From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby comes a sexy, new standalone contemporary romance in her Fusion Series, THE BEAUTY OF US, releasing August 22, 2017! Check out the chapter below and… More
I didn’t set out to be a pirate.
Life for me was about surviving the ugliness that people knew existed but didn’t talk about.
I lived in hell.
Then I saw her.
I knew I couldn’t keep her, but for just a little while I had found heaven.
Eight years later, I can’t get her out of my head.
It is a mistake sailing to her island.
It is a mistake reaching out to her.
She doesn’t recognize me. Or maybe she does.
Closure, it is all I’m after.
Then my past comes back to haunt me.
She’s thrust into my ruthless world. An angel.
A romantic who has a journal that leads to a shipwreck and a lost treasure.
She wants to find the ending to a love story that is over two hundred years in the making.
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L.A. Fiore is the author of several books including Beautifully Damaged, Collecting the Pieces and His Light in the Dark. Her favorite movie is Star Wars, a love her son shares. They hope to build their own Millennium Falcon one day. She would like to meet the Winchester Boys to thank them for enlightening her on the versatility of salt as not just a food enhancer, but as protection from supernatural threats. And she thinks it would be interesting to be a zombie, to get an idea of what life is like as a brain-addicted fiend so she can be their voice to tell their side of the story. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and kids, their two spoiled cats and their awesome dog.
In this second of the sultry, Western-set Coming Home series from New York Times bestselling author Harper Sloan, Quinn Davis might finally have a shot at her own happily-ever-after—but will she let love in, or will she tell it to go ahead and kiss her boots?
Quinn Davis prefers to live her life quietly. She’s the stereotypical tomboy with two overprotective big brothers who have always been there to protect her, especially from devilishly handsome cowboys with silver tongues. That is, until Tate Montgomery comes riding into town. Their first meeting, however, is far from something out of a fairy tale and only further convinces Quinn that men aren’t worth her time.
Tate returns to his childhood hometown to start his life over and get a second chance at happiness. He might not remember Quinn from the summer vacations that he used to spend on his PawPaw’s farm but all it takes is one glance, and he can’t get the raven-haired beauty out of his mind. Can two people who have stopped believing in love take a chance to find it in each other? Or will the pain of the past prove too great a hurdle to conquer?
Oh wow! I’ve always liked second chance romances. But this has got to be one of my favorites now. I love that Tate finally is able to return and win back the woman he has loved for years. I cheered for every demon Quinn worked to overcome. Tate and Quinn, together is nothing short of amazing.
Harper is a NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL and USA TODAY bestselling author residing in Georgia with her husband and three daughters. She has a borderline unhealthy obsession with books, hibachi, tattoos and Game of Thrones. When she isn’t writing you can almost always find her with a book in hand.
HARD WOOD is coming October 23, 2017! A standalone romance told from the male Point-of-View, HARD WOOD is the final hot and hilarious book in the Big Rock series. Pre-order your copy today! Kindle users—stay tuned for the preorder right before release! And don’t miss the hot, new cover below!
Cover Design by Helen Williams with Photography by Wander Aguiar Photography
About HARD WOOD:
Women often say a good man is hard to find. And a hard man is even better.
That’s why I’m quite a catch— good, hard, loaded, and wait for it…I’m ready to settle down too. But the woman I want to pitch my tent with is precisely the one I need to stay far away from.
After that fantastic night with Mia Summers, I’m ready to give her many more. But there’s a hitch in my plans — she just hired my company. If there’s one thing I’m committed to, it’s running a squeaky clean adventure tour business. One of the iron-clad rules?
Don’t screw your customers.
I can follow my own guidelines. After all, it’s only a week-long trip with Mia and her employees over the trails and down the hills I guide them on. I can obey the rules—even if it’s hard in the woods.
I’m about to give myself a badge of honor when the storm of the century hits, sending everyone else running for cover, but us—my biggest temptation and me, alone for a long weekend. You don’t screw the client, especially when you’re already in love with her . . .
But what’s a guy to do when she’s so hard to resist?
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About Lauren Blakely:
A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than eighty times, and she’s sold more than 2 million books. In September, she’ll release MOST VALUABLE PLAYBOY, a standalone sports romance. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter
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We are so excited to be sharing this sale with you. In preparation for the release of New York Times bestselling author Lara Adrian’s FOR 100 REASONS, the first two books in the 100 series are on sale! Get your copies of FOR 100 DAYS and FOR 100 NIGHTS now!
About FOR 100 DAYS
Pleasure has a price…
Struggling artist Avery Ross is barely scraping by. Bartending at a trendy New York City restaurant for an overbearing boss and two weeks away from losing her apartment to a condo developer, she’s desperate for a break. So when she’s offered a temporary housesitting job, she takes it.
Living at one of the poshest addresses in Manhattan is like entering a new world—one that catapults her into the orbit of billionaire Dominic Baine, the darkly handsome, arrogantly alpha resident of the building’s penthouse. What begins as a powerful attraction soon explodes into a white-hot passion neither can deny.
Yet as scorching as their need for each other is, Avery doesn’t expect Nick’s interest in her to last. Nor does she dare to dream that the desire she feels for this scarred, emotionally remote man could deepen into something real. For Avery has secrets of her own—and a past that could destroy her…and shatter everything she and Nick share.
FOR 100 DAYS is the first novel in a passionate new contemporary romance trilogy from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Lara Adrian.
Get FOR 100 DAYS for $0.99 now!
About FOR 100 NIGHTS
Passion knows no bounds…
Avery Ross is living a dream. After struggling all of her life to make ends meet, a chance encounter with a powerful darkly handsome man has catapulted her into a dazzling new world of penthouse luxury, elegant parties, and a wild, consuming passion with her billionaire lover, Dominic Baine. Nothing is out of his reach in business or in pleasure, yet the only woman he wants is her. Nick sweeps her to sensual heights she has never dared explore, commanding her body the same way he commands her heart. Yet Avery knows the fantasy she’s living cannot last.
With dark secrets and a dangerous enemy haunting her past, Avery must find a way to trust Nick with the truth before it destroys everything they share. But Nick is harboring secrets of his own as well. And when they come to light, Avery will be forced to decide if the love she feels for Nick is strong enough to endure a betrayal she may never be able to forgive.
FOR 100 NIGHTS is the second novel in a passionate new contemporary romance trilogy from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Lara Adrian.
Get FOR 100 NIGHTS for $3.99 now!
About LARA ADRIAN
LARA ADRIAN is a New York Times and #1 international bestselling author with nearly 4 million books in print and digital worldwide and translations licensed in more than 20 countries. Her upcoming release is FOR 100 REASONS, the third book in a contemporary romance series that reviewers are calling “phenomenal” and “one of the hottest series of the year.” Learn more about the author and her books at LaraAdrian.com.
Connect with Lara!
When the universe gets in the way of your “follow through”
Get ready for this laugh-out-loud rom-com by RC Boldt!
Release Date: August 8th
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Truth: A painful condition caused by a prolonged state of sexual arousal without release.
Myth: Only affects males.
I’m beyond frustrated with the man who’s left me high and very far from dry. Multiple times. But, somehow, even though I’m not interested in a relationship, Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome keeps me coming back for more—one crazy, sexual debacle after the next.
Come hell or high water, the stars will align, and the release will be out of this world.
I’m captivated with the woman who’s left me sixty-nine shades of blue, and she’s only in this for one thing. The first time, I blew it—and not in the good way—but I’m going to ensure we finally see it through. I need to put an end to this “plague” of sexual calamities and prove to Sarah that we can have more.
It’s time to grab the universe by the balls and show it who’s boss.
Down in Whynot, NC, there are three things that hold true: 1) life moves just a little bit slower, 2) family means everything, and 3) you don’t mess with history.
When his family decides to sell a home that’s been part of their history for over a century, Lowe Mancinkus is madder than a hornet. To add insult to injury, the woman who purchased it is some fancy pants, city girl looking to fix it up and sell it off. Doesn’t matter that she’s sexy as hell or that just being near her gets his blood racing like never before. That home belongs to his family, or at least it did until she came to town.
Well that just won’t do, now will it?
From the moment that she laid eyes on the historical home in rural North Carolina, Melinda Rothschild knew Mainer House was something special. The perfect escape from life in New York City, Melinda signed the papers and set to work restoring the house to its natural beauty. That is until an angry Lowe showed up on her doorstep one day. With a scowl on his handsome, chiseled face. And a shotgun in his strong, muscular arms.
Is it getting hot in here?
Melinda’s about to get a lesson on life in the south, but Lowe is about to learn a lesson of his own – this city girl doesn’t back down from a fight.
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The booming sound coming from downstairs causes me to sit straight up on the mattress that is placed in the middle of the master bedroom floor. I’ve yet to get a good night’s sleep because there’s a damn train that runs parallel to the town. It’s just two blocks over from the Mainer House, and it feels the need to blow its whistle around two AM each morning. This isn’t that big of a deal to most of the residents of the small town of Whynot, but to me… it chafes just a little because, well… I love my sleep.
I’ve been assured by the nice lady who runs Sweet Cakes, the bakery right across the street from Mainer House, that I’ll get used to it, but I seriously doubt it. Even the noise of New York City never penetrated my sleep the way a train whistle does, and I get a totally empathetic look from her when I stagger in for some coffee and a cheese Danish each morning.
I think I’ve slipped into a pattern at night where I now anticipate being woken up by that stupid train, so I’m not even able to get into good REM sleep. It’s probably why I shot straight up in bed at the banging that’s going on downstairs, although I can’t quite pinpoint from where it’s coming. A glance at the alarm clock sitting on the floor shows it’s 5:30 AM. It’s still dark outside, and I’m slightly—okay, greatly—confused. I struggle to process since it’s been almost two weeks since I came to Whynot and I’ve not had a decent night’s sleep since then.
Then it penetrates… someone’s at my front door.
At 5:30 AM.
Immediate anger flows through my veins, heating me up from within. Without any further consternation, I know it’s Lowe Mancinkus causing all that noise. It must be him because there’s no one else in the entire world who has ever been such a thorn in my side.
Flipping the blanket back, I roll off the mattress and wince as my knees hit the floor. Almost three decades of sleeping on a mattress, box spring, and a frame, and I can’t get used to being only a few inches off the floor. I’ve held off on buying any furniture for the house until the remodeling is complete.
Pushing first to my hands and knees, I manage to lurch upright and stagger out of the bedroom. Down the rotund, sweeping staircase to the main floor. I don’t even bother to look out the leaded glass panels on either side of the heavy wooden door—so convinced I am that it’s Lowe on the other side—that I fling it open without an ounce of worry.
“What in the holy hell are you doing?” I snarl as the breeze generated from the doorway swinging open so fast actually blows my hair back.
Lowe stands there in mid-bang, fist raised high and a diabolical glitter to his eyes. His eyes lock onto mine for just a moment before they drop and casually run down the length of my frame. I look down at myself and cringe as I realize I’m still in my pajamas, which in the sweltering South consists of a cotton tank top and sleep shorts that are really short. My hand falls from the doorknob, and I cross my arms over my chest as Lowe looks back up at me.
And why does he have to be so damned gorgeous? In ordinary circumstances, this man pushes all my girlie buttons. Tall, just enough muscle to be strong but not freakish, and that dark chocolate hair with bright hazel eyes that are every woman’s fantasy. I always have to remind myself he’s a nasty SOB who I wouldn’t give the time of day to… in ordinary circumstances, that is.
“I’m here to start work,” he says casually as he pushes past me into the main foyer.
“It’s five-freaking-thirty in the morning,” I grit out, not moving from the open doorway. I expect him to be walking right back out again.
Instead, he ignores me and moves down a wide hall beside the staircase that goes to the kitchen. With a growl of frustration, I slam the door shut and then stomp off after him. “It’s completely rude to show up here at this hour.”
He doesn’t respond and as I turn the corner into the kitchen, I find him rummaging through the cupboards. “Where’s the coffee?”
“I don’t have any,” I snap at his backside since he hasn’t bothered to give me a second glance since he barged in. “And I don’t like you ignoring me any more than I like you barging into my house.”
“Get some decent clothes on, and I wouldn’t be forced to look through your cupboards for nonexistent coffee,” he replies calmly, moving onto the next cabinet even though I’ve told him I have no coffee.
In fact, I have hardly anything at all here. A mattress, pillow, sheets, and blanket in the bedroom, some orange juice in the fridge, and towels in the master bathroom. Those are the only creature comforts at this point, and they’re enough to get me through the remodeling. I’ve been eating out almost every meal and this is not a hardship as that’s pretty much what I do when I’m back home in New York. One, however, can only eat so many grits and collards, although I’ll take them over fatback and pickled pigs feet any day.
“I would like to remind you…” I say in a voice that comes off far too rancid and nowhere in control. “That this is my house. I can wear whatever I like to bed, with the assumption I won’t have visitors until a decent hour.”
“I’m not a visitor,” he points out, back still to me. “But because you couldn’t take a little joke and had to run crying to Judge Bowe, I now have to work for you. I also have to keep my own business running, which means I have to work early and late. You need to suck it up, buttercup. This is your life for the next few months.”
Juliette Poe is the sweet and swoony alter ego of New York Times Best Selling author, Sawyer Bennett.
A fun-loving southern girl, Juliette knows the allure of sweet tea, small towns, and long summer nights, that some of the best dates end sitting on the front porch swing, and that family is top priority. She brings love in the south to life in her debut series, Sex & Sweet Tea.
When Juliette isn’t delivering the sweetest kind of romance, she’s teaching her southern belle daughter the fine art of fishing, the importance of wearing Chucks, and the endless possibilities of a vivid imagination.
I was sixteen when he came to our house. Landon Jones, a boy with nothing, from nowhere. He had cinnamon hair and blue eyes—light blue, just like mine. When we went out as a family with my foster brother, people asked if Landon was my twin. He wasn’t. That year, we found out how much he wasn’t. When my parents caught us, they threw Landon out like trash.
Now I’m twenty-nine, a soon-to-be surgeon, like my mom and dad. I know residency is going to kick my ass, but I had no idea that it would rip my heart out, too. Not until I see him—Dr. Jones.
A standalone that is part of the Off-Limits Romance collection.
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Ella James is the USA Today bestselling author of sixteen teen and adult love stories. She’s an angst-a-holic who loves exploring difficult situations and the emotions of the people caught up in them. Also, smut. But always, always romance.
Ella’s obsessions include vanilla cream soda, hiking, other weird, crunchy things like rock collecting, and the antics of her three little monsters.
To find out more about her projects, follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ellajamesbooks, tweet her at author_ellaj or follow her on Instagram (authorellajames).
Interested in the foreign rights for one of Ella’s books? Contact her agent, Rebecca Friedman, at email@example.com.
The last book in Carrie Ann Ryan’s Gallagher Brothers series releases in less than a week – but you can read the first chapter now! Check it out below and preorder your copy today!
About HOPE RESTORED
The Gallagher Brothers series from NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan concludes with the final brother who thought he had everything to look forward to, and the one woman who can handle him.
Life isn’t worth living if you don’t fight to live. That’s what Murphy Gallagher learned at a young age when cancer ravaged his body not once, but twice. Over the course of his survival, he lost his parents and his childhood, but he’s been healthy for years and has become a man he hopes his family is proud of. But when his world tilts on its axis yet again, he’ll have to learn what it means to fight not only the unknown but also his attraction to his best friend.
Tessa Stone works hard and plays harder. She’s spent her life trying to figure out who she is in the present rather than looking back. Yet when she’s forced into close proximity with Murphy, she’ll have to not only be his rock but learn how to relax enough to maybe let him be hers, as well. But seduction doesn’t stop when the world seems to, and close encounters of the naked kind might just be the first step in something much more complicated than either of them bargained for. Life, though, is for living, after all.
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HOPE RESTORED releases July 25th, 2017 – preorder your copy now!
Chapter One of HOPE RESTORED
Sometimes, life was damn good. Other times, it kicked him in the balls until he couldn’t catch his breath. Today, luckily, was one of the good days. Murphy Gallagher grinned from ear to ear as he tried to run from his niece, Rowan. She was eleven now and getting pretty fast, but he was faster. Not that he’d actually run at his full speed around her. It was always more entertaining when she caught him and took him to her lair.
As he was the evil dragon to her warrior princess, it only made sense.
“Behold! My mighty sword that shall slay the dragon!”
Murphy bit his tongue so he wouldn’t start laughing, but seriously, where had Rowan learned to say things like that? Of course, she was almost a teenager now and probably a little too old to play princess and the dragon, but that wasn’t something Murphy would ever bring up. Her mom, Blake, had been married to Murphy’s brother, Graham, for a little while now. Murphy hadn’t known Rowan when she was little, and he had a lot of playing to catch up on being her favorite uncle.
Sure, his brothers Owen and Jake were decent uncles, as well, but he would always be the best. Jake was the artistic one, Owen the type-A, Graham the grumpy one, and Murphy was the fun one.
He had to play his part and make sure Rowan had the time of her life. She’d only had her mom to play with for years, and while Blake was a kickass mother who made sure Rowan had the best childhood, Murphy wanted to make sure Rowan had even more fun now.
Murphy rolled to the ground as Rowan jumped on his back, both of them laughing so hard they shook. He made sure to take the brunt of the impact so he wouldn’t hurt his niece. She giggled as she stabbed him with her imaginary sword, and he put his hand over his heart and gasped, feigning injury before letting his tongue hang out and groaning.
And… the dragon was dead.
“Victory!” Rowan stood up and started dancing near Murphy’s corpse like any dignified warrior princess was wont to do.
“It’s about time,” Graham said with a laugh as he walked out from the porch where the rest of the Gallaghers were sitting. “I thought you’d have gotten him within the first few minutes, Rowan.”
Murphy sat up as Rowan beamed at her stepdad, though she just called him “Dad” now. Murphy smiled as he remembered the first time Rowan had called his brother “Dad” in front of them. Every single Gallagher had choked up and didn’t bother shrugging it off. They might all be inked, bearded, and pierced, but Rowan referring to Graham as her father as if it were no big deal was a big fucking deal.
“I didn’t want my prey to feel like it didn’t put up a fight,” Rowan said solemnly.
Murphy barked a laugh. “Prey? Really? What shows are you watching these days?”
Rowan turned to him and rolled her eyes with the pro of a teenage girl, rather than the eleven-year-old she was. “It was from a book, duh. Uncle Border got me a whole set of books with dragons in them.”
Border was Jake’s husband and the quietest of their group, though Murphy knew Border and Jake’s wife, Maya, was slowly changing that. The triad had been together the longest out of the Gallagher relationships, and yet they still acted like newlyweds with the way they incessantly groped one another.
Come to think of it, Blake and Graham acted the same way. And, hell, Owen and Liz— newly engaged— made out relentlessly, as well. No wonder Liz and Blake were pregnant; their men couldn’t keep their hands off their women.
That, of course, meant that Murphy was the last single Gallagher. He didn’t mind, though. After all, someone had to bear the mantle of bachelorhood. Plus, he really wasn’t ready to start settling down yet. He’d just learned to live life as it was, no need to change everything so dramatically again.
And that was enough of that.
Murphy rolled his shoulders and took Graham’s outstretched hand, helping him to his feet. “It wasn’t Game of Thrones was it?” he asked his niece.
Rowan rolled her eyes again, and Graham narrowed his. “It wasn’t that, Uncle Murphy.”
“What did we say about rolling your eyes so much, Rowan? Use your words, not your attitude.”
Rowan blushed and looked down at her feet. “Sorry, Dad.”
Murphy did his best not to smile at the way Graham’s chest puffed out at that. Seriously, the man was like a damn peacock. And now that Blake was pregnant, his brother was even worse. It was as if he were the first man to get his wife pregnant. And considering Jake and Border already had a kid with Maya, and Owen’s fiancée Liz was also pregnant, it wasn’t as if babies were something totally new to their crew.
Though with the way everyone kept popping them out, Murphy made a mental note to buy more condoms. There was something in the water with all the pregnancy hormones flying around like they were.
Murphy followed father and daughter back to the porch and gingerly took a seat next to Liz’s former roommate and Owen’s neighbor, Tessa— the only other single person at the Gallagher family dinner. He’d hit the ground a bit hard when he rolled to make sure Rowan didn’t get hurt in her exuberance and now his muscles were feeling it. He was in damned good shape— had to be for his job— but, apparently, he needed more protein or something because his body made him feel like an old man.
Murphy looked at the brunette next to him. Tessa wasn’t a Gallagher, but she was the only family Liz had, even though they weren’t related by blood. Plus, it would have been awkward as hell to not have Tessa over since there wasn’t a fence separating the two yards at the moment. Owen had taken it down after a few of the boards rotted. Eventually, they’d put it back up.
Considering that the family owned a construction and restoration company, it wouldn’t take too long, but they actually had to find the time to do it. Murphy figured he’d be enlisted soon to take care of it since he was the only one without a pregnant significant other or kids to keep him busy. And it wasn’t like he minded. He liked being able to do things for his family since they’d spent so much of their lives doing things for him when he couldn’t do them for himself.
And that, once again, was enough of those thoughts.
“You okay, dear dragon?” Tessa asked with a wink before handing over a beer. He took it with a wink of his own. “Thanks, and yeah. That warrior princess is tough.”
She laughed and pulled her long, chestnut hair behind her shoulders. He hadn’t seen her wear it down for a while since she was always working and tended to do severe ponytails. He had to say, he kind of liked it better down. Not that he’d tell her that since she’d have his balls for breakfast if he did. Every single woman in the Gallagher’s circle tended to be a ballbuster, and while Murphy loved it, he didn’t want to lose his nuts. He liked them, what could he say.
“That she is, but I was serious. You hit the ground hard, and you winced when you sat down. Did you hurt yourself? Because you know, Murphy Gallagher, you may still be hot as fuck, but you’re not getting any younger.” She whispered the last part so the kids wouldn’t hear, and Murphy held back a snort.
Considering he’d spent most of his life praying that he’d have a chance to get older, he didn’t mind that he had a few more aches and pains now that he was in his thirties. Hell, he’d relish the day he got wrinkles and grey in his hair. That meant he was alive to witness his body changing. For a man who didn’t know if that would ever happen, it was his own form of bliss.
Of course, he didn’t tell Tessa any of that and wasn’t sure why he’d let his thoughts get that deep so suddenly. Tessa was a fantastic person and sexy as all get out, and he loved flirting with her, but there was no way he’d get into deep feelings or heavy conversation with her. Their dynamic worked because they joked around and kept things light— if a bit inappropriate at times. If he changed that, then things would get fucked up, and he didn’t want to jeopardize what they had. Hell, he didn’t want to jeopardize her position in the group.
Everything was better if they just remained friends that didn’t go too deep.
“Hey, Murphy, did you send over the files on the house?” Owen asked, a frown on his face as he looked at his phone. Liz was perched on his lap, their hands tangled over her baby bump. She was finally starting to show, and Murphy loved the way she glowed. She just finally seemed so at peace with being pregnant, though he knew that wasn’t always the case since the baby hadn’t exactly been planned.
He made another note to himself to buy condoms. He couldn’t be too careful these days.
“I did,” he answered before pulling out his phone to check his outgoing messages. “I thought you replied back.”
Owen let out a sigh. “Shit, I did. Sorry. Didn’t get much sleep last night.”
Murphy looked over at Tessa and winked since she loved joking with him, and she laughed before whistling. “What were you doing, Mr. Organized One, if you weren’t sleeping.”
Owen looked over to where Rowan held her cousin Noah, Jake’s son, and shook his head. “Perv,” his brother whispered. “I was up finishing the final details on Blake’s house.”
Blake looked over and widened her eyes. “It’s almost done? Really?”
Murphy didn’t blame his sister-in-law for the incredulous look. The Gallaghers had been working on Blake’s family home for over a year now and had hit every obstacle known to man, including a kidnapping and an injured worker thanks to Blake’s former in-laws. Murphy fisted his hands as he let the rage wash through him, remembering everything that Graham and Blake had gone through when they were dating.
“It’s almost done,” Graham said as he wrapped his arm around Blake’s middle, his large hand resting over Blake’s tiny baby bump. She wasn’t as far along as Liz, but she was close.
Blake wiped away tears and turned into Graham’s arms for a hug. Murphy blinked in surprise at Blake’s show of emotion since she usually hid what she felt so well. Either she was feeling more comfortable around them, or it was the baby hormones. Knowing Blake, it might be a little of both.
“I can’t believe it’s almost done,” Blake said after a moment. “I mean, I knew you had to be close, but…” She shook her head as if at a loss for words.
Maya came up and hugged Blake, even though Graham refused to let his wife go. “These guys are pretty amazing, aren’t they? And soon, you won’t have to deal with the house at all. It’ll be in the city’s hands and only a distant memory.” She kissed Blake’s temple before going back to take Noah out of Rowan’s arms.
Murphy didn’t know the whole story behind Blake’s childhood, but he knew it wasn’t good. She’d grown up affluent but with the worst kind of family. She’d run off as soon as she could, and had had Rowan when she was pretty young. And when her parents had died, they’d left the huge mansion in disrepair and neglect but had forced Blake through their will to oversee the restoration. The project had brought Graham and Blake together, but other than that, it had been a pain in the ass. And considering that Murphy loved jobs where he got to dive into the history of a place and see how to keep some of the past blended into the present, it was saying something that he truly wanted nothing more to do with the project.
The others began talking about the next steps involved in finishing up the house as well as what they would do next since their last big project hadn’t panned out thanks to shady deals and selfish businessmen. But Murphy just closed his eyes and let the breeze slide over him. He’d slept for shit the night before, and he wished it had been because of a woman. Instead, he hadn’t been feeling well and had tossed and turned all night.
“Hey, I’m going to go get the chips and salsa, want to help?” Tessa asked. She put her hand on his forearm, and he opened his eyes. Her hands were cold to the touch, but it could be that his skin was overheated. Ever since the chemo when he was younger, he had a hard time keeping a consistent body temperature. That’s what happened when you had leukemia when you were in grade school and again when you were a teenager. You dealt with the side effects for the rest of your life.
No wonder he was damn tired.
“Sure,” he said and sat up, taking a sip of his beer once he was on his feet. The others were still shooting the breeze and passing Noah around. The kid was getting pretty big since he was nearing one year old now. Or at least Murphy thought. He should probably check his calendar and make sure he hadn’t missed a birthday since their family kept growing.
He and Tessa made their way to the kitchen and got out the chips and three kinds of salsa and dip that they’d made for the barbeque. Tessa brushed by him on her way to the fridge, and his cock hardened.
He glared down at his crotch, annoyed with himself for once again getting hard around her. She was his friend. Sure, they flirted because it was fun, but they’d never fooled around, and there was no way they would now. They’d firmly put themselves into their roles, and he didn’t want to change that.
Of course, his dick had other ideas, but hell, Tessa was hot. She was tall, mostly leg, and had just enough curves that he knew he’d have plenty to hold onto when he fucked her from behind or held her up against the wall and pounded into her.
He would never be fucking Tessa against anything, thank you very much.
Tessa snuck a chip into the salsa and groaned. He did his best not to think about whether she’d groan like that under him, or over him… anywhere around him.
“This is so good. Here, taste.” She held out a chip with salsa on it, and he bent forward, taking it in one bite as he gently nipped at her fingers.
She swallowed hard before lowering her hand and giving him a sultry smile. “Like it?”
He nodded before swallowing. “Spicy.”
“I like a little heat, what can I say.”
He snorted and took a sip of his beer. He loved flirting with Tessa, even though he had to use his hands more often than not when she wasn’t around because she kept him in a perpetual state of arousal. He couldn’t help it. She was sexy and flirted better than anyone he’d ever met, but still, they were just friends.
Tessa took his beer from him since she hadn’t brought hers with her and took a sip, her eyes on him the whole time. He cleared his throat and looked away, only to glance at her breasts and notice that her nipples were hard pebbles against her very thin bra.
Damn, he could just bend her over the kitchen island and fuck her right there. Just slide her jeans down and fill that tight pussy with his dick. She’d cream for him, coming hard on his cock, and he’d fill her to the brim.
And… that wouldn’t be happening.
He shook off those thoughts, and Tessa gave him a knowing wink before handing back his beer. He took a deep swallow, finishing it off, and then tossed the bottle into the recycling can.
“Why didn’t you bring Brian?” he asked, keeping his mind on what was important. Like the fact that she was sort of dating a guy that wasn’t him.
Tessa laughed and picked up one of the trays of veggies they’d also taken out of the fridge. “His name is Brent, dork. We’re not that serious and still pretty new. There’s no way I’d bring him over to one of these. We’re just casual. And why didn’t you bring one of your many lady friends?”
“There aren’t that many, and I’m not seeing anyone serious right now.” In fact, now that he thought about it, he hadn’t been with a woman in over a month. Hell, no wonder he couldn’t get sex with Tessa off his mind. He just needed to get laid, and everything would work itself out.
Thoughts of Tessa just might kill him, but damn, he loved being her friend. Way better than any fucking amazing sex they might have.
“You’re never seeing anyone serious, Murph. It’s why we get along. Let the others be adults and get settled. We can live it up for the rest of them.”
She turned and sashayed from the room, and he did his best to keep his eyes off her very bitable ass. It wasn’t exactly easy since it was right there and practically speaking in tongues at him.
He followed Tessa out to the back deck and bent over the table to set everything down. He froze at Tessa’s gasp and looked over his shoulder.
“What is it?”
“What the fuck, Murphy?” she asked, pulling up his shirt. “What happened to you?”
He frowned and straightened, trying to see what the hell she was talking about. “Huh?”
“Jesus Christ,” Jake said shakily. “Your back, Murph. You’re black and blue.”
“What’s wrong with Uncle Murphy?” Rowan asked, her voice shaky.
Thunder pounded in Murphy’s ears, and he tried to process what everyone was saying, but they were all talking at once and trying to tug up his shirt. He pulled away from them and ran back into the house and into the nearest guest bathroom so he could check himself out in the mirror.
They had to be wrong or just fucking with him. Everything was fine. He was not black and blue. There was no way this could be happening again. He was healthy, damn it, and had been for a decade.
He wasn’t sick.
He wasn’t bruised.
But when he turned on the light and lifted up his shirt, he couldn’t think. Couldn’t speak. He’d looked at himself that morning after he got out of the shower, and the bruises hadn’t been here. Yet his side and what he could see of his back were covered in newly formed bruises. They weren’t bad yet, but he knew they’d grow.
They always did.
“Murphy,” Tessa whispered from the doorway. “I… Murphy…”
He met her eyes in the mirror and tried to think of something to say to brush this off, but he couldn’t. He knew what the bruises meant. He’d seen them before. Every single little ache and pain, infected scratch from the jobsite, mood swing, and fever over the past few weeks came back to him in a rush.
His cancer was back.
And he had no idea what the fuck he was going to do about it.
HOPE RESTORED releases July 25th, 2017 – preorder your copy now!
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About Carrie Ann Ryan
Carrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 2.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over fifty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.
One Love by Christie Ridgway is LIVE!
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 18th
ADD TO YOUR TBR >> http://bit.ly/2tbwlaU
Mackenzie Walker is attempting to enjoy the last of her siblings’ weddings when her long-lost first love, Alexander “Zan” Elliott, crashes the reception. During the last ten years she’s cultivated her reputation as tough and unsentimental, but one glimpse of Zan softens her heart and sets her pulse racing. But he claims to be a short-timer in the area and she’ll never admit—not even to herself—she’s been carrying a torch for him all this time.
Zan Elliott has business at Blue Arrow Lake and then he’ll go right back to his wandering-the-world life as a documentary filmmaker. But seeing the Walkers again, seeing Mac again, brings back the best of childhood memories. There are lessons he learned then too, however. Love means loss and starting things up once more with Mac might ultimately hurt them both. Yet battling his feelings is getting more difficult by the day…
Winter is anything but cold in the snowy mountains surrounding beautiful Blue Arrow Lake as a reunion between two former lovers sparks a brand new fire.
This is an enhanced version of a book previously published as CAN’T FIGHT THIS FEELING and includes extras.