Happy Release to Elle Aycart!
To The Max is NOW LIVE!
Barnes & Noble:
Forensic accountant Annie Griffin has always suspected she's a bit jinxed, so when she finds herself 35, single, temporarily homeless, and pregnant on a technicality by a gigolo, her fears are confirmed.
Adrenaline junkie and professional stuntman Max Bowen needs a house-sitter to watch after his pets while he's out of town. Annie needs a place to stay. Standard quid pro quo. No biggie. She can handle that, whatever hellhounds he owns. Until Max, the most sought-after bachelor in the county, comes back ahead of schedule and suddenly she's roommates with a 27-year old sex God who turns out to be so much more than what she expected.
Max might have had the attention span of a humming bird on crack when it comes to women, but that was before Annie. Her quirkiness and sweet contradictions soon captivate him, not that she's inclined to give him the time of the day. With his reputation preceding him, he knows the odds are badly stacked against him, but he will do his best to prove her that he's what she needs, stuck-up socialite grandmothers, doomsday preppers, groupies, pregnancy hormones, and repentant biological dads be damned.
“You know, if the idea behind a midnight wedding was to discourage people from attending, I think we can fairly say it hasn’t worked,” Annie Griffin heard from behind her.
She whirled around so fast, she not only got a dizzy spell but almost fell from the hammock she was sitting on. Thank God someone with a very strong grip reached out and steadied her.
“Wow, careful there.”
As she regained her balance, Annie lifted her gaze to find Max Bowen, the groom’s younger brother, smirking at her. She brought her hand to her thumping heart. “Jeez, you scared me, Max.”
“Sorry,” he said, his light eyes sparkling with amusement. “What are you doing here?”
They were in the unlit part of the backyard, as far away from the wedding reception as possible without actually leaving the Bowens’ property.
“I’m in hiding. Go away.” She shooed him, peeking around to make sure no one had followed him. “You always have a string of girls attached to your hip. Soon they’re all going to be gathered here giggling, drawing attention, and I don’t want to be found.”
Her duties as bridesmaid were done. Tate and James were already on their way to their honeymoon; she could disappear in good conscience.
“Hey,” he complained, sounding offended. “I may need to go into hiding for a while too.”
She gave him a disbelieving look. “You? Why?”
Max loosened his tie and, unfastening the first button of his shirt, sat beside her on the hammock. “Why? Because my ass has been pinched so many times tonight, I swear I can barely feel it anymore.”
Annie stifled a giggle. “Your ass is sore?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe,” he said, breathing out slowly and running his hand through his shoulder-length hair.
She locked eyes with him, realizing too late he was smiling less than three inches away from her face. The sight of him all but knocked the wind out of her. Max in faded old jeans and a tee was breathtaking. In a tuxedo? A total heart-stopper.
She wasn’t too fond of blond men, but Max was in a league all his own. With model-perfect masculine features, wicked blue-green eyes, and his usual weeklong golden stubble, Max was sexy as hell. Add to his Hollywood looks his laid-back disposition, kick-ass body, and roguish smile, and, well, it was almost impossible not to drool in his presence. A fact the charming devil knew very well and played to his full advantage.
Annie wasn’t sure how, but she managed to break eye contact. “I think the senior contingent from Eternal Sun Resort might be the ones primarily responsible for your ass condition.” She got it that both Mr. Bowen and Tate’s mom lived down there—were neighbors, in fact—but they should never have told the other residents about the wedding. The Bowen brothers were popular enough in the greater Boston area. No need to bring reinforcements from the South.
“Probably.” Max pondered for a second and then grinned at her. “I should just count my lucky stars those ladies are on the short side and can’t reach my nipples, huh?”
Annie burst into laughter. God, Max was such a clown. Although on that one he might be right. “I hear they chartered a bus and made regular stops along the way from Florida to Boston to pick up their granddaughters and nieces.”
And who could blame them? It was not every day that one of the Bowen brothers tied the knot. The standard guest plus one had transformed into guest plus ten. Not to mention the groom’s wedding party, which alone was a sight to behold. All those hunks in tailored tuxedos, standing tall and proud and yummy. Talk about eye candy. She must have gotten a couple of extra cavities tonight just from staring.
Max smiled. “That would explain it. This is the first wedding I’ve attended where there are more people crashing the damn event than actual guests. James should’ve hired his own security company to guard the place.”
He should have, but judging by the way he’d looked, he’d been so over the moon lately that he probably hadn’t thought about anything besides putting his ring on Tate’s finger.
Max seemed to be able to read her mind. “Yeah, I know my brother is in married-man bliss, but there is Cole and me to think about. Well, okay, just me now that Cole is engaged,” he conceded with a rueful grin. “But seriously, with how fiercely protective Cole is of Christy, and the mean right hook she’s developed, I’d say some guests would have thanked him for the extra protection too.”
“Please. Christy is a pussycat.” Nevertheless, Annie sure relished the yellowish remnants of the black eye Rose was still sporting, which, by the way, she’d totally deserved. A real pity no one had gotten that on video. “And you, mister, don’t need protection from women.”
If anything, it was the other way around. He was the ultimate ladies’ man. He’d never hurt for female attention before, but now with James married and Cole engaged, Max was getting so much action he was gorging on it.
His cheeky grin lit his face. “True, under normal circumstances, but that back there is a bit overwhelming, even for me.”
Annie was about to answer, when suddenly Max moved, making the hammock rock like crazy. “What are you doing?” she squeaked, gripping the net hard.
“Lying down. I need to give my poor, abused ass a respite. Come on,” he said, patting the spot near him. “Lie down with me. I don’t bite.”
Oh, she wouldn’t bet on that.
She warily eyed the net. Forget the spiky high heels she was wearing and the skintight bridesmaid’s dress, which was the shit but didn’t allow for much movement. She’d spent three hours in the beauty salon getting her unruly mop of hair pinned up and adorned with dozens of tiny white flowers. “If my hairdo gets tangled in that, I won’t be able to yank it free without looking like the modern version of Medusa.”
“Here.” He stretched out his arm and offered it as a pillow.
Annie doubted this was a good idea, but she was so tired. “I’m not that great with hammocks. I may roll us both over.”
“I’m a professional stuntman. I think I can handle a hammock.”
Well, he had a point there. She’d seen him on the big screen doing the craziest things. Not to mention his fondness for extreme sports.
“I’ll keep us steady,” he insisted. “Come on. You’re messing with the center of gravity by sitting there.”
She hesitated for just a second, then shrugged. “Fine. But I’m not too coordinated. Don’t come crying to me when we find ourselves on the grass, Mr. Hotshot Stuntman.” She slowly moved to lie beside him.
It was a two-person hammock, but he was so big and his shoulders were so damn broad, he took more than his fair share of space. She rested her head on his arm and tried to keep her body at a distance from his, but he was much heavier and her whole left side ended up glued to his right.
“Comfy?” he asked.
Actually, yes, but that was beside the point.
She tried separating herself from him, but gravity and his massive body worked against her. The more she moved away, the more the net bounced her right back against Max.
“Not that I’m complaining, but you’re rubbing against me. Anything you want to tell me, Miss Griffin?” he asked, his words laced with laughter.
This was the closest she’d ever been to Max. She could feel every flex of his muscles, his warm breath tickling her face. In spite of herself, his low, deep rumble and hard body had all her girlie parts tingling, which was so inappropriate on so many levels, she refused to even think about it.
She cleared her throat, trying to sound outraged. “Of course not. Besides, you’re way too young for me.” Eight years younger. Not to mention that at thirty-five, Annie was a good decade older than the women Max usually dated.
“Sure, you’re ancient. Now stop squirming, Ace. You’ll break your femur, and at your age any fracture could be fatal.”
She saw the smirk on his face and went to elbow him, but there was not enough space between them to get a good jab in.
“Watch it. You could easily dislocate a shoulder. I hear all you have to do is sneeze, and there goes the hip.”
“Oh please. Just shut up,” she said, unable to contain her laughter.
Annie hadn’t had much contact with Max before. But since Tate and Holly had started to hang out together, and Christy and Cole had become an item, the Bowen brothers and their crew had ceased to be a bunch of gorgeous guys she admired from afar and had become permanent fixtures in her life. It was hard to get used to such an overabundance of panty creamers, but she was coping. With the occasional panic attack, but she was coping.
Chuckling himself, he pinned her by his side and turned his gaze to the sky. “Settle down and look up, Ace.”
Bossy guy, she thought, but she found herself obliging him. “Wow,” she whispered as she took in the view.
“Everything looks better from a hammock, doesn’t it?”
It sure did. “I’m going to take one to the Friday-night outdoor movie instead of sitting on those wooden chairs. The Arnie marathon they’re running won’t be better, but at least the hammock will improve my viewing experience.”
“I hear they’re preparing a Mel Gibson marathon for next year.”
“That’s marginally better.”
His low voice rumbled in the night. “How do you figure that?”
“More rom-coms, less commando crap. Plus, I could stand to see his milky-white ass again in Braveheart.”
She felt him turn to her and shake his head.
Max lowered a foot to the ground and kicked, gently rocking the hammock. They lay there in silence for a long while, enjoying the view. She should have been more freaked about being there with Max Bowen, but the truth of the matter was she didn’t have the energy to get herself worked up.
It had been a very hectic day. The wedding had been beautiful, and everything had gone according to plan—more or less—but it had been taxing. For a while she’d felt dizzy and out of breath from the excitement and the place being packed. And then there had been the cake. Annie loved cake, even risqué ones, but she must have eaten the poisoned piece intended for Tate—or Christy—because, boy, the little sucker had repeated on her. Now though, away from the crowd, her gaze on the black sky, gently rocking, she felt totally relaxed and at ease.
“The wedding was beautiful,” she said.
“Aunt Maggie and Tate’s mom really thought of everything.”
“Except for the electrified fence around the yard.”
Max chuckled. “Yes, except for that. I could have done without the impromptu conga line during the reception too.”
“Come on, Max, you rocked the conga line.”
It had been one of the highlights of the night, second only to seeing Tate all but run down the aisle and kiss the living daylights out of James before the priest had gotten a word in, that amazing green dragon tattoo swirling on the small of her totally exposed back. Ah, and the dance of the best man and the maid of honor. There had been so much tension rolling off Jack and Elle, it was palpable.
“Did you see Elle’s face when the bouquet hit her on the head?” Annie asked.
Max nodded. “Epic. I hope the photographer got it. That picture is so going to the wall of fame in Rosita’s.”
Elle hadn’t looked happy the bouquet had defied physics, changed trajectory in midair, and landed on her head while she’d been standing beside her date—Kai, a gorgeous Japanese American full of tattoos. Jack hadn’t looked much happier either. It wasn’t clear if his displeasure had to do with Kai or the bouquet. Both, probably. Not that Jack himself could talk, considering the exuberant blonde he’d had perched on his arm.
“So, why are you in hiding?” Max asked, turning his captivating gaze on her and disrupting all her thoughts. God, the guy was stunning. And this close, there was all the olfactory and tactile data to deal with. Even in his relaxed position, Max oozed masculinity and testosterone. His smell, a mixture of aftershave, clean sweat, and a hint of tobacco from the cigar James had given him, was so male it gave her goose bumps. She couldn’t explain it, but to her, Max smelled like summer and sunshine. Even now, in the middle of the night.
She sighed and turned her face up to the sky. “I’ve been in the dating arena long enough to know that when your date starts talking about himself in the third person, it’s time to hide.”
The hammock shook with his muffled laughter. His hard body too.
“Not to mention the more he drinks, the more arms he grows. And the more his eyes bulge every time he sees a pair of boobs. It’s bad enough that he’s spent the last two hours talking to my nipples, but ogling other women’s goodies on top of that? Gross.”
Steven was a coworker from her office. She’d gone out with him once this past month. The first date hadn’t turned out too horribly, so she’d given it a second try. Bad, bad idea.
He tsked. “Moron. Doesn’t he know your goodies are the best?”
She felt her face flame. Then she realized what he was probably referring to. “You’re talking about the candy basket from the fund-raiser, right?” A couple of weeks ago, for the annual town fund-raising dinner, her candy shop had donated a basket of gourmet candy, which Max had bid on and won.
“Those goodies too.”
God, he was such a shameless flirt. Gorgeous, charming, easygoing. Pity when it came to women, he had the attention span of a hummingbird on crack. Which was irrelevant, really. Not only was he totally out of her league, but there was the age difference to contend with. Eight years might not seem like much, but in mind-sets, they were light years apart. Annie was ready to settle and marry, and Max was… Well, Max was most definitely not. He wasn’t playing the field; he owned the damned field.
“Behave,” she admonished him.
“I am, Ace. I am,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve been meaning to tell you those chocolate things were fantastic.”
“You liked them?”
He nodded. “Don’t misunderstand me; traditional candy is great, but this new shit you’re bringing…mouthwatering.”
Annie smiled, pleased as all hell. She’d inherited the little candy shop in Alden five years ago, when her mom remarried and moved to Ohio. Annie already had an office job in Boston, but she hadn’t wanted to close the place down. So she’d hired a girl to run it during the week, and Annie took care of Saturdays and the odd afternoons when the girl couldn’t.
The shop had barely been turning a profit. With the extra salary to foot, Annie had decided to upgrade the whole concept. Along with jelly beans and candy canes, she went for a more sophisticated line, sporting gourmet chocolates and truffles from Brussels, strawberries with champagne and white-chocolate frosting, and all sorts of products for special occasions.
“Remember to come ready to tweet.”
He winked at her. “Don’t worry. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the whole shebang.”
“You have all of those?”
“Actually, no, but I’ll sign up. How did you think of the whole concept?”
“Honestly? I didn’t. Christy did.”
One day, brainstorming while chatting with Christy about how to reach more customers, her friend had come up with the idea of using Twitter. The shop Sweets had become Sweets and Tweets, and clients got a discount if they tweeted on the spot about the goodies they were buying. Word got out about the new products, and in no time they had people coming from Boston to get their sugar fixes or to buy treats for special dates. This past Valentine’s Day had been crazy. The line had gone all the way to the street and around the corner.
Max smiled. “My future sister-in-law is a charming geek.”
“That she is.”
Annie and Christy had met in college and had kept in contact ever since. A bit over six months ago, Christy had taken a sabbatical from her job as a software engineer and moved temporarily from LA to Alden to get away from her ex-fiancé. Now she was engaged to Cole Bowen and ran Alden’s library. Funny how things changed.
They swung in comfortable silence for a while longer.
“So, I have to ask,” he said after a long pause. “How often do you end up in hiding during your dates?”
She snorted. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I’d be hiding in the bathroom right now if I could be sure that the Women Only sign would stop that self-absorbed pompous ass from entering.”
Annie was an active dater—an optimist. Yeah, the world was full of frogs, but there were princes out there. She just had to persevere until she found hers; it was a matter of probabilities, pure and simple. Easier said than done. A romantic at heart, she’d always kept faith that everyone got a happily ever after, but with the luck she’d had lately and all the frogs she’d had to deal with, she’d begun to suspect “everyone” just didn’t include her.
Max barked out a laugh. “Self-absorbed pompous ass?”
Annie nodded. “Aka Steven.”
“You’re dating the wrong guys.”
Didn’t she know it.
Not that Max would understand her predicament. The guy went through women like most men went through potato chips, a handful at a time. He charmed girls out of their panties as if it were an Olympic sport. Nevertheless, Annie hadn’t heard a single complaint from the female population. Far from it.
“What about the stud gala? Did you end up in hiding there too?”
Annie stilled. “How did you know about the gala?”
“You kidding me? I heard Cole grumbling about you guys buying the gala invitation for Christy. Then I had to listen Tate complain about not getting one. And then James growling and threatening Elle with bodily harm if she dared to buy one for Tate.”
She cleared her throat. “That wasn’t a date. But, no, I didn’t end up in hiding then.”
No, sir, not at all.
“Guys, what are you doing there?” a woman asked.
Annie turned her head to see Christy and Cole approaching.
“His ass was hurting and he needed to lie down,” Annie blurted, tensing. Under somebody else’s scrutiny, lying there with Max felt suddenly awkward.
Christy looked confused. “What?”
“Never mind,” Annie mumbled, clumsily hauling herself up and out of the hammock. Max followed her much more gracefully, holding her when her wobbly legs and the rocking made falling on her face a very distinct possibility.
“How’s it going?” Max asked his brother. “Is the party winding down already?”
Cole looked toward the reception and grimaced. “Nope,” he muttered. Then he turned to Christy. “We’re eloping.”
She smiled widely. “Sure, let’s elope to Vegas.”
Cole’s expression tightened. “I’m not getting hitched by Elvis,” he warned, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and bringing her front to his side.
“Who said anything about Elvis? I was thinking more along the lines of Captain Kirk.”
“So not happening.”
Christy, bless her heart, ignored him and smiled even wider. “Or Spock. We could book the Star Trek package, marry with a Vulcan and a Klingon as witnesses. And wire the chapel so that our friends could follow the wedding through the Internet. Wouldn’t that be a blast?”
He kissed her hard, then whispered against her lips, “I love you, baby, but no fucking way.” If his expression was anything to go by, it was a good thing Cole loved Christy to pieces, because he sure as hell wasn’t a man to be led by his dick, much less into a Star Trek wedding.
“Elope all you want, but I’m organizing your bachelor party. Imagine all I could do with Vegas as the backdrop,” Max said, to which Cole grimaced even more strongly.
“Here you are,” Annie heard someone say.
Shit. Steven, aka Pompous Ass. Her stomach roiled and realization dawned. Oh God, the spell of sickness she’d experienced during the reception? Apparently it had nothing to do with the crowded yard or the cake. She’d reached a milestone—her dates were physically making her sick. Way to go.
Max came closer and whispered, “Is this the guy?”
She nodded and turned to Steven, who was obnoxiously grinning.
“Ready to dance with the king of the night, darling?”
He was now close enough that his sugary smell reached her. Nausea rose in her belly. Trying not to cringe, she took a step forward, frantic for an excuse.
Suddenly, someone tugged her hand from behind. “Sorry, man,” Max apologized. “The prettiest girl in this wedding owes me a couple of dances, and I’m ready to collect.”
Max twirled her and wound her in, winking. “Let’s give him a show,” he whispered. Before she could react, Max wrapped one hand around her neck, the other around her waist. Exaggeratedly bending her backward, he placed his lips over hers.
She hadn’t regained her breath or her bearings when he pulled her up for another spin.
Oh God, too much movement.
“I’m not feeling good,” she managed to get out. Then she leaned over and threw up all over Max’s shoes.
* * * *
“Okay, spit it out, Annie,” Holly prompted, tapping at the table. “I’m the dispatcher for the sheriff’s department. Whatever it is, I’m sure I’ve heard worse. Although, if memory serves, Ben switching teams on you was a DEFCON3 emergency. I truly have no clue what possible planetary disaster DEFCON1 could refer to.”
Annie glanced around, making sure they were alone in the terrace. Then, trying not to hyperventilate, Annie uttered those two tiny words, the ones that had her freaked out of her ever-loving mind.
Holly, Christy, and Sophie gaped at her, totally shocked. Thank God they’d been sitting; otherwise her friends’ behinds would have had very close encounters with the floor.
“Definitely DEFCON1,” Christy mumbled and Sophie assented.
“Pregnant? What do you mean pregnant?” Holly asked, sounding stupefied.
“Pregnant,” Annie choked out. “As in knocked up.”
“How? When? Who?” Then, before Annie could answer, not that she was too eager to answer anyway, Holly continued, “Please don’t tell me it’s Steven’s.”
At least there was that: a positive side of this whole mess she hadn’t thought of. “Eww. You nuts? I didn’t have sex with Steven.”
Her friends let out a collective sigh of relief. “Thank God,” Holly muttered.
Annie had been about to chide them for even thinking she’d had sex with Steven after just two dates, but she saw the irony in her predicament and decided to bite her tongue.
“If it isn’t his, then…?” Christy asked, motioning with her hand for Annie to go on.
Annie cleared her throat. “Remember the StudsRus.com gala a while back?” she said with a grimace. “The nice Italian escort I met there? Luigi?”
Annie had attended the yearly gala in Christy’s place. The most prestigious escort agency in Boston had hosted it a month ago at the Ritz Carlton downtown. The girls had managed to buy an invitation for Christy’s birthday, after her vow to get professionally laid, but once Cole had heard about it, he’d put a damper to the whole plan. So they had drawn straws, and surprise, surprise, Annie had won.
“You’re shitting us,” Sophie said.
Annie shook her head. No, she wasn’t shitting them. She wished she were, but she wasn’t.
It had been a great night. Magical, with all the candlelight, the unending flow of expensive champagne, and the great company. That it was a masquerade ball had also added an extra layer of magic and privacy that had been exhilarating.
Apparently StudsRus.com’s escorts were highly sought after. They traveled all over the country accompanying clients, some of them very powerful people, to high-profile events. They were not only gorgeous; they were extremely well educated and charming. One of the escorts she’d met that night was a dark-haired, handsome man by the name of Luigi. One thing led to another, and she most definitely had not ended up hiding in the bathroom.
Holly cursed. “What about the whole stash of condoms I put in your purse? Didn’t you think of using them?”
“I used condoms; I swear I did.”
“How exactly did you use them, sweetheart?”
“What do you mean, how did I use them? How does anyone use condoms? Are there so many different ways of using them?” Annie asked, out of breath, her tone of voice rising. She was freaking out. Big-time. But all in all, she thought she was entitled to. “I certainly didn’t put them on my head as new-age hats.”
“Did it break?”
She shook her head. If it had, she would have gotten the morning-after pill, and she wouldn’t currently be about to pass out.
“Are you sure it’s not a false alarm?” Sophie asked, trying to calm her down.
“No false alarm. Five peed-on sticks and two blood tests confirm it. I’m pregnant up to my eyeballs,” Annie said as she, very ineffectively, fanned herself with a napkin. Damn hot flashes. Before she found out about the pregnancy, she’d been having so many of them, she’d even considered going to the doctor to make sure she hadn’t entered some sort of freaky early menopause. Wouldn’t that have been a laugh.
“How did this happen?” Holly asked.
Sophie waved at her. “The usual way?”
“Not helping, sweetie.” Holly chastised Sophie with a look and then turned to Annie. “If you used condoms, how did you get pregnant?”
And here was where it got embarrassing. “It seems there’s an infinitesimal chance of getting knocked up if you start rolling the condom on, realize it’s inside out, and then turn it the right way. Drops of precum get onto the outside of the condom, and voilà, if the semen is of quality and has great mobility, you’re in deep shit.” Annie looked at them, fidgeting. “I was a bit nervous, and there wasn’t too much light…”
She should have left the logistical details to the pro.
All the head shaking she’d done when women in her office got pregnant out of carelessness, and look at her: knocked up on a technicality.
Sophie whistled. “Wow, some super-duper power sperm those studs have, huh?”
“Tell me about it,” Annie muttered.
“Could it be someone else’s?” Christy asked.
“It’s either Luigi’s or an immaculate conception.”
The good thing about getting laid so seldom was that she could pinpoint the conception date with 100 percent accuracy, which meant that if her baby was as anal as she was, he or she should be born in the early hours of March thirty-first.
Holly looked at her, worried. “I hate to say this, honey, and I know these guys are the best of the best, but did you get checked for diseases?”
“Yeah, no STDs.” That was what she’d done first once she’d found out about her pregnancy. And hadn’t that been fun, explaining to Alden’s only doctor, the same one who had treated her all her life, why she needed testing for STDs right after he told her she was pregnant. “All I got from the superstud is a baby.”
“At least you had a valid excuse for throwing up on Max the other night,” Christy said.
Annie cringed at the memory. Talk about making an ass out of herself. The most sought-after bachelor in the whole state was being sweet and offering her a way out so she wouldn’t have to dance with Steven, and what had she done in exchange? She’d puked her brains out all over his shoes, messing his pants too. Well, on the flip side, the second she’d started throwing up, her oh-so-attentive date had all but run in the opposite direction.
Max, on the other hand, had been very nice and understanding. He’d even joked that if he’d been saddled with a date like Steven, he would’ve been puking too.
“Does Luigi know about any of this?”
“Nope. And I never got a last name, so I don’t know how to contact him.” Or even if she wanted to.
Annie had been dazzled by Luigi, who had been so not what she’d expected. He wasn’t a young, buff stud with more muscles than brains. No, he was in his mid-to-late thirties, sophisticated, elegant, and a great conversationalist. She wasn’t a knockout, but she was pretty enough. And so far her body was holding its own against gravity and time, if one could ignore the expansionist tendencies of her ass. Still, Luigi favoring her company had kind of blown her mind. Between that, the alcohol, and the privacy the masks offered, she’d just let go. In the morning, though, she’d panicked and, much to her shame, run out on the guy before he even woke up. How the hell was she supposed to face the proverbial morning after when she had slept with a professional escort in his spare time? At least she thought it had been in his spare time. She didn’t even dare consider he’d been working and she’d stiffed him of his fee. That was just too much.
“It seems Italian escorts are in fashion. StudsRus.com has eight Luigis on staff. I’m going to have to ask them for pictures.”
If the conversation at the doctor’s had been fun, she shuddered to think about the one with the stud-agency receptionist.
She might never find Luigi again, and she couldn’t say she felt particularly sorry about it. After all, she didn’t know the guy. But a man had the right to know he was a father. And although she didn’t need a husband, the thought of raising a kid all by herself sucker punched her. Money was not an issue; she had a good job, the shop was doing well, and she still had the untouched trust fund her paternal grandparents had created for her. They hadn’t trusted her flighty father, and thank God for that, because the man was already on his fifth bimbo wife, who was bleeding him dry like three of her predecessors.
So financially she was more than covered, but there were other things to consider. Some mornings it took her forever to decide whether she wanted to have cornflakes or honey puffs—how the hell was she going to choose a school for the kid? He or she would be old enough for junior high by the time Annie had made up her mind.
“You know, I somehow envisioned embracing motherhood differently. Not at thirty-five, without a partner, and knocked up by a gigolo who might or might not be named Luigi.”
After all, maybe Luigi was just his stage name.
“It beats the hell out of a sperm bank, which is what I can see in my future,” Holly muttered.
They were silent for a while. Then Annie sighed. “I’m so screwed, guys. I’m a forensic accountant. What do I know about kids?”
“You own a candy store. I’d say you’re already ahead,” Christy offered.
Well, there was that.
“I should have never gotten up on that flower pot after you,” Annie said to Christy. “You got the good stuff. I got…backlash.” Annie covered her face with her hands. “This is so unfair. You and Cole are the ones humping like rabbits all the time. Me? It was just once. One little screw. Why me? The universe hates me.”
She should have suspected there was some mega cosmic catch to it when she’d won that gala invitation. She never won anything. Ever. On the contrary. She was that jinxed.
Holly interrupted her mental rant. “Wait a second. What do you mean, only once? Wasn’t he, you know, up for a rematch?”
“It was good, don’t misunderstand me, but let’s just put it this way: when an overpriced European escort isn’t working, he starts snoring after the deed.”
“Are you sure he was a member of StudsRus.com and not some nutcase impersonating a stud, like in True Lies?” Sophie asked.
Oh crap, she hadn’t thought of that possibility. Annie panicked for a second, then shook her head. “No, can’t be. He knew everyone there.”
“True Lies?” Holly repeated.
“You know, the waiter in that Arnie movie, the one who got chicks by impersonating a spy,” Sophie explained.
Christy frowned. “A waiter? Wasn’t he a car salesman? I—”
“People, people. Concentrate,” Holly interrupted, out of patience. “I told you to quit with the outdoor movies.” She turned to Annie. “Are you going to keep it?”
Annie looked at her friends. “Forget the fact I’m thirty-five and my clock is ticking. What are the chances of getting pregnant like this? One in a frigging billion. This baby hasn’t been born yet, and it’s already a damn superhero. Of course I’m keeping it.”
Bowen Series Reading Order
More than Meets the Ink (Bowen, #1)
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1BHLGvQ
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1AddDA2
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1DjeSLD
Heavy Issues (Bowen #2)
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1ymbIUo
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1yZFYrN
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1vn91q6
Inked Ever After (Bowen, #2.5)
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1yVIYkq
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1AddNYq
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1DshXJJ
To The Max (Bowen, #3)
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1zSQoJ6
Meet Elle Aycart
Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads
After a colorful array of jobs all over Europe ranging from translator to chocolatier to travel agent to sushi chef to flight dispatcher, Elle Aycart is certain of one thing and one thing only: aside from writing romances, she has abso-frigging-lutely no clue what she wants to do when she grows up. Not that it stops her from trying all sorts of crazy stuff.
While she is probably now thinking of a new profession, her head never stops churning new plots for her romances. She lives currently in Barcelona, Spain, with her husband and two daughters, although who knows, in no time she could be living at the Arctic Circle in Finland, breeding reindeer.
Meet Blake & Chloe in Where the Road Takes Me
in this new coming of age novel by
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1BYBqPP
Chloe has one plan for the future, and one plan only: the road. She’s made a promise to herself: don’t let anyone in, and don’t let anyone love her. She’s learned the hard way what happens if she breaks her rules. So she’s focused on being invisible and waiting until she can set out on the road—her dream of freedom, at least for a little while.
Blake Hunter is a basketball star who has it all—everything about him looks perfect to those on the other side of his protective walls. He can’t let anyone see the shattered pieces behind the flawless facade or else all his hopes and dreams will disappear.
One dark night throws Chloe and Blake together, changing everything for Blake. For Chloe, nothing changes: she has the road, and she’s focused on it. But when the so-called perfect boy starts to notice the invisible girl, they discover that sometimes with love, no one knows where the road may lead.
Excerpt - Chapter One
There was that familiar ache that I loved so much—a burn in my chest that spread to the rest of my body. There was just one other feeling I loved more. Well—two, if you included the high of sex.
A constant state of numbness was my euphoria.
You couldn’t tell. No one could.
My feet thudded against the pavement. Sweat dripped from my hairline, down my neck, and onto my bare back. I shut my eyes, urging the numbness to kick in. I wanted to feel it everywhere. Not just in my body but everywhere. Maybe I should quit basketball and take up smoking weed as a hobby. I laughed to myself—Dad would love that. Another reason to kick my ass.
I rounded the corner with my eyes still shut. I knew that path in the park better than I knew my own home. Which is why I was running at two in the morning on a Saturday night. Sunday morning?
I was five steps past the corner—the numbness had just started to seep in—when I bumped into something. My eyes sprang open, and I found myself staring at someone on the ground.
“Fuck, I’m sorry,” I huffed, trying to level my breathing. I rested my hands on my knees, waiting for the thumping in my heart to calm itself. My skin stung and my muscles throbbed from the impact of our bodies. I was six foot three, and my frame matched the constant training and rigorous workouts it endured. Her—I couldn’t tell what she looked like—but I knew this much: if the collision had hurt me, it must’ve almost killed her.
She slowly came to a sitting position, resting her ass on her heels. Her head was bent, and her loose blonde hair formed a curtain around her face. She lifted her hands, palms up, and examined them. Blood.
“Shit! I’m so sorry.” A wave of panic whooshed through me.
Squatting in front of her, I took her hands to study the damage. She yanked them away and sniffed, straightening her legs out in front of her. Her short-ass skirt left nothing to the imagination.
“Dammit,” she whispered, her head still down.
My gaze moved from the hem of her skirt to her knees. Blood.
“Fuck, I’m so sorry,” I said for the third time.
It was dark, the only light coming from the moon and a lamppost fifteen yards away. I wanted to see her face, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to ask her to look at me. “Are you okay?”
Before she could answer, a rustling from the bushes interrupted us.
A guy stepped out, close to my age. He looked rough, rougher than the kids I hung out with—and I use that term loosely. He wiped the back of his hand across his mouth, then eyed it. Blood.
His eyes narrowed. Looking down at the girl in front of me, he seethed, “You fucking whore!”
Slowly, she stood up.
I swear I could actually hear the clicking of the pieces as it all fell into place in my mind.
Him—with his fat lip, torn shirt, and undone fly.
Her—now fully standing. The top of her tank was ripped, exposing one bra-covered breast.
I watched as her lips pursed and her eyes narrowed to slits, but then fire flamed in them as she yelled, “Fuck you!”
He took a step toward her with his hand raised.
Before I knew it, I was between them, gripping his forearm, my other arm behind me, wrapped around her waist. I could feel her shallow breaths against my back.
“Who the fuck are you?” he demanded, trying to pull away from my hold.
“Blake. Who the fuck are you?”
He laughed once, a snarl on his lips and a challenge in his eyes.
“What are you, her bodyguard?”
I lifted my chin and squared my shoulders. I towered over him, eying him down. I knew I could take him. Easily. “I don’t know, dickface. Does she need one?”
He tried again to withdraw his arm. I grasped it tighter. Then a cynical laugh escaped him. “Good luck. She’s a fucking tease— dresses like a whore but won’t even suck dick.” He looked around my shoulder at her. “You cock-teasing slut!”
Something in me snapped.
Blood rushed to my ears, and the numbness I’d hoped for was well and truly gone. My arm—the one previously wrapped around her—moved fast. My fingers had formed a fist and would have made contact with his face— Would have—if not for the tiny blonde girl standing in front of me. Between my intended target and me. With her entire body weight, she pulled my arm downwards, her eyes widening. “Don’t,” she said. “It’s not worth it.” Her voice was quiet, but her expression screamed for me to let it go. I was so surprised by her actions that I dropped Dickface’s raised arm.
Glaring at the guy behind her, I tried for an even tone as I warned, “You got three seconds to get out of here before I beat your ass.”
Her warm hands were now pressed against my chest, their pressure causing me to inhale sharply. My eyes fell to hers. They were pleading.
I heard “fuck this” and then heavy footsteps thumping against the pavement, the sound growing gradually more distant. My eyes, though, they never left hers.
After what felt like forever, she looked away.
I blinked for what seemed like the first time.
She suddenly noticed that her hands were still on my chest.
“Shit. I’m sorry,” she said, pulling them away and hiding them behind her back.
I swallowed. It was thick and embarrassingly loud, louder than the beating of my heart in my eardrums. “Are you okay?” I asked her. Bending slightly, I finally relaxed enough to catch my breath.
“Yeah, are you?”
Straightening, I studied her warily. She was a mess. Scraped knees. Disheveled hair. Shoe missing. I looked away when I caught sight of her purple bra, openly exposed from her torn top.
She cleared her throat.
I returned my gaze to her once she’d crossed her arms over her chest, hiding herself. She bit the corner of her lip, but everything else was still. There was no movement, not until she slowly raised her hand and wiped her cheek. “Thank you,” she whispered.
My eyebrows bunched. It’d been a while since I’d heard such genuine sincerity. “It’s no problem. Really.”
She tried to smile and then adjusted her top while taking off her remaining shoe. Then she just stood there, barefoot and shivering.
One arm at her side, holding her one and only heel, the other covering her breast. “Well, thanks for saving me.” She laughed softly, jerking her head toward the path behind us. “I better get going.”
I nodded, chewing on my thumb. Then some sense kicked in, and I stepped in front of her, blocking her from walking away.
“You shouldn’t be walking anywhere alone, especially—” I cut myself off. “Dressed like that” was definitely the wrong thing to say. Instead, I opted for “especially this late at night.”
Her smile was tight. “I’ll be fine,” she assured me, looking around at the darkness surrounding us.
She shivered again.
I pulled out my shirt, which I’d tucked into my shorts’ waistband, and handed it to her. “It’s probably wet—from my sweat— and it might smell a little funky, but you’ll be warmer.”
Her face relaxed, and her lips curled up. “Thank you, Blake.”
“You’re welcome, umm . . . ?”
She paused, searching my face. “Abby.”
“Abby.” I nodded in confirmation. “At least let me walk you wherever you need to go.”
She seemed to hesitate before nodding slowly. “I need to find my purse and my phone.” She studied me for a moment. “I don’t suppose you’re hiding a phone anywhere on you I can use for light?”
I looked down at my running shorts and sneakers. “No. But it’s in my car . . .” I pointed in the direction of the parking lot. “We can grab it and come back.”
She cursed under her breath. “It’s okay. I don’t think we’ll be able to find our way back here. Not when it’s this dark. I’ll come back in the morning or something.”
I smiled. Knowing that park as well as I did had its perks. “I know where we are. It’s fine.”
Grimacing, she asked, “Are you sure? You’re not . . . on your way somewhere?”
My laughter echoed through the still air. “Yes, Abby, I’m sure. Where would I be going dressed like this?”
She smiled then. Amusement danced in her eyes. “I don’t know.” She shrugged. “To kill someone?”
“What?” I asked, surprised at her sharp wit. I turned and began moving toward the lot.
When she caught up to me, she continued. “Think about it.
How many times do you hear on the news about dead bodies being found in parks? You know who always finds them? Joggers.”
I turned to her, tilting my head slightly, trying to work out whether she was serious or not. She tried to hide her smile before adding, “It seems a little suspicious to me—you joggers always being first on the scene and all. My theory is that you’re all a bunch of murderers, and you get away with it, using the jogger clause.
Makes me wonder if you have some underground club where you compare notes and brag about pulling off these murders.”
I threw back my head and laughed. “That’s one amazing theory.”
“Well,” she said, nudging my side with her elbow, “at least when you murder me, you’ll know that I was onto you, buddy.”
“Yet, here you are—walking with me in pitch-black darkness, at two in the morning, to a more-than-likely abandoned parking lot, under the impression I’m going to get you back to your necessities. You’re not even slightly afraid of what might happen to you?” All joking aside, she had to be a little worried. Surely.
The air around us turned thick. “No, Blake. I know I’m safe with you.”
She said my name as if it had a different meaning.
We walked the rest of the way to my car in silence.
Meet Jay McLean
Jay McLean is the author of the More Series, including More Than This, More Than Her, More Than Him and More Than Forever. She also has two standalones coming soon titled Where The Road Takes Me, and Combative.
Jay is an avid reader, writer, and most of all, procrastinator. When she's not doing any of those things, she can be found running after her two little boys, or devouring some tacky reality TV show.
She writes what she loves to read, which are books that can make her laugh, make her smile, make her hurt, and make her feel.
Stalk Her: Website | Facebook | Facebook Fan Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Google Plus | Google Plus Jaybirds Group | Goodreads
For publishing rights (Foreign & Domestic) Film, or television, please contact my agent, Erica Spellman-Silverman, at Trident Media Group.
TITLE: TIME WILL TELL
AUTHOR: Chantal Fernando
RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2015
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
Be spontaneous, they say.
That's how I ended up on the back of a stranger's bike.
A sexy, tall, tattooed stranger, but a stranger nonetheless.
How was I to know that a chance meeting with this man, Xander Kane, was going to change my life?
AUTHOR BIO & LINKS
New York Times, Amazon & USA Today Bestselling Author Chantal Fernando is twenty seven years old and lives in Western Australia.
Lover of all things romance, Chantal is the author of the best selling books Dragon's Lair, Maybe This Time and many more.
When not reading, writing or daydreaming she can be found enjoying life with her three sons and family.
Chantal loves to hear from readers and can be found here:
Facebook | Goodreads
Title: Monster Stepbrother
Author: Harlow Grace
Release Date: February 9, 2015
His dark obsession runs deep.
How does a girl go from being her Daddy’s precious baby doll to feeling like a filthy whore?
Easy really. When my father remarries it changes the course of my life and everything becomes . . . complicated.
My new stepbrother is a monster who hates me. Unapologetic, controlling and brazen he’s intent on making my life a living hell. Blackmails me into doing things I never thought I’d do. Illicit things.
Oliver King makes the rules. He f*cks me whenever he wants. How he wants. Where he wants.
My head screams this is wrong, yet I can't resist giving in to forbidden desires.
I’m his possession, his toy — his ultimate pleasure.
He’s never letting me go. I’m his dark obsession.
My dirty addiction to my stepbrother grows to a dangerous level. Am I sick to crave more from the man who has made me his slut? Or should I escape and run as far away as possible?
My name is Maya Childs and this is my story.
Dark erotic novel that contains sensitive subject matter that may make readers uncomfortable. Not appropriate for readers under 18. Contains explicit language and descriptions of sexual situations and violence.
Links to Buy
AMAZON US / UK
Enter to win a paperback of Monster Stepbrother HERE
Subscribe to Harlow Grace's newsletter HERE
Harlow Grace has tried many things in her life but writing has always been and still remains her passion. She loves to create characters in need of redemption and her stories are mostly all dark romance but then again, she likes to mix things up so don't be surprised if she publishes a sweet romance every now and then. When she's not writing or reading, Harlow is plotting and planning her next adventure or dreaming of lazy days in the sun with a good book in one hand and a cocktail in the other.
We are excited to share with you all the covers for the upcoming additions to Jani Kayâs Scorpio Stingers MC Series. Check out the covers for Gods & Monsters along with Tormented.
Gods & Monstersâ Book #3 in the Scorpio Stinger MC Series
Release Date: March 2015
Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22669015-gods-monsters
I never look in a mirror. I donât need to. If I want to see what I look like, I just look at my twin. Daemon and I are identical in every way â from the outside. Thatâs where it ends.
Born five minutes after me, my brother hates that he came second. It irks him that I breathed life into my lungs first. Ever since heâs been trying to steal everything I have. Everything I love.
To own it first.
Until the day I, Cobra Malone, become president of the Scorpio Stinger MC. I throw him out like the garbage he is. Rotten filth wonât be able to taunt me any longer.
How wrong I am.
Evil knows no barriers. It stops at nothing. It wonât rest until it gets what it wants. And he wants what is mine. MINE. He wants my woman. My air. My reason for living.
Iâll die before I let him take Mia from me.
Will this be a battle to the end? Till the last man is left standing?
When two wills this strong clash, there will be chaos . . . and blood.
Who will win? The God or The Monster?
Tormented â Book #4 in the Scorpio Stinger MC Series
Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23623746-tormented
Can there be redemption for a man with a tortured soul and a twisted heart?
Anger and hatred taint my soul.
I hate bikers. Especially Ryder Knox, VP of the Scorpio Stinger MC, a foulmouthed biker and the one my little sister, Jade, has fallen for.
Man against man, the biker and I fight for our beliefs, neither giving in.
A tragic loss when I was much younger changes the course of my life, leaving me with rage and fury in my heart and my gut. There is no room for love.
I make it my life's work as a cop to wipe out the scum of the earth. Itâs my singular focus. My passion. Nothing else matters. I donât want anything more. No relationships, no family of my own to distract me.
Until I meet Ryder's sister, Eva. She's off limits, but despite my best intentions, I just canât get the dark haired beauty out of my mind. I need Eva to submit to me and give me the control I so desperately crave.
Can Eva tame the beast in me and make me human again? Can she help me redeem myself for what I put Jade and Ryder through?
Or is HELL the only place for a man like me. A man so twisted and tortured? A beast?
Harrison. Dark. Broody.
Maybe he is, but that doesnât stop me from wanting him. On some deep level we connectâI see past the damaged outer into his very soul. Can I be the one to crack through his hardened heart and bring out the real man inside heâs hidingâeven from himself?
Is there redemption for a man like Harrison Summers?
Or will he drag me straight into hell with him?
Scorpio Stinger MC Reading Order
Ryder - Prequel Book #0.5 http://amzn.to/16FqI8o
Two Worlds Colliding Book #1 http://amzn.to/18YEzbA
Unchain My Heart Book #2 http://amzn.to/1CGDC3M
A Biker Christmas Novella Book #2.5 http://amzn.to/1zK5kZP
Gods & Monsters Book #3 Add To Goodreads
Tormented Book #4 Add To Goodreads
MEET JANI KAY
Jani has been married for a long time to a special man, and her two children and their partners are the sunshine in her life. She is a voracious reader and would spend her last dollar on a book - always fascinated that for the mere price of a book, she can escape her world for a while and see through someone else's eyes.
Besides reading, her favorite 'thing' is traveling - she has traveled the world, learning about the ways people live and has come to the realization that no matter where we live, we all ultimately want the same things. Her hobby - Scrapbooking - keeps her up till way after midnight and her usual subjects are her family and her travels.
Ever since she can remember, Jani wanted to write stories about people, about their lives and loves. Relationships and Happiness - arguably the most difficult things to master in life and yet exactly what everyone ultimately desires (in her humble opinion).
Title: Hot Summer Lust
Author: Juliette Jones
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release Date: February 6, 2015
Sadie Faraday is finally free. It’s summer and she just graduated from the strictest private high school in Tennessee. Ditching the confining uniform and the iron-clad rules, she wanders alone to swim in the secluded pond on the far side of her family’s farm. There, she revels – maybe a little too much – in her freedom and the warmth of the sun on her skin. Until she notices she’s not as alone as she thinks …
Elias Hayes just bought the thousand-acre property next door, as a getaway from the craziness of his high profile life as a country music superstar. Hot, hard-bodied and sun-bronzed, Elias stumbles across a sight that ignites a wild obsession and an all-consuming lust that will make this summer the hottest on record …
Links to Buy
Juliette Jones writes erotic romance and lives in New York City.
Title: Tempting BAD
I’ve come from a privileged life and an even more privileged upbringing. My parents taught me right from wrong and everything in between… except I wanted the gray area. I wanted to live life on the edge with the possibility of falling over. I didn’t care about the consequences because I had no heart…
I left that on the floor of my parent’s bedroom door, shattered.
And never went back to pick up the pieces.
I learned the meaning of the word hate.
I learned that life is a battlefield and I stood frontline.
I learned that praying doesn’t work and God doesn’t listen.
And I learned how to be a man…
All at the receiving end of my father’s fists, my mother’s tears, and my sisters screams.
You can’t run away from your past…
It will always find you, especially when you’re asleep.
Warning: Book contains adult situations.
Sex/language. Mature readers only.
I looked around the room and although it was classy and refined, it didn’t feel homey. It felt cold and detached and I made my way over to stand in front of the bay window. The view was breathtaking.
It was then that I realized this wasn’t a place to sleep.
It was a place to fuck.
“This isn’t your home, is it?”
“No,” she murmured in my ear, behind me.
“Where do you live?”
She handed me my drink and took hers down in one gulp, placing the empty glass on the table. She moved to stand in front of me and leaned against the bay window. The lighting made her look like an angel.
“Don’t worry about it,” she stated, reaching up and unclasping her hair. It flowed loosely and she shook it out, making it fall right in front of her face. I knew she did it on purpose.
I let her have her security.
“I thought you want to play, Devon?”
I laughed. “Bambi, I couldn’t afford you,” I blurted without thinking and her eyes widened with a mixture of hurt and confusion, but just like before it was gone before it even fully appeared.
“What if I don’t want you to pay?” she offered surprised with her own words.
“Does it work like that? Kinda like a drug dealer, huh? Give the first sample for free and have me coming back for more?” I teased, trying to break the intensity of our stares.
Now it was her turn to laugh. “Something like that. So are you going to take me up on my offer?”
“What’s in it for me?”
“The time of your life.”
M. Robinson loves to read. She favors anything that has angst, romance, triangles, cheating, love, and of course sex! She has been reading since the Babysitters Club and R.L. Stein.
She was born in New Jersey but was raised in Tampa Fl. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D in psychology, with two years left.
She is married to an amazing man who she loves to pieces. They have two German Shepherd mixes and a Tabby cat.
Author: Stacy Borel
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Coming: Early 2015
Photographer: FuriousFotog (Golden Czermak)
Cover Designer: Kassi's Kandids (Kassi Bland Cooper)
Lonely and lost, I knew I had to leave, even though I didnât know where I was headed. Driving without a purpose, I let the roads lead. I was just a shell of my former self, devoid of feelings. Hoping Iâd find the missing pieces of myself along the way.
Then I saw himâthose menacing deep brown eyes, and an air around him that was formidable. I knew that picking up a hitchhiker was a dangerous thing to do, but I was desperate.
Desperate for what, you ask?
I'm a Coast Guard wife and currently a stay at home mom. I want to be a nurse when I "grow up." My incredibly handsome husband and I have been married for 9 years and I have 2 amazing children that keep life interesting.
I am an obsessive reader. I go through 3-5 books a week on my Kindle and I whole-heartedly support my indie authors. After reading well over a couple hundred books this year, I decided I might give it a shot writing my own book. I dabbled with a few ideas and finally settled on a story I know I'd personally read and I began the journey of creating Ever Enough. I appreciate all the support I've been given by my family, friends, and fellow indie authors. You've all shaped my view on life and books and I'll be forever grateful!
Title: The End Game
Author: Kate McCarthy
Cover Design: Mae I Design & Photography
Release Date: April 7, 2015
“Professional athletes are pillars of their respective communities. They are heroes in the eyes of boys and girls and are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that positively represents their community.”
The public loves a good scandal. Seeing someone fall from the pinnacle of success makes a great headline. No one knows that better than I do. What started out as a promising career in college football, spiraled into scandal and shame.
But being a hero is easier said then done. Especially when there are those who expected to see the great Brody Madden fail. I craved nothing except being the best—willing to do anything to prove them wrong. But I went too far, and I tried too hard, and it broke me.
“At the time of going to print, Jordan Elliott was unavailable for comment.”
I met Brody Madden in my senior year of college. An Australian native on an international scholarship, I was the female soccer sensation with stars in her eyes and no room for a hotshot wide receiver with a chip on his shoulder.
But a heart bursting with ambition and a driving fire to succeed isn’t made of stone. I became his strength, his obsession, and the greatest love of his life. Only I wasn’t there when he needed me most.This is a story about love and a game that takes everything. Where the path to glory is paved with sacrifice. Where pressure makes you, or breaks you, and triumph is born in the ashes of failure. Where two people’s end game will change everything.
Kate McCarthy is an Australian, living in the pretty sunshine state of Queensland with her two kids and two dogs, Rufus and Pete.
Title: All of It
Seventeen-year-old VERONICA SMITH has it all: a loving family, a funky car named Jezebel, and a plan to go to college after graduation.
On the first day of senior year, she meets DIMITRI GLENN–a mysterious transfer student with gray eyes and a mischievous smile who seems determined to win her heart. But there’s something odd about Dimitri, leading Veronica to wonder if there’s more to him than meets the eye.
Before long she finds herself in a whirlwind romance that seems too good to be true–until a series of devastating events leaves her questioning everything.
It’s not until she chooses to think with her heart instead of her mind that she can rise from the ashes to learn the truth of their connection.
Dimitri’s face is peaceful and angelic as he rises to help me put my coat on. “Thanks for coming over tonight, Ronnie. You don’t know what it meant to me. I feel like this is the first time I’ve been able to breathe in months.” He lifts his hand, but hesitantly stops just short of brushing my cheek. He smiles and lowers it. “Can I walk you to your car?”
My heart is soaring and my palms are sweaty. “I’d like that.”
We walk slowly down the long driveway, our bodies so close that our arms brush against each other. I think back to the first day of school and smile; personal space is so overrated.
He opens the driver side door and stands behind it at a safe distance so as not to make the situation awkward. I throw my bag through onto the passenger seat and stand with one hand on the door and the other on the steering wheel. When I look up at him he’s staring down at me. His eyes glitter in the streetlight.
It’s at that moment that my life comes into focus, like flipping a switch. The entire world tilts back onto its axis. Call it an epiphany; the rare type of realization that changes your life absolutely. I need this man in my life. I need him like I need air and water. He is part of me—my past and my future. Since the day we met I’ve given my heart to him ... piece by piece. And it’s at this exact moment that I realize he has all of it. My heart is no longer mine; it belongs to him and always will.
I can’t help but smile.
He returns the smile—his beautiful smile. “What?” he asks softly.
“Thank you for being you, Dimitri.”
Not much escapes him and I know from the look in his eyes that he understands. He nods humbly. “You’re welcome.”
I duck down into the driver’s seat and look back up at him. “Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.” I don’t know if it’s a question or a declaration, but it’s hopeful.
He winks. “You can count on it.”
Slowly he shuts the door and moves to the sidewalk. I wave and pull away, watching him in my rearview mirror as he begins to fade into the distance. He stands there glowing under the streetlight like an angelic statue. When I turn the corner, he’s gone.
Life is sometimes … an epiphany.
Some of my favorite things: reading, writing, the two coolest guys on the planet (my husband and son), my bicycle (my husband built it for me), Facebook (I'm fairly certain it's an addiction at this point), iced coffee (hazelnut), and music (LOVE the 1975, Dredg, the xx, Haim, Manchester Orchestra, Teenage Bottlerocket, and 30 Seconds to Mars). I also love dreaming. Big. Writing a few years ago was an elusive dream until I grabbed ahold of it with both hands and refused to let go. Keep following YOUR dreams. Be brave and do epic!