Jul 31, 2015

{Chapter Reveal} Screwed by Kendall Ryan

We are very excited for this brand new standalone from Kendall Ryan.
Releasing on September 15 we get a peek at a sexy romantic comedy from the NYT Bestselling author.
I have one rule: Don’t shit where
you eat.


Several of the women in the condo complex I own
would love some one-on-one playtime, and why wouldn’t they? I’m young, fit,
attractive, and loaded. Not to mention I’m packing a sizable bulge below the
belt. It’s a combination that drops panties on a regular basis. 


Yay, me, right?

But my cock, troublemaker that he is, has been
confined to my trousers by my business partner. A concession I agreed to, and
one that’s never been hard to enforce until Emery moves in across the hall.
She’s smart, young, determined, and sexy as hell. I want a taste. I won’t stop
until I’m buried deep inside the succulent new-in-town brunette.


After being warned about my past, she does her
best to steer clear, but I’m about to show her that underneath it all, I’m a
guy with a heart of gold and a cock of steel.


My name is Hayden Oliver, and this is my story.

SCREWED is standalone romantic
comedy by New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author
Kendall Ryan.

Chapter One

Hayden
Goddamn. This is going to be harder than I thought.
My eyes swing over to admire the most perfect pear-shaped ass I’ve
ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on while my business partner Hudson
continues lecturing me. I think it’s something important, but there’s nothing
more urgent than my body’s reaction to this shapely brunette. Jesus.
Those tits are definitely real.
“I mean it. Your cock is cut off this time,” Hudson says roughly,
his tone biting.
Tearing my gaze away from the succulent new brunette moving into
unit 4B, I face him. “Not literally cut off. I’m sort of attached to him. You
realize that, right?”
“Well it’s on lock down then. No more of this bullshit. I had
three calls this week alone from hysterical women – our tenants – who you, how
do I put this delicately? You fucked and then left before their pussies were
even dry.”
I smirk at him, but I can’t deny the accusation. We’re like the
real life Melrose Place. Sexy young twenty-somethings all living in close
proximity. There’s bound to be a little drama now and again. Together, Hudson
and I own thirty buildings in the greater Los Angeles area. And some of our
buildings have very fuckable tenants. Up until this point, I’d considered that
a nice bonus, and a perk of the job. Hudson has apparently viewed it
differently.
“Who’s that?” I ask, tipping my head toward the bombshell who’s
responsible for all the blood rushing to my groin. Fuck. I should have a
word with her about that, that’s not cool.
Hudson’s eyes swing to the left to see what, or rather, who has
captured my attention. And who’s given me this semi-chub, which I hope he
hasn’t noticed. We’re close, but we’re not that close.
“No, no, no. Don’t get any ideas. You’re not tagging that.”
She’s not close enough to overhear us, but I shoot him a scowl
anyway. “Show some class, man. Tagging is such a juvenile word. I’d take my
time, get her hot and ready first, until she was begging for me to fill her
tight, little cunt.”
“I’m fucking serious. You’re not to even think about her tight
cunt.”
“So you acknowledge she’s got a tight cunt?” I smile, proud of
myself.
He wipes sweat from his brow, looking worried. “Hayden, I’m
serious this time.” His voice has taken on a somber tone, and for once, I try
to be serious and focus.
Watching the way the vein throbs in his neck, my smile fades.
We’re standing outside of one of our nicest buildings just outside of downtown,
and the mid-afternoon sun is beating down on us. Suddenly I want to get away from
him, and away from this entire conversation and into the cool air conditioning
inside. Shit has gotten a little too real for me.
“You know me,” I grin at him, trying to lighten the mood. “I just
wanted to have some casual fun.” And if that meant sleeping my way through the
LA singles scene, so be it. I’m not looking for something deeper. I have a
luxury condo in the heart of the Hollywood Hills, drive a new model BMW and
possess a nine-inch cock. Translation: Life is good. Or it was, until Hudson
decided to get a bug up his ass and lay down the law today.
“Did you hear a word I just said? One of your latest conquests
threatened to report our company to the Better Business Bureau for unethical
business practices. This isn’t just about you. This affects me too. And I’ll be
damned if I watch everything we’ve built go down in flames because you can’t
keep your dick in your pants.”
“Point taken.” Hudson is pretty much the best friend, and best
business partner you could ask for. He’s smart as hell, dedicated, works like a
dog day and night. And not to mention when we began our real estate investment
company five years ago, he single-handedly fronted all the start-up capital
from his own savings and trust fund. It took me years to pay him back as the
profits rolled in, and he never once made me feel lesser, or like I was in debt
to him. Not to mention, he’s funny, well-off, and good looking. He’s an
excellent wing-man. Plus he knows the best taco joints.
Unable to help myself, my eyes drift over to her again. 4B fills
out a pair of yoga pants in ways that I doubt are even legal in most countries.
I needed to know what was underneath those curve-hugging black athletic pants.
Simple cotton panties, or a naughty g-string? Either way, I wanted to bury my
fingers inside the waistband of those pants, peel them down her hips and find
out. Perhaps it was because Hudson just made her forbidden fruit, but I wanted
a taste. My damn mouth was practically watering.
She looked smart, and put together, despite her casual attire, including
a tank top and tennis shoes. With a clipboard in one hand, and her trusty
number two pencil in the other, she ticked items off of her list, and
instructed the movers who were unloading and carrying boxes up to her new place
– which just so happened to be directly underneath mine.
“You’re not going to last three minutes let alone three days.” Hudson
grimaces, glancing over again at our newest resident.
“What do you know about her?”
He rolls his eyes, but humors me. “Emery Elaine Winters. She’s an attorney.
Excellent references. Even better credit score, and she signed a one year
lease. And she’s to remain in pristine condition, or so help me God …”
When I glance up at her again, I see Roxy, another of our residents
has joined Emery on the sidewalk, and they appear to be making small talk.
Shaking hands, exchanging words, and smiling at each other. There’s something I
strongly dislike about these two women talking. Roxy is an exotic dancer, and
she I have a bit of a rocky past. Which is a huge fucking understatement, but
not something I care to dwell on now. Hudson mentions something about fourth
quarter taxes, and I tune him out, sure I just heard my name on Roxy’s
over-glossed lips.
“Excuse me, I’ve got business to attend to.” I step around him,
heading straight toward my new prize. Roxy spots me, and takes off for the
parking area.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Hudson calls after me.
“Just being neighborly. Someone’s got to properly welcome Miss
Winters.”
“Dammit, Hayden,” I hear him shout.
“I’ve got this, buddy,” I shout back over my shoulder.
I can control myself around her. I have to, according to Hudson. I
don’t like being told what to do, especially where my cock was concerned, and
hell, it’ll probably only make me want her more, but as I close the distance
between Emery and me, I make a plan.
Friends.
I would become friends with the
so-hot-I-wanted-to-bend-her-over-and-fuck-her-in-broad-daylight new girl.
This was either the best plan I’d ever had, or would end with me
sporting a black eye, courtesy of my best friend.
It’s go time.


Kendall Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance novels, including Hard to Love, Unravel Me, Resisting Her and When I Break.

She's a sassy, yet polite Midwestern girl with a deep love of books, and a slight addiction to lipgloss. She lives in Minneapolis with her adorable husband and two baby sons, and enjoys hiking, being active, and reading.
Visit her at: www.kendallryanbooks.com  for the latest book news, and fun extras




Jul 28, 2015

{Release Week} EVERY LAST BREATH by Jennifer Armentrout


The Epic Finale in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s

Dark Elements Series...Who Will She Choose?



ELB Teaser 3

Every choice has consequences—but seventeen-year-old Layla faces tougher choices than most. Light or darkness. Wickedly sexy demon prince Roth, or Zayne, the gorgeous, protective Warden she never thought could be hers. Hardest of all, Layla has to decide which side of herself to trust.

Don't miss the conclusion to this stunning Young Adult Paranormal series filled with danger and romance published by HarlequinTEEN.

Grab your copy today!

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** iBooks ** IndieBound ** Kobo ** BAM




9780373211142_prd_proof_FCEVERY LAST BREATH Synopsis:

Some loves will last ‘til your dying breath

Every choice has consequences—but seventeen-year-old Layla faces tougher choices than most. Light or darkness. Wickedly sexy demon prince Roth, or Zayne, the gorgeous, protective Warden she never thought could be hers. Hardest of all, Layla has to decide which side of herself to trust.

Layla has a new problem, too. A Lilin—the deadliest of demons—has been unleashed, wreaking havoc on those around her…including her best friend. To keep Sam from a fate much, much worse than death, Layla must strike a deal with the enemy while saving her city—and her race—from destruction.

Torn between two worlds and two different boys, Layla has no certainties, least of all survival, especially when an old bargain comes back to haunt them all. But sometimes, when secrets are everywhere and the truth seems unknowable, you have to listen to your heart, pick a side—and then fight like hell…

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** iBooks ** IndieBound ** Kobo ** BAM


“Armentrout is a major talent…I just can’t stop reading!”
--New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter
“Armentrout works her magic with swoon-worthy guys and a twist you never see coming.”
--#1 New York Times bestselling author Abbi Glines on White Hot Kiss

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And don’t miss the first titles in the Dark Elements Series!

BITTER SWEET LOVE

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** iBooks ** BAM ** Kobo

WHITE HOT KISS

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** BAM ** iBooks ** IndieBound ** Kobo

STONE COLD TOUCH

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** iBooks ** IndieBound ** Kobo ** BAM


JLA_Author-photoAbout Jennifer L. Armentrout:

# 1 New York Times and # 1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Novel Goodreads ** Author Goodreads

Jul 24, 2015

{Re-Release Day} Shadow Daner by Addison Kline

"Some secrets should just stay buried. On the day Tristan Morrow is born her mother goes missing, prompting an investigation that produces no solid leads. Fast forward 15 years, and the Morrow family still doesn’t know the truth behind Catherine Morrow’s disappearance. When 15 year old Tristan is required to write a biography on her mother for a school assignment, she learns the truth about her mother’s fate, and is hell-bent upon finding out who was responsible for her death. But when Tristan herself goes missing too, everyone is suspect, even her own father.”
Connect with Addison on Social Media

Jul 23, 2015

{Book Blitz: Promo + Giveaway} Truth or Beard by Penny Reid

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Tour: Truth or Beard by Penny Reid
AmazonNookKoboiBooks

Truth or Beard
by Penny Reid 
Winston Brothers #1
Publication Date: July 23, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Romance
Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!
Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life.

His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…

But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.
Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?

Series Description:
Everyone in Green Valley, Tennessee knows that the six bearded Winston brothers have been imbued with an unfair share of charm and charisma… and are prone to mischief.

Truth or Beard is book #1 in the Winston Brother’s series. Each book is a standalone, full length (110k words), contemporary romantic comedy novel, and follows the romantic exploits and adventures of one of the six Winston Brothers.

Add to Goodreads

About Penny Reid

Author-Photo-Penny-Reid-300x300
SEX! It all started with sex, between my parents. Personally I don’t like thinking about it, but whatever works for you is a-ok with me. No judgment. The sex happened in California and much of my life also occurred in that state until I moved from the land of nuts (almonds), wine, silicon… boobs, and heavy traffic to the southeast US. Like most writers I like to write, but let’s get back to sex. Eventually I married and gave birth to 2 small people-children (boy-6, girl-4 as of this writing).

By day I’m a biomedical researcher with focus on rare diseases. By night I’m a knitter, sewer, lino block carver, fabric printer, soap maker, and general crafter. By the wee hours of the morning or when I’m intoxicated I love to listen to the voices in my head and let them tell me stories. I hope you enjoy their stories.


Jul 21, 2015

{Bees Knees} Baby Book Decor Ideas

What I think is the Bees Knees! Is a feature that shows book decorations, books blogs, great book articles, book designs, and more. I'll discuss why I like it, don't like it or just ramble away.
Well I've been on the hunt for some decor ideas! It's official, we are expecting! Since we dont know the gender yet, I've been looking at neutral ideas for decorating with book themes. If you have any cool ideas, let me know I'm always looking. Below I found some cute ideas I might try out. I love the harry potter key idea.





Jul 20, 2015

{Book Blitz: Q&A and Giveaway} The Single Game by Amanda Black


The Single Game by Amanda Black
Publication date: July 15th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance

Synopsis:
In this third, stand-alone installment of Amanda Black’s Apartment Novels series, sparks fly during a sexy party game.

When Eden Foster’s parents tell her they’re moving from Chicago to the Illinois suburb of Aledo, Eden is crushed. That is, until she runs crying to her jock boyfriend, who she finds on top of her so-called best friend. Moving’s not looking so bad anymore.

Now a senior at Mercer County High, Eden is ready to re-enter the dating scene. Still burned over the betrayal of her ex, she’s looking for someone sweet and innocent. With the help of her two new friends, Zoe and Amy, Eden makes a list of what she’s looking for: an eager virgin, ready for training—and no jocks.

Eden thinks she’s found what she’s looking for in Logan Black, a shy and geeky classmate. But why are Zoe and Amy convinced that the answer to her search is a party game…with kissing?

Eden better get ready, because she’s about to play the Single Game.

Q&A

  1. What elements of your own love life influenced this story?
    More than I should probably admit! My husband and I were both very young when we started dating. Not quite as young as Eden and Logan, but there were still plenty of bets that we would never make it. 
  2. There is less angst in The Single Game than in your previous books (The Apartment and The Blank Canvas), can you talk about that a little bit more?
    That was most definitely on purpose. By the time I finished writing those books I was absolutely drained from all of the emotions I had dredged up, both personal and fictional. Once I started getting the idea for The Single Game I saw that as an opportunity to just sit back and have some fun. It sounds funny to say that I was avoiding melodrama while also writing about teenagers, but I just wanted it to feel genuine, sweet and loving. Life has enough angst. I wanted to give me and my readers a small break. 
  3. What motivated you to write a New Adult Erotica?
    I was already used to writing erotic romance after the last two books, but I was just really drawn to the story that was growing in my mind of these two teenagers on the verge of graduating high school. It’s such a big milestone in everyone’s life and I wanted to see how this couple would deal with a budding relationship in the middle of all of that. 
  4. I was so intrigued by the characters in this story. Logan is a shy, geeky, male virgin whereas Eden is a beautiful, confident, and sexually active HS senior girl. What made you reverse these typically male/female roles?
    I’m always up for a good role reversal! Honestly, some details of their relationship were drawn right from my own and other people I’ve known. There were plenty of girls who got burned by dating a player and they were much happier once they gave the shy guy another look. Plus, how many of us have said at one time, “I’d love to find a guy with no relationship baggage who I could teach exactly what I like.” Eden takes that idea and runs with it, exploring and discovering brand new things that she and Logan both like. 
  5. What character in The Single Game is most like you and why? 
Definitely Eden. I had the proverbial burning by the ex. Not quite as dramatic as hers was, but that scene came from my ugliest high school memories. I wasn’t back in the saddle until early college but by then I knew what a treasure I had when I found my own shy guy.

Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon | B&N

AUTHOR BIO:
Amanda Black was born and raised in the Midwest, where she still lives with her husband and spoiled-rotten dogs. She earned a bachelor's degree in Studio Art before deciding that she actually needed to pay some bills, which is when she took a position as an ophthalmic technician.

For the past few years she's been a closet romance writer in her spare time and would love nothing more than to make it a full-time career. When she's not writing her next steamy love scene, her interests include reading, sketching, and annihilating her friends and family in movie trivia.

Author links: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Jul 16, 2015

{Release Blitz: Excerpt} Ruin & Rule by Pepper Winters

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Meet Killian in Pepper Winter’s new MC Romance!
NOW AVAILABLE

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Blurb
"We met in a nightmare. The in-between world where time had no power over reason. We fell in love. We fell hard. But then we woke up. And it was over . . ."

RUIN & RULE

She is a woman divided. Her past, present, and future are as twisted as the lies she's lived for the past eight years. Desperate to get the truth, she must turn to the one man who may also be her greatest enemy . . .

He is the president of Pure Corruption MC. A heartless biker and retribution-deliverer. He accepts no rules, obeys no one, and lives only to reap revenge on those who wronged him. And now he has stolen her, body and soul.

Can a woman plagued by mystery fall in love with the man who refuses to face the truth? And can a man drenched in darkness forgo his quest for vengeance-and finally find redemption?

"Ruin & Rule is a full-length book at 436 pages and ends on a cliffhanger. Cleo and Kill's story continues in SIN & SUFFER."



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Prologue
We met in a nightmare.
The in-between world where time had no power over rhyme, reason, or connection. We met. We stared. We knew.
There was no distortion from the outside world. No right or wrong. No confusion or battles from hearts and minds.
Just us. In our silent dreamworld.
That nightmare became our home. Planting ghosts, raising fantasies. Entwined together in our happily skewed reality.
We fell in love. We fell hard.
In those fleeting seconds of our nightmare, we lived an eternity.
But then we woke up.
And it was over.
Chapter One
I always believed life would grant rewards to those most worthy. I was fucking naïve. Life doesn’t reward—it ruins. It ruins those most deserving and takes everything. It takes everything all while watching any remaining goodness rot to hate.
—Kill
[ORN_SB]
Darkness.
That was my world now. Literally and physically.
The back of my skull hurt from being knocked unconscious. My wrists and shoulders ached from lying on my back with my hands tied behind me.
Nothing was broken—at least it didn’t feel that way—but everything was bruised. The fuzziness receded wisp by wisp, parting the clouds of sleep, trying to shed light on what’d happened. But there was no light. My eyes blinked at the endless darkness from the mask tied around my head. Anxiety twisted my stomach at having such a fundamental gift taken away.
I didn’t move, but mentally catalogued my body from the tips of my toes to the last strand of hair on my head. My jaw and tongue ached from the foul rag stuffed in my mouth and my nose permitted a shallow stream of oxygen to enter—just enough to keep me alive.
Fear tried to claw its way through my mind, but I shoved it away. I deliberately suppressed panic in order to assess my predicament rather than lose myself to terror.
Fear never helps, only hinders.
My senses came back, creeping tentatively, as if afraid whoever had stolen me would notice their return.
Sound: the squeak of brakes, the creak of a vehicle settling from motion to stopping.
Touch: the skin on my right forearm stung, throbbing with a mixture of soreness and sharpness. A burn perhaps?
Smell: dank rotting vegetables and the astringent, pungent scent of fear—but it wasn’t mine. It was theirs.
It wasn’t just me being kidnapped.
My heart flurried, drinking in their terror. It made my breath quicken and legs itch to run. Forcing myself to ignore the outside world, I focused inward. Clutching my inner strength where calmness was a need rather than a luxury.
I refused to lose myself in a fog of tears. Desperation was a curse and I wouldn’t succumb, because I had every intention of being prepared for what might happen next.
I hated the sniffles and stifled sobs of others around me. Their bleak sadness tugged at my heartstrings, making me fight with my own preservation, replacing it with concern for theirs.
Get through this, then worry about them.
I didn’t think this was a simple opportunistic snatch. Whoever had stolen me planned it. The hunch grew stronger as I searched inside for any liquor remnants or the smell of cigarettes.
Had I been at a party? Nightclub?
Nothing.
I hadn’t been stupid or reckless. I think…
No hint or clue as to where I’d been or what I’d been doing when they’d come for me.
I wriggled, trying to move away from the stench. My bound wrists protested, stinging as the rope around them gnawed into my flesh like twine-beasts. My ribs bellowed, along with my head. There was no give in my restraints. I stopped trying to move, preserving my energy.
I tried to swallow.
No saliva.
I tried to speak.
No voice.
I tried to remember what happened.
I tried to remember…
Panic.
Nothing.
I can’t remember.
“Get up, bitch,” a man said. Something jabbed me in the ribs. “Won’t tell you again. Get.”
I froze as my mind hurtled me from present to past.
I’ll miss you so much,” she wailed, hugging me tighter.
“I’m not dying, you know.” I tried to untangle myself, looking over my shoulder at the final call flashing for my flight. I hated being late for anything. Let alone my one chance at escaping and finding out the truth once and for all.
“Call me the moment you get there.”
“Promise.” I drew a cross over my heart—
The memory shattered as my horizontal body suddenly went vertical in one swoop.
Who was that girl? Why did I have no memory of it ever happening?
“I said get up, bitch.” The man breathed hard in my ear, sending a waft of reeking breath over me. The blindfold stole my sight, but it left my nose woefully unprotected.
Unfortunately.
My captor shoved me forward. The ground was steady beneath my feet. The sickness plaiting with my confusion faded, leaving me cold.
My legs stumbled in the direction he wanted me to go. I hated shuffling in the darkness, not knowing where I came from or where I was being herded. There were no sounds of comfort or smothered snickers. This wasn’t a masquerade.
This was real.
This is real.
My heart thudded harder, fear slipping through my defenses. But full-blown terror remained elusive. Slippery like a silver fish, darting on the outskirts of my mind. It was there but fleeting, keeping me clear-headed and strong.
I was grateful for that. Grateful that I maintained what dignity I had left—remaining strong even in the face of the unknown terrors lurking on the other side of my blindfold.
Moans and whimpers of other women grew in decibels as men ordered them to follow the same path I walked. Either death row or salvation, I had no choice but to inch my way forward, leaving my forgotten past behind.
I willed snippets to come back. I begged the puzzlement of my past to slot into place, so I could make sense of this horrible world I’d awoken in.
But my mind was locked to me. A fortress withholding everything I wished to know.
The pushing stopped. So did I.
Big mistake.
“Move.” A cuff to the back of my head sent me wheeling forward. I didn’t stop again. My bare feet traversed…wood?
Bare feet?
Where are my shoes?
The missing knowledge twisted my stomach.
Where did I come from?
How did I end up here?
What’s my name?
It wasn’t the terror of the unknown future that stole my false calmness. It was the fear of losing my very self. They’d stolen everything. My triumphs, my trespasses, my accomplishments and failures.
How could I deal with this new world if I didn’t know what skills I had to stay alive? How could I hope to defeat my enemy when my mind revolted and locked me out?
Who am I?
To have who I was deleted…It was unthinkable.
“Faster, bitch.” Something cold wedged against my spine, pushing me onward. With my hands behind my back, I shuffled faster, negotiating the ground as best I could for dips or trips.
“Step down.” The man grabbed my bound wrists, giving me something to lean against as my toes navigated the small steps before me.
“Again.”
I obeyed.
“Last one.”
I managed the small staircase without falling flat on my face.
My face.
What do I look like?
A loud scraping noise sounded before me. I shied back, bumping against a feminine form. The woman behind me cried out—the first verbal sound of another.
“Move.” The pressure on my lower back came again, and I obeyed. Inching forward until the stuffy air of old vegetables and must was replaced by…copper and metallic…blood?
Why…why is that so familiar?
I gasped as my mind free-fell into another memory.
“I don’t think I can do this.” I darted away, throwing up in the rubbish bin in the classroom. The unique stench of blood curdled my stomach.
“Don’t overthink it. It’s not what you’re doing to the animal to make it bleed. It’s what you’re doing to make it live.” My professor shook his head, waiting for me to swill out my mouth and return white-faced and queasy to the operation in progress.
My heart splintered like a broken piece of glass, reflecting the compassion and responsibility I felt for such an innocent creature. This little puppy that’d been dumped in a plastic bag to die after being shot with BB gun pellets. He’d survive only if I mastered the skills to stem his internal bleeding and embrace the vocation I was called to do.
Inhaling the scent of blood, I let it invade my nostrils, scald my throat, and impregnate my soul. I drank its coppery essence. I drenched myself in the smell of the creature’s life force until it no longer affected me.
Picking up a scalpel, I said, “I’m ready—”
“Holy fuck!” The man guiding me forward suddenly whacked the base of my spine. The hard pain shoved me forward and I tripped.
“Wire—get me fucking reinforcements. He’s started a motherfucking war!”
Wind and body motion swarmed me as men charged from behind. The darkness I lived in suddenly came alive with sound.
Bullets flew, impaling themselves into the metal sides of the vehicle I’d just stepped from. Pings and ricochets echoed in my ear. Curses bellowed; moans of pain threaded like a breeze.
Someone grabbed my arm, swinging me to the side. “Get down!” The inertia of his throw knocked me off balance. With my wrists bound together, I had nothing to grab with, no way to protect myself from falling.
I fell.
My stomach swooped as tumbled off a small platform and smashed against the ground.
Dirt, damp grass, and moldy leaves replaced the stench of blood, cutting through the cloying sharpness of spilled metallic. My mouth opened, gasping in pain. Blades of grass tickled my lips as my cheek stuck to wet mud.
My shoulder screamed with agony, but I ignored the new injury. My mind clung to the unlocked memory. The fleeting recollection of my profession.
I’m a vet.
The sense of homecoming and security that one little snippet brought was priceless. My soul snarled for more, suddenly ravenous for missing information.
I skipped straight from fumbling uncertainty into starvation for more.
Tell me! Show me. Who am I?
I searched inside for more clues. But it was like trying to grab on to an elusive dream, fading faster and faster the harder I chased.
I couldn’t remember anything about medicine or how to heal. All I knew was I’d been trained to embrace the scent of blood. I wasn’t afraid of it. I didn’t faint or suffer sickness at the sight of it pouring from an open wound.
That tiniest knowledge was enough to settle my prickling nerves and focus on the outside world again.
Battle cries. Men screaming. Men growling. The dense thuds of fists on flesh and the horrible deflection of gunshots.
I couldn’t understand. Had I fallen through time and entered an alternate dimension?
Another body landed on top of mine.
I cried out, winded from a sharp poke of an elbow to my ribs.
The figure rolled away, crying softly. Feminine.
Why aren’t I crying?
I once again searched for fear. It wasn’t natural not to be afraid. I’d woken up alone, stolen, and thrown into the middle of a war, yet I wasn’t hyperventilating or panicked.
My calmness was like a drug, oozing over me, muting the sharp starkness of my situation. It was bearable if I embraced courage and the knowledge that I was strong.
My hands balled, grateful for the thought. I didn’t know who I was, but it didn’t matter, because the person who I was in this moment mattered the most.
I had to remain segmented, so I could get through whatever was about to happen. All I had was gut instinct, quiet strength, and rationality. Everything else had been taken.
“Stop fighting, you fucking idiots!”
The loud growl rumbled like an earthquake, hushing the battle in one fell swoop. Whoever had spoken had power.
Immense power. Colossal power.
A shiver darted over my skin.
“What the fuck happened? Have you lost your goddamn lovin’ mind?” a man yelled.
A sound of a short scuffle, then the fresh whiff of tilled dirt graced my nose.
“It’s done. Throw down your weapons and bend a fucking knee.” The same earthquake rumbled. The weight of his command pushed me harder against the damp ground.
“I’m not bending nothing, you asshole. You aren’t my Prez!”
“I am. Have been for the past four years.”
“You’re not. You’re his bitch. Don’t think his power is yours.”
Another fight—muffled fists and kicks. It ended swiftly with a painful groan.
The earthquake voice came again. “Open your eyes and follow the red fucking river. Your chosen—the one you hand-picked to slaughter me and take over the Club—he’s dead. Did you ever stop to think Wallstreet made me Prez for a fucking reason?”
Another moan.
“I’m the chosen one. I’m the one who knows the family secrets, absorbed the legacy, and earned his way into power. You don’t know shit. Nobody does. So bend a fucking knee and respect.”
Another tremor ran down my back.
Silence for a time, apart from the squelch of boots and heavy breathing. Then a barely muttered curse. “You’ll die. One way or another, we won’t put up with a Dagger as a Prez. We’re the Corrupts, goddammit. Having a traitor rule us is a fucking joke.”
“I’m the traitor? The man who obeys your leader? Who guides in his stead? I’m the traitor when you try and rally my brothers in a war?” A heavy thud of a fist connected with flesh. “No…I’m not. You are.”
My mind raced, sucking up noises and forming wild conclusions of what happened before me. Was this World War Three? Was this the apocalypse of the life I couldn’t remember? No matter how I pieced it together, I couldn’t make sense of anything.
The air was thick with anticipation. I didn’t know how many men stood before me. I didn’t know how many corpses littered the ground, or how such violence could be permitted in the world I used to know. But I did know the cease-fire was fragile and any moment it would explode.
A single threat slithered through the grass like a snake. “I’ll kill you, motherfucker. Mark my words. The true Corrupts are just waiting to take you out.”
The gentle foot-thuds of someone large vibrated through the ground. “The Corrupts haven’t existed for four fucking years. The moment I took the seat, it’s been Pure Corruption all the way. And you’re not fucking pure enough for this Club. You’re done.”
I flinched as the sulfuric boom of a gun ripped through the stagnant air.
A crash as a body fell lifeless to the grass. A soft puff of a soul escaping.
Murder.
Murder was committed right before me.
The inherent need to nurture and heal—the part of me that was as steadfast as the beat of my heart—wept with regret.
Death was something I’d fought against on a daily basis, but now I was weaponless.
I hated that a life had been stolen right before me. That I hadn’t been able to stop it.
I’m a witness.
And yet, I’d witnessed nothing.
I’d been privy to a battle but seen nothing. Knew no one. I would never be able to tell who shot whom, or who was right and who was wrong.
My hands shook, even though I managed to stay eerily calm. Am I in shock? And if I was, how did I cure myself?
The woman beside me curled into a ball, her knees digging into my side. My first reaction was to repel away from the touch. I didn’t know who was friend or foe. But a second reaction came quickly; the urge to share my calmness—to let her know that no matter what happened, she wasn’t alone. We faced the same future—no matter how grim.
Voices cascaded over us, whispers mainly, quickly spoken orders. Every sound was heightened. Being robbed of sight made my body seek other ways in which to find clues.
“Get rid of the bodies before daybreak.”
“We’ll go back and make sure we’re still covered.”
“Send out the word. It’s over. The Prez won—no anarchy today.”
Each voice was distinct but my ears twitched only for one: the earthquake rumble that set my skin quivering like quicksand.
He hadn’t spoken since he’d condemned someone to death and pulled the trigger. Every second of not hearing him made my heart trip faster. I wasn’t afraid. I should be. I should be immobile with fear. But he invoked something in me—something primal. Just like I knew I was female and a vet, I knew his voice meant something. Every inch of me tensed, waiting for him to speak. It was wrong to crave the voice of a killer, but it was the only thing I wanted.
Needed.
I need to know who he is.
Wet mud sucked loudly against boots as they came closer.
The woman whimpered, but I angled my chin toward the sound, wishing my eyes were uncovered.
I wanted to see. I wanted to witness the carnage before me. Because it was carnage. The stench of death confirmed it. It was morbid to want to see such destruction, but without my sight all of this seemed like a terrible nightmare. Nothing was grounded—completely nonsensical and far too strange.
I needed proof that this was real.
I needed concrete evidence that I wasn’t mad. That my body was intact, even if my mind was not.
I sucked in a breath as warm fingers touched my cheek, angling my face upward and out of the mud. Strong hands caressed the back of my skull, fumbling with my blindfold.
The anticipation of finally getting my wish to see made me stay still and cooperative in his hold.
I didn’t say a word or move. I just waited. And breathed. And listened.
The man’s breath was heavy and low, interspersed with a quick catch of pain. His fingers were swift and sure, but unable to hide the small fumble of agony.
He’s hurt.
The pressure of the blindfold suddenly released, trading opaque darkness for a new kind of gloom.
Night sky. Moonshine. Stars above.
Anchors of a world I knew, but no recognition of the dark-shrouded industrial estate where blood gleamed silver-black and corpses dotted the field.
I’m alive.
I can see.
The joy at having my eyes freed came and went as blazing as a comet.
Then my life ended as our gazes connected.
Green to green.
I have green eyes.
Down and down I spiraled, deeper and deeper into his clutches.
My life—past, present, and future—lost all purpose the second I stared into his soul.
The fear I’d been missing slammed into my heart.
I quivered. I quaked.
Something howled deep inside with age-old knowledge.
Every part of me arched toward him, then shied away in terror.
Him.
A nightmare come to life.
A nightmare I wanted to live.
If life was a tapestry, already threaded and steadfast, then he was the scissors that cut me free. He tore me out, stole me away, changed the whole prophecy of who I was meant to be.
Jaw-length dark hair, tangled and sweaty, framed a square jaw, straight nose, and full lips. His five-o’clock stubble held remnants of war, streaked with dirt and blood. But it was his eyes that shot a quivering arrow into my heart, spreading his emerald anger.
He froze, his body curving toward mine. Blistering hope flickered across his features. His mouth fell open and love so achingly deep glowed in his gaze. “What—” A leg gave out, making him kneel beside me. His hands shook as he cupped my face, his fingers digging painfully into my cheekbones. “It’s not—”
My heart raced. Yes.
“You know me,” I breathed.
The moment my voice webbed around us, storm clouds rolled over the sunshine in his face, blackening the hope and replacing it with pure hatred.
He changed from watching me like I was his angel to glowering as if I were a despicable devil.
I shivered at the change—at the iciness and hardness. He breathed hard, his chest rising and falling. His lips parted, a rumbling command falling from his mouth to my ears. “Stand up. You’re mine now.”
When I didn’t move, his hand landed on my side. His touch was blocked by clothing but I felt it everywhere. He stroked my soul, tickled my heart, and caressed every cell with fingers that despised me.
I couldn’t suck in a proper breath.
With a vicious push, he rolled me over, and with a sharp blade sliced my bindings. With effortless power, so thrilling and terrifying, he hauled me to my feet.
I didn’t sway. I didn’t cry. Only pulled the disgusting gag from my mouth and stared in silence.
I stared up, up, up into his bright green eyes, understanding something I shouldn’t understand.
This was him.
My nightmare.
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About the Author:
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Pepper Winters wears many roles. Some of them include writer, reader, sometimes wife. She loves dark, taboo stories that twist with your head. The more tortured the hero, the better, and she constantly thinks up ways to break and fix her characters. Oh, and sex... her books have sex.
She loves to travel and has an amazing, fabulous hubby who puts up with her love affair with her book boyfriends.

Her Dark Erotica books include:
Tears of Tess (Monsters in the Dark #1)
Quintessentially Q (Monsters in the Dark #2)

Her Grey Romance books include:
Destroyed

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