WISH YOU WERE HERE by Renée Carlino

 

You know when you’re looking at someone and you can’t help but smile at how oblivious they are to their own charm? That’s what was happening to me, and it was making me feel…happy. Euphoric. Something indescribable. It was like we already knew each other, like we had met in a previous life. Memories that didn’t exist began exploding in my mind like fireworks. 

Charlotte has spent her twenties adrift, searching for a spark to jump-start her life and give her a sense of purpose. She’s had as many jobs as she’s had bad relationships, and now she’s feeling especially lost in her less-than-glamorous gig at a pie-and-fry joint in Los Angeles, where the uniforms are bad and the tips are even worse.

Then she collides—literally—with Adam, an intriguing, handsome, and mysterious painter. Their serendipitous meeting on the street turns into a whirlwind one-night stand that has Charlotte feeling enchanted by Adam’s spontaneity and joy for life. There’s promise in both his words and actions, but in the harsh light of morning, Adam’s tune changes, leaving Charlotte to wonder if her notorious bad luck with men is really just her own bad judgment.

Months later, a new relationship with Seth, a charming baseball player, is turning into something more meaningful, but Charlotte’s still having trouble moving past her one enthralling night with Adam. Why? When she searches for answers, she finds the situation with Adam is far more complicated than she ever imagined. Faced with the decision to write a new story with Seth or finish the one started with Adam, Charlotte embarks on a life-altering journey, one that takes her across the world and back again, bringing a lifetime’s worth of pain, joy, and wisdom.

 

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“You’re making love sound tragic,” I said.

“No”—he shook his head—“I wouldn’t want it any other way. Tell me about us. What do we like to do?”

“Paint and sail and eat and drink. Just simple things.” “Don’t forget about sex,” he said.
“Yeah, lots of sex. Before the children were born we

“We were practically naked every second of the day.”

“I like that.”

“When they got older, we’d sneak away for weekends and leave them at my mom’s.”

“What are they like? Our children.”

“Happy. That’s all we wished for. We put our love first and it just spilled over into them and now they’re happy.”

Tears sprang from my eyes and ran down my cheeks. Isn’t that what we all hope for when it comes to our children?

His tone suddenly changed. “That’s beautiful, Char- lotte.” It was like he was waking up from the dream. I didn’t want to go back to reality yet, but I knew these fantasies were just to help Adam get his mind off things.

“I can imagine a long life with you,” he said. “I can imagine what a great wife you’d be.”

I pulled my hand out of his. “The story is about you and me.” He didn’t say anything; he just nodded and then continued to stare out the window. I bent and kissed the top of his head again, and whispered, “It’s about us. Don’t take that away from me.”

 

 

 

 

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com

 

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THE LEARNING HOURS by Sara Ney

 

He’s not a douchebag;

but that doesn’t stop his friends from

turning him into one.

 

 

MY FRIENDS WANT ME TO GET LAID.

So much so that they plastered my ugly mug all over campus, in bold printed letters:

Are you the lucky lady who’s going to break our roommate’s cherry?

Him: socially awkward man with average-sized penis looking for willing sexual partner. You: must have pulse. Text him at: 555-254-5551

The morons can’t even spell. And the texts I’ve been receiving are what wet dreams are made of. But I’m not like these douchebags, no matter how hard they try to turn me into one.

THIS ISN’T THE KIND OF ATTENTION I WANT.

One text stands out from hundreds. One number I can’t bring myself to block. She seems different. Hotter, even in black and white.

 

However, after seeing her in person, I know she’s not the girl for me. But my friends won’t let up—they just don’t get it. Douchebags or not, there’s one thing they’ll never understand: GIRLS DON’T WANT ME.

Especially her.

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He’s seated at a table in the far corner when I spot him from the door. He’s not hard to miss—not with his purple t-shirt in a sea of black and yellow, and wavy mussed hair.

He’s slouching, hunched over his table.

Defeated. Tired.

My stomach rolls with nerves, nerves that have me rooted to the spot in the doorway, watching him.
Just watching.

For the entire four minutes I stand here, he sits immobile, studying his laptop, eyes moving along the screen, completely transfixed by whatever he’s reading.

Learning.

“Just go over there,” I whisper to myself, blowing out a puff of pent-up air.

I put one foot in front of the other and begin toward him, spine ramrod straight, steeling myself, prepared for another argument.

Twenty feet.

Fifteen.

Eight.

Two.

“Hi.”

No reply.

“Do you mind if I sit here?” I lay my hand on the back of the wooden chair across from him, intending to pull it out.

He stiffens but doesn’t lift his head. “Yes I mind.”

“Would you mind if I sat at the table next to you?” I’m pushing his buttons, looking for a reaction, but he only spares me a brief glance.

Shrugs. “Free country.”

I bite my lip to hide a smile, glad he didn’t tell me to take a hike…

 

 

 

Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.

She lives with her husband, children, and her ridiculously large dog.

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SIGHT UNSEEN by #SUWHO

 

Have you picked up the SIGHT UNSEEN anthology? It features five intriguing, sexy, and surprising stories from five incredible authors – but you don’t know who wrote which story – YET. The reveal is coming soon, but in the mean time, we’re sharing the opening of each of the five stories, one per week! Check it out below and pick up your copy now!

 

About SIGHT UNSEEN

What stories would you tell if you could? Where would your mind take you, if you let it? Five of the top voices in romance dare you to explore the most distant corners of their imaginations as they test the limits of storytelling and break the boundaries of what even they thought possible, teasing and tormenting you shamelessly as they go.

But there’s a twist—the author of each story is a secret at the time of release. They’re each plumbing the depths of the human heart and mind in ways they’ve never attempted before. Taking you high, bringing you low, until you will be hardpressed to guess who wrote what. Can you tell? Want us to?

Too bad our lips are sealed . . . for now. 

Lost That Feeling

Alma knew who she was, once—that is, before she erased her memory with a spell. Some, like the guards at the prison in which she’s held, say that she was a thief, a murderer.

Others say she was a hero. Like Driss, the man who rescues her. He claims to be a friend. He’s certainly handsome. And charming. And brave. In a word: perfect.

That’s the problem. If he’s perfect and she’s a hero, how did she end up in prison with a seven-year hole in her memory to begin with?

A Clear View of You

As a child, Kate had one dream: to escape her mother’s deluded hippie commune and live in the real world, where mature adults know that magic isn’t real. But the real world also has its downsides—like rent, student loans, and a cutthroat job market.

Happily, Kate is uniquely qualified for one in-demand position: psychic. Of course, she’s as fake as the rest of them, but nobody plays a fortune-teller as convincingly as a girl raised by a would-be witch. If only Kate’s newest client weren’t so perceptive . . . and attractive. If only crystal balls didn’t have the habit of lighting up in his presence.

Magic isn’t real, right? Kate is about to find out otherwise . . .

Free

Brad White would be an ordinary accountant with an unrequited crush except for two things: he works for a criminal motorcycle club, and he’s in love with the club president’s daughter. When she discovers the truth about the family business, Brad has to move beyond ordinary and put his life on the line to keep her safe.

Wren Masters, unlike everyone else in her graduating class, chose to stay in Fallow, Montana because, also unlike everyone else, she loves it. But when she finds out her father’s club is running drugs, her family and world crumble. She and Brad risk everything to uncover the truth . . . and begin a scorching affair.

As the conspiracy—and their feelings—deepen, Brad and Wren must choose between family and justice. And neither seems to include a future for them.

 Chariot of Desire

CJ Crespo, drummer for the once wildly popular rock band Donjon, has always had a thing for frontman Donny Times. They spent the seventies getting high together, making music together, self-destructing together. But her qualms about ruining a creative partnership with sex kept them from ever hooking up. Now, Donny’s conversion to a bizarre fringe religion that won’t allow him to engage in—or even sing about—sex, drugs, or other “sins” threatens to tear Donjon apart.

As the band struggles to embrace a new decade and a new Donny, CJ must decide where she belongs: by Donny’s side, even if he can’t ever love her? Or out there making her own music, away from a man who gives and takes in equal measures?

The Heart is a Universe

On the remote planet of Pax Cara lies the greatest secret of the universe. Once every generation, the inhabitants must offer up an exceptional young person—the Chosen One—who sacrifices his or her own life for the sake of that secret, and the planet itself.

However, Vitalis, the current Chosen One, is desperate to free herself from the yoke of destiny. An unexpected invitation to an aristocratic summit seems to be the perfect opportunity for escape. But almost as soon as she arrives, the most eligible prince in existence proposes marriage.

Sparks fly, but Vitalis is wary. Eleian of Terra Illustrata can have any woman he wants. Why has he set his sight on Vitalis, who, unless she manages to flee, will die in sixteen days? Is he hiding an ulterior motive, one that could put everything in jeopardy—her plans, her life, and her heart?

Get your hands on SIGHT UNSEEN:

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Read the opening of A CLEAR VIEW OF YOU:

Monday afternoon at five o’clock was not a good time to pick up chips and a sports drink. The line to the cashier felt like the front of a war zone. The enemy—armed with shopping carts, crying children, and cell phones—was making a last-minute siege.

If I’d known, I would have just gone to the 7-11, Kate thought. Sometimes she wished she were a real psychic, instead of a fake one. Things would be so much easier.

She sighed and shifted her weight. The giant thermometer on the wall read ninety-one degrees—a record for late November. On the wall behind the checkout counter, a giant plastic turkey squawked Season’s Greetings! Overhead, a Christmas soundtrack was piping in through the sound system. Crappy speakers. Frank Sinatra sounded like Betty Boop. God, she was hungover.

Some stiff in a suit rolled his cart right over her toe. She yelped and turned to glare, but he was already elbowing his way through the next line, completely oblivious. She transferred her glare to her shoes. Birkenstocks. Symbol of all she loathed. Given the choice, she’d be in heels. But after her little argument with Luna last week, she knew better than to show up at work in civilian gear. Her boss’s patience was stretched thin. One more screw-up, and Kate would be back in the unemployment line—and worse yet, out on the street. She was already late on this month’s rent.

Is that why you blew thirty bucks at the bar last night?

She found herself chewing a nail. There went her manicure. Annoyed, she started to push her hands into the back pockets of her jeans—and realized too late she wasn’t wearing any. Dozens of little bells burst off her floor-length skirt, plummeting and jingling to the floor.

People turned to look. One middle-aged woman did a double take, then smirked.

Kate frowned. So what? She was dressed as a New Age hippie; no big deal. This was Berkeley, after all. Some people didn’t wear any clothes.

About the Authors:

 Emma Barry

Emma Barry is a novelist, full-time mama, and recovering academic. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves hugs from her twins, her husband’s cooking, her cat’s whiskers, her dog’s tail, and Earl Grey tea. You can find her on the web at www.authoremmabarry.com.

Meredith Duran

Meredith Duran is the author of eleven novels, all published by Pocket Books. Her debut, The Duke of Shadows, has been translated into thirteen languages and together with her sophomore book, Bound by Your Touch, was ranked among the top 100 romances of all time in the 2010 All About Romance poll. Her other books include RITA award winner Fool Me Twice; Wicked Becomes You, which was included on Woman’s World list of Best Beach Reads for Summer 2010; and her February 2017 release, A Lady’s Code of Misconduct, which both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly called “flawlessly executed” in their starred reviews.

Meredith blames Anne Boleyn for sparking her lifelong obsession with British history, and for convincing her that princely love is no prize if it doesn’t come with a happily-ever-after. When not writing, Meredith enjoys collecting old etiquette manuals, guidebooks to nineteenth century London, and travelogues by intrepid Victorian women.

Connect with Meredith at MeredithDuran.com.

J.A. Rock

J.A. Rock is the author or coauthor of over twenty LGBTQ romance, suspense, and horror novels, as well as an occasional contributor to HuffPo Queer Voices. J.A. has received Lambda Literary and INDIEFAB Award nominations for Minotaur, and The Subs Club received the 2016 National Leather Association-International Pauline Reage Novel Award. J.A. lives in Chicago with an extremely judgmental dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.

Website: www.jarockauthor.com

Blog: http://jarockauthor.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jarockauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ja.rock.39

Erin Satie

Erin Satie is the author of the dark and elegant No Better Angels series, historical romances set in the early Victorian period. She’s currently hard at work on her upcoming series, Sweetness & Light, which should be just as elegant but not quite so dark.

Erin is a California native who’s lived on the coasts and in the heartland, in tiny city apartments and on a working farm. She studied art history in both college and graduate school—research is always her favorite part of starting a new book.

Her favorite part of finishing a book, whether reading or writing, is the happily ever after.

Website: www.erinsatie.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/erinsatie/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/erinsatie

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/2DiAf

 Sherry Thomas

USA Today-bestselling author Sherry Thomas loves intricate plots, explosive action, and combustible love stories. She has written romance, fantasy, mystery, and a wuxia-inspired duology. Her books regularly receive starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications, including such outlets as the New York Times and National Public Radio. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award.

And by the way, English is her second language.

You can find out more about Sherry’s books at SherryThomas.com.

BENEATH THE TRUTH by Meghan March

 

 

 

From USA Today bestselling author Meghan March comes the final sexy standalone set in the Beneath world of New Orleans.

I used to believe there were lines in life you don’t cross.
Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal.
Until I learned people don’t always practice what they preach.
I turned in my badge and gun and walked away from everything.
Then I got the call no one wants, and I’m back in New Orleans.
What I don’t expect is for her to be here too.
Another line you don’t cross?
Don’t touch your best friend’s little sister.
She’s always been off-limits.
Too bad I don’t follow the rules anymore.

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“Fine. If you don’t want to play me, I’m sure there’s someone in this bar who will.”

She rose from the bar stool and smoothed her dress down her thighs. I swore it looked longer at the cemetery than it did right now, inching up her toned legs. The shoulders and chest were sheer black lace, as sophisticated as could be, but the lace took on a sexier edge in the dim light of the bar. I’d lay money on her being the classiest thing this place had ever seen. And damn, what those heels did for her . . .

I ripped my gaze away from her ass to focus on her face.

Her lips flattened in obstinate challenge before she strutted toward the pool table. And yeah, I used the word strutted because there was no other way to describe how she walked in those stilettos now that her attitude was flaring.

Heads turned to follow her progress, and two guys jumped off their stools to follow her.

Oh, hell no. Not a chance, assholes.

I pushed off my seat and stalked toward her. Ari’s back was to me when I stopped behind her at the cue rack. She spun around, unaware of my presence, and smacked into my chest, a pool stick trapped between us. She sucked in a breath, jerking her head up.

“Sorry. Didn’t realize you were so close.”

Years ago, she never would have lost track of where I was if we were in the same room. The realization was a blow to my ego, although not unexpected. I no longer made the cut on her priority list, and that stung.

Rather than move and give her space, I reached around her to snag a cue off the rack, letting my arm brush her shoulder.

Ah . . . there it is. Her facial expression remained static, but her involuntary shiver gave her away. Maybe I’m not off the list completely.

I didn’t know why it mattered, but after the last few brutal days, I needed something good to distract me from the shit show that was my life. And there was no doubt in my mind that Ariel Sampson was everything good.

Her spine straightened and she bobbed around me, avoiding contact in favor of racking the balls and lining them up.

“Do you want to break?” she asked.

“Ladies first.”

Ari rolled her eyes and reached for the chalk. With her stick prepped, she leaned over the edge of the table, her ass jutting out and the hem of her dress riding up her thigh.

Lord . . . I groaned silently. This was torture.

Haven’t I been through enough? I tossed the question skyward and received no sign the big man had heard me.

I tore my gaze off her ass and scanned the bar. Mistake. My fist tightened around the pool cue as a reflex, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t use it to smack every jerk in this bar back into line if they didn’t quit staring. Double standard? Sure. But I didn’t care.

With a step behind her, I blocked the most direct view and turned to glare at all of them. Thankfully, Heath’s interest was hooked on the waitress working our table. One by one, the gazes dropped away, and I turned back to Ari, marginally satisfied that they picked up what I was throwing down. Off-limits, assholes.

Ari cursed and stood up straight, leaning lightly on her pool cue. “Dammit. I had that shot.”

I scanned the green felt and found half her balls were missing. “Jesus, what were you doing? Trying to clear the table?”

Her nose went up in the air. “Trying? If I wanted to clear the table, it would be clear. It’s just angles.”

“Brainiac as always.”

Ari shrugged, but I caught a hint of a smile. “Didn’t you hear? It’s cool to be a geek now.”

I had no doubt that wherever she lived in California, she was exactly what was cool. Shit, she had every man’s attention in this bar.

“You were always cool in my book, Red. My turn.” Even though I wanted to wait for her smile, I chalked my cue and sank two shots before missing the third.

“Not bad.” Her nonchalant tone made me grin.

“I try.”

Her eyes finally locked on mine. “I succeed.”

Hell. Why was that statement so damned sexy coming from her lips?

She pushed off her pool cue and spun around to face the table again, her dress sliding up another inch as she bent over the table.

My dick pulsed against my jeans.

Heath is going to kill me.

 

 

 

 

 

meghanmarchpic

Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

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FOR 100 REASONS by Lara Adrian

Today we are so excited to be sharing an exclusive excerpt from New York Times Bestselling Author Lara Adrian’s FOR 100 REASONS, the conclusion to the sexy, suspenseful 100 series.

Love takes no prisoners…

Billionaire Dominic Baine stepped into Avery Ross’s life when it was at its lowest. Obsessed with the beautiful, struggling artist, Nick was determined to have her. What began as a scorching seduction soon burned out of control, exploding into a white-hot passion neither of them could deny.

Yet Nick and Avery are two damaged people, both haunted by dark secrets with the power to destroy them. And for Nick, the ugly past that shaped him cannot compare to the unforgivable deception that drives Avery from his arms, from his life. Now the man accustomed to having everything he desires must find a way to redeem himself to the only woman he has ever loved.

Avery Ross has known heartbreak. She has known betrayal and loss, but nothing like the pain that loving Dominic Baine has brought into her life. Reeling from the aftermath of his devastating revelation, instead of allowing despair to break her, she builds herself into something stronger—the fearless woman and artist Nick’s passion has taught her to be. Yet her heart is in pieces, and despite everything she has, the one thing she needs is the man whose possessive desires and consuming love holds the power to either save them both or shatter her forever…

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Excerpt

I close the door and lean against it with a heavy sigh after Nick returns to his car.

What does it say about me that I can spend two hours looking after my terminally ill friend yet come home feeling sorry for myself when Nick practically ditches me at my front door? I feel adrift in my own house, left alone with just my thoughts and my worry for the friend I already feel slipping away from me.

It’s too late at night to call Tasha or my mom, and when I phoned Lita from Kathryn’s to update her on the situation, she informed me that she’d caught a cab home from the auction and was headed to bed.

That’s where I should be heading too. That is, if I had any hope of going to bed and not lying there for the next several hours thinking about Nick.

Wanting him.

Needing the kind of contentment and comfort I’ve only ever felt in his arms.

I pick up my phone, my fingers itching with the urge to dial his number. I could ask him to come back. I know he would. I also know that if I’d invited him into my home tonight, into my bed, we’d be crossing a threshold with no turning back.

If we try to return to each other again and fail, it will be for the last time. For my own sake, for my sanity, it would have to be.

As much as I wish I had Nick’s strength to lean on, I’m not sure I’m ready to face that much finality in one night.

Instead I head upstairs to take a shower and try to relax. A few minutes under the hot water soothes my tired muscles. It washes away the tears I refused to let fall in front of Kathryn.

What it doesn’t soothe or wash away are my thoughts of Nick.

My longing to be with him.

Those feelings cling to me as I wrap myself in a short silk kimono and pad across my bedroom rug to draw the blinds. It’s still pouring outside, rain pelting wetly against the windows and sweeping in waves over the street below.

The street where Nick’s black BMW still sits parked at my curb.

“What the hell?”

He’s here? When did he come back? Or did he ever go at all?

It doesn’t matter. He’s here. I step back from the window in surprise, swamped by a selfish elation I can’t deny.

Then I’m racing down the stairs and out the front door, barefoot. Breathless.

Puddles on the pavement slosh against my feet as I round the front of the car to the driver’s side. I pound the flat of my hand against the window, a single knock that brings Nick’s head up sharply.

Our eyes meet through the water-streaked glass. He’s sitting in the darkened car, the engine turned off. He scowls, his lips parting on a silent curse as currents of rain sluice off my nose and chin.

The door pops open. I step aside as he climbs out of the car, an apology in his gaze. “I couldn’t leave. Damn it, I tried to, but–”

I don’t give him the chance to finish. With my hands holding his face, I drag him down to meet my kiss. His answering groan is animal, filled with the same yearning that’s coursing wildly through me.

We’re drenched in seconds. His white dress shirt plasters against his broad shoulders and chest. My thin kimono practically melts around me. Neither of us seems notice or care. Nothing can cool the urgency of our kiss.

Nick’s mouth moves hungrily over mine, our faces wet from the rain, our lips fused and fevered. His large hands hold me close to him, one palm splayed at my back, the other cradling my nape beneath the sodden tangle of my hair. His muscles flex, then in an instant he’s pivoted, turning me around so that I’m pinned between the closed door of the BMW and the firm heat of his body. He crowds in closer, still kissing me madly, our bodies crushed together everywhere they can, melding my soft curves to his hard planes.

I moan with the need for deeper contact. There’s no use trying to deny what he does to me. Just one kiss and I’m his for the taking already.

Again.

Always.

 

See where it all started with FOR 100 DAYS and FOR 100 NIGHTS

 

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 they 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.

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FOR 100 NIGHTS

Passion knows no bounds…

Avery Ross is living a dream. After struggling all of her life to make ends meet, a change 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 love, 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 heat. 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.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

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THE BARS BETWEEN US by A.S. Teague

Today we have the blog tour for The Bars Between Us by A.S. Teague!! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!!

Title: The Bars Between Us

Author: A.S. Teague

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About The Bars Between Us:

I don’t have a damn thing in common with the beautiful rich girl who walks in to my bar. She’s southern class, fancy cars, and designer shoes.

I’ve got a drunk for a mother, a cheater for a father, and a reputation for trouble I’ve more than earned.

I look the other way, pretending I don’t notice how perfect she is. She wouldn’t give me the time of day anyway. Until she shatters that first impression and shows me she’s so much more––everything I never thought I deserved.

After a lifetime of being a disappointment, I want to prove to her that I’m better than my past.

We have one tragic thing in common, and the thread that binds us together will tear us apart as it unravels.

Are we strong enough to break through the Bars Between Us?

 

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 Excerpt

Grace

I let out a frustrated sigh and turn the engine back on.  After putting the car in reverse, I begin backing out of the space, my gaze still glued to the river in front of me. I should focus on work, on my new beginning, on anything except a man that had been short and snappy with me the day before.

A sharp banging pulls me back to reality and I slam on the brake, my eyes darting to the rearview mirror.

My stomach drops when I realize there’s someone behind my car.

I almost hit a person!

I throw the car in park and jump out.

“I’m so sorry!” I shout as I fight off a wave of nausea.

The man’s brows are drawn together, his mouth twisted in a scowl. But the moment our eyes meet, his face relaxes.

It’s Bronn, the bartender.

“Oh my God! I am so so sorry,” I sputter, rushing over to him. “Did I hit you?”

My stomach is still threatening to revolt, but instinct takes over. I run my hands over his arms, looking for any signs of injury.  His low chuckle causes me to pause, my arms lingering on his muscular biceps.

“I’m fine. You didn’t hit me.” His voice is filled with humor, and I look up to see that he’s no longer glowering at me.

When I realize that I’m still touching him, my relief flips to embarrassment, and I snatch my hands away.  Unsure of what to do with them, I shove my hands into the pockets of my shorts and rock back on my heels.

His face that was so serious yesterday is lit with a smile, and my breath catches at the brilliance of it.

Dear Lord, he’s beautiful.

He’d probably lament the fact that I use that word, but there’s just no other way to describe him.  If I thought he was attractive yesterday, then today, with the wide smile that’s still gracing his face, he’s almost entering god-like status.

My belly somersaults as he continues to smile at me, and I fight to keep my voice steady. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

He crosses his arms over his broad chest and my eyes are once again drawn to the colorful markings that cover them. “So, where ya headed in such a hurry this afternoon?”

Unable to drag my gaze away, I stumble over my words. “Oh, well, uh, I spent the morning unpacking and realized I hadn’t eaten much.  Thought I’d find somewhere for a late lunch.”

I’m nervous and can barely think. It makes no sense.  It’s not like I’ve never been in the presence of an attractive man before. Maybe it’s the fact that I nearly ran him over, but whatever it is, I can’t stop the squeak in my voice and the shake of my hand as I answer his questions.

His eyebrows rise. “You already eat?”

I shake my head. “No.” I’m not even hungry anymore.

He pulls a toothpick out of his pocket and sticks it between his teeth, his lips still slightly tipped up in a smile.

“Well, I’m on my way into the bar, but I was gonna stop and grab some food first.  I wouldn’t be opposed to some company.”

Is he asking me to eat with him?

“Oh, no. I couldn’t impose.” I mean, I want to, but I know that I shouldn’t.

Looking me over, he insists. “A meal with you would not be a hardship, I assure you.”

Suddenly the hunger returns. Stronger than ever.

Lunch with him wouldn’t be a hardship either. He’s easy on the eyes, and surely the conversation can’t be any more awkward than it was yesterday. Besides, I need a way to make up for almost killing him with my car. “Well, buying you lunch would be the least I could do after almost running you over.”

About the Author:

A.S. Teague enjoys the warmth of South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. The stereotypes about peach cobbler and sweet tea are not overstated. After years in the medical field, she is now enjoying every minute of being a stay-at-home mom. She loves wine, the beach, wine on the beach, and crying at Disney movies. When she doesn’t have a book in her hand, she can be found pestering her husband with pictures of animals she wants to rescue, as well as debating whether to exercise or take a nap.

 

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EYES ON YOU by Laura Kaye

 

 

From New York Times Bestselling author Laura Kaye, comes EYES ON YOU, a new novella in her Blasphemy Series, brought to you by 1,001 Dark Nights! Be sure to grab your copy today!

 

 

About EYES ON YOU (Blasphemy #3):

She wants to explore her true desires, and he wants to watch…

When a sexy stranger asks Wolf Henrikson to rescue her from a bad date, he never expected to want the woman for himself. But their playful conversation turns into a scorching one-night stand that reveals the shy beauty gets off on the idea of being seen, even if she’s a little scared of it, too. And Wolf loves to watch.

In the wake of discovering her fiancé’s infidelity, florist Olivia Foster never expected to find someone who not only understood her wildest, darkest fantasies, but would bring them to life. As Wolf introduces her to his world at the play club, Blasphemy, Liv finds herself tempted to explore submission and exhibitionism with the hard-bodied Dom even as she’s scared to trust again.

But Wolf is a master of getting what he wants—and he’s got his eyes set on her…

 

 

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EXCERPT

Wolf Henrikson watched the sexy stranger flee her table like it was the Titanic and the bathroom was the last available lifeboat. And he couldn’t say that he blamed her. He hadn’t been trying to eavesdrop on the couple’s conversation; it was only that every time the man spoke to anyone from the restaurant’s staff, he shouted like he wanted to make the scene he was in fact making.

What the hell was the cute brunette doing with such an a**hole anyway? The few times he’d looked around to see if his dinner companion had arrived, he’d noticed the woman sitting not too far away—and she’d made him do a double take every time. Between her glossy chocolate waves, the bright red paint on her bow-tie lips, and the vintage-style red dress with the plunging neckline and the full knee-length skirt, she had the sex appeal of a pinup girl. He couldn’t help wondering if she wore garters and thigh-highs beneath that skirt.

Wolf almost regretted that he no longer had any reason to stay at the bar because the scene playing out at the nearby table was like a train wreck he couldn’t stop watching. And, oh, he did enjoy watching. People were just so fucking interesting, even when they were off their damn rockers.

But the prospective submissive he’d been planning to meet—in public, at her request—had just called to let him know she’d gotten cold feet. He respected the honesty. The BDSM lifestyle wasn’t for everyone, and it wasn’t something he recommended anyone explore frivolously. But the change in plans left him at loose ends.
Actually, that feeling was a constant presence in his blood these days. Restlessness. Boredom.  

Dissatisfaction without really being able to pinpoint why.

In anticipation of the meeting, he’d only had water, but he dropped a few dollars on the bar anyway, then pushed off the stool and made for the restrooms at the back. Blasphemy would be hopping soon, and even though he wasn’t scheduled to work a shift, he could no doubt find a willing partner to play with there. Though he was one of the twelve Master Dominants and a one-twelfth owner of the city’s most exclusive BDSM club, Wolf’s particular kink didn’t require all the equipment and special rooms that some did. Really, voyeurism and exhibitionism could be enjoyed anywhere. Which was kinda the point.

As long as he could watch, or knew others were watching, or was with someone who got off on being watched, he was all kinds of good.
Or, at least, he used to be.

 

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About Laura Kaye:

New York Times and USA Today bestseller Laura Kaye is the author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Laura grew up amid family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses, cementing her life-long fascination with storytelling and the supernatural. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Laura is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Maryland Romance Writers, and she is past president of the RWA-Contemporary Romance Writers.

 

 

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STUBBORN AS A MULE by Juliette Poe

 

 

 

 

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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Excerpt

“Looking good, Lowe Mancinkus,” I hear a woman call out as I stretch upward to paint the top of the frame around the window. Turning my head to look over my shoulder, I see Lynette Carnes getting ready to walk into Sweet Cakes across the street. She’s our town’s very own Daisy Duke. By that, I mean she struts around in miniscule jean shorts, high heels, and a sleeveless blouse tied off just underneath her very ample chest.

She’s definitely nice to look at, although she doesn’t have much going on above the cleavage.

“Morning, Lynette,” I call back. “Lookin’ good yourself.”

She grins and blows a kiss at me before walking into Larkin’s shop.

The front door opens and Mely steps out onto the porch, carrying a cup of coffee. There’s no doubt in my mind she witnessed that exchange from the other side of the doorway. It’s obvious by the pinched expression she has on her face. Still, she brings the coffee over to me and sets it on the porch rail.

“Thanks, darlin’,” I tell her as I go back to brushing paint over the layer of primer I’d put on a few hours ago. I’d decided to work half a day here at Mainer House, not because I was anxious to get the work done, but because I wanted to be around Melinda Rothschild.

She may not be strutting around in little shorts and a low-cut blouse, but she is most definitely a prettier picture than I’ve ever seen around these parts. She’s wearing a white sundress with a halter top, and her shoulders are lightly tanned with tiny freckles. Her legs are long, bare, and perfectly adorned with nothing more than a pair of simple white sandals. Her silky blonde hair is pulled away from her face at the top of her head and she looks like a breath of fresh air.

Mely leans against the porch rail, crosses her arms low under her breasts, and watches me work for a minute. I wonder if she likes what she sees.

I think so.

There was going to be another kiss last night if Morri hadn’t managed to ruin that little moment. And while I’d never stoop to mention this to Mely, I’m pretty sure he’d been hovering at the top of the stairs, just waiting to ruin it.

“Much better than hot pink,” Mely says as I continue to apply paint to the casing. I have no clue what the hell I was thinking when I painted her house pink. It was an attention getter and since the two people whose attention it got were Mely and Judge Bowe, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out I might have been pulling on her metaphorical pigtails a bit.

“I should have this finished by tomorrow,” I tell her. “Then all will be right again.”

“Odd since it took you a single night to do the damage,” she quips. I don’t look back at her, but I hear the laughter in her voice.

“Well, neon pink isn’t all that easy to cover up,” I tell her with a laugh.

She snickers and I can’t believe she was trying to get me thrown in jail last week. My how the mighty have fallen.

“When in Rome and all that,” Mely says and I turn to look at her from my perch on the ladder. She jerks her chin over her shoulder in the direction of Sweet Cakes. “Is that the standard southern girl uniform?”

Chuckling, I cut my eyes over to Sweet Cakes where sexy Lynette just disappeared into. I’m not about to tell Mely that I have actual carnal knowledge about that southern girl, even if it was back in my younger years.

Looking back to Mely, I take in her stylishly sweet dress that doesn’t reveal much but is still sexy at the same time. Giving her a wink, I say, “There’s nothing standard about you, Melinda Rothschild, so I’m advising you to stay away from that look. I think you’re mighty fine just the way you are.”

 

 

 

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.

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THE BEAUTY OF US by Kristen Proby

 

 

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 get to know Trevor and Riley!

 

 

About THE BEAUTY OF US:

New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby delivers another sizzling novel in her delectable and sexy Fusion series.

Riley Gibson is over the moon at the prospect of having her restaurant, Seduction, on the Best Bites TV network. This could be the big break she’s been waiting for. But the idea of having an in-house show on a regular basis is a whole other matter. Their lives would be turned upside down, and convincing Mia, her best friend and head chef of Seduction, that having cameras in her kitchen every day is a good idea is daunting. Still, Riley knows it’s an opportunity she can’t afford to pass on. And when she meets Trevor Cooper, the show’s executive producer, she’s stunned by their intense chemistry.

Trevor’s sole intention is to persuade Riley to allow Best Bites TV to do a show on her restaurant. But when he walks into Riley’s office, he stops dead in his tracks. The professional, aloof woman on the phone is incredibly beautiful and funny. But can he convince her that he’s interested in Riley for himself? Or is he using the undeniable pull between them to persuade her to agree to his offer?

 

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And Don’t Miss the First Three Novels in the Fusion Series, LISTEN TO ME, CLOSE TO YOU, and BLUSH FOR ME!

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

~Trevor~

I didn’t sleep worth shit last night. I waited for a response to my e-mail from Riley for a while; I’m not exactly sure why. I just don’t like the thought of her being embarrassed.

Because she has no reason to be. She didn’t know who I was, and it was closing time. She was venting to her friends.

It’s really no big deal.

But I could see the mortification in her big blue eyes when she realized who I was, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

When no response came, and for all I know she hasn’t even read the e-mail yet, I sat down for a game on the PS4. I don’t travel anywhere without it. Some people read to unwind. Some go to the gym, and there are times I do the same. But to truly relax, I enjoy gaming. I have since I was a kid.

So I settled in the apartment the network has rented for me this month and played online with my friends, talking about our days and shooting the enemy.

We played well past midnight, and I usually would have gone right to bed afterward, but my mind was still turning, making falling asleep impossible. The restaurant is better than I imagined through my research on their website and customer reviews. It’s visually stunning, the food is fantastic, and they’ve hit the mark on the sexy factor.

But added to that, the five women who own the place are all beautiful, smart, and will make for great TV. Viewers will eat this show up, pun intended.

I lean over the sink and wash my face, not bothering to shave today, and as I dry off, I reach for my phone.

I have several new e-mails.

The most recent is from Riley Gibson.

Trevor,

Thank you for your kind email. I apologize again for the conversation last night. I would like to promise that we don’t always talk like that at work, but that would be a lie. At least we keep it to closing time over a glass of wine.

Enjoy Portland,

Riley

I grin and sling the towel over my bare shoulders. Riley isn’t what I had pictured in my head before I got here. I knew that she was pretty because their photos are on their website, but she’s much prettier in person.

And animated.

Working with her will be fun.

And a test to my libido. Because Riley is fucking sexy. I’ve never mixed business and sex before, and I don’t plan to start now, but keeping my hands off her will be a test of wills.

And that too should be fun.

After my run this morning, I stopped by a bagel place to eat and read a newspaper, came back to the apartment for a shower, and I think I’ll go to Seduction for lunch. I hadn’t planned to go back there until my meeting with Riley tomorrow, but I also haven’t had lunch there yet.

I dress quickly in jeans and a red T-shirt and walk the six or so blocks to the restaurant.

They’ve just opened, so they’re not busy yet. The atmosphere is calm, the lighting a bit brighter than last night, making it a fun spot to meet with colleagues or friends for lunch.

I’m seated on the far side of the restaurant, where it meets the bar, and I can see Riley and the other women sitting around a high table, talking.

Loud enough for me to hear.

“So, he’ll be here tomorrow. Filming doesn’t start for another week, unless the timetable has been moved up,” Riley says, studying her iPad and checking things off a list. “It would be great if we could watch our language.”

“Right,” Mia says, rolling her eyes. “Because that’s gonna happen.”

“Just watch the F-bombs then,” Riley says with a grin. “And I’ll do my best not to vent to him about my horrible dating experiences. Not that I’ll be having any more of those.”

“I wish I’d been here for that,” Addie says with a smile. “It’s hilarious.”

“No, it’s not,” Riley says, but smiles and covers her lips with her fingers. “Okay, it’s a little funny. I’ll be working from home today.”

“Why?” The blonde speaking, I presume Cami, asks.

“Because I have a roofer coming today,” Riley says. “But if you need me, just call. I can come back after he leaves.”

“Go.” Mia waves her off. “We’ve got this.”

The girls all stand, about to go their own ways to get their day started. They’re clearly good friends, which will come across well on film.

Riley walks out of the bar and glances up, spotting me.

“Hi.” I offer her a smile and motion for her to join me. She sits, sets her iPad aside, and squares her shoulders.

I love a woman with grit.

“Why are you here?” she asks.

“I’m having lunch,” I reply, and gesture to the salad sitting in front of me. “It’s delicious. Adding the brussels sprouts is smart.”

“I’ll pass that along to Mia,” she says, and then laughs. “I guess you heard the part where I asked the girls to not swear.”

“I did,” I reply, and patiently butter a piece of warm bread. “Don’t worry about that stuff. They’re adults.”

“With potty mouths,” she says.

“And we can bleep stuff out, or ask them to rephrase. You’ve already got the gig, Riley. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. This isn’t an audition.”

“I know.” She sighs and reaches over to take a piece of my bread, surprising and delighting me. “I just want things to go smoothly.”

“Perhaps you should order lunch too.”

“I don’t have time,” she says, and then her blue eyes widen as she realizes what she just did. “I’m so sorry. I eat when I’m stressed out, and I didn’t—”

“No.” I hold my hand up to stop her. “It’s fine. I like that you’re relaxed with me. I think you need to relax more often.”

“What are you, my life coach now?”

“If you like. Did you cancel those dating sites like I suggested?”

She bites her lip and looks to the side, then nods. “I did.”

“Good.” I take a bite of salad and nod. “Are you sure you don’t want some food?”

“I rarely have time to eat,” Riley says, and checks the time on her phone. “In fact, I should go. I have to meet the roofer at my house.”

“What’s wrong with your roof?”

“It’s old,” she says with a shrug. “That’s what happens when you buy an old house. I’m fixing it up a little at a time.”

I nod, and find that I don’t want her to go quite yet. I want to talk more, to learn more about her.

“Why don’t you come to my apartment tonight and I’ll cook you dinner?”

She pauses and stares at me for a moment. “Why?”

I laugh and set my fork down. “Because I asked you to. We’re going to be working closely over the next few weeks, we might as well get to know each other a little better. Also, we can discuss my new duties as your life coach.”

“Well.” Her lips twitch as she thinks it over for a moment, a myriad of emotions moving across her beautiful face, and finally she says, “Okay. Do you mind texting me the address and the time?”

“Not at all,” I reply, and immediately pass her my phone. “Plug in your number and I’ll text you this afternoon.”

She complies, passes it back, and smiles. “Okay, see you later.”

And with that, she’s off. Her ass swaying enticingly in her tight skirt, calves flexing from the height of her heels, and the food I’m currently chewing immediately tastes like cardboard.

Jesus.

And I just voluntarily offered to spend time with her. Alone.

I’m a fucking glutton for punishment.

[no ornament]

“I’m starving,” Riley immediately says as I open the door. She’s in jeans and a well-loved University of Oregon sweatshirt, her hair is pulled up in a ponytail, and she looks like she could be a co-ed herself. “I forgot to eat today.”

“Does that happen every day?” I ask as I gesture for her to come inside and close the door behind her.

“Most days,” she admits. “Is this one of those bad choices that you’re gonna coach me through?”

“Yes,” I reply, and lead her into the kitchen. “You have to eat.”

“I know, I just get focused on other things, and the next thing I know, the day is gone and I’m starving.” She passes me two bottles of wine. “I didn’t know what we were having, so I brought red and white.”

“Thanks.” I grin and set them both on the counter. “I made salmon and asparagus with baby red potatoes. What goes best with that?”

Her eyes light up. “The white. Holy shit, are you a chef yourself?”

“I went to culinary school,” I reply, and squeeze some lemon on the salmon before plating it. “But I discovered I was better at a desk job.”

“That’s unusual,” she says, her head tilted to the side as she listens. “Most people fight to get out of a desk job.”

“Not me. I have a ton of respect for Mia, because being a chef isn’t easy, and pleasing people sucks.”

“True.” Riley nods. “She doesn’t get many plates sent back to her, but there are a few. Can I pour you a glass?”

“No thanks,” I reply, and reach in the fridge for a bottle of water. “I don’t drink alcohol.”

“Oh.” She frowns. “I’m sorry. I can drink water too.”

“It’s fine,” I reply, and pat her shoulder. “I don’t mind if you drink. I just don’t.”

“But last night, you were drinking Jack and Coke.”

“Nope, just Coke.”

She sits at the table, still frowning. “I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry for.” I set our plates down. “I’ve been sober for ten years. I’m not the kind of alcoholic who can’t be around others having a drink. It was never that bad for me. I’m just a better person if I don’t drink.”

“Good for you for knowing that,” she says, holding her glass out to clink against my water. “This looks delicious.”

“You sound surprised.”

“I expected pizza or Chinese takeout,” she says. “Honestly, that’s probably what you would have gotten from me. I’m also surprised that you’re not staying in a hotel.”

“I’m here long enough that the network sprung for the apartment. They usually do when I’m somewhere longer than a week or so.”

“You must travel a lot for this job,” she says, eating her food like a starving child. I don’t know if she even tastes it, she’s eating so fast.

“I travel often,” I reply, and grin when she takes the last bite. “Are you going to lick the plate?”

“Maybe,” she says with a grin. “I’m not even embarrassed that I ate that so fast. It was delicious.”

“I’m glad you liked it. There’s more.”

“No, I’m good,” she says, and reaches in her bag, pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. “You can eat while I interview you.”

“For what?”

“For the position of life coach,” she says with a sassy grin. I want to kiss that grin right off her face, but instead I take a bite of potato and gesture for her to begin.

“Okay, first question: What qualifications do you have that make you a good fit for this position?”

“Well, I have a few years on you, so I would say wisdom with age.”

She tilts her head to the side, the way she does when she’s turning something over in her head. “You can’t be that much older than me.”

“I’m thirty-seven.”

“Seven years,” she says, rolling her eyes.

“A lot can happen in seven years,” I reply, and sip my water.

“Okay, I’ll give you that.” She checks something off on her paper.

“Did you really write down questions?”

“Of course. I’m the queen of lists and the roofer was at my house forever.” She bites her lip as she looks at her list. “How many women have you life-coached in the past?”

“Well, I didn’t have an official job title, but I have two younger sisters, and an ex-wife, so I would say three.”

“But the wife is an ex, so maybe that did go well?” Riley asks. “And are your sisters productive members of society?”

“As opposed to being in jail?” I ask, laughing. “You’re hilarious, Riley.”

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“My sisters are great. The older one is married, a stay-at-home mom with two kids, and the younger one is a waitress.”

“But the ex-wife thing didn’t work out.”

“She’s not a mess, we just both decided that she shouldn’t be my wife anymore.”

“Why?”

I sit back in my chair and wipe my mouth on my napkin. “Because she thought it was a good idea to have sex with other men.”

Her eyebrows climb on her forehead and she blinks twice. “That’s a good reason.”

“I thought so.”

“Okay, next question.” She checks something on her paper and looks up at me with a smile. “How do you intend to be compensated for your work?”

“I’m working pro bono,” I reply with a wink.

“Why?”

“Because I’m going to be here anyway, and why not.” I shrug and finish the food on my plate. “What else do you want to know?”

“Is my coming to a virtual stranger’s apartment by myself one of the bad decisions you should have coached me on?”

I smile and set my plate aside so I can lean on the table. “Did the girls tell you that coming here by yourself was a bad idea?”

“I only talked to Cami and she thought I should come. Plus, I have a concealed carry, so I feel pretty confident that I’m safe.”

I raise a brow and cross my arms over my chest. “You carry a gun with you?”

“Hell to the yes,” she replies, and offers me a sweet smile. “I’ve been meeting strange men on the Internet. You bet your ass I’ve been armed.”

“Good idea,” I reply with a nod. “There are a lot of crazies out there.”

“Yes. But I think that if you’re gonna meet a crazy, it could be anywhere. Online, in a bar, at the gas station. They’re everywhere.”

“That’s true too,” I reply, and nod. “Well, I’m glad you’re being cautious.”

“I’m nobody’s victim,” she says, as casually as if she’s telling me her shoe size.

That’s fucking sexy.

“Do you have any other questions?”

“Not really,” she says, and shrugs. “I didn’t really write anything down. But it was fun to interrogate you a bit.”

“Now I have questions,” I reply, and smile when she cocks her head and purses her lips. “Do you really think you need a life coach?”

“No, I have my shit together,” she says with a grin.

“Why were you really on all of those sites?”

She shrugs. “Because it’s not easy meeting people. And sometimes a girl wants to go out on a date.”

“You don’t need me,” I reply, and smile. “But I’ll be around for a while, just in case.”

“Just in case I slip and fall back into the online dating?”

“That, or if you just want to have dinner, or chat. And I think we should watch a marathon of Star Wars. Your lack of knowledge is cause for concern.”

“It’s kind of a guy thing,” she says.

“I know many women who like Star Wars.”

“Well, I would watch one or two.”

“You need to see them all to understand what’s happening.”

“That’s a lot of hours of my life that I’ll never get back,” she says with a frown. “Aren’t there CliffsNotes somewhere? A speedy way to get caught up?”

“No,” I reply, and fist my hands in my lap so I don’t reach out and tuck her hair behind her ear.

Or yank her against me so I can kiss the fuck out of her.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

“Are you always this observant?”

“I’m an overthinker,” she says. “So yeah, I’m an observer.”

“I’ve been labeled an overthinker too,” I say with a grin.

“Would you say it’s an accurate assessment?”

“Oh yeah,” I say with a nod, and stand to clear our plates away. She stands to help. “I’ve got this.”

“No way, you cooked, so I’ll help clean.”

She walks ahead of me, her empty glass in one hand and her plate in the other. “Do you use the dishwasher, or do you wash by hand?”

“There are people who still wash by hand?”

“I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never seen them in the wild,” she says, and smiles up at me when I join her. “So I guess that means we use the dishwasher?”

“Yes.” She rinses and I load, and a few short minutes later, we’re done.

“Well, I suppose I should go,” she says, and checks the time on her phone. “Oh, Cami texted. I guess I should reply so she doesn’t think you killed me after the entrée.”

She smirks and types on her phone, then turns it off and looks up at me.

“Thanks for dinner.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

Unfortunately, it won’t be in my bed.

“You will.”

“Okay.” She gathers her bag, notepad and pen, and walks to the door. “Sleep well tonight.”

I grin and congratulate myself for not dragging my fingertips down her cheek.

You sleep well tonight, Riley.”

“Okay. Bye.”

She leaves and I close the door, letting out a slow breath. Jesus, she’s sexy and funny and smart as fuck.

And I’m not going to touch her while I’m here.

How the fuck am I going to do that?

 

Don’t miss the first chapter of THE BEAUTY OF US! You can read it here!

 

 

About Kristen Proby:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Kristen Proby is the author of the bestselling With Me In Seattle and Love Under the Big Sky series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong, humorous characters with a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.

 

Kristen lives in Montana, where she enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.

 

 

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WICKED INTENTIONS  by J.T. Geissinger

wickedintentions About WICKED INTENTIONS

In the Caribbean for his best friend’s wedding, ex special-ops officer and security expert Ryan McLean meets a beautiful woman in the hotel bar. Their connection is immediate and intense, and they spend a passionate night together with pleasure as their only goal.

But when Ryan wakes the following morning to discover the beautiful woman has vanished, along with millions worth of jewels from the safe of the Saudi prince staying in the suite next door, he realizes their meeting wasn’t accidental and becomes determined to find her.

A notorious thief known to authorities only as the Dragonfly, Mariana Lora has one final job to complete before she’s free from the oath that bound her to a life of crime, but the sexy-as-hell Marine she spent one explosive tropical night with is hot on her heels at every turn. She has to outwit him to stay out of jail, but fighting their magnetic attraction soon becomes a game neither one of them can resist.

When Mariana’s last job goes dangerously wrong and she needs Ryan’s help to survive, he has to decide if their game of cat and mouse is only a game, or if he can trust this beautiful thief with something no woman has ever stolen: his heart.

Get your hands on WICKED INTENTIONS:

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EXCERPT 

If my boner doesn’t chill pretty soon, I’m gonna have to seek medical attention.

 

“For fuck’s sake,” I mutter, looking down at the big guy jutting out from the front of the towel wrapped around my waist. “Would you behave?”

 

He doesn’t answer. He also doesn’t budge. I’ve got an organ that’s been sticking out at a ninety-degree angle from my body for the past three and a half hours. If I didn’t love him so much, I’d grab a length of duct tape and tape him to my leg.

 

I wipe the steam from the bathroom mirror, slap my face with a dollop of foam, and start to shave. It’s awkward because I have to tilt my hips back so I don’t bash my dick on the edge of the sink. I finish the shave, brush my teeth, comb my wet hair, and throw on clean clothes, thinking the entire time about a brown-haired siren who seems about as likely to kiss me as she is to stab me in the back with an ice pick.

 

I haven’t been this turned on in years.

 

Whistling, I set the motion detectors and alarms that will send an alert to my cell if they’re tripped, and lock my hotel door. I’m ten minutes early, but I don’t want to miss Angeline coming off the elevator. The woman moves like poetry. I’ve got the perfect spot in mind where I’m gonna stand and wait until she comes down.

 

Angeline Lemaire, age twenty-six, born and raised in Paris, France. Freelance travel writer for Condé Nast and National Geographic Travel, among others. Graduated from the Sorbonne with a degree in journalism, never married, no children, no criminal record, pays her taxes on time.

 

Biggest load of bullshit ever invented. Boring too. If I were gonna invent a background for myself, you can bet it would include something awesome like astronaut or race car driver. A writer? Seriously? She looks like a Bond girl, all slinky strides and knife-blade eyes. She should’ve gone with “international lingerie model/ boner inducer.” It would’ve been way more believable.

 

Fuck, this is gonna be fun.

 

So. Much. Fun.

Want to read the other standalones in the Wicked Games series? Find out more about WICKED BEAUTIFUL and WICKED SEXY below!

 

WickedBeautiful.Ebook.v4.AmazonAbout WICKED BEAUTIFUL

Life coach and best-selling author Victoria Price has it all: a successful career, fabulous friends, a fantastic penthouse in Manhattan. What she doesn’t have—and doesn’t want—is a husband. Fifteen years ago her high school flame broke her heart so badly she swore she’d never love again. Now she makes millions teaching other women how to be just like her: a ruthless bitch.

Drop-dead sexy restauranteur and infamous playboy Parker Maxwell has only three rules for the women he dates: no questions about his past, no expectations for the future, and no spending the night. When he meets Victoria, however, he’s willing to break his own rules if it means sating the explosive desire she arouses in him. What he doesn’t know is that the alluring Victoria Price used to be the mousy Isabel Diaz, the girl he deflowered and dumped long ago.

Presented with a perfect opportunity for revenge, Victoria decides the game is on. But when her connection with Parker proves more than just skin deep, she has to make a choice: continue with her plan for payback, or risk her career, her reputation, and her heart by taking a second chance on love?

Get your hands on WICKED BEAUTIFUL:

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About WICKED SEXYWickedEbook.v3.Amazon

A badass ex-Special Ops officer and a smartass hacker fight a dangerous enemy…and a blistering attraction to each other.

Connor Hughes is an ex-special ops officer, CEO of Metrix Security, and bonafide badass. His private security firm is renowned for its effectiveness. He’s renowned for his lethal precision and iron self-control. But when the former Marine meets a gorgeous young hacker with a mouth as smart as her brain, his control unravels in ways he never could have predicted.

Tabitha West is a genius MIT dropout with a bad attitude, an obsession with Hello Kitty and piercings in unmentionable places. Tabby amuses herself by outwitting the most secure technology systems on the planet. Known in hacker circles as Polaroid due to her photographic memory, she’s as secretive as she is accustomed to working alone. So when Connor decides she’s the only one who can help him catch a cyber criminal intent on taking down one of his clients, she tells him exactly where he can stick it.

But when the cyber criminal turns out to be the Hannibal Lecter of computer crime—and a dark presence from Tabby’s past—Tabby and Connor are drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. They quickly find themselves fighting not only their common enemy, but also an explosive desire that threatens to consume them.

When the stakes are this high and the game this deadly, will falling in love be the most dangerous move of all?

Get your hands on WICKED SEXY:

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About J.T. Geissinger

A former headhunter, J.T. Geissinger is the author of more than a dozen novels in contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense.

She is the recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book, the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, and is a two-time finalist for the RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America®. Her work has also finaled in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.

Join her Facebook reader’s group, Geissinger’s Gang, to take part in weekly Wine Wednesday live chats and giveaways, find out more information about works in progress, have access to exclusive excerpts and contests, and get advance reader copies of her upcoming releases.

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