Monday, October 31, 2016

Special Announcement from Harper Sloan

Harper Sloan has released a bundle to the first 3 books in the Hope Town
Series! All 3 books for $.99 for a limited time!
For the first time ever, the Hope Town books are being bundled! Join us for
the first three books in the series! Complete with new bonus content!
Don't worry this does not mean the series is ending, there will be an
amazing new book early next year.

Hope Town Bundle Links:

Cover Reveal: Tough Luck By Liz Morris

You loved Hard Luck...
Are you ready to meet another Luck brother?

From USA Today Bestselling author Liv Morris
comes a sexy standalone romcom

Tough Luck releases on December 1st!  
Add to your TBR at:

Amelia Adams…
Just the mention of her name makes my blood pressure soar. She’s the hot as hell reporter who told the world my days as Chicago’s quarterback were over and made my fans doubt me. Who the hell does she think she is to give my throwing arm its last rites? Now the team owner wants us to do some messed up reality show together called Beauty and the Baller. During the season, I eat, sleep, and breathe football. This Beauty better not mess with my game, or this Baller is going to pull the plug on her show.
Bryce Luck…
He hates my guts. Big time. One stupid news report and I’m on his sh*t list for life. I wish I could take back my words, but I was following orders. Just like I am now. My boss wants me to produce a sports feature where I follow Bryce around 24/7, including the locker room. His blue eyes and dimpled smile make my knees weak, and I lose all perspective. I tried to fight it—my attraction and the show. Tried to say it was a bad idea. You know what they told me? A respectable reporter gets the job done. Well, Bryce isn’t the only one who knows how to dish it out. I’ll give him a taste of his own tough luck.

Hard Luck (Book One) is NOW ON SALE for ONLY $0.99 &  FREE ON Kindle Unlimited!

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author, Liv Morris, was raised in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. She now resides on the rock known as St. Croix, USVI with her first and hopefully last husband. After relocating twelve times during his corporate career, she qualifies as a professional mover. Learning to bloom where she's planted, Liv brings her moving and life experience to her writing.

Release Blitz: F*cking Awkward Holidays Anthology

►► 25 Authors, Awkward Sex, Epic Cause ◄◄

★★100% of ebook profits benefit The Bookworm Box Charities!★★ 

Holidays conjure up many thoughts- long, chilly nights, snuggled up by the fire, bare feet tucked under the one you love. Some are hallmarks of summer when skin is warmed by more than the sun. There is the after Thanksgiving dinner nightcap, as the smooth, sultry burn of whiskey warms your chest, rendering your limbs heavy or include lazy kisses and wandering hands beneath your best dress on a romantic Valentine's Day date.

But sometimes, Grandma gets boozed up and passes out at the table, your brother gets caught rubbing one out under the fireworks, your kids catch mommy kissing Santa (and not on the lips), your special new toy winds up in the wrong gift bag, a goat steals and wears your sexy new thong and watching the ball drop takes on a whole new meaning.

In other words, the holidays can be magical, but sometimes, they're also just f*cking awkward.

Taryn Plendl, A. D. Justice, Ahren Sanders, Amanda Maxlyn - Author, Brooke Page, Carey Heywood Author, Christine Manzari, Christine Zolendz, Dina Littner Author, Eliana S. Peters, Author Gina Sheldon, Author HJ Bellus, Kennedy Ryan Author, Laura Ward Author, Leigh Carman, Lex Martin - Author, Lindsey Iler: Author, Liv Morris, Author, L L Collins, Author M. Mabie, Author Magan Vernon, Author Meghan Quinn, Author Mel Ballew, Stacy Kestwick, Trudy Stiles

A Special Foreword written by USA Today Bestselling Author, Tara Sivec's dog, Fat Ralph!


Tour: The Billionaire Next Door by Jessica Lemmon

Only a fool would give her heart to a billionaire player like Tag-
until suddenly the one man who can't be caught is the one flirting with forever . . .

Billionaire Bad Boys #2
Jessica Lemmon
Releasing Oct 25th, 2016

Can't Buy Me Love

It's Tag Crane's job to be the life of the party. Traveling from one exotic locale to another is just part of running the luxurious Crane Hotel empire. But even paradise isn't perfect. Devising a new business strategy is keeping Tag up at night-and so is the Great Dane barking at all hours in the apartment below his. To muzzle the problem, Tag charges downstairs . . . right into the most beautiful, blond distraction he's ever seen.

Dog-sitting by day, bartending by night. It's not exactly the life Rachel Foster dreamed of. But when Tag Crane rushes in, all mountain-man shoulders and obscenely sexy smile, needing her help for the Crane Hotels, it's a fantasy come true. What's the harm in a fun no-strings fling? Only a fool would give her heart to a billionaire player like Tag-until suddenly the one man who can't be caught is the one flirting with forever . . 

Amazon | B & N | Google | iTunes | Kobo

Top 5 Ways To Frustrate An Alpha Billionaire Bad Boy

In my new release The Billionaire Bachelor, our hero Tag Crane is having one heck of a time getting heroine Rachel Foster to comply. His tried-and-true tricks simply don’t *quite* break down this particular woman’s defenses. Which means Tag shrugs and wanders off to find a new woman to tempt, right…?


You know when an alpha guy finds The One, even if he doesn’t know she’s it for him yet, he digs in and tries, tries, and tries again. Which brings me to the Top 5 ways to frustrate an alpha!

Many of these Rachel does without even trying…

.5. Don’t let him pay your way. Alphas, especially rich ones, love to lavish gifts upon the object of their affection. If you want to frustrate him right down to his expensive shoes, insist on buying your own dinner. In Tag’s case, he won this battle, but it didn’t stop Rachel from arguing. Points: 1

.4. Insist on working. Tag invites Rachel to Hawaii under the guise of consulting on his latest bar upgrade for a Crane hotel on Oahu. But when he gets her there he decides he’d rather play than work… Rachel makes sure she puts in her hours whether he likes it or not. Points: 2… but -1 because she definitely makes time for play!

.3. Resist his advances. Playboy Tag Crane knows his way around a woman—and how to woo one. But whenever his cocky charm makes itself known, Rachel is sure to laugh it off. At one point, she lies and blurts, “I’m not the least bit attracted to… what you have going on.” Points: 3. Well played!

.2. Don’t react the way he expects. When Rachel opens her front door one evening to find Tag standing outside of it, he lays a long, delicious kiss on her lips. When she doesn’t respond by climbing him like a cat on a curtain, Tag is completely confused. He even thinks to himself “SURELY, she liked it?” Throwing him off-kilter comes naturally to our wily heroine. Points: 5

.1. Don’t spell things out for him. Alphas think simply. In The Billionaire Next Door, Rachel uses the phrase “Me-Tarzan, You-Jane” to describe his techniques. The best way to frustrate an alpha? Keep him guessing… You won’t only frustrate him, you’ll fascinate him. And once he’s fallen head over money clip, he’ll come running and fight to win you. Points: 10.

Pre-Made Tasty Q&A

Jessica Lemmon – The Billionaire Next Door
1.      A la Twitter style, please describe your book in 140 characters or less.
An alpha billionaire playboy becomes hopelessly intrigued by his downstairs neighbor… but none of his typical moves are working.

2.      Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

Tag Crane was directly inspired by Brock O’Hurn. When I stumbled upon his Instagram feed, I was hopelessly intrigued. I knew I had to come up with a story about a long-haired, hulk-like, bearded, kind, and fun man. The Brock of my imagination was my muse. He even earned an acknowledgement mention! If you’d like to browse my Pinterest board for this book, you can find it here

3.      Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I love my billionaires, but I’d absolutely love to go back to Evergreen Cove and write some more bad boy books. I receive questions about Evan and Charlie, Sofie’s sisters, Officer Brady Hutchins, and Asher’s ragtag misfit band all the time. I miss the whole gang!

4.      Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write and keep writing. It’s generic, but nonetheless true. I dedicate a portion of my website to a section I call “So You Wanna Write” and keep it stocked with tips, links to the blog I wrote while working toward becoming published, videos, and craft book recommendations. If you’d like to stop by and see it, you can click here to visit. 

5.      Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
THANK YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Because of you, I get to do what I love, which is let my imagination run wild. You allow me to entertain you and be funny, but also pull your heartstrings and make you cry. You gift me your time, and on this earth—in this life, there is nothing more precious than that commodity.

“This is so much colder than a cab,” Rachel said through chattering teeth. The bar was probably fifteen blocks from the apartment. What was she thinking agreeing to walk? She couldn’t feel her nose.
“But cleaner,” Tag said. She was currently taking two steps for every one of his, given his gait was longer than hers, even at a leisurely pace.
“I do better when it’s a nice, even seventy degrees.” She buried her chin in her scarf as she watched her boots cut through the gathering snow. “I guess it’ll be a few more months until we see milder temps.”
God. She was hopeless. Walking down the sidewalk next to a gorgeous guy and talking about the weather. But Tag didn’t balk.
“I like extremes,” he said, as if this was perfectly acceptable conversation. “If it’s hot, I like it really hot. If it’s cold, there’d better be snow or it’s a waste. I like the ocean because you can’t see the end of it. If I’m in a forest, I prefer one filled with massive sequoias.”
“Because you can relate to them,” she teased. “Giant.”
He turned his head and smiled and she admired straight, white teeth surrounded by a golden brown beard. He’d pulled his hair down and the light brown waves fell haphazardly over his black coat. Which was so sexy she couldn’t think. Especially since there were snowflakes in the strands. Not that she could blame them. Nestled warmly in those locks wasn’t a bad place to imagine being.
Again, she wondered at her attraction to him. Though he did kind of look like Thor, and while she wasn’t a die-hard comic book fan, she could appreciate the actor in the movie.
“How tall are you?” she asked, mostly to stop her inane train of thought. The more she was around him, the less she understood her basal reaction to him.
“Just under six-six. You’re what? Five-five?”
“Yeah. How’d you do that?”
He shrugged and looked ahead, but she didn’t doubt how he’d done it. He’d likely honed his carnival skills and was stellar at guessing weight and height. It wasn’t hard to imagine him using his intuition to figure out a woman’s weak points so he could attack where she was most sensitive. He’d probably had a ton of practice.
Was that where her concern was coming from? That he’d find her weak spots and use them against her? That’s what Shaun had done, she thought with a token amount of bitterness.
“How’d I do what?” A puff of air came from his lips, buried in his beard. She’d never liked facial hair. Until now, apparently.
“How’d you guess my height?” she shot back, feeling peeved more with herself than him. Lack of sleep, or maybe too much, she wasn’t really sure what to blame her reaction on now. “How’d you know I was a businesswoman before? I’m a great bartender, by the way. I was a bartender for longer than I worked in marketing.” She pushed her hands deeper into her pockets, lamenting not bringing her gloves with her. Her hands were freezing.
“Just observant. I’m good with people,” he said.
She absorbed that for a few seconds.
“What exactly do you do in Guest and Restaurant Services?” She air-quoted those words, which brought her bare hands from her pockets. He noticed.
“Where are your gloves? Do you realize it’s February in Chicago?”
“I forgot them.”
Tag stopped walking, a deep sigh working its way from his wide chest as he tugged off his gloves.
“I’m fine.” But he wasn’t listening. Once he’d had his baseball-mitt sized gloves off, he lifted her smaller, freezing hands to his mouth, cupping them in his palms, and blew on them to warm her fingers. He did this the way he did everything else.
And looking right at her.
He brushed his lips over her knuckles as a drove of chills shot down her spine and legs. She became fascinated by how soft his beard felt against her freezing skin, and then those chills were replaced with heat. Pooling in her belly, between her thighs, and infusing her face with color.
“Thanks,” she muttered when he let her go. She stuffed her hands into his gloves—they were warm, and after his personal attention, so was she. They finished their walk to Crane Tower, and once they were in the lobby, she put that together with Crane Hotels. “You’re pretty brand loyal aren’t you?”
“Honey, you have no idea.”

Rachel is a hilarious and feisty heroine.  She's struggling with her life at the moment, having broke up and quit her job all while hiding that information from her family because she doesn't want to have to go back home.  So when a customer she's gotten to know well invites her into his home as a dog sitter while he's away, she can't turn it down.  Little does she know what will come her way by taking the job. 

Tag is an Alpha Male who is used to women falling at his feet and doing as he says. He's intrigued by Rachel at first sight, but when she doesn't act in the typical regard with him, it further intrigues him. He's currently twisted up by his job, especially now that his father is retired and looking to him to keep things with their empire steady. 

I loved ther interactions between Tag and Rachel from the start. The banter between these two is great and their chemistry is smoking.  I love that they don't really know what to make of the other at first, because it made things more fun.   I adored Rachel and her hilarity, she really comes across as a girl I'd want to hang out with, she was down to earth, and a little confused about how to proceed with her life.  Tag also won me over pretty quickly, he was genuine and it was fun to watch him out of his element trying to win over "The one".  

The Billionaire Next Door features a hot alpha Male in Tag, who will suck you in and keep you on your toes, but don't discount the sassy Rachel. This book is full of humorous moments, a romance that comes unexpected to two people who meet by chance, and find within each other something they didn't even know they wanted.  I love how Jessica Lemmon gives us these characters who fit a mold, playboy billionaire, and yet alter them so each has their own unique characteristics and charm.  Though they are similar, I love how each of them deliver their own different twist on the theme and look forward to watching them succumb to the love of the right woman. 

A former job-hopper, Jessica Lemmon resides in Ohio with her husband and rescue dog. She holds a degree in graphic design currently gathering dust in an impressive frame. When she’s not writing super-sexy heroes, she can be found cooking, drawing, drinking coffee (okay, wine), and eating potato chips. She firmly believes God gifts us with talents for a purpose, and with His help, you can create the life you want.

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Release Blitz: Wicked Little Words by Stevie J. Cole & BT Urruela

"With American Psycho vibes and characters that will haunt you, Wicked Little Words does not disappoint." - #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, Jennifer L. Armentrout


iBooks: Nook: coming soon!
Edwin Allen Mercer I want them all to read my words. And they do. Every last blood-stained sentence, they've read and praised me for. They love the gore and violence, the realness. And I get a sense of power with it all because I know a secret: the victims in my books—they’re real and have all died on my table. And maybe that’s why the last book had such awful reviews. Murder is, after all, a dirty little thing. Some can stomach it. Others can’t. My answer to those reviews: find a woman to co-author with. To be the next pathetic character in my book. Pity she’s so pretty. Miranda Cross All I’ve ever wanted was to be successful as a writer so when I was offered the opportunity to co-author a book with my idol, EA Mercer, I jumped at the chance. He’s beautiful and a literary genius, but something about him makes my stomach knot. And maybe it’s my overactive imagination making my hairs stand on end when he walks up behind me. After all, these wicked little words we’re typing are only fiction. They’re only fiction...

WLW Spotify Playlist: Add to Goodreads:

Check out the trailer!!
About the Authors:
13466306_1802752326624992_7933289906023287493_nStevie J. Cole lives deep in the woods of Alabama with her two precious daughters. She studied Epidemiology concentrating on cancer research but has always had a passion for writing. Some of her stories will strip you bare, some will give you nightmares, but the one thing she can promise is that she will always give you stories that make you feel. Raw. Gritty. Love. Because sometimes characters need to be flawed.
Follow Stevie: Amazon - Facebook – Twitter – Goodreads –

bt2 BT Urruela was an infantryman in the US Army from August 2004 until February 2011. At the end of a year long tour to Baghdad, Iraq, his vehicle was hit by two roadside bombs, which took his right leg below the knee and the life of his commander. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his wounds, an Army Commendation Medal, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He medically retired from the Army in 2011 and moved to Tampa, FL where he currently works as a Director and Brand Ambassador for VETSports, a veteran community sports nonprofit he co-founded in 2012. He also conducts motivational speeches, works as a cover and fitness model and he’s a personal performance trainer. He co-wrote the military romance novel A Lover’s Lament and will be releasing his debut solo novel, Into the Nothing, on June 21st, 2016.
Follow BT: Amazon - Facebook – Twitter – 
Website – Goodreads –

Cover Reveal: Dead in teh Water by Britney King

Title: Dead in the Water
Author: Britney King
Release Date: Jan 17, 2016
Add to Goodreads
He’s a contract killer.
She murders for fun.
Smack dab in the middle of suburbia,
few married couples are as competitive as Jude and Kate.
But then, most married couples probably
don’t keep score in the form of body counts.
Each hell-bent on a silent pact to out-do the other,
the games begin—
only there are no rules.
And who ends up on top is anyone’s guess.
But with these two, one thing’s for sure—
not everyone comes out alive.
Because there are a few things they can agree on:
All is fair in love and war.
And if they can’t make it work—
they’re dead in the water.
Britney King writes modern love stories for mature audiences. She also enjoys suspense and often finds her sweet spot penning a good mixture of the two.
Britney is the author of seven novels and is currently at work on number eight.
She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, children, two dogs, one ridiculous cat and a partridge in a pear tree.

Release Blitz: Dirty by Belle Aurora

Title: Dirty
Series: RAW Family #2
Author: Belle Aurora
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: October 31, 2016


My marriage seemed perfect from the outside looking in.
People envied me. They wanted my life, wanted to be me.

Mrs Alejandra Gambino.
Wife of Dino Gambino. Daughter of Eduardo Castillo.
Respected. Loved. Mob royalty.

They had no idea of the horrors that lurked behind closed doors.
They didn't know I was at the lowest point a person could reach.

Enter Julius Carter.
Aloof, handsome, blue-eyed Julius Carter.

He saved me.
I screwed him over.

Now everybody was after me. My life was forfeit.
It was only a matter of time. I was a dead woman walking.

The question was, who would get to me first?




Belle Aurora is twenty seven years old and was born in the land down under.

At an early age she fell in love with reading. Boredom one summer had her scouring the bookshelves at home. She stumbled across Sandra Brown's Breath of Scandal and fell in love with romance.

Having been brought up in a loud and boisterous family of Croatian descent, she developed a natural love for dramatics and humor. Only some years ago had she discovered a new love.

Humorous romance novels.

Kristen Ashley and R.L. Mathewson had opened a brand new world where she could lose herself yet feel safe and at home in their stories. Belle has been known to become a screeching banshee while anxiously awaiting their newest titles.

Belle never thought she would write. It had never interested her until recently. Friend-Zoned began to form and in February 2013 Belle typed the words Chapter One. And she fell in love.

With words.
With writing.
With a creative imagination she never knew she harbored.

Friend-Zoned is the first in the Friend-Zoned series. Keep an eye out for this cheeky author.


Release Blitz: Plowed by Kristen Luciani & Rebecca Manuel

Title: Plowed
Author: Kristen Luciani & Rebecca Manuel
Genre: New Adult Rocker Romance
Release Date: October 31, 2016


Sexy rock god Daxton Cole has everything… and nothing that can bring him peace.

Music, whiskey, pills, parades of silicone-enhanced groupies keeping his bed warm at any given time… none of it soothes his wounded soul. The demons always win.

His life is a toxic existence on a permanent loop, like a bad 80s movie.


Sara Russell, the junior publicist hired to salvage his tarnished image, plows into him. Innocent, naïve, and pure, she’s the only one who can piece together what has long been shattered.

But sometimes, when you’re so broken, it’s impossible to become whole again.

And even more impossible to save anyone else.


99c for 3 days only!!!



“Dax, where the hell are you going?” Finn’s question was followed by a yawn so loud, it could have woken the inhabitants of the neighboring buses. “We have sound check in an hour.”

Daxton ran a hand through his tousled, gel-crunched hair and pulled on a Houston Astros baseball cap. “I’m going for a run.”

“Sorry, I don’t speak that language. Come again?”

“I need to clear my head, okay? Buy me some time. I’ll be back.”

“Since when do you run? Don’t you want to get breakfast instead? Bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, home fries, coffee?”

“Look, it was a shitty night. I need to get out for a while. Alone.”

“Dude, Merrick is gonna—“

“He’ll deal. I’ll see you later.”

Daxton slid open the tour bus door, breathing in the crisp, fresh air. Nobody in sight. Great, he finally had a chance to escape the questions he couldn’t answer, questions he didn’t even want to acknowledge.

The sun peeked over the clouds as he sank into a hamstring stretch. His muscles were so tight, just like the knot that had taken up residence at the base of his skull. Ironic. Excessive booze normally had the opposite effect. And he’d pretty much drank himself sober after last night’s debacle. How the hell had that guy gotten so close?

He rubbed the back of his neck, desperate to relieve the knot. “Dammit!”

“Rough night?”

That raspy voice made him jump about twenty feet into the air. Christ, did she know how sexy her voice sounded in the morning? He’d love to hear it waking him up after a very sleepless night infused with lots of carnal pleasures. Oh, fuck yeah.

“I didn’t mean to startle you.” Sara twirled her ponytail around her index finger, a sleepy smile on her face. The soft morning light danced atop her head, half-hooded green eyes making his cock twitch. Shit, even at this ungodly hour of the morning?

“I didn’t expect anyone else to be awake.”

“Thought you’d escape unnoticed, huh?” Sara smirked. “I’m going for a run. Figured it was my only chance for some peace and quiet before Merrick assigns me his list of errands for the day.”

“Uh-huh.” His eyes raked over the curves poured into hot pink spandex, mind unable to formulate a thought beyond peeling her out of those constricting clothes. Immediately, if not sooner.

“Okay, then.”

“Okay, what?”

She grabbed her ankles one at a time, pulling each toward to her perfect ass, stretching her quads. “Let’s go. You shouldn’t be by yourself, anyway.”

“So you’re gonna protect me?”

Her pink lips curled into a sly smile. “It’s my job. Now stop procrastinating and move.”

“You’re kind of pushy. Why can’t we ease into it? Nice and slow to start?”

“Nice and slow, huh? Kind of shocking. You don’t seem the type.”

He stretched his arms over his head. “I don’t know what you’re implying. I was talking about running.“

“Sure you were.” She tightened her ponytail. “Trust me, you’ll feel better once you sweat out all the alcohol.”

A slow trot increased in intensity much too quickly, and soon, they were circling the arena parking lot at full speed. Focus, focus, focus! His primary objective was not to collapse. A sidelong glance confirmed Sara had barely broken a sweat since they’d started. No words were exchanged, which was a good thing, since he couldn’t catch a single breath. A burning sensation erupted in the pit of his belly, spreading through his lungs, singeing his insides. His legs, now feeling more like Jell-O than actual limbs, were on the brink of revolution. Why didn’t he grab a bottle of water? Panting only made his mouth drier, as if it wasn’t already more arid than the Sahara at midday. Sweat drizzled into his eyes, blurring his vision. How many more times were they going to make this death loop?

Sara pivoted to face him, tiny beads of perspiration glistening along her hairline, the only sign she was exerting herself at all. Jogging backwards. Not even changing her gait. He was a step above pathetic – a very short step.

“How is it that you can’t even make it a mile without looking like you’re about to pass out?”

Great, he needed to speak now?

“It’s not like…I’m…Britney Spears…shaking my ass…all over the stage.” His calf muscles ached as his sneakers pounded the pavement. Bacon, egg, and cheese had been a very delicious alternative, and he opted out for this self-inflicted torture? “I play guitar…and sing…doesn’t require…cardio.” He mopped his face with the edge of the t-shirt. “How the hell…are you…able to do this? I don’t think…your boy…friend is…keeping you…up late…enough.”

Croaking out those last words nearly killed him, for multiple reasons.

“You should really consider traveling with an oxygen mask.” She flipped around, giving him a glimpse of her shapely backside, just about the only thing keeping him going. “And, just so you know, he’s not my boyfriend anymore.”

“Not your…boy—“ A sharp pain shot through his foot, stopping him mid-stride. “Ahh!” His body rocketed forward, arms flailing, sending him to the pebbly concrete lot with nothing to cushion the blow except his pride.


“Holy crap, are you okay?” Sara fell to the ground where he was writhing in agony, bits of pebble mashed into his skin. “Where does it hurt?”

He let out a loud groan and fell backward. “Fuck. Everywhere!”

“Do you think anything’s broken?” Her hand squeezed his and for the briefest of seconds, the presence of his very intense pain faded, replaced by Sara’s compassion, worry, and genuine concern. Somebody actually cared. That hadn’t happened in…shit, long enough that he couldn’t pinpoint an amount of time. It felt nice. Until the agony crashed over him again like a tsunami.

Sitting up was a struggle, but dammit, he was already hovering on the brink of being a complete and total pansy ass. Ignore the pain. Find out what happened with the boyfriend. Even a fall like that couldn’t quell his curiosity. He had to know, even if he was going to be in traction and unable to do anything about it for the foreseeable future.

“Am I allowed to ask what happened?”

A look of shock flitted across Sara’s face, quickly followed by a snicker. “Wow. Your focus is impressive, even with four potentially broken limbs.” Her playful tone couldn’t mask her nerves, though. She toyed with her ponytail again, normally bright green eyes darkening. “I walked in to find Laney riding him like she was competing for the Triple Crown.”

“Horse racing fan?”

“Yeah, we have a horse farm back home. Raised several thoroughbreds. I always loved to ride.” She averted her eyes, but not before he caught a glimpse of what she’d been trying to shield.

“Where’s home?”

“Minnesota.” She sat back on her heels, eyes still guarded. Conversation over. “So, what do you think? Are you able to hoof it back to the buses?”

“Eli is a fucking idiot.”

A slow smile brightened her flushed face. “Agreed.” She held out a hand. “Come on, let’s see if those legs still work.”

“Are you gonna carry me if they don’t?”

“You don’t pay me enough.”

Gritting his teeth, he pulled himself to his feet. “Christ, I feel like I’ve been run over by a freight train.”

Sara snaked an arm around his waist, hoisting him against her. “Take it slow, okay? You said you liked that.”

The scent of citrus wafted into the air between them. So delicious, like a fruit salad. How could she still smell so good after that run? “Yeah...I figured you’d use that against me soon enough.”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Looks like we have lots of time to kill before we make it back to camp. Shoot.”

“What happened last night? Who was the guy?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.“ How the hell did she even know?

”I’m sure your little groupies love the coy act, but I’ll pass.” She cocked an eyebrow. “Daxton, I’m part of your PR team. It’s my job to know everything that goes on during this tour. Sean from security told me someone approached you. I can’t do damage control without all the facts. Who was he, and what did he want? Or, maybe a better question might be what does he know?

His face twisted into a grimace with each step. The buses weren’t even in sight. With any luck, they’d make it back by lunchtime. “You ever feel like you’re suffocating? That there’s air all around, but you just can’t breathe it in? Like your body resists what it needs to survive, and you feel like you’re constantly drowning? That’s how I feel most of the time. The air, everything around me – what people see, what they want to believe, judgments they make based on half-truths – it’s all toxic. Better not to inhale. The lesser of two evils, but either way, I’m fucked.”

She nodded, her hair tickling his shoulder. “I do know what you mean.” Her voice was soft, sad. There was something beneath that snarky exterior, something he was desperate to uncover, but her demeanor begged him not to press.

They walked for a few silent minutes that seemed to stretch into hours. He clenched and unclenched his fists as waves of pain assaulted his ankle. “Shit, that hurts.”

“I don’t think you should push it. Let me call Merrick.“

“No.” He stopped, teetering on one leg. “Please. Not yet. Can we just sit down for a minute?”

“Of course.” She eased him to the ground and sank onto the pavement. “Is there anything I can—?”

“The guy from last night said he knew my mother.” Daxton held his head, expelling a deep breath. “She disappeared after my brother died last year, without a trace. Without a warning. One day, she was there; the next, gone. With her clothes, car, jewelry. Everything…gone. My dad made a half-hearted attempt to find her, but I was too angry to try. I’d just lost my best friend, and my mother picked that time to bail. We should have been there for each other, but she didn’t care enough to even say goodbye.”

“I’m so sorry.” Sara grasped his hand. Her skin was so soft against his calloused fingers. It was an occupational hazard for a guitarist.

“I don’t want to have anything to do with her. She abandoned her family. Things between her and my dad were never great, but what the hell did I ever do to her?”

“So you had security get rid of him.”
“People always have an angle, Sara.” He raised his eyes to see the empathy reflected in her gaze. “I can’t trust anyone because everyone has an agenda. They want to know what I can do for them, how much I’ll pay to keep something from happening, what they can hold over my head in exchange for things they want. Even if this guy is telling the truth, I’m not willing to listen because nothing comes without a high price tag. Toxic. But the problem is, even though my body tries to protect me by resisting the urge to inhale the poison around me, I want to live, to be whole again, free from all this useless anger and resentment. I need to breathe.” He raked a hand through his hair. “I just can’t remember how.”


Kristen Luciani is a self-proclaimed momtrepreneur with a penchant for Christian Louboutins, Silicon Valley, plunging necklines and grapefruit martinis. As a deep-rooted romantic who prefers juicy drama to fill the lives of anyone other than her, she tried her hand at creating a world of enchantment, sensuality, and intrigue, finally uncovering her true passion. No pun intended…
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Rebecca Manuel, a.k.a. Becca the Bibliophile, is a lover of books, Fireball, Diet Dr. Pepper and Texas Trash Pie from Royers Roundtop Café. With a deep-rooted passion for the creative, she started the first independent short film company within the literary industry, charged with bringing book characters and plots to life via the Internet. She lives in Houston with her techie geek husband, two fabulous kids, and their menagerie of furry friends.