The Hot Seat 🔥 Olivia Chandler

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Greetings and welcome to The Hot Seat! This is a program where I get to take our favorite Heroes and Heroines and put them in the hot seat for some much desired insights and a bit of fun trivia. Results are bound to vary!

My guest today is Olivia Chandler from the Women’s Fiction (I would also say Romance): “In the Best Interest of The Child” and the highly anticipated sequel coming soon, “In The Best Interest of The Child: Family Matters” by Felicia Denise.

AC: Thank you for being here today, Olivia, I know you’re a very busy woman.

(Olivia waves)

Let me set the scene here, audience, Miss Chandler doesn’t think she’s the knock out of the courtroom, but I think a certain someone would disagree. At 5’7″, she has light brown eyes, long black hair and loves adding a pop of cheerful color to her business ensembles. It’s royal purple today.

AC: Okay, let’s get started. Olivia can you tell us a little about yourself? Where you’re from and how you ended up in Spring Falls, Minnesota as a child advocate attorney?

OC: I was a foster care kid. My family was in a car accident when I was a kid. My daddy was killed. My mom was, er… well, she was unable to care for me anymore. Having no other family, there was only one place for me to go… hell on earth. As it turns out, there was an inheritance from my daddy when I aged out of the foster care system. I went to college and became a child advocate attorney to keep children from going through the hell I did. (Looks down and lowers her voice) I wish it weren’t the case, but a lot of the abuse and neglect I went through is still with me.

AC: That must’ve been tough, Olivia, I’m sorry. I’m sure that didn’t make it easy to form any kind of relationship. What’s your view on romantic laiasons?

OC: I didn’t believe in them. What was the point? You allow someone into your heart… and they leave. Then I met Bruce. I don’t think that way anymore, but it’s still not easy to let someone in.

AC: Very understandable, but I’m curious, what was your first impression of Bruce?

OC: I thought Bruce was this huge annoying flirt. And adorable!

AC: Do you think Bruce has changed your previous views on relationships then, or confirmed them?

OC: Oh, he’s definitely changed them! I never saw relationships in my future and this big, brawny guy comes along and bumrushes his way into my life. (Flashes a big grin) I’m so glad he did. He’s so loving. Bruce taught me how to love.

AC: (grins right along with Olivia) Yes, he’s quite the charmer! Would you label yourself a social butterfly, family gal, career-oriented or a little of each?

OC: Career-oriented because of what I do. My actions directly impact a child’s future and I do not take that responsibility for granted, so it takes up a lot of my time. But… um, I would like to be a family gal too. I didn’t grow up with family and am lacking in family bonding skills, but Bruce’s gigantic tribe of a family are teaching me.

AC: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

OC: My past.

AC: You strike me as a very driven woman. What would you say your biggest mission or goal is in life?

OC: To keep children in homes where they’re loved and nurtured.

AC: That’s quite a commendable mission to have. If Bruce were sitting here, what do you think he’d say your best quality is and would you agree with him?

OC: He admires my passion for my work and my compassion for those less fortunate. I can’t say if agree or disagree. Would I be the same person without the childhood I had? My ‘qualities’ were shaped by circumstances. Not sure if that counts.

AC: I think it does, but we’ll move onto something a little more fun. Like compatibility in those spicier parts of a relationship. How would you describe your ideal lover?

OC: (grins real big) I had no clue until I met Bruce. I never had true relationships. More like friends-with-benefits and hook-ups. I didn’t allow myself to feel anything for my partners… they weren’t going to be around long enough.

Then… Bellamy. He’s giving… always putting me first. He’s playful, he doesn’t have that macho thing going on. There’s no dominating or submission… just mutual surrender.

AC: If Bruce could seduce you with his culinary skills, what dish would be the one to have you eating out of his hands hands, per se?

OC: Bellamy can make a Chicken Pot Pie that would upset most grandmothers! Light, flaky crust, tender chicken, veggies with just enough crunch. He totally kills it!

AC: (note to self, get recipe from Bruce when he comes in for his interview…) So, do you play any instruments, or sing? What kind of music do you listen to?

OC: I play a little piano and my singing is best left in the shower! I love orchestrations and arrangements – full orchestras and bands… no synthesized music. I like women with power voices like Anita Baker, Freda Payne, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, Marilyn McCoo, Melissa Manchester, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Adele, Tamia, Kelly Clarkson and old Mariah Carey. Not a fan of the kittenish, trying-to-stay-young Mariah. (Laughs) And I can tell by your face you’re wondering how I know a few of them, but my parents loved music. The clearest memories I have of our family life is the music.

AC: (smiles brightly) We have that in common. Fans are dying to know: Do you have any hidden tattoos or piercings?

OC: Nope!

AC: What’s the #1 item on your Bucket List?

OC: To drive a race car! And know what? Bellamy used to race cars! I see this happening… if he can get past worrying about me getting hurt.

AC: Now, that would be fun! If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

OC: The Ionian Islands off the coast of Greece. Trust me, I will get there!

AC: Outside of Bruce, who are the most important people in your life?

OC: Willis Benson, executor of my father’s estate, who fought for my inheritance even when he didn’t know where I was and Margot Schultz, my office manager… and friend.

AC: I love Margot. What is your greatest regret?

OC: I’d rather not answer that, AC, if you don’t mind.

AC: Of course not. How about one of your guilty pleasures, instead?

OC: A big pitcher of Cranberry-Lime Mojitos and several hours of black and white movies pre-1960. I love them all – the gangster flicks, war movies, musicals… and the love stories. ‘An Affair to Remember’ is my favorite.

AC: What is the one thing in this world you would never do?

OC: Turn my back on a child. Any child. I know what it feels like to… to feel worthless, unimportant, and unloved. I will never do that to a child.

AC: Are you keeping a secret? Can you share it with us, we won’t tell?

OC: (Laughs) No, I learned my lesson about secrets. But I do believe Bellamy has one. He doesn’t want me to sell my house, but keeps talking about us ‘living together’…so we’ll see.

AC: (tries not to squeal like a fangirl) What would you do to win the heart of Bruce Bellamy?

OC: That’s just it, AC, I didn’t have to do anything. Since the day we met, he’s known who I was inside… even when I didn’t. He said I made his heart restless and hungry. (Grins brightly again) Isn’t that hot? I was damaged and he still wanted me. He once told me love doesn’t heal everything, but it can hold you up while you heal. (Looks down at her hands) I don’t know where I’d be without Bruce. It only took acceptance on my part to get him, but I’d fight the devil himself to keep Bruce.

AC: I’d second that, Miss Chandler, he’s definitely one worth fighting for! (Turns to audience) Thank you for being with us today and if you haven’t grabbed your copy of “In The Best Interest of The Child”, please take the opportunity to do so now with the link below. It’s everything you could hope for in a book and then some; real, emotional, hilarious, charming, heartfelt, steamy and best yet, there’s more to come!

 

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Severely injured in an accident that forever changed her life, 10-year-old Olivia becomes another faceless, underserved child in foster care. With no time to mourn or grieve, the young girl is easy prey for uncaring social workers and ambivalent foster families.

Olivia quickly learns to hold her tongue and mask her emotions. Even when exposed to neglect, bullying, and assault, no one seems to care. Holding fast to the teachings of her late father, Olivia ages out of the system broken, but no longer a victim.

Now a successful child advocate attorney, Olivia is a passionate voice for children. However, a routine case assignment by the court plunges Olivia back into the trauma of her childhood. If she doesn’t face her demons, a child will be sent into foster care, and Olivia will lose the only chance at love she’s ever had…or wanted.

Foster care for her young client is not an option. But Olivia’s emotional scars run even deeper than she realized. Reconciling with her past means Olivia must confront the one woman she blames for her battered soul.

A woman who has no idea who Olivia is.

Free on Kindle Unlimited!

 

Also Available in Print!

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#ReadWithMe ♥ Finding My Genre

readwithme3In celebration of National Reading Month, Ms. Felicia is hosting this amazing blog hop for all readers to spread the love and joy of this favorite pastime with the world. If you’d like to join in the fun, please click on the banner above to add your post to the linky list!

The Novel Brick Road

Every reader develops differently, but it seems that we eventually come to a specific genre that calls to us more than any other. Even if we take brief detours, we come back to the one genre that always puts a smile on our face.

My path to Erotic Romance is paved like a game of hopscotch, jumping genres back and forth and crossing wide gaps in random patterns. I’m not counting all the books I read as a kid or had to read for school. I’m talking about when I started taking control of my own reading choices.

It started off innocent enough. The reading bug coming to nestle in my brain, demanding that I find something to entertain it. My mom had a wide variety of books to choose from. She was a fan of Stephen King, Terry Brooks, Ann Rule and V.C. Andrews – I didn’t understand these were all different genres. They were just books! I read Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always and wanted to live in his brain, but it was really V.C. Andrews I became addicted to for quite some time. Luckily, my mom had plenty of her books to feed my obsession.

I went through a phase following this that I call the researching years. I wanted to know things, so my dad and I started going to the library on a regular basis. I love ancient Egypt. I have books and then I have BOOKS, as in large Coffee Table hardcovers spanning every dynasty of Ancient Egypt. I was going to become the next Howard Carter. I was 14. I was also going to be a supermodel, fashion designer and a Marine Biologist. Not necessarily in that order.

Around the same time, I got my first taste of the paranormal from the (now famous) author L.J. Smith and her Night World series, which includes the well known Vampire Diaries and Secret Circle. This was the first author I ever purchased from a book store with my own money. It was a big accomplishment in my life as an avid reader. I had never heard of L.J. Smith before, but I suddenly had options. Lots and lots of options!

It led to more research. With the help of Francis Ford Coppola, I became extremely interested in reading everything I could get my hands on about the truth behind the myth of Dracula and the real life Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. It eventually led to me learning about the medical condition of Porphyria, which disenchanted my research, so I returned to my fiction. I read Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. My dad never would’ve let me check it out from the library if he’d known what it entailed. A fanfiction sequel of sorts to Bram Stoker’s masterpiece with all of the dirty details a Victorian era Englishman would never dare to write.

On the hunt for new material, I found Anne Rice and never looked back. As much as I loved L.J. Smith, I couldn’t return to what I suddenly realized was very YA in comparison. More than that, Anne opened my mind up to the world at large, sating my inner traveler and historian simultaneously.

I became obsessed again, and only wanted to read Anne Rice… until I couldn’t find anymore of her books and needed another loan – mind you, this was before the wonderful invention of eBook retailers. Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey was placed in my hand with a “You have to read this,” and so I fell headlong into the mind-blowing world of epic fantasy. Now, I remembered, vaguely, The Hobbit from when I was younger and my favorite movie The Last Unicorn. It was a bit nostalgic diving back into this kind of world – only better, because it was at an adult level without losing any of the wonder of magic.

My first book idea was born on the cusp of my 18th birthday, but not yet hatched… more on this later.

Over my young adult years I read a wide variety, even some non-fiction, but mostly it was keeping up with authors I already knew, like Rice and Lackey. Then I ended up with a Nora Roberts book (honestly can’t recall how) and found myself obsessed yet again. I wasn’t alone this time, though. My friends got on the same kick and we had a grand time swapping books, buying new ones to share, putting them on our birthday and Christmas wish lists and discussing them like crazy. I think between just 3 of us we might own almost 75% of the books she’s ever written… okay, maybe 50%. Nora was my first true Romance author and not what I’d been expecting. I had never even glanced at the ‘obvious’ romance books on the shelves with the bare-chested buccaneers and Scarlett O’Hara wannabe’s.

Having children gave me the perfect excuse to return to YA with Harry Potter, Narnia and Eragon… yes, the books, not the movies (though, I love those, too). My oldest also has some of the Immortal Instruments novels, which I’m very tempted to read since watching City of Bones.

Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb unwittingly led me to my first erotica series, though it falls further under the Crime/Detective genre, the sex scenes are explicitly detailed, whereas Nora Roberts’ usually aren’t. I think she sneaks it in every once in awhile.

I went through a stint where I felt left out from a pop-culture standpoint, because I’d never read any of the ‘literary classics’. So, I attempted the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and found it far too dry and boring (don’t hurt me), so I moved onto The Catcher in the Rye, which was entertaining, yet 100% pointless (again no hitting). Of Mice and Men left me emotionally damaged and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a prophetic masterpiece that’s already coming true, therefore should be reclassified as non-fiction horror.

My first BDSM novel was Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. Again, by ignorance. I thought it was just a fantasy. I was deliciously wrong. Later, I found out that Anne Rice also had other pseudonyms… and why. Exit to Eden followed by the Sleeping Beauty Chronicles added to my Erotic-BDSM shelf, Belinda borders on taboo and I haven’t finished reading it, but I think it might be along the lines of Nabokov’s Lolita – don’t quote me on that.

The ability to read an eBook helped open up the Erotic Romance genre for me even further when I became a reviewer for a friend’s reviewing site. It wasn’t long, though, before a new bug burrowed into my brain demanding to be fed – and I started writing…

But, I will save that for the next post. 😉

Are you still reading the same genre you first fell in love with, or perhaps the second? How many genres span your most cherished collection?

#BookSale ♥ Twisted Honor by: Becky McGraw!

The last thing Slade wants is to be in charge of anyone but himself and his dog Lola. The military taught him the high price of being in command and he wants none of it. But Dave Logan, his boss and best friend, doesn’t care what he wants and puts Slade in the hot seat at Deep Six Security while he goes off the grid with his new bride. Just as Slade knew it would, a Charlie Foxtrot quickly follows and he loses the hard-won peace in his life when a high-profile client’s son is kidnapped from under their noses at a luxury hotel and Deep Six Security’s biggest contract in jeopardy on his watch.

With no leads in the case, Slade is desperate for help, so he hires Taylor Kincaid, the hotel’s small, but feisty former head of security when she gets fired over the incident. As the situation unravels Slade realizes hiring her has only added to his responsibilities, though, when someone takes pot shots at her and it doesn’t appear to be the kidnappers. Things go from bad to worse when a terrorist plot is uncovered and Slade has some tough choices to make fast. Does he save the child and the contract, the woman who ties him in knots but he might could see himself loving, or does he save the whole state before the grenade in his hand explodes?

Twisted Honor is the second book in a brand new erotic romantic suspense series, Deep Six Security, by New York Times, USA Today and Amazon Bestselling Author Becky McGraw.

Other books in the Deep Six Security Series:

Till Death – Book One
Hell Bent – Book Three
SEALed Fate (Deep Six Security/Hot SEALs Kindle Worlds Crossover Novella)

PLEASE NOTE: This book contains strong language and graphic sex. It is intended for mature adult readers only.

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1THP4BE
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1038249950
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/twisted-honor
B & N: http://tinyurl.com/pjyuuqm
Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/5727595
AUDIO: http://amzn.to/1ODVKMf

WLK Author Bio

Becky McGraw

A Jill of many trades, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author Becky McGraw has been an optician, a beautician, a legal secretary, a real estate broker, web designer, graphic artist, and romance writer. She knows just enough to make her dangerous, and her humor-laced contemporary western cowboy, and military, police procedural romantic suspense novels varied and interesting. Becky resides in Florida with her husband of thirty-three years and her dog Abby. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America Published Authors Network.

You can contact Becky McGraw here:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/beckymcgrawbooks
Website: http://www.beckymcgraw.com
Twitter: @beckymcgrawbook
Email: beckymcgrawbooks@gmail.com

presented by WLKBookPromotions.com

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Thief of Dragons ♥ Episode 17

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A Way With Words

Still using Roehn as an excuse to put on a show, Sajyn and his staff were gracefully efficient at getting the newly arrived Dragons set up with their meals. Brejeir scarcely waited for them to finish, before getting right down to business.

“So, what’s the verdict?” he asked Arcylaen.

“Lord Haraj’s request was first, and no surprise,” he answered around eating.

“I still say it was your phone call,” Rohen muttered between her own bites of soup.

“What phone call?” Brej asked, but wasn’t the only one who perked up, intrigued.

Arcylaen gave her an exasperated look, before telling them about the call he’d used as a ploy during the Gala to send the Griffin on an unnecessary errand. “That doesn’t change the fact that he was already interested and would’ve submitted a request with the Council, anyway.”

Daelyn snickered at Arcylaen’s defensiveness, who scowled in return.

“The other request was from Lord Gwyn of House Oryth,” Arcylaen continued, causing all of the Dragons to look at him in surprise.

Brejeir sat back in his chair, drumming his fingers on the side of his wine glass. “What interest would the Ravens have in this?” he wondered aloud. “The House of Cayen?”

“Possibly,” Arcylaen replied.

“What about it?” Roehn asked, displeased with the idea of them keeping pertinent information from her.

Especially, when it pertained to her own house. The two eldest Dragons appeared reluctant to share.

“Historically, the Ravens were always the most loyal to both the Black Dogs and the Wolves,” Ryver spoke up, looking at her from across the table. “About a quarter of a century ago, a falling out occurred and the Ravens removed themselves completely from any association with House Cayen. They remained quite detached from all the drama that followed, siding with no one during the struggle to remove the Cayens from power.”

“What if the Black Dogs took something that belonged to them and now they want it back?” Grevys asked.

“They would’ve filed a grievance with the Council just like everyone else did five years ago. There would be no need for them to invoke the Warden Rites over Leandra,” Arcylaen growled. “Please, look into it.”

“Of course, brother,” Ryver nodded.

“Speaking of grievances,” Brejeir interjected. “You know the two losing Lords are going to be filing their share first thing in the morning.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve already contacted Metka. At this very moment, he’s working up dismissal orders for anything the Lords could possibly attempt,” Arcylaen replied, speaking of his attorney, Roehn presumed, since he’d already mentioned taking that action to Councilwoman Thaya. “The Rite won’t be overturned.”

“Are you sure?” Daelyn questioned, looking between him and Roehn with concern. “The order of submission–”

“Doesn’t mean a thing when Leandra’s Echelonite has already made its choice,” Arcylaen cut him off, succeeding in shocking everyone at the table, except Brejeir.

Roehn’s cheeks reddened, dumbfounded at how easily Arcylaen could just blurt such a major incident like it was a common, every day occurrence.

Daelyn’s grin was slow and wide. “Well, okay then,” he celebrated.

Roehn offered him a weak smile, but couldn’t muster the same excitement. It was bad enough the situation made her feel grateful for Shursja’s rash behavior, knowing she very well could’ve ended up at a completely different table tonight.

The entire ordeal was infuriating, because Roehn didn’t want to feel grateful, anymore than she wanted to be bound to the Dragon’s Head. Her plans were edging toward complete ruin, thanks to some barbaric tradition!

“You know, you could just put a stop to all of these ridiculous laws, then no one would have to worry about rushed ceremonies, filed grievances or contacting attorneys,” she grit out.

When Arcylaen looked at her, she held his gaze with an arched brow, daring him to say she was wrong. He knew damn well she was right. They all did. Even the Council knew she was right!

“Those aren’t the only laws that need adjusting,” Daelyn added.

Arcylaen rolled his eyes. “We’re not turning dinner into a political campaign,” he stated with finality. “We have enough to worry about at the moment and by morning, those problems will undoubtedly be doubled. We need to stay focused on what can be handled right now, rather than in the future. Laws cannot be altered or eradicated overnight.”

“You’re the boss,” Daelyn sighed.

The rest of the meal was spent mostly with the others chatting amongst themselves about current events, while Roehn listened curiously and Arcylaen ate in silence, brooding.

Afterward, he led Roehn upstairs to the west tower, where her new room waited for its reluctant princess. It was another enchanting motif done in sunset shades of pinks, oranges and yellows with a touch of dusk blue. Arcylaen stood just inside the door, watching her inspect the hand carved furniture and fourposter bed. She lingered at the arched windows with stained glass depicting brilliant suns, dragons, castles and nature scenes. It was too dark to see what kind of view she had otherwise, but Roehn didn’t doubt it would be both breathtaking and of no consequence.

She would still feel like a prisoner.

“Since we’ll need to authenticate the artifacts again, we can all ride to the museum together in the morning,” Arcylaen said, when she faced him.

“Okay,” she accepted.

“The en-suite bath should be fully stocked with everything you need,” he said, as if searching for a reason to stay. “But if by some chance you need something, there’s a phone next to your bed that will connect you to Lyva or any of the household-”

“Arcylaen, I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time, I think I can manage,” she cut him off.

“Of course,” he smiled slightly. “Well, I’ll let you get some rest, then.”

Roehn nodded, wondering when their relationship had turned awkward. Suddenly they didn’t know how to be in the same space together? When he crossed to the door, she followed so she could close it behind him. It all felt so mechanical, yet neither of them seemed to know how to make it stop.

“Goodnight, Leandra,” he said, pausing with his hand on the knob.

“Goodnight.”

Holding her gaze for a moment longer, he finally released the handle and turned out of the room. Roehn exhaled a long sigh, then started closing the door, when Arcylaen’s hand stopped it and pushed it open again.

“Just one more thing,” he muttered.

She hadn’t realized how disappointed she’d been, until he crossed the threshold with golden eyes churning in desire. He wrapped his arms around her and lifted her from the floor, bringing her mouth to his.

It shouldn’t keep getting better. Roehn’s mouth should be getting used to his kisses, not feeling them more vigorously. The texture of Arcylaen’s lips were more defined and persuasive against hers. His tongue hotter, stronger and more demanding. His confident fingers kneaded the tension from her muscles, while his mouth threatened to leave her in a puddle of melted, needy goo.

Roehn gasped into his hungry mouth, when he cupped her ass and pinned her even tighter against his body. The hard line of his arousal was clearly defined against her lower stomach, launching her desire into a whole new orbit. Heat fused with her cells, creating tiny solar flares all through her veins.

A tiny moan escaped her and Aryclaen devoured it, grew hungrier for more. Roehn’s mind spun happily, like a child making themselves dizzy just for the sensation of it. For the sheer free-fall joy of it. That’s what giving into her lust with the Dragon would be; Freeing. But at what cost?

They came back to their senses simultaneously, though neither were ready to break apart completely. The intensity was gradually reined in, the kisses melting into a smoldering warmth, edged with the promise of future combustion. It had to be enough. Roehn couldn’t allow herself to accept more yet. She still needed time to settle with the idea that it would happen. There was no point in denying it, she wasn’t that naïve or, apparently, strong-willed when it came to her desire for him.

There was too much riding on the present to be worried about the future, at any rate. Arcylaen’s hand slid into her hair, cradling the base of her skull and Roehn leaned into it. Reveled in the feel of his masculine strength, while he rested his forehead on hers.

“That’s how I meant to say goodnight the first time,” he smiled a little smugly.

“Definitely a better choice,” Roehn reciprocated. “Maybe you should practice, so you don’t forget next time.”

He chuckled, placed a soft kiss on her lips, then spanked her bottom playfully. “Go to bed, kitten, we have a busy day tomorrow.”

In a blink, Roehn forgot everything she’d been thinking or feeling, overcome with the singular need to obey Arcylaen’s words. Her arms fell from him and she stepped back, her entire body possessed by an invisible force. It might have stemmed from her bond with Shursja, since the panther woke with a start, fully alert.

Roehn turned and approached the side of the bed, her fingers working the buttons undone down the front of her blouse. She needed to get undressed and into her nightgown, so she could brush her teeth and hair. Afterward, she’d go through her nightly process of washing her face and applying an overnight moisturizer. Then she could go to bed. She needed to go to bed.

Right before she could peel the blouse from her arms, strong hands clamped around them to stop her. She had no idea who it was, nor did it matter. She only had one objective.

“Leandra, what are you doing?” A male voice asked, his tone both surprised and aroused.

“I have to go to bed,” she replied hollowly, the only thing she could think of, a single-minded obsession. “I can’t stop, until I go to bed.”

“Stop!” he demanded, his voice hard.

In a snap, Roehn felt the unknown force release her body and mind. Under the influence of the Warden power, she hadn’t been able to feel or think beyond Arcylaen’s command, but there was nothing stopping the shock from hitting her in the aftermath. Her mouth popped open, breath sucking in sharply.

Heart pounding, she looked down at her shirt hanging open, her black lace bra and cleavage fully exposed. It felt like someone punched her right in the gut, the air exploding from her lungs.

“Aaah!” she started, grabbing the material and quickly closing it over her chest.

Embarrassment, shock, fear…fear was the biggest, slammed into her like a bullet train.

“Fuck, I didn’t mean-,” Arcylaen roughed out, but Roehn instantly shied away from him when he tried to touch her.

The ramifications were instantaneous. She hadn’t even had the chance to process what had happened, yet her first reaction was mistrust and it effected them both horribly.

“You need to leave,” she whispered, unable to look him directly in the eye. “Please…get out.”

“Leandra,” he held his hand up, as if he wanted to touch her, but he didn’t. He backed away from her slowly, his expression dark and horrified. “I’m so sorry.”

He was out of the room before Roehn could even clear her vision. She sank down onto the bed in a daze of confusion, as the hurt began seeping through the filter of shock. Still clutching her shirt closed, Roehn curled into herself as tightly as possible, because she started trembling uncontrollably.

Betrayal sliced through her, tears filling her eyes. Her mind simply couldn’t accept the truth and the more it tried, the more it hurt. She never would’ve expected to get her first taste of the Rite’s real potential from Arcylaen, himself. Not physically. She’d chosen him, because she’d trusted him with her body. Had known that he’d never make her do anything against her will.

The worst part was knowing it had been completely unintentional, because that left no one to blame. No outlet for the anger that quickly rose up to outmatch the heartache. For hours, Roehn worked through a gamut of emotions. All of the reactions she’d been forced to keep bottled up since leaving work to find Ilydan waiting for her. The apprehension, fear, outrageous disbelief over being forced to enter into a binding ritual she’d never wanted, the injustice, being denied her own home and privacy.

The more she relived the events which had unfolded over the course of a single evening, the angrier Roehn became, until it was the only thing left. She grabbed hold of it, because anger was better than heartache in so many ways. It allowed her to view Arcylaen as her equal in the incident, rather than the antagonist. The Rite had victimized both of them, created an outcome against both their wills and no amount of knowledge or understanding could erase that. Nothing could take it away. The traumatizing moment was forever etched into her brain, her soul and it was a fate she wouldn’t wish upon her worst enemy. No one should ever have to endure having all control of their own thoughts and body taken away like that!

Cauldex desperately needed a complete overhaul of their outdated traditions and laws. There was only one surefire way she could see that happening. Arcylaen needed to step up,  become the official leader of Skaulling, and Roehn needed to put her position as his unofficial business partner to much better use. She couldn’t be just a conservationist and thief anymore. Those were only bandage solutions, she understood that now.

The world needed an engineer of change.

© A.C. Melody

Thank you for reading! Need to start the story from the beginning? You’ll find all previous episodes under the Wicked Web link on the menu above. Up next, Episode 18.

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Thief of Dragons ♥ Episode 16

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House Draea

The drive across the city was a study in silence, though Arcylaen had set his phone aside once the House of Cayen was behind them.

He gently lifted Roehn’s fingertips with his own and studied her, when Ilydan turned down a narrow lane where a small castle stood like an ancient sentry amid modern day mansions. Roehn’s gaze drank in the gold-hued stone decorated with red and green lichen. It was a giant square, the corners made of towers with open battlements. Lead-pane windows were tall and arched with flower boxes nestled at their sills. All, save the giant stained glass window crowning the front entrance, glowing with the Draea Family Crest, just like his skyscraper downtown.

Well, at least their pride is consistent.

At the end of the drive, Ilydan stopped the car and waited for the security gates to slowly swing inward, before pulling into a narrow way. Tall hedges flanked the pavement like walls, until the right side curved away from them, revealing a large parking area complete with a guard tower. A Bear stood on the small stoop outside the arched wooden door, smoking a cigarette. He saluted a wave at the car, as Ilydan passed the garage and continued toward the main entrance. Ground lighting was cleverly tucked into bordering plants, granting plenty of illumination to the cobblestone courtyard, but most were arranged to set the castle aglow in the darkness.

“What, no moat?” Roehn asked.

Arcylaen smirked, yet continued to watch her, as if wanting to gauge her reaction to his home. It was gorgeous, of course, and no less than she’d expect from the oldest Royal family on the planet. The Dragon was just lucky Roehn wasn’t the spiteful type, or she might’ve shown his house the same respect he’d shown hers.

Unfortunately, Rynd’s words kept circling in her mind, tugging at her empathy. The blasted Hawk had nailed it; Roehn was completely ignorant when it came to the history of her own house. She hadn’t dug into any of the reports or articles pertaining to it, because she’d been leery of finding reasons to sympathize with the Dragons. After all, when one was intending to rob someone, it wasn’t a good idea to grow a soft spot for them.

She glanced at Arcylaen and practically rolled her eyes. Who was she kidding? Soft spot was an understatement for what was growing between them. In such a short time, she’d gone from never meeting a Dragon, to being the Ward of one, and somewhere in between an undeniable attraction had taken root. Yet, Roehn didn’t feel swayed from her plans. If anything, her time with Arcylaen had only served to reinforce them. Especially with the ridiculous Rites binding her to his complete control.

After climbing out, Arcylaen ordered Ilydan to assist Rynd with all of Roehn’s luggage, so he could be the one to offer his hand for her to take. She gave him a bemused smile, as she slid to her feet.

“Are you trying to be a gentleman?” She teased mildly.

“I am a gentleman,” he countered confidently.

The undercurrent of lust in his every nuance said otherwise, but who was she to argue when both sides of the man sparked a degeneration of her own ladylike qualities?

To prove himself, Arcylaen kissed the back of her hand–and then ‘gentleman’ took a backseat to Dragon, when rather than placing it on his arm, he entwined his fingers with hers and held tight. At the top of the stairs, the doors opened for them, but Roehn scarcely noticed the Bears on either side of the armored wood. Her eyes widened in awe over the splendor of the grand foyer.

“Arcylaen, this is breathtaking,” she whispered sincerely, her neck craning in attempt to see everything at once.

“Thank you,” he accepted, his smile genuinely pleased.

A grand staircase swept across the space from the right, creating a balcony across the back of the foyer, before curving down the left wall and finishing in a wide, angled welcome. Maplevine was woven through the decorative balustrades, sprinkled with the soft glow of fairy lights. An enormous chandelier hung level with the second story, the very light source behind the stained glass Crest visible from outside. It looked exactly like the fiery bloom of a Dragon’s Breath flower. The chain was molded into the same twisting, vine-like stem, the frosted glass stained sunset orange and crimson for the petals that curved up and then out at the very tips. The stamen spiraled down from the center, each holding a glowing orb of light. The stigma was capped with a multifaceted sconce of crystalline amber, the light dancing in simulation of an actual flame.

A small group of household staff silently gathered, while Roehn took in the décor. She supposed Arcylaen had probably called ahead to let them know about her new–Please be temporary–living arrangements.

“Leandra, this is Emmon, Head of Household staff,” he gestured to the older male Badger first, before moving onto a female Swallow, then a male Raccoon. “Prelei is Head of the Housekeeping staff and Sajyn is the Head Chef in charge of all kitchen staff.”

“It’s very nice to meet you,” Roehn greeted.

“And this is Lyva,” he saved the Dove for last. “She will be your personal attendant.”

Attendant or babysitter? Roehn forced a polite smile for the slightly younger woman. She knew a lot of prominent families still kept personal servants, but Roehn had no need for one. She couldn’t very well say that without hurting the Dove’s feelings, though. To garner a job at House Draea was undoubtedly a coveted position the girl was proud to have.

“My Lord, dinner is ready and awaiting your approval,” Sajyn announced.

“Good, I’m famished,” Arcylaen replied. “Emmon, Lyva, please see to Miss Leontle’s belongings. She can take the Sunset Suite in the west tower.”

“Shouldn’t I go with them?” Roehn wondered quietly, watching the virtual strangers gather her bags and cart them up the stairs. She’d never had someone else tend to her things before and wasn’t exactly comfortable with it.

“Don’t worry, your belongings are in safe, capable hands,” Arcylaen answered. “Besides, you’re hungry, because you haven’t eaten a single bite since Daelyn showed off his culinary skills at lunch.”

Roehn scowled at him. “Do I need to start looking over my shoulder for spies, L-”

His brow rose quickly and a look of challenge crossed his features, daring her to finish that sentence. When she clamped her mouth shut and glared, he chuckled. “Shame,” he mused, his gaze sweeping across her mouth briefly. “Once again, I don’t need to be your Warden to pick up on your more obvious traits, Leandra. You are a workaholic.”

Roehn countered with her own arched brow. “Says the man running an entire country with all the stress and none of the vetoing benefits.”

With an exasperated sigh, he shook his head and led her through the foyer. They had to step down into a hallway that started from under the staircase and continued to their right, ending in an arched doorway framed with more Maplevine and fairy lights. The same bold red carpeting that filled his office started as a runner from the other side of the threshold, leading them into the largest formal dining room Roehn had ever seen outside of a history book. Though it could never take the place of a King’s Great Hall, it was definitely big enough to fit his entire family plus half their neighbors.

Where the left wall ended, the room expanded into a more intimate alcove where a long banquet table of dark wood stood surrounded by no less than fifty throne backed chairs. Miniature Dragon’s Breath chandeliers hung at varying heights, creating a draping appearance over the table, which was adorned with glowing candelabras and fluted vases overflowing with fresh green foliage rather than flowers. Crystal figurines sparkled under the lights, tucked into the center pieces down the middle of an embroidered tablecloth.

Across the other side of the table, heavy drapes were tied back from the four wide and two-story high arched windows in the outer wall, but that wasn’t as mesmerizing as all of the things hanging around the room. Tapestries, swords, shields and the kind of standards one would see flying atop long poles. Roehn bypassed the carved serving cabinet laden with covered dishes, where Sajyn and his staff waited to serve their meal.

She approached the nearest hanging relics and marveled at the dirt stains, the wear of the fabric and frayed stitching. Her fingers yearned to trace the dents and scratches in the shields, smooth over the worn paint. Some held the Draea Coat of Arms, others just depicted a golden dragon. They were all real, well used, had never been crafted for their current decorative purpose. The swords were the only items still in immaculate condition, but that wasn’t surprising. Swords had long been a symbol of one’s status, since only the wealthy had been able to afford the best.

Roehn studied the enormous tapestries, trying to imagine how long and how many people it had taken to complete just one. The first depicted an ancient royal procession with gilded carriages and armored knights on horseback traveling to what appeared to be the very castle keep she was now standing inside of. In the scene, it stood like a stone giant surrounded by meadows and forests, rather than a ritzy, city neighborhood. The other was a well known battle scene between all the Dragon Houses and the Minotaurs, an extinct race.

“Leandra?”

Roehn turned to find that she’d wandered during her historian daze, drawn further away from the table where Arcylaen waited, holding a chair out for her.

“Sorry,” she blushed slightly. “I can’t help it.”

“I know,” he smiled. “But if you don’t eat soon, I’m worried you’ll fall over.”

As if to verify his concern, her stomach grumbled loudly and her face reddened with embarrassment. “Ugh, it’s pretty bad when you out-vote yourself,” she muttered under her breath.

Arcylaen laughed in a way she was coming to crave. Almost as if her smart mouth had the ability to take him by surprise. He scooted her chair in, then seated himself at the head of the table to her immediate left. Sajyn and his staff moved into action. Some carried dishes to set before them, uncovering them in a flourish of practiced grace, while others filled their crystal goblets with wine. The delicious aromas filled Roehn’s nostrils, triggering her saliva glands and another rumble from her empty stomach.

When the show was complete, Sajyn hustled the staff back into the kitchens to prepare for the next course.

“You know, they’re only doing this for you,” Arcylaen smiled at her in amusement. “We don’t get new guests very often, so they’re taking advantage of this rare opportunity to show off.”

“Oh,” she chuckled, flattered. “Well, I won’t disappoint them. I’m starving.”

“You don’t have to tell me something I already know, kitten,” he sighed, and dug into his own meal.

Heat spread up Roehn’s neck to gather in her cheeks again, only this time it was over the unexpected way his little pet name made her feel. It effected her on a more intimate level than his previous Kitty Cat nickname, though she couldn’t say why.

Rich barley soup was their first course, and Roehn had managed two delicious spoonfuls before the kitchen doors swung open and swished aggressively behind the Dragon who’d stormed into the room with a gruff attitude.

“Well, that happened,” Brejeir huffed, gesturing to Roehn and Arcylaen with a lifted hand.

Roehn watched Daelyn and two more male Dragons file into the room, stalking around Brej for the table. One of them was as golden as Arcylaen and the other was a dark brunette, though he still had the same gold-dusted eyes and matching Echelonite perched on his shoulder.

“Unfortunately,” Arcylaen replied darkly.

Roehn knew they were speaking of the Warden Rites. Arcylaen had most likely texted them while waiting for her to pack. He seemed the type to want to keep his most trusted apprised of every given situation, and there was no one Dragons trusted more than their own blood.

“Leandra, it’s good to see you again,” Daelyn said, before seating himself beside her and pouring his own wine. “Though, I wish it were under better circumstances.”

Roehn lifted her glass. “I’ll toast to that.”

Brejeir grabbed the bottle and lifted it. “Here, here,” he seconded, then poured a glass and downed half the contents. The staff had hurried out of the kitchen to serve the new arrivals, working around the Dragons as they meandered to their seats. “Can’t complain about finally having someone better to look at during meals than this lot, though.”

Roehn’s grin grew brighter, when Arcylan shot him a dark look. Unaffected, Brej claimed the chair directly across from her, and jerked his thumb at the two younger Dragons she’d yet to meet. “This is our second youngest brother, Ryver, and our cousin, Grevys.”

“Nice to meet you,” she greeted.

“Welcome to House Draea, Miss Leontle,” Ryver toasted. “It only gets crazier from here.”

Though Roehn reciprocated, clanking her glass to his, she had a sinking feeling his words rang with more truth than humor.

© A.C. Melody

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Thief of Dragons ♥ Episode 13

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Friends of Yours?

“Big mistake.”

It hadn’t been a warning, alone. It had been a prophetic insight on how Roehn would feel once the regret started sinking in, and Arcylaen’s promise that it would change nothing.

Smug, arrogant, imposing Dragon!

All throughout the delicious lunch Daelyn had prepared for them, Arcylaen had given her little smirks while eating in smug silence and she had no one to blame, but herself. With one lousy lapse in sanity, she’d handed him the very key to her undoing. What part of “I think we should keep this professional” hadn’t she understood about her own speech?

Hours had passed, yet she could still taste him. Arcylaen’s flavor was permanently branded in every corner of her mouth, just as immovable as the man, himself. In the museum staff room, Roehn clocked out for the day and paused in the process of gathering her things, as the memory of that burning kiss filled her mind for the millionth time.

Dammit, she was smarter than that! She’d known from the beginning that getting involved with him could potentially derail her plans. And it would be one thing if she only had the Dragon to contend with, but Shursja had been purring all day, sending feelings of contentment through their bond. She felt uncomfortably outnumbered.

A sense of déjà vu struck Roehn, when she stepped outside and found the all black sedan waiting for her at the curb. Only, it wasn’t Arcylaen waiting for her this time, but his driver. He opened the back door for her, as she slowly descended the steps.

“Miss Leontle, my name is Ilydan,” he greeted. “Lord Draea has requested that I bring you to his office for a matter of utmost importance, and apologizes that he could not be here, himself.”

A peek into the backseat confirmed that it was indeed empty. Roehn eyed the Steed suspiciously. “Is everything okay?”

“I was given only my orders, Miss,” he replied. “Nothing more.”

Oh sure, that’s not ominous at all. Trepidation quickened her pulse, as Roehn climbed into the backseat. The door closed, resonating through her anxiety like the bars of a cell. Was she overreacting? There could be a hundred different reasons why Arcylaen was having her brought to his office. They’d never gone over his ideas for the restaurant at lunch, the topic momentarily forgotten in the wake of her stupidity and his gluttonous reaction to it. The Dragon could merely have presumptuous and imposing plans, assuming–albeit, correctly–that she had no life and would be free to keep him company for dinner or something.

Roehn forced herself to relax and watched the city pass by in a blur of lights just beginning to glow in the early evening. It wasn’t quite dusk yet, but the remaining daylight held that tint of slate-blue that normally accompanied rain. When Ilydan steered the car downtown, she forgot her worries for a moment and plastered her face to the glass in awe.

Spires pierced the skyline, modern towers battling for most uniquely designed and impossibly tall. Skyways arched over the busy avenues, while glass elevators soared up and down gilded, mirrored facades. A giant, octagonal tower crowned a bend in the road, rising into the clouds with gold filigree trim curving down over the sides like a giant claw from the pointed roof. More gilded metals framed the elevators working at various levels up and down the tinted glass. Due to the curve in the road, it held the largest entrance of all the other buildings, fifteen yards of decorative stonework holding park benches, long planters with flowering shrubs and a fountain people could actually walk through if they wanted.

Toward the top of the building, and on every facet, was the Draea Coat of Arms glowing in colorful display for all the city to see. Even without it, Roehn would’ve known that was where the car was going to stop.

With a steadying breath, she took the hand Ilydan offered when he opened her door and then swallowed to see a Hawk coming right toward her with a stringent stride.

“Miss Leontle?” He inquired. She nodded, unable to speak. He touched something at his ear and issued a command for Arcylaen to be notified of her arrival, before looking to her again.”Welcome to Draea Tower. Please follow me.”

Roehn fell into step just behind him, unsure if she should be panicking or plotting the early demise of a certain Dragon. Was there really a matter serious enough to necessitate such an official atmosphere, or was Arcylaen merely trying to impress her?

The glass doors slid open as they neared the grand entrance, and they stepped into the atrium style lobby. Toffee veined marble reflected the crystalline amber scones and chandeliers, subdued by hand carved walnut trim along the walls. Employees and clients rushed about, completing their end of day business, while strategically placed Bears surveyed their comings and goings. Brass staircases with scrolling balustrades zigzagged along the left and right walls, for those who didn’t want to wait for an elevator.

A large desk manned by six receptionists sat in the center of the floor, designed to mimic the shape of the building. The Hawk bypassed it, ignoring the flirtatious smiles he got from half the occupants, and approached the single elevator in the back wall. Unlike those being frequently emptied at the front of the lobby, he had to enter an access code to activate the doors, indicating it was a private lift.

The moment they stepped inside and the doors closed, Roehn pounced. She couldn’t take the stony silence any longer. “Are you allowed to talk? Can you tell me what this is all about, please? I feel like I’m being escorted to my own execution here.”

He looked over at her, but his expression remained passive. “All guests of Lord Draea’s are escorted, Miss Leontle,” he informed her. “It is for both of your protection.”

“That doesn’t answer the question,” she snipped mildly, her nerves fraying.

“It’s my job to make sure Lord Draea’s guests arrive safely to his office, just as it’s my job to protect him at whatever cost,” he elaborated. “It is not my job to know why you were summoned, unless my Lord decides to tell me.”

Roehn’s eyes narrowed slightly and she couldn’t help but smirk in slight amusement. “Clever Hawk. Give me just enough information to answer my question, without outright admitting or denying what Lord Draea told you,” she caught on.

The very slightest tick in the corner of his mouth was the only indication that he was either amused or surprised by her astute observation. “Well, you might want to escort me all of the way into his office, Hawk,” she added. “Because if I find out this was all for some stupid show of male pride, I am going to hurt your boss.”

More stifled amusement flickered in his fractured amber eyes and a the small twitch in his lips increased. “I don’t think the Dragon’s Head is afraid of a little pussy…Miss.”

Roehn’s mouth popped open in disbelief for a full second, before she burst into laughter. Her cheeks pinched and were undoubtedly flushed, but the laughter just kept rolling out. More than that, it brought a familiar element from her life aboard the space stations she hadn’t realized she missed, and she appreciated him for giving her that, no matter how unintentional. His stony facade failed and he grinned at her, shaking his head. Something kindred passing between them in that brief moment. When the elevator slowed to a stop at last, Roehn was finally able to reel it back in and exhale on a final chuckle.

“So far, you’re my favorite,” she commented, as the doors slid open.

The first thing to greet them were two giant Wolves guarding the columns flanking a short walkway into the receptionist area with their arms crossed over massive chests. Shursja’s tail flicked, the only outward appearance that she’d gone on alert. Wolves had been the Generals over royal armies in the past, because they were natural leaders and their pack-mentality kept soldiers motivated, loyal and focused. Nowadays, they made up most of the policing units and special tactical teams, but some did work in private security like the Bears.

“Friends of yours?” Roehn asked the Hawk quietly.

“No,” he answered, all humor gone now, as he took her elbow protectively.

He kept a steady eye on the Wolves, as they passed between them and beyond. Even though he gave a short nod to the single receptionist behind an impressive desk, he didn’t relax. Unlike the Mice in the lobby, she was another Dragon. Her pure white Echelonite, hair and eyes of crystalline blue put her in the House Bowen bloodline.

“Amrya,” the Hawk greeted her.

“He’s waiting,” she said in a tone that, along with the presence of the Wolves, had all of Roehn’s previous nerves rushing back to the surface.

Anxiety had all but clenched her throat shut, by the time her escort opened the next set of doors. Then the world seemed to stop spinning on its axis, altogether. She stared, unblinking, at Arcylaen standing in the center of the most elaborate, luxurious office space in the world…speaking to an older, female Eagle.

Roehn’s heart pounded deafeningly in her ears, muffling everything Arcylaen said while he crossed the bold red carpeting toward her and the Hawk. She felt dizzy, motes of black dancing around the edges of her vision. She was going to pass out. The Hawk replied to whatever Arcylaen had said, but it didn’t matter. Roehn had reached the end of her game. Somehow, they’d found her out and now her life was over.

Why else would a Council Elder be there?

© A.C. Melody

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Cop On Her Doorstep by: Karen Docter ♥ Release Tour!

Cop on Her Doorstep

(True Love In Uniform Book 1)

by Karen Docter

In the six years since her husband was killed by S.W.A.T., Carrie Padilla has spent long hours at work, rebuilding a life for herself and her son. The little time she has at home is spent keeping her eight-year-old son out of trouble, but he is all too eager to try to be the man in the house. When a handsome cop shows up on her doorstep, her errant son in tow, Carrie’s heart stutters. The sexy Italian cop sets off all kinds of bells in her system, and she knows there’s only one thing she can do to save what is left of her family, her husband’s memory, and her heart…avoid her new neighbor at all costs.

S.W.A.T. officer Jake Stefani already lost one little boy to gang violence, the dead boy’s older brother is missing, and Jake’s not about to let the same thing happen to a neighbor’s son. He drags the youngster home only to discover much more than a passing interest in the boy’s beautiful, but wary, mother. Forced to take a leave of absence after a bust goes awry, Jake can think of nothing better to occupy his time than to keep Carrie and her son safe, and locate the missing teen who holds the key to taking the gang off the streets, once and for all.

But Jake doesn’t count on his stubborn, intriguing neighbor distracting him from his job, or the passion that flares between them. He doesn’t expect her amazing son to steal a piece of his heart. Jake is ready to risk everything for Carrie, body and soul. But it’s not all up to him. If their new love is to survive, Carrie will need to be strong enough to see the man’s beating heart behind the badge, to look beyond the pain of her past, and decide that loving again is worth the risk.

(Stand Alone Novel)

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“I found your son in my back yard.” He glanced at Eric. “He was engaged in a potentially harmful activity I thought you should know about.”

What in blazes is a potentially harmful activity? “What was he doing?”

“Preparing to vandalize my house.”

“What?” She stared at Eric. “Is this true?”

Her son’s eyes dimmed behind a flood of tears. His head bobbed up and down. His mouth opened, but no explanation came out. He simply fell apart. In seconds, her little boy was sobbing as if his heart would break.

Carrie scooted from her chair, rounded the coffee table, and knelt at his feet. She enfolded his trembling body in her arms and castigated herself for not registering how abnormally quiet that he’d been since he entered the house. He was in shock. The last thing he needed was her yelling at him.

“Shh, baby. It’s all right. We’ll work it out. It’s okay.” She pressed a gentle kiss against his temple. “Ah, honey, don’t cry.”

Jake couldn’t decide which bothered him the most, the stricken look on Carrie Padilla’s face or the hopeless sounds ripping from Eric’s narrow chest. He’d always been a sucker for distressed females and kids, and these two served as a double-shot.

He couldn’t shake the similarities between Mateo Reyes and Eric. Neither did it help that Eric’s mom was one of the sexiest women he’d ever met. His tastes normally ran to tall, sultry brunettes, but there was something about this petite woman’s girl-next-door look that was firing his libido big-time.

Her eyes, a delectable shade of caramel with flecks of amber, drew him in deeper every time he looked at her. What her curvaceous body did to the sports tee and running shorts combo she wore should be outlawed. Clinging, damp material and flushed skin was a deadly combination. As if that weren’t enough, she had the most exquisite legs. The color of cream with a light splash of coffee. Smooth. Sexy. Nearly perfect.

His gaze dashed to her left ankle. The mole he’d noticed above her tennis shoe winked back at him, calling for his attention as a neon sign never could. It shouted, “Start here!” just like one of those connect-the-dot books he’d hoarded as a kid. He had a compulsive desire to follow the instruction, to nibble on that ankle and work slowly over the rest of her dewy skin to see if he could somehow develop a pattern.

Caught by the fantasy, his lips twitched. Who cared if there was a picture there? The seeking, all by itself, would make the trip worthwhile. In fact, his entire vacation might not be enough time to do justice to such an exploration.

Jake’s jaw clenched against the unreasonable cascade of desire. Was he nuts? This woman’s legs had nothing to do with his purpose here. And, if the impenetrable wall he’d watched form in her eyes a few minutes ago had meaning, he wouldn’t get a chance to go exploring in any case.

Bestselling Author Karen Docter writes contemporary romance. When she feels the need to feed the dark side, she writes intense suspense thrillers as K.L. Docter. She’s an award-winning author, a four-time Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist, and won the coveted Kiss of Death Romance Writers Daphne du Maurier Award Category (Series) Romantic Mystery Unpublished division.

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Website/Blog: http://www.karendocter.com
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