, those clubs are perfect.” He made a dismissive gesture with his hand. “Of course, you can find low-key bars as well, and many of my friends have settled down in domesticated gay heaven there, but we can probably find you a nice gay bar on the westside, too.”
West Hollywood wasn’t west enough?
Henry inclined his head. “There’s no need to dive straight into the club scene.” He paused. “You haven’t visited any gay-friendly bars at home?”
I shook my head. “I’m not…hiding, per se. But I haven’t been comfortable yet.”
If I came home with a boyfriend, I didn’t believe I’d face many problems. My nana was open-minded and accepting, and Mattie had friends who were already out. I just…I guessed I was one of those guys who liked to process things on my own first, and this was the option with which I was most at ease. I wouldn’t be on my own, but I would be away from everyone I knew.
“So a chill bar or something,” I said, getting us back on track. “Will you guys go with me?”
“Abso-fucking-lutely, darling.” Martin nodded and licked filling off his finger.
“Thank you.” I was relieved.
“Wait for it,” Henry muttered.
I frowned in confusion, and Martin’s eyes landed on me, his expression gleeful.
“You can’t go to a gay bar like that,” he said.
Goddammit.
“You’re talking about shopping, aren’t you?” My shoulders slumped. I didn’t know squat about fashion, and I wasn’t very interested.
“I am, yes, and it’s nonnegotiable.” He was too smug.
I agreed with his terms, though. I wanted to experience as much as possible. Even if it meant shopping.
“Can we go today?” I asked.
Martin laughed softly. “Boy’s eager, Henry.”
Henry merely hummed and took a swig of his wine.

About Cara:

DI’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

Kicking Reality by Kat T. Masen

Title: Kicking Reality
Author: Kat T. Masen
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: May 28, 2017
Blurb
Emerson
Everyone thinks they know who I am. I’m that reality TV star that fell in love with
co-star Wesley Rich. But reality wasn’t my life. It was the life I lived in front of the cameras. 
A life designed to entertain millions of watchers each Monday night.
It only took one night to relive my past, and one night to forget my future. With someone who had been there all along.
Logan
Soccer is my life—it’s in my blood.
I train hard, I play hard, and I win.  Nothing
will break my focus.
I should have been able to avoid it, resist the temptation. But it’s there, playing
every Monday night, an obsession I can’t seem to shake.
And I don’t know what was harder: hiding it from my best friend, or watching the woman I want live a life with someone else.
Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Excerpt

“You honestly believe all that rubbish? Falling in love? They knew from the start? C’mon. It’s impossible,” I ramble to myself as Logan quietly stands at the edge. “You can spend a whole lifetime knowing someone and still feel unsure if the love is there. Two minutes in a bar and that person is your soulmate? Ludicrous.”

Logan turns his neck, body following until we’re facing each other. His presence radiates with superiority, just like when we were kids. I wasn’t afraid back then and I am not afraid now. His tough-guy persona doesn’t frighten me one bit.

“Hypocritical coming from someone engaged to a man that swore he fell in love with you the moment he saw you?” he questions, sarcasm lacing every word that left his mouth. The shock of his words cripples my ability to respond with a witty comeback. We weren’t having a good ol’ laugh throwing worms in the bottom of Ash’s school bag anymore. And my initial reaction to his cruel words does nothing to calm the sea of emotions ravaging inside me. Logan Carrington was one of them. They all came from the same seed. The seed of men that felt entitled. Screw women, move on, fuck feelings and repeat.

“Knock, knock . . . anyone home?”“You’re a jerk,” I mutter.

Author Bio
Born and bred in Sydney, Australia, Kat T. Masen is a mother to four crazy boys and wife to one sane husband. Growing up in a generation where social media and fancy gadgets didn’t exist, she enjoyed reading from an early age and found herself immersed in these stories. After meeting friends on Twitter who loved to read as much as she did, her passion to write began and the friendships continued on despite the distance.

“I’m known to be crazy and humorous. Show me the most random picture of a dog in a wig and I’ll be laughing for days.”

Author Links

Kicking RealityKicking Reality by Kat T. Masen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kicking Reality is the first book of Kat T Masen’s I’ve read and it won’t be the last.

The story flowed so effortlessly and was very easy to follow. The writing and the characters have you hooked from the very first page. It’s funny, flirty, charming and emotional.

I really enjoyed reading it and I would highly recommend!!

View all my reviews

I Do, Babe by Tillie Cole

 

 

 

WHEN DARKNESS AND LIGHT COMBINE, DESTINED SOULS WILL IGNITE . . .

Connected since childhood.
Two souls: one dark and one pure.
Bracing to take the greatest step of all.

River ‘Styx’ Nash loves his woman. Ever since he met Mae at the fence of the cult that had kept her captive as a child, he has never loved anyone else. He loves her black hair, her pale skin and of course, her ice-blue ‘wolf eyes’.

Since Mae came crashing back into his life, his only wish has been to marry her; finally to make her his wife. But now the wedding is booked, and only weeks from forever having Mae by his side, a lifelong problem is plaguing him.
He wants to marry her; he has never wanted anything more . . .
. . . if only he could speak the words and declare it to the world.

Salome ‘Mae’ Nash’s life had been filled with heartache and pain . . . until, at age eight, she met a strange dark-haired boy from the outside world. Years later, and reunited with her great love, Mae is ready to solder her heart to his. Finally, Mae is getting ready to marry her man. But her fiancé has become withdrawn. Something is deeply troubling him.
But Mae has no idea what.
Or what to do to help.

Can Styx open up and conquer his deepest pain? Or will the infamous Hangmen Mute allow his fears to overcome his love for Mae and watch their much-anticipated wedding crumble to dust?

Dark Contemporary Romance. Contains explicit sexual situations, offensive language and mature topics. Recommended for age 18 and over.
***I Do, Babe: A Novella (Hades Hangmen #5.5) is to be read AFTER Damnable Grace (Hades Hangmen #5)***

 


“Mae,” Bella whispered as I walked from the changing room and stood on the elevated plinth opposite my friends and sisters. The mirror was behind me, but I did not yet dare look at my reflection. I glanced at Bella sat beside Ruth, her mother-in-law and Rider’s mama. Her eyes were filling with tears as she stared at me. Her hands were in front of her mouth.
“Do you like it?” I ran my hand over my pronounced stomach.
Bella nodded. “You are perfect,” she whispered. Ruth nodded in agreement.
I looked at Maddie. “Madds?”
She smiled warmly. “You are beautiful, Mae, this dress only enhances that. But this gown could not suit you more if you tried.”
“Styx will love it,” Lilah said and held Grace tighter on her lap.
“You look like a Disney princess,” Grace said.
A hand came down on my arm. I turned to see Beauty behind me. “You ever gonna look in the mirror, darlin’?” She smiled. This boutique belonged to a friend of Beauty’s, and Beauty had practically organized my wedding for me. I was clueless where to even begin.
“You look good, Mae.” I smiled at Letti as she sat uncomfortably on the couch. She had told me she was here to support me, but she had no opinion in such matters as wedding dress shopping. Or anything girly, she’d said affectionately.
“Turn, honey,” Lilah said and I nodded my head. I had no idea why I was so nervous. I knew that Styx loved me and I loved him. I felt as though I had been waiting for this day my whole life. That I had been waiting for the day I finally cemented him as mine. Forever mine, and me forever his.
Closing my eyes, I turned, allowing Beauty to guide me. “You ready?” she whispered. I pulled up the image of Styx in my mind. Me in his arms as we lay in bed. His large tattooed arms holding me close as we spoke. His voice gruff and deep. Then I pictured us laughing. The infamous Hangmen Mute of the Hades Hangmen, so different with me than with anybody else. To others he was aloof, silent, and menacing. But to me, he was loving, caring, and the most beautiful soul in the world.
The other half of my heart.

Tillie Cole hails from a small town in the North-East of England. She grew up on a farm with her English mother, Scottish father and older sister and a multitude of rescue animals. As soon as she could, Tillie left her rural roots for the bright lights of the big city.

After graduating from Newcastle University with a BA Hons in Religious Studies, Tillie followed her Professional Rugby player husband around the world for a decade, becoming a teacher in between and thoroughly enjoyed teaching High School students Social Studies before putting pen to paper, and finishing her first novel.

Tillie has now settled in Austin, Texas, where she is finally able to sit down and write, throwing herself into fantasy worlds and the fabulous minds of her characters.

Tillie is both an independent and traditionally published author, and writes many genres including: Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance, Young Adult and New Adult novels.

When she is not writing, Tillie enjoys nothing more than curling up on her couch watching movies, drinking far too much coffee, while convincing herself that she really doesn’t need that extra square of chocolate.
Author Links

 

 

 

Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden-Mills

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Pretending never felt so good….

Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden-Mills is NOW LIVE!
ONLY $0.99 & Free on Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2laEuMc
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2lfrSjw
Amazon Paperback: http://amzn.to/2ldp4TS

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Blurb

A new standalone romance from Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author Ilsa Madden-Mills…

They say nothing compares to your first kiss,
But our first kiss was orchestrated for an audience.
Our second kiss…that one was REAL.
He cradled my face like he was terrified he’d f*ck it up.
He stared into my eyes until the air buzzed.
Soft and slow, full of sighs and little laughs,
He inhaled me like I was the finest Belgian chocolate,
And he’d never get another piece.
A nip of his teeth, his hand at my waist…
And I was lost.
I forgot he was paying me to be his fake fiancée.
I forgot we weren’t REAL.
Our kiss was pure magic, and before you laugh and say those kinds of kisses don’t exist…
Then you’ve never touched lips with Max Kent, the hottest quarterback in college history.

Get ready for breathtaking kisses and dreamy football players…

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EXCERPT

Max stalked over to the barrier that divided the stands from the football field and jumped it. The fans went nuts as he brushed past them, some not even realizing it until he was down the aisle. The Jumbotron followed him.
“Good Lordy, what’s he doing?” Mimi asked, clutching at her chest.
“I don’t know,” I said rather weakly, taking the chance to study him the closer he came. He was beautiful, his shoulders impossibly broad. To add to the distraction, his helmet was in his hand and all that dark brown hair was flowing around his chiseled features as if he had a fan in his face. My Viking.
“He’s coming over here,” Mimi commented.
He was. But why?
I stopped breathing . . .right when he came to a halt in front of me and knelt down on one knee.
Eyes the color of a wild ocean gazed at me.
He took my left hand in his right one.
“Max,” I breathed, my heart fluttering.
He gazed up at me. “Sunny Blaine, will you marry me?”
The stadium went wild. In a daze, I looked up at the Jumbotron and felt like I was watching this happen to someone else. Camera phones flashed all around us.
My first clear thought was I’ll kill him.
Aloud, nothing came out but a faint wheeze. Clearly someone had stuffed a giant wad of cotton in my mouth. Clearly I needed something a lot stiffer to drink than this Diet Coke. Clearly my fake boyfriend was a freaking raving lunatic.
He sat his helmet on the ground next to my feet, reached inside it and pulled out a small black box.
No, no, no!
The box opened, and my stomach churned at the sight of the large round solitaire diamond ring that was nestled on the black silk. I blinked repeatedly to clear my vision.
With deft fingers, Max eased it out of the lining and slipped it on my left hand.
I stared down at it. Then back at him.
I was going to murder the hottest quarterback in the country.
Kiss her, Kiss her, the crowd chanted.
We were the focal point of the entire world.
Max stood and tugged me up with him until we were standing. He slid his hand around my neck and pulled his face to mine. The sky was blotted out as he kissed me.
But I hadn’t said yes!
I wouldn’t say yes.
Not to a fake engagement.
The applause of the stadium was deafening. And his kiss—it was deadly. Despite my rage, my body craved him. His lips were hot, so hot, and my tongue met his with a vengeance. We kissed hard, and I nipped at him, my teeth scraping across his lips. But the only one who’d end up bleeding in this scenario was me.
He eased back to take me in, and with a final look at my face he gave a thumbs-up sign to the entire stadium. They went nuts, chanting his name.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered in my ear, letting his hand trail down my arm as he stepped back from me. He walked away backward, eyes on me the entire time. The announcers for the game told everyone who might have missed it that Max Kent had just asked his girlfriend to marry him, and she’d said yes. More cheers came as they replayed him on his knee in front of me with a giant YES written across the top.
I plopped back down in my seat. Frozen.
“. . . did you see her face? Shocked . . .”
“. . . most romantic thing in football . . .”
“. . . luckiest girl in the world . . .”
My face went hot. Even my ears burned. I wanted to crawl under a seat.
God.
What a lie.
The half ended and our offense came out to the field, snapped the ball, and Max threw it straight to Tate who ran it in for another touchdown. My chest constricted and anger churned in my gut.
I didn’t care who won.
I hated football right now.
Most of all, I hated Max Kent, and I was going to make him pay.

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About the Author

Wall Street Journal best selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She’s addicted to all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Ian Somerhalder, astronomy (she’s a Gemini), and tattoos. She has a degree in English and a Master’s in Education. When she’s not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets and fuzzy pajamas.

She loves to hear from readers and fellow authors. Email her at ilsamaddenmills@gmail.com.

Singe by Aly Martinez

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SINGE is the first book in an ALL NEW smokin-hot standalone series by Aly Martinez NOW AVAILABLE!

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Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2kfNgXh
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2kfyRdL
Nook: http://bit.ly/2kQyB5S
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2kC4kru

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Blurb
She was my nightmare. Every time I closed my eyes, I watched her fall into that inferno. Over and over, I failed to save her.

I hadn’t been able to reach her, and the guilt only burned hotter over time. Four years later, I was the unreachable one.

Heroes aren’t always saints. Sometimes, we’re nothing more than jaded sinners driven by sleepless nights and hearts full of darkness.

And then I met her. She was a dreamer who managed to soothe my scars and heal my wounds.

But, as the flames closed in around us, I feared I wasn’t the right man to save her. That is until I realized she was the one woman I’d burn the world down to protect.

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Chapter One
Jude

“Tomorrow, it’s on me,” I said, standing up off the barstool.
Behind the bar, Carmen waggled her eyebrows, seductively calling out, “Funny, I could be on you tonight if you stayed awhile longer.”
I laughed at her innuendo and tossed her a wink. “I gotta get home, babe. Seven a.m. comes way too early.”
“Well, offer’s on the table,” she purred.
It always was with her. And, if I wasn’t careful, I’d eventually take her up on it.
Not that sleeping with Carmen wouldn’t have been good. But, when you find a cheap bar only five minutes from your house, you don’t fuck that up by dipping your cock into the bartender.
“Later, Carmen,” I called, pushing the door open and heading to my car.
I wasn’t out of the parking lot before I heard, “Officer Levitt? We’ve got an alarm going off in Park Hill. You mind taking a look on your way home?”
Banging my head back against the headrest, I groaned to myself. Park Hill was about as “on my way home” as swinging past California on the way to Maine.
Switching my radio to my other hand, I complained, “I’m off the clock, Jocelyn.” I had been for several hours, even if I hadn’t made it home yet.
She laughed. “I’m sorry, but you’re the only one remotely close. I had to send two cars out to the Laslows’ to break up another argument between Cam and his old man.”
“They at it again?” I asked.
“Apparently, Cam told Lindsey he didn’t want the baby. Lindsey told his dad. Old Man Laslow lost his mind.”
I chuckled, putting my blinker on and then doing a U-turn in the middle of the empty road. “Christ. I bet he did. I know the man’s seventy-five, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to go toe-to-toe with him.”
“I’m with you on that. So…you gonna head out to Park Hill?” she asked in a sugary-sweet tone.
I grumbled deep in my chest. “You’re gonna owe me some of that banana bread for this. I missed it the other day when you brought it up to the station.”
“I don’t owe you anything.” She giggled. “However, as a personal thank-you from the state of Illinois, Park County, and the owners of Park Hill, I’ll bring you in a loaf on Friday. Deal?”
“Deal. I’m en route now.”
“Stay safe, and radio in with your report.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied, knowing exactly how much thirty-year-old Jocelyn loved being called ma’am by a twenty-five-year-old man.
“Don’t you—”
“Gotta go.” I turned the volume down to mute her, grinning to myself as I flipped my lights and siren on.
I’d been a cop for two years. And, in that time, I’d been out to the privately owned Park Hill estate at least a dozen times. It wasn’t unusual for the alarm on the mansion to get triggered. It never amounted to anything. The expansive estate was on the very edge of the county, and trouble didn’t usually travel that far out. More often than not, a bird at a window or a bumbling new member of the grounds crew would accidentally trip the alarm. Truth was, no one actually lived in Park Hill. The owners visited sporadically. But, for the majority of the time, it remained empty.
Some minutes later, I cut my siren as I pulled up to the entrance. The cold air assaulted me as I stepped out of my patrol car with my flashlight in hand and aimed at the keypad on the massive security gate that blocked the driveway off. That damn thing alone had to have cost more than I’d make in a lifetime. Forget about the house inside.
The smell of wood burning in a fireplace wafted through the night air. I guessed someone was home for a visit.
I typed in the emergency code on the gate panel and then climbed back in my car and made my way down the tree-lined driveway. I’d spent the day on patrol, and, with the exception of some minor vandalism across town, it had been a slow one.
Though, in the blink of an eye, that would change.
Along with my entire life.
“Oh fuck,” I breathed as the main house came into view on the top of the hill.
After throwing my car in park, I jumped on the radio at my shoulder. I could barely get the words out as I slung my door open and took off at a dead sprint.
“This is Officer Levitt! I need fire support at Park Hill immediately!”
And then I froze as a wave of adrenaline crashed into me like a tsunami.
An inferno roared in the night sky, but it was the small silhouette of a woman perched outside a third-floor window, smoke pouring out all around her, that knocked the breath out of me. My heart stopped, but my feet continued to pound against the pavement.
Jocelyn’s voice caught me. “What’s going on?”
“I need medical too!” I barked as I got closer. “The whole damn place is in flames and there’s a woman trapped!”
The woman’s long, black hair blew out behind her like a battered flag whipping in a storm. I couldn’t make out her face or her skin color or even guess at her age for the black soot covering her, but her fear was unmistakable.
And unforgettable.
“Hang on!” I yelled up to her.
“Oh my God!” she screamed before it turned into a fit of coughing. “Help me!”
“Hang on! Don’t let go!”
Frantically, I searched the perimeter for a way in, but it wasn’t only her house that was on fire. Flames were encompassing her. The yard and all the surrounding flowerbeds. Top to bottom. The first and second floors were completely engulfed, and if the sound of shattering windows was any indication, it was quickly making its way up to the third floor—to her.
“No! Don’t leave me!” she screamed, panic thick in her garbled voice, as I started around the side of the house.
A wall of heat stopped me in my tracks. Throwing an arm up, I did my best to block my face while scanning the building for any possible entry—or, in her case, exit.
But there wasn’t a surface of that house that wasn’t ablaze.
Except the roof.
Son of a bitch.
I spoke into the radio. “I need an ETA on fire.”
Jocelyn replied, “They’re on their way. Five minutes out.”
I didn’t have one minute, much less five.
Fuck.
My pulse quickened, sending blood thundering in my ears. I was a cop. I’d trained for chaos. I should have been able to come up with a solution for a situation like this, but they didn’t teach you how to conquer the impossible at the Academy.
And, as I took inventory of the flames dancing beneath her, I knew that was exactly what I was up against.
My gut wrenched as I helplessly sped back around the house. She appeared almost childlike, hovering barefoot on that narrow brick ledge, but her long-sleeve top and her loose-fitting pants clung to the body of a woman.
Jesus Christ! Where was that fucking fire truck?
“Is anyone else in the house?” I yelled up to her.
Not that I could have helped them, either. Short of running into a burning building, on what would surely be a suicide mission, there was not one thing I could do. And didn’t that little reality feel like a wrecking ball to the chest.
“No!” she cried, a loud sob lodging in her throat. It turned into more coughing, her body shaking violently with every heave.
I fisted my hands at my sides as my anxiety spiraled higher.
“Please. Do something!” she begged.
I ground my teeth together and once again glanced around as if a water hose and a ladder were going to suddenly appear out of nowhere. “Hang tight, okay? Fire trucks are on their way.”
“I can’t hold on much longer!” she cried.
“Yes, you can,” I demanded.
“I…I think I need to jump,” she coughed out.
I assessed the massive fire below her. I’d never be able to reach her before it swallowed her. But there was no way I’d be able to stand by and watch her burn.
No. If she jumped off that ledge, she was going to get us both killed.
“Don’t you dare,” I barked. “Don’t even think about it. Two minutes. They’ll be here.”
“I…I can’t.”
“Two minutes,” I repeated. “Hold—”
Suddenly, a window to her left exploded, shooting glass and flames in all directions.
I covered my face as she screamed in a paralyzing mixture of fear and agony. It cut me so deep that I knew I’d bear the scars for the rest of my life, and that had nothing to do with the glass and everything to do with the heavy weight of my failure already lingering in the smoke-filled air.
When I opened my eyes again, I caught a glimpse of orange flickering in the window behind her. Panic built in my chest.
“You need to move!” I yelled.
She shook her head and continued to cough and cry.
But it wasn’t an option. I couldn’t help her. Though I damn sure refused to watch her die.
“Please. Just listen to me.” I swallowed hard. “You can’t stay there.” I looked to the roof.
Sending her higher seemed wrong and went against everything I’d learned in my limited fire training. But fuck, my options were having her jump into a conflagration or scale up the side of a building in hopes of buying us the precious minutes needed for the fire department to arrive.
Drawing in a smoke-filled breath, I made a decision that would haunt me for the rest of my life. “You need to climb up to the roof.”
“I can’t!” she shrieked.
My stomach twisted, but I gentled my voice. “Look, I know you’re scared. But I’m right here. I’ll help guide you up, but, sweetheart, it’s bearing down on you. You gotta move, and I mean now.”
She choked on a mouthful of smoke as she attempted to look over her shoulder.
“You’re going to be fine. I swear to you,” I lied. “But you have to move.”
“I’m not going to make it!” She had to have yelled it in order for me to hear her, but I felt her defeat slither over my skin like a whispered goodbye.
I took a long step forward, too focused on her to feel the heat singeing my skin. “Yes, you are!” I declared. “Move your ass up to the roof and we’ll both be out of here in time for breakfast.”
Her gaze landed on mine, tears forging paths down her soot-covered cheeks, her disbelief obvious even from yards away. “Are you sure?”
It was a ridiculous question. It wasn’t like I could make any guarantees. It was fire, for God’s sake. But that didn’t stop me from covering my heart with my palm and vowing, “I swear on my life you’re going to make it through this.”
Her hesitation was evident, but with one last sob, she inched her small body farther out onto the narrow ledge, reaching the tips of her shaking fingers out for the windowsill above her.
“Good girl,” I praised, a fraction of relief washing over me.
And then I sucked in a sharp breath as one of her shaking legs slipped out from under her.
“No!” I yelled.
On instinct, I rushed toward the flames, my arms stretched out in the air as though I could catch her.
A scalding heat blistered my face and forced me to stop, but the real pain was in my chest. I watched in horror for what felt like a lifetime as she fought to right herself, her dainty arms flailing like a wounded butterfly frantically trying to catch the wind.
But there was none to be found.
My heart lurched into my throat, and my breath seized in my lungs.
And then a deep, guttural sound tore through me, shredding me from the inside out, as I watched her fall.

I woke up in a cold sweat. It wasn’t exactly something new. I’d been dreaming of Butterfly for over four years. She always flew directly into the flames, screaming as I stood helpless to save her.
Swinging my legs over the side of the bed, I cradled my head in my hands and tried to pretend I was okay. That wasn’t exactly something new, either. I could still feel the heat on the back of my neck. My lungs were still thick with smoke. The pressure in my chest never left me.
The distance while I was living in LA had helped. But, in the week since I’d been back in Illinois, I’d woken up every morning at that blazing house. I didn’t even have to be asleep for the memories to assault me.
I should have gone back to sleep. It was my first day at my new job, and the last thing I needed was to show up haggard and sleep-deprived. But, as I’d learned over the years, another fiery butterfly awaited me on the other side of REM. No way I was volunteering for that.
I pushed myself off the bed and tugged a T-shirt on, preparing to head down to the hotel gym with hopes that I could outrun the mental fog that had been hovering over me since I’d returned. There was a reason I’d thrown all of my shit in my car and driven as far as I could all those years ago.
Yet, somehow, I’d come full circle.
But I’d come back a different man.
At least that’s what I’d told myself as the deafening roar of doubt had overwhelmed me the moment I’d driven across the state line.
Regardless, it had been time to go home.
I’d been gone too long.
Or, as I’d decided as I’d passed the exit to Park County, not nearly long enough.

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About the Author

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five- including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side