Monday, October 31, 2016

COVER REVEAL


Tough Luck

By Liv 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: http://bit.ly/2f3cJz6







Blurb

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.

 






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Title: Girl Divided
Series: The Binding Series #1
Author: Cordelia Michelsen
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: October 31, 2016
Ellis Calhoun and Vivian Parker share a lavish New York lifestyle, but their relationship is anything but conventional. Driven by his need for control, Ellis, a mysterious and sexy corporate raider, feeds off Vivian’s desire to submit, before she herself was even aware of that desire.
But soon, unexplained urges that aren’t her own begin to drive a wedge between them, challenging Vivian's identity as Ellis’s subservient lover. Even stranger, she has no recollection of her moments of defiance. Vivian loses time and memories for no reason she can understand. But maybe there’s an explanation after all…Delphine.
Girl:Divided is Book One in The Binding Series, a story of what happens when the real world and the supernatural world collide. Enter into this realm of mystery, intrigue and kinky sex in this paranormal romance series.
Hello Lovers & Lusters! Cordelia Michelsen here!
Thought I would tell you a little about me.
I am a BW/WM romance novelist. However, I am currently working on my first supernatural series. Genre-hopping excites me!
I hail from upstate New York (* that very small town in “Still Life”).
First and foremost I am the mother of three crazy kids, ages seventeen,eight,and three. So between football, dance, and Mickey Mouse, there is never a dull moment. I have an amazing husband; I refer to him as Superman because not only does he put up with my wild imagination he also edits my books and makes some kickass chili. Did I mention he also plays stand-up bass?
I began writing seriously last year, so I am still a baby at this and I hope you'll bear with me. I have always been a creative person, though. I did theater for years and I was a singer as well.
I have always had a love for writing but would never finish anything I wrote! So my first book, “The Kings' Inheritance” was actually more of a challenge and a goal for myself that I was determined to follow through with. But then I wasn't done, so three months later, on my 40th birthday (mmhmm thats right, I am 40 and Fabulous) I released my second book, “Still Life”. Over the summer I worked on another project! An anthology! “The Where Love May Find You Collection”. As long as there are imaginary people hanging out in my head waiting for their story to be written I will keep writing.
Other than writing, my other passions include baking, gel manicures, anything and everything Coach, Jax Teller, Dean Winchester, and Damon Salvatore.
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"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
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Synopsis:
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...
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About the Authors:
13466306_1802752326624992_7933289906023287493_n Stevie 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 - http://amzn.to/2fiYbyj Facebook – http://bit.ly/2e7n8ul Twitter – http://bit.ly/1R91q21 Goodreads – http://bit.ly/2dhdIho
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 - http://amzn.to/2dONazK Facebook – http://bit.ly/1RdUEIa Twitter – http://bit.ly/1OQE4nD Website – www.bturruela.com Goodreads – http://bit.ly/240cV3h



Title: The Ragged People
Series: Arden St. John #2
Author: Lucy Fenton
Genre: Paranormal YA
Release Date: October 31, 2016



Blurb

Arden St John – teenager, witch and embodiment of chaos - is back.

The new school year starts with her surrounded by friends and her boyfriend, Nick, all of them happy and out from under the shadow of Georgia, who now lurks on the edges, friendless and powerless.

But there is something in the shadows. It is looking for Arden and it’s not the only one.

There are many who want to use Arden, some of them more dangerous than the vampires who want her life.

Even those protecting her want something from her, more than she is willing to give.

Still determined to stop the vampires’ trade, Arden had to choose between staying safe or embracing her terrifying power. When she finally unleashes the power within her, the consequences are more than she could imagine.


As more secrets are revealed, a price must be paid for the truth. Powerful but vulnerable, Arden must suffer through betrayal, love and acceptance as her story continues.






Purchase Links

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU





Excerpt

“I need you to help me.” It could have sounded like a request but it came out as a demand.

“I don’t have to do anything.” Arden shut her locker with a bang and turning, started to walk in a wide circle around Georgia who was standing in her way.

Georgia matched her, stepping directly into her path. “You took away my power and now my father is going to sell me to an old man. You owe it to me. Stop him or give me back my power,” she hissed, her voice low to prevent them being overheard.

Arden averted her eyes to the ceiling, fighting the urge to throw the book in her hand at Georgia’s head. “First of all, it wasn’t yours. You stole if from the last person who tried to help you. Second of all, I don’t have your power so I couldn’t give it back even if I wanted to.” Arden retorted, part of her wondering why she was even engaging.

“Elizabeth wasn’t trying to help.”

Arden could feel a headache coming on. “Yes, she was. She would have run away with you and protected you.”

“You don’t know that.” Georgia sounded less certain.

“Actually, I do know that. When she took over my body, I saw everything, including you pushing her off the cliff. I know you made a deal with the water sprites to kill her in exchange for her power.”

Georgia blanched but held her nerve.

“You can’t prove anything.”

Arden ground her teeth. “I don’t need to prove anything. I also don’t need to help you. Frankly you’re getting what you deserve.” Arden started walking faster, but Georgia kept pace with her.

“So you only want to help the kids sold to vampires, but not anyone else?” Georgia hissed.

Arden slowed and faced her former tormentor. “Look, I’m not in favour of anyone being sold for any reason, but you tried to kill me several times. You also enslaved Nick and everyone else at school. Why on Earth would I do anything to help you? You’re a horrible person.”

“It’s not my fault.”

“Which bit?” Arden snorted.

“Any of it.”

“How do you figure that?” Arden was so astonished at Georgia’s complete lack of remorse that she stopped dead.

“You don’t understand what it was like to grow up, always being compared to Elizabeth,” she spat.

Arden pointed her finger at Georgia. “You grew up in a comfortable house, you were fed and clothed. No one abused you. What exactly are you complaining about?”

“No one ever loved me.” Georgia crossed her arms and glared at Arden.

“Except Elizabeth, who you murdered.” Arden rolled her eyes and moved to go around her. The girl is completely deranged, she thought. And psychotic. Never forget, psychotic.

“If you let me be sold, then you’re the same as me.” Georgia’s face twisted into a snarl, making Arden glad Georgia had no power behind it.

“I could never be as bad as you, and I’m supposed to be the product of several generations of evil,” Arden muttered over her shoulder as she entered the lab.

“I hope you rot in hell!” Georgia shouted from the doorway.

“See you there then,” Arden replied dryly.

***

Lying on Sophie’s bed, Arden tossed a blue stress ball into the air before catching it again.

“Sophie, should I help Georgia?” Arden asked, holding onto the ball and looking over at her friend who sat trawling through her numerous social media pages.

“Help Georgia!” Sophie exclaimed, turning around to stare at Arden. “What?”

Arden filled her in on the details of her run in with Georgia, wondering why these things stuck with her. I wish I could just forget about it, instead replaying it over and over, making me constantly second guess myself. She thought she was right to say no, but if she was, why did it continue to weigh on her?

Sophie threw her hands up in the air. “I have no idea. She’s a psychopath but aren’t we against selling people?”

“In general, yes. But if she went away then we wouldn’t have to deal with her anymore,” Arden said, looking hopeful.

“Someone else would have to though.”

“Maybe they’ll be better at managing her. She might improve,” Arden argued.

Sophie’s eyebrows rose, crinkling her forehead. “Or she could get worse. She killed her twin sister and no one’s even tried to take her to task on it. I think she needs some serious therapy but there’s no way to make her get help.”

“What if I offered to help in exchange for her getting treatment?” Arden frowned, thinking hard.

“How would you enforce it?”

“I don’t know.” Arden shrugged. “I wish I had a therapist I could talk to about it but mine is dead. I probably killed her, though she was a vampire and I was a mindless killer at the time, so I don’t know for sure.” She tilted her head, reflecting on what she had just said. “Hmm... that doesn’t sound so good. Maybe I should get a therapist as well?”

“Yeah, of course it doesn’t sound good when I say it like that. Killing vampires doesn’t count though.”

Arden paused, considering.

“Am I a bad person if I kind of want her to be sold as a slave to an old guy?”

“Of course not. A bad person would never even ask that question. Wanting vengeance is natural.”

“But we’re against selling people, right?”

“Unfortunately, yes we are.” Sophie nodded, sadly.

“Even psychotic ones who deserve it?” Arden asked.

“I think it’s one of those blanket rule deals.”

“So if there aren’t any exceptions that means I’m going to have to help her.” Arden’s mouth twisted in disgust. The thought of helping Georgia left a bad taste in her mouth.

“Ugh,” Sophie agreed. “There’s something so wrong with that.”

“Aren’t I supposed to be evil? Evil people don’t save people, especially ones they don’t like.” Arden threw the ball up in the air and caught it again.

“Well if it ever comes down to a decision for you, you know, on whether to turn evil like your real mother or not, you can put that in the “pro” column.”



Also Available


AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU



Author Bio


Lucy Fenton lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and two children. In addition to writing novels, she works as a freelance copywriter and pens occasional articles for various online magazines.

Not being one of those people who had a burning desire to be anything in particular, Lucy worked her way alphabetically backwards through the available degrees at Sydney University. Surprisingly, given the amount of fun she had at school, she finally managed to graduate with a completely unemployable degree in Philosophy. A Law degree soon followed, however, simply to make it possible for some organization to hire her.

After ten soul-destroying years wandering aimlessly in the corporate wilderness, she threw it all in and reassessed. Deciding to bring the "one day I will write a book" idea to the present, she started and hasn't stopped. As a huge fan of the books in general, she writes the kinds of books that she enjoys to read.

In her spare time, Lucy Fenton...actually she has no spare time. She sleeps or reads copious amounts of novels instead of sleeping.



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Wear White to Your Funeral
Lisa Acerbo
Publication date: October 28th 2016
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Young Adult

Rory is your average high school senior. Or she was, until her mother banishes her to hell, also known as Trumbull, Connecticut. The small suburb with only a mall and movie theater, sure feels like the netherworld until Rory’s first day at her new school. That’s the day she meets Bowen, who begs her to join him on a class project. But when Bowen drags her to a graveyard after dark for research purposes, Rory wants to fly back home to Atlanta, or at least return to her aunt’s house unharmed and unmolested.

Nothing could go wrong, right? They talk, they laugh, and they wander among the tombstones looking for information on the local ghostly legend known as the White Lady. Then they have to run, but they cannot outrun a ghost. In addition to the ghostly woman, a half buried dead body leads Rory and Bowen into a deadly game of cat and mouse, but who is the killer? Is it human or something long dead and otherworldly?

The police are of little help, Rory’s aunt just wants her to remain safe, and Bowen, who she can’t stay away from, keeps finding ways to get her into more trouble than she has ever known. Whether breaking into a suspected killer’s house, being followed by a menacing ghost, or being stalked at school, Rory hopes finding the killer will put an end to the supernatural haunting. Before Rory can discover the identity of the killer, she is drawn into the mystery of the White Lady, which opens the door for some very real danger.

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EXCERPT:

Rory tried to pay attention until she heard a husky whisper.

“Hey, new girl.” Rory turned toward the low voice. The boy with piercing blue eyes stared at her. “I’m Bowen.”

“I caught that,” she whispered back.

“Want to work together on the assignment?”

“Is it a group project?” Rory was confused by the offer.

“It is if you want it to be. Watch and learn. But first, say ‘yes.’”

He was definitely bad-boy cute. Rory giggled. “Yes.” Maybe school wouldn’t be as horrible as she imagined. She felt optimistic for the first time that day.

“Mrs. Miller?” Bowen interrupted.

“Yes, Bowen.” Miller sounded slightly irritated, but not really. It was like she already knew what Bowen planned to ask.

“The new girl.” He looked at Rory expectantly.

“Rory.” She filled in her name for him.

“I think Rory needs help with the assignment, being new here and all,” Bowen said.

“Do you now?” Mrs. Miller looked at him over the top of her librarian glasses, not believing for a minute his intentions were pure. “Why would you say that? I’m sure she is a capable young lady.”

“You do have extremely high expectations,” Bowen replied, causing twitters of laughter to erupt from around the class. “And she has not been exposed to the inverted pyramid.”

Rory had no idea what that was, so maybe she did need Bowen’s help.

“So true. So true. You are a wise man Bowen Hesse. I believe it’s a good idea you pair up with Rory and demonstrate those high expectations.”

“Every time, Mrs. Miller.”

Mrs. Miller made a noise that did not sound at all teacher-like. “I expect a higher word count if you two are pairing up.”

“Really?” He smiled at Rory and she noticed a slightly crooked tooth in an otherwise perfect smile.

“Yes, really.” The teacher said through her own smile. He shrugged. “You got it. One hundred words at least.”

The class chortled in unison.

“You’re a jokester, Bowen. Class,” she addressed everyone now, “the minimum word count for this assignment is 750. Bowen, for you and Rory, it should be 1000 words.”

His blue eyes widened. Groans quickly replaced the recent giggles that had echoed through the room.

Class resumed, and Rory heard ideas for articles ranging from pumpkin carving to the best Halloween candy. With less than twenty minutes before the bell would ring, the class divided into groups based on the section of the newspaper or yearbook they wanted to write for. She was the exception. Rory watched as Bowen pulled his desk over to her. He stood two or three inches taller than her in his University of Connecticut basketball t-shirt and faded jeans.

“So you up for writing about the White Lady?”

“You don’t want to brainstorm other topics?” Rory was disappointed. She knew nothing of the local legend and hoped to do an article on something she had some background knowledge about.

“We can, but I have a great idea for a story on the ghost.”

“Really?” Rory didn’t want to lose the chance to work with Bowen and make a friend. “In that case, sure, but I don’t really know anything about her, being from the South.”

“Where from?”

The broken record began to play. “Atlanta.”

“I want to know more. I’d like to go South one day.”

“For college?”

Bowen gave a non-committal shrug. His shirt climbed up his shoulder. The last words of his tattoo peeking out of the sleeve.

“What are you doing tonight?”

“Why?” Rory asked quietly.

“I can give you a crash course on the White Lady.” He ran a hand through his short, spiky hair. Disheveled, he looked slightly dangerous but even more attractive.

“Really?” Rory didn’t know where Bowen’s interest stemmed from. Back in Atlanta men like him would have left her — the bookworm, Honor Society, AP classes kind of student — alone, very alone.

“Sure.” He gave her a devilish wink.

Her heart stuttered. Her words followed. “Weellll, I have to have dinner with my aunt, but after that, I’m sure it will be okay.” She took a calming breath.

“Excellent.” A smile formed on Bowen’s lips. “That’ll be perfect. It will be dark when we go to the graveyard.”


Author Bio:

Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and holds an EdD in Educational Leadership. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, three cats, and horse. She is the author of Apocalipstick and has contributed to local newspapers, news and travel blogs including The Patch and Hollywood Scriptwriter.

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


Blurb

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.

Until…

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.






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EXCERPT

“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.

Thump!

“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

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

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.


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