We are thrilled to bring you the cover for the next standalone from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Kylie Scott.
IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME will release on AUGUST 7th!
Addictive like all Kylie Scott books, you'll swoon, laugh, ache, put your life on hold, and compulsively read until the wee hours of the night—only to reread the whole thing the next morning. Perfection!- Katy Evans, New York Times bestselling author
Returning home for her father’s wedding was never going to be easy for Adele. If being sent away at eighteen hadn’t been bad enough, the mess she left behind when she made a pass at her dad’s business partner sure was.
Fifteen years older than her, Pete had been her crush for as long as she could remember. But she’d misread the situation—confusing friendliness for undying love. Awkward. Add her father to the misunderstanding, and Pete was left with a broken nose and a business on the edge of ruin. The man had to be just as glad as everyone else when she left town.
Seven years later, things are different. Adele is no longer a kid, but a fully grown adult more than capable of getting through the wedding and being polite. But all it takes is seeing him again to bring back those old feelings.
Sometimes first loves are the truest.
Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/
Mogul by Katy EvansPublication Date: May 31, 2018Genre: Contemporary Romance
A brand new contemporary romance from New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Katy Evans is AVAILABLE NOW!
He's my most delicious secret.
The hot Suit I had a one-night stand with one evening.
I didn't know anything about him, not even his name.
Only that we shared a taxi, and he was staying at the hotel where I worked.
We met in room 301. Where he commanded not only my body but my soul.
The next day he was gone and I only had a memory of him.
I could still taste his kisses, feel his demanding touch.
I searched for him for months. Daydreaming about him. Wondering if I'd ever find him.
Until the day I find myself staring face to face with his jeweled black eyes again.
He says lets keep it casual, and my heart knows that falling for this workaholic in a three-thousand-dollar suit is off the table.
Because he has a secret. One that's a deal breaker for me.
My Suit has a name.
And this is our story.
Read Mogul Today!
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2HKju60
Amazon Universal: myBook.to/mogulkindle
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2FR32jN
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5 Star Review by Lorena
I'm not surprised at how much I loved this book.
The whole blurb had me practically panting in wanting to read the book the moment I read the blurb!
Ian and Sara have a one night stand, totally into each other and from that point they totally felt the sparks fly between them. They felt that pull, the chemistry was completely off the charts, but it was just a one night stand.
Although they never expected to see each other again, when they do, they realize that there is more between them and the way they just hit it off had me completely hooked.
Ian is a sexy, confident, rich man who owns his own production company. Even though he's in the middle of a situation that he can't seem to get himself out of, he wants things to work between him and Sara. Unfortunately he hasn't confided enough in her to tell her what's going on in his life and will that cause him to lose Sara?
Sara oh Sara! This girl had me in stitches. She was just all kinds of fun. She wasn't looking for a relationship, but hot damn, when Mr. Mogul comes around, it's just inevitable. She's totally over her head with this man, he does all kinds of things to her, even makes her stupid -- I think! But that's what love does right!!
This was basically an insta-love and boy was I in insta-love with Ian and Sara myself.
I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it. You will definitely fall in love with Ian and Sara as they were a very lovable couple.
About the Author:
Katy Evans is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her debut REAL shot to the top of the bestselling lists in 2013 and since then 9 of her titles have been New York Times bestsellers. Her books have been translated into nearly a dozen languages across the world.
Connect with the Author:
Title: Art of Loyalty
Series: A Stern Family Saga #4
Author: Monique Orgeron
Genre: Contemporary Romance w/ Suspense
Release Date: May 24, 2018
As a boy, Vincent Stern suffered abuse that continues to haunt him long after the physical scars have healed.
His hatred turned into a need for revenge.
That need turned into guilt that would never leave him, creating a darkness in his life, festering and tormenting his mind.
But with all his darkness comes light.
A woman he never even considered, could one day become his home.
Does she possess the ability to save him from himself?
Sometimes life makes decisions for you.
Isn’t it funny how things turn out when life forces your hand?
In tragedy you do things you would never see yourself doing.
Choices had to be made, even if she was too young to make them.
She will never regret those decisions, but she will also never allow herself to dream beyond the life that she has already resigned herself to.
Until one night, her life changes and with it, her heart.
Sandra - “Once again, this author has amazed me with her writing skills! Another masterpiece.”
A Woman & Her Books - “This author can make you feel so many emotions ranging from hatred to love, anger to sorrow.”
Carla - “Once again, this amazingly talented author has created a story that will draw you in from beginning to end.”
Written by Monique Orgeron’s eldest, most beautiful, and intelligent daughter. (My sister is going to hate this part.)
My mom happens to be the most caring, loving, and stubborn person I know, well anyone knows. She gives 100% percent of herself to everyone and has given up so much of herself for my sister and I. For twenty-one years she has poured her heart and soul into making sure we know that we are loved and that we can do anything we put our minds too, but it was about time she figured that out about herself.
Up until this year I hadn’t seen my mom do anything for only her, but this book has allowed her to travel the world through the pages of a book, make new friends, and feel the joy of doing something exciting.
There is a new light behind her eyes and it is just making me feel more joy than she can ever imagine. While she might be annoying most of the time, I am so thrilled that she is finally allowing herself to grow as a person and not spend all of her energy on her family.
It has been a long journey of self-discovery for my mom; she has gone from domestic supermom to domestic goddess throughout the process of writing.
We are so very excited and proud of you! I love you as big as the world.
-Bria and Tony
Single hockey dad meets virgin nanny...can she crack the ice around his heart? Defending Dani by Kat Mizera is releasing on JUNE 7th! Keep reading for an excerpt!
“Now that everyone’s distracted, I can kiss you in private.” He found her mouth with purpose this time, hauling her against him and sliding one hand under her dress. Sweet Jesus, she was wearing a thong. He ran his hand along the soft swell of her ass, wondering what made her so special. Every time he reminded himself she was leaving soon, he felt the strangest need to ask her to stay. It was entirely irrational, and he tried to brush it off, but now that he had her in his arms he couldn’t deny how perfect it was. How perfect she was.
His fingers drifted to the silky strip of fabric along her hip and he slid along the edge until he cupped the warm, damp V between her legs. “Damn, baby…are you wet for me?”
“Is there someone else kissing me and touching me and whispering in my ear?”
“There better not be.” He let out a grunt of disapproval. “You’re killin’ me, baby. Tell me what to do next.”
“Keep kissing me?” She cocked her head, her eyes burning with intensity.
He sighed, tracing her full lower lip with his finger. “I’m not afraid of your brother, per se, but I’m going to make damn sure I know what you want before I touch Zakk Cloutier’s little sister.”
“You’re already touching me, but if you want a formal proclamation, fine.” Her eyes twinkled with mirth. “I, Danielle Maryanne—”
“Maryanne?” he interrupted. “Did I know this?”
“I don’t know but shut up and let me finish.”
“Sorry.” He tried to keep a straight face.
“I, Danielle Maryanne Cloutier, do formally proclaim that I want you to make mad passionate love to me. Though maybe not here at your boss’s house.” Her smile was impish. “What about you?”
“Jesus.” He took a breath. “Well, then… I, Sergei Wayne Petrov—”
“Wayne? Your one-hundred-percent-Russian parents named you Sergei Wayne?” She was gaping at him.
He rolled his eyes. “My hockey-obsessed father was one of Gretzky’s biggest fans. May I continue?”
“Sorry.” She bit her lip in an obvious attempt to stop her laughter.
“I, Sergei Wayne Petrov, do formally proclaim that I will make you come at least four times tonight. Against my fingers, all over my face, and at least twice on my cock.”
A flicker of nervousness shadowed her face but then she dipped her head and pressed it against the hollow of his shoulder. “Did we just make sexual vows to each other?”
“Seems like we did.” He wrapped his arms around her. “And I’m going to make good on one of those vows right now.” He nudged her into the adjacent bathroom and locked the door behind them.About the Author: Kat Mizera is a South Florida native. Born in Miami Beach with a healthy dose of wanderlust, she’s called Los Angeles, Long Island, upstate New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Atlanta home. She’s never been able to pick which locale is her favorite, but if pressed, she’d probably choose the west coast. Kat’s a typical PTA mom with a wonderful and supportive husband (Kevin) and two amazing boys (Nick and Max). When she’s not writing, she’s either scrapbooking or indulging in her second love (after writing) – traveling. Greece is one of her favorite places in the world. She loves that Athens is a big city with a small-town feel. The food, beaches and culture keep her going back as often as possible. She hopes to retire there one day so she can spend her days writing books on the beach. Kat has been a working freelance writer for nearly 30 years. She sold her first article–a review of a rock concert–for $10 in 1985. Since then she’s been an entertainment journalist, waitress, bartender, legal assistant, food critic, magazine editor, substitute teacher, and sports writer. She also spent some time working at A & M Records in Los Angeles. As you can guess from her series, the Las Vegas Sidewinders, Kat loves hockey. She is also a freelance hockey writer, covering her favorite team, the Florida Panthers, and any other teams that have an interesting story. The rest of the time, she writes novels: sexy, romantic fiction that she hopes makes you as happy as it makes her. There’s something enticing about hockey players and romance… Connect with Kat: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorkatmizera/ Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lzRBG6 Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorKatMiz Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2li6zRe Website: http://www.katmizera.com
Title: Part-Time Husband
Series: Trophy Husbands #1
Author: Noelle Adams
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 29, 2018
On a Wednesday afternoon, I ask Trevor Bentley to marry me. He might be the most arrogant, obnoxious man I know, but I need him to be my husband for a year.
There are reasons.
He's not going to be a real husband. Just part-time. Yes, I have to live with him. And, okay, I also have to share his bed. And, sure, he's the sexiest and most exciting thing to ever happen to my controlled, organized life.
But still... It's only a part-time marriage. I'm not going to give him my heart. I know what I'm doing, and I'm too smart to fall for my husband.
Iâm feeling warm and relaxed when I finally get out of the bathtub. I usually donât walk around the apartment unless Iâm covered up, but since Trevor isnât here I just wrap a towel around me. My hair is piled up messily on my head, and Iâm carrying my bath salts and soap.
I open the bathroom door and nearly run smack into Trevor.
I give a little squeal and immediately look to make sure my towel is in place. âI didnât know you were home.â
âI just got back.â
âI was in the bath.â
âI know that.â Heâs looking very sexy in that end-of-the-day way he has. Five-oâclock shadow. Slightly loosened tie and collar. Half-lowered eyelids.
God, the man is hot.
âI could smell you as soon as I walked in the door,â he adds, the slightly rough words doing nothing for my flustered state of mind.
âYou smelled me?â Iâm thinking all kinds of things at the moment, and none of them are suitable to share with the man in front of me.
He reaches over, and I swallow over a quick intake of breath. I think heâs going to touch me. I want him to touch me.
He touches my bath salts instead. âThis stuff you put in your bath. I smelled it as soon as I walked in, so I knew you were in the bath.â
Itâs perfectly logical. And kind of a disappointment.
His hand moves from the bath salts, and his fingertips slowly trail up my towel to the bare skin at my collarbone. Itâs barely a touch, but it makes my skin flush and a pulsing begin between my legs.
âWhat did you think?â he asks, his voice a little thicker than normal.
âWhat did I think about what?â I have no idea what heâs talking about. My brain isnât exactly functioning at the moment.
âWhat did you think I smelled?â
âIâ¦ I didnât know.â
It feels like he sees.
It feels like he sees all of me.
Iâm staring at his plum-colored tie because itâs safer than meeting his eyes right now. I donât want him to know how Iâm feeling, how his touch, his presence is affecting me.
âAre you planning to move out of the doorway? I need to use the bathroom.â
And thatâs like a load of bricks on my breathlessness. Iâm able to meet his gaze now with a cool expression as I step out of the doorway.
Iâm on my way out of the room when he says, âWe can return to this particular conversation a little later in bed if you want.â
The asshole knows exactly what I was feeling just now.
Fortunately Iâm not feeling it anymore.
âI donât think so.â
I turn my head and see him smirking at me, as if he thinks heâs already won.
He hasnât won.
âYes, Iâm sure. The problem is that any kind of conversation with you involves your infuriating personality, and that just doesnât work for me.â
âI think it does.â
âYou think wrong. And I thought you had to go to the bathroom.â
âI do. Weâll resume this conversation at a later date.â
Noelle handwrote her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she hasnât stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and currently resides in Virginia, where she reads any book she can get her hands on and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.
She loves travel, art, history, and ice cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary romances.
Author: Harloe Rae
Genre: New Adult Romance
Release Date: May 30, 2018
Raven Elliot blasts into town like a wrecking ballâstriking and devastating.
With a few simple words, my reliable routine crumbles to dust.
âIs this seat taken?â
I could close my eyes and let her voice wrap around me like a loverâs caress.
But this isnât that kind of story.
And Iâm sure as hell not that kind of man.
She hovers in my space, batting her lashes and smiling shyly.
The glimmer in her sapphire eyes is a promise of peace.
But Iâm not falling for it.
And Raven doesn't take the hint.
What starts as a battle of wills, explodes into a turf war.
She stands directly in my path everywhere I turn.
No matter how hard I shove, she wonât budge.
Raven seems dead set on driving me insane.
But I was here first.
And Iâm not going down easy.
After all, no one ever taught me how to treat a lady.
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She holds up her hand like a stop sign and for some reason, having her interrupt doesnât bother me.
âDid you just babe me?â Her question is all sass.
âSure did, sweetheart. Call âem like I see âem. Donât pretend to be offended. We both know why youâre over here talking to me.â
Her face turns an adorable shade of pink. âFirst, stop with the nicknames. Second, are you for real? What the hell is wrong with you?â
âI donât see any issue. Youâre the one disrupting my quiet evening.â
âWhat theâ¦ I mean, seriously? I want to sit down and this is the only available spot. You honestly think I came over here to hit on you?â
Her ridiculous question doesnât deserve a response. My glare matches hers as I silently explain my opinion on the matter. My expression must tell her everything she needs to know.
âWow, youâre an asshole.â
âYouâre the third woman to call me that tonight. Be careful, I might get a complex.â
âAw, poor baby. Iâd hate to dent your fragile ego,â she snips with a curl in her lip.
âThereâs nothing fragile about me. Donât worry. Iâm hard and solid. Wanna feel?â I ask and pat my abs.
She nods to my hands. âNo, thanks. Iâd hate for you to rub off on me.â
âDoes the grease under my nails bother you? Princess is afraid of getting a little dirty?â
âDo you get a rise out of being mean?â
I lean against the bar and cross my arms. âI donât get many complaints. Youâre not from around here, so Iâll fill you inâthe ladies love me.â
âPretty sure I saw Barbie McCleveage storm off after chatting with you. She didnât look too satisfied.â
âNow whoâs using nicknames? Jealous much?â
âHardly,â she huffs.
I smirk before checking out her rack, being extremely obvious about it. Pushing her buttons takes away the tension from earlier, replacing it with a surprising ease. Fighting with her is the most nonsexual fun Iâve had with a woman in a long time. Wonder how sheâd react if I called her maâam.
âAll right, all right. Youâve broken me down. I was set on not having any company tonight, but for you, Iâll make an exception. If you insist on standing here, blabbing away, Iâve got far better uses for that luscious mouth. My place isnât too far away,â I suggest while waggling my brows. My behavior is over the top, but what can I say? Sheâs bringing out the best in me.
Her lips part in shock. This stranger just stares at me, and Iâm sure sheâs about to turn awayâ¦ or slap me. Either way, mission accomplished.
But this chick is full of surprises.
Also by Harloe Rae
FREE for a VERY limited time!!
Always free in Kindle Unlimited
Harloe Rae is a Minnesota gal with a serious addiction to romance. Sheâs always chasing an epic happily ever after.
When sheâs not buried in the writing cave, Harloe can be found hanging with her hubby and son. If the weather permits, she loves being lakeside or out in the country with her horses.
Harloe is the author of Redefining Us, Forget You Not, Watch Me Follow, and GENT. These titles are available on Amazon.
Title: Truly Yours
Series: Truly Us
Author: Mia Miller
Genre: New Adult
Cover Design: Marissa, Cover Me Darling
Photo: Thomas Knights
Model: Ken Bak
Release Date: June 19, 2018
We crashed into each other like the moth and the flame.
For years, we've been best friends.
I told him all my secrets and I believed I knew his.
In camp, I thought he was the most beautiful boy in the world.
In high-school, I promised him my virginity.
On our first day of college, I had three revelations:
He's a jerk.
He doesn't care.
I don't even know him.
Mia Miller started writing as a getaway from a taxing day job in a multinational corp. A lover of all things romance since forever, Mia tries to find a little bit of a love story even in zombie movies. She likes her book boyfriends Alpha and her novels naughty.
Nowadays Mia can be constantly found typing away, with her Dogo Argentino at her feet. Mia brings to her readers books in the New Adult and Contemporary Romance genre.
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Have you met the Sons of Sydney? Craving Justice and Tempting Justice by Fiona Archer are your next binge reads!
"Fiona Archer draws you in and doesn't let go. I love her hot Aussie heroes. They stand out amid a sea of alpha males." -- Lexi Blake, NY Times Bestselling Author.
Four Aussies in Seattle Once brothers Now strangers As an unseen enemy takes aim Four must stand as one for Justice to survive. A man branded by his past Seth Justice is tall, daring and dangerous. The former street kid from Sydney owns a thriving technology company in Seattle. But he has bigger goals―or should that be ghosts?―that drive him harder. On the verge of selling his business for a fortune, he's celebrating when Harper Fox, daughter of the buyer, tumbles into his arms. The curvy café owner enchants him with her sassy personality. Soon they move from easy banter to a night of passion that reveals a sweet vulnerability in the soft-hearted woman. A woman determined to control her future After a lifetime of her domineering father's scorn and rejection, Harper dances to her own beat. She has her café and surrounds herself with a chosen family of her eccentric staff and close friends. While she's mostly content... her heart aches for more. But Harper has been burned before and doesn't trust easily. That is, until a man with a panty-melting Aussie accent and a commanding stare entices her to take a chance--on him. When Seth takes charge in the bedroom and ties her control in knots, he awakens a need in Harper that leaves her hungry for more. A new beginning worth fighting for When an unseen enemy attacks the new life Seth and his brothers have built, the ensuing disaster tests not only his developing relationship with Harper, but also threatens to sever the last remaining bonds with his brothers. As Seth struggles to protect everything and everyone he loves, he has to determine if Harper is his enemy's target--or accomplice.
"Fiona Archer is amazingly talented! She knows how to keep readers on their toes. Once I start, I have to keep reading until I'm done." -- Susan Stoker, NY Times Bestselling Author.He's sworn to uphold the law His reckless behavior as a child caused the deaths of his entire family. On the lonely Sydney streets, the orphan found friends. Found "brothers." Never again will Seattle Homicide Detective Heath Justice break the rules and risk his new family. Order and discipline govern his life...until he meets a curvaceous redhead. With two ugly murder cases to solve, the last thing he needs is this disconcertingly lovely, whirlwind of chaos, yet...charmed by her wit and intelligence, Heath can't resist. She believes rules are meant to be broken Deep into writing a murder mystery, author London Shaw is shocked when she herself is implicated in a homicide. She can't believe the ever-so-authoritarian Detective Heath Justice expects her to simply ignore the crime and go on about her business. Not happening. Although the man's whiskey rough voice, cuffs, and masterful touch could melt any woman's resistance--and does--she has a craving to do a little investigating herself. When all or nothing is your only play When Heath's murder investigation threatens a far-reaching conspiracy, everyone he cares for becomes their target--including the woman he's come to love. About the Author: Fiona Archer writes erotic romance filled with masterful Aussie alpha heroes and teams them with sassy heroines who limit their submissive side to the bedroom. She lives in sunny environs of Sydney, Australia, and is harassed by a flock of wild cockatoos that take over the back yard each afternoon, demanding their feed. Her favorite hobbies include watching Nathan Fillion on television, shopping for that ever-elusive perfect shade of lipstick, and drinking iced coffee. Sign up for Fiona's newsletter at: www.FionaArcher.com Fiona's a social cat. Find her on: Her Facebook profile: http://on.fb.me/1hSf9hF Her Facebook Fan Page: http://on.fb.me/1dwGftv Her Goodreads profile: http://bit.ly/1cNu8XW Her Twitter profile: http://bit.ly/18jMsVb
CHAOS AND BLOOM
BY A.M. JOHNSON
lost in the wilderness of her soul
he found himself a home
In this collection of poetic encounters, A.M. Johnson opens her journals to readers for the first time.
An exhibition of the human spirit, Chaos and Bloom is an exploration of love and life, and how at times, even when drowning, the heart still beats.
TBR - http://bit.ly/ChaosTBR
Purchase links - https://amzn.to/2Jc4PVM
? Teasers ?
5 Star Review by Ashley
It's not very often that I will sit and read poetry but since I will read anything A.M. Johnson puts out, it was game on. And before I talk about the stunning words, I just take a pause for how stunning the cover of Chaos & Bloom is.
This collection of poetry was just wonderful. There is no other way to say it. Please make sure you read the foreword before diving into the guts of the book. The progression of the prose and the power of it's message made me stop and pause more than once. Chaos and Bloom captures the essence of love in all its pain and beauty and I want more!
From the author who brought you A Thousand Boy Kisses comes the new emotional novel, A Wish For Us.
A story of music. A story of healing. A story of love conquering all.
Nineteen-year-old Cromwell Dean is the rising star of electronic dance music. Thousands of people adore him. But no one knows him. No one sees the color of his heart.
Until the girl in the purple dress. She sees through the walls he has built to the empty darkness within.
When Cromwell leaves behind the gray skies of England to study music in the South Carolina heat, the last thing he expects is to see her again. And he certainly doesn’t expect that she’ll stay in his head like a song on repeat.
Bonnie Farraday lives for music. She lets every note into her heart, and she doesn’t understand how someone as talented as Cromwell can avoid doing the same. He’s hiding from his past, and she knows it. She tries to stay away from him, but something keeps calling her back.
Bonnie is the burst of color in Cromwell’s darkness. He’s the beat that makes her heart skip.
But when a shadow falls over Bonnie, it’s up to Cromwell to be her light, in the only way he knows how. He must help her find the lost song in her fragile heart. He must keep her strong with a symphony only he can compose.
A symphony of hope.
A symphony of love.
A symphony of them.
The club pulsed as the beat I was pouring into the crowd took over their bodies. Arms in the air, hips swaying, eyes wide and glazed as my music slammed into their ears, the rhythmic beats controlling their every move. The air was thick and sticky, clothes slick to people’s skins as they crammed into the full club to hear me.
I watched them light up with color. Watched them get lost to the sound. Watched them shed whoever they’d been that day—an office worker, a student, a copper, a call-center worker—what the hell ever. Right now, in this club, most probably high off their faces, they were slaves to my tunes. Right here, in this moment, my music was their life. It was all that mattered as their heads flew back and they chased the high, the near nirvana I gave them from my place on the podium.
I, however, felt nothing. Nothing but the numbness the booze beside me was gifting me.
Two arms slipped around my waist. Hot breath blew past my ear as full lips kissed my neck. Spinning my final beat, I grabbed the Jack Daniels beside me and took a shot straight from the bottle. I slammed the bottle down and moved back to my laptop to mix in the next tune. Hands with sharp fingernails ran through my hair, pulling on the black strands. I tapped on the keys, bringing the music down low, slowing the beat.
My breaths lengthened as the crowd waited, lungs frozen as I brought them to a slow sway, readying for the crescendo. The epic surge of beats and drums, the insanity of the mix that I would deliver. I looked up from my laptop and scanned the crowd, smirking at seeing them on the precipice, waiting . . . waiting . . . just waiting . . .
I slammed my hand down, holding my headphones to my left ear. A surge, a thundercloud of electronic dance music plowed into the crowd. Bursts of neon colors filled the air. Greens and blues and reds filled my eyes as they clung to each person like neon shields.
The hands around my waist tightened, but I ignored them, instead listening to the bottle of Jack as it called my name. I took another shot, my muscles starting to loosen. My hands danced over the laptop’s keys, over my mix boards.
I looked up, the crowd still in the palm of my hand.
They always were.
A girl in the center of the club drew my attention. Long brown hair pulled back off her face. Purple dress, high necked—she was dressed nothing like everyone else. The color surrounding her was different to the other clubbers—pale pink and lavender. Calmer. More serene. My eyebrows pulled down as I watched her. Her eyes were closed, but she wasn’t moving. She was still, and she looked to be completely alone as people crashed and pushed around her. Her head was tipped up, a look of concentration on her face.
I built up the pace, pushing the rhythm and the crowd as far as they could go. But the girl didn’t move. That wasn’t normal for me. I always had these clubbers wrapped around my finger. I controlled them, in every place I spun. In this arena, I was the puppet master. They were the dolls.
Another shot of Jack burned down my throat. And through another five songs, she stayed there, on the spot, just drinking in the beats like water. But her face never changed. No smile. No euphoric high. Just . . . eyes closed, that damn pinched look on her face.
And that pink and lavender still surrounding her like a shield.
“Cromwell,” the blonde who was all over me like a rash said into my ear. Her fingers lifted up my shirt and tucked into the waistband of my jeans. Her long nails dipped low. But I refused to tear my eyes away from the girl in the purple dress.
Her brown hair was starting to curl, sweat from being sandwiched by clubbers taking its effect. The blonde who was one step from wanking me off in full view of the club snapped my fly. I keyed in my next mix, then grabbed her hand and threw it away from me, snapping my fly closed. I groaned when her hands slid back into my hair. I looked at my mate who had spun before me. “Nick!” I pointed to my decks. “Watch this. And don’t mess it up.”
Nick frowned in confusion, then saw the girl behind me and smiled. He took my headphones from me and moved to make sure the playlist I’d set up played on cue. Steve, the club’s owner, always let a few girls backstage. I never asked for it, but I never turned them down either. Why would I refuse a hot bird who was up for anything?
I swiped my Jack off my podium as the blonde smashed her lips to mine, pulling me back by my sleeveless Creamfields shirt. I wrenched my mouth from hers, replacing it with the Jack bottle. The blonde dragged me into a dark spot backstage. She dropped to her knees and started again on my fly. I closed my eyes as she went to work.
I sucked on the Jack as my head hit the wall behind me. I forced myself to feel something. I glanced down, watching blond hair bounce below me. But the numbness I lived with every damn day made me feel virtually nothing inside. Pressure built at the base of my spine. My thighs tightened, and then it was over.
The blonde got up. I could see the stars in her eyes as she looked at me. “Your eyes.” She reached out a finger to trace around my eye. “The strangest color. Such dark blue.”
They were. Coupled with my black hair, they always drew attention. That and the fact that I was one of the hottest new DJs in Europe, of course. Okay, maybe it was less to do with my eyes and more to do with my name, Cromwell Dean, gracing the headline spot on most of the biggest music festivals and clubs this summer.
I zipped up my fly and turned to see Nick spinning my next mix. I cringed when he failed to transition the beats like I would have. Navy blue was the backdrop to the smoke on the dancefloor.
I never hit navy blue.
I brushed past the girl with a “Thanks, love,” ignoring her hiss of “Prick” in response. I took my headphones off Nick’s head and put them on my own. A few taps of the keyboard later, the crowd was back in the palm of my hand.
Without conscious thought, my eyes found their way to the spot where the girl in the purple dress had stood.
But she’d gone. So had the pale pink and lavender.
I threw back another shot of Jack. Mixed another tune. Then zoned the fuck out.
The sand was cold under my feet. It may well have been the start of summer here in the UK, but that didn’t mean the night wind didn’t freeze your balls off the minute you stepped outside. Clutching my bottle of booze and my cigarettes, I dropped down to the sand. I lit up and stared at the dark sky. My phone buzzed in my pocket . . . again. It’d been going off all night.
Pissed off that I actually had to move my arm, I pulled out my mobile. I had three missed calls from Professor Lewis. Two from my mum, and finally, a couple of texts.
Mum: Professor Lewis has been trying to get hold of you again. What are you going to do? Please just call me. I know you’re upset, but this is your future. You have a gift, son. Maybe it’s time for a fresh start this year. Don’t waste it because you’re angry at me.
Red-hot fury shot through me. I wanted to throw my phone in the damn sea and watch it sink to the bottom along with all this messed-up shit in my head, but I saw Professor Lewis had texted too.
Lewis: The offer still stands but I need an answer by next week. I have all I need for the transfer except your answer. You have an exceptional talent, Cromwell. Don’t waste it. I can help.
This time I did drop my phone beside me and sank back into the sand. I let the rush of nicotine fill my lungs and closed my eyes. As my eyelids shut, I heard quiet music playing somewhere nearby. Classical. Mozart.
My drunken mind immediately drifted off to when I was a little kid . . .
“What do you hear, Cromwell?” my father asked.
I closed my eyes and listened to the piece of music. Colors danced before my eyes. “Piano. Violins. Cellos . . .” I took a deep breath. “I can hear reds and greens and pinks.”
I opened my eyes and looked up at my father as he sat on my bed. He was staring down at me. There was a funny expression on his face. “You hear colors?” he said. But he didn’t sound surprised. My face set on fire. I ducked my head under my duvet. My father pulled it down from my eyes. He stroked my hair. “That’s good,” he said, his voice kind of deep. “That’s very good . . .”
My eyes snapped open. My hand started to ache. I looked at the bottle in my hand; my fingers were white as they gripped the neck. I sat up, my head spinning from the mass of whiskey in my body. My temples throbbed. I realized it wasn’t from the Jack, but from the music coming from further down the beach. I pushed my hair back from my face then looked to my right.
Someone was only a few feet away. I squinted into the lightening night, summer’s early rising sun making it possible to make out the features of whoever the hell it was. It was a girl. A girl wrapped in a blanket. Her phone sat beside her, a Mozart piano concerto drifting quietly from the speaker.
She must have felt me looking at her, because she turned her head. I frowned, wondering why I knew her face, but then--
“You’re the DJ,” she said.
Recognition dawned. It was the girl in the purple dress.
She clutched her blanket closer around her as I replayed her accent in my head. American. Bible Belt was my guess, by her thick twang.
She sounded like my mum.
A smile tugged at her lips as I stayed mute. I wasn’t much of a talker. Especially when my gut was full of Jack and I had zero interest in making small talk with some girl I didn’t know at four in the morning on a cold beach in Brighton.
“I’d heard of you,” she said. I stared back out over the sea. Ships sailed in the distance, their lights like tiny fireflies, bobbing up and down. I huffed a humorless laugh. Great. Another girl who wanted to screw the DJ.
“Good for you,” I muttered and took a drink of my Jack, feeling the addictive burn slide down my throat. I hoped she’d piss off, or at least stop trying to talk to me. My head couldn’t take any more noise.
“Not really,” she shot back. I looked over at her, eyebrows pulled down in confusion. She was looking out over the sea, her chin resting on her folded arms that lay over her bent knees. The blanket had fallen off her shoulders, revealing the purple dress I’d noticed from the podium. She turned to face me, cheek now on her arms. Heat zipped through me. She was pretty. “I’ve heard of you, Cromwell Dean.” She shrugged. “Decided to get a ticket to see you before I left for home tomorrow.”
I lit up another cigarette. Her nose wrinkled. She clearly didn’t like the smell.
Tough luck. She could move. Last time I checked, England was a free country. She went quiet.
I caught her looking at me. Her brown eyes were narrowed, like she was scrutinizing me. Reading something in me that I didn’t want anyone to see.
No one ever looked at me closely. I never gave them the chance. I thrived on the podium at clubs because it kept everyone far away, down on the dancefloor where no one ever saw the real me. The way she was looking at me now made nervous shivers break out over my skin.
I didn’t need this kind of crap.
“Already had my dick sucked tonight, love. Not looking for a second round.”
She blinked, and even in the rising sun, I could see her cheeks redden.
“Your music has no soul,” she blurted. My cigarette paused halfway to my mouth. Something managed to stab through my stomach at her words. I shoved it back down until I felt my usual sensation of numbness.
I sucked on my cigarette. “Yeah? Well, them’s the breaks.”
“I’d heard you were some messiah or something on that podium. But all your music comprised was synthetic beats and forced repetitive bursts of unoriginal tempo.”
I laughed and shook my head. The girl met my eyes head-on. “It’s called electronic dance music. Not a fifty-piece orchestra.” I held out my arms. “You’ve heard of me. Said so yourself. You know what tunes I spin. What were you expecting? Mozart?” I glared at her phone, which was still playing that damn concerto.
I sat back, surprised at myself. I hadn’t talked that much to anyone in . . . I didn’t know how long. I took in a drag, breathing out the smoke that was trapped in my chest. “And turn that thing off, will you? Who the hell goes to hear a dance DJ spin, then comes to a beach to listen to classical music?”
The girl frowned but turned off the music. I lay back on the cold sand, closing my eyes. I heard the soft waves lapping the shore. My head filled with pale green. I heard the girl moving. I prayed she was leaving. But I felt her drop beside me. My world darkened as the whiskey and the usual lack of sleep started to pull me under.
“What do you feel when you mix your music?” she asked. How the hell she thought her little interview was a good idea right now was beyond me.
Yet, surprisingly, I found myself answering her question. “I don’t feel.” I cracked one eye open when she didn’t say anything. She was looking down at me. She had the biggest brown eyes I’d ever seen. Dark hair pulled off her face in a ponytail. Full lips and smooth skin.
“Then that’s the problem.” She smiled, but the smile looked nothing but sad. Pitying. “The best music must be felt. By the creator. By the listener. Every part of it from creation to ear must be wrapped in nothing but feelings.” Some weird expression crossed over her face, but hell if I knew what it meant.
Her words were a blade to my chest. I hadn’t expected her harsh comment. And I hadn’t expected the blunt trauma that she seemed to deliver right to my heart. Like she’d taken a butcher’s knife and sliced her way through my soul.
My body itched to get up and run. To pluck out her assessment of my music from my memory. But instead I forced a laugh, and spat, “Go back home, little Dorothy. Back to where music means something. Where it’s felt.”
“Dorothy was from Kansas.” She glanced away. “I’m not.”
“Then go back to wherever the hell you’re from,” I snapped. Crossing my arms over my chest, I hunkered down into the sand and shut my eyes, trying to block out the cold wind that was picking up and slapping my skin, and her words that were still stabbing at my heart.
I never let anything get to me like this. Not anymore. I just needed some sleep. I didn’t want to go back to my mum’s house here in Brighton, and my flat in London was too far away. So hopefully the cops wouldn’t find me here and kick me off the beach.
With my eyes closed, I said, “Thanks for the midnight critique, but as the fastest-rising DJ in Europe, with the best clubs in the world begging for me to spin at their decks—all at nineteen—I think I’ll ignore your extensive notes and just keep on living my sweet as fuck life.”
The girl sighed, but she didn’t say anything else.
The next thing I knew, the sun was burning its light into my eyes. I flinched when I opened them. The screech of swarming seagulls slammed into my head. I sat up, seeing an empty beach and the sun high in the sky. I ran my hands down my face and groaned at the hangover that was kicking in. My stomach growled, desperate for a full English breakfast with copious cups of black tea.
As I stood, something fell from my lap. A blanket lay on the sand at my feet. The blanket I’d seen beside the American girl in the purple dress.
The one she’d been wrapped in last night.
I picked it up, a light fragrance drifted into my nose. Sweet. Addictive. I glanced around me. The girl was gone.
She’d left her blanket. No. She’d covered me with it. “Your music has no soul.” A hard clenching feeling pulled in my stomach at the memory of her words. So I chased it away like I did anything that made me feel. Caging it deep inside.
Then I took my arse home.
Tillie Cole hails from a small town in the North-East of England. She grew up on a farm with her English mother, Scottish father and older sister and a multitude of rescue animals. As soon as she could, Tillie left her rural roots for the bright lights of the big city.
After graduating from Newcastle University with a BA Hons in Religious Studies, Tillie followed her Professional Rugby player husband around the world for a decade, becoming a teacher in between and thoroughly enjoyed teaching High School students Social Studies before putting pen to paper, and finishing her first novel.
Tillie has now settled in Austin, Texas, where she is finally able to sit down and write, throwing herself into fantasy worlds and the fabulous minds of her characters.
Tillie is both an independent and traditionally published author, and writes many genres including: Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance, Young Adult and New Adult novels.
When she is not writing, Tillie enjoys nothing more than curling up on her couch watching movies, drinking far too much coffee, while convincing herself that she really doesn’t need that extra square of chocolate.